I believe I’ve mentioned this before, but I’ll say it again; I’m a knife nut! I’ve been carrying knives since I was about 12 or 13 years old. I started out with a small Swiss Army Knife which I carried for a few years before I moved on to carrying locking blades.
My first locking blade was NOT actually mine; it was my dad’s – he and I had a good laugh about it because I was initially only going to use it once or twice, and ended up keeping it and buying my dad a new blade.
Fast forward a few years, I discover the world of EDC on YouTube while browsing through knife-related content on a whim. At this point, I hadn’t carried a knife seriously for quite a while – though I still carried when I went to flea markets so that I could give vendors a clue about my preferences.
I started carrying knives regularly again in a few months. Along with the expected funny looks, I got a few questions every now and then mostly wanting to know why I was carrying a knife. The other common question I got was: “what’s a good first knife to own?”
Typically, this something I’m asked by people close to me who are interested in using or carrying a knife or are looking to buy a knife for someone in their family.
Fortunately, while all knife collections will vary according to personal taste; there are a few things to consider when buying a first knife.
There are six things to consider when it comes to buying your first EDC knife and these are valid for both fixed blades and folding knives.
Yes, we’re starting out with probably the most obvious consideration; the legal system! I know it sounds silly, but you need to be aware of the laws surrounding knives in your state or country, and keep abreast of how they may change as you go from place to place.
If you’re in the U.S., knife laws will vary from one state to the next or even from town to town.
In South Africa, the laws are very clear about what you can and can’t carry. To put it simply, in South Africa you can carry a knife provided:
- It is single-edged.
- The blade length doesn’t exceed 10cm.
- You aren’t behaving in a manner that poses imminent danger to yourself or to the people around you.
The catch here is that if you’re stopped by the police, they must use their own judgement (based on their interaction(s) with you) to determine whether you are a criminal or a threat.
Why do you want/need to carry a knife? The answer to this question will vary but it’s important to know why you’re carrying a knife. Your purpose will dictate/influence the knife that you buy and so it’s best to know exactly what the blade will have to do in the field.
With that in mind, things to look at include:
- ✅ The overall length
- ✅ The blade length
- ✅ Locking mechanism (if you’re dealing with a folder).
The overall length of the knife as well as the length of the blade are important to know for legal and practical reasons. If the blade’s too, long it becomes impractical for certain tasks and most laws about carrying center on the length of the blade.
Another crucial check is the locking mechanism, as certain places – like the UK for example – have laws prohibiting the carry of locking blades. If the knife has a locking mechanism, where is it and how does it work?
It would be a good idea to also find out if a knife is spring assisted or not. Now, you’ll notice that I didn’t list blade steel as something to check.
The reason for that is that if you’re buying your first knife it’s not something that’s going to spring to mind – unless you know a thing or two about blade steels.
4. Ease of Use
This is pretty straightforward, the easier a knife is to use, the better for the owner of the knife.
Look at the method of deployment, is it an automatic or a manual folder? Is it spring assisted? How do you deploy the blade? Can you open and close the knife with one hand?
The aesthetics of your knife are important. If you’re going to carry a knife every day you want it to look cool. This is where you can establish your own personal style as you get further down the rabbit hole of knives.
Generally speaking, good quality knives can be found for a few hundred dollars, but you don’t have to spend a ridiculous amount of money to get a good, reliable blade.
What to look for in an EDC Knife
Where do you look and how do you select your first EDC knife? Well, you can find knives pretty much anywhere, but your best bet would be outdoor goods stores.
You can also check hardware stores, gun shops, certain butcheries may have knife cases, you can also go through online dealers. If you’re on a tight budget, you can trawl flea markets. Almost every flea market will have a knife table, and you’re usually not spending more than $200 on a knife.
Specific things to consider with a first EDC knife:
- ✅ Type of knife (fixed blade, folding knife, multi-tool) and the use of the knife
- ✅ The size of the knife
- ✅ Carry options
First off, decide on what kind of knife you want to carry; is it a fixed blade or a folding blade, or a multi-tool. You also need to decide on how you plan to use the knife; no two blades will be able to perform all the same tasks identically.
The size and weight of the knife will dictate how easily you can carry a knife. It needs to be big enough to do most, if not all tasks but small enough that you can carry it comfortably either in your pocket or on your belt/around your neck. As far as blade length, a 3- or 4-inch blade is usually big enough for most everyday tasks.
You also want to look at the blade profile, my personal preference is to have a fine/plain edge in a drop point shape. This is because, in my experience, a fine edge is less threatening than a serrated or combo edge (fine edge with serrations).
As far as carry options go, we’re talking about how you are carrying your knife. Is there pocket clip on a folding knife or sheath of a knife? Is the clip a shallow or deep carry clip?
If you’re dealing with a fixed blade, how are you carrying it? Is it around your neck? In your boot? On your belt? If it’s on your belt, how is it positioned? Is it horizontal on your belt or vertical (tip of the knife facing your feet)?
My final piece of advice would be to focus on comfort. If possible, handle the knife before purchasing it. If it feels good in your hand, you like how it looks, and you like the price point then go for it.
If it’s a nice-looking and matches your criteria but isn’t comfortable to hold onto then it may be a better idea to move on and find something that touches all points rather than only some points.
Safety with Knives
When it comes to safety, there are a few things to keep in mind:
- ✅ Keep a knife either folded, or sheathed until you need to use it. If you don’t need to use it, there’s no reason for it to be open/unsheathed. Now, for transparency-sake, I do sometimes leave open/unsheathed knives on a table, shelf, or countertop but in my case; I live in a household where everyone knows not to play around with them.
- ✅ Keep knives out of reach of children. This goes without saying, but keep your blades away from your little ones.
- ✅ Don’t play with knives. This is a bit of a hypocritical statement from me because I play and mess around with my knives all the time. When I say: ‘don’t play with knives’ what I mean is don’t do things that put you at risk of serious injury. Knives are tools and they can cause some nasty injuries so treat them with respect.
- ✅ Don’t let other people play with your knives. Letting others play with your knives puts you at risk of liability if they hurt themselves.
- ✅ Don’t take the knife into places where it may cause problems for you or those around you. As odd as it sounds – an everyday carry knife not being carried every day – there are times where you’ll have to leave your knife at home. It’s generally not advised to take a knife with you if you’re a student in high school, as there are laws against carrying blades in such places.
So, to recap, when looking to get your first EDC knife, look at:
- Your local laws
- The size (overall length, blade length, weight, etc.)
- Ease of use
- Carry options (pocket clip/no clip, etc.)
- Ergonomics of the handle
- Blade Profile
These are a few things to consider when looking to buy your first EDC knife. Obviously, your individual circumstances, preferences, and needs will dictate what knife you buy. As always, thanks for reading.
I hope you guys enjoyed the article. I certainly enjoyed writing it and I hope you find it helpful. Thanks again and I’ll see you next time!
Greg spent much of his childhood camping and hiking. While he lives in suburbs nowadays, Greg was raised on a small farm with lots of livestock such as cows, horses and chickens. He’s a decent shot with a bow, and a huge knife enthusiast.