“Everybody carries a little pocket knife. To say we will not allow anybody to carry one is somewhere between really silly and unenforceable.”
- Bob Monetti, Airline Safety Advocate
Throughout American history, men have carried and used pocket knives. In fact, a knife used to be just as essential to a man as his keys and wallet.
Recently, however, that tradition has been declining to such an extent that many men do not even understand the different types of pocket knives.
Today’s article is an explanation of the four major types of knives, their particulars, and their uses.
This small, simplistic knife has been a common tool throughout American history. Traditionally, it is one of the first knives a young man would own. Today, this type of knife is popular among fishermen, hunters, and campers.
Because of its size, this tool can be easily carried in a pocket or pack without adding much extra weight.
Jack knives include one or two blades mounted on a single hinge.
Pen knives were originally used to sharpen quill pens – hence the name, “pen knife”.
Although the modern gentleman does not need to sharpen his pens, he still can find many uses for a pen knife. Whether opening letters, cutting string, or performing some other common daily task, this knife solves most ordinary problems.
Unlike the jack knife, a pen knife sports two hinges – one on each end – and two or three blades. With this wider variety of blade sizes, a pen knife can fulfill more needs than a jack knife without losing much of its advantage in size.
A step up from an ordinary knife, a multipurpose knife – such as the Swiss Army knife – includes more than just a knife.
In addition to a couple of knife blades, this type of knife might include a:
- Screwdriver Blade (or two)
- Pair of Tweezers
- Pair of Scissors
Although the additional tools do make this knife more bulky and weighty, they also make it more useful.
My first knife was a Swiss Army multipurpose knife. I have used that knife literally hundreds of times, and I used to carry it with me everywhere. Although I have since upgraded to a bigger (and better) knife, I still pull this one out occasionally to use the tweezers.
The “king” of pocket gear, multitools do include knives, but the knives are rarely the main focus of the tool. This is the main difference between a multipurpose knife and a multitool.
For example, the main feature of my old Swiss Army knife was the knife, but the core aspect of my Leatherman Wave is the pair of pliers. That being said, knives are still an important part of multitools, and the vast majority includes one or two good knife blades.
A multitool generally features a pair of scissors or pliers – with a dozen or so other tools built into the handles.
Because it has more tools and is heavier and bulkier than a jack or pen knife, this type of “pocket” knife is normally better kept on the belt instead of in the pocket.
A Note On Usage
In our modern culture, many people have been indoctrinated by Hollywood to think of knives as dangerous, bloodthirsty weapons only carried by gangsters and outlaws. For that reason, it is sometimes best to leave your knife at home or to carry it discreetly in your pocket. In addition, certain countries have passed laws that severely restrict the carrying of knives, so you will have to check with your government to avoid carrying a knife illegally.
Assuming knives can be legally carried in your part of the world, you will be faced with the choice between a large, highly visible knife or a smaller, less noticeable blade. Although a multitool or multipurpose knife is usually the most useful option, a small, inconspicuous pen knife can be the better choice in certain situations. It simply depends on your local laws and personal etiquette.
What type of knife do you own?