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How much blade and why?

Discussion in 'Knives' started by aicolainen, Sep 2, 2020.

  1. aicolainen

    aicolainen Loaded Pockets

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    I know there are similar threads, but they are old and the approach to the subject is slightly different.

    Since diving head first into this rabbit hole, I've been reading, watching and researching quite a bit on the topic of folding knives, and I'm a bit amazed by how popular the large folders are.

    For me, I quickly found my preference to gravitate toward the smaller pocket knives with modern features such as one hand opening, pocket clips and locks.
    For me there are just so many advantages in keeping the knife small and light:
    • I carry the knife infinitely more than I cut with it.
    • I don't like to have a lot of things in my pockets, especially things that make them bulge, restrict movement when sitting down or trying to get passed obstructions or bump around annoyingly when running or moving fast.
    • I only cut small stuff with my EDC knife (tie wraps, wire insulation, opening boxes / packaging etc.)
    • I want to be a good ambassador for the knife community, and executing my limited cutting tasks with an unnecessarily large or scary knife just seems counterproductive when trying to promote the knife as a perfectly normal and useful tool.
    In all my time spent reading on different forums, watching YT and so on, I rarely see anybody mention other cutting tasks than opening boxes (often of new knives), cutting cardboard or cutting apples (apples, really?).
    I get it if we're talking food prep, but if that was my jam, I would have a dedicated knife for that. Both from a functional and hygienically perspective I think that is more than justified.
    If we're talking outdoor use or hard work, we're quickly moving into fixed blade territory.

    What inspired this thread is my recent quest (and accompanying thread) to find a large-ish do-it-all folder for backpacking. And I've got to say that after some initial trials, it seems I've hit a dead end. Even in that setting I seem to not develop a liking for a large folder, and rather take a weight penalty and throw a suitable fixed blade in my backpack. I've yet to conclude, but that's how it looks atm.

    This is purely meant to be a friendly discussion, there is no problem here that needs solving. I'm just curious why so many (apparently) prefers large folders, and what they are using them for?
     
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  2. CV801

    CV801 Loaded Pockets

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    I'm with you. I'm not sure where you draw the distinction between large and small knives but I prefer sub 3" blades. My 2 favorite EDC knives I rotate carrying are a carbon fiber inlayed Chris Reeve Mnandi and a Medford micro Praetorian. I also sometimes throw in a Kirby Lambert custom. The Lambert is large for me. It has a 4"+ blade. I loved the knife and materials so I bought it but it is too large for my liking. I feel when I pull it out to use it the size is a little obnoxious. If I could just get a smaller version.....


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  3. ThaMac

    ThaMac Loaded Pockets

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    3.5“ is the sweet spot for me. Big enough for whatever, small enough to not bother me.


    Austria est imperare orbi universo.
     
  4. aicolainen

    aicolainen Loaded Pockets

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    That's an important question you ask there. We can't really get a meaningful conversation without some kind of definition. For all I know, even Lynn Thompson agrees with me as he go about his day carrying his small 5" folder :)

    Looking at how manufacturers position their knives, I'll say the term small/compact/mini is generally used for sizes approx. 2.5-3". However, knives like the DF2 and Lil'Native are solid performers that has never made me feel under equipped, so for the scope of this thread I'll say anything between 2.25-3" should be adequate for most tasks. There isn't really a need to define a lower limit, but as we're moving into the key ring knife territory I can really understand that's not for everyone, and even I start to see some practical limitations.

    There will always be some outliers that I will consider capable enough or small enough even though they fall outside this general size range. For instance I do carry my Bugout a whole lot for EDC just because it's such an easy carry, but the blade is certainly a bit longer than I really need (3.25"). I do have the mini on order though..
     
  5. aicolainen

    aicolainen Loaded Pockets

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    Can't argue with that. If the size in pocket doesn't bother you, there's no real compromise and I can easily see why you might want to put more priority on things like balance, heft and ergonomics.
    Just for insight; is there anything you typically need to cut or foresee having to cut, that would be difficult or less convenient to cut with a smaller blade?
     
  6. EZDog

    EZDog EDC Junkie!!!!!

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    I dont know why but I seem to cut myself with small folders a lot more than I do with larger ones?
    My main uses are for work carry and I work all the time and for this a larger blade just proves itself the more useful choice pretty nuch every time and I like not getting cut myself while cutting too!

    I have carried a Manix LW for over a year now because I also like not being weighed down by the larger knife and the Manix LW is both incredibly tough while being surprisingly light,not a common combination.

    If I need something smaller it is usually a Delica and for the same exact reasons.

    I have a bunch of nice knives but this is what it seems to come down to for me.
     
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  7. ThaMac

    ThaMac Loaded Pockets

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    Not really. But I’m 5‘9“ with about 210 lbs and a 9 to 9.5 glove size. Cutting e.g. a box I want to grab some handle for good.
    Dat ergo of an SnG Lego, I tell you hwhat!


    Austria est imperare orbi universo.
     
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  8. Boy SureFire

    Boy SureFire May The Bridges I Burn Light The Way

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    I'm about tbe same way. Somewhere around 3" will get the job done be it opening letters, defensive, or simply cutting food for the kids. I own smaller knives, but even 2" is on the small side for certain food prep tasks.
     
  9. Moshe ben David

    Moshe ben David Loaded Pockets

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    For me its less about the blade length than it is the feel in hand. Most of my knives have blades that are in the range @aicolainen mentions; 2.25" ~ 3", but I do have several up around 3.5" or so that show up in my pocket on a rotation basis. Plus a very few up around 3.75" -- mostly Buck 110 that when I carry are in a belt sheath. At the same time, almost invariably I have a secondary knife -- usually a SE -- e.g., Spyderco Ladybug, Manbug or even maybe a slip joint 'peanut' type with me.

    All that being said, not a lot of heavy cutting occurs in my daily life. I just like having the blades with me!

    Am Yisrael Chai!

    Moshe ben David
     
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  10. jackknife

    jackknife Loaded Pockets

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    To be honest, I've very rarely ever needed more than 2 inches of blade for 98% of what I do with a pocket knife. I'm an old fart, that grew up in the 1950's, so my point of view may be somewhat different. Most of my life I've carried a small pocket knife like a Case peanut, Victorinox SAK of some sort like the small tinker, classic, and now executive. I got by with the classic as my EDC for like 20 years. But then, I'm not a die hard knife nut.

    I've used those small pocket knives formats cutting, that includes my service in the army combat engineers, and a life as a soccer dad, gardener, Harry Homeowner, camper, motorcyclist, fisherman, and machinist. My working like in a machine shop we had Stanley utility knives, that had a 1 inch blade and that stripped cable, cut open heavy double wall cardboard boxes, and cut miles of dirty steel dust impregnated duct tape that held bundles of round stock together for the lathe work.

    Those two inches of blade will do for most things, and results I a small pocket knife that you can drop in a pocket and forget about until you need a knife. Since I don't use a knife for the idea of self defense, I don't need to worry about taking out enemy sentries other fantasy ideas that the knife magazines put out. Nor do I have thoughts of traveling the length and breadth of the Amazon jungle with that one wonder knife.

    Somehow, as a retired old guy that is now doing a heck of a lot of fishing, and traveling around the country with my better half, I haven't needed more pocket knife than that Victorinox executive. In all truth, the obsessive knife nut things aside, most people in an urban/suburban environment can get by with a keyring size knife. Heck, most people these days don't even carry a knife. Think about the that. The one real world emergency I really did have, crawling into an over turned old Datsun B210 that was starting to burn, and cut the heart belt of the victim that was hanging upside don in the seat, I used a 1 3/4 inch blade. The small sheep foot blade of a Buck stockman. It worked very well.

    The big locking one hand wonders they sell now are fantasy knives for stroking the ego.
     
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  11. Sentinel-14

    Sentinel-14 Loaded Pockets

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    I carry two knives daily. The first is typically an older Schrade 8OT Senior, which is their large stockman pattern with a 2.75" primary clip blade, 2" spey and 2" sheepsfoot. This knife is my general-use knife. The sheepsfoot gets used for general cutting tasks, be it boxes, tape, envelopes, string, etc... anything to not upset people in an office environment. The 3" clip blade is my steak knife, as I have yet to go to a restaurant that provides a decent steak knife so I just started carrying my own. The spey doesn't see use. On occasion, I carry a Case Barlow instead, with the primary blade being my food blade and the pen blade being my general-use cutting tool.

    That's my primary knife; the one I go to most often.

    My 'big' knives however are all single-blade locking knives in the 3.25'-3.75" range. Since my slipjoint is my general-use knife, that relegates my larger knives to 'social work' as they say, and with that in mind I want something that I can open with one hand (assuming the other hand is occupied with the social subject), big enough that I can firmly hold onto when using it, and with a big enough blade that will penetrate enough to do effectual damage. Also, a one-hand-opening knife can be critical in an emergency situation, say where I need to cut my seatbelt and one arm is non-functional for whatever reason.

    For a time I carried a 3" Gerber Paraframe I and it was a perfectly serviceable knife, but it got replaced (by a Gerber Evo) because I wanted a larger knife for social use. I've handled many knives over the years and this seems to be where I've settled: a medium to large slipjoint for general use, and a 3.25"+ locking folder for social work.


    Now, that said, do I ever expect to use the 'social work' knives? No, I dont. I generally try to avoid situations that might necessitate it, so the whole idea is probably more of me justifying to myself carrying two knives when I dont really 'need' to. I 'need' to carry the slipjoint so as not to attract unwanted attention from other office people, but then my larger folders would just sit at home, unused. I cant abide that, so one gets carried regardless.

    All-told, I much prefer a fixed blade to a folder any day of the week: I'd rather carry my Bastion semi-custom or my BK14 than a 3.25" folder, and I'd rather carry my BK15, BK16 or Buck Mesa than either of those. But, we do what we can.
     
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  12. Boy SureFire

    Boy SureFire May The Bridges I Burn Light The Way

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    What would you consider to be a big knife? For daily carry 3"- 4" is my preference for ease of use and keeping the pivot clean. I have non-locking knives much like the SAK/Case, but what takes up space in my pocket is a Spyderco Endura that regularly cuts through heavy zip ties. Obviously we don't all have to like the same thing, so carry what works for you.
     
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  13. charlie fox

    charlie fox Loaded Pockets

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    3-4” with 3.25 being the sweet spot. Not a lot one can’t accomplish with that short of heavy chopping.
     
  14. jackknife

    jackknife Loaded Pockets

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    I guess with the 1950's as my guide, to me any knife over 3 1/2 inches closed is getting big. More than 2 1/2 inches is getting a bit much for most urban/suburban carry and use. How much blade does one really need in life as an office worker in the 21st century office cubicle environment? In the blue collar work environment, what we used was the simple time tested utility knife. With a blade all of 1 inch full extended, I've cut water heaters out of the heavy double wall shipping box, stripped heavy electric cable for hookups, broke down many boxes, cut tar paper for roofing sublayer, and other heavy dirty work.

    I've tried the modern knives with one hand opening, liner locks, and zooy features that I didn't really need. IN act, as old as I am to reach social security age, I never needed the one hand opening feature. And yes, I've been a ladder and needed to reach over and cut a line. I used my regular slip joint pocket knife with all of a 2 1/4 inch blade with no problem. I didn't fall off a ladder or other mishap.

    What I did find I really missed when I tried the oversize over weight bulky modern knives was, the one dimension shallow abilities of being limited to just the one blade. With almost all my small SAK's, I had two blades, screw drivers for both flat and Phillips, some light prying ability, can opening, bottle opening, and other uses limited only by the imagination of those odd shaped bits of tool on a SAK.

    I've cut all kinds of stuff in my life, and I've never needed more than 2 to 2 1/2 inches of pocket knife blade. If I need more knife, then I'll carry a fixed blade like my Buck 102 woodsman or Swedish Mora. Both are as lightweight as most of the so called 'tactical' knives and no lock to worry about not working. I've had lock blades in the distant past, and I've seen the after math off a lock failure with some young kid who thought his knife the end all of hand held cutlery. One was a total amputation of the right index finger and severe damage to the middle right finger. The other was a young man at the hand surgery center back in Maryland where the doctor was doing a second surgery on this kids hand because he had way too much faith in his one hand wonder high dollar tactical knife. He was playing around practicing with it and stabbed a tree and the lock failed and blade collapsed on his hand. If he'd had a fixed blade no problemo.

    AND THERE BOYS AND GIRLS IS THE PROBLEM.

    The knife industry, to stimulate sales, has sold the modern life as a possible self defense tool. I see soooo many guys saying that if someone 'got on me" or they had a "social situation" they have this knife. Bull hockey. Have nay of you swinging Richards been in a knife fight?

    I've seen one real knife in my life, and after that I ain't going there. It was at Ft. Leonard Wood Missouri that two young idiots got not it. One was PO'ed off that a baggie of pot hie bought was 'light'. they got into it, and in just few moments the sidewalk was covered in blood, one was dead and the other was in the base hospital I.C.U. for a longtime and sucked his meals through a straw for a long time. He eventually got sent to Ft. Leavenworth as witnesses said he was the one who pulled a knife first.

    A knife is maybe THE worst self defense weapon you can carry. It has no stopping power like a firearm. Any kind of blunt force trauma weapon is better, like a cane/stouyt walking stick, blackjack, jack handle, bar stool, pool stick, fireplace poker, beer pitcher, frying pan, tree branch, Creasant wrench, ball peen hammer, chair rung, heavy ashtray, and anything else you can pick up and smack with.

    In my late teens, I was tuning with a not so good crowd in my hometown of Washington D.C. I was very often with people I should not have been with, doing things I should not have been doing, in a part of town I had no business being in. There was violence here and there. I eve watched a guy pull a knife on my semi criminal mentor, Ray. Ray had served time and being a convicted felon, had to be careful on what he was found with on his person. But Ray was a motorcycle mechanic and he always had this beat up old adjustable wrench in his side pocket.

    One night after a pool game the guy he beat was welching on paying up. Accused Ray of hustling him, and pulled a knife and toildhim to have fun trying to collect. Ray pulled his wrench and the knife guy trying to stick him. I just a few nano seconds Ray had smashed knife guys right hand/wrist and backhanded him in the chops with the wrench breaking his jaw. It was all over in anew seconds. Knife guy was off to the ER and Ray picked up his money off the side of the table. Non of knife guys friends objected.

    If knives are so good for defense, why don't they issue them to the cops? In the old days before the weak-minded idiots that run cities took the wood night sticks away from the cops, a decently trained cop with a billy club would annihilate a punk with a knife. No contest. In Saigon, one had to be carful of posing those old men with the wax wood canes that walked the streets. Same in the Philippines.

    Play with the knives all you want, but don't put too much faith in them as a weapon. IN this day and age, most criminals will use a gun, so just go get your CCW. Carry a small pocket knife to cut stuff, but have a gun in your pocket for serious defense. Anything else is delusional.
     
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  15. EZDog

    EZDog EDC Junkie!!!!!

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    One handed opening is terrific for me all the time.
    We each have preferences and none of yours diminish even one of mine.


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  16. adnj

    adnj Loaded Pockets

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    I see some post regarding physique. That's an important aspect for many.

    Other things to consider for a folder is you pocket load, the kind of pants that you are wearing, and your environment.

    When I am going to spend time in meetings, something the size of a Kershaw Leek or a custom friction folder (3") is plenty. I am wearing slacks or a suit and I don't want to weigh myself down.

    When I am going to the mall or the hardware, something like a PM2 or Persistence (3.5") is at the minimum. I may cut twine or tape with it. I will likely also have another fixed blade on my belt (about 4 inches). At this point, I have on pants or shorts with lots of pockets and a belt.

    When I am at home, a ZT0200, Military, M16 (4") is what I carry. I may cut a vine or or other vegetation, nylon line, rope. I will usually have a folding utility knife for wire insulation or tape, and larger fixed blade when walking the dog or by the back property line.

    I believe that you pick you tools for the circumstances.

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  17. smokingfish

    smokingfish Loaded Pockets

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    I've carried many different size blades, 3.5 is perfect for my hands.

    The knife clips to my pocket and doesn't really weigh much or takes up space.

    I do have a mnandi and small sebenza which is smaller, but its not as easy to use at work than my large sebenza.
     
  18. aicolainen

    aicolainen Loaded Pockets

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    Some interesting answers.
    Remember to keep the discussion friendly, there are no wrong answers here, and nobody should have to defend or justify their choice. Some things we choose just because we like it, and that's a perfectly fine reason.

    I was just trying to figure out if people chose larger folders to serve specific cutting tasks, or if it was just personal preference and ergonomics driven.
    So far it seems like the latter is the case.

    Please continue adding to the discussion, as someone mentioned in another thread, things are kind of slow around here atm.

    This thread should mainly focus on size and not modern vs traditional, but still I think it's interesting to read anecdotal tales from life lived. It provides more depth and context to how we perceive the advantage of size.

    Personally I struggle to embrace the traditional patterns, even though I would like to. I'm not drawn towards tactical features or marketing, or much marketing hypes at all. It's impossible to not be affected by ones environment, so theres obviously some of that on the unconscious level, but I mostly evaluate tools and equipment by how well they perform to my personal needs. Just the number EDC-community favorites I've tried and moved on because they didn't fit my needs should go to show there is at least some proof in that pudding. Might be my spoiled, comfortable boomer upbringing, but I really appreciate the convenience of pocket clips and one hand operation. If someone made an otherwise traditional small slipjoint knife with a one hand opening sheepsfoot blade and a deep carry pocket clip, I'd be all over it.
     
  19. jcombs

    jcombs Loaded Pockets

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    After burning through a fair number of forum favorites (both inexpensive and higher end). I’ve settled on these parameters for my EDC:

    Nothing over 7” total length - mainly for comfort but a 3” blade is enough almost always.
    Pocket clip - I dislike the weight of a knife at the bottom of my pocket
    Locking blade - generally safer with no worries about closing accidentally

    99.9% of the time is a CR Sebenza 31 or a BM Mini Grip

    I have several traditional folders and a few fixed blades that rarely get carried but I like them so they stay around.
     
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  20. Reidar Chr. L. Guttormsen

    Reidar Chr. L. Guttormsen Loaded Pockets

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    Its Pokemon to me. Gotta catch em all! (The ones that I can afford, I want to own) But as to the size I actually carry, I am in the Bugout-Dragonfly territory

    from my S-A-M-S-U-N-G S9+ via T-A-P-A-T-A-L-K
     
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