People who carry pocketknives are
doers, not watchers


Two essays published 10 years apart offer an interesting perspective on what may be happening in America that separates the doers from the watchers; people who get things done as opposed to those who seem to always be in fashion but may be incapable of changing a flat tire, running a chainsaw or starting a campfire in the rain.

The Rubicon from Spyderco is an excellent example of the modern pocket knife,
but there were others that came before it, carving their way into the fabric of the nation.

The Rubicon from Spyderco is an excellent example of the modern pocket knife, but there were others that came before it, carving their way into the fabric of the nation.)

You know, the stuff grandpa and dad taught you in preparation for the inevitable day they’re no longer here to do it for you. Whether you’re the first son or the daughter who tagged along to do “boy stuff,” the common denominator appears to be they all carry pocket knives.

As noted recently in Appalachian Magazine, or a decade ago by Art Of, what may be the telling distinction between those who make things happen and those who watch things happen, or find themselves wondering what happened, is the folding pocket knife. It’s not a weapon: It’s a tool — a utility device that comes out reflexively when something needs to be cut, lightly pried, whittled or shaved.

Dave’s old Western folder, a pocket knife of the “old breed.” It’s been part of many
adventures and has an edge that’s obviously seen a lot of sharpening stones.

Dave’s old Western folder, a pocket knife of the “old breed.” It’s been part of many adventures and has an edge that’s obviously seen a lot of sharpening stones.)

My first pocket knife was a two-blade Western with a clip point and a stockman’s blade. I think it cost me three or four bucks at the hardware store, but it held a razor edge after I carefully honed it on my dad’s oilstone. I actually once shaved with it.

I carried that knife from the fifth or sixth grade forward into junior high and then senior high. Once a shop teacher asked to borrow it when he reached for his own and it wasn’t there. He knew mine was, and it never translated to a trip to the principal’s office followed by suspension or expulsion and prosecution. How did I ever survive?

That first knife was a beater when it was retired. One of the plastic handle scales had broken off and I replaced it with a strip of leather. The knife was eventually replaced by another Western, this one with three blades into which I carved my initials with a fine file.

I’ve gutted trout, cut the tail off a raccoon I shot with a pistol, whittled more starter chips for the morning fire than I can remember, breasted grouse, dug out slivers, cut string, rope and even a dinner steak or two with pocket knives.

Rise Of The ‘Tactical’

Over the years, the single-blade folder with a pocket clip has become something of a status symbol among armed citizens.

Workman’s CRKT sidelock is an example of a “tactical” type knife, and it makes a good
companion to any handgun, large or small.

I’ve carried various brands including Spyderco, Kershaw, Columbia River Knife & Tool, Gerber, Buck — if it kept an edge, it might have showed up in my gear. For some time I carried a larger folder in a belt sheath, a Schrade Old Timer. It was one of the hardest-opening knives I’ve ever owned. Closing the damn thing was equally challenging. But when it was in use, that baby really stacked up to a challenge despite what sometimes seemed like a too-thin blade.

The tactical knife became a must-have accessory for all would-be “operators” new to concealed carry and I carry one today though it comes in handy for cutting cardboard, opening boxes and doing all sorts of other everyday chores. But it was an important development because it introduced a whole new generation to the very notion of having a knife. The steel in many of these knives is remarkable, capable of holding an edge for all kinds of things. I’ve actually used one or two of these specimens to take the hide off a buck.

I rather like the lightweight handle material, whether G10, Delrin or something else. It’s impervious to weather, and depending upon the textured surface, this material will not slip around in your hand.

Workman’s current “utility” Spyderco. It holds an edge and
is always there when he reaches for it.

They Must Be Useful

Pocket knives must be useful, otherwise the British wouldn’t be scrambling to rid their society of edged tools.

We spotted a story in The Guardian recently quoting an official with the National Police Chief’s Council lamenting, “The increase in knife crime in recent months and years is very concerning and as a society we have a responsibility to act.”

The rhetoric has a familiar ring, and one look at the story revealed Brit coppers in mid-March did a bunch of “stop and search” exercises that yielded 342 knives out of 3,771 seized weapons. Another 10,215 knives were reportedly surrendered under some sort of amnesty program.

While the murder rate in London is reportedly lower than in several major U.S. cities, the slayings underscore a basic truth: Even without widespread private gun ownership, people still manage to kill or hurt one another.

June 12, London’s 9News reported a mother, walking with her toddler son, was approached by a teenage thug who demanded her cellphone. When she refused to hand it over, the perp stabbed her in the leg.

The Guardian report noted during the week of March 11–17 a total of 1,372 suspects were detained by police, and 516 of them were for alleged knife-related crimes.

This Old Timer from Schrade has seen interesting times, but the blade is a bit on the thin side,
despite its ability to hold an edge. And it is a bit tough to open and close.

But ‘Knife Crime’ Has Its Limits

Police in Renton, Wash.,were investigating a bizarre incident in which a knife-wielding man attacked a customer in a local bar, and was subsequently shot dead by a responding police officer.

According to KIRO News, the perpetrator came into the bar “waving his knife around and threatening to stab someone.” Bar employees immediately called Renton’s finest, and when they showed up, the knife-man lunged at another customer. It was a fatal error in behavior.

The deceased was identified as 20-year-old Mantry Norris. According to KOMO, he reportedly had no criminal record, and a family friend who spoke to a reporter suggested he may have had “mental problems.”