Carrying and using a knife in the UK

19th Jul 2015


I've carried a pocket knife off and on for most of my adult life. My brother Richard carried the same Puma folder in his pocket for well over 25 years. For me carrying a knife is a bit of an inconvenient necessity. It wears holes in my trousers and is a little bit of extra weight I have to carry into inaccessible locations. But its more often than not in those same locations that my knife has, over the years saved my "Ass"

These days my knife of choice tends to be of the "multi-tool" variety sporting not only a blade, but a screwdriver, a set of pliers, a file, can opener and believe it or not a small spanner! For my line of work, especially now I'm shooting more video and carrying extra kit with "moving parts" which invariably will come undone and need tightening. A good proportion of my climbing photos and filmwork is done hanging on ropes with lots of rigging, my knife often comes in very handy. So when I think about knifes, I'm thinking practical, small enough to fit in my pocket, lightweight and easy to sharpen. The two most important factors being a sharp blade and the knifes weight.

Recently I was sent a couple of knives to test "out in the field" Neither knife being something I'd have personally chosen made things a little more interesting! The first knife that arrived was made in Italy and came with the rather exotic sounding name of the Viper Maga, evidently a tactical knife (reading between the lines this means its designed to kill things) followed a day later by a huge "beast" of a folder,  in a rather disheveled looking grubby white cardboard box. No name with this one I'm afraid (more later) just a note that read "please test to destruction if at all possible" WOW! 

My thoughts and findings are going to be less about specification and desirability of the knives I'm testing and more about their actual practicality in an outdoor (and on occasion indoor) environment.

I guess living in the UK, no knife review would be complete without a little bit about the law. I'm sure to a lot of you reading this, especially those in countries where it's perfectly legal to carry a gun, laugh at our laws, and think they sound rather ridiculous. Especially one's that seem to contradict themselves "Lock knives (knives with blades that can be locked when unfolded) are not folding knives" Hmm!

So, just to clarify. Here in the UK it is illegal to "Carry a knife in public without good reason - unless it's a knife with a folding blade 3 inches long (7.62cm) or less and non-locking, eg a Swiss Army Knife" The maximum penalty for an adult carrying a knife is 4 years in prison and a fine of £5,000 ($7,500) If you visit the Goverments web page outlining the law it also lists "Good reasons for carrying a knife" some of which are worth sharing with you guys - "taking knives you use at work to and from work" seems reasonable. "taking knives to a gallery or museum to be exhibited" I personally haven't done that in a while! And my personal favourite "The knife is going to be used for theatre, film, television, historical reenactment or religious purposes" If your court carrying a knife which doesn't meet the current criteria then "A court will decide if you've got a good reason to carry a knife if you're charged with carrying it illegally" so there you have it, a very concise breakdown of where you stand in the UK, if you want to take a look yourself Heres the link http://www.gov.uk/buying-carrying-knives

I get the feeling that the criteria on the site is more about carrying knives in an urban environment, as opposed to the wilderness, it smore of an attempt to dissuade those that might carry and use a Knife for, shall we say "criminal activities" or use one on another person and not really those, like myself who use a knife for what it was originally designed for, chopping up food and cutting things like rope etc.

Over the last couple of weeks I've been putting both knives to good use, chopping, hacking, slicing and cutting my way through lots of different things ranging from wood to carrots, nylon webbing slings to hawser lay rope, opening cans and using it as a spoon to eat with and everything in between. I've also read and watched as many knife reviews as I could "slip in" Most of which seem to come from America and are by people who collect knives, as opposed to actually use the knives, at least thats how the videos come across and seem to talk more about the technical build and aesthetics of the knife, as opposed to how it deals with everyday situations.

So the first review I'll post in a couple of days will be of the Viper Maga from Italy, followed a week or so later by the mystery blade (see photo) hope you enjoy reading them.