The modern market is awash with a huge assortment of both fixed and folding utility knives that are indispensable in the lives of those in transportation, logistics, retail, and in a million and one other industries.
But they’re not all the same, and some definitely exhibit better quality than others. So how can you choose a folding utility knife when there’s so much to sift through?
For one thing, a folding utility knife should be small enough to fit into a pocket when you’re not using it, without projecting or sticking out at odd angles.
For all intents and purposes, smaller is better, but don’t go with one so small it’s uncomfortable to hold. When open, the handle should be large enough for you to get a comfortable grip on it.
Weight is another thing to consider. A folding utility knife is something you might have to carry for work, not something you elect to carry (at least most of the time).
So, you don’t want a utility knife to weigh down your coat or pants with the heft of what seems like a box mag loaded with .50 BMG, right?
Carry Options (and Comfort)
The majority of folding utility knives are designed to be carried loose in a pocket, but others may have special features like pocket clips which make it possible to carry them at the top of a pocket for easy access.
Also, remember that the pocket clip makes the utility knife MOLLE-compatible, which is beneficial if you don’t intend to carry it in a pocket.
Ease of Deployment
Some folding utility knives may require two hands to open them. All things considered, this is not ideal.
Most operate easily with one hand, using either a lever or a bar that allows the user to extend and retract the blade.
Others may swing open, in which you will also need to consider lock strength.
One feature that is entirely unacceptable in a folding utility knife is a weak lock that is loose, has a lot of play, or threatens to close when in use.
Many standard locks used in sliding locking utility knives are too weak. If you have a true folding model, look for a lockback or a button lock mechanism that will protect your hands when in use.
Ease of Maintenance
The vast majority of folding utility knives will allow you to replace the blade with a standard boxcutter razor cartridge when the blade gets dull.
If you want a folding utility knife that lacks this modularity, make sure it is made with a steel that is easy to sharpen, because paper and other packaging materials (though they might not seem like it) are actually quite tough on a blade.
Quality of Components
If you can’t replace the blade, again, look for one with a quality blade steel that is easy to resharpen. Avoid most super steels like S90V and 154CM because, even though they will last a long time, they will be murderously hard to resharpen. These are extremely rare on utility knives anyway.
Also, consider the quality of the handle. Some utility knives are made with low-grade, cheap, low-density plastic. Look for something made from steel, aluminum, or a high-quality composite like G10 or Micarta, or even phenolic resin, which is light, strong, and maintenance free.
The most important thing to remember is that a folding utility knife does not need to be labeled so to make it so.
Any pocket knife is a utility knife if you use it like so, so don’t limit yourself to basic boxcutters. Most are cheap and made with garbage components, anyway.
A high-quality multitool like a Leatherman or a Swiss Army Knife will last longer and be much more enjoyable to use. Even plain, single-bladed folding knives like the Gerber Paraframe or Buck 110 can be used as utility knives, plus they are affordable, practical, and easy to care for.
Pick Up a New Folding Utility Knife
Ready for a new folding utility knife? Armed with this information, you should now be able to pick one out that will last you many service hours, if not the rest of your life.
Visit White Mountain Knives. They carry a wide range of tools and knives, including classic utility knives, in addition to fixed and folding knives that would also be great for the application.