Why Are You Using a Defensive Knife vs. a Utility Knife?

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Why Are You Using a Defensive Knife to Open Boxes?

By Bryan Black

Pocket Utility Knives 00

Utility Knife, Box Cutter, Razor Blade Knife, whatever you call them, today I’m going to discuss why I’ve started carrying one around with me daily and why I stopped using my EDC knife to open boxes.

A few years back, I was in a class with Jeff Gonzales and something he said really hit home for me. He mentioned that the knife he carries is for defensive purposes only, he doesn’t use it to open mail, cut a piece of rope, or open a box. It stays sharp and unused so that he always knows he has a sharp knife at the ready.

This was pretty eye opening, as I’d been using my daily carry knife to open boxes for quite awhile. I knew I was using the blade and that was ok with me. It would have to be sharpened from time to time, but I didn’t care much about how I was dulling it with daily tasks. I admit when I got busy, a long time would go by in between sharpening sessions and I became complacent with how sharp my knife stayed.

While this might not seem like a big deal to you, it wasn’t for me either until Jeff opened my eyes. I had a serious conversation with myself and honestly answered the question “If I have to use my knife for it’s intended purpose, will it be sharp enough to do the job? Until I started carrying a pocket sized box cutter, I couldn’t answer that question with anything other than a no. Granted, a knife can be a stabbing implement and even a dull pencil can work for that purpose. However, I don’t carry a knife to only be as good as a pencil.

Pocket Utility Knives

In searching for a backup for my EDC Knife, I’ve been trying out a couple of different types of pocket utility knives over the past few months and I wanted to share my thoughts here with how they’ve been working for me. Again, the purpose here is to use a utility knife to open boxes and for other utility related tasks; not my knife.

A few features I’ve grown fond of with these pocket utility knives are ease of use, small form factor and easy blade replacement. I think first and foremost size and weight come into play. My requirements are that it has to easily slip into a pocket, it can’t weigh too much and it has to use a common utility razor blade available at any hardware store.

What really sold me on carrying one of these was traveling. You can simply remove the blade, carry this on a plane and then pick up a new blade when you get to your destination. Easy! Here’s a few different pocket utility knives I’ve been evaluating. I’m not sold on any one in particular and each has its positives and negatives.

Gerber EAB Pocket Knife

Why Are You Using a Defensive Knife to Open Boxes?

Why Are You Using a Defensive Knife to Open Boxes?

The Gerber/Fiskars EAB (Exchange A Blade) Pocket Knife is my most recent acquisition. The sleek stainless steel industrial manufacturing and liner-lock folder design really sold me. That and the fact it’s only about $10 on Amazon. However, its downside is how slick it is. Meaning that when clipped into a pocket with the integrated clip, it’s so slick it can be tough to get a good purchase on. This is a testament to the clip though, it’s a good one and better than some pocket knives I own. It can also double as a money clip, but I haven’t used it like that.

Why Are You Using a Defensive Knife to Open Boxes?

Why Are You Using a Defensive Knife to Open Boxes?

Why Are You Using a Defensive Knife to Open Boxes?

Once you do get it out of your pocket, it also takes some practice to be able to open it one-handed. The setscrew that holds the blade in acts as a thumb stud to open it up and does a better job as a setscrew than a thumb stud. The weight is also over double of the other two pocket utility knives featured in this article. It weighs 2.4 oz. with the blade installed and is made in China.

Screwpop Utility Knife

Why Are You Using a Defensive Knife to Open Boxes?

I also have a Screwpop Utility Knife and it takes the prize for the noisiest of the three. The blade in the closed position rattles quite a bit due to more space than necessary. I may be wrong, but from what I can find, utility knife blades are a universal length and I feel that this design could have avoided the rattling by altering the design by 1/16th of an inch. It certainly wouldn’t take much. I hate to start out my thoughts on this with a negative, but there it is. I do like that’s it’s also around $10 though.

Why Are You Using a Defensive Knife to Open Boxes?

Why Are You Using a Defensive Knife to Open Boxes?

The Screwpop Utility Knife is made from stainless steel and adjusted by a lever mechanism that’s lifted and set into the groves at the top of a utility knife blade. With some practice this can be done one-handed and is easier to manipulate in this way than the Gerber EAB is. The front of the device also features a bottle opener that works pretty well for that purpose.

Why Are You Using a Defensive Knife to Open Boxes?

A large brass eyelet at the back of the knife can be used to attach the knife to a keychain if desired and the entire unit with a blade weighs just 0.8 oz. While it’s not available on the Screwpop website, I believe this is made overseas.

Rexford Knives RUT

Why Are You Using a Defensive Knife to Open Boxes?

Why Are You Using a Defensive Knife to Open Boxes?

To round out my acquired pocket utility knives, I also picked up a Rexford Knives RUT. This is by far my favorite of the three, but significantly more expensive due to being made from titanium by a reputable custom knife maker. They run about $135 at Blade HQ, but I’ve found it to be the most versatile pocket utility knife. It weight 1 oz. and is super simple to operate one-handed, but allow me to explain. You press a tab on the spine of the RUT to the side, which releases the mechanism that locks in the utility knife blade.

Why Are You Using a Defensive Knife to Open Boxes?

Why Are You Using a Defensive Knife to Open Boxes?

This action is the same to move the blade out to use it and to replace it, meaning that if you let gravity carry the blade too far it will fall out when you’re pressing this tab. I’ve found it easy to hold the RUT directly above what I’m wanting to cut and then pressing the tab. If the blade is close enough to the cutting surface you can use it to get the blade to the right length to allow the liner-lock tab to catch the utility knife blade in the right spot to lock it open. When you’re finished, just point it towards the sky, press the tab and the blade falls back into the closed position.

Why Are You Using a Defensive Knife to Open Boxes?

There’s also a bottle opener and a flat head screwdriver that doubles as a pry bar (probably not officially though) I’ve found it very useful for a lot of things, including a flat head screwdriver. There is a slight rattle of the utility knife blade inside the titanium RUT housing, but nothing compared to the Screwpop. I don’t hear it at all rattling around in my pocket like I do the other.

Wrap Up

In typical fashion, the more expensive device outperformed the less expensive ones, but that’s not to say its just because of price. There were also more features and better craftsmanship on the Rexford RUT. I’m not 100% sold on any of these yet; my search continues.

Are you carrying a pocket utility knife? If so, what do you carry?

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