A lot of knife owners who have carried pocket knives for 30+ years talk very fondly of the traditional patterns, like Barlow, stockman, etc. However when it comes to explaining exactly why they carry their old knives over newer styles, it usually comes out something like "sometimes you just want a plain old fashioned knife," or "they don't make 'em like they used to."

I'm trying to come up with a reason why they keep saying that (and there must be a reason right?), but here are the only advantages I can see of an old fashioned pocket knife: 1. Build quality/finish 2. Availability of carbon steel blades, if that's your thing.

Whereas a modern "tactical folder" design like the one I currently carry (which at 2.5" blade is decidedly non-tactical in reality) has several advantages: 1. Pocket clip 2. 1-hand opening with thumb stud etc. 3. Easy cleaning inside the open frame 4. 1-hand closing with liner lock and other blade locks not found on traditional knives 5. Screw assembly allows for easy disassembly if required, or re-tension of the joint if the blade gets loose

In order for me to switch to a traditional knife pattern I would have to find somewhere to carry it, in a belt sheath or at the bottom of a pocket that's already full (I carry a leatherman and flashlight as well), and getting the knife out and opening it would take 2 hands. I love the classic looks of the wooden scales and shiny bolsters, but my knife is a practical tool, and utility comes first. I'm not trying to start an argument, but there has to be something about old folders that I'm missing. Can someone clue me in?

And lastly, let me be clear: this is for everyday use around the home and office, opening packages, cutting threads, paper, food (I once at an entire steak with nothing but my EDC knife because that's what I had on hand and nobody thought to bring knives/forks), etc. I'm not planning on skinning game or surviving in the wilderness with my EDC knife.


2 Answers 2


A knife is just a tool, and will generally reflect the owner's practical needs, and/or aesthetic tastes. Plus there are those who have been carrying the same knife for X years, and don't care to reevaluate their choice. As such the best is a personal choice that doesn't really have a clear-cut answer.

Based on your stated use cases a penknife seems more than adequate functionally. People might prefer something like that for its classic looks, and smaller size. This would also be more socially appropriate in at certain occasions. I can easily imagine a small decorative penknife being used by a guy in tuxedo, and have a hard time visualizing the same guy whipping out a 4 inch tactical folder.

You've stated the reasons why you like your knife. Those are valid reasons. I tend to carry a similar knife daily for many of the same reasons. One thing that I like about the tactical folders in general is they can reasonably be used as a weapon if needed. I'm sure I'll never need to use my knife in self-defense, but I would rather carry it vs a smaller Old Timer knife just in case.

I think we can generally agree that there is very little call for us to follow Crocodile Dundee's example in most circumstances. Any small to moderate folder should be good for your needs.


I carry an Opinel #8 carbon (that's 8.5cm, ~3.34 inches for you) when hiking, and sometimes also when not hiking. Here is why:

  • It is a good quality knife. The design hasn't changed in decades, it just works
  • It locks open and closed, which is nice to carry in your pocket (this is actually quite recent). The lock mechanism is simple and efficient. It is not a spring.
  • It is cheap (~10$) enough so I am not too afraid to loose it
  • It never broke or failed in any way in several years (I have had the same one for quite some time)

I carry it in my pocket or in the belt of my pack. I never felt the need to have a dedicated holder for it.

Now regarding your arguments:

  • I don't like pocket clips. I find it cumbersome and that it gets in the way.
  • With a little use, the opinel can be opened with one hand
  • Cleaning is easy enough, although it cannot be disassembled. I probably couldn't be bothered to disassemble it anyway
  • Closing with one hand, check.
  • The blade simply getting loose does not matter, since it is locked both when open and close

This is my opinion and my reflection on why I use that knife rather than another.

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