First off, I want to make it clear that I am not a “knife guy.”
Yes, I carry a knife almost every day.
Yes, I have a nice collection of knives of various sorts.
Yes, I love checking out cool new knives.
But to me, knives are just tools. Tools that are to be used, regularly, for whatever I need to use them for. Most of the time that involves cutting something whether that is opening boxes and packages, trimming plants, opening the mail, or preparing food. They also get used for any sort of other purpose that may come up; pry bar, hammer, screwdriver, or even for self-defense should the need arise.
I sharpen them as needed but don’t use stones or fancy equipment. Generally I use a Smith’s Two Stage Sharpener like this one:
They are cheap, easy to use, easy to carry, easy to use and result in a serviceable edge.
Knife guys cringe when they read or hear about how I use, abuse and “care” for my knives. Which is how I know that I am not a “knife guy.”
For a big chunk of my adult life a cheap single-bladed Barlow picked up on a whim accompanied me every day, generally in a pocket with keys or in the coin pocket of my jeans. It did everything I needed it to for years and cost less than $10 at a small town WalMart. Eventually, the blade snapped off (completely this time) and I went looking for a replacement. Knives like this are apparently no longer in favor with most folks and the ones I could find were either super cheap knives made in Pakistan that I wouldn’t trust for anything other than being a display or really nice, really high end knives.
After trying quite a few different knives and styles I finally found the STL 2.5 from Gerber.
I picked one up from a large sporting goods retailers based on how thin and light it was. I worked in an office that was non-permissive when it came to “weapons” and I wanted something as thin and light as possible to carry in my pocket. That was at least five or six five years ago and I have been carrying it ever since on an almost daily basis.
Despite being a pretty simple, and cheap knife it just works and, more importantly, lasts. Despite being used and abused in a high humidity and somewhat corrosive environment (lots of saltwater on the Texas Gulf Coast) it hasn’t rusted. The black finish is a bit worn in areas mostly from living in a pocket with keys and other random items but the finish is unbelievably tough for the price. I like this little knife so much I bought a spare for when I lose or finally destroy this one.
I have tried several different knives during the time I have carried the STL but none have been able to replace it on a daily basis. The Kershaw 1830 OSO SWEET has come about as close as any.
The 1830 is a little too big and bulky to carry in most office settings or when wearing nicer clothes but it has replaced the STL outside of those situations. The blade is about a half inch longer and a good bit thicker. The profile of the blade makes it a lot stronger than the STL but it still holds a nice edge. The only complaint that I have is that the un-coated 8Cr13MoV steel stains easily. I haven’t seen any rust but it has picked up discolorations from several tasks including cutting steak and potatoes for a camp dinner one night.
Based on my experiences with this Kershaw I tried the 3840 Freefall. It was a bit bigger and heavier knife but seemed to be a good choice for a more “survival” oriented knife plus the blade is coated with a “stone washed” finish that I thought might prove more stain resistant.
Unfortunately, the finish on the blade does seem to stain pretty easily compared to my cheap little Gerber and, to be honest, the extra weight and bulk has been tough to get used to. It get’s left behind most of the time.
The newest knife in my carry line up is also from Kershaw. On paper, the 1660CKT Leek seemed to be an almost perfect replacement for the STL 2.5. It had everything I was looking for. It is thin and light so it could replace the Gerber in non-permissive environments but with a longer, heavier blade and it is coated (also in black). It has some other features that I really like as well. It is super fast and easy to open (almost scary fast). In fact I can open it as fast as any auto opening knife I have ever tried. It has a lock to keep it from opening in my pocket (has never happened) the the clip is removable and reversible. To be honest it is more than double the cost of the STL as well. However, in just a few months of carrying this little guy I did discover one weakness, the tip of the blade is very thin and is already bent from using (inappropriately) as something other than a cutting tool. It is still usable and, to be honest, the bend is very slight and not terribly noticeable. Nevertheless, it will probably end up in the drawer when I keep my knife collection rather than in my pocket…
That’s my knive’s tale. What’s yours?