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Best Knife for Cutting, Chopping, and Prying?

Discussion in 'General Knife Discussion' started by ES1, Jul 22, 2007.

  1. ES1


    Jul 12, 2007
    Best Knife for Cutting, Chopping, and Prying?

    First let me say that everyone is entitled to an opinion, and by no means do I have the market cornered on the "right" one. I don't know everything, never said that I did, and never will. And, what I am about to say is not intended to offend anyone. With that said, I am continually perplexed at the number of times I hear someone ask, "what is the best knife for cutting, chopping, and prying?" With the exception of extreme emergency situations, knives were never meant to be used for chopping and prying. That's why they make hatchets, axes, and pry bars. A pry bar would be really ineffective at cutting, so why would you use a knife blade to pry on things?

    Knives (again with the exception of extreme emergencies) were intended for cutting, slashing, and stabbing, not chopping and prying. And for the sake of this discussion, I am not referring to the specialized knives like Gurkha Kukri's or the TOPS Tom Brown Tracker type knives, just knives in general.

    I have owned and used many different knives for about forty plus years now, for everything from hunting, fishing, fur trapping, hiking, camping, wilderness backpacking, martial arts, self-defense, and twenty-two years of criminal law enforcement with a background in Spec Ops and SRT, and can't remember the last time I absolutely needed to pry or chop on anything with a knife. I know they are commonly used to build things like small outdoor temporary shelters etc..., but that's why they make specialized knives like the TOPS knife that I mentioned above.

    And, now to briefly touch on my personal opinion (again not the only opinion) when it comes to carrying a knife for the purposes of self-defense. Most of my EDC's are Emerson BTS's, a Spyderco Military black combo blade, and as of this week, a new Zero Tolerance 301 w/ tiger stripes. When someone asks to borrow my "pocket knife" (the one's carried for self-defense, not utility) to cut something, the answer is a polite, "no". I do not cut anything with those knives, and "yes", you did hear me correctly, "nothing". They are not used for cutting paper, cardboard, wood, or prying on paint can lids. I want them razor sharp and ready to go, in the event I am absolutely forced to use them in a, "life or death" situation. If your attacker were to be wearing a heavy jacket, and you encounter drag during a slash, there are no "timeouts" while I touch up the sharpness on this blade exemptions.

    And, again in closing, let me say these are only my "opinions" for what they are worth, and not the "only opinion."

    :confused: :confused: :confused: :D
  2. Esav Benyamin

    Esav Benyamin MidniteSuperMod Staff Member Super Mod

    Apr 6, 2000
    First of all, I agree that knives are for cutting, with the exception of specialized knives meant for emergency or combat zone conditions that may need to perform on a different level. These knives are consequently rarely effective at the kind of precision cutting that a regular knife can handle, though.

    I can even agree that you might carry a dedicated self-defense knife, and not use it for any other more mundane purpose. That wouldn't work for me, and I don't think it's good advice for most of us, either.

    Ignoring for the moment the question of how effective a knife actually is for self-defense, most of us don't train for close quarter defense. The knife is a backup, for ultimate emergencies that we would prefer to face without resort to close-up deadly force.

    Not training for that knife in that context, when the emergency arises, we might not even "think" to go for it. But I would reach for my EDC, for the knife I reach for whenever I have something to cut. Maybe it won't be razor sharp, but it won't be dull, either.

    By the way, we've had many threads about the hazards of loaning any knife under any circumstances. My attitude is, if they don't have a knife of their own, they probably don't know how to use mine safely either. :D
  3. fulloflead


    May 3, 2002
    This should be self-evident of you posting on Bladeforums and didn't need reciting. We, generally, welcome opinions and you shouldn't feel like you have to make such a lengthy disclaimer before you post.

    Yes, but most of those questions are hypothetical. Most of us here are Boy Scout types who want to know what our knives are capable of in a pinch.

    I for one, have been very guilty of asking the questions you listed above, but haven't yet ACTUALLY, yet had to pry something with a knife. I just want to know what it's capable if me, in my suit pants, needs to use my knife in an emergency situation.

    I'm sure all of us on B.F. are reasonable enough to use the right tool for the job, but we all want to know if, in an unreasonable situation, we can use the tool we always carry for an unreasonable purpose.

  4. JDBraddy


    Sep 20, 2002
    Well with your 20+ year background in law enforcement, following a similarly extensive military career, and I don't know how you found time to do all that other stuff, you should know a bit about logistics, and economy of equipment. It's nice when you are in an environment where you can have and use "The right tool for the Job." But for most of us, who have to carry our equipment around with us, and to and from the job, we have to put together a "Kit" that can be transported, and is flexable enough to do whatever is required to accomplish the mission. A knife is general purpose tool, not a specialty item to most of us. I know during my military service, I had enough mission essential equipment to carry already, without trying to carry one knife reserved for close quarters combat, plus a utility knife, plus a machette for chopping, plus an axe, a pry bar, a saw, a trenching tool, plus......well, you get the point! I still carry a knife as a multi-purpose tool. The one I choose is usually more tailored to the tasks I'm most likely to use if for. I doubt I'll be chopping down any small trees or hacking my way through any tropical jungles at my current job, so a Leatherman Charge with an S30V blade meets most of my daily edged tool requirements better than say a Busse Battle Mistress, or a Fairbain style Fighting knife. It's also a lot more "Sheeple Friendly"! Besides, I figure if I ever find myself in a situation where I have to rely on an edged weapon for self defence, then I must have really screwed up bigtime!!! And If I where to choose an edged weapon specificly for close quarters combat, I'd be a whole lot more comfortable with someting that has a significantly larger blade, and more reach. Probably somthing that would be more accurately described as a short sword, than as a big knife. A Gladius or a Scram-Sax come to mind.
  5. Esav Benyamin

    Esav Benyamin MidniteSuperMod Staff Member Super Mod

    Apr 6, 2000
    Sounds like a Ka-Bar situation to me! :D
  6. ES1


    Jul 12, 2007
    My sincerest apology for the extent of my endeavors, hence the lengthy and "unnecessary" prefaced disclaimer. :D
  7. Tactical


    Feb 3, 2001
    Just an observation...

    The Wilson Tactical CopTool seems to be very popular with LEOs and has gotten good press. It cuts great and is made for prying, scraping, and pounding...something that seems to come up from time to time...
  8. Dr. Mudd

    Dr. Mudd

    Nov 7, 2006
    ES1, I tend to agree with most of what you have said, and, if anything, I've owned and used knives for possibly just a few years longer than you have. If I can be somewhat less tactful than you have been, I think the main thrust (no pun intended) of your message is one that I've been sorely tempted to address for quite awhile, too, namely that there sure seems to be an incredible number of naive questions being asked here by some folks who seem astonishingly immature and ill equipped to understand and deal with the world around them. To be blunt, there are a lot of dumb questions being asked by people who sound like dumb kids. Unfortunately, I suspect that many of these are being asked by men who, chronologically speaking, should have matured years earlier, but seem not to have done so.

    The hour is late and my words probably sound too harsh, but I'm trying to express what I see going on. Yes, I know the old saying, "There are no dumb questions, only dumb answers." Please, spare me! Yes, there really are a lot of incredibly dumb questions being asked, and not just on this forum.

    Please don't take what I've said to mean that those of us with at least some experience and knowledge shouldn't advise and help youngsters, just so long as those youngsters don't give the impression they are sociopathic morons.

    Without getting too philosophical, I think there is some kind of disconnect at work here that is further evidence of a serious societal problem, at least from my perspective as an almost old man. The real world still exists, but does most of the US population realize that? I'm afraid not. The incidence of a condition humorously known as cranial rectitis seems to be reaching epidemic proportions.
  9. Esav Benyamin

    Esav Benyamin MidniteSuperMod Staff Member Super Mod

    Apr 6, 2000
    We now return this discussion to the BLADE DISCUSSION Forum.

    Grand declarations on the maturity of members of Bladeforums or the common sense of the population of the United States will easily fall within the category of "almost right" ... meaning "wrong".

    It's late, the topic invites strong opinions, but ... we are neither in Whine & Cheese nor the Political Arena. Keep it clean, keep it polite, or keep out.
  10. Dr. Mudd

    Dr. Mudd

    Nov 7, 2006
    Pardon me for straying from the true path. :D
  11. Elen


    Apr 10, 2007
    I agree with your position; knives are cutting and stabbing tools, not prybars or axes. What you said about building temporary shelters, though, irks me a little. It appears that some people believe you can't easily build a very effective temporary (or even less temporary) outdoor shelter without a huge knife that you can chop and pry with to all your heart's content. Last Thursday I built a very nice outdoor shelter with only three tools: my two hands, and a Tommipuukko just under four inches in length. Not once did I have to pry or chop anything. I slept the night in that shelter, a rainy night I might add, and I was still very comfortable. And I'm certainly not the first to do something like this. I've done it before, and hundreds of thousands of people living in Scandinavia have done the same thing throughout the centuries. It works. Brain is always better than brawn. With this said, I do admit that if you want to build a shelter as quick as humanly possible, then a chainsaw or a machete-length heavy duty knife would sometimes be very helpful.

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