POLICE Magazine

MAY 2019

Magazine for police and law enforcement

Issue link: https://policemag.epubxp.com/i/1113598

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Page 24 of 76

22 POLICE MAY 2019 FEW LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCIES issue knives to their officers, but many would consider this tool to be essential on duty. So most officers must purchase a knife on their own. Knowing how to find the best kind can be daunting, but taking into consideration how you'll be using a knife and how much you can spend on it makes the process easier. Here's a look at what officers tend to seek out in knives depending on their needs and preferences. WHAT OFFICERS THINK THEY NEED Newer officers tend to focus on durability and ruggedness, which probably aren't the best determinants of a useful duty knife. Durability is important, but maybe not in the way novice knife owners might think. Michael Janich is the founder and lead instructor of Martial Blade Concepts, which focuses on knife training. He says offi- cers unfamiliar with knives tend to think they should be thick and heav y to withstand hard use so they often choose some- thing that is not the best cutting tool. Also, officers who are intensely budget conscious and unfamiliar with differences in knife quality tend to opt for the cheapest models. But you get what you pay for. "Over time, they realize they need a better cutting tool, and that investing in quality tools is important," Janich says. "Just like investing in a good off-duty holster is a good idea, and in- vesting in a quality belt to support that holster is a good idea." More money will buy you a better quality knife. "e execu- tion of the knife, the design, the engineering, and the blade steel are all going to be of higher quality," says Janich. at means it will last longer, be easier to use, and it will cut everything bet- ter. at doesn't mean you should break the bank on a specialty custom knife, unless you want to. A moderately priced model made of quality materials should do the job when you need to cut open a box or most other things you'll come across. BLADES Officers who aren't knife enthusiasts and know they don't want to spend a lot of time on upkeep usually choose a knife with a blade that's easy to maintain. is means a serrated or partially serrated edge because it will stay sharper longer. Serrations also offer a sharper edge for cutting fibrous materials like seat belts. As for the shape of the blade, officers who have trained with a certain blade shape they're comfortable with will continue to buy that type of knife. But for most, the decision on blade shapes usually comes down to the difficulty in sharpening them. "e tanto is everybody's favorite, but most guys don't un- derstand they need to be careful when they sharpen them to maintain blade symmetry," warns Rob Cabrera, director of the blade division at DoubleStar Corp. "My favorites are spear points: they're easy to sharpen and have great piercing at- tributes. ey're not very good for prying, but knives are not meant for prying," he says. A drop-point is another blade shape popular with law en- forcement officers. It has a straight spine and a curved, smooth arc on the cutting edge to create what Cabrera calls "a regular belly, like what your grandpa used." It's easy to sharpen and has attributes similar to those of the spear point blade. Another consideration is blade steel. "e most popular knife designs out there these days are made with stainless steel because they're corrosive resistant and are going to require a minimum of maintenance to keep them in good working or- der," says Janich. e quality of stainless steel has improved, making it easier and more affordable to obtain a knife made with good quality stainless steel suitable for patrol, even if you aren't super knowledgeable about the distinctions between dif- ferent types. A full steel blade will hold an edge longer, but it's more difficult to maintain. HANDLES Holding the handle of a knife should feel right, whatever that is for you. e ergonomics will be different for everyone, so it's worth holding and manipulating a knife as you would on duty to find the best fit. Officers also want something that fits easily on their duty belt, clipped to their pocket, or someplace conve- niently accessible. Again, this comes down to preference. What everyone can agree on is needing a handle that pro- vides a good grip, even with wet or gloved hands. Cabrera prefers a very rough checkering for this purpose. He says you PHOTO: PAUL PAWEL A g All LEOs need a convenient, useful tool they can carry and deploy easily, but some features are more popular than others. MELANIE BASICH WHAT OFFICERS WANT IN A DUTY KNIFE

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