What it took me a long time to learn

Discussion in 'Multi-tools & Multi-purpose Knives' started by DocT, Jul 6, 2020.

  1. DocT


    Mar 25, 2012
    I used to think I needed a huge knife to survive in the outdoors and living in Alaska with only a 4 inch bladed Buck 103 Skinner taught me differently. Then, I had to have a large tactical knife, but I realized I never used them and smaller knives were more useful as a rule. So, I thought I had to have a small tank of a knife, just in case I were ever in a plane crash or car wreck and had to survive until help arrived. It needed to be very strong. Then, I realized such knives are not really useful. I finally came around to the knowledge, after long years of wasting money on a box full of knives, that the lowly, inexpensive, non-super steel SAK was actually the best choice for all the above.

    When I realized that, there was a need to decide what SAK. I went through the plastic scaled knives of different sizes but they were all uncomfortable in my pocket (my preferred place to carry). I also felt they were not durable enough for hard use. I finally came down to the Cadet for suit carry and the Pioneer X for everyday carry. To me, these are the knives I would want to have with me if anything untoward should happen. I am going to take a serious look at the Farmer X in the near future. I think these are flexible and durable enough that in a daily situation they do what is needed and in an emergency they will do what is needful.

    The only other thing I could wish for is an Izula but otherwise, these SAKs do everything I need.
  2. jackknife

    jackknife Gold Member Gold Member Basic Member

    Oct 2, 2004
    Doc, it looks like you've stumbled through the fog and emerged into the real world. Welcome to reality, bud!:thumbsup:

    I went through some of that. I had my fling with over built Randall's and such. They got shrunk down over the years to a Buck 102 woodsman. I once tried a Buck 110, but it didn't last long. All that mass for just one thin 1/8th inch thick blade and no tools was such a waste. I ended up just sticking with my old scout knife that dad gave me and then the SAK.

    Madison Avenue advertising is a powerful force. Not too many folks can fight it and come out the other side to reality. We need to look carefully at our fathers or even grandfathers as guide to the little things in life. Even in the midst of WW2, they bothered to have Camillus and other knife companies make the M-I-L 818 or the 'demo' knife as it was called, plus the TL-29, and even the plain old jackknives to distribute to the soldiers and sailors who needed a small versatile pocket knife with a few tools to deal with things.

    In the book "American Knives" by Harold Peterson, he had shipping records of various knife companies, and after 1850, the most common knife shipped out west to stores and trading posts was the humble Russell Barlow. From cowpokes to freight wagon drivers to railroad people to Sheriffs, they all carried a small 3 3/8 size pocket knife. A few years ago when we were settling into our new lives in Texas, we toured the Texas Ranger museum in Waco. There, they had a whole exhibit on Frank Hamer, the man who got Bonnie and Clyde. Among his personal effects with his Colt .45 that he called 'old Lucky' to his Remington rifle he used, his watch, railroad pass, was a well worn little Barlow knife with very dark gray blades and undid bone handle scales. Beat up little knife, but it seemed that was all the knife Ranger Hamer carried in his career of bringing some very bad folks to justice.

    Most knife nuts will greatly over think how much knife they need, just like the car nut will think he needs a Porsche 911S to go get a quart of milk or commute to work in the morning.

    When obsession sets in, perspective is often lost.
    !mprovise, Storm 8593, A.L. and 9 others like this.
  3. DocT


    Mar 25, 2012
    I agree. I love my 102. It is basically all the knife I need most of the time. I do not carry it as much anymore because I do not camp and hike, or "rough it" anymore. Really, an Alox SAK is what will do most of the things I need doing and if I need a tiny blade for small game, a SAK Executive covers that pretty well (Or a tiny Spyderco). A Cadet is really all I need day to day (an X would make it better). A Pioneer X has replaced my trusty Pioneer and it could be the only knife I really ever needed.

    As far as Barlows, when I was a youngster, all I wanted was a Barlow with a clip blade and a smaller pen blade. Tree Brand, Case, or other good brands are what I searched for. I would carry a Stockman when I was unable to get a good Barlow and developed a love for that sheepfoot blade when cleaning squirrels and rabbits and fish. A Zero Tolerance is not going to do that.

    When I was in AK, I built shelters, cut small kindling for fires, cleaned game, and everything with a modified Buck 103 Skinner (I lopped the top off so the spine was flat). It was shaped like a short butcher knife and that shape was common amongst the old timers. It did everything I needed and was the best I could find at the time and place. It only has a 4 inch blade. Today, I am more likely to use an Izula or Kershaw Field Knife Hunter. Both are durable but not large, being in the 2.8 to 3.2 inch range and fit into my pocket. They are light weight. I also have a light weight small hatchet.

    But, all that said, really the SAK is what I need most. No loose screw is safe. I can use the scissors for threads, paper, packages, bags of chips, whatever. The reamer is really handy and I have even had cause to use the can opener and bottle opener. The knife blade is great for zipping open boxes and mailers now that we order online more than go out to the store. No day goes by that I do not use an Alox SAK.
    !mprovise, sodak, Storm 8593 and 6 others like this.
  4. jazzz


    Feb 1, 2009
    I have a whole drawer and box full of Spydercos that's sitting unused right now. It's all the fault of the wee Swiss Armies and the Pioneer X, which hasn't left my pocket since I got it a while ago. More useful, all I need, and they are nice to look at and fondle, I might add.
  5. guy g

    guy g Gold Member Gold Member

    Oct 22, 2000
    I too have evolved into a balance of size and efficiency.
    I will say .. at least for me, the journey thru the knife world has been ALot of fun!
    Storm 8593, Gilbert G, DocT and 2 others like this.
  6. DocT


    Mar 25, 2012
    Hahaha! Fun and expensive.
    Hairy Clipper and guy g like this.
  7. jackknife

    jackknife Gold Member Gold Member Basic Member

    Oct 2, 2004
    Hey guys, we have been deluding ourselves. I mean, we've been so wrong. Like there we are with our wee little SAK's and Chinese paratroopers start dropping out of the sky. What do we do if we don't have our super duper tacticool ninja death blade clipped in our pocket? Or of for some reason we suddenly find ourselves transported without notice and marooned in some deep dark woods days from civilization with a storm moving in, and we have less than an hour to build a weatherproof shelter? :eek:

    Or we find ourselves in a situation that we have to pry open a Russian tank hatch to drop a grenade in so we'll be the great heroes that win the battle and save the world for democracy? :rolleyes:

    Come now gentlemen, shouldn't we all carry what never ever may be needed in our life on the outside chance that aliens may abduct us and drop us someplace we need a super duper knife to survive? :eek:

    Only now do I realize how woefully under equipped we are in our day to day life with just that little SAK in a pocket. Looking back on it all, I don't know how I managed to survive to old fart status, let alone my father and his father before him. o_O
    Hairy Clipper, guy g and Gilbert G like this.
  8. James Y

    James Y

    Feb 18, 1999
    I only really learned the true value of an SAK when I took only a Spartan as my only knife with me when I moved overseas for nearly a decade, then carried that same knife for several more years after I returned Stateside in the ‘90s. That knife did everything I needed a folding knife for, and the other tools proved just as useful. I probably could have used a few more tools (the Spartan I had did not have the toothpick/tweezers feature). I eventually found that pairing the Spartan (or my Pioneer in place of the Spartan) with my Executive for EDC carry is pretty much the perfect setup for me. I have no hang ups about carrying more than one knife, as the SAKs are small enough as it is, and they go in separate pockets of my cargo pants. I’d rather carry two separate SAKs comfortably than one thicker one (which may or may not have all the features I want) uncomfortably in one pocket, even if there were a pocket sheath for it.

    I had never even heard of a ‘modern’ manual one-hand-opening, clip-carry knife until the late ‘90s. I like modern knives, too, and usually also carry a Manix 2 clipped to my RF pocket. The Spyderco sees use for heavier cutting chores. And, quite frankly, I like it a lot and I unashamedly enjoy using it, too. But I will say that when I only carried the one SAK, I certainly survived, and never really felt under-knifed. During that extended overseas one-knife period, I had actually gotten out of knives, and never even thought much about my SAK until I needed it, other than how handy it was to have it.

  9. el gigantor

    el gigantor Gold Member Gold Member

    Oct 5, 2015
    A lot of wisdom in these words..
    Hairy Clipper and Storm 8593 like this.
  10. DocT


    Mar 25, 2012
    Yep, I love my Manix 2's and other Spydercos, but especially the M2's. But, I know now that I do not really need such a knife in my daily routine and in the woods I do not need it at all. Given the choice, I would likely take one, but I do not need it. I need the SAK Pioneer X as it does everything I need.
  11. jackknife

    jackknife Gold Member Gold Member Basic Member

    Oct 2, 2004
    Growing up with someone like my father, it was inevitable that I would follow a great deal in his very pragmatic footsteps. Dad was the practical type. I guess growing up in a poor Irish Fishermans family and going through a Great Depression, then a world war, made him practical to a fault. An extreme even. And I know that I inherited a lot of his personality traits. Plus growing up in the post WW2 years, life was a very good deal simpler.

    All men carried a pocket knife. It was just part of life. There was packages to open, mail to open, pencils to sharpen, and sometimes fishing line to deal with. Packages arriving at the door didn't have tear open pull tabs like today, but they were encased on brown wrapping paper and sealed in with that brown packing tape that went on wet and dried like the outer casing of a mummy. You needed to have a sharp knife to open the thing. And pencils were the writing instrument of choice as the cheap ball point pen hand't come down the road yet, so fountain pens stayed on the desk indoors where they wouldn't leak and ruin your shirt. Then Bic changed all that.

    But even in the 1950's, all those men carrying knives, like delivery truck drivers, dry cleaning plant employees, carpenters, plumbers, mechanics, office workers, bus drivers, carried a remarkably similar knife. A small one or two blade jack or penknife, about 2 7/8 to 3 1/4 inches in size. Just a little pocket knife. And one heck of a lot of those men were veterans of that war that had just ended. Just working guys who came home and got a job and just went on with their life earning a living and supporting a growing family. Some went school under the GI bill and got a better job.

    Among the men I knew growing up and used as a role model, there was an uncle that was a B17 pilot that had some hairy experience getting shot down and hiding out in a windmill in Holland until he and a few other others stole a fishing boat to escape to England. Another was a guy who waded ashore at Normandy and walked to Germany. Our scout master was a marine that survived Guadalcanal, Saipan, Tarawa, and then got wounded and sent home at Okinawa. Uncle Mike was a sailor on a PT boat that was blown out from under him in the English Chanel and had to have his face put back together. My own dad was in the intelligence spook game and worked with S.O.E. and O.S.S. personnel out of England during the war.

    Yet, none of these men, who had more experience with real world violence and life or death situations than any keyboard commando , ever carried anything other than a "normal" small pocket knife of the era. Maybe a Camillus, a Schrade-Walden, Kinfolks, or like Uncle Charlie, his Camillus TL-29 that he came home from the war with. Uncle Mike carried a three blade Camillus stockman with 'U.S. Government' stenciled on the main blade. Mr. Van, our scout master carried a very well worn old Remington scout knife with real bone scales. Uncle Sonny, the B17 pilot who stayed in the Army Air corp when it became the U.S. Air Force and made a career out of it, carried an issue knife until he bought a SAK and became an enthusiast of them.

    If none of these men ever felt the need for an over built tacticool knife, does that need really even exist in the real world?

    Very very often, what the self promoting internet experts who read all the gun/knife magazines say is needed, is much different than the real world requires.

    Somehow, in my ignorance, I've managed to survive backpacking, fishing trips to remote places, coast to coast road trips, rafting on the Rogue River, camping out at every national park in the U.S. except Yellowstone where we stayed in the Yellowstone lodge, and many other adventures with no knife other than my SAK. For messy stuff my old Buck 102 is used.

    SAK, a solution to a great many things.
    Last edited: Jul 7, 2020
  12. DocT


    Mar 25, 2012
    I agree with everything you said. My father was part of a B17 crew in WW2 and survived a crash. It was hairy business. He always carried a 3 blade stockman of some sort in his pocket. The only other knives he used were a Buck 102 and a Buck 112 on the small ranch he had. I still have the 102. He never felt the need for anything more.
  13. Hickory n steel

    Hickory n steel Gold Member Gold Member

    Feb 11, 2016
    I still like a belt knife up to the size of my Buck 102 woodsman for a quick handy EDC blade, but I've realized what you have and most of the time a small sharp pocket knife is as much as I need.
    The 3-1/4" to 3-1/2" size is great and very capable, and I may have more knives in this size but I will say they don't quite bring the same joy of those smaller knives that impress me with their capability.
    It brings me satisfaction to handle all my EDC needs with one of the extra small ones.

    My favorite Vic model was the recruit, but after reluctantly getting the Cadet I can't really make that claim anymore.
    I do not necessarily like the Cadet more, but it was different before when I was against the idea of Alox.
    In scoring them without actually making direct comparisons , being objective about the pros and cons, the recruit still edges a bit but Alox is just so nice and classy that I can't choose a winner.
    I used to be against Alox because I needed the toothpick and tweezers, why pay more and loose these two tools I always said.
    I felt that while I could always bring along a classic a Victorinox knife should mean I don't have to.

    I tried a Cadet, and warmed up to the Alox enough that I'm fine with the idea of a Vic not having those scale tools.
    ( doesn't hurt that I've got a pocket toothpick and tweezers on my multitool )
    Lee D, Hairy Clipper and guy g like this.
  14. DocT


    Mar 25, 2012
    There is no super steel in these blades and while I wish they had S30V or VG-10, etc., I can live without it. I did all the years before those steels became a thing.
    I am thinking of a Farmer X now, too. It would not get daily carry as it is probably a bit thick. However, for out of doors, and carried in a pocket slip, it looks just about right.
  15. tiguy7

    tiguy7 Gold Member Gold Member

    Jun 25, 2008
    Although I like Alox better than Celidor, I like Titanium better than Alox. image.jpeg
  16. NMpops


    Aug 9, 2010
    As far as knives go, for the last 40+ years I have been around the block and back.Always returning to a SAK. The Spartan was my first and the Tourist is now my #2 most carried. A black Pioneer is my go to SAK but I also carry either a Tinker, Climber, Hiker Pioneer X, Farmer, or Tinker Small as the mood strikes. A SAK is always in my pocket.
  17. the-accumulator

    the-accumulator Gold Member Gold Member

    Jan 24, 2008
    Reading through this thread reinforces my conviction that everyone is different and so, therefore, are their needs. Each respondent has put together a concise argument for what they carry and why. That's further evidence that we enjoy the freedom to choose, not only our EDC, but in many, many areas of our daily lives. I enjoy reading threads like these and learning how other knife-lovers live, work, play, and think. FYI, my EDC is a Leatherman Surge with a fist-full of accessories.
    Enjoy your EDC! T-A
  18. Sawl Goodman

    Sawl Goodman

    Jun 4, 2018
    Says it all.
    jmh33, Storm 8593 and DocT like this.
  19. 22-rimfire

    22-rimfire Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 20, 2005
    I worked in South America for a while and I bought a regular Tinker prior to going believing it might come in handy in many situations beyond just "knife". Never owned a SAK to that point in life. I was right. It was stolen from a hotel room in Medellin Colombia and I spent a day looking for a replacement which I always kept with me after loosing the first. Got back and I flipped around but mostly carried a Case jack knife. But eventually in the 90's the Tinker became a regular occupant in my pocket. Yes, I tried other models, but liked the Tinker the best. The rest is history.

    After a recent photo foray, my SAK has become an indispensable part of my field kit, if it hadn't already earned that role.
    redsparrow, Pomsbz, 315 and 2 others like this.
  20. CSG


    Dec 15, 2007
    I've carried a little SAK for more than 45 years now - Classic for most of that time. Later, an Ambassador but recently, the Executive, which I was made aware of on this site. Along with the SAK, I carried some sort of more serious folder - Buck 110 at first (I was in law enforcement and that's what the guys in my department carried in the 70's) but moved to the smaller 501 around 1980 (one of my all time favorite knives). When I discovered the Griptilian line about 10- years ago and its one-hand opening, I started carrying the Mini-Grip but recently moved to the Bugout 535BK2 (lighter than the Mini but with a larger blade and better fit in my hand). I have a few other fixed blade knives and folders as well. While my habit of carrying a small SAK and a larger folder is too ingrained to stop now, it's the little SAK that gets 99% of the daily use. I'd feel undressed without the larger folder so I carry one even though it's so rarely used or needed.
    redsparrow, Pomsbz, 315 and 3 others like this.

Share This Page