Like you, I’m constantly trying to find out what the best knives are. There are so many, at so many different prices, that it is easy to get sidetracked.
With the articles my friend Phil Elmore and I write at The Martialist, we have gone through hundreds of knives over the years. Some great, some are not so spectacular.
Let me tell you about the ones I have grown fond of. Not all of them are cheap, but many are.
1. CRKT Grant Hawk D.O.G. [deadbolt over grabstep] Lock. Its an open body, easily sharpened folder with a strong lock that is almost impossible to defeat. CRKT no longer makes them, but the D.O.G. lock is available on eBay all the time. Easy to clean if you use it to dress a game animal as well.
2. Spyderco Para Military. A shortened, easier to handle version of the large Military, I know of several soldiers, hunters and first responders who carry these in their go bags.
3. CRKT M-21 Carbon fiber special forces. I chose it because I think the tanto blade, which is used in the M-16 series, is really only useful for cutting someone out of a wreck, a crashed plane, or fighting with a goblin who is wearing body armor.
4.Spyderco waved Endura. If you can get it in VG-10 steel, the Endura is a top flight choice. The wave feature was designed by Ernie Emerson and first came out in their Emerson Commander. The wave makes it a simple matter to open the knife one handed.
5.If one looks hard enough, it’s easy to find a used Spyderco Chinook II folder on eBay. Designed by James Keating, that knife is robust enough to field dress an Elk, help cut up wood for campfires and yes, even use in self defense against an attacker if you get caught away from your handgun or shotgun.
What about fixed blades?
I like my Fallkniven F-1 fixed blade. Its designed right, with respect to the designs of Loveless, and is useful as a pilot’s knife. I know of at least one army pilot in Iraq who has one strapped to his web gear every day as he goes out in his Blackhawk helicopter. Mine has been used to field dress three deer, a friend borrowed it to cut up a black bear with, and I’ve carried it during every camping trip for three years.
At this point, mine is in the go bag in the back seat of my Ford Explorer, along with camping gear, several loaded glock mags and numerous shotgun shells.
The great thing is, any of these knives can be found for less than a hundred dollar bill. – Lawrence K.