Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Sharps: EDC, within the rules

Good news -- our older spawn has been accepted to college, a small tech school in the northwest part of the state.

The bad news (other than the fact that we have to find a way to pay for it) is that the school's humorless "weapons" policy prohibits students from carrying knives with blades longer than two inches.

Oh, for cryin' out loud...

Since learning of the rule, I've been keeping my eyes peeled for useful folders that would comply. There aren't many, but I found two: the
Buck #425BK-9200 MiniBuck Lockback (MSRP $19, street $7 or less), and the Gerber #22-06050 Ultralight LST (MSRP $21, street $13 or less). The now-discontinued Buck is still widely available.

At first glance, the knives are similar -- both are lockbacks with 400-series stainless-steel drop-point blades and black plastic handles, and both are made in the USA. On closer examination, however, a few differences become apparent.

The Buck's uncoated blade is hollow-ground, while the Gerber features a flat grind and some sort of satiny coating. Even though the Gerber's blade is longer (2 inches versus the Buck's 1-7/8 inches) and broader, the Buck is the larger knife when closed. It's a bit of a fooler.

The MiniBuck's bigger handle makes it a bona fide three-finger knife, whereas the LST accommodates little more than two. The lockback releases are in different places -- Buck puts its lever farther toward the butt of the handle, presumably to lessen the chance of depressing it by accident.

Any difference in weight between the Gerber and the Buck, by the way, is negligible. Let's face it -- on knives this small, only a gram-counting geek (or maybe an astronaut) would care.

I won't get into which knife emerged from its box sharper (both edges are crude and need attention) or which is a better value. I mean, for less than 20 bucks you can buy both, try 'em out and decide for yourself.

I will say, for what it's worth, that I prefer the Gerber Ultralight LST. Maybe that's because I favor a flat grind over hollow, or because I've owned one of these little EDC gems since they first hit the market in the early 1980s.

The Buck is a perfectly fine choice as well. In fact, this particular MiniBuck is the knife that our spawn will be taking to college.