Reasons To Have a Good EDC Knife
What we carry with us, in our pockets or purse, makes a huge difference in how we approach the problems that we face every day; even more those we face in a survival situation. We call these things our EDC, for everyday carry.
Those who have a more thorough EDC are more likely to have something that will help them deal with the minor inconveniences of life, while those who don’t will waste their time looking for something to use to meet that need.
Of all the tools that we can carry, the knife is the most useful. The knife was probably the first tool ever invented, starting out with nothing more than sharp rocks.
As technology improved, knives did too, with today’s plethora of knife styles having been developed to meet a wide range of needs.
For EDC, most people carry a general purpose folding knife, although there are a number of other possibilities available. Most folding knives today come with a pocket clip, making it easier to find your knife when you need it, rather than having to dig around in your pocket for it, like I had to in my youth.
Another nice feature of most folding knives is that they are easy opening, with some even being spring-loaded, making them even faster and easier to use one-handed.
Why Should I Carry a Knife?
Human bodies are amazing things; able to do a wide variety of different tasks. Having opposable thumbs on our hands gives us an innate advantage over most of the animal kingdom, as we can grasp and manipulate objects in ways that they can’t even dream of.
Put that opposing thumb together with our higher intelligence, we humans are clearly the masters of this world.
Even so, there are limitations on what we can do. For some reason, we have neither sharp claws or teeth; meaning that we can’t readily cut into things, tearing them open.
The only way that we can cut or tear things is by using some tool, a tool created specifically for cutting. Nothing that’s built into our bodies allows for that.
Of all the tools, the knife is the most basic tool there is. That’s why, if you’re going to think about an EDC, carrying a knife simply makes sense. There are so many different things that you can do with a knife, that once you carry one, you’ll wonder how you ever made it without a knife in your pocket.
If there’s anything that’s annoying, it’s sitting down to a nice steak dinner in a restaurant and they give you a dull knife. For some reason, it seems that a lot of restaurants don’t believe in sharp knives. That’s one place where your EDC knife can come in handy. If their knife doesn’t work out, just use your own.
Of course, if you’re going to use your own knife to cut into that steak, you’ll have to keep it sharp; but there’s no reason to be carrying it around every day, if you’re not going to do that.
By the way, that knife is useful for cutting a lot of other food too, like slicing an apple or cutting open a package of bacon. Many foods require a knife for their preparation. You never know when you’re going to need a good knife to make sure you can eat.
Making Other Tools
The knife is rather unique, in that it can help you make other useful tools too. While it does a fair imitation of a fork or spoon, it can be used to whittle those handy utensils as well. Need a way of hanging your cooking pot over the fire? Your knife can help with that little task too.
There are lots of tools you can whittle, like whittling a tent stake out of a stick, when you can’t find a missing one. Speaking of whittling, if you’re going to spend any time hiking in the woods, you might just want to whittle yourself a walking stick.
In today’s commercialized world of clamshell packaging and products being shipped to our doors, a knife is essential for cutting open packaging. It doesn’t matter if all you’re trying to do is get a tag off of clothing; you’re probably going to need a knife to do so.
Good luck trying to get into those annoying plastic clamshell packages without a knife. That sort of packaging was designed to keep people from opening it in the store and it does that all too well. It would be nice if it worked differently though, once you got it home.
While I don’t recommend trying to do surgery with a pocket knife, there is one important thing that you can do with it to take care of injured people. That’s to cut away clothing, so you can get to the injury and treat it. Granted, medical scissors work better and are safer, but who carries those around?
In a real emergency, your knife can be used to cauterize a wound. Just heat it up in the fire to sterilize it and make it hot enough to cauterize the blood vessels, then press it against the wound. You’d better make sure you know what you’re doing before you try this one though.
There are a thousand rescue uses for knives. Probably the most obvious is to cut a seat belt off of someone who has been caught in a wrecked car.
Firemen and paramedics all carry folding knives clipped in their pockets, for just this purpose.
A knife makes a pretty good glass breaker too, for busting out a car window or the window of a home on fire. Some actually have a glass breaker built-in; but even if it doesn’t there will be a hard corner that can be used to shatter the glass.
Speaking of cutting a car’s seat belt, a folding knife will help you cut a whole lot of other things too. Have a pair of pants with holes in them? Cut the legs off to make shorts. The same can be done to make a short-sleeve shirt, if it’s too hot to wear long sleeves.
For that matter, just about anything light which needs to be cut, can be cut with a knife. It doesn’t matter if you want to cut a piece of rope or cut your way out of a trap, having a good pocket knife will help.
Starting a Fire
One of man’s oldest ways of making fire is by the use of flint and steel, creating a spark. If you can find a piece of flint to work with, your knife will supply the steel.
But that’s not the only fire starter that your knife can help you with. Many fire starters, like a bow drill, can only be made if you have a knife.
Knives can help start fires in other ways too. You have to have dry wood, kindling and tinder to start a fire. But if it’s raining out, you may have trouble finding them.
In that case, cutting the outer layer off a dead branch or log will expose the dry wood underneath.
A fuzz stick is another great way that your pocket knife can help you make a fire. To make one, you’ll shave fine curls off the edge of a stick or board. There’s a great video by Field & Stream about making them available here.
There are a myriad of ways of creating a temporary shelter if you’re stuck out in the woods. But they all have one thing in common; you need to be able to cut branches, sticks, cordage and tall grass to build them.
Once again, your EDC knife will help you survive, just like it can help you start a fire.
A knife isn’t the ideal weapon to use for defending yourself. But then, it’s better than just having bare hands, especially against a knife.
Today’s clip-on folding knives open easily with one hand and have locking blades, making them useful for fighting, even though that’s not their primary purpose.
Of course, if you’re going to fight with a knife, especially against someone else who has one, you need to know what you’re doing. T
he key isn’t to fight the person, but just to fight their knife had and forearm. There’s a great video by Gun Carrier, showing how to do this, available here.
Is it Legal To Carry a Pocket Knife?
Except in rare cases, it’s legal to carry a knife. There are always some exceptions. You can’t carry a knife in a school or a courtroom, for example. There may be other restrictions, from state to state, that you need to know.
Before carrying a knife or even going out to buy one, you’d better make sure that you’re going to be legal. Most states will allow the carrying of a folding knife or pocket knife, as long as the blade is under 3-½ inches.
Larger knives, spring-loaded knives, sheath knives, double-bladed knives and switchblades are often restricted.
Each state has its own restrictions on knives, what they allow and what isn’t. These laws change from time to time as well; so you will want to keep track of those changes. Fortunately, there are a couple of national organizations, which keep track of these laws for us, like the American Knife & Tool Institute.
While restrictions on carrying a knife aren’t anywhere near what they are for carrying a gun, a knife is a weapon. Therefore, if you are ever stopped by the police, you want to be sure to handle yourself correctly, letting them know that you have a knife and not being a threat to the officers.
Knife Rights has some really good information about this here.
Can You Go to Jail for Self Defense With a Knife?
From a legal point of view, using a knife in self-defense is the same as using a gun. The courts might take a little kinder view of you, because knives aren’t generally perceived to be as deadly as guns are (even though they are as deadly), but the issue is still the same – the use of deadly force.
According to the law, you may use deadly force in self-defense. Some states add the defense of others and the defense of property to that.
Half of the states have “stand your ground” laws, stating that you can defend your home, rather than retreating. You need to know what your state has to say about it.
However, while it is legal to use deadly force in self-defense, there’s a kicker there. That is, the courts have to agree that what you did was truly self-defense. In other words, it’s the sort of action a reasonable man might take in order to defend themselves.
Part of the concern here is that you don’t use “excessive force.” If the bad guy is about your size, age and physical condition, it might be difficult to justify the use of a knife, if they come at you with their fists. On the other hand, using a knife in that situation looks better than a gun, if you are carrying a gun.
Another key to this is that it is only self-defense in a case where there is “imminent threat of life and limb.” What that means is that there is a very real and immediate threat that the bad guy would kill or seriously hurt you, if you didn’t take action. Once they stop, back off or turn away, there is no more imminent threat.
What EDC Knife Should I Buy?
Picking the right knife to carry is a very personal decision. There are lots of manufacturers and lots of styles to choose from. What you want is a knife that will do what you need it to; not a knife that will do what someone else needs it to. So the first thing to think about is what you’re going to use it for.
Form follows function, and that applies to knives, just as much as it does to other things. The basic knife blade shapes have come about because of the need to use those knives for different things. The basic blade shapes are:
Simple or Normal Blade – This has a straight back and a blade with a curving edge. It combines a fairly sharp point with a sturdy blade and can be used for a wide variety of purposes.
Clip Point Blade – The clip point design starts out with a normal blade; then the back of the blade is scooped out, making a sharper point. This is useful when a sharp point is needed, like to use it as an awl; but the shaper point is weaker and can break
Drop Point Blade – This again starts from the design of the normal blade, but the back of the blade curves down towards the edge, at the point. Doing this makes for a stronger blade, where the point is less likely to break off. But you lose the sharp point.
Needle, Dagger or Stiletto Point Blade – A basic double-edged knife blade, with both blade edges straight, coming to a very fine point. Not found in folding knives; but may be a “push blade, where the blade slides out of the handle. This is a fighting knife. The sharp point penetrates well but is easily broken.
Spear Point Blade – The spear point is an effort to overcome the weakness of the needlepoint. Rather than straight edges up to the point, they are curved, much like a drop point. It is still a fighting knife, with the same handle limitations; but is considerably stronger and less likely to break.
Spey Point Blade – Once again, we go back to the normal blade as our starting point. The back of the blade is clipped at an angle, at the point, so that there is no sharp point. This makes it considerably stronger, for cases where a point is not needed.
Tanto Blade – This newer style is based upon the design of Japanese swords. Both the back and edge of the blade are straight. The point of the blade is cut at an angle and sharpened. This provides a stronger point than either the clip point or the normal blade, while also providing a useful point..
Sheepfoot Blade – Originally used for trimming the hooves on sheep, this blade consists of a straight blade, with a curved back. They are also an excellent blade for use in cutting rope on sailboats, as well as wood carving and whittling.
Hawkbill or Karambit Blade – A pure fighting knife, this looks a lot like a flattened cat’s claw. A very dangerous knife in the hands of someone who knows how to use it. These knives are also excellent for whittling.
What is a Serrated Knife Good For?
Most knife manufacturers are producing some of their models of folding knives with a portion of the blade serrated. This is done to make it easier to cut materials which don’t cut easily, like rope. But in the process, they shorten the sharp portion of the blade.
Whether you want this or not is a personal decision. I prefer a knife with a full-length sharp blade. However, I also carry a multitool, which has a serrated blade in it. So, I end up with both.
Which Steel is Best For a Knife?
In addition to the style of blade, the other major factor to take into consideration is the type of steel that is used in making the blade.
However, high carbon steel will rust, making it unpopular. Unless you are going to clean and oil the blade regularly, high carbon steel isn’t a good idea.
Most commercial knives today are made out of stainless steel. This is so that the knives will not rust. But stainless steel isn’t an ideal knife making steel; it’s too brittle and won’t hold an edge as well as high carbon steel will. Even so, it is a good compromise for day-to-day use.
Double-bladed knives used for fighting are usually made from a slightly softer steel, reducing the chances of the point of the knife breaking, if you strike a bone with it.
There are a number of manufacturers out there, who are producing knives that are marketed as “survival knives.” Typically these will have other useful survival tools built into them or into the sheath. I’ve seen survival knives with Ferro Rods, honing stones, a compass and even a slingshot.
While these additional tools can be extremely useful, you have to be careful. In many cases, the way the manufacturer pays for the cost of adding those items, is to reduce the quality of the knife, specifically the quality of the steel used in making the knife.
In a way, the multi-tool is the natural evolution of the Swiss Army Knife. Some consider a multi-tool their EDC knife. All of the extra tools can come in handy. However, the knife blade on a multi-tool is harder to use than a regular folding knife, because of being short and having a thick handle.
Therefore, while a multi-tool can be extremely useful, it is better to carry both a multi-tool and a folding knife. That way, the knife blade in the multi-tool can serve as a backup.
Final Thoughts About Having an EDC Knife
Carrying a knife is an important part of anyone’s EDC. There are so many ways that you can use a knife in your day-to-day tasks, let alone as a survival tool, that once you get used to carrying one, you’ll wonder how you ever got by without it.
The knife is literally the most basic tool there is. As such, not only can it be used in a multitude of ways, but it can also be used to make other useful tools. If all you’ve got in a survival situation is a knife, then you have a lot; with some creativity and time, you can have much more.
It’s important to pick your EDC knife wisely. Both the shape of the blade and the quality of the steel used in making it will make a huge difference in how effectively you can use it. While any knife will cut; a good knife will cut better, more accurately, stay sharp longer and withstand hardship much better.
Finally, if you are forced to use your knife for self-defense; be sure that you truly need to do so. The law allows for the use of deadly force in self-defense, but the courts have to agree after the fact, that it was actually necessary.