A good tactical folder for the purpose of this installment is a knife that can accomplish all your classic “penknife” or “pocketknife” tasks– cutting a thread or cord, trimming fingernails, touching up a shave in a pinch, cutting an apple, and box cutting and opening mail– while still being available as a fast and earnest edged weapon if needed. As such, they need to be at the fast ready, have a sufficiently long blade, be capable of one-handed opening, be strong enough to take real abuse, and, to prevent cutting off one’s own fingers in such a situation, lock upon opening.
Five “budget” tactical folders under $50 (if you shop around) that get the rotation in EDC: Ontario Knife Company’s RAT1A, a Spyderco Tenacious, Matthew Lerch’s CRKT Argus, Ken Onion’s 1660 Kershaw Leek, and a Gerber Applegate–Fairbairn Mini Covert.
All are used and have spent their time in pockets, clocking in as needed. The Leek even survived the floodwaters of Hurricane Katrina with me in my pocket– and I was glad to have it several times in that week. As such, any spots, dings, scratches or mars on the blades or scales are honestly earned and not the fault of their maker.
Why the $50 benchline? Bottom line is, sure you can carry your Chris Reeve Sebenza 21 or really nice ZT, Benchmade or Microtech– and I have a few of those– but if you were to have one of these upper shelf blades pull a pocket jump without your knowledge while you are in your travels, you are going to be out a lot more than $50.
Of course, as with anything, your mileage may vary and by default, the best knife you have is the one you have on you.
I do a mini-review on each in my column over at Tac.44.com.