The folding knife, also known as a folding pocket knife, “folder,” or “flipper,” is a classic all-purpose tool. Tracing all the way back to the very earliest moments of recorded history, for many people it's proven itself as an essential item, on par with one’s keys or wallet.
But while a folding knife does indeed make a great addition to anyone’s pocket, it’s not always easy to choose the right one. After all, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of different kinds of folding knives out there. Choosing the right folding knife can come down to a number of different factors.
Below, we’ll lay out some of the considerations you should take into account when choosing a folding pocket knife. While not comprehensive of every factor, these are some of the most important.
The first and most important thing to consider is the purpose of the folding knife. Will you be using it for everyday tasks or are you looking for something that can hold up in more rugged situations, such as camping or hunting? Different folding knives are designed for specific purposes, so make sure to choose one that meets your needs.
Blades on folding pocket knives can come in several different types. Common blade types include:
● Drop-point blades — These are versatile and suitable for a wide range of tasks.
● Clip-point blades — These blades have a sharper tip and are good for piercing. These are great for piercing tough materials like animal hides to start a cut. The best example of a clip-point is the classic Bowie knife.
● Tanto blades — Tantos are strong blades with a chisel-like tip. They’re great for stabbing and piercing, making them good self-defense options, but they aren’t as versatile as other blade types. A good example of a Tanto blade would be the Romeo.
● Straight Back — Straight backs have a straight spine that runs straight from the handle to the tip of the blade. They’re great for cutting and chopping, making them a common blade shape for kitchen knives and utility knives.
● Spear Point — A blade with a double-edged point that is symmetrical and sharp on one side. It’s the best blade type for stabbing and penetration, making it commonly found in many daggers and tactical knives.
It’s important to note that blade types can be modified and it’s fairly common. The F1 Alpha is a modified straight back knife, for example.
Aside from blade type, you also want to make sure your blade is made of high-quality material. Stainless steel is a popular choice because it is corrosion-resistant and easy to sharpen, but it may not be as strong as other blade materials, such as VG-10, D2, or S35VN.
Consider your intended use and choose a blade material that is suitable for the task.
A folding knife should have a reliable lock to keep the blade in place when it is open. Common lock types for folding knives include liner locks, frame locks, and button locks.
Liner locks are the most common and are easy to close with one hand, making them useful if you need one hand free while operating your knife.
Frame locks are relatively more difficult to operate but they’re strong and secure, as well as easy to clean. This makes them a good choice for those operating in the wilderness for extended periods.
Button locks are dependable and long-lasting. They’re frequently found in EDC and automatic knives. They’re very reliable and fun to play with, but their difficulty to manufacture means these knives can be more expensive.
Blade grinds refer to the shape and profile of the blade on a knife or other cutting tool. The blade grind plays a significant role in determining the sharpness, strength, and versatility of the blade, as well as its suitability for various tasks.
There are several types of blade grinds, each with its own set of benefits and drawbacks. Here are some of the most common blade grinds:
● Flat grind — Flat grinds taper the blade evenly from the spine to the edge. They’re versatile and can be used for a wide range of tasks, including slicing, dicing, and carving. They’re also easy to sharpen and maintain. The F1 Alpha is an example of a flat grind knife.
● Hollow grind — This is a blade grind that tapers the blade to a thin edge, creating a concave shape. Hollow grinds are very sharp and are better at slicing and cutting than flat grinds. Like flat grinds, they’re also easy to sharpen. On the other hand, because they are so thin, hollow grind blades are easier to break than that of other grinds.
● Chisel grind — Chisel grinds taper to just one side of the blade, leaving the other side completely flat. They’re commonly found in Japanese knives. Chisel grinds are good at slicing through thin, delicate materials. They’re easy to sharpen but can be difficult to get used to. They may also be less suited for heavy-duty tasks as some of the other grinds on this list.
● Convex grind — Convex grinds give you a blade that’s tapered to a curved edge, creating a convex shape. Convex grinds are strong and durable, and are often used for axes, machetes, and other chopping implements. One drawback to convex grinds is they are difficult to sharpen and maintain.
● Saber grind — With this grind you have a blade tapered evenly from the spine to the edge, but only on one side. Saber grinds are easy to sharpen and maintain. Their excellent durability makes them a popular choice for military and tactical knives, as well as camp knives, as they can hack or chop through tough materials with ease. However, they’re less suited to cutting than other grind types, limiting their versatility.
The type of blade grind you choose will depend on the specific tasks you need it for and your personal preferences.
The handle of a folding knife is another important factor to consider. You want your knife to be comfortable in your hand. The knife should be made of a material that is comfortable to hold and provides a good grip, even when wet. Popular handle materials for folding knives include wood, plastic, and metal.
Wood handles are often attractive, but they can be slippery when wet. Plastic handles are durable and inexpensive, but they may not be as comfortable as other materials. Metal handles are strong and durable, but they can be heavy and may not provide as good of a grip as other materials.
There’s also composite materials, which has become an increasingly popular choice for knife handles. These include G10, micarta, and carbon fiber, which is what the new F1 Alpha is made out of.
In conclusion, when buying a folding knife, consider the purpose, blade material, blade type, handle material, and lock type to ensure that you get a high-quality and reliable tool. By taking the time to research and compare different options, you can find the perfect folding knife for your needs.