EDC Knife 101 – (PART 1 OF 2)

EDC Knife 101 – (PART 1 OF 2)

Let’s start by addressing a few of the common questions.

Q & A:

What kind of blade is the best?

  • That depends on your operating environment and mission.

What kind of blade do you carry?

  • For fixed blades I own/carry the following:  Strider Knives, Winkler Knives, Headhunter Blades & the Dynamis Blade.
  • For folders I own/carry Microtech, Emerson and Laguiole Fontenille-Pataud.

Do you always have a blade on you?

  • Yes, likely two knives.  One fixed blade and one folder.

Carry A Knife – Save A Life

These common questions reveal a lot of information, much of it meaningless outside a given context. For now, let’s look at the most likely scenario: EDC (Every Day Carry).

To me a blade is anything that can puncture or separate. From a sharp rock to a thousand dollar custom folder, a blade is defined by its utility more than anything else. Once that is taken into consideration, the questions can really begin. For the moment, let us assume that we are discussing a blade/knife as commonly defined: metal, pointed with a relatively long sharp edge, and a handle.

When discussing EDC, several very important factors should be taken into consideration. Two are:
1. Mission/Purpose
2. Environment

By its very definition, an EDC blade is one that is carried all the time. A blade has diminished utility if it’s left in your nightstand drawer at home because it’s too big or heavy to carry comfortably. Other factors such as legality and security concerns also have an effect.

The question of mission is simply the tasks that a person must complete. Depending on the mission, blades may need to have certain characteristics. In an EDC context, it is safe to say that there are multiple missions for a single blade. This usually results in people picking a blade that may be a compromise between different modes of utility and what can practically be carried. Of course another solution is to carry multiple blades that are suitable for different tasks.

We have to evaluate two main points: What is likely and what is possible. What are the likely situations in which a blade will be needed? An individual who works on a farm will have some definite needs in terms of blade performance (hence the design and size). A police officer’s needs would be different (backup weapon or weapon retention). Of course there is also the question of what possible situations individuals could find themselves in. For our purposes, let us presume that one of the missions of the blade is self-protection.

When evaluating environment, we need to evaluate from two perspectives at the very least: physical conditions and permissiveness. The physical environment, what is the climate and prevailing weather going to be? What style and types of clothing will we be wearing? How much exposure to the elements will we be experiencing? In terms of permissiveness, will we be in an environment (like a corporate building or school campus) that may restrict the carry of blades? Do we have the authority to carry blades, and do others have the authority to carry weapons? Will our carry be open or concealed? For our purposes, let us presume an urban/suburban environment in a civilian context. Let us also assume that all people carry blades (“All Blade, All the Time”). The latter assumption may seem to some invalid, but our position is simple: blades are some of the most common weapons introduced into any violent conflict. If one trains with the notion that blades may be produced at any time, then ones tactics will address bladed as well as empty-hand.

The previous factors go a long way towards helping us evaluate the size of an EDC knife. A LEO/Mil EDC would look very different from an accountant’s. Taking into consideration that the vast majority of humans live in cities, we can safely assume that the authorities frown upon open carry of swords, machetes, tomahawks and spears.  It’s not medieval times nor do we live in a law less society where you can walk around in the open with an AK-47.  Moreover, they can lead to unwanted attention. The idea of appropriate weight and size are also affected by whether the blade will be carried openly or concealed. If concealability is a primary factor, then mode of dress and mode of carry will go a long way towards dictating the appropriate size.

As we consider EDC blades, we should begin looking at desirable traits and undesirable traits in blade design.

The EDC blade should have a secure handle. Slippery materials should be avoided. Likewise, very extreme texturing should be avoided as well, since it can hinder blade manipulation and cause issues with printing (visibility of a concealed blade) and smooth deployment. The handle should also be designed to prevent self-injury. This can be accomplished with sound ergonomic design or the use of a “stopper” like a finger guard.

The carry system is incredibly important and in many respects its functional capabilities are ever bit as important as the quality of knife itself. Whether the blade is a quick draw or deep carry is also an important consideration. A carry system doesn’t just protect us from the blade and the blade from us, but it is also the point from which we deploy our blade. Concerns about speed of deployment, concealment and retention have to be balanced against each other to find the best solution.  The clips on the sheath are key.  If the sheath has a Tracker Dan clip, a Dynamis clip or a clip such as Headhunter Blades or even Winkler Knives with a cloth grabber you have one of the best clips on the market today mounted on your EDC sheath for your fixed blade. Think about this in much the same way as you would when selecting a holster for your EDC handgun.  Kydex or leather?  IWB or OWB?  Every detail should be taken into account.

The blade’s length must be long enough to fulfill its primary missions. It should be made of a sturdy material that will not break easily if thrust into something hard like wood, sheet rock or bone.

Be aware of choils on smaller blades such as folders seem to have no utility other than catching lint, dust, and fabric. Ideally the transition from edge to hilt/handle should be smooth and without interruption.

A major question also arises when deciding on the format of an EDC blade: fixed or folder? I tend to use folders simply as a utility blade.  My self-protection knife is a small to med sized fixed blade with a kydex sheath designed for IWB and multiple carry methods.  So in my opinion, carry blades should be fixed. No matter what the claims or technology might be a folder’s pivot and/or locking mechanism will fail under enough force, often unexpectedly.

Is there any one solution to this question? There may be; experience shows that asking the question is often far more important than any specific answers. It should also be noted that while blades are a part of EDC, they are by no means the only element. We’ll explore other factors in future articles.  

PREPARE – PROTECT – PREVAIL

By: Travis N. – Director of Operations at Bellevue Gun Club

Travis N. – LinkedIn

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