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People Explain Why They Are Afraid of Pocket Knives

Mamerto Adan is an engineer by profession, but a writer by night. He loves toys and knives. He also has a martial arts background.


Knife collection is my next great obsession next to toy collecting. More than once people asked why a grown man like me would collect toys. Well they think it’s childish and inappropriate to my age, and they suggest I go for other hobbies. Rather than argue with them and ruin my day, I just try to understand that they are not a tired engineer whose stresses are cured by toys. And thankfully their constant snide comments made me grew thick skins.

And I could use my skins of Kevlar now, as my other hobbies are getting a fair share of comments.

Unlike toy collecting, knife collecting is a functional hobby. It started as a mean of self defense, and it later evolve into blade fascinations. Now that I have a day job, I found out how a folded blade in my pocket could come in handy when the need arises. In my line of work as an engineer, a cutting tool could be helpful. That’s why I rarely listen to what people say, though they are getting sillier each time. I did write an article about them, but I think I insulted them enough. This time I’ll be fair with them and try to figure out what scared them about knives.

Why People Are so Afraid

Being quite the few in the office to carry knives, most of the fearful comments came from my friends. It’s easy to poke fun at these people if I never knew them personally. And since they are my friends I think it will be nice to be fair and listen to what they will say. I tried asking questions and do a bit of research in the net. Now I’m no psychologist and hopefully anyone knowledgeable in that field will give constructive comments if they find this article somewhere in Google. But based on how I see it, several factors gave pocket knives a bad image to this people. Some are silly. Others are understandable. I’m not attempting to please pocket knife haters, but at least the list below gave me a rough understanding of their psyche.

Some Pocket Knives Look Imposing

For me, making a pocket knife looks tacticool is becoming a habit among manufacturers. For me who got so used to these implements, it’s not much of a problem at all. Yet I do frown at an overly aggressive knife design sometimes. If all it did is open box, do field works or to be taken outdoors, why did they made it resembles an assassin’s blade? Yet moderate militarized features are not bad either. It made the knife look rugged. For me it's okay but not for most people, especially those who are not used to seeing pocket knives (we will get to that in a moment). As what I learned from my friend, what scared them most are:

  1. The black blade finish. They insist that there is something mean and ominous about a black sharp blade.
  2. The serrations. It simply made the blade fierce and intimidating.
  3. The color of the handle. Yes, painting the handle in dark colors adds up to its menacing appeal.
  4. Certain knife aesthetics, like sharp angles.
A Smith & Wesson SWMP4L M&P.

A Smith & Wesson SWMP4L M&P.

Taylor Brands is the biggest offender in this case. Their Smith and Wesson knives are notorious for flaunting a militarized look. The same can be said to some Cold Steel knives. Yet when you are forced to hang out with knife fearing people, I suggest carrying something less imposing, like a Benchmade or Ontario Rat. Admittedly trying to judge how scary a pocket knife looks is highly subjective. For me it is best to simply avoid these people who are overly afraid.

They Rarely Handled Pocket Knives

I’m not surprised when I heard this from my friends. The fact that they rarely handled live blades added to the scare. Men have a tendency to fear the unknown, and this includes pocket knives. To be fair this fear came from caution. They knew this is a sharp blade. They knew how wrong handling could injure. And these guys are also engineers who are trained with basic tool handling. They won’t mess with something they are not familiar with. With that said they won’t lay a finger to a razor-sharp implement they have no idea how to operate. I’m not sure if that’s the case with other people though.

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Negative Media Perception

In one of my articles, I mentioned how a stupid media scare caused a switchblade ban. The sad part is it failed to reduce crime rate. Yet the thing is demonizing pocket knives in movies and TV series contribute to the false perceptions that it is a killing tool. In reality, more people use kitchen knives to commit crime than pocket knives for an obvious reason. Kitchen knives are more available and cheaper than pocket knives. And the fact that pocket knives fold mean the joints and locks could fail. What’s more kitchen knives are larger.

Most of my folks see pocket knives as this.

Most of my folks see pocket knives as this.

Again I’m not surprised when my friends said that they don’t like pocket knives as they saw it as a usual serial killer props. I suggest they should watch more Mcgyver or survival shows to cure their phobias.

The Flicking Action

According to my friends this scared them most. They don’t care if a pocket knife is only two inches long. They don’t like the way a blade flick into view. For them it’s like:

  1. An act of aggression. Something sharp going full speed seems to be out for a blood. At least according to them.
  2. The sudden appearance of the blade startles them. It’s simply shocking to see something popping into view all of a sudden.
  3. The act of one handed opening is like a martial move in itself. They may change their mind though if they saw how an expert flips open a balisong.
  4. The clicking sound of the pocket knife has a psychological effect. Like a cocking of the pistol or the opening of an expandable baton.
Scary huh?

Scary huh?

Again such perception to an opening blade might change if they use a pocket knife every day and treat the thing as a tool.


Mamerto Adan (author) from Cabuyao on January 10, 2018:

Thanks Marcus! Same here. I work in a place where people are scared of a darn Opinel! They even called it "deadly weapon" for some reason.

Marcus on January 10, 2018:

This is so true. I work at a University and there have been some who were scared/freaked out when I pulled out a pocket knife. One was an old boss, who was older than me and served in Vietnam as a grunt. Another was an older woman, who was a mother of two grown children and raised chickens and gardened. Most inexplicable and shameful. Very sad and disturbing. The biggest triggers are length of blade and the shape (tantos are particularly evil to them).

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