Here’s a peek at our May/June 2021 cover to assure you that Spring is just around the corner. In this issue, we look at some hard-working chopping tools.

Knives Illustrated Magazine Cover May/June 2021

It’s a good news, bad news situation. The good news is that there are probably more great knives available than ever before. The actual number ranges in the vague territory between how many I personally own and how many my wife thinks I own.

The bad news is that, no matter how hard any of us try, we’ll probably never own all of them. So how do you, pun intended, whittle down the number of great knives to a manageable few so that your purchasing choices can stay in the realm of the realistic?

I’ve tried to determine the major influences in the knife-buying process. Aside from what models are available, I concluded there are a number of factors, including: the expected uses; what’s legal; what’s affordable; what’s practical; brand loyalty; and emotional appeal, otherwise known as the “it-lookscool- and-I-want-it” factor.

Naturally, it’s not worth the risk of carrying something that’s not legal. So, you’d think eliminating the “evil” knives from consideration would be an easy first step in narrowing down your choices. But no, knife laws can be confusing.

When you read the knife laws that apply to your home stomping ground—and you should—you’re apt to find some are vague and open to interpretation. In my own case, even though there are lots of crazy laws, I still have some good legal knives left that I can choose.

What’s affordable isn’t an easy one to answer either. Say I have $100 to spend. If you looked into my wallet, you’d know that this is strictly a hypothetical exercise. Anyway, do I use that money to buy two or three less expensive custom knives or one more pricey model? Those who abuse their knives or who will likely lose them might say the less expensive ones would be the wiser decision.

I use my knives as knives and not as screwdrivers, pry bars, or other tools. And I rarely if ever have lost a knife, although I might have forgotten where I’ve put a couple of them for upwards of a year or more.

So, maybe I’d be safe with the $100 knife or maybe I should save that money and put it toward a  knife. Everyone should own at least one custom knife, something that’s useful, pretty, and with a quality of workmanship you can admire.

But knife buying decisions must be practical too. I must consider what I intend to do with the knife. Maybe I could take the $100 and buy one folding knife for everyday small cutting chores and a fixed blade for hunting or backwoods use. That would be practical.

I really like the last knife I bought. So, should I stick with the same brand for my next custom knife? There are a couple of knife companies that just seem to be reading my mind when they come out with new models.

Still, there are so many companies turning out good products, I’d really be missing out by sticking with one manufacturer only. This is when the “it-looks-cool” factor might sway me one way or another.

What conclusions about buying knife have I made after sorting through the decision-making process in a logical, rational progression? Two things are for sure: 1. $100 is an arbitrary, very limiting number, and 2. temptation should never have put a credit card in my hand.

Steven Paul Barlow

PS: So, whether you’re anticipating some backyard cleanup or yearning for an early season backcountry adventure, subscribe now and we’ll help you to prep for the upcoming outdoor seasons.