EDC Folder and Serrations

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Field Tester

Apr 10, 2012
San Diego, CA
Hello All,

I recently misplaced my Buck pocket knife given to me by my father 15 years ago. Receiving the knife at 16, I never really had much of a need to research buying a new one and now I feel I'm in way over my head.

I'm sure there are many threads like mine asking for help finding an EDC so I'll try and add a twist of a specific question instead of leaving it open-ended.

I'm looking for a EDC Folder, 3.5 - 4". CA compliant. That's it. Pretty simple. I have around $100 to spend.

I was looking at CRKT's website and came across the m16-14 and m21 lines. I'm not sure of the benefits of a Traditional / Pointed blade vs a Tonto. Can someone educate me?

Also, I was looking at Serrated knives. I see no reason not to choose a model that include them. However the Veff design seems it might chip and break easier do to the thinness of the serrations. Am I correct in assuming so?

Thank you in advance for any education, advice, tips, and suggestions you may provide for me,

If I have $100 to spend I look at Benchmade from www.knifeworks.com - I've bought several from them and the service is great. If not that then how about a Spyderco, you should be able to find one well within your range.

I don't use serrations on my knives, just don't have a use for them and I can't sharpen them well. I do keep a full serrated Spyderco in my truck for seat belts and such but that's about the only use I'd have for them.

I also don't buy or use tanto style knives, to me they are for hard stabbing or pounding into something and I have no use for that either. They have greater tip strength than a traditional design but you probably shouldn't be using your knife where the tip could break off either. There are other tools for that stuff.
I don't recommend serrations on an EDC knife. They're only good for making quick ragged cuts anyway, which explains why they're commonly found on steak knives. My experience has been that, no matter where they are on an EDC blade, they always seem to be in the way of more precise and useful functions.

I also don't recommend a tanto-style blade on an EDC knife, or just about any other knife. IMO they're mostly a marketing gimmick.
I also am not a fan of tanto points or serrations. The serrations will keep a dullish knife functional longer; but once they get dull, they are difficult to sharpen well. I'd rather have a plain blade and keep it razor sharp. As for the tantos... they are OK. I don't really see the point in a 3.5" thrusting blade. It seems kind of counterintuitive and I find the tantos harder to sharpen (I usually end up rounding off the edge of the Americanized "tantos" so that they basically end up the same as a drop point anyway).

For a pocket knife, I generally like drop point or wharncliffe style blades.
I've never found serrations to be much of an impediment, and I cut a lot of cordage; serrations are great for that. I recently played with a wharncliffe blade, and found it very effective in that role, too. I imagine a karambit-style blade would be great, too, but I have yet to test the concept.

I have never been tempted to file serrations where they don't already exist, if the knife is an effective tool to start with.
I rotate through a few different EDC knives, and all but one are serrated . . . and one is a serrated tanto! I do tend to agree that a tanto is not ideal for most purposes, and the one I sometimes carry (Gerber Armor) wasn't really bought for EDC initially. However, as far as serrations are concerned, I think it really depends on what you anticipate using a knife for. I find them useful when trying to start a cut through stubborn surfaces like certain types of insulated cable, but that's not something that everyone is going to need. If I could only carry one knife and a large fixed blade was appropriate, I'd probably opt for something like the Ontario SP19 TaskForce (unfortunately discontinued) with just a short length of serration on an otherwise long, unserrated blade.
Get one with serrations. I can't imagine why so many folks recommend against them. A knife is part of my daily life. A knife in my hands will find itself cutting bail twine, opening feed bags, nylon fence tape, garden veggies, wild grape vine (I hate it with a passion), burs out of dog and horse hair, wild raspberry, you name it. Yes, serrations are an insurance policy against letting your blade go a couple days too long w/o a brush-up. Yes, the teeth cut some things better than the blade. Yes, you have to surrender your knife-snob card if you carry anything but a smooth edge:neener:.

Tanto blades are pictured in the dictionary under "things that look cool, but actually suck."

I think Spyderco's are all from China now. NOt sure if that matters to you. My favorite blade comes in a little under your budget:


They list it at over a bill, but my wife found me one for $70 on the interwebz.

ETA: Kershaw has knives made in the USA and knives made in China. I've got several of each. USA Kershaws are, in my opinion, the best money a guy can spend on a knife. China Kershaws are, imho, among the worst. I've got no idea why the company puts their name on some of the crap they do. It's also hard to figure out how they can offer a knife like the Shallot, Leek or Whirlwind (yes, I have one of each) for the price they do.

ETA #2: Valkman mentioned Benchmade. I know they make awesome knives. The guys I know who keep Benchmades are not knife guys. They're guys who work hard and use tools. One of the tools they use is a knife. They gravitate toward Benchmade knives, Snap-on tools, Honda engines, Carhart clothes, etc. Basically buy-once cry-once type guys. Honestly, I'm not sure why I haven't switched to a benchmade yet, other than I keep being impressed enough with KershawUSA.
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I have several blades that are in the EDC category -two are Benchmade Ascent knives (a long discontinued style - one is kept in reserve as a possible replacement if blade #1 isn't available), the third is an Al Mar Eagle for occasions where I'm going to be well dressed and need something with a slim profile. All have partially serrated blades. I choose them because I work around the water where a handy blade is a necessity and might be the difference on a small skiff between survival and "don't he look natural...".

On the water, the ropes and lines you employ daily can turn deadly in an instant if you're tangled up and the boat is moving away from wherever the lines are attached to something immovable. More than one waterman has been drowned by his own gear in that manner so I've learned to be cautious in that area... I love a good quality blade with a well sharped smooth edge but for rope, lines, and similar items I want the initial "bite" that serrations provide and I'm willing to put up with a drawback or two to have that available.
Depending on your wants: Case knives are a great choice , made in the U.S. and priced reasonably. Check out the Sodbuster and Trapper patterns, both available in Chrome Vanadium steel.
Also, you might be able, at a Gun or Knife show, to pick up a made in U.S.A. Schrade or Old Timer (Company closed in 2004) still in the box with papers, reasonably priced. (I picked up 4 Old Timer 30T's 2 weeks ago for $80.00).
Check out Smokey Mountain Knife Works and/or Amazon.
Honestly, I'm not sure why I haven't switched to a benchmade yet, other than I keep being impressed enough with KershawUSA.

I've got one Benchmade. I have a lot of Kershaws because I can't afford to lose Benchmades at the rate I lose knives. I like a lot of Kershaw's products - in fact, I am starting to really like the cheap Chinese stuff because they are easier to sharpen and keep sharp, even though they dull faster also.

lemaymiami makes a good point about serrated blades for line. I'm a former sailor myself and they do have a purpose there. Although even there, I think I'd rather have a multiblade knife (wharncliffe plain, serrated sheepsfoot and a marlinspike) than a single partially serrated blade.

Aside from keeping the serrations sharp, it seems they always put the serrations right at the base of the blade which is also where you have the most control. That and giant honking thumbstuds that are so big they interfere with sharpening are two pet peeves of mine in knife ownership. I saw an old partially serrated blade the other day that actually had the tip serrated and the base of the blade plain. I think those guys were on to something - although the knife was 50+ years old and apparently that never caught on, so maybe not.
I've used my Benchmade 940 w/ half-serrated edge (and reverse Tanto point) for at least 15 years as part of my EDC rotation. It has been banged-up quite a bit and resharpened unknown #'s of times, but I still like it very much. You can compromise with jut the lower half being serration and the upper (pointy side) plain edge so you can do different cuts. Only problem with a BM 940 is the price ($170-180).

Next folder I'd choose would be a Kershaw with combo edge. These will fit your price range better and are made to cut & cut.

Personally, I really like the CRKT M16's (bought one the same day i bought my BM 940). I find the edge really easy to "touch up", although I find it very bulky so I don't like carrying it much.

Add: Since you live in CA, you should know that CA does not have a blade length restriction for folders & concealed (pocket) carry, although I don't know if SD has any local laws.
To add to Bartholomew Roberts' comments above. Swiss Army makes a bigger knife called the One Handed Trekker that comes with the serrations at the point and PE near the bottom, if you are interested in on of these. Well worth the ~$38 price. These don't come with pocket clips, but you can add a lanyard and hang that out of your pocket for easy access.
Personally, I really like the CRKT M16's (bought one the same day i bought my BM 940). I find the edge really easy to "touch up", although I find it very bulky so I don't like carrying it much.

nooo please don't get an m16 or m21 for everyday carry it's about the most rediculous "pocket" knives I own. you read the specs online and think it'll be perfect size for your needs but when you get it it's a pocket rambo knife. I really like the flippers/andgaurds built onto the blade but those also totally made it unpocketable it takes forever to pull it out and you end up hanging it outside the pocket or on your hip but with such an undersized beltclip for the large knife if you bend to far or lean to much it pops loose from what it's clipped to and on the floor it goes.
Kershaw Blur, Kershaw Leek both eBay getable from decent sellers for $45 and $35 and still come with full lifetime warranty "I asked kershaw". they'll warranty anything free unless it's user damaged or marked XXXX as a blemished/factory second item.

if/when you're budget goes up lol Benchmade, ***Spyderco*** or Zero Tolerance. I have an 0350 and an 0300 but the 300 is reeeeally heavy/big. even with titanium and g10 to keep the weight down it still feels like it's about 1lb.

as for serrations, I like them on pocket knives as it kinda adds to the carry it all feel. On most recurved knives they often put the serrations in the curve/recurve part of the blade making the serrated edge work 20% better and making it easier to sharpen the non recurved/serrated edge on standard sharpening stones.

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nooo please don't get an m16 or m21 for everyday carry it's about the most rediculous "pocket" knives I own. you read the specs online and think it'll be perfect size for your needs but when you get it it's a pocket rambo knife. I really like the flippers/andgaurds built onto the blade but those also totally made it unpocketable it takes forever to pull it out and you end up hanging it outside the pocket or on your hip but with such an undersized beltclip for the large knife if you bend to far or lean to much it pops loose from what it's clipped to and on the floor it goes.

This does not mirror my experience with the CRKT M16 and M21 knives at all. The -12s are my favorites but I rather like the big'uns too.

They are quite good and have a very positive and fast opening when using the flipper.

For the money, I don't think anything beats the OKC RAT-1 folder.



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Depends on the serrations. The Victorinox Trekker is the only knife I have with serrations that are done right, and easy to maintain, and I do EDC it.

Buddy of mine has had his M16 CRKT for years, and used and abused it. If it speaks to you try it out.
Alright, I'm going to address a few things that have been posted that are dead wrong.

First, Spyderco knives are not all made in China. There are actually only a few that are made in China. Spyderco is a private, family owned, American business. They started in 1981 with their knives being made for them by G. Sakai of Seki City, Japan. There are still many Spyderco knives made in Japan, quite a few made in Taiwan, and many of knives have been made in the US for over a decade. The pocket knife as we now know it exists because of Spyderco. Their owner, Sal Glesser, is the visionary who put the clip on the pocket knife, and combined it with a one hand opening mechanism. Their second model, the Mariner, added serrations to the mix.

Benchmade is another American family owned business, as is Buck knives. Kershaw is a division of KAI, a Japanese corporation. Zero Tolerance is KAI's premier US made tactical knife line.

Second, you don't need to increase your budget to get a Benchmade or Spyderco. In fact, $100 will get you one of several exceptional knives:

1. Benchmade Griptilian. Right at $100, fully ambidextrous, easily opens and closes with one hand, extremely strong Axis Lock, and an extremely durable knife overall. The 154CM blade steel provides a great mix of toughness and edge retention. It's also pretty light at 3.8 oz. Made in the USA. A quick tale of the abuses I've put one through - http://www.thehighroad.org/showpost.php?p=7721594&postcount=21.

2. Spyderco Manix 2 / Manix 2 LW (lightweight). Spyderco's most direct competitors to the Griptilian. Caged Ball Bearing Lock is super strong, and almost as easy to use as the Axis Lock. Standard model is just under $100, has G10 scales over full length steel liners, and premium CPM S30V steel blade. A bit heavy at 5 oz. The LW version can be found for $15 to $20 less. It has ultra strong polymer handles that don't require liners. The CTS BD-1 blade steel doesn't have the premium name recognition of S30V, but my good friend and fellow moderator JShirley reports it still performs quite well. At 3 oz even the LW is almost an ultra light in the size class. Both versions are made in the USA.

3. Buck Vantage Force Pro. The force is the strength upgraded version, and the pro is the top trim level. CPM S30V blade, and machined G10 scales over full length steel liners. Has a great deep carry pocket clip that's one of my favorites. It has both an opening hole and a super smooth flipper. The liner lock isn't as strong as an Axis or CBB lock, but that's kind of like saying 1/2 ton pickup won't haul as much as 3/4 ton pickup. It's also a bit on the heavy side at 4.6 oz. This knife (and the entire Vantage line) is made in the USA. However. At $76 shipped from Amazon it's an exceptional value.
I usually carry a spyderco endura I was carrying an emerson cqc7 but realized I dont like carrying a 200$ knife. I wont buy a knife that isnt serrated
Often times we don't have much of a choice to buy American made. I think this is one of those times that not only do I have that opportunity, I have several varieties to choose from. Not only that, but from what it seems you all are telling me, the quality of American made in this situation is often better material and better made.
If I have two identical knives in front of me of equal quality, I'm going to choose the American made one, even if I have to pay slightly more.

All that said, I still want the best blade for me.
It seems I really can't go wrong buying from American made from Kershaw, Spyderco, or Benchmade. How do I find out of the model is made in country or not? Also let's say I buy from Amazon, will the distributor still send me one made in America and not China?

Also no one has answered the Veff question. Does anyone have experience with these serrations? Was I correct in my assumption?
1) I'm out on serrations. Hard to sharpen and I almost never ever use them. A good sharp knife cuts fiber almost as well and is far more useful.
2) on veff serrations: http://averageguyreviews.wordpress.com/2011/11/04/crkt-m21-14sfg-edc-knife/
I'm still out on serrations, but those look like the easiest to sharpen.
3) for an edc knife I like something thin, but with some length to it. Something 7-8" long and less than .5" thick handle. Under 4oz as well. It's out of your price range, but I think the benchmade 94(0-3) are the best ever. I am also out on any blade that has a recurve to it (a concave and convex blade) cannot be sharpened on a stone and requires a rod.
4) something you can get lucky and find a used knife on ebay or in the for sale forums.

some suggestions that I like for under 100:
spyderco: tenacious (or whatever size in that line fits you best)/delica/centofante 3/lightweight manix 2
benchmade: griptillian/nitrous stryker/530/blitz
crkt: stainless m16/ripple/
sog: aegis (in whatever size suits you, but I am not a fan of the clip)
kershaw: leek/chill/skyline
the ontario rat knives are nice too.

I like benchamdes the best, but I think kershaw's are probably the best bang for your buck. You can buy kershaw discount blems here: http://kershawguy.com/products-page/kershaw-blems/

If you are willing to delve into a shady world of clones, copies, and replicants, the ganzo 704 and 710 are heavy heavy copies of benchmade knives, and can be found on ebay. Sanremnu and enlan make some pretty high quality "cheap" knives as well using original deisgns. (I would buy them from ebay or exduct) They are on par with the knives produced in china for the american companies. (same factories I bet) Stepping up a bit, you can get what are supposed to be pretty stinking good copies of sebenza knives for under 100 on aliexpress. they have a sexy copy of the spyderco southard too, but I haven't had to courage to risk ordering from ali.
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How do I find out of the model is made in country or not? Also let's say I buy from Amazon, will the distributor still send me one made in America and not China?
If the retailer doesn't list country of origin you can check the manufacturer's website, or cross reference another retailer like www.knifecenter.com. If you buy a knife on Amazon that's sold by Amazon and not a third party retailer it will be an authentic item and a not a knock off.

My favorite knife retailers are:

www.knifeworks.com - They're a big Knife Rights supporter (silver level sponsor), and a tiny family owned business in Louisiana. Free shipping on orders over $99. On other orders they usually charge $6-$8 for shipping. Not the best, but their knife prices are some of the lowest on the web, and I like supporting a small business. They're also super nice people that give truly personal service.

www.cutleryshoppe.com - Shipping structure is the same as knifeworks. This another tiny little family owned business in Idaho. They have some of the best prices you'll find on Spyderco. Again, super nice folks who offer true personal service.

www.knifecenter.com - They may not always have the best price but they are competitive, and they only charge $3 for ground shipping on most pocket knives (big fixed blades will of course be more), and free shipping at $95. They have a huge selection, and a great website layout. They aren't a tiny business like the first two, but they're still a small privately held family company.

www.bladehq.com - Similar to knifecenter on price and selection. Another small but not quite tiny business (not sure if they're family owned or a small private partnership). When I was deployed to Iraq they were giving free shipping to APO/FPO address on any order, and I think they still do this.

Amazon - as with everything else they sell, they have great prices on knives, and they ship fast and cheap (even without a prime account most orders $35 and up get free ground shipping). If the difference is under $5 including shipping I'll buy from the little guys. However, Amazon is often $10 or more better than anywhere else. They're an online giant, but they still have great customer service.

Also no one has answered the Veff question. Does anyone have experience with these serrations? Was I correct in my assumption?
I don't have first hand experience with the Veff serrations, but my understanding is that they're just ground in at an angle to the primary edge rather than perpendicular to it. Just be aware that are very few if any US made CRKT knives.
My recommendation would be hands-down a Spyderco Endura. They are one of my favorite objects created by man, I have mine clipped to my pocket right now. It is thin, strong, affordable, not made by communists, and I love the grippy FRN scales and VG-10 blade. I've carried Kerhsaws (Junkyard Dog, Tremor, Thermite, and Compound), Spydercos (Byrd Cara Cara 2 G10 and FRN, Salt 1, and of course Endura FFG and Combo Edge), Cold Steels (AK47, Recon 1, American Lawman, old AK47, and Mackinac Hunter), Benchmade Griptillian, the OKC RAT-1, SOG Flash II and Trident, and who knows what else.

The Endura is my favorite of all. It is thin, deploys great, it's a Spyderco, and VG-10 is a great steel, almost rust proof. I have never seen a speck of corrosion on mine in many months and I have never oiled it, I cut food and only wash it in fresh water. The flat ground blade slices great, I cut through piles of boxes with it almost every single day I work. You cut the 4 top flaps off of every box, and sometimes I'll cut over a dozen boxes in a day ( so 50 feet or so of cardboard, plus tons of tape). The Endura zips right through them, I just touch it up on a ceramic rod and leather strop every few weeks. It'll open my deli food packages and slice apples on my luchbreak to boot. :D

In my opinion, the Spyderhole absolutely blows a thumbstud or flipper out of the water for a one handed knife. I prefer a manual Spyderhole to even an assisted opening thumbhole or flipper. Quick, positive, and natural. When I use my Endura, I don't give a single conscious thought to pulling it from my pocket, opening the blade, and doing whatever needs done.

It's also a good first knife after a Buck- the lockback will be pretty familiar to you.

Yea the Endura is a good knife, one I'd recommend. The Delica and Native were too small for my hands and I got rid of them but the Endura is bigger and feels better to me.

Just don't stab yourself in the leg.*

Sorry Noah! :D
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