Every Man Should Carry a Pocket Knife

by Brett & Kate McKay on April 1, 2008 · 304 comments

in Manly Skills


Photo by Zoltron

It used to be that a pocket knife was an essential item that a man carried with him. You had your wallet, your keys, and your trusty pocket knife.

The History of the Pocket Knife

1st Century Romans created the first folding pocket knife. They made for easy carrying for soldiers and other explorers on their journeys and conquests. However, as the use of sheathed knives became more popular, the use of pocket knives fell somewhat into disfavor.

By the late 16th Century, pocket knives began to regain popularity. They were especially popular in the American colonies. From farmers to lawyers, men from all walks of life started to carry them. The ultimate portable tool, the pocket knife was a useful aid in various tasks, including eating on the go.
Pocket knives have been an essential tool for soldiers throughout American history. New York and New Hampshire required their militias to carry pocket knives during the American Revolution. Even George Washington toted one around as he led his troops. The U.S. Navy began issuing pocket knives to sailors during the Civil War. During WWII, the pocket knife was standard issue for American GIs.

Men have been carrying pocket knives for centuries. But with increased security at the airport and other buildings, knives have been disappearing from men’s pockets. Yet these minor obstacles are not sufficient reason to give up carrying a knife completely. The carrying of a pocket knife is a man tradition that should be continued.

Why a Man Should Carry a Pocket Knife

How many times have you been in a situation where you’ve said to yourself, “Damn, a knife would be really handy now!” Here are a few instances when a pocket knife can come in handy or just make the simple things in life more enjoyable:

1. Opening a box.

2. Cutting rope, tags, and string.

3. Cutting an apple. I love eating an apple that I’ve cut with my pocket knife, slice by slice. You feel like a bad ass doing it. You hold the apple in your non-dominant hand and then make a slice with the knife using your dominant hand. After you make the slice, pinch it between your thumb and knife blade. Bring the blade to your mouth and deposit the apple slice.

4. Opening a letter. Sure, you could use your finger, but using a knife is just more manly.

5. Weapon. Not the most effective, but it’s better than nothing.

6. Camping. How else will you sharpen the point of a stick in preparation for stabbing your prey? And by prey I mean hot dog.

7. You never know when you’re going to have to MacGyver your way out of a crisis. Be prepared.

8. You need something to clench in your teeth when swinging from a rope.

What kind of pocket knife should you get?

Picking out a knife is a personal thing. It’s like picking out a wallet. It all comes down to personal taste. Men have a bond with their tools. Pick something that feels good in your hand, and that you’ll take pride in and want to carry around.

There are three common designs of pocket knives: the jack knife, the pen knife, and the multi-purpose knife. We’ll discuss the features and benefits of each one, in order to help you decide what kind of knife you should get.

Jack knife. A jack knife has a simple hinge at one end, and may have more than one blade. The jack knife is popular among hunters, fishermen, and campers.

Pen knife. A pen knife is hinged at both ends of the handle, and usually has two or three blades at each end. The pen knife was originally designed to cut or sharpen pen quills for writing. The pen knife is good if you want more than one type of blade. It’s also small and lightweight and won’t be noticeable in the pocket of dress clothes.

pen-knife.jpgMulti-purpose knife. These are probably the most popular pocketknives. The Swiss Army knife and the Handyman are probably the most well known of the multi-purpose knives. Boy Scout knives are also multi-purpose knives. In addition to the knife blade, multi-purpose knives have can openers, scissors, leather punchers, tweezers, or even screwdrivers. These can come in handy on camping trips. However, if all you’re looking for is a sharp blade, the extra features will probably annoy you.

There are variations of these knife designs that you should take into account as well. Here are few to think about:Lock blade knife. The name of the blade explains it all. When you open the blade fully on this type of knife, the blade locks in place. Closing the blade requires you to release the blade by pressing down on a lever located near the back of the knife handle to disengage the hook from the notch that keeps the blade in place. A lock blade is useful for more heavy duty use. A good example of a lock blade knife is the Buck knife.Slipjoint knife. On a slip joint knife, the blade doesn’t lock, but is held in place by a spring device that allows the blade to fold only if a certain amount of pressure is applied. Most pen knives or multi-purpose knives use the slipjoint blade. Because the blade is less stable, it should only be used for light jobs.

Friction folder knife. This is another method of a non-locking blade. Friction folder knives use friction between the blade and the scales to hold the blade in place once opened.

One handed opening. Newer knives have a feature that allows for one handed opening. On the top of the blade, there is a hole that enables you to place the pad of your thumb in. Just press up and BAM, you got an open knife. This feature makes using a pocket knife much easier, especially when you have your hands full.

Where to Get a Pocket Knife

The best pocket knifes to have are the ones with a sense of history. I carry around a pocket knife that my father gave to me. It’s still in really good shape, and with regular sharpening cuts like new. It’s something tangible that reminds me of my father. One day I hope to pass it down to my son. So ask your dad if he has an old pocket knife that he can give to you. I’m sure he’ll be happy to pass it along.

If you can’t get a hand on an old pocket knife, or the one your dad or grandpa gave you is no longer usable, pick yourself up a new one. You can find pocket knives at any outdoor store. Better yet, find a knife store in town so you have a wider selection to choose from.

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{ 302 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Jay Gatsby April 1, 2008 at 10:55 pm

What do you guys think the best knives?

Kershaw’s are my favorite, especially the assisted opening blades – American made
Gerber’s are quality also

MTech’s are the worst
Smith and Wesson’s and Remington’s are middle grade

2 Dan April 1, 2008 at 11:10 pm

Personally, I love my Leatherman. two knives, two saws, two files, four screwdrivers, a wire cutter and a pair of plyers. Also a very tiny ruler and a teeny tiny pair of scissors. Comes with a nice carrying case that attaches to my belt. Damn things are dangerous though – every person I know who has one has cut themselves with it eventually.

3 R. Miller April 1, 2008 at 11:54 pm

My dad was a plumber. Woe upon any helper or apprentice that showed up on the job without a pocket knife after the first day. Now I am a Master Plumber and teach the same.

Pocket knives have become one of life’s pleasures for me.

A typical day sees me with a Gerber lock blade clipped to a pocket as well as carrying a Leatherman. Church, coffee shop, office, job site… everywhere!

And then some days I carry extra knives just because i like them.

My 9 yr. old son has about 7 pocket knives. Got his first one at age 5.

4 Kevan April 2, 2008 at 1:40 am

Ah, the trusty pocket knife! A gentleman’s tool if ever there was one. I have been carrying a pocket knife ever since I was a wee lad (which is a wonderment, considering how paranoid my mother was about almost everything else). My favorite out of all the knives I’ve owned was a little Old Timer jack knife. I have had a ton of knives since then, but since it was my dear granddad (who has since passed on) who inspired me to get my first Old Timer, it will always have a sentimental value to me.

5 pete April 2, 2008 at 2:41 am

I used to carry a pocket knife all the time, but during a period of regular travel and concert-going I soon found myself leaving it behind more and more. Now it’s living in my first-aid kit.

It’s a real shame ’cause I used to use it all the time. I think it might be time for it to make a re-appearance (or even better – I can buy a new one!)

6 unclejerry April 2, 2008 at 5:26 am

Once while camping I came across a small hand ax stuck in a tree that looked like it had been there for a while, so I took it. It was a bit of a fancy ax with a multi colored wooden handle on it. Well a couple of years later sadly a family friend died from cancer who was a true manly man and had many collections of different types of weapons and tools and one of them was a pocket knife collection with close to a hundred pocket knives. His wife knew that he enjoyed showing them off to me so she asked me if I would like to have one. When she opened his display box there in the center was a locking blade knife (open it’s right at 7″ long ) that had to be part of a matching set that went with the ax that I had found. It had the exact same colors and pattern as the ax. I carry the pocket knife with me everywhere and all the time. I end up using it at least a couple of times a week.
I don’t have any collections right now that I’m working on, but I think I might start one for pocket knives now…

7 Wendy April 2, 2008 at 5:52 am

The first time I asked a man if he had his knife and he didn’t answer “I’ve got my pants on don’t I?” I didn’t know what to do. It was like suddenly being transported to outerspace with an alien!

8 Christopher April 2, 2008 at 6:09 am

I have taken to carrying a lock blade knife with a pocket clip for every day use. Currently I carry a Winchester tanto type blade (the model name escapes me). I have found it pretty effective and tough, and very inexpensive.

The only time I don’t have a knife with me is when I know I am going somewhere they will want to confiscate it (concerts, etc) and then it gets thrown into the console of my truck next to the Leatherman I always keep there.

But, for a classic pocket knife, you can never beat a CASE XX as far as I am concerned!

Great post! Although I would add one thing… a man should always carry wallet, keys, pocket knife and a handkerchief!

9 Morydd April 2, 2008 at 6:34 am

My day-to-day knife is a Victorinox Tinker: Two blades, Two flat-head screw drivers, can opener, bottle opener, awl and phillips screw driver. It’s small and light, and does 90% of what I need tools for with any regularity. I owned (recently stolen and not yet replaced) the Victorinox SwissTool, which I liked better than any of the Gerber or Leatherman multi-tools. It’s heavier (I’ve actually used it to drive small nails). Each blade has an individual spring so only one comes out a t a time, it has an easy to use thumb lock, and the pliers are strong enough to really grip something with. Finally, I have what I like to refer to as my “formal” knife. It’s a very small Victorinox (yes, I’m very brand-loyal in my pocket knives) with a small blade, a nail file (women love when you can pull that out in a nail emergency) and a screwdriver/bottle opener. That’s the knife I carry if I’m wearing a tie.

10 Bradly Fletchall April 2, 2008 at 7:24 am

Some of my best memories from when I was a kid are from Christmas mornings after I had unwrapped a new present. The boxes or plastic packaging would be sealed up solid. Then Dad would get out his pocket knife and open it up for me. Then when I was a bit older he started handing me the knife.

A pocket knife is a truly manly thing and is a tradition.

You also forgot another seriously manly item when you listed wallet, keys, and knife. That would be the handkerchief. My father always has one with him and I have a few that my grandfather carried as well. I don’t use those as they are keep sakes. That would be another good post for you.

11 ELK April 2, 2008 at 7:46 am

OK, i love pocket knives. I have a flip-open locking one in my car at all times, a backup for that one, a swiss army one, and a leatherman. But I do want to bring up one important question: Is is legal to carry a pocket knife? Isn’t it a “concealed weapon”?

12 Cameron April 2, 2008 at 7:56 am

i just starting pulling out my old pocket knife just the other day. good thing, or else i would have surely felt less manly.

13 Steve April 2, 2008 at 8:00 am


Second the handkerchief thing. Very manly. Carried one when I proposed to my wife and pulled it out when she started crying (happy tears, I hope). She was impressed. Don’t usually carry one around though. My runny nose would quickly get it pretty nasty.

14 Cameron April 2, 2008 at 8:10 am


i think the concealed weapon laws regarding knives applies to those that can automatically open (i.e. switchblades). if they are used for proper hunting or recreational purposes then they shouldn’t be illegal. At least that’s how i understand it in OKlahoma. see 21 OS § 1272 for the actual language of the unlawful carry statute.

15 Brett McKay April 2, 2008 at 8:17 am


Actually my wife told me to add a handkerchief, and then I forgot. And we have kicked around the idea of doing a post all about the handkerchief…..but I’m not sure if they can be resurrected. Wiping your nose multiple times with the same cloth is too off-putting for most men these days.

16 30Days April 2, 2008 at 10:13 am

Handkerchief – yes. You know, a lot of the style magazines say men should be wearing them in their suit coat pockets. They can look cool in that Good Night and Good Luck sort of way.

They’re also easier to carry than a pocket knife, which can make your pants look bulky and funny if you’re not careful. Definitely don’t want that knife to be mistaken for…something else. (Still love my antique gold pen knife, though. Got it from my Grandpa.)

17 Arlen April 2, 2008 at 12:19 pm

I feel so naked without my knife, but in this age of paranoia they’ve outlawed pocketknives from my workplace. I’ve had too many confiscated at airports, government buildings, etc. to keep track of. The times they are a-changin’.

18 Kevin April 2, 2008 at 1:15 pm

My dad used to carry a Buck on his glove box to eat apples with, and yeah he looked like a bad ass. I carry a 4 inch folder from Cold Steel clipped to the right ass pocket on my slacks. Svelte and deadly to boxes and plastic tape. http://www.coldsteel.com/folding-knives-voyager-series.html

19 Gary Slaughter April 2, 2008 at 2:04 pm

I’m a copier service technician and I’m always having to cut open parts boxes and packaging. I use a Frost Hawkeye II that I carry in my right hip pocket. It’s one blade with a thumb hole and very slim. At 5/16″ it doesn’t bulge in my pocket. Whenever I have to enter a government building I put it in my toolcase and it’s never questioned. On weekends I carry it’s bigger brother the Hawkeye III. Same slim design with a wicked looking blade.

20 Bernard April 2, 2008 at 2:46 pm

Great article.

I’ve said this before on here, I think, but I’ll say it again. I’ve never regularly read a blog, but this site touches on all things that I am or aim to be.

Onward, good sirs. Your work is much appreciated and enjoyed.

21 dave April 2, 2008 at 3:39 pm

I’ve been carrying a Vitronix (Swiss Army) Executive for about 25 years now. It’s saved my butt on numerous occasions. The scissors work well as wire strippers as does the orange peeler. The nail file has filled in for a Phillips screwdriver on the odd occasion as well. It’s a good all purpose pocket knife that’s small enough not to be a burden in the pocket but still have most everything you need in a pinch.

22 Matt April 2, 2008 at 4:46 pm

I recently picked up a Gerber lock back after my Smith and Wesson met an unfortunate end under a fork lift. I must say that the Benchmade knives are some of the finest that I have come across.


23 Andrew April 2, 2008 at 4:47 pm

I used to carry a pocket knife around all the time. I don’t know if its a generational thing(I’m 19), but every time I pull out my knife for some task, my peers seem to be a little scared that I have a knife with me. I’m not sure if were just becoming too paranoid, but they seem to find it creepy and they can’t understand why I would want to carry a knife. This is more true of the ladies than the guys, though.

24 EnchantedApril April 2, 2008 at 5:22 pm

Oh my WORD! I LOVED this when I got it in my inbox today. This is SO utterly true and apt. My late husband who was a WONDERFUL model of masculinity and manliness (rowl!), and indeed HE carried a pocket knife. I always thought they were cool and nice looking, and some of the ornate ones I admired as beautiful but left them to HIM to carry. I’d just admire them in his magazines. Yes! YES! Carry one. OK, so you’ll have to leave it off when you fly… but other than that, YES!

Thanks for the fab post!

25 Matt April 2, 2008 at 5:49 pm

I wholeheartedly agree with this post. I carry a knife daily in the law enforcement field, both on and off duty, and would be nowhere without my Kershaw Assisted opening 1630 Blk knife. Best knife I have ever owned.

26 Stormbringer April 2, 2008 at 6:26 pm

As was indicated before, check the carry laws. Carry a blade too long (some places, three inches is the limit), go to jail.

27 cwheaton April 2, 2008 at 6:37 pm

i have been carrying a pocket knife for about 5 years now… because before that i would have been suspended from high school. ha. but if you dont have a good knife passed down from your father or your grandfather. do what i did and create a story behind your knife. i bought mine in the back woods of alabama at a gas station near my uncles lake house and who has a bad ass knife from the backwoods of alabama especially when you live in boston!?! the one i carried before i got at boy scout camp when i was 13; that got confiscated at a concert i went to about two years ago, i for got it was in my pocket… stupid mistake. but make a story about your own, it will impress even the manliest of your friends.

28 Brett April 2, 2008 at 7:06 pm

@ cwheaton- Great idea about creating a story about your pocket knife!

@ Andrew- I agree that younger generations might be freaked out by a man carrying a knife, but that’s why we got to bring it back.

@Bernard- Thanks for your kind words. We’re glad you read the site.

@ EnchantedApril- Wow! I’m glad to see your excitement about the pocket knife! That’s cool your late husband carried and still carries his knife.

@ Kevin- Glad to see someone else appreciates the bad assery of eating an apple with your pocket knife

29 gordon April 2, 2008 at 7:31 pm

I totally agree. One MUST carry a knife. Not for any stupid reasons todays boom boom music generation might think of, but because its sooooo practical.
Especially when you need to open this new hermetically sealed, nobody but god himself and maybe luke skywalker….is going to open this….bad nasty packaging.
That and in the good old days (last week. lol) people used pocket knives to make themselves impromptu lunches. I can’t tell ya how many times my female friends have been impressed when we’d stop and buy a fresh bread stick and i could cut it open and then proceed to make short work of the other items we’d bought for lunch to share and essentially made a killer sandwich for the both of us on the spot.
I’ve always been a huge fan of the Victorinox “Camper” knife. Its got scissors for things that need snipping, 2 knifeblade sizes, bottle opener and CAN opener…soo handy, tweezers…women love tweezers…and a corkscrew to defend the two of you should you ever be attacked by a bottle of wine.


I also carry a Gerber Clutch. The smallest handiest mini multitool you can get…they’re only $8 at Home Depot.


And finally…ONE thing that EVERY man should also carry with him at ALL times? A nice quality pair of nail clippers. Take care of your hands guys. Keep the claws neat and trimmed, women aren’t the only ones who break a nail. And trust me, when they do, they so appreciate that you have nail clippers.

30 gordon April 2, 2008 at 7:33 pm

thats for the gerber clutch. Its sooo small, so useful. Get one, you’ll love it.
In office clothes, dress pants or khakis…you won’t even notice or feel it in your front pocket.

31 Jason April 2, 2008 at 8:01 pm

I bought a clutch last month to replace a leatherman mini that was confiscated at an event. Great little tool that I keep on my keys.

I also have a Gerber Suspension I keep at the house for odd jobs when I don’t want to dig through my tools.

Last, a Kershaw Chive. I rarely take it from the house anymore, afraid that I’ll forget and take it where it will be confiscated. I don’t mind replacing a Mini or Clutch, but love that Chive and want to keep it around.

32 Brett McKay April 2, 2008 at 9:15 pm

@30 days-

The handkerchief in the suit pocket is commonly called a pocket square to distinguish it from the handkerchief you keep in your pocket. The pocket square is definitely manly and suave. I’ll being doing a post about how to properly fold one one of these days……

33 Erik April 2, 2008 at 11:08 pm

I am a college student and I have been carrying a knife every day since I was in Boy Scouts. I started with a simple swiss army knife and have carried one ever since. I’ve found them to be indispensable tools on many occasions, and have developed a habit of collecting them. I now own eight or nine, spread out between Kershaw, Spyderco, and Benchmade. I now carry a folding Benchmade that I acquired after retiring a Kershaw that I carried for almost six years. I would encourage anyone at all interested to do some serious looking and buy quality, it will make a difference when you really need it.

And, it’s really damn cool to be able to whip it out when everyone else is standing around trying to open a package/cut sandwich/remove splinter/etc…

34 Santa April 3, 2008 at 5:38 am

I always make sure my pocket knife is in the truck ready to use, or on the side of my belt. It’s one of those things every man should be carrying, just like an extra wrench and spare tire in the truck. The worst scenario I had in using my knife was when some a-hole driver screamed obscenities at me, gave me the finger, and cut me off in a parking lot… That knife sure came in handy when he parked right in front of me and as he walked into the store I slashed his tires.

35 Johnny April 3, 2008 at 6:04 am

I have carried a few different types from one handed locking blades to pen knives all around 4-4.5 inch blades. I have found for everyday use and carrying in my pocket, I don’t need these larger blade knives. I now carry a small Leatherman Micra which is compact and useful. Just wish instead of scissors, it was pliers. Otherwise, a great compact everyday carrier.

36 Troy April 3, 2008 at 6:52 am

Every man should have a W.R. Case & Sons pocketknife. They are still 100% made in America (Bradford, PA) and almost all go up in value over time, even if you use it. For pocketknife shows that I go to I would say 80% of all knives being bought/sold/traded are Case knives and the quality usually first rate. If you want to go more high-end you can’t beat William Henry’s knives if you want a nice dress knife with exotic materials and steels.

37 Eric April 3, 2008 at 10:20 am

as a military geek (not actually IN the military, just a geek) I tend toward tactical knives. I currently have this one:


My wife gave me a look when I ordered it, but the thing is like sharp as can be and I use it all the time. It’s one of the better investments I’ve made.

38 Chris April 3, 2008 at 10:32 am

I’ve carried a Buck 503 (Prince) pocket knife for about 10 years. The first one was given to me by an employer. I lost it soon after Katrina and bought another one at Walmart.

Wouldn’t be without and I definitely feel naked without it in my pocket when flying.


39 MICKEYBLUEFRIES April 3, 2008 at 7:46 pm

For the monetary-restriced gentleman (read ‘ bloody poor’), may I suggest a boxcutter in leau of a more expensive pocket knife. These are cheap as chips, sharp as a razor and easy to conceal. Personally I would never carry one as they are essentially style-less, but if you are a gentleman hobo and need to slice some junkie’s face to ribbons one cold, rainy night while he attempts to take your last dollar from you they are perfect.

40 Nick April 3, 2008 at 8:05 pm

Folding knives are fine, but for my money, the Brusletto Solvgutten is one of the best manly man knives; something you would be proud to hand down to your son:


41 Curtis April 4, 2008 at 6:21 am

I was very excited to see this article. I have been carrying a pocketknife everyday since I was twelve, and joined the boy scouts. I have gotten to a point that I have different knives for different outfits and situations. For my everyday I carry a three inch Gerber FAST blade. I have eight different case blades to match dress shirts, and I have five or six multitools for bigger jobs or when I’m working around the house campsite, I also keep a 4 inch Winchester locking blade in my glove box, which proved invaluable when someone t-boned my truck and I had to cut myself out of my seatbelt while hanging upside down in my cab.

42 Moe Rubenzahl April 4, 2008 at 10:02 am

I have many but the one I always have is a small Swiss Army knife with one unusual feature: A pen. Can’t tell you how many times that has come in handy.

I also like the scissors. But have never understood why most Swiss Army knives include a nail file. A nail file??? How manly is that?

43 Trebonte April 4, 2008 at 11:37 pm

Knives are indeed an essential item for a Man. The utilitarian nature of a good knife is something that I can’t afford to miss. Though not quite as extreme, not having my knife is like losing a limb.

Unfortunately knives have received a sort of social stigma about them that make them less and less popular to use. Pulling it out to open a box or letter causes people to just freak out.

Asking any of my circle of friends whether they have their knife on them or not is an insult. “I’m a man… why -wouldn’t- I have my knife?”

44 Just John April 5, 2008 at 1:36 am

Until I got stationed in Japan, I felt naked without my pocket knife. I used to mix it up a bit. I’d carry my Gerber for a while, and then carry my grandpa’s “Old Henry” pocket pen knife for a few days, etc.

Carrying anything of a useful length here is against the law…how pathetic. A Leatherman isn’t even allowed!

45 Morydd April 6, 2008 at 8:59 am

@Moe Rubenzahl

I also like the scissors. But have never understood why most Swiss Army knives include a nail file. A nail file??? How manly is that?

I’ve never understood scissors myself. It’s a knife, what can you cut with scissors that you can’t cut with the blade?

As far as a nail file. The first time you come to the rescue of a damsel in distress (by which I mean a hangnail when she’s in evening dress) with your nail file you’ll understand just how manly it is.

46 Ken April 7, 2008 at 7:57 am

Quite right. Every gentleman needs to carry a pocketknife!

I rotate several but I often carry my old Buck Stockman penknife (bought 30 years ago). It won’t intimidate anyone, and the ladies are usually impressed that you are ready and able to come to their assistance while every other guy around (usually) stands there with a sheepish look on his face.

On the rare day when I forget to carry mine I never fail to have several instances where I still reach for it to do some task or another.

And if I have a moment where I’m alone and bored to tears, I can take it out and play with it until I knick myself!

47 Paul April 7, 2008 at 12:53 pm

Every work day I carry three different folders. I carry a large Swiss Army knife in a belt sheath. Practical and sentimental. It was a gift 19 years ago from my late father. I carry a Gerber multitool also in a belt sheath and in my pocket I carry a mini Leatherman I bought from RadioShack. The three tools are so handy that I have gone a week at a time without having to resort to a normal toolbox. I am an aircraft electronic systems tech.

On weekends when I am out in the woods with the Boy Scouts, I usually carry either a Buck or Boker whittling knife and leave the Gerber and the Swiss in my pack.

48 R. Downey April 7, 2008 at 3:45 pm

Yes, while I admit to loving the beautiful bone handled knives. I find the cheap pocket clip models with half serations on the blade to be the most useful. While I work in town to support my cattle raising habit, I find that the pocket clip is accessible with gloves on and the serations are great for cutting the twine from bales of hay. It will also work in emergencies involving cutting nylon ropes quickly (always possible when dealing with horses and cattle) or in cutting a seatbelt in an accident (this was infro from a highway patrolman). I will also admit to “planting” more than a few knives in the pasture, hence the appreciation for a cheaper blade. Even in a semi desk job in town I find constant use for a knife at work and would hate to be without one. Luckily I live in a rural area where a knife in the pocket or hanging on a belt sheath is completely unremarked upon. I feel really naked while flying and my knife is stuck in my luggage!

49 Hollis the Utile April 8, 2008 at 12:17 am

I carry a benchmade 940 daily, rules be damned. I use it more than once a day. I completely agree with you on everyone should carry a knife.

Caution: If traveling to England, do NOT bring your knife. Double edged blades, blades over 3 inches, and (absurdly) any LOCKING blades are illegal. The Nanny State took a really nice HK benchmade from me and failed to mail it back to me as they promised.

50 Rob O. April 8, 2008 at 5:11 am

It may be that the whole reason my late Father-in-Law gave me permission to marry his daughter – yes, I asked – was because he knew that the fact that I always carry a pocketknife is an indicator of my old school values and can-do attitude.

Carrying a pocketknife is right up there with shaking a man’s hand. These are signs of a boy becoming something more than just a boy.

Danged ol’ TSA is really screwing with my Chi though. I’ve flown to another city, so I’m without my pocketknife. I feel naked. I may have to buy a new knife just so I can feel that familiar, comfortable slight bit of weight in my left pants pocket while I’m here…

51 Evan Leon April 8, 2008 at 7:46 am

I only care 2 pocket knives with me. The first is a single blade thatt is part smooth and part serraded on the same edge. It does well for most of the basic tasks (opening boxes, cutting rope, cutting an apple, etc) and I have another with 2 very small screwdrivers, a pair of scissors, and a single small blade. I have a third pen knife on my keys that has a single blade, a nail file, and a pair of small scissors.
My only regret is that I have to leave them home when I fly places for work. I feel naked without them. I usually end up buying a small pocket knife when I have to travel for work.

52 Mike C-K April 9, 2008 at 4:59 pm

One of the most iconic memories I have of my grandfather, a member of the ‘greatest generation,’ is of his constant companion – a pocket knife. He could always be counted on to whip out that pearly enameled blade of his whenever it was in need… and I could always count on him to give me a lesson on what it meant to be a gentleman, simply by example.

53 David April 12, 2008 at 6:59 am

“I’ve got my pants on, don’t I ?” never leave home without one, carry an old Boker most of the time.
So, follow -up with a good “How To Sharpen” article.
I found a man at a local flea market that puts an edge on a blade like no other, and I make a point of carrying along a few on every trip.
And remember to just leave it in your vehicle when going into Federal buildings, Courthouses, and Airports, lest you lose it to the fear police.

54 Evan Mathews April 21, 2008 at 3:55 pm

I’ve had a buck cattleman since I was 10. Had to replace it once thirty years ago. Like the man says “If I have my pants on I’ve got my cattleman”

55 Joe May 1, 2008 at 1:52 am

I carry three pocket knives. I started with one of course, then a second, and just the other day, a third. I can’t really give a good reason why, but I see from this article that I’m not the only one with an appreciation em.

56 Steve May 1, 2008 at 9:29 am

I’ve carried a knife for most of my life, from 8 years of age to my current 52. In my opinion, Cold Steel offers the best factory-made knives in the world. To get a better knife you’d need to get a custom blade.

57 Paul May 2, 2008 at 5:12 pm

The Buck Hunter 110 is a great knife — I mean to carry it more, but it lives on my desk a lot of the time. As for the handkerchiefs, remember the rule “one for showing, one for blowing.” Both quite necessary.

58 Jay May 11, 2008 at 5:15 pm

I own about 20 different knives, most of which were given to me at some point and some I purchased. I can’t drive through Knoxville, TN without stopping at the Smokey Mountain Knifeworks and picking up at least one new knife.
My leatherman wave and my cell phone got me out of a jam after a radiator hose burst while driving down the interstate. My wife picked up the parts and brought them to me, and I replaced the hose with my leatherman and I was back on the road again in less than an hour.
Everyone who knows me knows I have some form of cutlery in my pocket. My 11 yr old daughter and my 6 yr old son have taken an interest in my collection. I plan to train them up right with some of the older traditions that have been lost to the IPOD and XBox. Websites like these are great for keeping the history alive.

59 Ben May 14, 2008 at 2:36 pm

Great article! I share these same sentiments so strongly that several years ago I began studying knifemaking. I now make one-of-a-kind custom folders as gifts. It’s my way of saying “we are men of action”.

60 Stephan May 15, 2008 at 4:55 pm

I always try and carry mine around me, like many other men here, i feel naked without it. i have 3 knives i like to carry on with me at any time if possible (and some others i’ve collected over the years.

i have a small swiss army (victorinox) one that i carry on my keychain (NEVER without this one) a full sized one (camper configuration, wish it had a philips on it) and my Buck folding knife, with a hole at the end of the blade for opening one handed.

the only time im not carry the 2 larger ones is whenever im in school or some other building thats anal about them. then i just leave them in my car, or if i forget, just dont show it to anyone.

61 Jeff May 19, 2008 at 6:13 pm

Another wonderful article. I have carried a pocket knife since I was about eight. I use it constantly.

I live in the South, and Southerners seem to be particularly enamored with a good knife.

There have been times during gatherings of men in my life(weddings, barbecues, picnics), where we all stopped and pulled out our knives, to see who was carrying, and what they had!

There are many good knives out there. My favorites are old fashioned American, two- bladed jack knives with high carbon steel blades. I have several knives by Schrade, Bear & Son, Camillus, Case, Utica, and Ka-bar.

If you are worried about legal repercussions, learn the laws for your state. They all differ considerably.

I also agree on the utility of the handkerchief. I usually carry two, and always keep the clean one for someone else to use. It has served as hanky, towel, mop, bandage… the list goes on.

Keep up the good work!

62 D M May 28, 2008 at 9:41 pm

I personally carry a butterfly knife — namely, the Benchmade BM42. It is an excellent knife.

63 nick June 16, 2008 at 6:04 am

AOM, What do you think about carrying a lighter???

64 The Apostate June 17, 2008 at 11:47 am

A pocket knife is an indispensable, manly tool. My grandfather carried one in his pocket, always, when he wasn’t wearing his pocket watch. His pocket watch was a white gold railroad watch (yes, that’s a specific kind of watch: see http://www.pockethorology.org/Railroad/Railroad.htm) with a silver chain. Attached to the other end of the silver chain was a small white gold penknife with his initials engraved. Very classy. I still have all three items.

Given the general coolness of this website, an article on knife sharpening seems useful. Dull knives are both boring and dangerous.

65 Mark B June 19, 2008 at 9:22 am

This is my first time to this site, but I’m now a fan. When I read this article I have to admit that I felt really nostalgic. Both my dad and my grandfather carried a small pocket knife with them at all times. I remember when I was really young eating oranges with my grandpa who cut them up with his knife while I sat on his lap.

I’ve carried a knife my entire life, where and when I can and wouldn’t be without one.

66 Mark H August 4, 2008 at 11:52 am

I so badly want to find the pocket knife used by Brendan Fraser in The Mummy Returns.

http://img114.imageshack.us/my.php?image=brendanfraserknifehu2.jpg as shown in this scene.

It needs to be twisted and turned (which can be done with one hand using some swinging motion) to open or close.

Anyone know where I can find it?

67 Brit August 4, 2008 at 12:10 pm

I have been carrying a Victorinox Swiss Army knife since 1976… Through Airport metal detectors with no problems up until 9/11, each time I pulled it out when the detector went off the officers would look it over and one of them would say, “That isn’t a weapon, that is a tool.”, and hand it back to me. These days I usually carry one of their fine multitools as well as a simple assisted opening or lock blade knife. People have looked askance at me from time to time (“Why are you carrying a weapon?” from the uninitiated), but I have found it is invaluable tool and useful in so many ways… the day I forget is always the day I need it!

68 Brit August 4, 2008 at 12:12 pm

@Mark H

That looks like a Balisong knife, but I would need a better picture.

69 Ralph Cooper August 25, 2008 at 4:16 pm

I”am looking for a two bladed lock-back pocket knife 2″ to 3″ long. I cannot find one Please help me.

70 Zack August 30, 2008 at 7:07 pm

I have two knives; one is my “gentleman’s” knife, the other is a day-to-day knife. The first is a Schatt and Morgan doctor’s knife with a bone handle, the latter a cheap lockback with a large plastic handle that feels great in my hands.

71 Ted Sali September 2, 2008 at 11:04 am

Being more of a geek, and leaning towards the MacGuyver side of things, I tend to carry an inexpensive leatherman knockoff multi-tool. I find that the pliers tip on them are very useful, and they still have the knife for simple tasks.

I get them wherever, Walmart, Canadian Tire, almost everyone has a knockoff version. I keep one in my messenger bag for work, one in my camera bag, one in the glove box, one in the fishing vest, and I usually wear cargo pants or shorts when I’m slacking with the kids, so I have ample room to pack one there too.

72 Will Grannan September 3, 2008 at 6:29 pm

I’ve carried a pocketknife every day since I was 13. I once was JUGged in high school for carrying; the old crone of a teacher said I had a weapon, which I insisted was a tool. The Dean of Students returned my Davy Crockett jack knife, as it had sentimental value, with the condition that I sharpen my pencils at the wall from then on.
For years now, I’ve carried a Spyderco Ladybug. I prefer the non-serrated model, which I usually have to order.

73 Dred September 4, 2008 at 8:09 am

@Will Grannan
JUG…boy did that bring back memories.

I currently carry a Smith and Wesson “Homeland Security” knife. It’s a bit large and bulky for my personal tastes, but it was the cheapest one in the shop with a serrated edge. I also keep a lighter on me “just in case.” It comes from being a smoker for many years, and has come in handy lighting ladies smokes at a bar.

74 Ian B September 16, 2008 at 12:37 am

A great article. I have carried a knife for many years, from a small swiss army knife to a jack knife (now). A knife is always useful, in many ways. Once you start to carry one you will ask yourself how you ever survived without.

What annoys me is now how paranoid people and society have become (and I use ‘paranoid’ in its correct meaning—an irrational fear). Pull out a knife or even say you carry a knife and people look nervous.

Society is becoming scared and insecure.

75 Robert Accettura September 19, 2008 at 5:58 am

Generally agree it’s useful.

Though for the love of god, don’t use it for any food prep… nothing is more unmanly than getting sick from using a contaminated surface for food prep. Especially if you use it for any other purpose listed above (mail is just loaded with bacteria if your lucky…. and anthax if your unlucky). At a minimum take some alcohol and sanitize it first. Even your pocket is a pretty unsanitary place (since people keep their dirty hands in there all the time).

I would recommend carrying one on a plane. The TSA recommends you sow it to the inside of your clothing prior to boarding a plane. If anyone asks you about it… just deny ;-) . Ok I’m kidding. But seriously, they don’t believe in “accidents” so make sure you don’t have one when boarding a plane… if they don’t like your face, your spending the night in jail. Same with many sporting events, schools, etc. I recall someone in high school getting busted for accidentally carrying a knife from fishing over the weekend. 0 tolerance is just that.

May also want to disclose if your pulled over and asked to get out of the car… should the cop find one, intent or not… it can be big trouble depending on your state.

76 Jeff September 19, 2008 at 6:30 pm

Why carry a knife? If you have to ask that question , you will not understand. There is quiet pleasure in having the right tool, at right time for the job. My current hunting knife is a Buck folder, model 110 that I bought in 1976 while I stationed Fort Sam Houston Tx.

I also passed on to my son, the same Swiss Army knife I carried while I was stationed in Germany in the late 70′s. I upgraded by getting a Leatherman multi tool later on when I needed some thing better suited for the demands of being out in the field.

There is one unwritten rule that left unstated, and the being, NEVER lend your knife to anyone. Like a good book, you are bound to lose it by letting someone “barrow” it. I have lost a couple that way.

77 anonymus September 28, 2008 at 6:12 pm

i carry a 1 1/2 inch victorinox swiss army knife its the largest my highschool will allow but it is a darn useful little thing i probably use it on average 0nce a day

78 Lee October 15, 2008 at 6:21 am

@Dan – Dangerous? I’ve had my Leatherman Wave for several years now, replaced the whole kit-n-kaboodle once (broke several tool tips while working on a car at my job…thankfully my company paid to replace it!) and haven’t cut myself yet. I would say that it is no more dangerous than any other knife, and therefore comes down to your personal training and habits with a knife, more than the knife itself.

As a side note, my Multi-Tool is one of two knives I carry on my person at all times. The Multi-Tool is in it’s holster at my right hip, and I use it for larger, more tool-oriented tasks (i.e. as a box-cutter, for the various handyman tasks I do around the house and car every day, etc.) and in my pants pocket, with my keys, is a single bladed pen-knife that I have carried for nearly two decades of my life. It is the third pen-knife I have owned, and I learned at my grandfather’s knee how to sharpen it the old-fashioned way, on a whetstone, by hand. It’s an Old-Timer brand (a division of Schrade) with a 120T high-carbon steel blade. I find that stainless steel knives just don’t take as nice of an edge, or keep it for as long. My pen-knife is kept at as close to razor sharp as I can get, because a sharp knife is a safe knife! ProTip: Best way to razor sharpen your knife, if you don’t shave with a Straight razor and therefore don’t have a professional stropping block; Take off your Real Leather belt (has to be real 100% leather…) and loop it around your dominant foot through the buckle, holding belt taut by the free end in your non-dominant hand, and strop the knife against the underside of the belt. 10-12 strokes later (if you’ve sharpened your knife well…) and you’ll be shaving with your pocketknife in no time.

A comment about pocketknives being a concealed weapon: Obviously you should consult with your local police if in doubt, but the rule of thumb I’ve always been told is that it is not a concealed weapon if the blade of the open knife is 4″ or shorter, or the width of your palm or shorter. Most common pen- and jack-knives fall into this category. There may also be rules defining folding knives as a tool, rather than a weapon.

79 Lee October 15, 2008 at 6:46 am

@gordon – Oh thank God! I thought my father and I were the only men remaining in the world who actually carried a pair of nail clippers with them! You have no idea how many times a day my lovely wife asks to borrow them…gentlemen, it is bonus points to be able to help the ladies in your lives when they are in a nail emergency. And trimmed and well kept hands tend to be allowed *ahem* to touch the ladies MUCH more regularly than rough and ragged fingers…

80 TTFK November 7, 2008 at 10:52 pm

Originally Posted By AndrewI used to carry a pocket knife around all the time. I don’t know if its a generational thing(I’m 19), but every time I pull out my knife for some task, my peers seem to be a little scared that I have a knife with me. I’m not sure if were just becoming too paranoid, but they seem to find it creepy and they can’t understand why I would want to carry a knife. This is more true of the ladies than the guys, though.

I’ve actually seen the opposite reaction from women.

A couple of weeks ago, I was in sudden need of a new belt when my old one decided it didn’t want to stay together much longer. Went into JC Penny, paid for a $20 belt at the register, and flipped out the Kershaw given to me by a close friend to cut the plastic clip off.

The reaction by the two girls at the register? “Well, that’s handy!”

81 swilly November 26, 2008 at 4:03 pm

I have carried a small german pocket knife that my grandpa gave me when I was 6 years old. I am now 53 years old. I’ve carried this knife just about every day, and actually feel uncomfortable when I’ve forgotten it. It has never needed sharpening, and cuts through just about everything I’ve tried. This is a great article, thank you for pointing out a common, and somewhat forgotten, art of manliness!

82 CoffeeZombie December 8, 2008 at 11:11 am

I haven’t read all the comments, but seeing as how you are suggesting we all start carrying pocket knives, and also seeing as how you are suggesting a good use for said knives is cutting fruit, perhaps you could do a post on caring for your knife. How, for instance, do you keep a knife sharp? And shouldn’t you clean the blade after using it to cut a sugary, mildly-acidic treat?

I still have an old pocket knife from Cub Scouts (didn’t stay through long enough to make it to boy scouts), though the blade is too dull to be useful for much more than opening envelopes. Aside from that, I’ve had a few pocket knives throughout the years, but they’ve all been, sadly, sold at auction in Alabama (which is, if I’m correct, what happens to all the stuff they confiscate at the airport).

83 Rob December 9, 2008 at 7:00 am

@Cameron – Every jurisdiction has its own laws and some of them can be somewhat difficult to decipher. Here in Ontario, Canada, I have been carrying a leatherman in a pouch on my belt for a long, long, long time and have had it checked at least once by a cop. In addition I often carry a Spyderco knife which I keep clipped onto my pocket. By keeping it clipped that way the clip and top of the knife are visible and therefore technically not hidden.

One other note. If a cop stops and asks you why you have a knife on you the correct answer is “it’s a tool” and then go on to explain that it is for opening boxes, cutting rope etc. UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES use the word “weapon” or “self-defense” as this gives them grounds to consider laying a weapons charge. Sure you could get off the charge but is it work the night in jail, $20k bail/bond and $20k lawyers fees and mark on your permanent record?

84 CORKY December 12, 2008 at 11:57 am


85 Greg Throne January 1, 2009 at 1:03 pm

Apologies for the late comment. I recently discovered your inspiring site. I agree about the pocketknives. I carry a Leatherman Micro nearly everywhere. Quite handy on Christmas! One year, when children were smaller, it was a trip to see my uncle, my brother and myself all getting out our pocketknives to help open packages.

86 Scott Jagodzinski January 1, 2009 at 2:19 pm

If you aren’t lucky enough to get a pocket knife from your Dad, start your own tradition by getting a knife from Col. Littleton. I carry one and had one made for my son and the quality is outstanding.


87 Lee January 15, 2009 at 3:02 pm

Used to carry an old buck knife that my dad gave me way, way, way back in Indian Guides(do they still have that anymore). Someone stole it out of my jeep when they broke in and broke open everything.

But now I carry a Smith and Wesson Cuttin’ Horse everywhere, then I keep a real small multi-tool in my gun bag, as well as a bigger multi tool in my fishing bag.

Hate flying as it makes me not get to have my knife. That and with getting wanded at concerts these days has me keeping the knife at home as they have started to wand my boots as well.

88 Stuart January 25, 2009 at 3:03 am

I still carry a Sharp locking pocket knife that I used in Boy Scouts. It is around 18 years old. It still holds an edge. Amazing that a cheap, Japanese knife from KMart should still be a useful item in my life. My initials which were engraved by hand have long since worn smooth.

89 Jerry January 26, 2009 at 5:00 pm

Pocket knives are essential everyday carry items. For those that use a folding knife to cut fruit or use on food. A drop or two of mineral oil will work fine for keeping the joint lubed. Mineral oil won’t turn rancid and is not a petroleum distillate so won’t hurt you if there’s a touch left on a blade. It won’t damage bone or natural scales either. Many of us carry custom slipjoints, but Case and Great Eastern Cutlery make some nice slipjoints. The Victorinox is the standard for the Swiss Army Knife and won’t raise an eyebrow if used in public. It’s a shame a small pocket knife puts such fear in folks.

Also, the “pen knife” in the illustration is not technically a pen knife, but a “stockman” pattern.

90 cabman January 27, 2009 at 12:40 pm

I carry my Dad’s old Uncle Henry (pocket knife that is).
Got my pants on, got my knife.

91 Mike January 28, 2009 at 8:04 am

Glad to see this article posted. The paranoia concerning certain inanimate objects (Knives included) in modern culture is ridiculous, and that fact needs to be asserted.

I enjoy carrying Spyderco lock knives and Victorinox multitools myself. I keep a Victorinox Classic on my keychain, and carry a large, locking Spyderco for everything from opening packages, cutting my food and doing camp chores when I’m in the woods. Usually it’s a carbon fiber Military. I also bring a Spyderco Cricket with me everywhere I go, the tip on it is so useful.

92 Steve March 5, 2009 at 7:53 pm

I’ve always carried a pocket knife. I currently carrie a small assisted open Kershaw. It’s a fantastic knife.

I work at a university. My department employes a number of student workers. I came into the office one morning with a stack of campus papers that were at the door all banded up. I popped open my knife and cut the band on papers and dropped them in the rack.

About that time a Pakistani that works for us ask me “Why do you Americans carry knives?” First I was so dumbfounded I didn’t know what to say. He added “Do you carry them for protection?” After gaining my senses back I chuckled and said – no we carry them as a tool. I’ve carried one as long as I can remember. Besides this little thing wouldn’t do anyone much harm.”

Thanks for the good work here. This blog is one of my regular online haunts.

93 Desi Quintans March 6, 2009 at 4:16 am

I used to work in a pastry kitchen where all the knives were dull and nobody would let me sharpen them. I carried a very small (one inch blade, seriously) folding knife to cut open packaging that would have been dangerous to go at with a dull chef’s knife, like heavy plastic. For some reason one of the chefs there took great offence to it, probably because he was a hothead and figured that his rudeness would come back to him one day, and I had to leave it in the changeroom to keep the peace.

I still don’t understand, since the kitchen was full of other, more dangerous knives anyway.

94 Terry Boyne March 6, 2009 at 8:34 am

My grandpa saved his own life once by use of a pocket knife.

He was a brakeman for the railroad at the time and was walking along side the end car to couple up another when he slipped and was hung up on the car by the strap of his overalls. He reached into his pocket, pulled out his knife and cut himself out of those overalls just before the cars came crashing together.

From that day on he always made sure he had a pocket knife on him and that the blades were razor sharp.

I carry one just like his, an Uncle Henry, to honor him. Unfortunately the company that made Uncle Henry knives, Schrade, has gone out of business.

They also made another fine knife called the Sharp Finger.

95 Paul Hakel March 6, 2009 at 9:01 am

The pocket knife is an essential piece for me. I think lighters are helpful too, even though I don’t smoke (burning incense, starting fires, etc.). I end up using the pocket knife quite a bit and would recommend one to anyone who’s legally allowed to carry it (don’t know if there are any problems/restrictions on carrying knives).

96 G March 7, 2009 at 12:32 pm

After reading this i just ordered 2 Victorinox Swiss army knives. One Classic, which is small and will be used as a keychain; the other is the Victorinox “Tinker” which, among other things, includes two blades and a phillips.
PS this site is great, more guys need to read this stuff and just man up.

97 JoeG March 12, 2009 at 3:36 pm

I’ve carried a pocket knife every day since I was 9 (I’m in my 30′s now). I started with a USN folding knife my dad gave me when I was a kid (it had major sentimental value), but switched to a spyderco around 15. Since then I moved on to Benchmade (on of which I have carried daily for 10+ years), and recently added a second daily carry from Cold Steel (recently, wow like 3 years ago now I guess).

I’ve had a few run ins with people afraid of them. When I was in my early 20′s whenever someone would ask me why I carried a “weapon” my response was always; well I could kill you just as easily with a pencil, but like the pen in your pocket, this knife is just a tool (I was a tad confrontational when I was younger).

I cannot imagine not having a knife. I truly do feel naked without one. My circle of friends has always been of the same mindset.

This is America. Your grandfathers (maybe great grandfathers now) carried pistols and rifles like you carry cell phones and laptops. Society was a lot more polite then, why do you suppose that is?

98 Bob March 13, 2009 at 8:19 pm

Pocketknives are essential. A wise man and a mentor to me said, “You can tell a lot about a man by the wife he marries and the knife he carries.” Don’t be caught without one.

99 Wes March 20, 2009 at 6:37 pm

My dad got me a Buck folder when I was a kid, and I have been carrying a pocket knife ever since.
I have been carrying CRKT knives for a few years, and love them. They are inexpensive, hold a good edge for quite a while, and endure abuse pretty good. I just retired my CRKT model Ryan that I picked before I went to Iraq in 2003 with the CRKT Mt. Rainier that my wife got me for Christmas. I love it, and for the most part use it every day.
I honestly thought that I was a member of a dying breed that carried a pocket knife daily. I get the wide eyed looks at work sometime when I pull it out for some job. People tend to think you are some kind of wierdo for carrying one. But, I love my pocketknife, and it is the most useful general purpose tool ever.

100 Tim March 28, 2009 at 3:25 pm

I’ve carried a Victorinox “Spartan” with a corkscrew, which has proved useful when there’s a bottle of wine to be opened and not one to be found anywhere close.
A great gentlemen knife, and one of many to add to your collection. A note about Swiss Amry knifes, the blades are stainless and require a little special attention to sharpen properly.

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