Choosing the Right Knife
UkmcPro's Drew takes you through our selection of Knives and offers some pointers on how to select the knife you need
The Right Knife for the Job...
As my old man use to say, the right Tool for the Right Job will make life easier and the right Knife is no exception! As the resident ‘Knife Guy‘ at Ukmc Pro I‘ve been in the forefront of selecting the brands that I feel would most fill out the specifications our customers ask of us when they need to purchase a knife. Several factors are key in any knife selection and I hope that with this article I can help give a little insight into the methods in which I personally choose the right Knife for the task at hand and give a few examples and suggestions from the range of knives we currently stock at UkmcPro.
What Does my Knife Need to do?
This simple question should always be the first you ask yourself. I often encounter customers who let the aesthetic of the knife lead the choice they make and while it’s always important to be happy with how your knife looks, it should rarely be the leading reason for your choice. For a decent bushcraft knife it might be a temptation to go for something fully camouflaged with a woodland sheath that also doubles as a compass and coffee maker etc etc, but a great deal of the time simplicity is the better choice. Bells and Whistles may win the looks contests, but in the end you’re looking for something that will last you a long time after the looks stop being important!
My first example of this is the Mora Knives of Sweden line. The Mora Knives range has for many years been regarded as a great example of substance over style. The fixed blade knives may look slightly basic but I’ve found that with a 25mm stainless steel thick blade and a very fine edge, they keep an excellent level of sharpness that severely outlasts a lot of their competitors, who tend to try and dazzle the customer with fancy (but pointless) curves and hilts that make little difference to the knife’s functionality.
Star of the Line is the Mora MK2000, this small but perfectly formed Survival Knife has been one of Mora’s top sellers now for several years and can honestly see why. It has a comfortable rubberised handle to stop the knife from slipping in your grasp and the Swedish Steel blade (58 on the Rockwell) is unlikely to break on you.
The Mora Knives line isn’t without it’s faults however and I’ve occasionally found that having some way to fix a lanyard to the hilt might have been advantageous addition and there have been a few examples of the false edge on the serrated models being a bit too hard to sharpen correctly compared to others like it, but these are rather small complaints for what I widely consider to be an excellent Fixed Blade Knife for Bushcraft, Hunting and Military use.
Why pick a Fixed Blade Utility Knife?
Fixed Blade Knives have traditionally always been the mainstay of knives used in combat situations and for good reason. They’re longer, easier to upkeep and unlikely to break on you.
Apart from the rather grisly business of a fixed blade knife being good for Bayonet and CQB, Fixed Blades have always had the distinct advantage of being stronger and a little more multi purpose than their folding brothers.
Since the end of trench warfare, most Military Knives have been secondarily designed for use as Utility Knives and because of this most designers have understood that strength is key and Full Tanged Knives (where part of the blade extends into and usually through the grip) have become more of the norm.
Why Should I Pick a Folding Blade Pocket Knife?
Both types of knives have distinct advantages and disadvantages that for the most part will depend entirely on what you’re using them for at the time.
The Folding Blade Knife’s main plus point is that the majority of them are a lightweight, easily stored blade that requires a little less maintenance than its fixed cousin. With the majority of most folding knives being made to pack away in your kit or in a pouch, size is never really an issue and more often than not they’ll either come with a pouch or a handy belt clip to keep them tucked away but still in an easy to grab place should you need it. Price should also be taken into account, most Folding Knives tend to be on the cheaper end of the spectrum and while this can sometimes mean a dip in quality, there is still good middle ground to be found between craftsmanship and affordability.
Ka-Bar Folding Knives
When you think of Ka-Bar you might often think of larger Rambo-esque military knives such as the Ka-Bar USMC Classic or Ka-Bar Tanto Knife. While both are amazing designs with their place in the knife hierarchy, the Ka-Bar range of Folders should not be ignored! The Ka-Bar Mule series has long been a mainstay of the UkmcPro Catalogue, we’ve been selling the different versions of them for a few years now and they’ve gained a good reputation for combining the strength of Ka-Bar’s Fixed Blades with the accessibility of the Folding series. The newest version, the Ka-Bar Zombie Mule comes in a rather eye catching neon green colour and improves upon the last version by strengthening the handle and running the release along the upper handle instead of the inside.
The main disadvantage of Folding Knives is that very few folders, with the exception of the bigger Ka-Bars, have the strength to be anything other than a very light duty Utility Knife. While they’re not exactly flimsy, they lack the full tang of a fixed blade and you have to give it a bit of thought before you use them for the heavy duty jobs.
If you’re looking for something a little smaller and more subtle then you can’t go far wrong with a well made Folding Pocket Knife. A lot of Bushcraft enthusiasts have a love hate relationship with most Folding Knives. There’s a lot of really badly made, cheap knives on the market that advertise themselves as "bushcraft ready" only for the knife to either snap, come loose from inside the handle or for the Linerlock to slowly shear away preventing the blade from staying locked out. The best way to prevent this (and it may seem a little consumerist but bare with me) is to keep with known brands that have a reputation for quality. Knife companies have a lot to lose from bad feedback and the majority of them understand that a few bad reviews can mean that any future innovations they make will be ignored by the more hardlined of the Bushcraft community.
A lot of the time you can judge the quality of a company’s knives by the fact that it’s the main focus of their business. A great example of this is Gerber, who as well as Multi-Tools have been making affordable, good quality folding knives for a good few years now. I recently got to test a few of the Bear Grylls range by Gerber and while I’m not 100% sold on the branding (or colour), I can’t fault that each knife is fantastically made. The Bear Grylls Scout Knife caught my eye early on in the test and I found myself getting to grips with it in no time. The Scout's blade itself is a nice ½ High Carbon Stainless steel hybrid and of a decent thickness that feels reassuringly weighty when handled. Of particular note was the rubberised handle, this can sometimes be a low point on some knives where the manufacturer has opted for cheap hard plastic that can be sometimes uncomfortable to hold, but Gerber have given the range top quality rubber that doesn’t get overly slick when your hands start to get slightly sweaty.
It’s impossible not to mention the Extrema Ratio range of Military Knives in an article regarding knife quality. The company themselves have been producing a wide range of fantastic knives since 1997 and while not exactly on the cheap side, it’s a sure case of you paying for the quality you’re getting in each blade. The Extrema Ratio Shrapnel 2 Knife is a favourite of mine, the weight you can get behind each swing makes it perfect for cutting particularly thick branches and roots yet it still has a fine enough blade that cutting and skinning any wild life you catch feels just right.
The UsmcPro Exclusive GIGN Glauca B1 is a great example of Extrema Ratio’s pledge of quality, made in conjunction with the GIGN it is another rare example of a folding knife being strong throughout the entire build. The stress tests they put each of the Extrema Ratios through is obvious when you hold the knives and you can tell a lot of experienced folk have had a hand in their development.
The Glock Knives are another fine example of good workmanship on a fixed blade knife. While I find the serrations on the Serrated Blade version to be a little chunky (perfect for cutting thick rope, but little else), the plain blade is a nicely crafted lightweight Utility Knife that keeps in common the weight and materials of Glock’s Handguns.
The Glock Knives are some of our most popular that we sell and for a very good reason...they are excellent value for money, sturdy, versatile and durable. Proof that good knives do not have to cost you the earth.
Making a Final Decision
A good knife is a personal point of pride with many people and I find that where the choice of your own knife is concerned, it should always be something that you feel comfortable with. While quality is generally the most important factor, a certain level of suitability to yourself should always be taken into account. After all you know best the type of blade that feels the most comfortable for you.
In closing I hope this article has helped you a little along the way to choosing a knife suited to you. If you have any questions, suggestions for future knives we should stock or even other articles you’d like to see, feel free to email me at the address below.