Wearing a neck knife provides an extra measure of defense should a self-defense situation deteriorate so much that you run out of other options. Even if you are not in a last-ditch moment, a neck knife can serve other purposes, namely by just providing an extra blade to be available for whatever you need. Many different makes and models of neck knives present potential buyers with myriad options. Today, I am going to pick on one of my favorites: the Spyderco ARK H1. “ARK” stands for “Always Ready Knife.” By calling it one of my favorites, I am betraying the fact that there is a lot of love for this tool. In fact, it’s almost perfect (but not quite).
Love: Size and Weight
The ARK H1 measures just shy of 5 inches in overall length. The blade is just over 2 1/2 inches long and sports a 2.1-inch edge. Weight is a mere 0.9 ounces. The knife is small but not too small. It is perfect for something that will be carried around your neck for the better part of a day. Both the knife and sheath are thin. The knife handle is about 1/4 inch thick, and the sheath is about 1/8 inch thick. The point where the sheath grabs the knife handle is just shy of a 1/2 inch.
When it comes to knives, the handle is as important as the blade. The ARK’s fiberglass-reinforced nylon handle sports a Spyderco trademarked Bi-Directional Texturing pattern. The material and pattern on the tang ensure the highest-quality fit. The handle, in conjunction with the blade, also features a finger groove (more on that in a minute). Like all the other Spyderco knives with this type of handle, it is pretty much indestructible. The size, weight and excellent handle combine to create an excellent grip quality.
Granted, there is not much to hold on to with the ARK. I can get a thumb plus two or three fingers on it depending on how I hold it, but for a neck knife, it’s enough. With your thumb on the top and your finger in the integrated finger groove, you really can create enough leverage to wield this tool quite usefully. It does not matter if it is dirty or wet; you can get a sure grip on it. The other good thing related to purchase is the built-in retention tab. By grasping the knife handle and putting your index finger right on the tab, you can press to release the knife from the sheath, and then your finger can naturally go to the finger groove where it belongs. So, the good purchase starts the instant you grasp the knife.
Love: Secure in the Sheath
The ARK’s finger groove doubles as a notch for the plastic retention tab to hold. Inserting the knife into the sheath yields a sure click when it is seated and the retention tab is snapped in place. There is very little play, so there is increased assurance that there is no way the knife will accidentally drop out. The knife can be inserted into the sheath only one way; in fact, the sheath’s molding shows exactly how it goes in.
Hate: Neck Chain Too Small
Every other neck knife with any kind of chain or lanyard fits over my head, but the ARK’s neck chain is too small (or my head is too large). Yes, the ARK neck chain can be unclasped and re-clasped, but I really don’t think I should have to bother with this. Moreover, due to the shorter chain, the ARK hangs higher than other neck knives — and a bit higher than I prefer. It peeks out if I wear a V-neck or a button shirt with only one button opened. Ideally, a neck knife ends up hanging just above my bellybutton, so I can reach in under a shirt to access it. The solution? Find a longer neck chain, and swap it out.
By the way, the 0.08-inch thick, razor-sharp H1 blade is made of a nitrogen-based alloy that is immune to rust. As a self-defense tool, it is meant to be worn anywhere, including the shower (Why would you ever need access to a knife when taking a shower? Have you seen the bathhouse fight scene in the movie “Eastern Promises”? Nuff said.) Of course, you have to be super careful with any blade, but a neck knife demands extra caution. Due to its carry location, drawing it means you would be moving a blade over or near your abdomen. Putting it back in its sheath is potentially even more dangerous as you’re bringing the blade in toward your abdomen. This is no reason to hate neck knives, but it is a reason to love practicing, training and using them with superlative caution and care.
Spyderco ARK H1 retails for $104.95. The SpyderEdge version comes in a serrated blade. To learn more visit Spyderco.com.
Do you carry or wear a neck knife? Why or why not? If you do, what do you love and hate about it?
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