Looking back on it all.

Discussion in 'General Knife Discussion' started by jackknife, Jan 18, 2020.

  1. jackknife

    jackknife Gold Member Gold Member

    Oct 2, 2004
    Like most my posts of late, I will say right off that I’m an old fart. I feel this makes it clear right off that my outlook may indeed be slanted, and even prejudiced in view. Yeah, the old “back when when I was young bull hockey. “

    Looking at todays modern knife market from that standpoint of someone who grew up when James Dean was still alive, cars had tail fins, and ‘Ike’ was in the White House, is a sometimes shocking thing. Kind of like driving a car for almost 20 years, then getting a new one and being shocked at all the devises and gizmos on the cat that seem like things out of sci-fi show. Self braking and radar? Lane drift alarms? Cruise control that keeps a preset distance? Hell, I didn’t even have cruise control on my old Tacoma that had been carrying around since 2001.

    Growing up in those post WW2 years was a whole different era in both technology and attitude. Life was indeed simpler in all ways. If there was a grey area, it was very very narrow. There was no anti knife phobia, and there wasn’t even any anti gun bull crap around. Every singe man that had his pants on, had a pocket knife in one of those pockets. Maybe not much of a knife by todays knife nut standards, but it was a sharp cutting tool that was used daily. Used. Because there were no easy open pull tabs, and everything was tied up in that white twine and heavy brown paper. Sometimes the brown paper packages were wrapped up in that wide brown tape that was put wet and dried like steel bands. You were not getting into that package without the help off a sharp cutting tool.

    The knives in those days were of a very narrow type. A simple small slip joint, usually between 2 3/4 to 3 1/2 closed length, most often about 3 inches. It may have one blade, but most often was one main blade about 2 inches and a small 1 1/2 inch pen blade tucked in there on the side. These small slip joint pocket knives were so ubiquitous to life that they were sold in every five and dime store, hardware store, train station shop. Even most of the women folk had one their purse to sharpen a pencil out open a package. The ball point pen thing hadn’t quite happened yet, so most folks carried a pencil. It didn’t leak, go dry, and the writing didn’t run fit got rained on.

    Most the men I grew up around back then were WW2 veterans. My Uncle Charlie got his feet wet on a beach in France and walked most the way to Berlin. He had an old Camillus TL-29 that he carried from his army days, and wouldn’t think of carrying anything else. I brought him hoe a new Camillus TL-29 from our supply room while I was wth the army engineers, and you’d have thought I’d given him a treasure. Only then would he retire his almost worn out TL-29.

    My Uncle Charlie was so typical of those men from that era. The ones called ‘The Greatest Generation.” They worked their way through a Great Depression, Fought through a world war, and then with no fanfare went home and went about the business of life doing job, and raising a family. They were truck drivers, welders, machinists, carpenters, brick layers, mechanics, electricians, and other blue collar workers. They all carried a similar pocket knife. The humble little slip joint of modest size.

    Growing up around these men, the small slip joint was my own life long pocket knife. Up until the 1980’s, and I tried a fe w of the ‘new’ knives coming out with thumb studs and pocket clips. Just too alien for me. A scout knife, a stockman, a Barlow was pretty much my speed. I started with SAK’s in 1969, and they have been a mainstay in my pocket knife rotation ever since. That was 51 years ago. If my pocket knife was not up to the job, I used another knife that was around back then, the sheath knife. I refuse to call it a fixed blade because it was never broken and had to be fixed. The sheath knife, belt knife, huntin’ knife, was always around. When I was a kid, (God, I hate myself for saying that!) the men who carried the small slip joints all had a larger sheath knife around, and if they thought they may are dong a job that thier little pocket knife was not enough knife for, they just put the sheath knife on their belt. It wasn’t all that unusual in the 1950’s to see a small sheath knife on the belt. The Little Finn knives made by Case, KaBar, Camillus, Western, PAL, Imperial and others were small, compact, but rugged.

    And I guess in this overly long winded post, that brings me to my point. The modern do-it-all lock blade that can deanimate enemy sentries or pry open a Russian tank hatch. Why?

    Theres been a great deal of development in blade locks, and a great deal of hype on how strong they are. Why? If you need that strong a knife, why would you not just go with a sheath knife, a belt knife? A knife that is one piece of steel all the way through the handle to the end of the tang. Aside from the hype of the manufactures of these knives of course, a great deal of the modern knife market makes no sense. Its like they built a more complicated mouse trap, with more moving parts, a greater chance of failure, and a higher price tag of course. Jeff Randall of EESE knives once said in an interview that 99% of the knife market is BS. I agree with him.

    A great deal has been made of the “hard use”knife.” I can’t think of harder use than staying alive in the harsh winter of the Rocky Mountains in the mountain men era, or building a settlement in the Cumberland gap country as America spread westward past the Blue Ridge mountains. Or invading and retaking a continent from Nazi rule, with fighting form village to town, house to house, and sometimes room to room. Or taking back a jungle covered country like Burma from the Japanese. The old Green River knives, Hudson Bay knives, Bowie knives, Kabars and Camillus MK2’s didn’t fold.

    When it comes to the so called hard use, why bother with something that is already hinged in the middle and ‘broken’?

    This whole post came about because this morning our daughter called and told us John, my son-in-law, had got his stitches out. He had cut himself quite badly while we were out there visiting for the new year, with one of his large lock blade one hand opening knives. He was working out back on the landscape and the blade of his folder collapsed and cut his index finger and middle finger to the bone. His shocked reaction while driving him to the local ER was, “I don’t understand it, the blade was locked open! It’s never failed before!” I told him theres a first time for everything. In the past, John has been a bit critical in a friendly way, about my ‘old fashioned pocket knives’ not having a lock on the blade.

    This is the third time I’ve known of this taking place. The kid where I used to work, amputated his right index finger with his Buck knife, and when told he was being unsafe, he replied “It’s a Buck knife, it’l take it.” Well it didn’t. The kid that was at the hand surgeon when I got my left thumb operated on for a joint problem was there trying to get some use back to this right fingers where some nerves had go severed when his locking blade tacticool knife had folded when it wasn’t supposed to.

    All these young men had an almost Jihadist fanatics faith in the locks that held the blades open. They all had unpleasant ER visits.

    Guys, the modern knife market is not doing you any favors. If you need a knife that won’t fold on you, use a sheath knife that isn’t already broken. Something that is just one piece of steel from pointy tip to the end of the handle. No joint, no break in the structure of the whole thing. At most if you act stupid, you’ll just break the blade off.

    Any knife that folds is already broken. Any lock, just like any man made item can fail, and will in time if pushed hard. Maybe its time for the un-folding pocket knife to come about.
    Scott J., JDRanger, Mikael W and 35 others like this.
  2. Fort Payne's Finest

    Fort Payne's Finest

    Jun 10, 2018
  3. TheTourist

    TheTourist Basic Member Basic Member

    Jun 23, 2019
    Just to make sure, I just checked the pivot in my new Cold Steel 'tuff-lite.' For a three inch folder, it has one of the deepest and widest pivot locks I've ever seen. Granted, we should never push our luck, but it shows that we are inheriting some of the finest knives made.
    insta9ves and Alberta Ed like this.
  4. abcdef


    Oct 28, 2005
    Well said, Mr. JK, especially the historical references.
  5. Lesknife

    Lesknife Platinum Member Platinum Member

    Mar 31, 2018
    In Kansas we can carry any knife open or concealed and that’s great but in some places elsewhere the laws are very restrictive and fixed blades are not legal to carry.

    I use fixed blade knives and folding slip joints, locking types both pocket and sheath types. I do agree that a fixed blade is more secure and for heavy use..

    I agree with your analysis and I am from a similar life time when things were more simple and people had a good amount of common sense. But with that aside I have to say I’ve used a folding knife for 50+ years and only once did I have one fail. It was my first given to me from my father. I was around 6-7 years old and it was a cheap Barlow bought at the local dime store. I got a pinching cut as it folded backwards after the pivot pin bent allowing the flimsy tin bolsters to separate and it collapsed. After that I bought my own knife a old timer 34ot. I’ve not had any failures, cuts, lacerations or injuries from a folding knife since then.

    I believe many times those types of injuries are from misuse or lack of proper cleaning and maintenance. A well cared for folding knife used properly is not broken or a dangerous tool looking for a victim. Responsible care and use is first in knife safety.
    JDRanger and Julian Williams like this.
  6. ol_sc

    ol_sc Basic Member Basic Member

    Sep 12, 2011
    Agreed, knives are tools, use the right tool for the job. If you need a hard use knife use a fixed blade!
    dilinger and Lesknife like this.
  7. hhmoore

    hhmoore Gold Member Gold Member

    Feb 7, 2014
    If I could carry a "sheath knife" with me at all times, I would... but the simple fact of the matter is that I cannot; therefore, I carry a folder. I carry a slipjoint just about every day...but the truth is that my work clothes don't hold it securely enough for my taste - no sense losing knives on a regular basis - so I carry a clipped "modern" folder.

    Left to my own devices, I carry all three. Overkill? Most definitely. It's true. In my day to day life, I rarely need to carry a bladed tool on my person. Seriously...I can get through most days without cutting things. But, if I don't have one, and I do need it, where will I get it. RULES make it unlikely that my coworkers will have one. Nor will a passerby, if I'm out and about.
    I've carried a knife since I was 8 yrs old. Not carrying one just doesn't make sense to me. The struggle now is that more and more often knives are not welcome. Can't fly with them, can't go to many entertainment venues with them, can't carry them in many workplaces due to "weapons" policies.
    Prester John and Lesknife like this.
  8. Alberta Ed

    Alberta Ed

    Jun 29, 1999
    Never had a knife fail on me. Then again, I've lost count of the nicks and cuts I've inflicted on myself:D with perfectly functioning knives. My most serious injury -- the one that required stitches -- occurred because the knife was dull and I wasn't paying attention.
    cbrstar and Lesknife like this.
  9. Rich S

    Rich S

    Sep 23, 2005

    All I can say at 75 is amen brother. A SAK Tinker is my EC.
  10. Korean Hog

    Korean Hog Gold Member Gold Member

    Mar 12, 2017
    You said it brother.
    Folding knives fold!
    Folks should treat every folder like a slip joint just like every gun should be treated as if it were loaded. The possibility is always there.
    JD Bear, V-1, Aryan29 and 4 others like this.
  11. Mitchell Knives

    Mitchell Knives Knifemaker Moderator

    May 21, 2000
    Any mechanical device can and will fail under the right circumstances.

    Folders were invented purely for convenience so that a person could carry a small, self contained knife easily within their pocket.

    The concept has worked well for hundreds of years. Recent improvements like the Cold Steel Triad lock have been responsible for massive increases in lock strength, making folders a bit more suitable for "hard use".

    People still carry folders over fixed blades today simply for the convenience factor, but I think everyone will agree that a fixed blade is stronger than any folder. It really comes down to if you are actually willing to carry a fixed blade.

    That's why I tend to focus on small fixed blade knives; totally reliable yet people can still easily carry them.
    Aryan29, Pinemoon, Polzeyboy and 2 others like this.
  12. Houlahound


    Aug 2, 2017
    You can still buy any number of folders without locks, the market is saturated with them at every size, price, design, brand you can imagine so whats the problem??

    I don't see why having an extra layer of safety on a folding knife like solidly engineered locks can ever be a bad thing for those that want them.

    The only thing different now is we have more choice and that's a good thing imo.
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2020
  13. jackknife

    jackknife Gold Member Gold Member

    Oct 2, 2004
    Exactly what I'm talking about. The technical and practical superiority of a small fixed blade over any folder. Nothing to fail. No 'hidden' areas for gunk to gather in. And a small pocket size fixed blade is generally lighter in weight than a equal size tacticool folder.

    Some years ago while still living in The People's Republik Of Maryland, I experimented with the pocket sheath knife. What I called the un-folder. What I found was it was all a win-win situation. Pull out from sheath, use, put back in sheath. No opening, no closing, cleaning can be done with a wipe off with paper towel. And if some emergency comes up, you have a knife that you can safely lean on a bit without worrying if the lock is going to fail. The only downside was, in the Peoples Republik Of Maryland, any, repeat ANY concealed sheath knife was illegal. After almost getting arrested over the possession of a tiny Buck Hartsook, I gave up on the idea.

    Now living in the free state of Texas, I've been wearing a small or compact sheath knife more anymore, and in the past year, it's become my etc. A 3 inch bladed Finish puuko or a Buck 102 woodsman has been on my hip almost every day, and its been an eye opener. Sooo easy. When visiting family in the Peoples Republik Of California, I wear the sheath knife openly on my belt, and nobody says a thing. Honestly, I don't think people in general are all that observant. In restaurants, the big flea market in Costa Mesa, out on the Santa Monica Pier, the beach at Dana Point, nobody screamed, passed out, or called the police.

    I think a small fixed blade, even though nothing is broken on it, would make a fine EDC with a flat sheath made to fit in the pants pocket. The A.G. Russell woods walk in its pocket sheath could be beefed up a bit for more rugged duty, and be a great un-folding pocket knife.

    The small convenience of having a self contained knife is more than offset by the increase in cleaning problems, cost of production with more complex locking system, and the lack of safety if the lock gets fouled with dirt, pocket lint, blood, fish slime and guts, sand, food or other junk. I love a knife that I can hold under a faucet, swish around a creek, to clean it out.

    If it comes down to a small one piece fixed blade or a folding knife with set of bearings in the pivot for Pete's sake, I'll take the small fixed blade. Just makes more sense.
    Dangerously and Natlek like this.
  14. Danke42


    Feb 10, 2015
    Young people are dumb.

    Things used to better when I was a kid.

    PS: Get off my Lawn.

    PPS: Did you notice how nicely the teens used to dress for knife fights? Suit jackets and neckties. Good times.

  15. GIRLYmann


    Nov 7, 2005
    one needs to study the construction of a knife and then understand its limitations.
    at some point in time, it can and will fail
    if the structure has inherent faults at its stress points.
    as for cuts, perhaps a steel mesh glove
    might help avert a hefty medical bill.
  16. 22-rimfire

    22-rimfire Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 20, 2005
    @jackknife Been a while since you posted one of your stories. I grew up just a bit after you and slip joints were king for pocket knives. They still could be if people would accept that the purpose of a folding knife is have a more convenient knife size in your pocket to cut stuff, not pry stuff or stab stuff.

    The gun control argument has been going on from before WWII and came to a head after the Kennedy assassinations with the passage of the '68 Gun Control Act. There were no FFL dealers before that and guns could be purchased and shipped mail order without a bunch of paper work. The act killed companies like Herter's. With the internet and the web of FFL dealers today, they probably could have prospered in the current environment.

    For the most part, I simply was unwilling to carry a sheath knife/fixed blade. But, I have been carrying a small fixed blade with my little SAK (Small Tinker) for the last couple of months every day and I can honestly say that sometimes I question why I have a folding knife in my pocket at all? As others have said, unless you have to for some reason, don't depend on the lock on a folding knife to keep you from getting cut. Stuff happens. The sheath knife is the answer to arthritic hands. It doesn't have to be big or tactical.

    Locks on folding knives is generally a false security. One should never depend on them unless you have to.
  17. Houlahound


    Aug 2, 2017
    I guess this is the same logic to arguments about wearing a seatbelt in cars, wearing a motor cycle helmet, wearing a harness while climbing, air bags, safety switch on firearms......etc, etc.

    More people are safer and healthier today due to modern safety innovations.

    Nobody forces anyone to buy a lockable folder.
  18. CanadaKnifeGuy


    Jan 27, 2019
    I never really understood $400+ folders.

    I mean, I find a $150 small fixed blade to be a far superior tool.

    I prefer to daily carry a fixed blade in a pocket sheath and also a slip joint (ALOX SAK) for more delicate tasks and crowds.

    For lockers, I prefer backlocks, as they are insanely strong... and with a strong detent makes wearing them IWB a safe task.

    It's weird that ppl pay so much more $ for more complex locks that are weaker.

    Once you have that core fixed blade with you to rely on when really needed, then you can have a companion blade for different specialty tasks, or for use in front of more delicate company.

    "Hard use" folder is a bit of an oxymoron.

    The only time I'm intrigued by a couple of modern folders over $100, is for areas where fixed might not be allowed but a locking folder is.

    As a single knife, I'd much rather rely on a 2.5" fixed blade over a 4" modern, tactical folder.
    MarkN86, bigsurbob and jackknife like this.
  19. jackknife

    jackknife Gold Member Gold Member

    Oct 2, 2004
    The small sheath knife is a habit forming thing. The convenience of just pulling knife out, cutting, and putting knife back in sheath is sooooo nice. The sheath knife is the original one handed knife.

    As for trusting a lock, why should you ever have to? A flat sheath knife in a sheath that was designed for pocket carry would be far easier than any pocket clipped folder. You could put a pocket clip on the outside of the sheath, and the knife would ride right there at the top of the pocket.
    Prester John likes this.
  20. 22-rimfire

    22-rimfire Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 20, 2005
    @jackknife My sheath knife has been on my belt (vertical), not in my pocket. It's small, ~6.5" OAL with 2.6" blade. For normal stuff, it handles everything. Been really pleased and it was an eye opener. Nobody notices it at all. I barely notice it and it's on my belt. This is why I am currently considering something "better" (aka fancier) but about the same size. I have some customs/handmade fixed blades that could fulfill the role. Just have to choose.... old stuff I own or something new...? I have probably 6-8 knives that could fill this role.

    You really ought to give one a try and for cutting you might well just depend on it, and keep a Squirt for the other stuff in the pocket that has been served by a SAK.

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