More about: When knife myths become “facts”

By: Jonathan Kilburn

We previously talked about how anything, when repeated often enough, starts to become “truth” and the same goes for information about knives. Hence, we have knife myths that need debunking. Let’s continue our fact-finding mission! (You can read the first part here.)

Myth: Full tang is the only tang you should use.

Fact: Technically, a full tang is sturdier than other tang types, but that doesn’t mean it’s the best option. Different tang options depend on the grip, use, and materials used. While it’s true, a full-tang blade offers strength throughout the handle, this design also adds significant weight. This is especially accurate when using high-carbon steel, like 1095. Handle designs are also limited and may be uncomfortable or unsafe for the task at hand.

Myth: Knives are inherent weapons.

Fact: This is more common with those who are not experienced with knives. It’s accurate, in that any blade can be used as a weapon, but knives are, first and foremost, tools. Any deviation from an intended purpose puts extreme strain on the edge, and the user, which could potentially be lethal. A commonplace idea remains that a knife should invariably be a weapon. That just isn’t the whole reality, any more than it is that a wrench is a weapon.

Knife a fire stick

Knife myth: Knives are not primarily weapons. They serve as tools. Photo by Kevin Estela.

Myth: Folders can’t perform as well as fixed blades

Fact: This is one of those enduring knife myths, and a generation ago or more, this idea might have been valid. However, a well-made folding knife can perform almost any task a fixed blade can handle. Granted, a folder will be more likely to break where the blade and handle meet. This area has moving parts, so take care to protect this area from unnecessary damage. The blade itself will handle any impact or use that a fixed knife of the same steel type will handle. So, taking a quality folder as a backup for a bush knife is not impractical.

Myth: Harder steel offers greater edge retention.

Fact: This is true … to a point. Undoubtedly, how you handle the knife for the task at hand is more a factor for retaining a sharpened edge than the makeup of the steel itself. If improperly cared for, any knife — no matter how hard the steel — will dull. The trade-off with harder steel is that it’s also more brittle. That edge may be razor-sharp, but it’s also considerably easy to chip or damage.

Myth: One knife should perform all tasks.

Fact: This idea bothers me and is only a recent conception of survival blades. The idea is that if someone is left in the woods with only one knife, they could survive. While a good idea, in theory, it completely diminishes the capability focus of all knives. This creates a mishmash of knife designs that are not efficient at one thing, but mediocre at many. The one thing multi-tools do well is perform all tasks poorly. Don’t get me wrong, survival blades remain nothing to gawk at, but part of being prepared is possessing the proper tools for the job.

Pile of pocketknives

One is never enough!

Myth: One knife is enough.

Fact: Let’s be realistic. One knife is never enough, otherwise, you wouldn’t be reading this.