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Similar to Serrated vs flat-edge knives, I'm wondering what the strengths and weaknesses are of folding knives versus fixed blade knives?

What are fixed blades good for? What are folding knives not so good for?

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If you get a folding blade - get one with a lock. I was using an unlocked blade once, and it folded into my thumb - split my thumb and thumbnail about 1cm from the tip. –  HorusKol Jan 25 '12 at 22:10
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3 Answers

up vote 7 down vote accepted

The only advantage I see to a folding knife is its size when collapsed. I always carry a folding knife in my pocket, but when hiking I have a fixed blade strapped to my pack. I prefer to use my fixed blade for batoning, both for safety reasons, and the fact that it has a wider blade which can give you more penetration.

Here is my EDC folder:

enter image description here

And my fixed blade which has a paracord wrap and is strapped to my pack.

enter image description here

Here is an example of the paracord wrap I have on my fixed blade. this will give you a feel for the type of grip you have.

enter image description here

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What fixed blade is that? can you link to it? (and +1 in several hours, I'm out of votes :)) –  studiohack Jan 25 '12 at 19:40
    
I know the feeling. I've hit the rep cap anyway! –  Timothy Strimple Jan 25 '12 at 19:43
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The fixed blade is the Becker Eskabar. It's a hybrid of the Becker BK11 and the Esee Izula. eseeknives.com/eskabar.htm If I was buying again, I think I would just go for the Izula though as I prefer the blade on the Izula slightly. Not enough to justify another purchase however. –  Timothy Strimple Jan 25 '12 at 19:48
    
thanks, I appreciate the link, I'm always on the lookout for a good knife :) and yes, I've hit the rep cap myself :) –  studiohack Jan 25 '12 at 19:49
    
Out of interest, is that eskabar flat ground? Does it have a bevel on the final edge? Cool knife. –  Peter DeWeese Jan 25 '12 at 20:02
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One point missing from the current answers:

Fixed blade is absolutely essential in any situation where seconds count in emergency life-or-death situations. For example, anything taking place in or under water where you might need to free yourself (or another) from an entrapment.

In these situations, you also want one with a secure but quick-release sheath.

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This is a pretty important point, thanks for bringing it up. –  Russell Steen Jun 1 '12 at 3:53
    
Are you talking about speed of arming or about ease of doing so e.g. in a confined/underwater/chaotic situation? I'm pretty sure a folding blade can be opened quite as fast as a fixed blade. On the other hand I agree that in taking out a fixed blade knife there are less things that can go wrong. –  Vorac Jun 1 '12 at 8:56
    
@vorac Both. Especially in the example I give. Try this: jump upside down into a washing machine full of webbing, steel boxes and water. Have your friend turn on the agitator. Try opening a folding knife one-handed and cutting some rope. ;) –  LBell Jun 2 '12 at 0:08
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I entirely agree with Timothy Strimple. Here are the pro-s and con's that I have noticed.

Fixed blade:

  • sturdy - good for batoning, chopping, hammering with the handle

  • reliable - there is no mechanism to get jammed, screws to fall out

  • can be very cheap - a cheap folder falls to peices in one month (in my experience). The only drawback of a cheap fixed blade (five bucks for example) is the lower quality steel (just sharpen it more often)

Folding blade:

  • discrete - much easier to carry around in the city
  • compact - fixed blade on the hip could hinder movement, a folder in the pocket doesn't

As a conclusion I can say what I have chosen for myself. I carry a folder in the city and take an extra fixed blade when in the woods. Both are easy to arm swiftly with one hand and the folder is concealed (caring knives where I live, Bulgaria, is legal, but still it's better not to freak people out).

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