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What Is The Best Knife?
By Pete Kautz 2009

One of the most common questions that I get asked is "What is the best knife?"  Probably once a week someone e-mails me about this and I've answered it countless times at seminars over the years.  So, I thought to write about this very important topic.

Sometimes the question concerns the metal; "What's the best steel, D2 or ATS34?"

Sometimes the question is about specific companies; "What's the best maker, Acme or Bilco?"

Sometimes the question hinges on blade design; "What's the best design, dagger or Bowie?"

Sometimes the question concerns the grip; "What's the best grip, saber handle or coffin handle?"

Sometimes the question involves price; "What's the best knife under $500?"

The answer???

I think the best knife is the one that you have with you when you need it, and that you use with as much SKILL as possible!

Quite literally, a butter knife in trained hands is more effective than any super duper Rambo knife in the hands of an unskilled individual.  Think about that.

That's why the most important thing you can do is invest in your own training and personal development - everything else in terms of gear is secondary!

Sure, you may want to have a few nice carry pieces but past that it's a poor return to keep investing in hardware over software!  The most important investment is in training your mind and body to be able to do all these things with true skill.

If you have $1000 to invest, get $900 in training and any $100 knife from a reputable company that is legal in your area, that fits your style of dress, and that is acceptable in your chosen social role.  You'll be good to go!

This last bit is important too, so pay attention.  The reality is that a businessman may have to choose something different than a farmer even if they both like the same kind of knives.  Why?  Because of the radically different physical and social environments they operate in and the differences in mode of dress!

In these cases, it is wise to let these other realities of the office environment versus the ranch environment dictate over your personal preferences.  Move subtly and blend.  That is the professional way.

To me, a knife is just another tool.  Like a screwdriver, a hammer, a pair of pliers or a ratchet set.  Nothing that I really get fixated with.  Sure I can appreciate a nice knife but I'm by no means a collector and don't know the minutia of that world.  Any fancy knives I own (like my Crossada) were gifts, and if you looked at what I actually carried on a day to day basis you might be surprised at how "plain Jane" it all is.

By the same token, if you looked through the tools in my shop, you'd find I don't have a custom made set of screwdrivers or a pearl-handled hammer or a tactical ninja ratchet set.  Just basic working tools.  Some better, some worse.  Anything that I bought is from a "name" company such as Black & Decker, Craftsman, etc. but nothing super high end, ultra pro grade.

The usefulness of any tool is in the correct knowledge of how to best apply it in solving the task at hand.  Focus more on learning to solve the problems you may encounter rather than on the tools that you use in doing it.  A carpenter thinks about building a house, they don't fixate on the hammer they use to do it.

Now, if you want to be a knife *collector* that's a whole different ball of wax.  Collecting knives is a great hobby and more power to the folks who like to do it!  I know plenty of guys who enjoy this aspect, and I'll admit it's lots of fun to handle all kinds of high-end bladeware when I visit my friends who have drawers full of shining steel.

But if confidence is your goal then realize it doesn't come from having a closet full of stuff you don't know how to use!  That's the "1980's Ninja Trap", you know, where people would buy a Ninja suit and all kinds of Ninja gear - and then have no idea what to do with all of it.  Don't fall for it, guys.

(Even though the magazines would love to have you believe you need to buy a new knife or two every month, you know, so their advertisers stay happy.  That's why most knife / gun magazines are nothing but one review after another saying "It's the best thing ever, or at least since last month")

The reality is that you can not buy confidence, you can only develop it.  In the martial arts that comes through physical training.

All the very best,

Pete Kautz

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