The gentleman’s folding knife is something of a sacred object. While most gentlemen recognize the benefits of having an efficient every day carry knife at hand for everything from opening packages to self-defense, determining the right knife for your needs requires attention and research. There are pros and cons, and if you’re new to knives, some of these considerations may be novel. From modern makers, to aesthetics, to blade styles and technologies, the world of the gentleman’s folding knife is rich and intriguing. Let’s take a deeper dive.
A FOLDING KNIFE SAYS DANGEROUS & PREPARED
A gentleman’s folding knife speaks much about its carrier. Whether you’ve pulled it out of your pocket and set it atop your wallet at a bar, or you’re wearing it proudly attached to your belt with a clip, a folding knife isn’t some demure accessory without its own bit of bite. Afterall, this is the modern version of a cutting instrument with roots to Prehistoric times. It’s been used to fend off bears and wolves, fought wars, gutted fish, carved art, and broken-down hordes of Amazon boxes in your garage. As the famed dystopian writer, Yevgeny Zamyatin, wrote, “the knife is the most permanent, the most immortal, the most ingenious of man’s creations.” Anything with such a rich cutting history can’t help but carry a sense of danger. In the presence of any weapon, you make assumptions about the person carrying it. Are they of sound mind? Are they trying to make a statement or does the folding knife appear comfortable in the totality of the gentleman’s presence, showing this isn’t some flippant add-on. Either way, an everyday carry knife demonstrates the gentleman knows the value of holding a weapon; he is prepared for whatever he encounters in the world. If self-defense is called for, the gentleman is ready to do his part. If it’s as simple as opening a package for a kiddo on Christmas, you’ve got that covered too. One thing is certain: foresight is better than afterthought. So, while an everyday carry knife may speak something to the world, the most important work it’s doing is informing your capacity to face challenges that step into your path
A FOLDING KNIFE COMES IN HANDY
The biblical book of Proverbs offers some fine advice that applies to carrying a gentleman’s folding knife: “the prudent see danger . . . but the simple keep going and pay the penalty” (NIV 27:12) It goes without saying that having a good blade on hand means you’re prepared. But for what? What are the range of circumstances that might interfere on your day and demand your attention? We’ve toured through a few of the obvious ones above: personal safety, defending others, and yes, the dreaded boxes that suck up hours of an afternoon. But it goes deeper than that. Have a splinter and need to perform a quick surgery? Use the point to pick out the offender. What about the need to quickly tend to a dull pencil? As easy as a few flicks of the wrist from a sharp pocket knife. Those plastic zip ties holding in boxed toys are gonzo. For those days when you’re out in the wild, an everyday carry knife is as good as a third hand. Gut all the fish. Break down kindling into appropriately sized strips for the fire to fry them. And whittle away the boring hours waiting for the bites. The uses for a gentleman’s folding knife are legion and we could go on all day, but we’ll leave you with a serious one to consider: at minimum, it’s a major elevation of your manly style.
A FOLDING KNIFE CAN PUT SOME PEOPLE OFF
A gentleman knows there are some battles you just can’t win. And often, those are battles you choose not to fight in the first place. Carrying a knife, even if it’s a minimalist folding knife, is going to put some people on edge. Whether they’re not used to seeing a blade clipped to a belt or they carry some negative association with knives, there’s not a terrific amount you can do about it. Of course, this is a contemporary phenomenon. Historically, knives abounded in all walks of life and you were as accustomed to seeing a gentleman’s folding knife as you were his wallet, pocket watch, or handkerchief. But in our more modern societies, especially as the population moved to city centers, some of the everyday uses for a folding knife became less obvious and the knife drifted out of usual view.
By no means should this societal disposition discourage the gentleman from an everyday carry knife, but it still is worth bearing in mind so the gentleman may adopt a courteous posture to those around him. It’s also worth considering a minimalist folding knife for its demure qualities. You’ll have all the benefits of a folding knife, but the general populace may rest easier.
HEAVY IN THE POCKET
When arming yourself for the day, adding a gentleman’s folding knife can bring a bit of extra weight to the arsenal. You’ve already got your wallet, your phone, a timepiece, a handkerchief, sunglasses, a comb, and your keys. Then there are extras like a pipe and tobacco, driving gloves, a journal, and a pen. You don’t want to overload yourself so much you sink, and that’s a lot of gear to keep track of during happy hour when you’re knocking back a few Old Fashioned’s with friends. All the same, the benefits of an edc knife are abundant, and so it’s worth thinking about weight and profile when incorporating a folding knife into your repertoire. Consider selecting a knife that’s low profile and designed for belt carry rather than in your pocket. That’ll keep it out of the way of your other gear but still easily accessible. Plus, there’s that extra bit of security since it can rest snugly on your belt.
This can go either way, but don’t say we didn’t warn you. Like Zippos, pipes, pens, tattoos, and watches, once you start collecting folding knives—once you hold the fine craftsmanship in your hand, appreciate the various uses while going about your day, and find yourself pulling it out to mess with like a gentleman’s fidget spinner—chances are you’re not going to stop at just one. Around here, we appreciate objects that begin collections; these are the kinds of sets your kids admire and you pass down for generations.
MEET A FEW OF THE PLAYERS
Now that we’ve toured through the pros and cons of owning a gentleman’s folding knife, let’s take a look at a few of the heavyweights in the knife industry to help you get started on your collection.
- -CASE KNIVES
An icon of American craftsmanship, Case builds each and every knife with integrity. Case’s heritage stretches back to 1889 when the Case brothers began selling handcrafted knives in Upstate NY, and since then, Case has been present for many significant moments in American history. Heirloom blades worthy of being passed down for generations, Case is now owned by another icon of American manufacturing: Zippo. With a legacy like that, you know you’re getting a premium gentleman’s everyday carry knife.
At three inches closed, this slim Case pocketknife packs a punch. Useful for all manner of tasks, including, yes, a toothpick in an emergency, this is a great gentleman’s gift and a sturdy backup for tasks around the house. As a slim knife, this unit isn’t taking up a good deal of space among your other accessories either.
This dual bladed Case pocketknife with a gorgeous Natural Bone handle is laser engraved with your favorite fowl and equipped with two blades to service whatever task is at hand. With a closed length at just over four inches this gorgeous unit also fits nicely in the pocket.
At Kershaw, it’s all about taking it to the next level. With roots in Oregon, Pete Kershaw began designing knives decades ago, specializing in heavy duty hunting knives. As time marched on, Kershaw was acquired by Kai, a Japanese maker of premium blades. The new leadership expanded Kershaw’s categories to include everyday carry knives. Kai invested in a factory in Tualatin, Oregon, keeping the consistent innovation of Kershaw knives true to its founding on Oregon soil. Today, Kershaw is widely regarded as a premium maker and its blades frequently top “best of” lists.
Forged with high-performance steel, the Kershaw Brawler features ultra-fast one-handed blade deployment with Kershaw’s revolutionary SpeedSafe Assisted Opening system. This black oxide coated blade and durable handle mean business too.
The Kershaw Leek is all about versatility. Made with high performance steel with excellent edge retention, this sleek and slim minimalist edc knife features Kershaw’s SpeedSafe Assisted Opening system as well. At four inches closed and equipped with a pocket clip, this knife is ready anytime you need it.
Based in beautiful Golden, Colorado, Spyderco has produced premium blades for a range of intents since the 1970s. Specializing in opening technologies, Spyderco’s folding knives pioneered a round hole forged into the blade which allowed for expedient opening, as well as a serrated edge that affords a more rigorous cut. Calling on key manufacturing capabilities in regions from Japan to Italy, Spyderco blades are one of a kind and their ferocious customer loyalty proves it.
A classic in Spyderco’s repertoire, the Paramilitary 2 folding knife brings premium performance to a compact and easy to use model. Featuring Spyderco’s patented Compression Lock mechanism, this dependable knife is equipped with a pocket clip for easy carry.
Built with ergonomics in mind, the Spyderco Manix 2 is perfectly balanced for ease of carry and durability. Prepared for any challenge, the Spydero Manix 2 is an all-purpose folding knife that always has your back in a pinch.
- -ZERO TOLERANCE
Another exceptional offering brought to the world by Kai, the producers of Kershaw, Zero Tolerance knives hit the stage in 2006 with a special focus on military personnel, law enforcement, and first responders. As their fan base grew, Zero Tolerance expanded into the everyday carry market while still emphasizing the hardcore materials associated with their founding product offerings. The resulting blades are high-performance, perfectly sleek everyday carry knives.
A perfect all-purpose edc blade, the Zero Tolerance 0350 Spring Assisted knife will come in handy in the outdoors or around the house. Extremely durable and resistant to corrosion, this high-performance knife looks as good as it feels in the hand.
An ideally balanced folding knife, the Zero Tolerance 0707 is super comfortable to grip and maintains a low profile in the pocket with the deep carry pocket clip. Built to weather any wear and tear, this pocket folder will serve for years to come.
- -BUCK KNIVES
Since the 1970s, Buck has staked their claim in the world of fine knives, including the introduction of their Model 110 Folding Hunter knife, which introduced the often-imitated folding lock system. Built on old-fashioned values of integrity and craftsmanship, Buck brings generations of attention to reliability, gorgeous classic aesthetics, and heirloom-quality folding knives.
A classic in the world of folding knives, the Buck 110 folds down to just under 5”, which means it’s packing all the punch you need for heavy duty tasks but still compact enough for a back pocket or a backpack. Worthy of wilderness use, we bet you’ll find all manner of gentlemanly applications for the Buck 110.
Shopping for an everyday carry knife will often lead you to the Buck 722 Spitfire. Proudly made in the USA, the materials and craftsmanship of this blade will leave you in awe for years to come. Lightweight and sleek, the Spitfire comes in at 4 ¼” closed, making for a comfortable slim pocket or belt carry with the attached clip.
There are an abundance of manly knives for sale out there and the gentleman needs to consider his needs and purchase strategically for materials and functionality. Like George R. R. Martin said, and we agree, “give me a good sharp knife and a good sharp cheese and I’m a happy man.” If a knife isn't in the cards, there are many other things gentlemen like. Check out our drinkware, mens personal care, and other men's accessories.