The Everyday Folder

A few blogs ago I spoke about not just being a gun guy, but more of a combatives guy. That prompted a conversation regarding knife selection. Just like anything that is a very personal choice, kind of like 9mm vs. 45ACP. (Just kidding, couldn’t help myself)

During our Combative Edged Weapons class we discuss some features that you want to look for when choosing a folder for everyday carry.

The first thing you need to consider is do you look at the folder as a tool or letter opener. I see so many folks who don’t really select their folder based off being a good knife. A case in point, thrusting versus slashing. If you can agree that thrusting is optimal to reach the vital anatomy then serrated blades are like tits on a bull. That also dove tails with the length of the blade. Before you get too excited, make sure to check your local/state laws for legal blade length. I find a good 3″-3½” to be ideal or about the width of your palm. Plenty of penetration depth to reach most of the organs that might be targeted along with most clothing. As for the blade type or material; well that is a whole can of worms. I prefer a drop point type blade, but tanto and spear points are pretty popular.

After that you want to consider the method of opening, or opening feature. I prefer the thumb stud, but a thumb hole and T-post are pretty popular. Each has merits, but I find the thumb stud works very well from the right side or left side, gives depth to the ledge to allow more positive opening.

The next feature you want to look at is the locking mechanism. There are three main types, the Axis™ Lock, liner lock and spine lock. I prefer the Axis™ as it is ambidextrous and very sturdy. The liner locks are sturdy as well, but typically not ambidextrous and then spine lock needs to have a the lock beveled to avoid accidentally closing with a firm grip.

The body type is personal preference again, but I prefer lighter plastic or glass-filled handles. They are plenty rugged, with good grip texture and of course nice and light. Since I carry a knife on me almost all the time, like when I’m running that is an important feature.

Since most of the folders are designed for daily carry the pocket clip is pretty important. Prior to your purchase, you need to decide on whether you will go tip up or tip down. Some model can have the clip adjusted to allow for left or right hand carry as well as tip up or tip down for total adaptation to the user. I prefer to carry the tip up so that limits my choices somewhat, but I have the option for left or right carry.

There are a lot of other features such as assisted opening or automatics and I strongly discourage you from using them as an everyday carry folder. I have plenty and they are neat, but not a good choice for real fighting. Since they are carried in the front pockets these auto can inadvertently open generally cutting the user on the inside of the thigh. You can see where I am going with that, then some will choice to employ the small and often times suspect “locking features”. Kind of defeats the purpose of a quick opening blade.

These are some of the main points we provide students who are looking for a good everyday folder. It really narrows the field down, which is not a bad thing.

6 thoughts on “The Everyday Folder

  1. RamZar says:

    There are a lot of manual flippers these days. These are not spring loaded like the automatic or assisted-opening folders and thus safe. Many of these flippers do not even have thumb studs. They give you the best features of fast deployment without the disadvantages. Case in point, Zero Tolerance 0801.

    There are automatics and assisted-opening folders that have secondary locks just to avoid the blade from accidentally deploying in your pocket. Case in point, Benchmade Emissary.

    In Los Angeles we’re limited to 3 inch blades on folders if the folder is in “plain view”. If the clip is visible then the folder is in plain view. You can conceal carry a larger folder if it’s totally concealed. NYC has the same law regarding totally concealed. Blade lengths in Chicago and Boston are limited to 2.5 inches. In such cases, get one with a big handle so that you can grasp the folder securely.

    Unfortunately, Axis lock is proprietary to Benchmade. Spyderco has a similar Ball Bearing lock. Axis lock is not infallible since it has a spring.

    A very popular locking mechanism these days is the frame lock which is a form of liner lock. Very sturdy.

    Some folders have a glass breaker which comes in handy. Serrations are good for ropes and seat belts.

    The most popular handle material continues to be G-10. Metal handles can have temperature transfer issues although not so much for titanium.

    Blade steel can be selected based on usage, environment, wear resistance, toughness, edge retention, etc.

    • Jeff Gonzales says:

      Thanks for the comments, some good information there. Again, we see folks who have really not been in situations where reliable deployment was important. Most of the time they haven’t had to work through a close quarter scenario while trying to deploy their folder. “Flipper” devices are highly unsuccessful and even under normal conditions slower than proper blade deployment.

      The Axis lock is fallible, no different than any other series of moving parts. However, in our effort to “break” it we came up short. Salt water immersion, dragged through the sand and thousands of deployments have yet to see it fail. Given the advantages it has risen above the field.

      • RamZar says:

        You’d be pleasantly surprised on how fast I can deploy the Zero Tolerance 0801 manual flipper. As you withdraw the folder, your index finger gets on the flipper and once you clear your pocket it deploys pointing down.

        Another fast deployment opening mechanism is the Emerson Wave. In addition to venerable models from Emerson like the Commander the Wave is licensed to others and you can get folders from Spyderco and Fox with it. Soon, the upcoming Zero Tolerance 0620.

        I like the Axis lock but titanium frame lock is a great alternative.

        Back in late November 2013 Benchmade started enforcing their Minimum Advertised Pricing (MAP) which is 15% below MSRP. What this means is that all of a sudden people are forced with a 35% price increase. A Benchmade Contego that cost me $134 last year is now $181!

        • Jeff Gonzales says:

          No, actually we wouldn’t, but we would enjoy you realizing how much slower you actually are versus the targeting from deployment. Then again, that wouldn’t be a surprise with the feature 🙂 Thanks for the tips.

  2. katgirl2000 says:

    Thank you so much and I love information dense articles from credible sources! omg, love to take those courses too. I’ve always loved blades (and a zillion other things). I could say a Lot about my preferences but the photo shows one of my three favorite folders. One thing I’ve noticed is as my def/tac firearms instructor says about carbine platforms, if you like both ARs and AKs, it helps to make a choice between the two and excel at one (unless the gov’t pays you for range time and ammo) since w/o the hours and hours to have absolute muscle memory, one could get slowed down by momentary confusion while stressed. I’ve noticed the same things about (my personal example) Emersons and Benchmades. If I alternate or as I often do, have both the Traveler SF and either the Greptilian or Adamas because both are terrific tools which perform their best at slightly different tasks. I notice that I occasionally get a little hesitation while presenting one or the other because of the different mechanisms and a little more often, I’ll try to close the Benchmades from under the grip. In an emergency I’d go for the Benchmade. For me, if I have a Wave equipped folder in a jeans pocket, the Wave will often get caught in the pocket and start to open so I’ve gotten in the habit of slapping, sticking the thumb to the end of the clip and keeping the blade closed with my other fingers while taking it out even slowly. One of the largest accidental knife incisions I’ve ever had was from making the mistake (and I realize many would never do this and love that feature) of hooking it on my pocket seam rather than near the belt. The factory edge was great since at the store I only noticed a sting until the clerk, a friend of mine, pointed at the warm growing blot of blood on my jeans. It’s good, I got a lab practical in FI patching since I had a two mile walk home and it opened up with each step 🙂 I prefer drop style as well and notice in my tests that honed well it works better with slashes and still performs during thrusts. Too long already – again many thanks! Greg Ellfritz introduced me to another terrific website and instructor wish list (Hoo Rah)

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