July 28, 2006

Blades : Social and Legal Issues

Picking a good knife without experience can be hard to do for your first time. Part of the difficulty is picking a knife that fits you legally and socially. Nobody wants to get fined for carrying a weapon, and most people don't want people everyone staring at a Crocodile Dundy prop.

The easiest, most common, and least 'offensive' knives are the typical penknife, can be bought for under ten bucks, and can pop on the end of a keychain. But it's rare to find one of good metal, they never carry an edge for long, and are pretty much useless for cutting more than tape. Get stuck in a car with a jammed seatbelt and you won't be able to open the thing, nevermind cut the damned canvas.

If you want something more, new users should start with a folder knife. They're much easier to carry, generally cheaper and easier to obtain than fixed knives, and usually more legal. Downside is they take a bit more knowledge to pick a good one, but we can handle that here.

Don't pick up a Boy Scout knife, or other Swiss Army knife. You don't need tweezers for a basic beat knife, and I have no idea why Boy Scout paraphernalia has a nail file in it since BSA v. Dale. Those that aren't horribly priced are made of poor grade steel and a shifty heat treatment, and as a result don't take or hold an edge.

For both reasons of legality and social view, you do not want or need a bowie knife. Most male pants pockets, and every purse I've seen, can hold a folding knife between four or five inches. That length also gives you good leverage and a full grip on the scales (handle area), without being so long as to be cumbersome. That said, some areas do not allow the carrying of knives of that length. Examples include the United Kingdom and Massachusetts -- laws change too much to trust a blog, and state and city laws would go on too long for me to list, so please do your own research first.

Some people favor pure unserrated blades. They're easier to maintain and use, and mistakes give cleaner cuts. Since most knives aren't designed to survive being used as saws - doing so can cause a brittle knife to shatter - they keep new users from doing anything too dangerous. They're also considered much less 'evil', and as a result get fewer stares. But serrated blades last much longer between sharpenings, and are much more valuable for cutting meat or similar things. I'm personally a fan of the combined blade, which has a unserrated front half for slicing, which becomes serrated closer to the scales (read : handle) for harder work.

Don't get a knife with a 'gut hook', an elongated - 'C' shaped hook, usually found at the tip. If you need one, you know it, if you don't know what they are for, you don't need one and will likely cut yourself on it, and it looks remarkably scary.

Black plastic is apparently a no-no. Red plastic gives off a Boy Scout look, which I doubt is what you want to provide these days, but it at least seems less harmful to the fearful wussies in the world. Some plastic and fabric combintations have a very nice and worked pattern that makes a blade seem more official Army-esque, which stops people from asking questions, but may surprise them. Wood with metal trim is considered more elegant, and even a fairly long blade simple blade with a maple handle tends to be much more acceptable than a black plastic sheath knife of doom.

The biggest trick to keeping a good knife on you without attracting stares is to not attract attention. Knives are tools, not toys - if they are needed, they should be out and doing their job, then back in concealment. Keep them concealed. Don't play with it. Don't use it when you don't need it, don't show it off, and follow the rules unless you're in a situation where you must choose between being tried by twelve or carried by six.

Don't be rude, or suspicious. People treat you as they're treated by you. Remember, police and people won't hunt down a good man with a bad knife, nowhere near what they'll do to a bad man with a good one.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

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Saturday, August 12, 2006 11:19:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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Friday, August 18, 2006 2:36:00 AM  

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