There is little as passe in the Blogging world as a “listicle”, except maybe picking apart someone else’s listicle. That being said, we don’t do it often and this one is too juicy to pass on. Popular Mechanics just released a list of “The 7 Knives You Should Own“.
I agree with all 7 of the category/niches, and even with some of the specific brands and blades. I will break down my opinion of the 7 choices, and would love to hear what you have to say. Do you think that these 7 cover all situations/niches, and what would be your changes/choices for your top 7?
1: Victorinox Swiss Army Hiker.
Can’t really argue with this one. I think it hits the sweet spot between size and a usable toolkit. Solid choice. With a non-locking blade and friendly looks/persona this knife is unlikely to get you in trouble in all but the most hoplophobic locals.
Another good choice. I think a multi-tool belongs in an essential 7 and the Rebar is mid-entry range general-purpose tool. I have a Wave that usually bounces between my range gear and fishing bag. One of these days I will break down and by a MUT to live with my gun stuff full time.
3: Case Sodbuster Jr.
While I don’t disagree with idea of including a single blade pocket folder on the list, I think my choice in this category would lean towards the lock-blade Buck 110. The combination of classic design and utility leads me to put the Buck at the top of this category. With their selection of the “Jr.” Sodbuster, they are getting really small. Granted, the 110 is also at least twice the $26 price if not more.
4: Masumoto VG Gyutou (Japanese Chef’s knife).
They are making the point that a good Chef’s knife will serve you better than a crappy one. Point taken and largely agreed with. I don’t have the experience with the high-end stuff, though I understand the concept. That being said, my Wusthof Classic set has been put through its paces for over a decade. We have discussed this before.
5: Stanley 99 Utility Knife.
Very solid choice, and certainly a classic. When I was building boats and someone was paying for replacement blades, I found that the pocket-clip, folding style was more convenient for me. However, there is probably nothing better for a toolbox or kitchen drawer.
6: Gerber Gator Bolo Machete
At least it isn’t a Bear Grylls series piece of crap. I agree with the category, most homeowners should have a machete of some sort, but either save your money and by a stamped POS from Harbor Freight. Or shell out a little more and get a CRKT Halfachance, a Kershaw, or other advanced tool from a reputable manufacturer.
As Nathan wrote in his piece on the decline of the once great brand:
“There, I said it. It’s a shame that they suck because they used to be a great company. But today’s iteration of the gear company is one based off of name recognition, celebrity endorsements, and cheap knives. Not cheap as in inexpensive like Kershaw. Cheap as in cheap quality. Back in the 1980’s, they were right at the top of what the industry had to offer. But since then they have declined to the point where they are no longer safe to own.”
As TTAK Managing Editor, I endorse this position as it has been my experience and observation since my early exposure to the brand. I grew up on my Great-Uncle’s Gerbers from the 70’s, my own 80’s vintage Gerber tools, and compared to what they once were, today’s Gerbers are decidedly inferior.
If by chance this is read by someone at Gerber, feel free to prove me wrong. I promise that anything you send will be put through the same thorough testing as all tools we review. Photo-documentation will be provided. I promise to give you a fair shake.
7: KaBar Becker Campanion
I certainly endorse a medium/large fixed blade as a part of any essentials list. I can’t argue with the specific choice either. The Campanion is a good knife. There are certainly knives that fit this same role that could save you some money in this category to upgrade in another. A Mora Bushcraft or Ontario TAK both come to mind for much less money.
I do not feel bad for doing a Listicle critique, as I put as much time and effort or more into this piece as I am sure that the PopMech writers did. I hope you recognize that I tried to add value to that post with my commentary. As I mentioned, what are your thoughts?