Editor’s Note: The following is a post by Mark Kakkuri, a nationally published freelance writer who covers guns and gear, 2nd Amendment issues and the outdoors. His writing and photography have appeared in many firearms-related publications, including the USCCA’s Concealed Carry Magazine. You can follow him on Twitter @markkakkuri.
Read Mark’s previous articles in this “Top Five” series:
- Top Five Pocket Carry Holsters
- Top Five Fixed-Blade Knives
- Top Five Modern Ways to Protect Hearing
- Top Five Reasons to Carry a 1911
- Top Five Concealed Carry Handguns
We’re gun people, but if we gun people are anything, we’re also knife people. And if there’s any tool that virtually every one of us is carrying, it’s a folding knife. We carry one because it’s a compact way to carry a blade. No, it’s not as strong as a fixed blade knife (Check out my Top Five Fixed-Blade Knives), but probably strong enough for most day-to-day tasks. And it’s a decent self-defense tool if that’s all you’ve got. Here are my top five…
Spyderco Native 5 FRN
There’re always several Spyderco knives in my collection and there’s usually one clipped to my pocket. When it comes to daily-use knives, I’m not into glitz and innovation but I am into durability and simplicity. After all, a pocket knife is a tool. When I want an everyday knife that can handle a wide range of cutting tasks with utter excellence, I love using this Spyderco Native.
Frankly, it’s look and feel hearkens back to the days when I carried either a Delica or Endura. Great knives! The Native 5 FRN has been around since 1997 and in its current iteration since 2012.
The FRN in the name means the handle is made from fiberglass-reinforced nylon, which is as strong as it is light in weight. How light? 2.5 oz. to be exact. Overall length measures 6.95 inches; the blade measures 2.95 inches and is made from CPM S35VN and is 0.125 inches thick.
Best feature (I mean, besides the excellent steel and FRN handle) is the back lock mechansim, one of the best I’ve used. The pocket clip is perfect and you can go tip up or down, right or left with it. Made in Golden, Colorado, USA. Retails for $144.95.
Also made in the US of A, this Grayman Dua offers little in terms of technical sophistication or innovation but tons of durablity and simplicity, my two favorite features in a folding knife.
The .165-inch-wide flat-ground blade is CPM 20CV heat-treated to 59 RC. Sharp and durable, at 3.25 inches long, its dimensions and weight are just right for simple, daily tasks that occasionally jump into the category of stubborn or more heavy-duty cutting. A few more stats: The knife measures 7.5 inches overall and 4.25 inches folded. In other words, just right for easy pocket carry or clipped on a pocket (tip-up only).
Deploying the Grayman Dua requires a push on a thumb stud, which yields a smooth swing-open and an audible “click” when the liner lock engages. And does it engage! It takes a healthy push to move the lock away and fold the blade back down, which I’m fine with because I know the locked-open blade will stay locked open.
Grayman’s stonewashed blade sports a weathered look but is quite smooth. There’s no fear of ruining it; one side of the handle is titanium, the other is carbon fiber or G10 over titanium. In other words, tough. Retails for $295.
A little more on the bigger and heavier duty side of folding knives, the Emerson Tactical Assault Knife (ETAK) sports G10 handles, a titanium lock and a 3.9-inch 57-59RC 154 CM blade. (Overall length is 9 inches.)
The main feature of the ETAK is how you can go from closed to deployed: Pull the blade out manually, use the thumb stud, or – my favorite feature – let the blade’s “Wave” deploy as you draw it out of your pocket.
See that forward-pointing little…well…wave on the top of the blade, just over the thumb stud? At first it looks like an impediment to any sort of tactical use, but when the knife is clipped to the inside of your pocket, upon drawing it out, the wave catches on your pocket and deploys the blade.
It’ll take a bit of practice to nail it, but once you do, you actually eliminate the “open the knife” step from the deployment process, saving precious time. The only drawback to this knife is the position of the pocket clip which keeps the knife riding high and a bit more exposed than others, but then again, it’s keeping more knife out and exposed in order for you to grasp it firmly to deploy it quickly. Retails for $249.95.
Compared to the other knives in this list, the CRKT Outrage falls on the “lower” end of the spectrum in terms of price. But that doesn’t mean it’s a low-end knife.
As a Ken Onion design, it’ll impress you with its features and likely earn a place in your daily rotation of pocket folders. Worth noting immediately are good-looking and functional 6061 aluminum handles, the flipper opener, and the IKBS Ball Bearing Pivot System.
In other words, this knife is great to hold and easy to deploy. Measuring 4.67 inches closed and weighing only 4.5 ounces, the Outrage is anything but heavy yet still robust for most cutting tasks. The blade is 8Cr13MoV, 58-60 RC, and measures 3.19 inches in length. It stays in the open position via a liner lock and when it is exposed, you see
It stays in the open position via a liner lock and when it is exposed, you see it’s unique shape. This shape gives the plain edge the ability to cut efficiently no matter how you approach the cut — from the front or back. Retails for $69.99.
SOG Twitch II
Rounding out my Top Five Folding Knives is the most unassuming, low-key, dare I say – boring – knife of list, yet it is the one I carry more than any other. Meet the SOG Twitch II.
It’s little, tough, and just enough. Weighing only 2.6 ounces and measuring 6.2 inches overall, the Twitch II sports a 2.65-inch AUS-8 steel blade (only 0.1 inches thick) with 57-58 RC.
This simple, drop-point blade can be sharpened again and again to somewhere between “wicked” and “razor” and easily handles daily cutting tasks in home, office, and even some outdoors. The handle is 6061 aluminum and the pocket clip robust.
Best feature of the Twitch II is its unfailing assisted opening mechanism, operated via a flipper on the back of the blade. Flick, snap, it’s open. And it stays open via a lock back system which has never let up in several years’ use. Retails for $71.00.
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