One of the lessons my grandfather learned early, and passed on down to me, was the necessity for a man to have a knife on board during daily life. The knife Grandpa took with him everywhere, everyday, whether in bib overalls or church suit, wasn’t fancy. No super steel, no exotic handle materials, no tactical leg harness, no trendy brand name and certainly no 12-inch blade. It was a very simple and basic three-bladed stockman folder with jigged bone slabs, and if he paid more than $1 for it at the hardware store 14 miles from his home, I’d be astounded.
Even in this modern era with better steels, bigger blades, prettier handles and a wider choice of locks than were ever dreamed of not all that long ago, the primary purpose of a knife is to cut. For 90 percent (and probably more) of the personal knife uses today, the buyer just needs a nice little folder he or she can tote along in a pocket or purse, and one that only has to get its owner through the trials and tribulations of everyday life. For the vast majority, this isn’t for hacking through the jungles of Borneo, felling trees to build emergency log cabins along the trail, skinning a dozen buffalo, splintering ammunition crates, reducing logs to firewood, repelling a charging grizzly, or defending against a masked guy with a bloody chainsaw in the woods. It’s the much more mundane things like farm or ranch chores, warehouse work, office activities, and so on. Nothing glamorous—just everyday applications where a sharp edge beats teeth, and scissors are not practical to carry in a pocket.
Given the basic idea, does a decent working knife have to have a designer’s name on the blade and a $300 tag on the box? No. Taking inflation and other factors into consideration, $25 today would be roughly the equivalent of a $1 knife 50 years ago, and I’d argue that there is a place in this day and age for a $25 knife. It’s even possible to get a bonus feature included for the money.