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Choosing My Pocket Knife for Everyday Carry
Posted By Bruce McCrory
Date Monday, 18 April 2022, at 10:58 a.m.

Bruce McCrory
I appreciate everyone’s help in identifying and assessing knife steels. As usual, the help made the decision for a pocket knife more complicated. Time to rewind and format a clear path to choice of knife.

What really needs to be asked is, “what will this tool principally be used for?” Type of steel and size are the basic technical considerations for selection. This and every detailed decision that follows is specific to the user.

I collected 14 knife samples and looked at two pocket knives in a mortared store. The collection served the purpose of picking and feeling an actual tool in a literal void of real pocket knives. Most were in the range of $40 to $60.

There were 30 days to order, receive, and return all but one knife. Amazon Prime free trial has served similar functions for a few years and I was shocked to learn there was a substantial cash reserve held by Amazon from prior returns.

The very first commitment was source of material and manufacture. The knife had to owe provenance to US/CA/EU. That decision yielded 4 companies that made my products: Boker, Buck, Case, and Great Eastern Cutlery (GEC). There are probably more.

GEC is an intentional slave of the collectors market, they produce sturdy, well made small count knives with prices into the stratosphere. I don’t want to cry over a lost knife for financial reasons. And, I don’t know if they are still in business.

I intentionally set Buck aside. My second Buck, after an early 110, was the recently developed 301. [This will date me.] It didn’t stay with me very long. Very easy to lose. A mess of carry’s followed it, none of any merit. They were just cheap, or found. And, how I learned to despise stainless steel and ‘made in China’. Permanently biased with good reason.

Buck also champions 420-hc (by Boc) which even they say “approaches” standard non-stainless blade material. Pocket knives typically want easy maintenance. A simple clean with water and bit of oil hold off rust. Only weird Rambo's with exotic steel exceed the typical range of 56 to 58 rc. One can find a stone on the ground to sharpen with.

Boker makes very good sturdy products in their Solingen factory. I ordered three and still have two. The two are bulky at 4 inches and three and four blades. One is the only non-stainless they currently have in a non-nose-bleed price.

Case joined the lineup when I learned they made carbon steel blades (non-stainless), designated Cv for Chrome vanadium, with a decent number of choices. I am sure their products are mostly robot made since the “Peanut” had relatively stiff blade open and closure. The “Pen” at 3-1/4" felt like it would flop open and closed. But, because it was my major choice, I ordered four more and actually tested six to come up with one that had modestly stiff blade action. I don’t know how long these will hold a snug slip joint.

I don’t like carrying bulky things. The only everyday bulk is a handkerchief, the old big ones used for wear, not snot. Mine are heavily used for the original purpose . I even fiddle keys into small shapes; the electrics removed them from pocket wear. So, a knife must be the smallest practical package to be a reliable everyday carry. I realized this critical requirement after my sample collection of knives reached 9 individuals with lengths from 2-7/8” to 4”, and 2 blades to 4. Other people will have different criteria.

The decision for a constant carry--in my pocket--knife necessarily eliminates heavy duty tools. The Bokers, Carver's Congress, carbon steel (c75?); and the Stockman, stainless, are both very nice tools. I just won't put them in my pocket all the time.

Case actually makes a light tool. The blades are under .07 inches, close to 1/16th thick at the spine. They also hollow grind the blades. This creates a very light tool. I don’t even know it is in my pocket, after a few seconds of carry. There is enough substance to do light cutting. I am not sure if I will lose it or break it first. For now, it works.


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