Letter Re: Everyday Carry Pocketknife Recommendation?

Mr. Rawles:
I’ve seen your recommendations on guns for survival situations, but what do recommend for “Everyday Carry” kinda pocket knives? And what do you carry personally? Thanks, – H.Y.

JWR Replies: My general preference is for “low-end” stainless steel folding knives with a positive lock, and with tanto-style tips. In my experience tantos are less prone to getting broken tips. For versatility, I also tend toward knives that are serrated in the back half of the blade. (Commonly called “50/50” or “half-serrated”.) My everyday carry knife is an extra large (5″ blade) Cold Steel 29 XTH Voyager. On occasions when I need something smaller, I carry a CRKT M16 with a 2.75-inch blade. Again, it is stainless, half serrated, and has tanto style tip. During deer and elk season, a I substitute a Case clip-point folder.

It is noteworthy that I’ve never spent more than $55 for one of my pocketknives–and far less for most. (I buy a lot of used knives at gun shows and on eBay. Why pay full retail?) My philosophy is that a knife is is an everyday tool to use, not an object of art to admire. If I owned a really nice custom knife, then I’d probably baby it, fearing that I might somehow damage it. And if I were to lose it out in the field, a $300+ Chris Reeve folder, it would be a heartbreaking experience. But by buying mass-produced knives, I avoid both of those issues. I don’t abuse my knifes, but I don’t shy away from giving them honest, hard use. I’d also much rather own six $50 knives than one $300 knife. That fits with the SurvivalBlog preparedness philosophy of “two is one, and one is none.”

OBTW, when shopping for used pocketknives, one trick I’ve discovered to use when searching eBay is to search on the desired brand name AND knives AND TSA, by searching both titles and descriptions (or alternatively, the desired brand name AND knives AND confiscated. These searches will show you lots of used knives that were confiscated by airport screeners. These are often name brand knives sold in groups of 2 to 10, typically resulting with winning bids between 10% to 30% of normal retail.