If you ask many outdoorsmen, the primary reason to have a pocket is to give your pants a place to carry a decent folding knife. However, with so many options out there it’s hard to find something decent that will hold up over time. With that in mind, we look at a pocketful of classics that have been around for a while.
The Case Mini Copper
If you are a fan peach seed jigged bone handles, or Tru-Sharp surgical steel blades, the Mini-Copper could be your dream come true. This American-made lockback has been unseen in the best pockets nationwide for generations. With a smooth action, this 2.4-ounce knife is incredibly thin at just 0.4 inches wide, making it a favorite apple knife for the discerning gentleman. These retail for $61 but have a lifetime warranty.
The world of Swiss Army knives are split between Wenger and Victorinox. Each has their following. In the Victorinox world, the models are ranked from basic to advanced in a (logical) military grade series. For instance, the smaller, more basic knives are the Cadet and Recruit while the king of the hill is the Swiss Champ. This leaves the Tinker version of the “Officier,” (Swiss French for officer) series, whose design dates back to 1897, as a good offering midway in the series. Some 3.5-inches long with all its gadgets folded, this vintage multi-tool carries with it a pair of super sharp blades, both Phillips and flat-head screwdrivers, a can/bottle opener, wire stripper, reamer, and removable tweezers and toothpick. Best of all, retail for this instant MacGuyver is just $30.
Over twenty years ago, a Seki City, Japan-based Spyderco took the world by storm when they introduced their Endura series easy-opening knives. These first and most utilitarian one-handed folders with their over sized thumbholes became instant hits with anglers, boaters, military, and police. Today they endure (pun intended) in a number of variants with five different handle color choices and a number of blade designs for a retail of about $114. What we see here is the Rescue Clipit variant with sheepsfoot AUS-8 Stainless 3-5/8″ serrated blade. Coming up on a quarter century of trust in the design, its now a classic.
One solid as a rock folder with a history that can’t be beat is the TL-29. This penknife was designed for military electricians after World War One, and is still in use today, giving it a century of tried and true experience. The 3.5-inch screwdriver, wire stripper locks into place while the equally long blade is about as tough as you can find in a folder. New York-based Camillus, long a producer of blades for the military, was the preeminent maker of these knives. While the company usually doesn’t sell the TL-29 on their website, you can look around and find them in every condition for around $50 or less. It’s a whole lot cheaper than joining up.
The Demo Knife
Deservedly a classic, the Camillus Model 1760 “Demo” Knife, so-named as it was used frequently by demolitions guys in the military to rig up explosives, has been around since World War Two. Something of the American Swiss Army knife or the first Leatherman depending on how you look at it, these knives are rugged and have a decidedly retro styling for good reason. At 3.6-ounces, you’ll feel it in your pocket, but odds are its so rugged that it will long outlive your grandkids. The example pictured has a 1982 “born on” date to it and is holding up after years of hard use that has included its fair share of opening boxes around the office as well as weekend camping trips. Knife? Check. Screwdriver? Check. Can opener? You know that’s a check. It’s a knife that should have a beard. Look around, you can find them for about $30.
If something works, you don’t have to change a thing about it. This holds true for the Buck Model 309, commonly just called the Companion. This diminutive folder is small enough to go unseen in slacks at the office but still tough enough to bring the steel when needed on a hiking trip. Black handled with a pair of 420H stainless blades ready to clock in at any time; it still just weighs in at 1.2-ounces. Buck sells them for $45 and likely will for another thirty years.
Debuted in 1967, as a smaller version of their Sodbuster work knife, W.R. Case’s Sodbuster Junior is about as simple as they come. A single 2.75-inch surgical steel blade, jet-black synthetic handles, and brass accents are at home in the days of disco as they are today. As such these knives have never been out of production and remain a bargain at $24. I guess now you know a 47-year old who still goes by Junior.
No matter which folder you chose, any of these or their newest renditions will make a great choice as a pocket stuffer.