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I have to confess. I’m not much of a knife guy. That’s subject to change, of course. Two years ago, if you had told me that I would become a gun guy, I would have been very skeptical. So there’s hope that my interest in blades will develop.

I’ve owned a couple of pocket knives at various times in my life. It wasn’t my idea really. Other people told me that I needed one. And besides, it seemed like carrying a pocket knife was an appropriately manly kind of thing to do. But I so rarely needed to use one that I stopped carrying them. I use knives in the kitchen to cook with, in the dining room to eat with, and for opening the occasional mail order package. So why do I need a knife?

I’ve come to realize that I need a knife because it is one of the basic tools of a well-prepared individual. Because there are so many specialize uses for knives, I will undoubtedly be acquiring more to meet these different needs over time. My starting point was with car rescue knives. A car rescue knife is an affordable piece of emergency equipment designed to help you get out of your car if you have a wreck and are stuck inside. I saw a bunch of them at a tradeshow a couple of months ago and bought one as an impulse purchase. I paid about $20 for mine, but I could have gotten it for half that much on Amazon.com or gotten a really decent one for a little more than what I paid for mine. I keep it in a little compartment in my car up near the rearview mirror that was intended for storing sunglasses. It’s the ideal place to keep this knife — secure, out of sight, and easy to access. I’ve never used it for its intended purpose, but I’m glad I have it. It’s kind of like my fire extinguisher. I’ve never used it, but if I ever need one I’ll be glad I have it.

 

Anatomy of a Rescue Knife

The features of this knife that make it a good choice for car rescue are:

  • Easy opening. I wanted something that I could open with just one hand — what is commonly called an “assisted opening” knife. A push-button operated switchblade opens easily with one hand, but they’re illegal. My knife’s legal assistance comes in the form of a little thumb stud near the back end of the blade. The stud provides adequate leverage to open the blade with a nudge from my thumbnail and a flick of my wrist. Since getting this knife, I encountered a couple of old-school, long-time pocket knife carriers who showed me their knives. Apparently, neither of them knew what the new-fangled thumb studs on their knives were for. I flicked one open with one hand and their eyes just about popped out of their heads. Score one for the newbie prepper! Here’s a very short YouTube video that demonstrates the proper use of a thumb stud.

Another type of assisted opening knife has a lever at the back part of the handle. Pressing down on the lever with your index finger swings the blade open, usually with the help of a spring. Here’s another short YouTube video that demonstrates this type of knife. Actually, this particular knife, made by Smith & Wesson (yes, that Smith & Wesson — who knew they made knives, too?) has both a lever and thumb stud. It’s even got a safety on it to keep it closed until you want it open. The video demonstrates all the controls. I want one of these bad boys!


  • Partially serrated blade. Most knives have a smooth edge for the entire length of the blade. There are a wide variety of shapes of blades for various purposes (almost certainly the topic of a future blog), but a lot of knives have a blade that is smooth near the tip and serrated about halfway back toward the hilt. Best of both worlds. I’m a real two-fer kind of guy, so this design appeals to me. Quickly cutting the clothes off an injured person works best with a serrated blade, but it’s good to have a smooth blade, too.
  • Seatbelt cutter. There’s another short blade built into a recessed, angled channel on my rescue knife that is specifically designed to cut seat belts. Seatbelts are notoriously hard to cut, especially when wet. I’ve seen a couple of YouTube videos that demonstrate how poorly seatbelt cutters work, but they were doing everything wrong, so what do you expect? A decent seatbelt cutter will go through a seatbelt like a hot knife through butter if you do it the right way. To effectively cut through a seatbelt, it’s best to have considerable tension on the belt and cut it at an angle rather than perpendicularly.
  • Glass breaker. There’s a pointed metal stud on the back end of my rescue knife for breaking the window of my car if I get trapped in it. This could come in handy.
  • The right size. You always want the right tool for the job. Part of what makes a tool right for the job is its size. My new knife is at the small end of the “right size” scale for me, but it still works. With a blade length of about 3 inches, it fits my hand comfortably enough that I can exert some force with it, but is still small enough that I can store it into the sunglasses holder compartment in the roof liner of my car.

Keeping a knife in each of my vehicles has become part of our preparedness plans. It just seems like a good idea to have a tool as functional and affordable as this on hand for one of those “just in case” moments. If this sounds like a good idea to you too, there are many places online where you can shop for a versatile knife at a decent price. Here’s a suggested site for you to start your browsing.

Stay safe.

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