Philosophy of carrying a knife?


Gold Member
Dec 21, 2014
Hey guys just thought I’d throw out my thoughts on the topic of carrying a knife. Over the years I have owned several (probably a couple hundred) knives from kershaw to CRK to Borka and everything in between. I think that after all this time I’m coming to a conclusion that I didn’t expect would happen.

Seemingly searching for “the perfect knife” made me think looking higher in price would lead me closer to that. And in a way it did but at the same time led me astray. There was a long time where I thought that having the most premium super steel with the nicest materials and super solid lockup was going to fill that need to find the next knife. Many times I thought I had found the perfect knife but was hesitant to use it when the opportunity presented itself due to a few factors; price, collectability, and resale value (new vs like new vs used). So I would end up keeping the knife in my pocket and babying it so that I could then sell it without losing much money and have gotten to experience a more rare knife.

After all this time I started to realize that I was following other people’s opionions about what the best knife for me to use and to carry. Having the most premium steel meant more time sharpening, but more time in between sharpenings and less willingness to be used in the first place. While a “lesser” steel seemed more easily used and yet much more easily maintained but faster to dull. Effectively doing the job better than a more expensive knife due to the willingness to actually use it to cut things.

A few weeks ago, I ran a test on leathermans 420hc. I started out cutting paper cleanly and then cut cardboard until it would no longer reliably cut paper and started to tear through it (still a useable edge for most people), resulting in a surprising 118.875 feet of cardboard. I then timed myself sharpening the knife back to hair shaving sharp... it took me 4 minutes and 37 seconds. And I then realized that for me knife steel in the real world is not really that important.

Having had knives range from $15 to $900 I started trying to find the sweet spot for the things I find myself being comfortable using while having all the materials I like. I enjoy titanium handles, a good blade steel that holds its edge decently long (about a month of my use at a minimum) but isn’t going to keep me on the stones for more than 10-15 minutes. Warranty of the product matters to me more now as I dwindle my collection down as well. For me the price point can not exceed $215 and usually won’t go below $150 if I am going to really use it.

Think about all the time you’ve spent researching knives, looking up reviews, and you find someone who points out something they don’t like. Which then makes you predominately focus on that one dislike, taking away the joy that the knife brought before hand. When in reality it may not have bothered you at all before.

All in all, it is kind of sad to be slowly coming to the reality of a “perfect” carry. For me I’ve settled on something that makes me happy to carry, doesn’t break the bank, and cuts really well. It may not be something that everyone would enjoy and use but that’s ok. I like knowing that I’m not afraid to use what I have and that while I use it I will enjoy it the entire time...

In short (thank you by the way for sticking around if you’re still here) I think it’s more important to carry a knife that YOU like, and that YOU enjoy looking at and using, regardless of other people’s opinions and needs. Have a great day y’all and Happy Halloween!!!


Why so serious?
Gold Member
Dec 25, 2012
IMO the path to enlightenment re: pocket knives is something this:

1. Thinner is better
2. Steel snobbery is beyond silly for most practical pocket knife use
3. Buying knives is no sillier a way to burn money than any other expensive hobby


Gold Member
Jun 29, 2008
If it's in my pocket, I'm going to cut with it, no matter what the scratch-inducing material may be. I work in an environment that I actually use my knife to cut and scrape things, all day sometimes. Unless you're a collector, I don't see why anyone would buy a knife, carry it, and not use it when a cutting opportunity arose? Scratches be damned, 95% of my knives have scratches, wear and use.


Basic Member
Jan 18, 2011
I have had a serious knife addiction for about 9 years. I have purchased at least 300, $8-$200 knives.
Nothing has really changed for me. I am still an enthusiastic collector of all kinds of value knives, hawks, machetes, and other weaponry. I carry a pocket knife every time I leave the house. My user knives ($10) are on my breakfast island, and on my key chain. I still don't like sharpening. The vast majority of my stuff is in mint, or near mint condition. Rust resistant steel is my super steel.
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Basic Member
Aug 29, 2019
"Perfect" is tricky enough that I don't bother. I like a "great carry knife" and there are a ton of knives that qualify. Most of them are very affordable.

I don't need a "super steel" but it has to be decent. I've spent a lot of time with 12C27, 14C28N, VG10, and more recently Civivi's 9Cr18Mov. All of those have been good enough for my EDC needs.

evilgreg is right that thinner is better for cutting. I also like a nice action and snappy detent. The act of exploring, trying new knives, watching reviews, etc. is more a matter of fun at this point. :D

Hickory n steel

Gold Member
Feb 11, 2016
I learned years ago that Knife steel didn't matter to me and no longer pay attention to anything besides whether it's carbon or stainless.
Now all my knives are traditionals In steels ( many unknown to me ) many might consider antiquated but work perfectly fine for me as an average Joe schmoe.
As a teenager I wanted what I was lead to believe I needed and payed attention to steels lockups and speed...ect, me and my friends all compared knives and stuff to see who's was fastest and most tactical.
I eventually realized none of these things were important considerations for my knife needs and have been much happier having gone traditional.

Went from what was supposed to be the latest and greatest to what pleases my eyes and works well for me.

You're definitely right, buy what you like and not whatever next best thing the market tells you you need to have.

Happy Halloween to all.

May 10, 2009
Two is one, one is none.

Do I hesitate to use my fancy custom knives when I know I can use a cheaper and replaceable production knife? Hell yes I do. That said, I'll still use my fancy knives to cut, but I always carry a 2nd production knife.

Also steel snobbery is a joke. Paying for a steel and not getting the proper performance is another thing though. The current band wagon of "thickness behind the edge" is also getting outta control. Most people that EDC a pocket knife will NEVER cut enough to truly be bothered about a thick knife.

People get a bit too analytical with this hobby at times. A few years ago everyone wanted big overbuilt knives and now it's the opposite. It's just the newest fad.


Gold Member
Nov 20, 2005
I have a distinct avoidance to using my more expensive knives. I sometimes wonder why I own them? But I know why>> because I like knives.

I don't seek the highest rated super steel for my knives. I have certainly been influenced that way, but these days, if I like a knife, I don't care what steel is used. I have no problem sharpening a knife. The cheaper steels sharpen easier and if I have to sharpen it a couple times a month, no big deal.

The knife thing/hobby is an evolution of thought and practical cutting. I get what I like and use it, but I don't use many $300 folders ever. So, I don't even consider buying one any more unless it's a fixed blade. I ask myself a question when I am considering buying a new knife? Would I use it? I the answer is No, I don't buy it. There is no perfect knife.

I don't worry about re-sale value. Because I never or hardly ever sell a knife. It is not even a remote consideration.

Enjoy using the knives that work for you. Don't worry about what other knife people think.

T.L.E. Sharp

Freedom for @Fullflat!!!
Platinum Member
Jun 30, 2016
I always made a point to use everything, even my most expensive knives... which also generally resulted in a realization that they all performed worse than my old ZDP Endura.

I have 4 main carry knives now. My absurd 940 build, the endura, a delica and a Calypso Jr. Superblue that was a gift from a friend. They're all light, thin and hold a keen edge really well. They're also all one of a kind.

I think I can avoid the latest and greatest going forward. I may do another knife build or two, but I've already found and own what works for me.


Gold Member
Sep 11, 2014
I do have some knives that have very little or no use ... but only because I had one like it and it was bought as a back up to a knife i used a lot and liked ... or I bought a knife and it just wasn't for me and it got put away ...

but I have recently sorted all of those out to pass on ... so that I will only keep knives that do get used ... and if something needs cut or scraped or split ... whatever knife I have on me at the time will get used for the task at hand ... regardless if it's a kershaw a case or a Sebenza or Hinderer that has all custom scales and hardware ... a knife I won't use is one I have no use for.


Platinum Member
Oct 16, 2018
Primarily, self defense. Secondarily, just to use to cut open a letter, box or whatever. Carry a karambit for the former and a folder for the latter; both at the same time.

In fact, I just used my karambit in justifyable SD this evening. Drunk & disorderly and battery charges filed against the assailant, who was arrested.

Guy was itching for a fight. Was minding my own business, eating a salad and drinking a beer at a local sports bar while watching the post-game interviews after the Niners game. He sat next to me and pushed against me. I moved and asked if he had enough room. He moved in even closer and asked me if I wanted to fight. Told him no, I didn't want to fight and wished him a Happy Halloween. He then apologized and appeared to let it go but then I called 911 to report him as a possible "drunk and disorderly" person under PC 647(f).

Was actually on the phone w/local 911 when I was attacked and that was probably why I was attacked. Knocked me on my ass off a tall stool seat and the phone out of my hand but as I fell I instinctively drew my small Bastinelli/Marcaida Pika karambit. It only has a 1" blade but it's razor sharp and still cut him w/it thru the heavy jacket that he was wearing. No time for any fancy blocks or counter moves; could have killed him if I did.

No charges filed against me because I was in reasonable fear of "great bodily injury" as a result of the attack. The assailant weighed at least 250# and only weigh 150. They also have a 911 tape of the call and incident while it was in progress.

PD arrived just a few mins after I was attacked. ID'd myself as a retired LEO and described my side of the incident. Had a least 5 witnesses (including another retired LEO who was known to some of the responding officers) who supported my version of the incident.

The knife was confiscated as evidence as I expected would happen. Took awhile for the supervising officer to ask for it. Didn't volunteer it but gave it up promptly when he asked for it. I expect it to be returned to me eventually (who knows when?) but I have another. Just be aware that if you use a weapon (any weapon) in SD or otherwise, that it will automatically be seized as evidence. So, don't ever carry your favorite knife (or gun) as your EDC.

Fell directly on my ass on a hard floor. My ass hurts more now that it did immediately after the incident; probably because I'm now coming down off of the adrenaline rush. By coincidence, I have a doctor's appt tomorrow and, if still hurts then, I'm going to ask for x-rays of my pelvis (and my left elbow which also hurts) and report any fractures to the supervising officer.

PS: Some will probably say that it would have been better if I carried a gun (which can do legally) but a gun would have not prevented the attack because it was so sudden and he was so close to me and, even if I had drawn a gun after falling to the floor, it would have probably just resulted in chaos (even after I ID's myself as a retired LEO). It would have been even worse if I actually shot him in response and, even if I drew the gun but didn't shoot him, they probably would still have confiscated my gun.

So, better a knife in this and similar situations IMO.

PPS: I was also carrying a 4" long Spyderco fluted Ti Millie at the time but there was not enough time to draw it and I would have hated to had that confiscated in the process because it is a very special knife. However, this incident just goes to prove (at least to me) that if you are going to carry a knife for SD, better to carry a fixed blade knife for that purpose than a folder.

BTW, there was no discussion of whether I was legally carrying the karambit -- ie., whether it was concealed or not -- before I deployed it. Hence, no such charges were filed against me and no way any such charges can be filed against me after the fact, unless I admit to concealed carry which of course I would not do.
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Jan 23, 2017
A few thoughts:
I'm never going to find a perfect knife, not even for specific situations/uses. I can find several I really like. This is why I haven't spent $400 on a Mnandi.
Pick the right tool for the situation/anticipated uses. So no giant Cold Steel in an office, pick a tool set on a multitool that fits what you want to do. This is EDC, you aren't carrying a tool box.
As with all EDC gear, availablity is the best quality. Doesn't matter about steel, build, number of tools, etc. It's all useless if you don't have it when you need it. A bad fit is better than no fit. An 18650 flashlight will light up a parking lot, but who has it with them all the time? I do have a RovyVon with me all the time though.
Above a certain point, I'm not too hung up on steel. Heat treatment, grind, and profile that fits the task means so much more.
I don't like steels that take all day to sharpen. I like to sharpen, but I don't love it <i>that</i> much. And maybe because I learned to sharpen on kitchen knives, but I love that fresh off the stones feel. Not even the most exotic steels keeps that for extended amounts of time.
Exotic materials mean nothing to me per se. I certainly like things that look nice, but knowing a cover is mammoth tusk or a blade is damascus means little. It doesn't add functionality at all. This doesn't mean knives have to be purely functional, but expensive by itself does little for me.
Turns out I don't care about the latest fads. Anybody who sees me say "Al Mar" or "Moki" can guess that. Harpoon blades, pocket cleavers, flippers, titanium, angular blades & handles fall somewhere between indifference and "just no".
I do love excellent fit and finish, even when it no longer improves usability. This doesn't apply entirely to kitchen knives.
All my knives are users, but not all get used. If I carry it, I'm willing to use it. But not all my knives are carried often. And really the clothes that go with MOP and such are worn in situations where I'm really unlikely to use a knife.

So most my knives are light and <3". I certainly have others, but that's what fits my life. For me there are lots of usable knives $20 and up. My best range is $50-$120.


Gold Member
Apr 3, 2001
OP, seems like you’ve come full circle. We all get there eventually.

I believe we all get to a point where we just like what we like, and don’t pay any mind if anybody else likes it, or hates it. That’s blade zen.


Sanity Not Included
Platinum Member
Aug 21, 2013
I've found that I enjoy tinkering and customizing my knives. Gives them personality. Currently, my most carried my Manix 2 as usual, Yojimbo 2, and Hogue Exploit. Someday, I'd like to have the blade coated lightsaber blue.

For the last five years, CTS-XHP has been, and remains, my favorite steel. I wish Spyderco would make more knives with it. The two I have are excellent.

Self defense had never really been on my mind. I'm not the bar going type. Haven't been to one, in hmm, at least 3 years.

I'm sorry to hear what happened to you sgt, that really sucks. I've only been in one fight, way back in high school. Most of my adult life I was 240-260lbs, 6'3" tall. I'm about 210 now. It's weird, no one has ever tried to pick a fight with me as an adult. Well, except my ex. She got kicked to the curb for her trouble.

Anyway, back to philosophizing.

At this point, I have become very particular about what I want in a knife. At that point, it becomes harder to find new knives to try. Sacrifices have to be made, but I don't always like them. I've transitioned to automatics for my last two purchases, which leaves my "no metal handles" requirement virtually n/a.

While I have knives that no longer meet my requirements, I still like them. But having a big chunk of metal in your pocket when it -15° is not fun. It's about this time of year those knives hibernate. I used to live in an apartment, and the loooong walk to my garage is what made me change. I'll never forget freezing waiting for a ride when the garage door broke, wearing slacks and an ice cold ZT 0801 in my pocket.
Nov 13, 2013
My philosophy may be described as a “McGyver syndrome” :)
I like to move around and to do things and it is always good to carry basic tool when you have this kind of nature

I carried a SAK for years and I still do, be it the small rambler I have on my keychain or other model in my backpack when I move around

I started to carry more robust knives when I started to do some backpacking and trails and it was a great experience to have there feeling you have a good tool - it was a ZT0350 at this point

after some time testing steels and designs to better understand what a good knife is (never searched for the best) is have build my own preferences

I am not running anymore after the last high steel trends as I have never been in a situation where I had a problem because of not having the right steel
I like a lot of steels, dislike a few of them - only based on my personal experience again
And good ergonomics and action are more important that steel in most cases

I don’t trust others to decide what is good for me, I listen to others experiences when they are valuable but I have always taken my own decisions

I think I am comfortable with knives around $150, mainlyin the $50 -$250 range
But as I am kind of a CRK fan so I have to break my own rules from time to time :)

i am quite lucky because a lot of excellent knives are in this price range

I think my best EDC would be a SAK, a small or large CRK and respectively a large or small spyderco

I use my CRK but I don’t my abusing my Spydercos
Nov 7, 2005
ah wonderful to note that this thread is not about this nightmare of a film...

but instead, "the philosophy of carrying a knife" :)
or is it about one being brutally honest about the pitfalls and perils of knife ownership?
starting from the very basics of choosing a knife on to
the complexities of grooming the mindset
towards the highest state of purpose driven user enlightenment?
such is the up and downs of having opened the pandora's box of knives :-}
we live in a time where there are far too many choices to delight the senses...
it is quite probable that this state of complexity is largely market driven??!
surely a knife is only as good as its edge;
and sadly, the most critical technical aspect in a knife
which has elude man since time immemorial :)
i would give anything for a knife which doesn't require
sharpening and would stay shaving sharp forever.
but something tells me that this would
not be good for business growth...
so i guess we would remain
running about in circles
trying to attain a myth.
but enjoying what's in front of us
warts, flaws and all.
Mar 10, 2010
A well considered self-evaluation and explanation OP. Thanks for sharing that.

Everyone has their own set ideas of budget and personal levels of comfort. At a certain point we become more than hobbyists in the collection and use of our things. And at that point cost is no longer a factor IMO, only using what is available and considered adequate.