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5 common mistakes to avoid when buying a new knife

Normally in this blog we tell you how to do things, what to look for in a certain product or give you a beginners guide to an activity. Well, for this article we wanted to do something a little different and instead tell you what you SHOULDN’T do.

Size isn’t everything

It’s all well and good having a large blade, but if you don’t know how to use it then you may as well not have it. We find all too often people choosing blades that are far too long for the tasks they intend the knife for. Take for instance an EDC knife. You may only need to cut some string, maybe open a couple of letters and at a push potentially opening or cutting cardboard boxes. If that’s pretty much what your knife is likely to be used for, then you’ll only need a blade of a few inches at most.

The same principle applies to a fixed blade. All too often we see people buying knives which are far too big. A good bushcraft knife doesn’t have to be a huge 25cm (ten inch) blade. It can be 15cm (six inches) and far superior. That’s not always the case, but the point stands that you need the right size blade. If you don’t know what blade size you need/want. Think about the likely tasks you’ll encounter, and then ask us or someone you know about which knife would be right for you.

Bark River STS-3 Canvas Micarta

Bark River STS-3 Canvas Micarta

Choosing a handle purely on looks

Buy a handle for a purpose/job. If you aren’t going to use your knife often, then this isn’t as important, but for those using it often it’s essential. You want a handle that offers grip, comfort and looks good. Some of you will look for all three, others will pick and choose. Either way please don’t just look at a handle and assume it is good, especially if you are going to be using your knife a fair bit.

There are loads of handle types out there, so you’ll always find something ideal for your needs. We also wrote an article looking at different handle types, and really simplifying the selection process for you.

Spending too long looking at steel types

Steel types are very important, this can’t be argued. But, what you can argue is looking for a certain type of steel on a £20-£30 knife isn’t really going to make a huge difference. You essentially get what you pay for at the lower end of the scale. Take a look at our steels guide for an in-depth look at many of the most popular steel types. If you are spending £60+ as an example sure have an idea of a certain type of steel such as one that’s highly corrosion resistant or has good edge retention. When you start getting over the £100 mark for any sort of knife (fixed of folding) then you can spend some time looking at knife steels. Be realistic and spend your time appropriately to the cost of the knife.

The Complete Guide to Knife and Tool Steels


Spending too much time looking at the sheath not the knife.

When you buy a knife, you are buying a knife. The sheath is secondary. The knife is what’s really important not the sheath. Of course you want a sheath that will do the job, and if it holds your knife securely what more could you want? It’s always nice to get a good sheath, but if you are buying a knife then you are buying a knife with the sheath as a bonus. Some knives come with some awesome sheaths but do not take it as a given.

Right shape for the right task

Blade shape is important, no question. It can make a huge difference to the usability of the knife and the performance of the knife depending on the task. Take for instance a recurve blade. Incredible for boxes and letters, not so good if you want to chop an apple. As with everything we’ve discussed so far, this requires only a small bit of prior planning. Think ‘what do I need my knife to do?’, then pick the right blade shape for you. If you’re not sure what your preferred style is, check out our guide to blade shapes.

BK&T Becker Machax

BK&T Becker Machax

What next?

Some of you will have read this and thought, I’ve never made any of these mistakes, some of you may realise now that you have made a mistake. Either way use this article as a guide to keep yourself in check, and make sure you are getting the right kit for your needs, because there is nothing more annoying than rushing into an order, then realise you’ve ordered something that isn’t right for you.


2 thoughts on “5 common mistakes to avoid when buying a new knife

  1. Rod s. Henderson. - 8:24 pm 09/10/15

    Dear Heinnie, thanks for the recent information. You really are the best company for years now at supplying the public with information, outdoor equipment accessories and knives together with what, when, and where to use it. The information is invaluable to all of your customers, please don’t ever drop your high standards. Kind regards, Rod S.Henderson.

  2. Jade Brunet - 8:33 pm 23/09/16

    CommentI appreciate this information provided about how to buy a knife. It is good to know that one should not choose a handle merely because of looks. The handle of the knife should also help it to function properly. Something else to consider would be to think about what the knife will be used for before making the investment.

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