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Advantages and Disadvantages of Folding Knives

Advantages and Disadvantages of Folding Knives

In 1846, a mine operator by the name of Johann Georg Ramsauer was excavating near Hallstatt, Austria, when he discovered something strange: the remains of a bronze-age civilization that had mined that very spot sometime around 1200 B.C. This site yielded up an extensive graveyard, which contained artifacts such as carrying packs, textiles, beltplates, bronze bowls — and even a pocketknife. The earliest known example of such a tool, the find demonstrates that even ancient peoples recognized the importance of having an easily available blade to hand.

Though OTFs are our specialty here at TacKnives, we also offer a range of folding pocketknives. This article will examine the various benefits and drawbacks to using a folding pocketknife.

Benefits of Folding Knives

When talking about knives, it’s easy to assume what a seemingly simple term like “folding knife” means. However, it’s worth remembering that many different kinds of bladees can qualify as folding knives,  everything from Swiss Army knives and higonokamis to Barlow knives and sow bellies. They all have different applications, and if a particular kind of folding knife offers specific positives or negatives, we will be sure to list it in the following sections.

Without further ado, the benefits of folding knives include the following …

Easy to Carry

We don’t rightly know why the owner of the folding knife found at the Hallstatt site purchased or crafted the tool. Still, we can likely guess that convenience played a big factor. While fixed-blade knives are almost always easier to make, folding knives are easier to carry. That convenience carries over to our postmodern day. Since folding knives come in every size, there’s always an option that will slip easily into one’s pocket or purse. They’re also lighter than many other options, and with the weight advantage offered by various kinds of composite handles, you may not even notice that you’re carrying one.

Appropriate for Everyday Tasks

When people think about everyday carry (EDC) knives, they’re typically thinking about folding knives. EDCs are the sorts of blades that you’d use to quarter an apple, slice twine, open a box you received in the mail, and whittle a stick to while away a few minutes. They’re primarily practical tools, and as suh, they need to be simple to transport, access, use, clean, and store. Folding knives fit all of these categories.

Usually Safe

One significant downside with other kinds of knives is that they have a greater chance to injure users than folding options. Even sheathed, a fixed-blade knife could cut or stab you should you fall on it while transporting it. Not so with folding knives. Because their sharp edges are designed to fold back into the handle and remain there, they are generally the safest option to carry.

Often Legal to Conceal

Speaking of carrying knives, most municipalities will allow you to legally carry a folding knife where they might ban other options — although this point requires some clarification. When we speak of being able to legally conceal and carry folding knives without needing a permit, we’re referring to non-locking pocketknives that lack spring assistance and have blades no longer than three or four inches. As you can imagine, this greatly whittles down (no pun intended) the number of available options. Also, please do not take this very generalized assertion as a hard and fast rule; you should always investigate the laws and statutes of your particular area prior to concealing any weapon.

Come in a Wide Variety of Styles

If you want a specific style of folding knife, you can probably find it, no matter how odd or seemingly outlandish. There’s a good reason why folding knives had continuously appeared across the globe and from one millennium to the next: They can be designed to fit an amazing array of end-use cases.

Drawbacks of Folding Knives

Despite the many benefits they provide, folding knives aren’t without their drawbacks. They will simply underperform when used to perform certain tasks. They may even break or accidentally injure the user in some scenarios.

Here are some of the drawbacks of folding knives …

Prone to Damage or Failure

Due to the nature of their construction, folding knives can never be as stable as fixed blades. The fact that they have a pivot point roughly halfway down their length makes them likely to experience damage or even to break when used to chop, stab, or hammer. They tend to be lighter, and that advantage (at least when it comes to carrying them) becomes a disadvantage when you need to employ some heft.

Inappropriate for Self-Defense

This consideration deserves a qualification: It primarily refers to pocketknives, which are patently unsuited for combat. This is because pocketknife can move freely and lack any mechanism for keeping the blade from folding back onto your fingers during a fight. Folding knives that feature some sort of lock largely eliminate this concern

Inappropriate for Survival Situations

The same factors that make folding knives marginally robust and poorly suited for combat also limit their usefulness in survival contexts. Staying alive in the wilderness (or simply enjoying some primitive camping) requires a knife that can stand up to thorough use and inclement weather. While you can find many tough folding knives on the market, they’ll never be as reliable as fixed knives of similar quality.

May Require Extra Maintenance

Folding knives contain moving parts, and anything with moving parts will naturally require regular maintenance. They may be far less complex than OTFs, but folders still need to have owners to swab out their grime and oil their pivot points. Those who want a blade that needs minimal care should consider a fixed option crafted out of stainless steel.

Inappropriate for Those with Physical Limitations

According to the CDC, some 795,000 people suffer a stroke each and every year. Many will recover, and many will simply pass away. Some, though, will suffer permanent physical limitations, deficits from which they will never recover. Still other people will lose the use of a limb due to either disease or injury. Such individuals may still need to use a knife from time to time — and folding knives are a complete nonstarter. Those facing physical limitations that limit them to the use of one hand ought to consider purchasing an OTF instead.

Browse our wide selection of folding knives and OTFs.

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