Stuff You Should Know: Pocket Knives

facts about pocket knives

Question: What does every self-respecting Jet, Shark, Boy Scout, rugged old-timer, do-it-yourselfer, black ops badass and serial killer have in common? They all carry pocket knives! And you should, too, if you want to be useful and cool like them. Here’s why:

1. Pocket Knives are Older Than Jesus

Smiling Jesus

Laughing Jesus laughs at you without your pocket knife.

Knives of some shape or form have been around for as long as there have been sharp sticks and mammoth tusks laying devil-may-care all over the place, which is to say, forever. But it wasn’t until the Iron Age that people figured out how to sharpen metal for food-stabbing purposes, and it wasn’t until around 500 BC that some playas in the place that is now called “Austria” figured out how to fold their food-stabbers.  The handle was made of bone and probably attached to the belt, as pockets were not invented until people needed a place to store their condoms.

2. George Washington Carried One; Pocket Knives Defeated Nazis

George Washington Statue

That’s right. While whooping one of the biggest and most powerful empires the world had ever known, and wearing a wig, George Washington carried around a pocket knife. A Barlow Knife, to be precise. In fact, several of the colony militias required their soldiers to carry pocket knives as back-up weapons, and by World War II, the pocket knife was a part of the American soldier’s uniform. So was it a coincidence that an Austrian-born madman was defeated by soldiers carrying the weapon that his forefathers invented? Yeah. Probably.

Still, if pocket knives were good enough for the Father of our Country and the Greatest Generation, you know only good can come from carrying them.

3. There Are Only Three Kinds of Pocket Knives

Types of Pocketknives

All the fancypants knives that you’ll ever see fall into one of three categories:

  1. The jack knife is hinged at one end and might have more than one blade.
  2. The multi-blade knife also has more than one kind of blade, duh. There is usually a corkscrew, some scissors, a can opener, a screwdriver and a fencing sword folded up in there. Warning: one of those was a blatant lie.
  3. The pen knife is hinged at both ends and usually has multiple, lighter blades. Pen knives are good for delicate lady work.

4. There is Nothing a Swiss Army Knife Can’t Hold

Swiss Army Knife

It can house everything from tweezers to ballpoint pens to Philips head screwdrivers. Modern innovations to this bad boy include MP3 players, digital clocks, flash drives and LED lights. In fact, the company that makes Swiss Army Knives recently released a new knife called the “Presentation Master” and it’s just what it sounds like: a knife that will help you make presentations in the boardroom. It comes with data storage, Bluetooth remote control for your computer, plus a laser pointer. And, oh yeah, a knife and key ring and scissors or whatever. BLUETOOTH!

5. Even Itty Bitty Cub Scouts Carry Them

Boy Scout Rockwell

Cub Scouts as young as seven are encouraged to earn their Whittling badge, and are given their very own pocket knife once they’ve earned it. To get the badge, scouts have to memorize a pledge promising to be safe and show respect for their knife.  So, how sad would it be if you ever found yourself in a life-threatening situation and you had to borrow a pocket knife from a seven-year-old kid? Pathetic.

6. Switchblades May Look Wicked Cool, But They’re Kind of Illegal


And they were banned because mamas all over the country saw the knife fights in West Side Story and Rebel Without a Cause and freaked the hell out. True story. Why they didn’t go ahead and ban jazzy ballet dancing in the streets of New York while they were at it, we’ll never know.

Jazz Dance

Talk about a wasted opportunity.

7. Pocket Knives Solve Problems

knife in tree

If you’re anything like me, you ask these questions of yourself every single day:

  • How can I open this box?
  • How can I whittle a spear?
  • My arm is gushing blood. How will I ever fashion a tourniquet to save myself?
  • This apple looks so tasty. How will I get it into my mouth without a proper kitchen knife?

Questions like these are as anachronistic as whole milk when you own your own pocket knife.

8. Do Not Try to Take Your Pocket Knife on an Airplane

airport security

Because you will lose it faster than a Palin loses her knickers on prom night. You’re better off leaving it at home or hiding it in your booty. Kidding! Pack pocket knives in the luggage that won’t be on board with you.

9. Pocket Knives Need Love, Too

care kit

Not unlike your ex-girlfriend, you can’t just stick your knife in your pocket and forget it’s there. Your knife needs attention, and if you don’t give it, you’re just going to end up with a rusty, squeaky knife and the eternal scorn of every grizzly man who ever lived.

Keep your blade clean and the joints grime free, but for goodness sake, don’t wash it in the dishwasher, because it will rust. And the blade needs to be sharpened every now and then, because a dull blade is way more dangerous than a sharp one. And you should store your knife in a sheath, but not a leather one, because leather isn’t as good at keeping out the moisture out and, under certain circumstances, looks totally gay.

10. Pocket Knives are For Heroes

Pocket Knives

Sexy heroes, like police officer Cristen O’Connor, who used her knife to free a guy from his seat belt once his car (and body) caught fire. Or insanely stouthearted Cambodian Aki Ra, who uses nothing but a stick and a pocket knife to de-arm land mines left by the Khmer Rouge.

And then there’s Sampson Parker of South Carolina. In a story that only MacGyver could top, if MacGyver was actually a gruesome nightmare-inducing Stephen King novel, Parker found himself in a dilly of a pickle when he got his arm stuck in a corn harvester. And as if that wasn’t bad enough, after an hour of trying to free himself, a fire broke out in the barn where he was trapped. So Sampson did what any guy stuck in a corn harvester and also a burning building would do: He used his pocket knife to cut off his own arm. And he lived to tell the tale.

Do you think for one second that the contents of your pockets could do the same for you? That a wallet, Costco receipt and two-year-old condom is going to save anyone? Well, maybe the condom will. But still, get a pocket knife.