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fixed vs. folding (reality and perception)

Apr 12, 2004
I have two questions relating to the relative pros and con's of a folding knife versus a fixed blade knife.

1st: what are the REAL pro's and con's of a fixed blade over a folding blade?

My un-educated theory is that there is a trade-off between concealability (folding) and deployment speed (fixed). Fixed "may" also have an advantage of over-all strength.

2nd: Why are fixed blades often perceived as being more dangerous than folding knives?

I ask this because I've learned that some cities (and universities, including mine) outlaw fixed blades completely while allowing folding blades. I'm curious why this is. It seems that there must be something about fixed blades (real or imaginary) that gets them banned first.
Fixed blades are stronger by there nature. All folders have a point where they are designed to fold, and given the right set of stresses any can fail and fold when you don't want it to. Fixed blades can also be made much larger and still be practical, just imagine trying to stuff a folder with an 8" blade into you pocket. So a fixed blade can be made larger so it is useful for chopping and even prying to a certain degree, while for a folder really can't.

Basically a fixed blade is as storng as a knife can get, being a single piece of steel.
Firstly, the major difference to me is that floding knives are way more convient to carry. That's the biggest difference.

I think that the strength of fixed blades are overstated, especially when I believe that the majority of fixed blades used by the general public are inexpensive crap.

IMO, the answer to the question lies more firmly in historical context. Excluding kitchen blades, the majority of fixed blades are for hunting, or boot knives, daggers, and etc. While folding knives, again historically speaking, had more mundane uses.

Laws barring fixed but allowing folders are more or less a holdover from this way of thinking. Nowadays, there are many more folding knife styles that cross over the old line and can be much stroger then previously available. This makes the laws regrading folding or fixed makes less sense.
The main issue is strength, primarily lateral stress. My BM AFCK is an excellent cutter, but I would be a bit hesitant to cut open a can with it or pry somthin apart. My BM Niravus can do these things just fine, but is still primarily a cutting knife rather than a chopper or a prybar. For heavy prying, one really needs a big, thick fixed blade like the Camillus tac tool. No matter how thick the blade on a folder is, the pivot is still vunerable to damage from lateral stress.
I think one other advantage of a fixed blade is cleanliness. It takes a bit more effort to get rid of dirt from the inside of a folder, unless you can take it apart. Folders have the big advantage of portability. I prefer a fixed knife, but 99% of the time carry a folder, not so simple to carry even a small fixed knife in business attire and not attract unwanted attention, unless you carry it in a neck sheath. For me that just isn’t as convenient or practical as carrying a folder in the pocket.
I think that folders are easier to carry and fixed blades are stronger.

Perception of danger often has to do with culture, ignorance, emotions and lack of reasoning.
I can't explain the perception of the two, but it is definitely different. There have been several times when I showed someone a fixed blade that I made. They were 3" long drop points with a wide profile (hunters). Folks commented on how big they were and what was I going to do with them. I then popped open the folder I was carrying that they had seen me use frequently and never said anything about, and showed that it was a good inch longer overall open, with a longer blade. They didn't really say much then....don't know if that means they decided I was a freak, or if I made them think about their perception a little more :confused:
Fixed blades are stronger and they never have lock problems.
Fixed blades are quicker to deploy.
You won't fumble around with a fixed blade in a high stress situation.
Fixed blades have more comfy handles.
I had a friend who sat wrong and ended up with her fix blade in her leg, what a mess.
The reality is unless you are a guide in the remote wild's of Alaska,folders are normally what is legally allowed in most States to carry concealed.The chances are your going to have a folder on you at all times,while the 10 inch Rambo knife sits in the SHTF Bag where it might not do you any good.So as I've stated before in discussions,my folder is my "survival" knife.It is the knife I have on me at all times.I do have a Custom Bud Nealy MCS System,which incorporates multi-carry,and concealability with the sturdiness of a fixed blade knife.Still,in some places concealing a fixed blade of any size is illegal.Where I live up to 4 inch blades can be concealed fixed or folded,so I can carry my Nealy also. There are definate advantages to fixed over folded,and vise versus.Pick the knife your actually gonna carry.A folding knife in your pocket beats a fixed blade at home in a drawer anyday of the week.
The problem that I have with folders is that I've seen several of them get lint or other things in the lockiing parts and fold on peoples hands, never had that with any of my fixed blade knives.Also you have to get use to carrying a fixed blade over a folder, makeing sure that you alwas put it on in the morning until it is second nature.It would depend on what your use is for the knife, mine gets used in the fall to skin road killed furbearing animals when I'M traveling in my home state when trapping season is on and the fixed cleans up better with some clean wipes.
how do you tan your hides?
sorry, don't mean to hijack the thread...
silver blade= good
wood handle= good
two handed opening= good
in your pocket (hence "pocketknife")= good
small= good

black blade= evil
black handle= evil
serrations= serial killer
one handed opening ("Is that legal?")= evil
"big" (over 3" blade)= evil

I carried an Arclite dangling from a beltloop for a while, that got some stares. Nobody noticed the Ayoob or the spear point M-16 till they were open and then it was :eek: Hardly anyone noticed the Prairie Fox dangling from the same beltloop and when they did it was too small to give anyone the willies. A Swiss Army never gets noticed, so long as it has the famous red handle. As an aside, when I tucked the Arclite into a pocket and brought it out only to use it nobody said anything. My little Swede folder I got from Ragnar= no comments. My BM 800= "I feel sorry for the guy who tries to mug YOU in the parking lot". I don't know if there is much rhyme or reason to people's perceptions of tool vs. weapon. Also, please bear in mind I'm in suburban Southern California. YMMV

One more consideration, IMO: many fixed blade knives -- even some pretty expensive ones -- come with pitiful sheaths that give minimal protection. Even cheap folders tend to be more safe to the carrier once folded.

As for perception, open my Columbia River M-18 drop point with two hands and it's PC. Use the flipper to snap it open and "MY God! A switch-blade!!! :eek: "