My preferences in FOLDING knives and steels: Why they matter!

By holding out advantages to him, he can cause the enemy to approach of his own accord; or, by inflicting damage, he can make it impossible for the enemy to draw near.” Sun Tsu

As a life time outdoors-man a good knife is above all the most important thing I can have on my person at any given moment. In many situations a full length blade is not something easily carried. As a result I carry sometimes 2 or 3 folding blades my reasoning for doing so follows.

  • Blade number one is my working blade. The blade that I use for daily tasks, cutting cardboard through rope and even as a screwdriver or sometimes a small pry-bar. This blade is built solidly, holds an edge and above all is inexpensive.
  • Backup working blade/ defensive blade. This one is generally more expensive, a better rated steel, extremely solid lockup and more importantly it is absolutely capable of doing exactly what the regular working blade does.
  • Blade two or three is a purely a defensive blade. The design is specific for defense, though it will work for daily tasks when necessary. The steel is meant to hold a fighting edge, meaning it may not shave all the time but it will ALWAYS cut, and cut well.

My favorite folding knife steels are as follows and in order of use.

  1. CPM S30VN or CPM S35VN both are high end crucible steels and are used in my backup/ defensive carry knives. They are both difficult to sharpen, but keep an edge even though that may not always be a shaving edge. It will be a solid working edge after a long days work, (or weeks work) with a stropping or ceramic hone they are back in the shaving business before you know it. These steels from experience do not roll on the edge, though they do chip so dont use them to cut barbed wire.
  2. D-2, VG-10, N690C these are the steels that I use solely in my defensive blades. They are high end working steels, they hold a bright hard razor edge depending on angle of grind and temper placed on them. They are tough, impossible to break under normal circumstances. Under difficult circumstances they are almost impossible to break. They are VERY hard to sharpen, and I highly recommend NOT polishing the edge, leave a little rough edge on them for a better cutting surface. After all, defense NOT shaving is what you are trying to do.
  3. 8Cr13MoV, AUS 8, Opinel XC90 carbone, Opinel 12C27 INOX are the steels I use in my working blades. These steels with solid tempers are amazing and hold a brilliantly sharp shaving edge. They do tend to roll which is easily remedied with a quick strop and brought back to working shave sharp. My preferred builders in all of the above steels are CRKT, Kershaw, Spyderco and of course Opinel.

A quick statement, I have multiple knives in ALL of these steels and use them regularly. I have tested them all extensively, most to the breaking point. Bending to a 45 or 90 degree angle, cutting multiple layers of cardboard, manila rope and tarred line as well as drop testing and using them as prybars and hammering them through pieces of wood. They work, a quick list and attached links of my favorite knives follow. Pricing is decent to REALLY good!

These are the folding knives and the steels I prefer and why. It is my firm recommendation that people who want to spend time in the bush or simply be prepared as everyone should be regardless situation carry a folding knife at a bare minimum. These are the knives I carry most regularly, and why. If you have any questions or observations, please comment. 99.999% comments are allowed excepting only the ones that promote violence outside of self defense. Remember folks, be smart, think hard and TRAIN with someone who has experience. I personally recommend silat or kali style knife training as well as simple brawling/ grappling with rubber knives as training.

Keep your eyes peeled for the next article, My favorite fixed blade knives and steels: why they matter!

Free the mind and the body will follow


About Jesse Mathewson

Jesse Mathewson is the author of the popular blog, and provides commentary to many varied places based on a background that includes education in criminal justice, history, religion and even insurgency tactics and tactical training. His current role in his community is as an organizer of sorts and a preacher of community solidarity and agorism. He also runs Liberty Practical Training, a self defense school specializing in the practical applications of defensive approaches versus the theoretical. As an agorist, voluntaryist and atheist his life is seen as crazy and wild by many, though once they get to know him most realize he is a bluntly honest individual who will give you the shirt off his back if he believes it is necessary to help you. Very simple, "That which is voluntary between all individuals involved is always right, if it is not voluntary, it is always wrong."
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