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Thread: the lock fetish

  1. #1
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    the lock fetish


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    I understand why locks are useful on knives- no one wants a blade to close on them while trying to accomplish a task. However, for the kind of tasks most of us use our knives for on an everyday basis, this lock seems to be mostly irrelevant. In the last year or so I've reserved my locking folders for campsite and outdoor use, and even then the slipjoin Vic Pioneer handles most of those tasks just fine. Yet, I perceive an anti-slipjoint bias among some folder carriers that baffles me. The lock seems to have become something of a lock for the sake of having a lock, with all the variations and tricky new designs of lock that companies will invent to market their knives. I don't doubt that there are many on this site who regularly put their folders to work on tasks that make having a locking blade very handy, but again, I'm not convinced that this accounts for certain lock-centric tendencies on its own. I would like to hear some thoughts on this phenomenon.

  2. #2
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    I carry traditional slip joints daily, and am also amused by the "need" for a lock.

    Don't get me wrong, I have locking folders that I use. I carry my locking folders as a "I might need a knife for non cutting tasks" (specifically I carry locking folders as back up to a gun).

    I have never cut my self with a non locking folder (as an adult) where the lack of a lock was the reason for the cut.

    I cut my self all the time on them, don't get me wrong, I play with traditional folders with strong locks and sharp edges enough, that I nick my self occasionally.

    All my serious cuts have come either from a locking knife, or a fixed blade.

  3. #3
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    Trying to explain why people like locks to someone who doesn't particularly like them is, to my mind, rather like trying to explain why there are people who will go on a website devoted to the discussion of knives to people who aren't really interested in knives. People like what they like. I'm sure there will be many derisive "mall-ninja" comments to follow, but most of that is just the widespread tendency of many who feel better by criticizing others---something which has never, successfully, been explained to me.

  4. #4
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    Bring on the flames....hahaha

    It is true that most of my first knives were slipjoints - and they are dang handy!

    Ever have one close on you unexpectedly? It only takes one time for most folks to relegate them to "light duty" chores.

    I think for EDC, a slippie is a great knife.

    But sometimes you just want to bang, twist, smash, stab stuff.

    Dan

  5. #5
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    For me, I've found that if I really need a one hand opener, I'll probably need a fixed blade even more, and a fixed blade would be the right tool for the job. There have been few times, I've found, when I didn't need more than either my Case peanut, or Victorinox farmer. I don't really need the slipjoint collection I have, and don't really need the one hand openers I have left. However, I like the knives themselves, and still get enjoyment out of using the frame lock, liner lock, Axis lock and ball bearing lock. I don't think I have any one hand openers with mid or back locks, although I have an old 1984 R1303 Remington, and two Great Eastern 72 lockbacks. The only one I carry sometimes is my Tidioute Beaver 72, and that is rare. I just prefer to carry my single blade 73. I forget which custom maker "resurrected" the already existing liner lock, Ron Lake? Chris Reeve made the frame lock. Liner locks have been on traditional knives for a long time, originating back in the 40's, at least, I know someone will be along with the correct date.

    Fixed blades are taboo in the state of MD, unless you are hunting, fishing or camping (unsure about hiking). Folding knives with unlimited blade size (reasonable length taken into account though, as interpreted by the law), as long as they are carried in the closed position, are fine.

    Lately, I've left my large one hand opener in the truck, in favor of carrying two slipjoints. To some it might be redundant, but it's what I've done.

  6. #6
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    Haha, no I have never had one close on me, if I had it may give me a slightly different perspective

    Like Bigfattyt said, I've cut myself plenty of times, but by no fault of the knife- just the user

  7. #7
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    I feel safer with a lock since I had a sod buster close on my hand. I was cutting twine off a haybale and I guess it got caught or something and it closed and cut thru my glove and deep into my thumb.

  8. #8
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    I have had slipjoints close on my (few small cuts) when I was a kid. I have had locking folders fold on me in use more times, and have had more serious cuts. I had one liner lock that really, was worse than a slipjoint. It would fold up at unexpected times. It had cut me many times. I finally stopped carrying it when my brother had to get surgery on his tendon with the same knife.

    I agree there are times I want a locking folder for some tasks. You can like both.

  9. #9
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    I think locks are most necessary on a really hard use knife or a knife that might be employed for self defence where the posibility of pressure on the blade forcing it to close is pretty much 100%. This would make a lock on these kinds of knives essential and not a "fetish" as you put it. I cant imagine my Strider SnG without a lock, it would be useless because its not what I would call a delicate slicer like any of my slipjoints, which are primarily utilitarian cutter/slicers where the attention on the job at hand by the user is pretty focused.

  10. #10
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    There are two scenarios where a locking folder is more valuable to me than a slipjoint.

    The first is for stabbing, which has almost nothing to do with EDC. It's why I carry a large, locking, OHO for self protection if going into a "less safe" situation.

    The second is when the need might arise to loan my knife to someone else. Lockers are both safer for the unfamiliar users, and easier to open. I don't care if they know how to close it, they can just hand it back to me when finished using it. This is why I always carry a locking traditional when opening Christmas or birthday presents.

    But in addition to need, there is desire. I often carry a locking traditional just because I have several that I really like.
    -- Jeff

    "When you side with a man, you stay with him. And if you can't do that, you're like some animal, you're finished." Pike Bishop

  11. #11
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    Wholly apart from use, lockback knives tend to have much softer pulls than slipjoints, making them easier to open (and once the lock is disengaged, to close). For some, this is a primary draw.

    ~ P.

  12. #12
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    The locking mechanism is a user safety feature, much like the seatbelt: it's useless when driving a car, and nobody plans to use it, but it sure is a good thing to have when it is needed.

  13. #13
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    Some of my locking folders I find useful when it's very cold and I'm wearing gloves, since the blades are easier to deploy, having weaker pulls.

    In terms of safety though, if I know I'm going to be doing something that might cause a slipjoint blade to fold, it might also cause a lock to fail, and I'll take a fixed blade.

  14. #14
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    Yes, I carry lockblades. Yes, I have all the "latest and greatest" locking mechanisms in my accumulation. I also carry a small fixed blade and an assortment of slipjoints. I personally believe there is at least one and probably two or three generations of people out there that simply never learned to use a knife safely. They think they need a lock when what they really need is either a fixed blade or some skill, or both. I think one should be required to carry nothing but non-locking folders for two years before being allowed to buy a lock blade knife, just to prove you know how to use a folder safely. I think a lock on a knife allows you to develop unsafe knife using habits that will result in more severe injuries on that inevitable day when the lock finally fails to protect you from your own stupidity.

    Those are my thoughts on the subject. Fire away, I can take it.

  15. #15
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    I use and carry liner and frame locks at all times; one each actually. I'm prone to getting myself in awkward situations and don't always have the proper equipment to tackle the job. I'd rather have a lock and not need it than need it and not have it. A folder will fold; if you're conscious of that fact when in use a lock shouldn't be needed. Sometimes however, you only have with you what you thought to bring that morning. Proper or not, knives often get misused and abused. In such cases, a lock can't hurt.

  16. #16
    Well, I like locks on some Traditional knives because they are traditional. The lockback and linerlock have been around longer than any of us (I suspect )

    Yes, the pull on some lockbacks can be lighter and this is a plus point for many. Linerlocks can have a dubious reputation, but if they are in conjunction with a conventional backspring as say on the GEC 73, it is an extremely safe system. But, whenever you use a knife, concentration is vital.

    I don't think this has to be an either or situation at all. Neither rejecting locks as superfluous nor regarding them as essential.

    Thanks, Will

  17. #17
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    Since we're in the traditional forum let's try and keep the discussion to locking, as in lock back (or no specific lock reference), leaving the OHO and specific models of same out of the discussion.

    I carry slip joints and locking knives too. I think you get used to what you use most. If you learn how to use a slip joint properly, you can go your whole life without having that knife fold over on your fingers.

    I'm lucky to live in a place that allows me to carry a fixed blade, for when a slip joint just won't do.

  18. #18
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    there is a lock-centric fetishization phenomenon?

  19. #19
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    Jack,
    I'm not going to fire at you, not at all. Again, taste is taste, and I will never discuss anyone's taste or choice.
    Yet I believe that the (presumed) added safety given by a locking mechanism oftens serves to balance the "unsafety" with which many people use their knives.
    I was raised with friction folders. They teach you quite alot about the proper cutting movement, since any leverage in the wrong direction will result in blade closure (or, at least, partial closure, since there's no backspring to bring the blade all the way back to the closed position). I never needed a lock, nor I will need it.
    I understand that, on some patterns (like the Buck 110 and its siblings), the lockback mechanism is just there, and will be there, and I'm fine with that: it's a part of the pattern, so I have nothing against it. And if I ever wished for a locking hunter, I wouldn't try to get a non locking one; I'd just take it as it comes, and use the lockback. But it's not really something that I look for, nor anything that adds safety to a knife (personal opinion, of course).
    For some uses (gloves, outdoors in the winter, and so on) I just prefer a small fixed blade.

    Fausto

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Anabasis View Post
    In the last year or so I've reserved my locking folders for campsite and outdoor use, and even then the slipjoin Vic Pioneer handles most of those tasks just fine. Yet, I perceive an anti-slipjoint bias among some folder carriers that baffles me. The lock seems to have become something of a lock for the sake of having a lock, with all the variations and tricky new designs of lock that companies will invent to market their knives. .
    I belive what you are seeing is the result of a couple of generations of boys growing up with absolutly no knowledge of knives at all except for what they read in the magazines. When Buck came out with the 110 in 1964, it changed everthing in the knife world. I'm not sure for the better. With the Buck and all it's knockoff clones ruling the knife market for the 60's and all the 70's, and the birth of the tactical knife thing in the 80's with Cold steel, the buyer dynamics changed drastically. For the new buyer market, young males under 25 and first time knife buyers, the cool factor was it. The 'cooler' a knife could be made, the better it sold. This was the beginging of the high speed operator market. Out with the old and in with the new.

    Now in 2013, we have young men who's fathers never carried a traditional pocket knife. The slip joint is seen as a throw back and unsafe to use. Maybe one young guy gets one as a kid, nobody teaches him how to use it, so he ends up cutting himself really good, and blames the tool instead of admitting to a stupid mistake on his part. The tool is then forever branded as an unsafe thing. Never mind that for hundreds of years it was the go-to cutting tool for men climbing rigging of sailing ships, a freight wagon driver hauling goods, farmers, cowboys, miners, and train workers. It's part of the modern thing to not take any personal responsibility, so the tool is blamed for injuries. Now the knife with a locking blade is a step toward idiot proofing the thing. At a BBQ, I used a sodbuster, and I loaned it to a young lady to slice some of the bread, and her boyfriend told her not to use that knife because it was dangerous. He then handed her his black tactical thing, saying there was a reason that 'those' knives were not even made anymore, meaning my sodbuster, because they fold up on fingers with no warning. I looked at him very carefully, but he was being serious and actually believed what he was spouting. I corrected him, and told him that there was a strong market for traditional knives among people who actually knew what they were doing with a knife. I don't think he believed me.

    These days, there is a perception that a knife without a lock on the blade is an accident waiting to happen. And in the wrong hands, it is. But in my life, I have seen two very very bad accidents with a lock blade knife. One, a young man was doing very stupid things and when warned, he just said "It's a Buck knife, no problem." Just after lunch he managed to amputate his right index finger at the first joint. A few years back I needed an operation on my left hand for a tendon problem. I was at the hand center of the Carroll Country Hospital, waiting to be brought back to the OR for the out patient surgery, and sitting with us in the waiting room was a young man with his mother. The guys hand was bandaged up, and in conversation it came out he was severely injured when a lock on a blade gave way, and he was there for an operation on a severed ligament to get his digit operating again, hopefully. Like the Buck knife user, he had been confident in his safety because his fancy back knife had a lock. Lessons in reality can be painful.

    But both of these young men were carrying a knife that was supposed to be 'safe' because it had a lock on the blade. But neither of them in their young life had learned good knife handling techniques. The technology failed in the face of stupid behavior. Knives that fold, can fold at any time due to mechanical failure of a part, or gross misuse of the tool. Too many people put too much faith in technology keeping them safe. All the seat belts and air bags won't save you if you insist on driving like a fool, so why should a knife lock be different? I'd rather carry a knife with no lock and be conscious of the fact, than carry a locker and get over confident. If my slip joint pocketknife is not adequate for the job, then it's time for a sheath knife. What you young folks call a fixed blade, although it's not broken and I don't know what's been fixed. Fixed blades come in all sizes, from nice little pocket puuko's to sturdy belt knives. If you're worried about a blade folding on you, then don't carry one that's already meant to fold.

    Becoming a knife nut at a relative late age, I made it through the first 40 or so years with a Buck 301 in a pocket. If that was not enough, then I had a Buck 102 that went on my belt. I was probably the only person in the world who looked at the 110 and wondered why I would need a boat anchor that had a blade in it. The stockman did darn near everything, and if it didn't, then I had a sheath knife. Now I carry a peanut and a 102 woodsman. So far so good.

    Carl.

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