Sometimes, the best weapon is the element of surprise, but it definitely helps to have an actual weapon to back it up. Defeating the adversary relies on your being prepared for anything and everything, and that means having proven gear like a quality folding knife on your person at all times. Knives have a prominent military history, ranging from combat to commando blades, and folding knives set themselves apart through concealability. Sure, they may not be as reliable and deadly as a standard-issue combat knife, but a good, solid folding knife is a must-have for any gear loadout whether you’re prepping for deployment or just gearing up for a stroll through the neighborhood.
Of course, not all folding knives are made alike. These weapons come in all sizes, with varying blade material, latch mechanisms, and handle structure. To cut through the noise and make research easier, we’ve compiled the most iconic folding knives and some tips on making the right pick.
Spyderco Harpy Folding Knife
If you’re looking for a high-end knife that’s reliable in all situations, then the Spyderco Harpy Folding Knife is a worthy selection. The hawkbill blade is made out of durable stainless steel that boasts a substantial amount of chromium to help with rust resistance. The knife features two levels of serating, making the blade good for both slicing and sawing. The blade itself rings in at just under three inches; when expanded, the entire knife is less than seven inches long. It folds down easily so you can store it pretty much anywhere that allows you easy access. With an ergonomically-curved handle, you can always maintain a solid grip on this handy knife no matter the circumstances you’re dealing with. [Buy]
Opinel Carbon Steel Folding Knife
When your focus is on finding a stylish blade that’s relatively easy to conceal, the Opinel Carbon Steel Folding Knife is a great way to go. What it lacks in bells and whistles, it compensates for in stealth as the compact size and thin handle make it easy to store anywhere on your person The handle itself is made out of treated beechwood, a sturdy material that isn’t prone to premature wear. While compact, the handle is still curved for a comfortable grip. The blade’s carbon steel facilitates durability while remaining easy to sharpen, and at just over three inches long it’s effective at handling a variety of different tasks. Folding and opening with ease, this lightweight knife is both affordable and useful. [Buy]
Gerber Vital Folding Knife
The Gerber Vital Folding Knife is popular amongst both combatants and hunters for obvious reasons. The razor-sharp blade is made out of stainless steel and comes and keeps you in full control with the powerful lock back mechanism and a large-size finger choil. The blades are meant to be easy to swap out and replace with the push-button control. When in use, the blade locks reliably in position, connecting firmly to the sturdy rubber handle. Come rain or shine, the ergonomic grip and quality materials let you handle the blade with ease. Lightweight and durable, this knife sets itself apart in terms of simplified maintenance and high functionality. [Buy]
RoverTac Multitool Folding Knife
Those who want a tool that does more than cut can get a lot of benefits from the RoverTac Multitool Folding Knife. For starters, it works not only as a blade but also as a screwdriver (with several bits included). Among its other components are wire cutters, three kinds of pliers, and bottle and can openers, additions that make this knife a go-to solution if you have to travel light but remain prepared. Taken together, the tool weighs less than eight ounces and folds down to just over four inches in length. With more than three inches of cutting surface, the blade is also partially serrated so it works to saw and to slice, making it a truly multipurpose folding knife. [Buy]
Cold Steel Luzon Series Folding Knife
For times when you are gearing up for battle, the Cold Steel Luzon Series Folding Knife is a reliable companion. The knife is relatively slim, capable of easily tucking away in a pocket. If your focus is on simplified access, you can use the pocket clip to affix it to your gear without issue. The knife is made out of cold-pressed steel, featuring an extremely sharp edge that can cut through just about anything with ease. With a folding mechanism that uses an easy-to-control catch, you can quickly expand the blade when you need it. The handle encourages good grip through ample texturing. This knife sets itself apart from the rest through quality materials and a compact, powerful design. [Buy]
Types of folding knives
- Penknife: Though it originated as a British term for a petite folding knife, the penknife has become synonymous with compact folding knives. It refers to single blades that come to a sharp point and are relatively thin, like a pen. Usually, the knife will be flat and not serrated, and relatively simple in design. This type of knife is well-suited for situations that require both stabbing and slicing or require you to conceal your blade for the element of surprise.
- Jackknife: A jackknife is similar to a penknife in that it has a single blade that folds into the main structure. However, unlike a penknife, a jackknife blade is often much larger. This type of knife is fairly diverse, coming in a range of sizes and styles. You can find serrated blades for sawing and flat blades for slicing, with some folding knives blending the two. Regardless of the angle of the blade, if it is a single blade that folds inwards, it can be classed as a jackknife.
- Multipurpose knife: The most versatile of the folding knife types, a multipurpose folding knife is a tool that works primarily as a blade, though it has other abilities too. Perhaps the most well-known item in this category is the Swiss Army Knife. However, the principle of combining essential tools into a compact folding structure can be found across the world. While these tools work as everything from can openers to saws to pliers, it can be trickier to use them in a combat situation since accessing the knife blade may be more challenging.
Key features of folding knives
- Blade: The most essential feature of any folding knife is the blade itself. Typically, blades will be made out of stainless steel material in order to prevent the risk of corrosion. The width and length of the blade vary, though most folding knife blades ring in at less than five inches. You can find everything from serrated to hawksbill to straight-edge blades, each serving a different purpose. Ideally, the blade will be easy to clean and to sharpen, letting you keep the folding knife in working condition for longer.
- Handle: Essential for gripping and maneuvering the folding knife is the handle. Pen knives tend to have the simplest handles, though most still incorporate some curves to fit into your hand more easily. Jackknives usually have the most grip-friendly handles, incorporating textured material and ergonomic angles. Multipurpose knives tend to have the hardest to use handles since it houses more than just the blade. When assessing handles, look for something that will let you hold it tightly so you don’t risk dropping it at an inopportune moment.
- Latch: The latch mechanism on the knife dictates how you flip the blade outwards and lock it in position. It also speaks to the catch mechanism that you must adjust in order to fold the knife back into the handle. High-quality folding knives have a powerful lock that lets you apply angular force to the blade without causing it to fold. Sliders are a popular mechanism since they are easy to control and limit the risk of the knife collapsing during battle.
Benefits of folding Knives
For starters, a folding knife is small enough to let you tuck it into your boot, your pocket, or elsewhere on your person. It gives you the advantage of having a concealed weapon without having to worry about showcasing the fact that you are armed. By design, folding knives aren’t heavy since meant to keep you agile without compromising your security or tactical advantages when on the move. While a folding knife shouldn’t be your only blade, it certainly offers an added level of safety to have on your person.
Knives for survival are typically of the multipurpose variety. The folding capability gives you the benefits of multiple tools without the bulk and weight. Depending on the model, you can use these knives as everything from pliers to a fire starter. Folding knives also operate well in conjunction with hunting knives, functioning as a solid backup blade for times when your hunting tools are in use so you don’t have to go without a personal blade.
Folding knife pricing
Most folding knives under $50 price range are ideal for short-term use but lack some advanced features like textured handles and replaceable blades. Most tactical folding knives fall into the $50 to $100 price range, particularly multipurpose knives and good-quality jackknives. Durable and effective, these knives are good for the long-term. While uncommon, some folding knives that exceed $100 feature a high-end blade, reliable locking mechanism, and ergonomically-designed handle.
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