Defining the Pocketknife: Background and what to look for

Introduction to pocketknives

Pocketknives, as the name suggests, fit comfortably into the pocket with a foldable handle. These knives are typically less than five centimeters but larger types are found. These small knives have many uses, including carving, opening letters, trimming rope and when hunting or preparing fruits and vegetables. Small and nimble, they could even clean under fingernails, although it may not be advisable, as a sharp blade should always be handled with caution!

Pocketknives are a relatively new invention. Artifacts of knives have been unearthed and dated back to 600-500 years Before Christ. This, however, may be deemed quite late in humanity’s history. The pocket knife as a tool was only developed in more recent years.

More recent use

People’s primary thought of knives is often as fixed blades, which have an inherent danger even when a blade is sheathed. Hence we see it’s forbidden to carry a knife in many places. However, the convenience and usefulness of pocketknives has seen them start to become more mainstream and more acceptable.

Many pocketknives have a so-called sliding joint. These blades do not lock and are sometimes known as fixed blade knives; some can close when pressed hard enough on the back of the blade such as the folding knives.

Most pocketknife users would have cut with one of these knives before. Some styles of blades that are found on pocket knives are clip, spear, drop point, feather, sheep’s foot, Wharncliffe, spay or spey, and hook. The most commonly used type of blade is the spear. It is the most versatile blade, and for this reason, it has become very popular.

Most of the others are very specific to the job. The sheep’s foot, for example, is designed to work on boats and is focused primarily on that application. Hunters often use the hook to handle the intestines of their catch. All types of blades have their advantages and disadvantages. Swiss army knives are one type that functions with a sliding joint.

Other pocketknives have a locking system of one kind or another.

Locking knives

Locking knives have been around since the 15th century and have begun to be produced on a much larger scale by knife manufacturers such as Buck, Case, Gerber, and Opinel. Most of these knives are produced with a rear locking system. One manufacturer who has become a premium name in the space is Buck Knives.

Buck Knives and those with rear locking systems would be welcomed by those who had previously had accidents or made mistakes with knives that had more permanently exposed blades.

Other popular locking systems include the Walker Liner lock and the shaft lock – both very reliable. Bench made has a patent on this style. One potential pitfall of locking knives is the limit to just one blade. Having more blades would necessitate more locking mechanisms, which would contribute to weight and size, as well as requiring more maintenance.

Legalities of carrying pocketknives

Pocketknives, when used with good reason, may be legally carried in certain countries. It is advised that you check the laws of the country you will be handling your knife. They are, as ever strictly prohibited in airports, schools, and courts.

Most sensible owners only have pocketknives to use as tools and not as weapons, but because of the inherent capability, sensible control is enforced.

As always, use knives with caution and care – no matter what type.

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