Saturday, July 11, 2009

Work-friendly knives that won't offend, or break the bank

You can bet that with increased societal paranoia and the continuance of political correctness, that we as knife/tool/gun owners will continue to at times, be viewed as different, or even 'weird' by some. This is a shame, because we're always the "go to" guys and girls who people bug when they need a knife, Leatherman, flashlight etc! You name it, they talk their shit, but when they need a knife or tool, we can be relied upon! Growing up as a knife user and collector, I was usually of the mindset that bigger is better, I thought, "hey, if this knife can open mail, or even free me from a stuck seatbelt in an auto wreck, why shouldn't it also have the size or capability to defend life and limb?"

While I generally still do prefer folding knives with blades of bare minimum 3.5", all the way to monster 5" blades, I've learned that discretion can pay off bigtime. Not always, but in a work environment, or around people who don't understand the value of a knife as a tool, small knives can be better. Then again, I've had people freak out in the workplace over a tiny Boker LosBanos Subcom folder with a 2 inch blade! My current occupation sees me dealing with the public in a number of different retail or wholesale environments. I frequently may need to open a package, or get help from any number of my on-person sharp implements. On a daily basis, no matter what I'm doing, I'll always be carrying that mid-to-larger size Benchmade, Spyderco, Kershaw etc folding knife, or any other number of brands. But I DO like to have something I can produce if I get the vibe that someone is going to gasp like an ignorant Nancy if I pull out a bigger knife.

Enter the Buck Bantam I recently procured at a location of a knifeshop where I used to work as a slightly younger man. I paid too much, around MSRP of $18.00, while said knife can be gotten on better online knife sites for around $12.00 USD, which, while I'm poor, 12 or 13 bucks is still nearly as cheap as a handful of gravel.
Let's take a look:
* Blade: 2 3/4" drop point, 420HC Stainless
* Overall length: 3 3/4"
* Weight: 1.5oz
* Handle: Thermoplastic with textured surface (read:zytel, or glass filled nylon)
Buck has made a serious effort to return much of their manufacturing this year, and in the future, to their new facility in Idaho. That's awesome, however this inexpensive little knife is made in China. No big. I buy USA made when I can, but at times, I won't let foreign manufacture dissuade me from making a useful purchase from a company with a great reputation, which is @ least based on US soil.
I can't exactly say I've "used the shit" out of this little Buck yet, but it is getting used, frequently, especially in employment or social situations where clicking out My Benchmade Rukus or 6 inch bladed Cold Steel Ti-Lite might raise some uninformed eyebrows.

Pictured up top there, in Grimace-purple, is the venerable Spyderco Ladybug, a tiny and useful keychain knife. Mine is black and is pictured there with the nail clipper and aforementioned Buck knife. I feel that Spyderco's $20-$30 price for such a tiny knife nearly amounts to highway robbery, but they are quality knives, and Spyderco also makes a far less expensive line of similar knives under their secondary "Byrd Knives" banner. Any of these would be a fine choice for a slightly more politically correct knife in these worried times where people are squeamish about damn near anything which could have potential as a weapon. Though we all know a common ballpoint ink pen or tightly rolled "National Geographic" magazine are both capable of inflicting some serious damage, though nobody gives them a second glance!!! How naive we are as a society!!

Another widely socially acceptable option is any number of Swiss Army style knives. I've always thought Victorinox made/makes the far superior product, though Wenger also comes up with some decent models. It's funny how you can pull out even a larger SAK, with say a 2.5-3inch blade, and nobody really says anything, but the minute a Gerber single-bladed knife is flicked open, people open their stupid mouths about how it's a "weapon", even if the blade is the same size as the comparable Swiss Army, I just don't get it!

Anyhow, that's my rant for now. If anyone needs or wants recommendations on work-friendly, more socially acceptable blades, drop me a line or comment. You really can't go wrong if you stick with established manufacturers who offer some kind of warranty on their stuff; Benchmade, Spyderco, Kershaw, CRKT, Gerber, Buck and so on. And keep in mind that in a traffic stop or legal "misunderstanding" type scenario, Law Enforcement types will likely be more lenient toward knives with blades under three inches long (in MOST jurisdictions).

The newest addition to my collection that falls into the category I've discussed is this little SOG Micron, which is on its way to me this coming week. They run about $18 on better knife retail sites.

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