Pocket knife: Weird or normal?

Is it weird or normal to regularly carry a 3-4" pocket knife or Swiss army knife?

  • Weird

    Votes: 3 3.5%
  • Normal

    Votes: 72 83.7%
  • A plain pocket knife is normal, but only nerds carry Swiss army knives outside the Swiss army

    Votes: 11 12.8%

  • Total voters
    86

Jim_R

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When I was growing up, my dad always carried a ~4" Case pocket knife (something like this). I saw him use it frequently, and I developed the opinion that it was a handy tool. (Plus, I was a kid, and knives were just cool!)

When I was in college, one of my buddies carried a Swiss army knife. I thought it was kind of weird and bulky, but over the years I saw him use a fair number of its features, including during a road trip when he used several of its bits to wrangle his VW Bug back into operational order.

Since becoming an adult, I have almost always carried some sort of a knife on my person, including Swiss army knives. I have found that I use them frequently, though probably most often as a letter/package opener and toothpick carrier. I feel uncomfortable/"incomplete" when it's not in my pocket. (Note--I have never considered my pocket knife as a weapon, nor does my "discomfort" when it's not in my pocket have anything to do with fear for my personal safety. It is only a utility tool in my mind.)

In "recent years" (say, the last ~20 or so) it's become more difficult to just carry a knife. Used to be, I only had to remember to remove it when I flew commercial (and I don't remember but maybe it wasn't a big deal before 9/11?). Today, I never know when I'll need to go through a metal detector: Baseball game, music venue, amusement park, state fair, etc. Sometimes I do, and sometimes I don't. Size of venue is not always a good indicator. I have had to forfeit a good many knives due to unexpected metal detectors and the hassle/impracticality of going back to the car. Occasionally, there's been some convenient landscape where I could surreptitiously plant my knife and recover it again as we were leaving.

But it wasn't until very recently (like last year) that I learned that not everyone considered a small pocket knife a "normal"/"okay" thing to carry. I was with a larger group that included friends-of-friends at an outdoor festival (far from where I live) where I ended up losing a knife at the entrance, and several members of the group gave me a bunch of grief for carrying this. "Why do you need to carry a weapon like that??" was the common refrain. None of them would believe that someone might just like having a variety of potentially-useful tools easily at hand. Only 3-4 were really vocal about it, but a couple of others nodded, and nobody else in the group of ~12 carried a knife or spoke up in my defense that they thought it was a "normal" thing to do. I was on an island.

So I wonder:
- Is this a regional thing, where it's normal in some places and weird in others?
- Is this a change-with-the-times thing, where it used to be normal 50+ years ago but has become weird and I didn't notice?
- Has it always been weird and I never knew?
- Was I hanging out that day with the only 12 people who think it's weird?
 
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I always had a Buck on me, even when I flew, pre-9/11. Blade measured 3-15/16", well under the four inches permitted at the time.
Lost that one, still have its replacement.
Literally never thought of it as anything but a tool, but then again, anything can be a weapon, depending on the attitude of the person wielding it.
 
Ever since I was a Boy Scout, I've religiously carried a pocketknife with me. I utilize it multiple times a day. Once I started working for the Coast Guard, it became an indispensable part of my uniform. I notice nowadays that it seems a more regional thing which makes sense to an extent. Can't imagine needing a knife very often in the urban landscape except to open an Amazon box. But given the current war on knives by the government in London, UK I'm not surprised at the reaction of your friends. That perception is spreading fast.

I used to carry a Leatherman-style multi tool but decided that was too much for everyday on my belt. Came in handy a few times. I have a small shoulder bag nowadays that I take with me everywhere that holds that tool along with other everyday essentials (phone charging cables, pen, paper, glasses cleaning cloth, etc.) and have had a few occasions where I was thankful to have it. On one occasion, got my car's coolant bottle patched together well enough to get me home with an ear plug and the tools available on that Leatherman. Longer story there but otherwise would have been stranded in a parking lot until I could acquire tools.

Boy Scout motto is Be Prepared. Coast Guard motto is Semper Paratus...Always Ready. I guess it comes with the territory for me.
 
I've had a pocketknife in my pocket continuously since I was around 12 years old. I've worn out several Swiss knives over the intervening 50 years, but still have the knife from when I was 12 (which was my Dad's when he was a kid).

I feel naked without it.
 
I carry a small knife all the time. It’s just habit now. I used one for work for a lot of years but don’t really need it now, other than to have it handy so I don’t have to look for it.

I have a small one, like this:

and a larger one like this, with a pocket clip, and I really like it:

I’ve lost a few to metal detectors and security over the years though.
 
Curious. Were these people college indoctrinated educated?
Well, I recall one of my college students saying "here comes the Swiss Army" as I reached into my pocket.
Pretty typical for a lot of them to have something handy.
 
I usually have a Swiss Army in the pocket AND a Leatherman Charge on the belt at a minimum, (often a folder, too) and frankly, couldn’t care less if anyone thinks it’s weird or not.
The real question I have from the OP is about losing the knives. Like, how do you not anticipate where there will be metal detectors? I’m usually not that spontaneous and can reliably predict where I’m going to hit a metal detector and it’s been over a decade since I lost a knife to government violating my 2nd Amendment right to keep and bear my knife. And yes, “to bear” meant to wear or to carry back in the day.
I also carry a pistol most days but know where that’s allowed and not allowed, too, like I’ll usually remove it before heading to the Post Office (so dumb!) or a court building.
 
I've carried a pocket knife forever. Lately I've been successful at "surprise" metal detectors if I forget to leave it in the car by taking out my keys, pen (and the knife) and holding them over my head in a closed fist as I pass thru with the keys dangling visibly. That, coupled with advanced Geezerhood, has allowed me to pass thru without a strip search etc. and forfeiture of the knife.
 
Depending on where you live, they might have meant "Why are you carrying a knife and no sidearm?"
Where I live, that might be true. Where I was, it definitely wasn't.
 
Isn't the evolution of the fad something like folding Buck -> Swiss Army -> Leatherman -> smart phone?
 
My almost daily carry.

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The real question I have from the OP is about losing the knives. Like, how do you not anticipate where there will be metal detectors? I’m usually not that spontaneous and can reliably predict where I’m going to hit a metal detector and it’s been over a decade since I lost a knife to government violating my 2nd Amendment right to keep and bear my knife.
a) The venue in my anecdote was not owned or operated by the government. My rights were not violated--I was perfectly free to turn around and not to go into their venue and keep my knife.
b) 99.99+% of my life I'm not going through metal detectors. 95% of my time I'm not thinking about my knife in my pocket. Net result: 99.999ish% of the time I'm simply not thinking, "Do I need to worry about my knife getting confiscated?", and when I get to the line to get into a venue and see a metal detector in the distance, I think, "Crap."

The event in question was the Albuquerque balloon festival. It was a 10-min walk from the car to the gate, and it wasn't my car. I had never been before and didn't really know what to expect. There was a lot of commotion with the group and we got up at 3am to drive over from Santa Fe so I wasn't really thinking about things like pocketknives and metal detectors. It simply never crossed my mind that my pocketknife would be an issue, and by the time I realized it, it was impractical to do anything about it.

In hindsight, after realizing how up-close-and-personal the crowds can get with the balloons, that policy might be as much or moreso to help protect the balloons as to address personal injury. Regardless, I respect their policy. It was the attitude of my group that really surprised me.
 
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My mom let me carry a pocket knife on Saturdays when I was 5. I’ve been carrying some form of knife since. It’s a tool, a fidget whittler, and a worry stone. Ive lost several to airport security, but now that I am successful in avoiding airlines like the Plague, I carry my grandpa’s knife.

Note that growing up, unless I was going to church or school, a pliers was also on my belt.

And, if somebody has to do emergency surgery they can Borrow my knife in lieu of a scalpel.
 
I'm 57 and had carried a pocket knife of some form or another since I was a teenager.

Like the OP' I'd surrendered a few of them at unexpected metal detectors....and also stashed a few in the bushes or someplace for later retrieval.

I do think that the premise that it's "weird" is becoming more and more prevalent in our culture...just as a lot of other things are becoming as our culture changes (devolves in my opinion, but I suppose many folks see it as evolving)

My issue with those Case style knives as examples by the OP, is that I would lose them. Some pants pockets just tend to let things like those fall out when sitting. No way to count how many times I'd lost knives like that. The majority of the time I'd find them sometime later in the sofa.... but a few were gone for good. One of the ones I lost was my grandfather's knife that my dad had given me. Upsetting and so now the others like it that I have live a sad and lonely existence in my dresser drawer.
For a long time, I carried one of the original Leatherman tools. Small enough that it's not so cumbersome on the belt and I used the tools quite often. When my life changed to a more "citified" type of job and lifestyle, I transitioned away from belt-mounted things....just in the silly interest of fashion/style...

Eventually, I started carrying a small single-bladed folder with a pocket clip. That's what I carried for the longest. I landed on the Gerber mini-paraframe I think it was called. I've had a few of them... I liked that it was lightning fast to locate...always in the same place. Also liked that I could quickly retrieve and open it with one hand.

I carried these things even back in the days when I traveled by airline a lot for work. Just was in the habit then since I knew it was coming to pack the larger knife in my checked luggage. Until about two or three weeks into Sept 2001, I always had my backup little keychain blade. I think that was a case brand but it looked like a mini Buck 112, with a blade maybe about 1-1/4 inches or so. I carried that on flights for years.... even the 1st trip I took after Sept 11...but on the return flight home they took it. I'd had that knife a long time...a gift from my Dad.

I stopped carrying around the time of the Covid silliness. I'd become overly careful due to some persistent cough issue I used to have, and I've always been a bit of a germaphobe anyway, so I stopped carrying my knife then, just to reduce the things I carried to reduce the things I had to clean when I got home. I haven't regularly carried a knife since.

I guess my lifestyle has changed over the years. What's most interesting to me as I think back on it... I used to use my knife almost daily...most days probably multiple times. Since I stopped carrying one though, and after a transition period...I don't miss it much. Maybe once or twice a week I look for something to use.... It helps that I have blades stashed in a few places where I commonly need them.... my desk drawer knife gets used occasionally, a box cutter stowed by the keys in the garage gets used almost daily for amazon packages.
 
I own a few knives of various sorts, including a Swiss army knife that I've had since a teenager and a couple of Leatherman/Gerber tools. I also own some guns, so I don't think I fit in the "knives are scary" crowd.

But I don't, and never have, carried a pocketknife (or multitool around with me), unless I'm actually hiking or something. And I don't know that I've ever been in an everyday situation where having a pocketknife on me as a tool would have made a difference to the outcome.

So yes, when I do see someone whip out a pocketknife, I don't mind, but I admit my first thought is something along the lines of "how quaint".

I suppose this puts me in a weird middle ground. I grew up with these kinds of things around, so I'm used to them, but also grew up in a very suburban environment - it's not like I was exploring the woods as a kid (because there weren't any nearby) and therefore developed an attachment.
 
Next poll: Is it weird or normal to carry pliers on your belt?
Weird. But I know I'm weird, and so does everyone else, which is why they're forever asking me to fix something. They know about that Schrade tool on my belt.

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Others are welcome to be unweird, and not called on when things go haywire.
 
My grandfather told my dad that over his lifetime he had witnessed an erosion of freedom. My father told me the same. Your pocket knife is but one example of this.
:yeahthat:

When I was 8 years old, my Cub Scout uniform included a belt clip for hanging a Scout knife. Once a week, we Cubs had a den meeting after school so we wore our uniforms to school, complete with knife. No biggie.

By the time I was in high school, pocket knives were strictly prohibited.

But then there was the time my high school Latin teacher was trying to open a package. She asked the class if anyone had a pocket knife she could borrow. Somebody said, "That's against the rules" and she replied, "Look, I just need to open this box. If somebody lends me a pocket knife for a moment I'm not going to get them in trouble for it." Whereupon every single guy in class pulled out a small knife.
 
I keep a small Case pocket knife (the same one in @Jim_R 's OP) in my keycase, so any time I have my keys with me I have a nice little knife.

Other times, if I'm just wearing jeans and a t-shirt or something similar, I'll also have a thumb-opening single blade clipped inside a pocket. It's usually a CRKT M16, but I have a couple of others. I like the one-hand opening when my other hand might be busy holding something. I have a few autos and tried carrying one for a while, but in my experience once the hinge gathers a little pocket lint or dirt, the mechanism won't open reliably.

There's also an assisted opening knife clipped into a pocket of my PFD for when I'm using the kayak.

Then there's the belt.

If I'm doing chores around our place, I'll often have a Gerber multi-tool on my belt. Like a few days ago when I was repairing a fan over our horse stalls, I had the Gerber and it was very handy so that I didn't have to keep climbing down the ladder to get a tool, or have to carry a handful of tools up the ladder. The tools on it aren't ideal for anything, but they're adequate for many things and often that's enough.

Then when I'm hunting, I'll usually have a Buck 110 on my belt. Wonderful knives. I've had that one since I was a teen, it was a gift from my Dad, and it's about halfway through wearing out its second leather case.

I also have a large Swiss Army knife, with a tooled leather belt case and a sharpener. That one goes on the belt when I'm fishing or hiking, and back in the days when I went camping it always came along.

So far, I haven't lost any knives at metal detectors.
 
My issue with those Case style knives as examples by the OP, is that I would lose them. Some pants pockets just tend to let things like those fall out when sitting. No way to count how many times I'd lost knives like that.


Keys in the key compartment, knife in the zippered pocket.
 
So I wonder:
- Is this a regional thing, where it's normal in some places and weird in others?
- Is this a change-with-the-times thing, where it used to be normal 50+ years ago but has become weird and I didn't notice?
- Has it always been weird and I never knew?
- Was I hanging out that day with the only 12 people who think it's weird?
It's restricting the freedoms of the normal because of the weird.
 
I’d bet that @Jim K has one on his belt right now. ;)
Nah. I don't carry pliers on me, that's for the real hard-core farmers. I'm a casual. I sometimes wear shorts, too. My strategy is to have lots of them sprinkled around. I'd bet 95% of my life I'm not more than 10' from a pair.

I'm genuinely curious where you found a group of a dozen people who don't carry a knife, and who would unironically consider a pocket knife to be a weapon.

I have a rotation. My preference is a 3" assisted opener, of which I have about a half a dozen. I often carry a SWAK, although I hate the lack of a blade lock. The extra tools and quality of steel for the price are hard to beat though. I also have an olive handled Opinel for those formal occasions.

Fwiw I've carried the SWAK through several metal detectors at theme parks and the like. Seems it's either small or non- magnetic enough to not trip them, and they look pretty innocent compared to some of my folders.
 
Like, how do you not anticipate where there will be metal detectors? I’m usually not that spontaneous and can reliably predict where I’m going to hit a metal detector and it’s been over a decade since I lost a knife to government violating my 2nd Amendment right to keep and bear my knife.

Regional differences.

The last time we went to the fair, three years ago, there was security screening at the entrance. Bag check and magnetic wands. But, the fairgrounds are NOT on the list of prohibited places for CCW, so there was an adjacent entry without screening. Show the gatekeeper your CCW card and walk right in, which is what I did.

Now Florida no longer requires permits to carry, I suppose the fairs will do away with the checks altogether, but I haven't tried it yet.
 
I can't imagine many people in OK would consider it odd for someone to be carrying a pocket knife. Even the urban centers of Tulsa and OKC are still pretty rural by most. I don't carry a knife on me unless I'm doing something that has me out on the tractor or away from the house where it would be a pain to walk all the way back. I keep a folding knife in the vehicles as well as a multi-tool/Leatherman. I've had to grab it from time to time to fix something trivial while away from home but it hasn't had to get me out of a real jam before.

Most of my blue collar family or friends often have a pocket knife on them at all times, but I'm sure they use theirs at least weekly if not daily when going about their job duties. I don't consider it odd in the least.
 
Most of my blue collar family or friends often have a pocket knife on them at all times,......

To set yourself apart, what a fine gentleman like you needs is a Gentleman's Bowie:

 
To set yourself apart, what a fine gentleman like you needs is a Gentleman's Bowie:

Paul Hogan would approve of that one. "That's not a knife. THAT'S a knife!"
 
I have a drawer full of “the tinker” Swiss Army knives. I like this model (carry it every day) because it the smallest/simplest SAK with a phillips. I have a drawer full because I occasionally lose them.
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I’ve run into unexpected metal detectors but have been able to get back to the car.

Another time I was on a work trip where I needed a knife. Then there was a quick dash to the airport to catch my return flight and I forgot to toss the pocket knife into the checked tool box. TSA got to keep that one. Things like that are why I can’t have nice things.

Years ago, at our local high school, a Boy Scout got suspended for a while. I think it affected his GPA for reasons, and hurt him for his graduation and scholarships. He was a senior, it was a Friday, and he was heading out for a Scout camping trip right after school. His backpack, knife, and a camp hatchet were in the trunk of his car. Someone turned him in, security/cops went out to the parking lot and made him open the trunk. Zero Tolerance policies on weapons on school property caught him. The argument that these were tools and not weapons didn’t work.
 
I'm genuinely curious where you found a group of a dozen people who don't carry a knife, and who would unironically consider a pocket knife to be a weapon.
Here.

The group was mostly made up of folks from New Jersey. Three were from NM. My girlfriend (who was the friend in that friend group; I was just her plus one for this gathering) and I were from Texas.
 
It reflects several divides:

- older vs younger
- rural vs urban
- blue vs white collar

I don't look at either side as weird. It is normal to adapt your behavior to your situation. If you are a lawyer in NYC, what are the odds you need a knife often enough to have it rattling around in your suit pocket? Farmer in Nebraska, different story.

When I was in the Army, I always carried a knife. Anyone who has tried to open an MRE by hand knows why. Since I retired, I almost never do, except when camping or hunting of course. Why would I need a knife on a plane, at a sporting event, or in church?

I inherited multiple pocket knives from my grandfathers and great grandfathers, including this beauty from the 1930's. But it is worth noting that such a knife would be virtually impossible to use as a weapon, unless your intent was to remove your own finger.

knife small.jpg
 
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As a pilot, I use the tools on the Leatherman and the Swiss Army far more often than the knife portion, but the knife has many non-weapon uses such as opening mail, cutting tape for boxes, and more.
 
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