Rethinking every day carry (EDC)

I guess this is the second time I’ve put actual thought into it, and I’ve learned some things since I started actually thinking about it instead of just seeing it… “it” being “every day carry” (aka EDC) knives…

It’s pretty amazing how popular EDC is. I work at an Institute of Higher Indoctrination… err… higher education… and even some of the “progressive” instructors carry a knife (easy to see by the pocket clip), so there must be something to it, right?

I decided to see what it was all about so I got a Buck Vantage Pro and a Spyderco Paramilitary II. They’re both really nice knives, but… they both take up a lot of room in the pocket. I carry mine in my right front pocket, and when either knife is clipped into the pocket it takes up so much room that it’s hard to use the pocket for anything else: keys, loose change, etc…

I also have to admit, when I first started EDCing, I didn’t even see what was so useful about always having a knife on me. That changed when I started taking apart an old PBX – the knife worked great for cutting through zip-ties, stripping wire, I even started using it to open mail instead of using my keys like I used to. The thing is though, for all those tasks the two knives I have might just be a little too much. Useful, yes – but not useful enough to make up for losing the use of my right front pocket.

I started reading more EDC knife reviews and started to notice something… Most of the reviews just focus on the quality and potential uses of the knife under review, and not many talked about what it was actually used for after the review. Those that did mentioned simple things, like opening mail or cutting small cord, maybe stripping wire – NONE of which require a fancy hunter or “tacticool” blade. Not saying that such blades don’t have a use (they do), just that maybe (probably) they’re not necessary for 90% of EDC use.

So… I’m thinking of changing up my Every Day Carry plan for something simpler, like a Case Sodbuster Jr. or CV Trapper. Either one is fine for at least 90% of what I need to do with an EDC knife. Add to that, either is way more discreet than a clip knife and most important gives me back the use of my right front jeans pocket. I’m going to order one of them in the next week or so and hope to have a review up before Christmas.

As for my current two EDC knives, I’ll be keeping them, but only carrying when I might need their capabilities (for example, the Vantage Pro when I’m hunting or the Paramilitary II if I’m camping). Guess it just comes down to the fact I’m starting to realize the most important thing about a tool is how well it works for what I’m doing and not how it looks on me.

My Dad’s Dad

I never got to meet my dad’s dad – that would be my Grandpa Deboy. He died long before I was born, to tell the truth I’m not even sure what year. Looking back at family history though I can kind of guess… I think he was 54 when he died, and my dad was 20. Since my dad was born in 1934, my grandpa would have died in 1954 or early 1955, meaning he would have been born in 1900 or 1901.

I do know some things about him… he came to the United States from Germany. I don’t know the date he was processed through Ellis Island, but his ship left Germany on May 23, 1922. I have a copy of the page from the ship’s passenger list with my grandpa’s name on it. I guess he came here because he wanted to be an American. My dad said as early as he can remember, no German was spoken at home, only English. Some time after arriving, he married Thelma, my Grandma – for some reason we always called her “Murphys Grandma” instead of Grandma Deboy. She passed away when I was 4 or 5. I loved her dearly, but I’ll write about her later. This is about her husband, my dad’s dad, Albert Deboy.

At some point, my grandpa got a job with a dairy. He was good at his job, so good that he eventually he was in charge of taking the dairy’s “show string” to all the big fairs in California (including the State Fair) to show them. In those days, that was a big deal. Then he gave it all up and quit to become a caretaker at a sanatorium in the little town of Murphys, California.

If you’ve ever been to the Central Valley in California, you may know how hard it can be in kids with asthma or allergies. Lots of heat, lots of pollen, hell on allergies and asthma – and hell on my dad, who suffered from both. The family decided to send my dad to a sanatorium in Murphys for a better climate and treatment for his allergies and asthma.

It didn’t work out so well I guess… my dad missed my grandparents and they missed my dad, so they moved him back home and told him to just deal with the allergies and asthma… NOT. My grandpa gave up his prestigious job with one of the top dairies in California and moved the family to Murphys so the whole family – my dad included – could be together. My grandpa was unemployed for awhile, but eventually he was able to get a job as caretaker at the sanatorium that was treating my dad.

When I look at the little I know about my grandpa, I wish I could be more like him – selfless instead of selfish, willing to sacrifice my own ambitions for the sake of my family. Unfortunately I still have a long ways to go…

Spyderco ParaMilitary II vs. Buck Vantage Pro

I just bought a Spyderco Paramilitary II along with a Buck Vantage Pro because I was looking for a good every day carry (EDC) knife and I thought it would be interesting to compare the two. This was my first Spyderco, and based on the cost and online reviews I read, I expected it to be a lot nicer than the Buck. I wasn’t disappinted, the Paramilitary II is a really nice knife…

Blade – the Spyderco Paramilitary II has a full flat ground, drop point blade made from S110V stainless steel (it’s also available with an S30V blade). The cutting edge has a shallower belly than the Vantage Pro and a pointer tip, so it won’t be as good a skinner as the Buck. Also, the overall blade is thicker so it should be stronger and better for “tactical” uses. This makes sense given Spyderco’s history of making tactical (as opposed to hunting) knives. So which is better? I guess it depends on what you’re using it for… for hunting, I give the edge to the Vantage Pro. For more general cutting I think the blade on the Spyderco is better. My only regret on the blade is that after reading about the difficulty of sharpening S110V blades I wish I had bought the S30V version.

Handle/Clip – Both knives have handles (“scales”) made from something called G10. The scales on the Paramilitary II have a very grippy texture with squared edges. This isn’t quite as comfortable to hold than the smooth, rounded scales on the Vantage Pro, but make the Paramilitary II easier to draw than the Buck. The thinness of the scales and clip positioning and tension also help with ease of draw. The clip on the Vantage Pro holds really tight, maybe to the point of being just a little too tight. The Paramilitary II comes set for right hand, point down carry which I found to work really well. If you don’t like it, it’s easy to change to left hand and/or point down carry.

Opening/closing – The Paramilitary II lacks the back edge blade flipper of the Vantage Pro, but it’s not needed. The Spyderco opens very easily one handed using the large thumb hole on the blade, and unlike the Buck knife never needs a sharp wrist flick to lock the blade. The locking tab is on the opposite side of the blade slot, and so far I haven’t had problems with it “over locking” as sometimes happens with the Vantage Pro.

Overall impression – The Spyderco Paramilitary II is a really nice knife. I had to think long and hard before deciding to drop $150 on a pocket knife, but the build quality and smoothness of operation make this knife well worth the cost IMHO. As an EDC knife, I think the Spyderco is better than the Vantage Pro, but if cost is a consideration or you’re looking for something that will double as a hunting knife the Buck isn’t a bad way to go. The S110V blade should hold an edge very nicely, but it will be harder to sharpen other steels. If that is an issue for you but you like the Paramilitary II, you’re in luck because Spyderco also offers this knife with an S30 V blade. For a great price on the Paramilitary II with S110V blade, check here:

SPYDERCO C81GPDBL2 Paramilitary 2 Dark Blue G10 Handle Clip Point Plain

Buck Vantage Pro vs. Spyderco ParaMilitary II

I just bought a Buck Vantage Pro along with a Spyderco ParaMilitary II because I was looking for a good knife for every day carry (EDC) and I thought it would be fun to compare the two. My first real knife was a Buck so I had pretty good hopes for it, but I didn’t think it would be as nice as the Spyderco which costs about twice as much. A little wrong and a little right I guess…

Blade – the Buck Vantage Pro has a hollow ground, drop point blade made from S30V stainless steel with Paul Bos heat treating. The cutting edge has a deeper belly than the Para II which should make it better for skinning an animal. No surprise here given Buck’s long history of making hunting knives. The Para II’s flat ground blade looks a lot stronger than the Buck’s though, and the pointier tip is probably better for puncturing.

Handle/Clip – Both knives have handles (“scales”) made from something called G10. The scales on the Vantage Pro are smooth with rounded edges, and IMO a lot more comfortable than the rough, squared scales on the Para II. The clip on the Vantage Pro holds really tight, maybe to the point of being just a little too tight. It comes set up for right hand, point up carry. You can change it to left hand carry but not point down. Because of the way this knife carries and draws, point up carry seems to work better so this wasn’t an issue for me, but it might be for you.

Opening/closing – The Vantage Pro has a small slot on the blade for thumb opening, and a flipper on the back of the blade if you’d rather start the opening process with you index finger. Whether you use the thumb slot or flipper, it’s going to require a snap of the wrist to get the blade to lock. I also found that sometimes the blade lock locks a little too good and requires some extra attention to get it unlocked.

Overall impression – Some of the reviews on the Vantage Pro complain about the blade not being centered in the handle when it’s closed. Mine wasn’t but since it doesn’t affect cutting or operation, I don’t think it’s a big deal. I haven’t had mine for very long, but I’ve used it to strip thick insulation off of heavy electrical cabling, opened lots of boxes, and processed some pork chops. After all that, the blade was still sharp enough to shave the hair off my arms without pulling. It might not be the perfect EDC knife (neither is the Para II), but at about $62 it’s an incredible deal. For some uses (processing small game, etc) it’s actually better than some more expensive knives thanks to its deep bellied, hollow ground blade. The S30V blade should hold an edge nicely and be easier to sharpen than some of the fancier steels (SV110). You can get a good price on this knife here:

Buck Knives 0347 Vantage Pro Folding Knife