View Full Version : Please Help a Knife Newbie!

June 28, 2002, 02:05 AM
Ok I admit, I'm not very tactical considering I know nothing about knives except:

1. They are sharp.
2. They are pointy.
3. I don't need a CCW.

That's about it.

I am thinking about starting off a knife collection, but don't want to get burned. I am attracted to knives because of their natural utilitarian beauty. I have a few questions.

1. Where do I learn armed self defense with a knife? Any good schools in my area (Southern California). It will not be my main hobby, but I want basic skills so my chances of hurting the BG are greater than the chances of my cutting my fingers off and putting an abrupt end to my musical career.

2. Am I in the right ballpark if I am looking at Emerson, Benchmade, Cold Steel, etc, brands, but know nothing else, i.e. can I go wrong with any of these? (i.e. one generally can't go wrong if they have a Glock, Sig, Beretta)

3. How much does it cost to maintain a blade, besides some CLP and a good sharpener? What is a good sharpener, by the way, I hear the Spyderco system is good.

Right now, not including my Leatherpeople, I have an 8" black Kabar that is my sushi knife. It's about as sharp as a spoon right now though. Oh yeah, the knives I am looking right now are the Beretta Avenger and Benchmade 690 and 730 for the pimpy carbon fiber handles.

June 28, 2002, 07:06 AM
Some fencing techniques can be applicable to knife fighting, and fencing can be fun (at least I think so). There's a fencing acadamy in Burbank that has at least a fairly good reputation.

June 28, 2002, 09:14 AM
TFTT does a 1 day defensive edge class. The are down in your area. Pretty reasonable price. Good place to start to get your head right before you turn loose the check book. I did the class when they were in Norcal last. Learned a lot. Was exhausted for about two days after, and had big bruses on my arms for about a week. :D :D :D

I really like the Emerson Commander. You owe it to yourself to spend 5 minutes playing with a knive with a Wave opener. Biggest criticism of the Emerson knives is the chisel ground blades. They are not quite as utilitarian as a traditional grind. I've never heard anyone criticize their fight ability though. So you need to decide what you're looking for.

Had a benchmade AFCK. Went back to the factory twice and still wouldent open smoothly so I kinda gave up on it. Nice shape good handle. No Wave.
CRKT makes reasonable nice knives for very reasonable prices.

June 28, 2002, 09:21 AM
Take a look at my "handle"....there is a reason for it!:)

First, I'm not gonna attempt to discuss the notion of the knife as a CCW or defensive weapon....my personal theory on that one is practice your RUNNING. Sure, I carry a knife...never know on a given day what I'll have in my pocket...today for example, I have a Benchmade/Mel Pardue collaboration,,,,his small auto....thin, inconspicuous, etc. Fun little "switchblade"....tomorrow? Heck, who knows...maybe my new Fox Osprey, a Randall triathelete, etc....

But here's my advice. First, consider knife collecting first and foremost as fun. There are more permutations of knives than the mind can absorb....as someone said to me many years ago..."everyone is a knife collector"....and that's true...

Go look in your kitchen drawers, tool box, tackle box or whatever....everyone has more than one knife....and yet would disavow a label of "knife collector"

Today, the manufacturers of production folders and fixed blades are good...damned good. You can't go wrong with Benchmade, Spyderco, and frankly most of them...sure, there are still some cheapies out there that don't warrant the title of knife, but you'll learn quickly how to spot them and avoid them.

Remember this, if you purchase any of these really good production knives from a retailer, any retailer....when you get the knife in your hand, it'll be worth less than what you paid for it!

And frankly, this is true of most custom or shop-made knives....If you purchase a high-end custom with fancy handle materials, engraving, scrimshaw, etc....the chances are that you cannot re-sell for what you've spent....Are there exceptions? Absolutely...

Moran, Herron, Randall, and several others....If you dont' get caught up in the moment and purchase wisely, you'll always be able to get at least what you spent for the piece. I've never, NEVER failed to get at least what I paid for a Herron or Randall and in nearly every case, MORE.

But again, the point is to have fun.....I've been "capturing" knives for 30 years now....while I have some focus, I still tend to buy a particular piece because I like it...it is pretty, unique or will make a really nice display in a shadow box.....I don't view my collection of several hundred knives as a retirement account though it might certainly help.

Hope this rambling missive is of use to you.:D

Mike in VA
June 29, 2002, 08:54 AM
Skunkly One, visit the Blade Forum, like TFL, lots of nice knowledgeable folks happy to share their knowlege on sharp edged thingies :)


Oh, yeah, be careful. Knives is like guns, one isn't enough.:D

June 29, 2002, 09:52 AM
Since the field of Custom Knives hasn't really been addressed yet, let me take a shot at that.

The best place to get info on custom knives and to talk directly to the knife makers themselves, is surprisingly, the Custom Knife Discussion forum. It's a forum made up of knifemakers, bladesmiths and collectors.

Custom Knife Discussion Forum (http://www.ckdforums.com/)

There are three basic types of custom knife makers. There are theSEMI-CUSTOM makers like Randall, Busse, Reeves and Anza where the knives are hand made, but not by one person. In these companies, specialist do each step and then the knife is passed on.

Here is an ANZA knife that was made by recycling an old file.

The second major type are the KNIFEMAKERS. These people make a knife by the STOCK REMOVAL method. They start with a bar of steel and then cut and grind the knife to the shape desired. Some of my favorite kniveswere made using the stock removal method.

Here is a Bowie made that way.

The third grouop is the BLADESMITHS. A Bladesmith forges his blades. By the time the forging is finished, 99% of the shaping has been done. This usually yield a stronger knife with optimum characteristics.
Here is a Dress Tactical that was hand forged.

Custom knives run from under $100.00 to many thousands. They are available as folders, fixed blades , swords, working knives and art knives.

Here is a custom folder that was made by the stock removal method

and this one was hand forged.

Knife collecting is fun and can be a great hobby. But if you are looking for an investment, you can do much better in other areas.

June 30, 2002, 05:45 AM
Hey Skunk,

Jar and Jimsbowies really know their stuff!

I'm on the east coast, so I can't help you with a knife fighting school. I took a one-day class last year taught at the S&W Academy by an 11-year trainer of PD. I'll pass along his suggestions for a carry knife, although YMMV:

*stick with a 3"-4" blade. Most longer blades are illegal, affect balance, and besides, he said, your aim is not to cut someone's heart out -- it's to draw first blood. Some criminals get cut on the forearm, look down, see blood, immediately slap their knifehand over the cut, then leave themselves open for an abdominal or temple stab. Then you run like hell!

*he carried two folders with thumb studs that he had removed! he had adjusted the tension screw so he could "pop" the baldes open with a sharp flick of his wrist. Takes practice.

*keep your knife razor sharp. He says he sharpens his blades after they touch anything, i.e. cardboard, cutting string, etc.

*buy a plain blade, not serrated. His tests (with police) of cuts on clothed bodies found that serrated blades dragged through material. Plus, they are a bit harder to sharpen.

*I didn't think neck carry was very accessible until we were all standing in a circle listening to him explain a technique. I saw him reach under his sweatshirt (why is he wearing a sweatshirt indoors in a heated room?) and the next thing you know he had
"pointed" me on the breastbone with a dulled trainer. D'oh!

We all practiced a lot of defensive techniques and learend a handful of offensive ones, target areas, etc.

I've got a Randall made Model 14 special fighter, an AJ Hubbard, my dad's old Boy Scout knife, an SOG NightVision, a Randy Martin (that one is my wife's), and three Benchmade AFCK's.

I like the Benchmade AFCK -- it looks like the Spyderco Military model, which we trained with plywood copies of. It now comes with their Axis lock (supposed stronger). It is also made in ATS 34 steel, one of my favorites, along with D2.

For a fixed blade carry knife I'm now looking at some Al Polkowski knives, particulalry the Polecat (4" blade, full tang for strength, ATS 34 steel, integral guards w/finger groove, G-10 scales, Kydex IWB sheath for $230.) That pretty much meets my quaifications, esp. the finger groove and integral guards part. Wrap some cardboard around a support column in your basement, or wrap some around a pole and duct tape it and have a friend swing it at you. When you slash or stab you will IMMEDIATELY learn the importance of not having your fingers slide onto the blade. I believe a finger goove and thumb serrations also give better control.

Sorry for the long post. Also, remember: as "they" say, a knifefight begins when you run out of ammo! :)

June 30, 2002, 10:49 AM
Sorry for the long post. Also, remember: as "they" say, a knifefight begins when you run out of ammo!

...or you live in California! Seriously I rather GTFO but sometimes there is NO way out. Thankfully I have never been in this situation, but edumacation is good and who knows it may turn into another moneydraining hobby.

June 30, 2002, 01:54 PM
I second the reference to www.bladeforums.com ... knife collecting/use/making is as much an art as is gun-collecting/use/making. No way is anyone going to be able to explain it all to you in a post :D

The site is as good on knives as this one is on guns. Go there. Read a lot. Try not to spend all of your money on guns and knives. Food and shelter are necessities too. And don't forget women.

As to the types you mentioned, no, you can't really go wrong with them. Cold Steel, for all of their blather (read their catalogues for a good belly laugh sometime), makes decent stuff. Benchmade is good (I own an AFCK and an AFCK II), and Spyderco (one you didn't mention) is just plain awesome for the price.


June 30, 2002, 04:07 PM
Watch out for Kali knife laws - I hear they are quite complex, and pretty much all violations are felonies.

BTW, the so called "tanto" blades are pure marketing crap, foisted on a "tactical crazy" public by the biggest know nothing ego in the business, the founder of Cold Steel.

As for sharpening, get a Lansky or a Lo-Ray (are they still in business?) type of device. With mine I have put an edge on a quality blade that will shave... your face? No, shave slivers off the side of a human hair. Fact. I've done it. It shocked me! (Twas a small blade on a Swiss Army - don't know that I could get a large blade quite that sharp.)

That takes a little practice, and a certain 'feel' for the steel, but I don't think there's a better sharpening system.

And don't use a defensive blade for general utility. Keep it sharp for when you NEED it.