Does The Knife Matter?
Folding knife or fixed blade? These are generally the two types of knives. Many knives have taken on the name of the person or company that created them. For example, a “Bowie Knife” has been around for many, many years and is well known by its name and general characteristics. Jim Bowie of Alamo fame is credited with the creation of this knife, although some historians believe it may have actually been designed by his brother, Rezin. Knife makers give these knives various names, but they amount to little more than semantics. However, knives that have a particular name, such as the “Bowie” knife are also recognized by what they are used for. An example would be a hunting knife, fishing knife, or tactical knife.
Folding knives are often kept in pockets, and are often referred to as such. They are available in many different styles, and often include multiple blades for various uses. Knifedge make great tactical knives. A blade for everything. They are usually legal to carry as long as the blade is fairly small. Around two inches in most places. They are safer and more convenient than the fixed blades. Folding knives have a pivot point and typically have a lock mechanism, which allows the blade to close into the handle only when unlocked.
Folding knives are naturally, by design, not as strong as fixed blade knives. They are a common general purpose tool and are used extensively for camping and hunting. They tend to be more compact and lighter, allowing them to be easily carried and concealed. The “Switchblade knife” is a spring-action knife, snap-blade knife, or any other knife having the appearance of a pocket knife. They typically have a blade two or more inches long that can be released automatically by a flick of a button, pressure on the handle, or other mechanical action or device. So, a pocket knife without any type of “automatic release” would not be considered a “switchblade knife”.
The Butterfly Knife, also known as a gravity knife or balisong is typically illegal. They are designed to be deployed rapidly with a flipping action of the wrist, producing a slashing action. They are a folding knife that has two handles that rotate around its tang. They are opened by centrifugal force. Both the switchblade and the butterfly knife have an evil or threatening reputation because of their slashing action.
Hunting knives were the very first knives, and are the most popular of the fixed blade type. They have probably the most recognizable shapes in the cutlery industry. Hunting knives are used to cut, slice, gut, pierce, skin game, field dress, dress out, cape, trim, quarter, manage, clean game, de-bone, and generally process game animals. There may not be any one particular hunting knife that can perform all hunting chores, but there are a few that are much better than others.
Hunting knives often have intricately carved and decorated handles made from a variety of materials from around the world. These include exotic wood, bone, horns, rubber, and many other durable materials. Hunting knives are often kept in a sheath close to the hunter’s waist, although some sheaths attached to the back, legs, chest, or arms depending on the hunter’s preference. Fixed blade hunting knives generally have no moving parts, which means that you won’t spend time in the field tightening screws or adjusting springs.
A tactical, self-defense, or combat knife is typically designed for accessibility and durability. It must be a versatile tool, and is fashioned to stand up to the rigors of special operations. After all, it may be needed to spear dinner, cut firewood, slice through the skin of an airplane fuselage, or break the glass of a helicopter. It must stand up to the most extreme environments. In short, it may be the last line of defense. A tactical knife is typically a full tang fixed blade, however, not all are fixed blade. Also, hunting knives and tactical knives are often used interchangeably. Many of the same needs and functions exist for both the hunter and the hunted.
Dirks and daggers are more sinister. The reason I say more sinister, is because by their very design, they are only good for thrusting type cuts. Dirks are known as a Scottish weapon, and were designed for piercing damage. Dirks and daggers are often used interchangeably, but dirk is defined as a long dagger. It often has a handle designed to protect the hand. Dirks are traditionally shorter than swords. Some dirks are also designed and balanced for throwing.
Machetes are a type of survival, or tactical knife. They typically have one edge, with a blade that widens at the tip. They are used extensively in many tropical areas for clearing brush, and cutting through jungle growth. Many cultures rely on them for farming purposes. Having said that, there are those who do use them for weapons.
Cutlery knives are used in the preparation of food and can be made from many different materials. Most of the cutlery used today is mass produced by large companies. Product lines and options have been simplified and standardized and in many instances the quality of the knife is gone. I am generalizing. There are those who still make quality cutlery, and there are knife makers that still take pride in this type of knife. A good chef lives by his set of knives. They are a big part of his trade. A great carving knife has a sense of balance. A butcher knife on the other hand, is designed to work with a cutting board. It has a straight spine that is sharpened, and the curved part is not. The butcher can slice and dice without shifting his weight. There are many other types of knives related to food preparation.
Blade geometry is very important for a good knife maker, but the steel type he chooses is even more critical. A blade is typically concave, or hollow ground. The handle usually has built in comfortable finger grips, and may have a pocket/belt clip for easy access. They can also accommodate a lanyard that helps keep the knife close and convenient.
Fixed blades do not fold. They have either a full tang, or a stick tang that makes them extremely stout and secure. Fixed blade knives are generally more robust and larger overall, which adds to the safety of the knife along with the strength. This strength makes them the knife of choice for outdoor use. They almost always come with a sheath to protect the blade and to allow carrying the knife in a safe manner. In fact, they are known as “sheath knives.” Fixed blade knives do not need to be oiled like folding knives, and do not need to be cleaned as regularly.