What I Look For When Buying a Knife

Here at BladeOps, one of the things we get to see a whole lot of is knives.  Right when I begin to think I have seen it all, I see something new.  Sometimes the new thing is something I immediately say “Wow, why didn’t someone think of that before.” That is how I felt the first time I saw the AXIS system from Benchmade.  Other times, I think, “Wow, I’m glad no one thought of that before–and I hope whoever thought this up gives up on the whole knife thing, because this is stupid.”  I actually think some knife companies get so caught up into the idea of introducing new “features” that they forget to focus on the basic things everyone wants out of their knife.  These basic things being, not in any specific order: cutting ability, quality of construction and materials, price, comfort, overall performance and durability.

Dull as 11th Grade Lit Teacher
Dull as 11th Grade Lit Teacher

Here is the thing, every single one of us knife lovers want a knife that first, and foremost can cut.  If you pull a knife out of the box and it is as dull as that 11th grade literature teacher you had, then you aren’t going to be pleased.  If you pull it out and it cuts like a knife (thank you Bryan Adams) should–then you are going to be pretty excited.  That’s the whole point, right?  A knife needs to cut.

Now, depending on how you use your knife, you may need it to make different styles of cuts.  Perhaps you are an office warrior who needs a knife to open envelopes and the occasional box.  Or maybe you are a field warrior who needs to cut up some wood, make some kindling, cut paracord or any other number of outdoor things.  Each type of material to be cut is best cut by a different style of blade, different blade material and different size blade.  All of this we know.  But if you pull the knife out of the packaging and it can’t even cut butter–then what you have is a sorry excuse for a knife. Regardless of how cool the opening mechanism is or how nifty the extra blade is, if your knife doesn’t cut, it really won’t get the job done.

Benchmade Knife Company
Benchmade Knife Company–They do a GREAT job with fit and finish

The next thing I look at is the “fit and finish” of the knife.  This overused term applies to how well the parts fit together.  There are a few companies that really do it right.  Other companies make a good faith effort and mostly succeed in getting it right.  And then there are a few companies out there that don’t seem to really care about this at all.  To me, this makes a difference.  If it is a folding knife, how smooth does the blade open?  Does it herk and jerk on the way out?  Is the blade centered in the handle when it is closed?  If it is a fixed blade, does the handle blend smoothly into the butt as well as the blade?  If it is an auto, does the trigger snap the blade out with serious authority?  When the blade is open does it wobble from side to side?  How well do the lock and safety work?  These are all things I look at when evaluating a knife.

ProTech Big Daddy Custom
ProTech Big Daddy Custom Auto Knife–#7 of 10

And there is a second consideration here.  When you are buying a knife, you are purchasing a cutting tool.  What you are paying for is the quality of the materials, the quality of the construction, and the design.  Depending on the scarcity of that particular knife, you may also be paying a premium for the collectibility of the knife.  If there are only 7 of a particular knife ever made–and it was made by a well known and respected knife maker–it is quite possible you are paying a bit extra for the “rareness” of the piece.  But, back to the point in hand, you generally get what you are paying for when you are buying a knife.  If you are looking to spend $20 and want an automatic knife–well, let’s just say you can definitely find that knife but it may not be such a great knife overall.  It may not last for a long time, or it may have some serious performance issues–if you know what I mean.  If you are willing to spend $200, and want an auto knife that has high quality blade steel, a comfortable, durable handle and performs like a boss–well, you can definitely find this knife also.  And the quality of that knife is going to be much better than the aforementioned $20 knife.

Dollar, Dollar Bill
Dollar, Dollar Bill

And this brings us to the next point–price.  The price of a knife is generally in line with the quality.  Of course, there are questionable products that are occasionally overpriced.

There are even situations where a particular knife seems to be underpriced.  But, for the most part, price does seem to follow quality.  The higher the price, the better the knife.  Up to a point.  After that, the higher prices generally just kick in because of the collectibility of a particular piece.

What The?
What The?

The next thing I look at when purchasing a knife is the comfort.  Does the knife feel good in my hand?  A certain knife may feel really good in my hand–and that exact same knife may feel terrible in your hand.  Perhaps your hands are smaller than mine?  Maybe you don’t like the feel of G-10.  Or maybe the finger groove sits at an awkward angle for you?  Before you decide a knife is the perfect knife for you–make sure it feels comfortable.  This may seem like a weird thing for an online vendor to tell you–but that is why we have the 10 day return period on all purchases.  If you get the knife you ordered from us and you pull it out of the box and it feels terrible in your hands–then by all means, get in touch with us and let’s get it switched out to a knife that you are more comfortable with.

The final thing I look at when buying a knife is overall performance and durability.  Often, durability is more a function of the materials used.  Performance takes into account the materials in action.  How does this particular knife cut?  How does it cut when I am trying to make the kind of cuts it was designed for?

For instance, right now I am carrying a Benchmade SOCP Dagger for a future “30 Days With” article that I will be writing in a few weeks.  I really like the knife.  It is an incredible self defense tool.  As far as cutting boxes–it does pretty good, even though that isn’t what it was designed for.  And as an outdoor survival tool, the SOCP rates dismally–because that isn’t what it was designed for.  So, when you rate a knife you need to take into account the main purpose(s) you will be using your knife for.

When I get ready to test a knife, those are the things I look at.  Cutting ability, quality of construction and materials, price, comfort, overall performance and durability.  If it passes these tests–then it is the knife for me.  Tell me down below how you decide which knife to buy.


Microtech Crosshair Fixed Blade Knife Review

In this quick video, the Crosshair 101-1GR is reviewed. You can find all of our large stock of Microtech Crosshair Fixed Blade Knives on our website here. Enjoy the video.

SOG Twitch XL Spring Assist Knife — Quick Review

SOG Twitch XL Assist Knife
SOG Twitch XL Assist Knife

Here is a blast from the past knife review.  Released several years ago, this spring assist knife has several things to brag about.  First, it uses the SOG Assisted Technology–flat-out one of the best assist systems on the market today.  The blade snaps out just like you want it to–fast and hard.  Second, the satin finished drop point blade is AUS 8 stainless steel.  What does this mean to you?  It means you are getting a dependable blade steel that won’t rust and is fairly easy to sharpen.  Third, it uses my favorite style pocket clip–the deep carry.  In most places, people don’t get too uptight about a pocket carry knife, but every once in a while it is best not to advertise what is sitting in your pocket.  The deep carry clip allows you to carry without advertising that fact to everyone you see.  Fourth, the black hard anodized aluminum handle is not only durable, but it is thin.  I like this because it means that the knife doesn’t take up tons of pocket real estate™.  Check out the SOG Twitch XL on our website if you want to pick one up.  If you already have one, let me know what you like best about yours.

  • Blade Length 3.25″ x .125″
  • Overall Length 7.5″
  • Weight 4.2 oz.
  • Edge Straight Steel AUS 8 HRC 57-58
  • Handle Hard Anodized Aluminum
  • Finish Satin
  • Assembled in the USA Price $103.50

Boker Plus Schanz Integral Dagger Knife Review

Boker has teamed up with German knifemaker Juergen Schanz to create this dagger.  Named the Schanz Integral Dagger, or the S.I.D., this knife has been drop forged from one massive piece of 440C stainless steel.

Boker Schanz Integral Dagger
Boker Schanz Integral Dagger

An incredibly thick 440C stainless steel dagger, the SID is strong and sturdy.  A whopping 1/4″ thick, the full tang blade is sandwiched between two carefully sculpted green canvas Micarta scales. The knife measures a full 11 5/8″ long.  The blade has 6 7/8″ of fully usable cutting edge on both sides since the dagger is sharpened all the way from tip down to the ricasso on both edges of the blade.  The Schanz Dagger weighs in at 14 ounces. This technologically challenging wonder of a dagger does perfect duty as a combat companion. It is the kind of knife that is going to stand up to whatever you throw at it.

Boker Schanz Dagger
Boker Schanz Dagger

Here you can see the impressive handle scales.  The handle measures 7/8″ thick and 1 1/8″ wide at the widest point.  Each of the scales is carefully sculpted from green canvas Micarta.  Micarta is the common term for resin impregnated fiber compounds.  Produced by layering linen with resin and then adding heat and pressure.  The heat and pressure combine with the materials to create a chemical reaction called polymerization that transforms the layers into an incredibly stable and durable product called Micarta.  Micarta is nearly impervious to weather as well as most oils and solvents.  Because of this, it is highly prized as knife handle materials for knives that are expected to see hard use in a wide variety of environments–such as combat duty. The handle scales are attached to the handle tang with two 3/8″ hollow scale pins.  The one closer to the butt of the handle can easily double as a lanyard hole.  This means you can get an even more secure grip on the handle through the use of a lanyard.   This handle is further improved with spectacular quillions (the two parts that jut out from the top of the handle and keep your hand from slipping up onto the blade when making piercing cuts).  They are perfectly curved to proved a solid, comfortable resting place for your fingers as you choke up on the S.I.D.

Boker Schanz Dagger
Boker Schanz Dagger, side View

This knife is a true masterpiece that is perfect for collectors and those who just want a great dagger to use.  Each one has it’s own serial number–the number is found on the back side of the dagger blade right on the ricasso.

The Boker Schanz Dagger also comes with a high quality leather sheath that has a belt loop.  It also has a snap strap that goes over one of the quillions to keep the dagger from bouncing out of the sheath when you are on the move.

Boker Schanz Dagger w/ Sheath
Boker Schanz Dagger w/ Sheath

Looking to pick one of these daggers up for your collection?  You can find it here.