Many of us use our knives every day, and very few of us have just one knife. Depending on how we use our knives we may have them for work, for everyday carry, and knives for use in the great outdoors.
I know I have become quite accustomed to having a large variety of knives at my disposal to fit different tasks, and even my mood.
Last year, though, I found myself faced with a knife scenario I was not prepared for, despite my expansive collection - what is the best first knife for a child?
My daughter turned ten last year, and as she frequently sees me with knives and using them for various tasks both in day to day use and while out in the woods. I figured it was about time that she should have her own knives, but how do you pick the best knife for a child?
How I Came to My Conclusion
A lot of things ran through my head. I wanted her first knife to be functional, reliable, and relevant to our lifestyle.
My first though was a Swiss Army Knife, the classic design and multi-functional tool that has been used for a long time and with immense popularity.
Despite this, I also thought back to my frustrations of the limitations in the blades of the Swiss Army Knife for harder use scenarios.
So I started thinking about fixed blades - for outdoor oriented tasks there is nothing better, and they are far easier to manage, maintain, and control over the more complicated moving parts in a folding knife.
Although this is a great option for when we were out in the woods, I did not like the idea of a 10-year-old walking around with a fixed blade all the time, so I began looking at folding knives again.
I wanted to find something reliable, with an easy opening and closing mechanism, but not as easy as a flipper on ball bearings. After a good deal of thought, I finally settled on purchasing both a fixed blade and a folding knife.
I don't have a single knife for all purposes, so why should my daughter?!
After doing a ton of research and talking with some of my friends and trusted contacts in the EDC and bushcraft communities, I finally settled on two knives: The Spyderco Ladybug and the Morakniv Precision Trade Knife.
The Spyderco Ladybug is a great knife that looks and feels like the immensely popular Delica and Endura, but in a more compact package. It features a blade that's just under 2 inches, with an overall length of 4.375 inches and weighs in at .6 ounces.
Like its larger cousins, the Ladybug has a multitude of colored FRN scales with Spyderco’s Iconic texture pattern to help provide positive grip retention.
The blade steel on the standard model is very respectable Japanese VG-10, which is easy to sharpen provides reasonable corrosion resistance and edge holding capability. Due to the popularity of this knife Spyderco offers a variety of other blade steels should you be looking for something a little more exotic.
The lock mechanism is a sturdy back lock, ensuring there will not be an accidental closure of the blade during use, and the knife opens using a “Spydie Hole.”
Unlike its larger cousins this knife does not have a pocket clip, but does have a lanyard hole so cordage can easily be attached for easier pocket access and additional grip area.
Why the Ladybug is a Great First Knife for Kids
This is a great first knife for any kid. Primarily, it’s a Spyderco, so you know the knife is well designed and built, reducing the chances of a potentially dangerous mechanical failure.
Spyderco knives are immensely popular, so introducing a form factor that is popular and even familiar (if you have one or twelve in your collection) will allow the child to get used to the method of opening the knife using the hole in the blade.
This knife is small (most children will not need a large folding knife for daily tasks) and may help reduce the risk of a severe injury. With that being said, it is still a very sharp knife and caution must always be used when handling any knife.
Back locks provide a strong and reliable lock up, reducing the risk of potential injury due to an accidental close or lock failure. VG-10, while not being a premium super steel, is a very good steel requiring little maintenance, and is a great steel for a child to practice their sharpening skills.
Finally, the Ladybug will not break the bank, coming in at around $60.
Morakniv Precision Trade Knife Overview
Morakniv is a Swedish knife company known for making high quality tool knives at a very reasonable price. What these knives lack in premium materials they make up for in excellent fit and finish and unparalleled functionality.
The Precision Trade Knife features a 2.75-inch drop point blade made from Sandvik Stainless Steel. This provides excellent corrosion resistance, easy sharpening, and the ability to take a very sharp edge.
Despite the small blade this knife sports a full sized 4.75 inch handle made from polymer and rubber, as well as a blade guard ensuring great grip retention.
The sheath of this knife is a lightweight polymer that provides excellent retention and a built-in clip that can be attached to a belt, waist band, or even looping on a backpack. The overall weight of the knife is 3.2 ounces, making it very easy to carry.
Why the Morakniv Precision Trade Knife is a Great First Knife for Kids
Morakniv makes well-built and affordable knives, and this one is no exception! While this is not a full tang knife and should not be used for hard bushcraft uses, it is strong enough to manage beginner tasks for kids such as harvesting plant materials, shaving and whittling wood, preparing food in a camp, etc.
The full-sized handle provides a good deal of control for young and inexperienced hands. The built-in blade guard and rubberized handle elements can also help reduce risk of small hands sliding down onto the blade while in use.
The price is where this knife really shines - these come in around $15 dollars, making the absolute best bang for your buck out there.
These knives are also offered in larger blade sizes, allowing you to work with your child gradually and inexpensively in developing the skills they need with larger blades.
I present these two knives as great first knives for kids. While there are a hundred different knives that would be effective, I can speak from personal experience that these fit the bill.
I think one of the most important lessons we can instruct children about knives, or any tool, is the pick the right one for the job. By introducing both a folding knife and a fixed blade, you can help teach your child which knife is appropriate in for specific tasks, and why one may be less practical and potentially less safe in certain situations.
Handling any tool requires skill and responsibility, as parents it is our job to impart both the skills and the sense of responsibility to our children to ensure their safety and continued development!
And whether you're teaching your kids about knife maintenance or doing some yourself, make sure to utilize KPL's line of maintenance products, and use code BLACKFLAG at checkout for 10% off your order!