Why a Disposable Knife?

Back in 2005, I took a trip to New York City. This was before the current kerfuffle over “gravity knives” and the city authorities’ misinterpretation of New York’s gravity knife law. While a folding knife was legal there as long as it was small enough (NYC has a blade length limit, but New York State overall does not specify legal length), I was concerned. What knife could I carry for self-defense given that I would be moving in and out of tourist locations during my stay? It was very likely I might encounter a security checkpoint and have to leave my knife in some rent-a-cop’s bin.

My solution to this problem was to bring a couple of disposable folding knives. Purchased for a few dollars from an outlet store, these knives were clearly clones of the Spyderco Delica (but not outright counterfeits, which I detest). But the other issue I had was that a telltale pocket clip would be a problem in some venues. I wasn’t doing anything illegal, but it’s best not to give security personnel any reason to look at you askance. I chose “deep carry” in my pockets, but in the years since, I’ve arrived at another option.

I’m not sure when I first saw Kydex neck sheaths for folders, but the idea struck me as brilliant. It’s a great way to carry a knife when you don’t have any pockets available, when you don’t want the clip visible on your pocket or waistband, or if you simply want to keep teh knife somewhere above your waistline (such as when sitting in a car). Some of the first Kydex neck sheaths I bought were quite pricey, though, and slapping an aftermarket sheath on a cheap knife just seemed silly. What I needed was a Kydex sheath option priced at a level commensurate with the value of the disposable knife.

The inexpensive Kydex sheaths you see here were the result. I made these myself after first grinding thumb jimping into the folding knife blades with a Dremel tool. The result, with a paracord slip-knot neck line, is a completely disposable package that can be replaced for a few dollars.

A reader sent me a question regarding this very issue. I get asked a lot what knife someone should carry in New York. When folks from America enter the gulag that is the Empire State (there should be┬ásigns at the border that read, Welcome to New York: You’re Under Arrest!), they aren’t sure what is legal or what is advisable. I always tell visitors to carry a disposable knife. I designed the disposable folding knife package originally for my own use but have since sold it to the public for the same reason.

  • The 3-inch blade size keeps the knife legal in most municipalities (check your local laws).
  • Folding knives are utility knives first and self-defense knives second, making them much more plausibly explained.
  • The whole package is small, light, easily tucked away out of sight so as to avoid scaring anyone, and cheap enough to leave behind at a security checkpoint or in a trash can.

A knife like this must be used in a specific manner. The locks on these are inexpensive rocker-bar locks seated in equally cheap plastic. They’ll hold… up to a point. To use them most effectively for self-defense, you brace the thumb against the spine of the blade and use the knife primarily to slash targets of opportunity (such as an incoming limb, or a hand or fingers used to grab any part of you).

Thrusts should be limited to jabbing pokes at the face and eyes. You’re not trying to drive the knife through the target (because you won’t be able to make that work). You’re just doing damage to the face and eyes because they’ve vulnerable — while also prompting the attacker to jerk his head back and give you some room to react.

The last questions we have to answer, then, revolve around why and when you’d carry this package when there are better, pricier options. A reader sent me that very question, in fact:

Guess the two questions for me are why and when. “When” in particular, if I’m packing a firearm which is frequently, I’m guessing a disposal knife doesn’t make sense. EDC, I’ve got a good deal invested in nice knives, I want to carry them most days. When are the other days I shouldn’t.

The why is simple: You carry a disposable knife when you don’t want to lose something more expensive. Any trip to an unfamiliar municipality in which you might have to leave your knife behind is a great reason to carry something you don’t mind throwing away. Disposable knives also make great backup utility folders because you can use them for dirty jobs that would ruin a better blade. Paint, tar, chemicals, or other nastiness that you wouldn’t want on a “good” blade won’t make any difference to a folder you’ll just throw away when you’re finished.

As to when, specifically, to rotate your disposable knife versus your more expensive gear, I would again use these as expedient self-defense and utility tools when in unfamiliar locations — or when going to any venue in which you’re not sure of the rules. For example, it seems like there is security these days at places and activities where there was none previously. In some of these instances, walking your knife back to your car isn’t an option. That happened to me at the State Fair one year, when I was told my knife wasn’t allowed but my car was a couple of miles and a shuttle bus away.

I remember how surprised I was the first time I went to an amusement park and there were metal detectors. That would have been a great place to just throw away a disposable folder that was not allowed into the park. Instead, I had to go through the hassle of checking and later retrieving a Leatherman Micra and Swiss Army Knife that weren’t allowed on the property.

A disposable knife is NOT a better option than more expensive knives. It is simply a cheaper, throwaway option. There is a streak of minimalism in the “tactical community” these days that I don’t always agree with… but I also see scenarios in which I’d want to be able to ditch my tools. Any expensive knife can be abused, abandoned, or thrown away, of course, but parting with it can be very painful. In any case like that, I’d want a much less expensive and easily replaced option. This is why you need disposable knives.

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