What is EDC and what are EDC knives?

If you’re like me, you were probably reading up on knives and found the term ‘EDC’ thrown around everywhere. You’ll find that many people and websites use it as a synonym of “pocket knife” or “folding knife”.  But what does EDC actually mean? Also, what are the good characteristics of an EDC knife?

EDC stands for EveryDay Carry. Technically, EDC just refers to all the stuff you carry around in your pockets. This might include a pen, keys, a knife, your phone, a flashlight… In the context of knives, EDC refers to a knife that you can carry around to facilitate everyday tasks, but also to the legislation that comes with it. Let’s look a bit into what this means…

What does EDC stand for?

Every. Day. Carry. Yep, that’s what EDC stands for. An EDC knife is, by definition, a knife that you carry around everyday. However Everyday Carry can refer to much more then knives. Here are a few items that might also be considered to be one’s Everyday Carry:

  • Your phone (it’s always in your pocket, isn’t it?)
  • A flashlight
  • Your wallet, preferably not empty
  • A compass
  • A pen and a notebook (you never know)
  • A knife (usually a folding blade or multitool)

You can pretty much carry around anything and call it EDC. Most people will find it weird that you carry a knife around. But a knife is primarily a tool, not a weapon. It often outperforms scissors or your teeth for most task. So it’s quite a handy tool to have in your everyday items.

What can you use an EDC knife for?

You can use an EDC knife for virtually anything:

  • Cutting open a cardboard box
  • Open letters or packages
  • Stripping the cover off an electrical cable
  • Cutting rope and cable ties
  • Quick repairs at home or at work
  • Cutting your seatbelt when your car catches fire (hope this is not an everyday thing)
  • Fidgeting, carving, just killing your boredom…
  • As a toothpick (jokes don’t do that)

So how do you choose a knife that allows you to do all these things?

What make a good EDC knife?

Now that you know what an EDC knife is, it’s time to have a look at what the best features are for your Everyday Carry knife. These are 5 main features that I look for when I choose an EDC knife:

1 – A folding blade

Although folding blades might seem weaker than fixed blades, I consider them a better alternative for Everyday Carry.

Fixed blades are generally much more reliable and durable than folding blades. This is because any kind of joint creates a weak point, making a folder much less secure when performing hardcore bushcrafting or outdoor activities, like batoning, pounding, or even just woodcarving.

This is why I would recommend fixed blades for survival/bushcraft knives, and the reason why the knives I use for bushcraft are fixed blades.

However, for EDC, it’s another story. And the main reason for it is the “carry” part. It is much more convenient to carry a small folding knife in your pocket all day than to have to walk around with a fixed survival knife. Folders don’t require a sheath, and are more lightweight to carry around.

2 – No serrations

I don’t like serrations. In my opinion they just render the knife useless. A fixed blade knife is generally much better than a serrated blade, since:

  • A straight edge can be more easily sharpened, which becomes very important in a survival situation.
  • A straight edge is more useful for batoning, carving, and generally just cutting stuff.
  • A serrated blade won’t actually help you saw wood properly, since the serrations are often too small or too dull.
  • A straight edge will end up being much more versatile than a serrated blade.

Also, the serrations on the knife tend to be closer to the handle. This makes it impossible to use the straight part of the blade, if there is one. 

Okay, serrations might make it easier to cut rope and things like that, but how many times a day do you have to cut rope? Exactly.

3 – A sturdy locking mechanism

When you go for a folding blade knife, always ensure that it has a reliable locking mechanism. Otherwise, you knife will be more a hazard than a tool when you try to use it. 

The best locking mechanisms out there are those which completely prevent the blade from moving until you press a specific part of the knife. Some of these mechanisms are illustrated below.

Waerloeg [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Some other locking mechanisms don’t actually block the blade, but just prevents it from folding back by a spring mechanism. This is not as safe as a blocking mechanism, especially if you have to apply some pressure to the blade. 

Swiss army knives are an example of this “spring-locking”. Make sure that you are really comfortable with using such a knife and that you are aware of the dangers before putting it to the test.

4 – A carbon-steel blade

There are two main types of steel in the knife industry: Stainless steel and carbon steel. I say “main types” because you’ll find countless blade materials out there, including 1075, 1095, AUS-8, D2 and VG-10. But that’ll be for some other time. If you really want to know more, here are the different blade materials for survival knives.

Stainless Steel blades are stainless, not stain-proof, and hence will still rust if you leave them out carelessly. That being said, it is true that Carbon Steel blade are more prone to corrosion. 

Carbon steel blades contain more carbon than stainless steel blade, this the name. This makes them stronger lets them keep a sharp edge longer. If you care for it properly, a carbon steel blade is the right option. Another advantage of carbon steel is that it will produce sparks with a ferro-rod, whereas stainless steel won’t.

5 – The right size

Finding the right size for your EDC knife can be tricky. You want something that is small enough so that it fit in your pocket, but you also want a knife that is large enough to be useful. 

Generally, I find that a simple folding knife with about a 4-inch (10 cm) blade and a handle roughly the same length is a good, versatile option. Just make sure that the handle is long enough that you hand feels comfortable around it.

Again, this is what has worked for me. Some people might prefer smaller or larger knives (I guess it also depends on your pocket size). 

Of course, there are many other things that an EDC knife can have. These 5 features are just what I like to have on any of my EDC blades. Ultimately, the knife that you choose will depend on your personal preference.

Here are a few other features that EDC knives might come with:

  • A wooden handle: that really just depends on your taste. Wood looks cool, but keep in mind you’ll have to take care of it. Otherwise a synthetic handle such as micarta is perfect. Just make sure it gives you a good grip.
  • A special blade finish or coating: this is what causes some blades to be dark and others to be shiny silver. It just has to do with the last stage of the manufacturing process. You can read more about blade finishes and coatings in my post about blade materials.
  • A sheath: a sheath is not really as necessary for a folding blade knife than for a fixed blade, for obvious reasons. However, if you opt for a fixed blade EDC knife, then there is no question. You will definitely need a sheath.
  • A paracord lanyard: these are cool, both practically and aesthetically. A nice fidget tool too. I think the best option though is to get a knife with a lanyard hole and make your own!
  • A second blade: you’ve probably seen some pocket knives that come with a second, or even a third blade, and a screwdriver, a saw… The Swiss army knife is a perfect example. Personally, I like to keep things simple and just have one folding blade knife. But if you really feel like you need these other tools, then go for it!
  • A rounded tip: I used to own one of those as a kid. An Opinel with a rounded tip. Not as useful as a sharp point but definitely a safer alternative for children and clumsy adults.

What does the law say about EDC?

There’s a few things you need to know about knife legislation (especially for the States). Knife legislation is divided into three sets of laws:Ownership laws

Ownership laws

Ownership laws forbid the ownership of certain types of knives, which are usually deemed ‘dangerous’ or ‘deadly’. Many such knives have been associated with unlawful individuals or groups, which is why, for example, ownership of the Bowie knife is forbidden in many states of the USA.

Another example is the butterfly knife, which is deemed to dangerous because of how complex it is to manipulate one correctly. The butterfly knife has been outlawed in several US states, and is illegal in many countries. These types of knives are usually described by the law as “gravity knives”.

Carry laws

Carry laws prevent individuals from carrying certain types of knives, whether it be open or concealed. Knives that are deemed to be used more as a weapon than a tool are often barred from carry. In many places, the types of carry plays an important role. For the same knife, open carry may be allowed but concealed carry if forbidden.

In general, if you are carrying a knife that is illegal to carry, it is considered worse of an infraction to conceal carry it than to carry it openly.

Other laws

Some states have knife-related laws that can be enforced after a fact, hence allowing the state to increase the penalty. These laws are often related to aggravated crimes. For example, robbery is a crime, but robbery with a knife is an aggravated crime and the punishment is more than for simple robbery.

Usually, ownership laws shouldn’t be a problem if you choose your EDC knife wisely. A small 4 in. folding blade is allowed in most countries and states. 

The main issues might come with carry laws. First of all, don’t walk into a school, a religious place, a hospital or a federal building with any type of sharp object. Knives are primarily tools, but have unfortunately also been used as weapons for thousands of years.

Otherwise, I really don’t see an issue with carrying a small pocket knife with you. However, just keep in mind that some states forbid knife carry in public areas. 

I general, just to be safe, I would keep to carrying my knife around at home, since it is where I will use it the most. If you really want to walk around in the streets with your knife, you probably can, but make you that you check if your town, county or state has any specific restrictions on knife carry.

Open carry

I just wanted to talk a bit about open carry here. Open carry for knives is defined as publicly carrying a knife in plain sight of another person. The definition of “plain sight” can be somewhat ambiguous and differs from state to state, but generally means “can be visible”.

Open carry is mainly defined by the law for firearms, but often applies to knives as well. There are different types of “open carry rules”:

  • Permissive: this means that anyone who has not been prohibited from carrying a knife or firearms (for various reasons) can carry a knife without a license or special authorization. This is the case in most states, except those listed below.
  • Licensed: this means you need some kind of permit or authorization to carry a knife or firearm in public. This is the case in Connecticut, Georgia, Hawaii, Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Tennessee and Utah.
  • Anomalous: the laws vary from state to state or from county to county, but are usually quite restrictive. Open carry is classified as anomalous in Arkansas, California, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Oregon and Pennsylvania.
  • Non-permissive: open carry is completely forbidden in 
    Florida, Illinois, South Carolina and Texas.

(Disclaimer: this is a not a legal website. Laws can change and usually do. This is what I found while doing research but might have changed since.)

My favorite EDC knife

I’ve owned a few knives over the years. However there is one that will always be my favorite EDC knife. And that is the Opinel.

This is my favorite pocket knife for two main reasons. Firstly, its design. It’s really a great knife, with a comfortable wooden handle. The locking mechanism consists of a small metal cylinder that you twist to keep the blade in place. This is quite unique in the world of EDC knives, and although it’s not the fancier, I got used to it an appreciate the safety that it provides.

BastienM [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], from Wikimedia Commons

Secondly, the history. This is a French knife that was born about 140 years ago, so it’s been around for a while. I think it’s amazing that such simple yet classy design has managed to survive so long.

This is the knife that I usually carry around as my EDC. It not necessarily the most reliable, but the classic design just makes it so versatile that you can basically use it for anything. 

I hope this was helpful and that you found what you were looking for. If you have any comments or suggestions, let us know in the section below. Looking forward to hearing from you!

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