Increasingly, I admit being drawn to the appreciated beauty and functionality of old-school jackknives. The aesthetic reminds me of the old Barlow knife I used to carry as a kid, a gift from my grandpa in the 1970s, as well as his old Case knives.
Here are a couple of recent additions to my collection.
The new production knife is a U.S-made Great Eastern Northfield Un-X-LD – #78 American Jack. Overall length is 6.5-inches open, with a 2.8-inch 1095 carbon steel plain spear point single blade. The scales are golden brown jigged bone. Made in Titusville, PA, something like 200 hand processes go into each knife and you can tell.
The older specimen is an Imperial USA “Jumbo-Jack” knife, 4-inches closed length. It has imitation stag handles and is two carbon blades (3-inch and 2-inch) with brass liners.
This example was well made in Providence, RI in 1959 and you can really feel the pride in this blade, even though it was a “cheap” knife at the time. Price, if bought by the dozen retail back then, was $1.25 a pop, or about $11 in today’s money. You couldn’t make one of these today in the U.S. for that amount of script.
Either way, they pair nicely with some of the other vintage, but still very useful, parts of my collection.
On the cutting board, I give you six sub-$125 (most sub-$50 if you shop around) light fixed blade knives that are small enough to carry every day (depending on clothing options) while still being able to along with you almost everywhere in an urban or suburban environment if needed while remaining nominally concealable. Besides typical chores in daily life, they should also be strong enough to fill a foray into the woods or camp, capable of light bushcraft.
From left to right: A Kershaw 4007, CRKT Mossback, Cold Steel Spike, CRKT Obake, Tops Mountain Spike, and a Benchmade SOCP 176. All in current production
More detail on each, with plusses and minuses, noted in my column at Tac44.com.