Looks like I’m a little behind on my posting lately. Time to take the reins back from ALar and to tell you a little about what I’ve been up to!
I hate to admit it, but one of my many projects has been to start prepping. I can’t be blamed, though. ALar lent me a copy of Sam Sheridan’s Disaster Diaries, and, well, events were put in motion that just couldn’t be stopped. I spent all summer stockpiling canned goods, building a bug-out bag, and thinking of ways to get my family out of Dodge in my new FJ Cruiser.
Yeah, I may have went a little overboard . . .
Anyhow, on with the show. I plan to write about some practical prepping plans that are easy on your mind and budget. Let’s start the series with one of the most practical and necessary items everyone should have. A good pocket knife.
Preparedness starts with what you have on your person, ready to use should the need arise. A knife is one of the most important multi-purpose tools to keep in your pocket. Think of all the things you do with your teeth, a dull pair of scissors, or brute strength each day that could be simplified with a few quick cuts — opening packages, stripping wire, tasks in the yard, breaking down boxes. Add emergency, first aid, and self-defense uses, and you can see why the knife is one of man’s oldest tools.
I researched, tested, purchased, and worked with dozens of knives in my search for some of the best everyday carry (EDC) tools for the average martial artist. As much as I’d like to walk around with a machete (or a katana) it’s just not a good idea. Here are my recommendations for the best knives given different preferences and uses.
Best Overall EDC Knife: Spyderco Dragonfly II
This knife is a darling on many EDC and knife blogs, and it’s not hard to love. It’s invisible in your pocket, easy to open, grip, and use, and it cuts like a light saber. I bought two, one in VG-1o steel and one in ZDP-189. You can read up on these, but the short story is that the former is more of an economy metal while the latter is lauded by many as the best for EDC knives. It’s kind of like the difference between 1080P and 4k TVs. Only connoisseurs really notice the difference.
The one drawback is that sometimes this knife is a little too small for my taste. It requires some finesse to use in some situations that I lack; I prefer the ability to hack while this knife sometimes requires patience. I advise you try out the Dragonfly II before you buy. You may need something a little bigger. Still it’s an awesome little knife that can handle most tasks with ease. If you do chose it, you won’t be disappointed.
Best Deploying EDC Knife: Kershaw Skyline
The Skyline is probably my favorite to use out of the five featured here. It’s longer and beefier than the Dragonfly II, though it is a little more obtrusive in the pocket. It’s as sturdy and capable as any EDC knife out there, plus it’s very affordable. The Skyline’s best feature, in my book, is its deployment. A “flipper”, this knife has a little tab you press to open. Combined with a flick of the wrist, it whips right out ready to use. The Skyline is a lot of fun because of how it opens, and it’s easy to forget that this is a tool, not a toy.
Compared to some of the bigger knives on this list, the Skyline feels a little puny. Even though it has a fairly large blade for its size, it isn’t designed for hard use. That’s the one caveat I have with it; you can’t attack the same tasks as some other knives because of its thinness–even though you’ll want to. Just a heads up regarding this really great knife.
Best Fancy-Pants Knife: CRKT Swindle
You don’t need to carry a knife when you dress up, right? Wrong. All the same rules apply when you’re out on the town as when you’re hiking through the backwoods. New situations may even arise: I brought this blade to a wedding with me, and wouldn’t you know my wife found a few pesky strings dangling from her dress? I was proud to come to the rescue. (Just don’t flip this quick little blade open without warning. I kinda scared her!) In short, this is a sweet looking knife that’s as practical as it is chic.
My one complaint is with the location of the clip. It’s aligned with the spine of the handle rather than on the flat side. This makes the knife dangle a little awkwardly in the pocket of suit pants or slacks; you have to really tuck it into the corner where the pocket meets your hip. Other than that, this is a classy blade that makes a good dinner date and even better conversation piece.
Best Self-Defense Knife: Zero Tolerance ZT-350
This knife is badass. Pure and simple. Zero Tolerance proudly “overbuilds” their knives and the 350 is no exception. It is assisted opening, meaning that one touch of the flipper causes it to open automatically with a satisfying thwack. A tactical knife, it is designed for self-defense; I think the epic opening alone should scare away all but the baddest of bad guys. Admittedly, I don’t know a lot about knife fighting–nor do I want to–but I wouldn’t be much of a martial arts writer if I didn’t pay homage to a tank like this. I would be confident to wear this beast in any dark alley–post-apocalyptic or otherwise.
While the ZT-350 is intimidating and indestructible, it’s not the most practical EDC tool. The blade is nearly four inches long, and it’s a little too curvy and thick for everyday use. Still, this would be a great knife for hunting, fishing, camping and other hard use, so I think it belongs in every preparedness-focused martial artist’s collection.
Best Hard-Use Knife: Spyderco Paramilitary 2
Last but not least is the heralded Paramilitary 2 by Spyderco. You might notice this knife looks a lot like the aforementioned Dragonfly II. If you take that small knife, stretch it out, and reinforce the bejesus out of it, you get the Paramilitary 2. Not quite as beefy or scary as the ZT-350, it’s every bit as capable. The large, thin blade is deceptively sharp and sturdy. My wife got it for my birthday back in August. Since then, I have used it for everything, treating it like an X-Acto knife, box cutter, pruning shears, and even as a hatchet. And I still haven’t had to sharpen it.
One could accomplish nearly every cutting task with the Paramilitary 2, but it’s best suited for hard use. All outdoors enthusiasts and survivalists should own this folder. It might be a little big for EDC–especially in polite company–but I really have no qualms about this knife. Go buy one, if you can find one. The one complaint I have is with availability. It took me all summer to track one down!
Let me close by saying I am not a knife “knut”, and I am by no means an expert on blades. I humbly defer to sites like Everyday Commentary, The Edge Observer, and Knife Thursday. Notice no affiliate links above? If you want to buy one of the knives I mentions–and I think you should!–then support these sites by buying through them. They’re awesome, and I learned a lot buy studying them.
I’d love to learn more about knives–especially fixed blades. Please share your recommendations in the comments!