"Non Magnetic" curious

Big Dave

Gold Member
Dec 18, 1998

I'll be doing some traveling this summer.

Would one of the non magnetic knives pass through air port security?

What are the draw backs?

I see several makers / brands have some out. Boye (Dendritic Cobalt) , Mission ( High Strength Titanium Alloy), Warren Thomas (???)...

What are your thoughts?


Don't get caught...

There are alot of knives tha t will do the job, and some appear to be more or less intended for that purpose.

Not knowing your financial situation, and your willingness to spend money for such a specialized knife, I will try to be a broad as possible.

Generally there are three catagoriies of non-magnetic knives, non-ferrous, ceramic, and composite. Non ferrous metallic knives would get by a magnetometer without too much hassle, but are detectable by other means. I am not an expert in the feild of metal detecting, but I think magnetometers work by sensing magnetic fields created by iron based materials, but do not detect non-ferrous materials such as aluminum or titanium. I believe that Cobalt materials, though not overtly magnetic(they do not attract, or cannot be made to attract ferrous materials), do have a magneticsigneture that is detectable. I would not want to try and see if my(if I had one) $225 Talonite Cetan would pass through airport security. Aluminum and Titanium should be detectable by true metal detectors which I believe use low frequency radio waves for detection. My guess is that the radio waves would bounce off the metallic object causingthe metal detector to go off.

Ceramic is what I would consider the Be-all end-all of non-magnetic inert knives. I think MadDog is the only game in town for purpose built ceramic blades, and they are pricey. I think he restricts sales to law enforcement, military, and I think , CCW holders. From what I hear, they are pretty tough, and can whittle a regular steel knife like it were wood. Ceramic blades hold an edge virtually forever.

Composite knives run the gambit from Lansky's cheapo Zytel "the Knife" (about $3)to more expensive models like MadDog's frequent flyer (about $150 or so..I think). There are several makers that produce these kinds knives. I think that EDI has their executive letter opener, Cold Steel has their Delta Darts and CAT tanto, Newt Livesay has the composite NRG ($27), and some custom makers make knives in G10...I think Fred Perrin makes his La Griffe in G10. I do not think that there is any composite blade that will take and keep a decent edge, but most are suitable for stabbing.

I think i would avoid any metallic knives because I have been "wanded" several times and they pick up gum wrappers and everything else. If I had the Money I would go with a High end Ceramic, but Iguess the Bang For the Buck award goes to the composite blades.

Take this for what it is worth, not too much, and your Milage may vary. Most all of this info I gleaned from the forums over the past few months. There is a huge thread on Talonite's attributes around here somewhere. Everyone should feel free to make corrections.

I have not tried too hard to push the limits of security systems lately because my soon to be father in law is a US Marshal, and the last thing I want it to get on his bad side after he gave us his blessing.


It is not a matter of whether or not you are paranoid, it is a matter of whether or not you are paranoid enough.
FWIW, I am a very frequent flier and had considered buying & carrying a non-magnetic knife but decided against it. IMO, the downside of being discovered in a restricted area with a stealth weapon simply wasn't worth the risk.

My standard airline carry consists of a < 4" plain edge folder -- currently a Gigand Spectrum with red handles. I also carry a Cricket as a money clip and, although it's serrated, it's never been given a second glance.

When I feel the need to have something larger available to me at my destination, I simply put it/them in checked luggage. Enjoy your travel & be safe!



I agree with Brian. While I feel naked without a knife, airports are where I make the one exception. I carry nothing more than a SAK thru security. When I arrive at my destination, the first thing I do is grab another knife from my checked luggage (usually a Delica Clipit - < 3" so I don't have to worry about any local or municipal laws and inexpensive if it gets lost).

Now I know the SAK is not a defensive weapon, but IMO, after having passed through airport security, the chances of needing a defensive blade are minimal. Weighing this against the potential problems af trying to get a tactical blade into a secure area, and my decision was easy.

Bill (Yes, we carry knives in Canada - we need them to fight off the polar bears and militant Eskimos ;) )
I'll echo the sentiment expressed here already. Just carry a normal knife and put it in your checked luggage. Inconvenient? Yup. But it is the price you pay for security.

Let's say you do decide to carry a knife on a plane. Why? Protection? Hmmm. Planning on thwarting an international terrorist incident with an Endura? Convenience? It won't be convenient...because you won't use it...or if you do use it you'll get stares and possibly worse. So you're smuggling an illegal weapon onto an aircraft for no real reason.

Plus, if you get caught, well...not worth it. Put your carry in your checked luggage, IMHO.


Hey! Uncle Sam!

(_!_) Nyah nyah nyah!

Refund! You lose! :)

I have to agree with all who have spoken before me, it just is not worth the risk of getting caught and/losing an expensive piece of hardware.
The current FAA regs state that anything below 4" is allowed, but, as has been pointed out more than once on this forum, that is left up to minimum wage Yahoos who know as much about knives as they do about Nuclear Physics.
Why take the risk for a short plane ride. I have never personally had to fend off any militant stewardesses or such and I have flown extensively.
Get a SAK and/or a nice multi-tool for the trip and check the high $$ goodies.
Besides, you don't want your knife to end up in the hands of some bonehead rent-a-cop do you??

God bless!

Romans 10:9-10

"Military" Fans Unite!!
Something I once heard from an airport security person, If you get caught with a steel knife, you can say I forgot, when you get caught with a Zytel or some other undetectable blade, they see INTENT. Nuf said.....
I have to agree that at some point you just have to trust the security because you're out of your league against hijackers with only a knife anyway. BTW, yes MD's ceramic is neat, I got to play with one the other night briefly. No, you couldn't whittle a steel knife with the one I saw. I don't know if Mad Dog claims that but probably not, it was probably that whacko Walt Welch, always making trouble.
The owner tried to shave slivers off a .22 shell casing (brass) just for the hell of it and the knife wouldn't grab--although I have no doubt it would cut through the .22 casing, so will many other knives and certainly any MD steel piece. And you don't risk the wrath of MD if he finds out you have it.

Maybe I'll get one of those Glocks from the early '90s--anybody else remember when every Glock mentioned on the news was a "ceramic" gun or a "plastic" gun and absolutely invisible to metal detectors, thus a threat all the widdle children?
I wish someone would make a medium/large folder that was completely non-mettalic. A good knife for daily general use, maybe a ceramic blade but definitely NO metal in it. I have even considered paying a custom maker to make one or two but, dismissed the idea because it would probably be cost prohibitive. If I'm wrong, let me know!

Because of my job, I also get "wanded" regularly and have had it pick up small paper clips as well as the foil gum wrappers like Yekim said. I have no doubt that it will pick up metal liners in a knife or even a metal pivot pin, etc.

I've thought about the Mad Dog Mirage but haven't b/c of the price and the guy who makes them.

Thanks for the replies.

Cancel the non magnetic. Definately not worth the risk. My wife would kick my a$$.

What's the point of non magnetic if you would be detected by a wand?

Well anyway, it was an interesting thought.

FYI, I have read that the commercially avaqilable Mad Dog Mirage has a metal strip in the hilt to enable its being caught by scanners. If I were to buy one, it would be for other reasons, such as its edge-keeping ability.

When I fly, any knives that I bring are in check-through. I was hassled in 1979 at O'Hare, where a Chicago cop wanted to arrest me for my Gerber Folding Hunter which had been passed by the FAA at Washington National Airport.
Big Dave,

"What's the point of non magnetic if you would be detected by a wand?"

There have been a few thread here or over on knifeforums about how metal detectors work and such. The non magnetic bit is for people who work on or around things that go boom and may not be that stable, ie, EOD

Fuller, there are two version of the Mirage-X knives. One version has the strip and the other does not. The smaller knives (Operator and Micro) only come in one version, the one without the strip. Note some of the sheath styles for the larger versions contain parts that can be detected even though the blades cannot. There is more detail on this available on Knifeforums, I can't recall on which forum it was discussed though but I think it was in the fixed blade one.

Let me just say it once and get it out of the way: Thou shalt not fold thy knife!!!

Now that that's out of the way ... we've all seen numerous reports of Spyderco Delicas and the like going through walk-through detectors, and even if they find it they usually don't care unless it's serrated, and they certainly won't throw you in prison even if it is. So for the more rational among us, just get a zytel-handle non-serrated folder of reasonable size -- you probably already have one -- and content yourself with that.

For the more fanatical Church of Tactical Truth cultists (now officially also known as Dogites), there's a wide variety of undetectable knives available from $5 zytel thrusting weapons that can't cut anything through Newt Livesay's carbon fiber NRG to Mad Dog's glass-filled epoxy Frequent Fliers and ceramic Mirage-Xs. There's plenty of info on Mirage-Xs in both the Mad Dog Knives Forum and the Fixed-Blade Forum, both at knifeforums.com

Avoid knives made of any form of metal for the purpose; metal detectors detect metal not magnetism.

By the way, some of us would not be outclassed by hijackers -- especially not by a lone hijacker. I would love to see a planeload of Dogites on the way to Knifeknugen get hijacked....

-Cougar Allen :{)
Gwinnydapooh; you have gone too far. Suggesting that I would have anything to do with a ceramic knife is an attack on my character, sir.

I consider ceramic knives to me much the same as plastic pistols; abominations which should be totally and completely destroyed. If a Glock is 'Combat Tupperware,' then a ceramic knife is 'Combat Corningware.'

As far as magnetism goes, Yekim, you go to jail and do not collect $200. Your Talonite (r) Cetan is VERY detectable by a metal detector. Of course, being metal, you could probably still get out of your predicament by claiming you forgot it was there. Cougar, you got it correct. Full credit.

Metal detectors take advantage of the fact that ANY metal (and some non metallic substances; they have plastics which will conduct electricity now) will generate eddy currents when the metal is moved through a magnetic field.

Your old car generator worked on this principle: a copper armature was moved in a permanent magnet's field. Note that Cu is a non ferrous metal.

When you walk through a metal detector, you are walking through a loop of wire, which carries a small electric current. As all electric currents do, this current generates a magnetic field. When you pass a piece of metal through the loop, the metal generates eddy currents; these eddy currents generate a magnetic field of their own. The interaction between the two magnetic fields cause the current in the loop to change. This is what the metal detector detects.

So why can you use Ti tools around magnetically discharged ordnance? Because metals are not uniform in their ability to produce eddy currents. Fe, Cu, and Co are particularly good at doing this, Ti isn't; it produces very small eddy currents. Small enough to be below the threshold of concern for EOD personnel. Also, remember that you are moving the tool VERY slowly. This, in itself, causes the eddy current to be of less magnitude.

Hope this helps, Walt

PS, Yekim: I DO have a Talonite (r) Cetan; the first one ever made. If you are ever in the SF Bay area, look me up, and we will get sufficiently lubricated and see how detectable it really is. I have sufficient LEO friends that we should be able to do this without risk. Walt
I think that I said what you said Walt...I wasn't saying that Talonite wasn't detectable, if fact I said that it does have a magnetic signature. I was a little groggy when I wrote my post, but it is kinda clear, I think..
I believe that Cobalt materials, though not overtly magnetic(they do not attract, or cannot be made to attract ferrous materials), do have a magneticsigneture that is detectable.

I accept your offer to get lubed and try it out if I ever make it down there.....(actually I have a Pic of your Talonite Cetan which I have used for my desktop picture for a while, I know thare is something biblically wrong about coveting other men's knives, but I couldn't help myself)...

Mr. Welch gave a nice explanation of many metal detectors. There are two other types.

In one case, you walk through a coil (a big coil). A coil of wire has a property called inductance. That inductance depends on what's inside the coil. Radio circuitry often contains coils for tuning. Radio technicians often carry a wooden stick with a piece of brass on one end and piece of iron on the other. If you insert the iron into a coil, the inductance will go up. If you insert the brass, it will go down. If you insert glass, plastic, ceramic, etc., there'll be no change. The purpose of the technician's tool is to see how changing that coil changes the circuit. If the brass end moves the circuit toward proper operation and the iron end moves it further out, then the technician knows to lower the inductance of that coil perhaps by spreading the turns further apart. When you walk through the airport's big coil, any metal you have on you, iron, steel, brass, aluminum, coper, bronze, lead, titanium, etc. will shift the coil's inductance one way or the other. Most detectors trigger either way. One of the other posters mentioned radio frequency fields. He could be thinking of this type of detector since the coil is excited with a radio-frequency signal in this type of detector.

I believe the detectors at PDX work this way. They have a flashing line of lights over the passage. Normally, the green light in the middle is only on. As a person walks through, yellow lights either to the left or right will come on. If the affect is strong enough either to the left or right, the red lights will come on and the buzzer will sound. I believe the lights are in indication of the coil's inductance. Normally at some center value, the green light, but, moved either up or down as a person carrying either ferrous or non-ferrous metals walks through. If the person moves the coil to far one way or the other, the alarm sounds.

The second type is also excited by a radio-frequency signal. This type often appears as two vertical plates that you walk between with no connection above or on the floor. It resembles the typical anti-shoplifting detectors in stores, but is totally different. In this case, you're walking between the plates of a capacitor. Again, he material between the plates changes the capacitance. Unfortunately, a lot of the stuff we and our cloths are made of have dramatic dielectric properties. So, these detectors are less sensitive and false more often, so you don't see 'em at airports much.

Bottom line, stick with ceramic, glass, fiberglass, or composite graphite epoxy stuff.

Keep in mind too that the FAA's "rules" are really just guidelines. The guard has total liberty to decide what is and is not acceptable. Just because the guard in Portland let you aboard doesn't mean that the guard in Chicago has to too. When traveling with a knife, make sure that it's a low-profile knive (no Halo's please), I recommend nothing serrated, just a plain blade geometry. Nothing double-edged, no fixed blades, no autos, no butterflies. Dress nicely. The guard has about five seconds to make a decision. He has to judge the book by its cover. Be polite. And, allow extra time to take the knife back to the ticket counter and add it to your checked baggage if necessary. I'm told that the best place to put your knife is in your shaving kit. Apparently, the guards don't like to rummage through other people's toiletries.

So HOW slowly do I have to move to advoid detection by metal detectors?

No, I was never lost. But I was mighty bewildered one time for three days.

--- Daniel Boone
You might consider a nice ceramic blade/zytel handled knife from Boker. Although the small liner on my Omega is Ti, there is very little of it, and the knife is very light and non-threatening. As a cutter it is excellent. As a defensive tool, probably not too great.
Oh, now I get it. That's why they call them metal detectors.

My original thought was that it would be really "cool" to have a high tech knife that could fool security. Pretty stupid reason. Would not want to spend vacation with the security folks. Thanks for setting me straight.

Think I'll just leave it in my suitcase. The only problem is that I may want to bring back some old, highly colletable knives. Sort of afraid to put them in my suitcase. (I've seen 20/20!)

How do you makers / dealers travel with your inventory to shows? Seems like the airlines don't really have a very good reimbursement policy for lost bags.