Question Of The Day: Tool Or Weapon?

Image: Wikipedia

Knives are weapons as well as tools, but in the prehistoric origins of the knife there was probably very little separation between those two uses. Our ancestors had a need to cut and puncture things in order to survive, and sometimes those things happened to be someone else’s ancestors.

It probably wasn’t until the development of sedentary agricultural societies that specialized knives were developed as ‘weapons’ for use against other humans. Hunter-gatherers seldom existed in sufficient numbers or densities to justify their inventing or lugging around specialized tools primarily for use on other humans.

Image courtesy WikipediaAs humans grew more settled and more numerous the knife evolved, first from stone and then from metals, to make all that cutting and puncturing easier. As it did, the uses and designs of knives diverged until they were no longer recognizably descendants of the original flint hand-axe. One-handed grain sickles and bronze spears are both cutting tools, but using the wrong one for farming or fighting will get you killed or starved.

Much of the marketing and allure of knives today comes from their status as ‘weapons,’ but thankfully few of us are called upon to use them in that capacity. Do you consider your knife a multipurpose tool, or is the knife you carry primarily a weapon of self-defense? How is your choice of knives influenced by their intended use?


  1. jwm says:

    Multi purpose tool with a side of self defense. I’ve worked in building maintenance for over 30 years. We blue collar types wind up using knives and other hand tools on a regular, dailey basis. I also tend to work night shifts and solo so having a solid knife with me gives me a little peace of mind. I frequently carry an SAK for mundane small tasks with a Kershaw assisted opening knife for bigger tasks including self defense.

    I have shown my blade a couple of times in those years when I felt threatened. Fortunately I’m large and ugly so people tend not to push it.

    1. mike says:

      ‘large and ugly’… I resemble that remark.

      1. Josiah says:

        Haha, I love that joke, though it’s just a bit funnier in person.

  2. Matt in FL says:

    I’ve carried a small pocketknife of one sort or another from the time I was old enough (in my father’s eyes) to do so. It’s always been for utility, I’ve never had an EDC knife with an eye toward self-defense. I’ve never shown or used my knife in anger, but rarely a day goes by that I don’t use it. So, for me, it’s unequivocally a tool.

  3. David says:

    “Do you consider your knife”

    Different tools for different jobs. The question pre-supposes we all only have one blade. Different blades for different jobs. Fortunately most knives are cheaper than most guns (not always though) so having more than one helps.

  4. ChuckN says:

    I usually have two different EDCs. The first is either a multitool
    or a Swiss army knife. This is used for everything. The second is
    either a fixed blade of shorter length under 6″ (RAT 3, SOG Pup,
    a karambit) or a sturdy folder like a CRKT M16-14, Buck 110
    or Puma LT. This knife is strictly for defense/special use.

  5. Mason says:

    Knives are tools. Just like hammers, or screwdrivers, or wrenches, or axes.

    Just like guns, for that matter.

  6. Aharon says:

    Knives have been 100% (non-combat) tools for me so far.

    1. Jeff S. says:

      Mine as well. Honestly I am more fearful of using my knife for defense than a gun. The results of knife fights are always very bloody and ugly for all parties involved.

      Even if you are highly trained in martial arts with a blade, there is no defense for someone charging you with a knife and violently stabbing wherever they can.

      If I pulled a knife to defend myself in a threatening situation, I feel like they would pull a knife (or worse a gun) in response. Either way I would probably be out matched.

      With all of that said I still carry a knife everyday for use as a tool. And in a case where my gun fails for one reason or another, the knife is my absolute last resort.

  7. Azimuth says:

    For most of my life, all knives have been tools. I can’t imagine working on a farm without one. When I grow’d up, it was working on the job site, as a tool. Better yet, I have never had to use my knife as a weapon. I’ve got some other tools for that. If I’m using a knife for defense, it’s because I’m all out of ammo, and SOL. It’s go-time!

  8. Derek says:

    “Question Of The Day: Tool Or Weapon?”


  9. Sam L. says:

    I’ve had knives since I was a Cub Scout.

    I took fencing classes. The first thing I learned was that I never (NEVER) wanted to have to use one to fight with. I’ve read some knife-fighting books, and most say right away that in a knife-fight you are going to get cut. So avoid getting into one. Hank Reinhardt’s book is full of advice.

  10. Mr. Lighter says:

    Both of my EDC knives are tools. I once flicked out my pocket knife to scare off a drunk guy who wanted to “fight something”, but beyond that, they’re just general purpose tools.

  11. thomas says:

    At any given time I have four blades on me. The chances of me using any of them in an aggressive capacity is about zero. I’m much more confident with my ability to use my fists than I am with being able to fight with a small folding knife. However, when going to a particularly shady area I will carry a large, fixed blade, knife that I would not hesitate to use in self defense.

  12. Dan says:

    Tool. I know just enough about knife fighting to understand I’d be in a whole world of hurt if I ever got into one.

  13. Thom says:

    I’ve carried a Swiss Army Scout / Officer knife in my pocket for the best part of fourty years. Before the show MacGuyver made it popular.

    Even today, I’ve got four EDCs on me, one Gerber multitool, one Gerber straight edge folding for parcels mail etc. one swiss army classic for manicurist duties, and a victorinox swiss card, great to have a magnifying glass and emergency pen.

    So I’ll have to vote “Tools”.

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Question Of The Day: Tool Or Weapon?

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