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4 helpful tips for choosing the right correctional knife

Use these five tips to help you choose the right duty knife for work and for play


“Benchcla” by Michael E. Cumpston - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 via Commons -

Corrections officers need to protect themselves, both on and off duty. They also often hunt and enjoy recreational activities. That’s why knives are so popular in the corrections community. But how do you choose the right one?

When purchasing a new knife there are several factors to consider, including how you’ll will be putting your knife to use.

Tip 1: Decide how you’ll use the knife
The shape and size of the knife you choose should depend on the intended purpose.

Will it be used for a survival or self-defense situation such as while on duty or patrol for entirely tactical purposes? Will it be carried in your pocket during off duty hours? Will the knife be used to cut, pry or other hunting tasks?

These are all factors to consider when researching which knife to buy.

Tip 2: Know the difference between types of knives and blades
A utility knife differs from a tactical knife just as a knife used as an emergency rescue tool will differ from one used by a detective or SWAT team member.

A knife can be an essential tool addition to any duty gear when purchased to appropriately suit your job specific operations.

Automatic knives, also known as “switchblades,” are knives operated by the push of a button to open the blade. They are considered dangerous weapons by lawmakers and under constant scrutiny. Switchblades are even frowned upon by many countries outside of the U.S.

Tip 3: Choose the right size blade
There are several kinds of blades available on various models of knives. Each blade serves a different purpose and this factor must be considered when buying your new knife.

A plain edge blade is typically used a clean slice and considered one of the easiest blades to sharpen. A straight edge blade with a cupped edge on one side that moves to a fine tip is called a “clip point.” This type of blade is typically a pocket knife and great every day tool.

A knife with a curved blade on both sides with a single sharp side is called a “drop point” blade. A drop point blade is a favorite knife of hunters.

A blade which comes to a small, sharp point is referred to as a “needle point” blade. A needle point blade is rarely found on pocket knives. Instead, they are mostly kept by collectors who keep unique and rare knives.

Tip 4: Pick the right handle design.
Another important factor in choosing your new duty knife is the handle design. Ergonomics is one of the most important features of a knife. The knife must feel comfortable and a part of your hand when put to use.

There shouldn’t be any rough, sharp or pinch points on the knife handle. It must feel comfortable in both your forward and reverse grip.

Your fingers should slip into place easily when grasping the knife handle and you should not feel your fingers forced into ridges on the handle, especially when grasped in a moment of stress. The contours on the handle should feel familiar and not over pronounced to your touch.

A knife handle can be constructed with a variety of materials ranging from plastic to stainless steel or titanium.

A handle that does not absorb moisture is necessary so the material will not shrink or crack when wet. This factor will eliminate knives constructed with most natural materials such as wood, bone or ivory.

Whether for work or play, remembering the specifics of how your new knife will be used is essential when researching the blade, handle and size options available in today’s duty gear market.

Melissa Mann is recently retired from the field of law enforcement. Her experience spanned 18 years which included assignments in Corrections, Community Policing, Dispatch Communications and Search and Rescue. Melissa holds a BS in Criminal Justice and MA in Psychology with an emphasis on studies on the psychological process of law enforcement officers. She holds a deep passion for researching and writing about the lifestyle of police and corrections work and the far-reaching psychological effects on the officer and their world.