When buying a knife with a blade that folds away into the handle, it is important to consider a few points.
Firstly, all folders that are manually opened and closed are legal throughout the USA, however, ‘automatic’ knives are only legal in some 28 states – some state allow the possession of a folder but not carrying, while others require a CCW.
so if it’s an auto opener you’re after, always check the laws in your state, and this include the shipping rules as well.
So, moving on to the folding knife buyers guide, you will find there is a huge selection to choose from, but ever so often it’s the same one’s that are mentioned in conversation.
When you carry a good quality folder, either clipped on your belt or in your pocket, you soon realise how useful these things really are, and just how many times you use them – I feel lost without mine!
The top 5 essentials that make the best folding knife:
- Ease of opening – Essentially there are three main types of folder blade releases:
- the manual opener
- assisted opening
- automatic opener.
Manual – this style of knife blade folding knife will require you to physically open the blade, normally by using your thumb, or a small thumb stud, an access cutout in the handle, or a different manual system.
Assisted Opening – Do not be confused between the automatic and the assisted opening knife. An assisted opening knife requires you have to physically begin to open the blade; you do not push a trigger or lever.
Automatic—The auto opening blade requires no manual movement or pre opening, and is simply fully opened by a mechanism that you activate from a small switch or lever. [hence the nickname, ‘switchblade’]
The knife should feel comfortable for your size of hand. If you have large hands then buy a larger knife, maybe a 4″ – 5″ blade would suit you better than a 3″ blade.
- The Blade
The business end of your knife – and the most important aspect of any knife.
Always consider the design of the blade, the type of steel used in the manufacture and the physical length of the knife when opened and closed.
As a general rule there are three main blade designs- the tanto and drop point blade.
- Tanto blades are generally thicker with the thickness going right to the very point and will perform better for any type of chopping work.
- Drop Point blades are more traditional shapes, similar to a kitchen knife shape, and are better for fine work like skinning etc.
- Spear Point is designed for puncturing as well as general cutting.
- Smooth & Serrated blades
Consider the choice between a serrated edged blade and the straight edged blade. [the serrated blade shown here is the Smith & Wesson Swat Medium Serrated]
A serrated blade offers the ability to rip and cut through webbing, rope, and other fibre type materials. Whereas a smooth blade offers ease of sharpening and is more general purpose.
- Blade Quality.
When choosing the best folding knife you must consider the quality of materials used and the hardness of of the steel used in the blade manufacture.
A high carbon steel will hold a sharp edge far better than stainless steel but is very suspect to corrosion, whereas a stainless blade requires more frequent sharpening, and with a little light oiling, with remain new and shiney.
On average the steel will be hardened to between 50 – 60 Rockwell [a measure of steel hardness], with anything over 60 being quite brittle and liable to snap easily.
You will find that folding knife prices vary quite considerably, but, as with most things, you get what you pay for.
So, to show a good range of this folding knife buyers guide I have included some cheap, average and expense knives to choose from.
For buying information and sales, click here to go to full chart > Folding Knife Comparison Guide