Favorite EDC Folding Knives
By Uli Gebhard, Suarez International Staff Instructor Los Angeles
Up until a couple of years ago when I first trained with Mike Janich of Martial Blade Concepts, I carried a folding knife as a hybrid of tool and backup weapon. About a dozen knives later and working with the MBC material for several years, things have crystallised to three knives that fit the bill of a defensive knife best.
Left to right: Cold Steel Voyager L Clip Point, Spyderco Delica, Blackhawk! Be Wharned
#1 - Blackhawk Be Wharned
The knife that I found works best for me is the Blackhawk “Be Wharned”. The Wharncliffe blade was chosen to allow for a maximum of cutting power when using pressure cuts and paired with a very pointed tip that would allow ease of penetration when needed. I used this knife to demonstrate some of the techniques on our trusty training tool “Porkman” and it effortlessly created deep cuts that would be debilitating when inflicted on an attacker.
"Porkman" Demonstration during a Defensive Knife Course - the "Be Wharned" cut effortlessly through thick denim fabric deep into the simulated muscle.
The knife features a liner lock. In most cases, I try to stay away from this type of lock, due to the fact that the majority of them do not retain the blade very well in the closed position. This one however, has a pressed-in ball bearing that works with a detent in the blade to accomplish this task.
The internals of the Be Wharned - the Ball Bearing is visible as bright spot above the serrations of the liner lock
Once the blade is deployed, the slight curve on top of the blade accommodates the thumb perfectly and provides good purchase for pressure cuts. Rounding things off with a tapered grip and G10 scales, this knife fits my hand as if it were made for it.
Now after this laudatio: this knife is not a utility tool that you want to use to cut hot dogs with during a Cub Scout outing. It is a purpose-designed defensive knife and it will do whatever you need it to in its intended function. Tip is skinny and most definitely not intended as a screwdriver or for prying – if you need to do stuff like that, use an appropriate tool!
#2 – Spyderco Delica
The Delica may well be the most underestimated quality knife out there. With a mere 3” of blade length some may call it “girly”. The nice thing about the small size of the knife is that I can use it in the vast majority of settings at any given time to cut open boxes, cut fruits for the kids or open a letter that just landed in my inbox. The knife is small enough not to be perceived as a threat.
Rewind to the first Defensive Knife course I taught back in 2010. We had one girl in the class and she borrowed this knife when it was her turn to take a swing at Porkman. She landed a quick, hard swipe and wondered if she had inflicted any noteworthy damage at all. A closer look revealed that the cut had gone all the way down to the simulated bone.
One fast hard swipe - and the cut went straight to the "bone"
Small, benign and dangerously efficient - the Delica is a true go-to knife
A couple of observations on the design of the Delica:
The knife is extremely flat, which makes it very easy to carry clipped into a pocket or waistband. The clip allows for tip up, tip down, left hand and right hand carry. Ladies: this knife does hardly add any bulk even with fashionable clothes of a tighter cut. It can be stowed away out of sight yet can be deployed if –heaven forbid- the situation calls for it. The Girlfriend of one of our students had to do just that and took two would-be rapists out of the fight.
The cutting edge has only a very slight curve that leads up to a pointy tip. These are the features that provide a blade shape very similar to the Be Wharned and provide outstanding cutting power and penetration. Some of the newer versions have a full flat grind. When tested on porkman this improved blade shape made cuts quite a bit easier than with the classic hollow grind.
My Delica features a plain black handle and hollow grind and is the knife that I use the most thanks to its benign appearance.
#3 - Cold Steel Voyager Clip Point L
I have this knife set up for left hand deployment, something that is not possible with the older versions since the pocket clip was not reversible. This newer version came with two of them and since the blade shape makes inertia-opening incredibly easy, I decided to test this one out as a dedicated leftie. In the past, I used an older Axis lock version of the Cold Steel AK 47 in that role, but the bulk of that knife turned out to be not quite comfortable to ride in my left front pocket all day long. The Voyager L on the other hand, does not bother me at all.
The blade is very sharp out of the box and the full flat grind provides a very easy cut with little resistance. The only thing that detracts a bit from the cutting performance is the shape of the blade that sweeps up towards the tip and does not allow keeping full pressure on target throughout the entire cut. Nonetheless, when tested on porkman, it still left a devastating gash.
The Tri-Ad lock works very well. It engages reliably regardless which opening method I tried and unlocks easily once the blade has to go home.
The handle features a deep choil that allows for a very secure grip whether one needs to guide the knife through a cut or anchor it for a thrust.
The deep choil (cutout) behind the joint provides a solid seat for the index finger
The Voyager is a bit large for use on day-to-day cutting tasks, but a solid knife overall.