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The Long History of the Trusted Utility Knife

The Long History of the Trusted Utility Knife

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Did you know that there have been variants to the modern utility knife since the early days of the Roman Empire?  Some believe that pocket knifes emerged before then as well.  This is a testament to the practicality and usefulness of this tool, and it also illustrates the importance of having one on hand at all times.

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Jack Knife

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The first known jack knife dates back to around 600BC, and the design hasn’t changed all that much since.  A thick and sturdy blade was anchored between two pieces of metal or wood that were riveted or welded together.  The blade was a few inches long, and could easily be stored in a pouch or pocket without harming the user.  However, they weren’t mass-produced and available to the general public until the 1600s.  A company in England is attributed to creating the “penny knife”, which was the first affordable utility knife that was a favorite among laborers and farmers. 

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Switch Blades and Butterflies

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Butterfly and switchblade knives started to make an appearance in the 1700s.  A French company is attributed to inventing the first butterfly knife early in the century.  It had a rudimentary design that is not fundamentally different to what we see today.  Two pieces of material encapsulate the blade which can be concealed easily and deployed quickly.  Switch blades were considered to be invented around the same time, but they weren’t mass-produced until the middle of the century in England.  It had a spring-loaded locking mechanism that was released by pressing a button. 

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The Modern Utility Knife

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The original utility knife was thought to be made near the time of the fall of the Roman Empire, and it included a rudimentary fork, spoon, pick and blade.  However, it looked more like a cheap can opener than anything else.  It is thought that the modern utility knife was built on the designs of the jack knife, butterfly and switchblade.  It wasn’t until the late 1890s when Swiss inventors came up with the knife that would become the gold-standard:  The Swiss Army Knife.

The Swiss Army Knife was made for soldiers who needed a foldable multi-tool that could serve as a can opener while including a special blade and screwdriver for taking apart their rifles.  The first Swiss Army Knife was born, and it was originally called the Soldier Knife.  It included a blade, screwdriver, can opener and reamer, which was a tool used for working with metal.  It also included sturdy grips made from polished oak. 

Design improvements by the end of the decade including incorporating a special spring mechanism that allowed more features to be installed on each knife.  The next thing to appear, in addition to the items listed above was a corkscrew and then a smaller cutting blade.  Later versions would add things like files, scissors, hooks, mini-saw blades and pliers.  Today, you can find more than a dozen different Swiss Army Knife products, including one that is almost 9 inches wide and includes 85 tools. 

This article isn’t intended to be a plug for the Swiss Army Knife, and there are many different brands on the market today to choose from.  However, it is undeniable that the Swiss did create one of the most practical and ubiquitous utilities that turned out to be a total game-changer.  More than 20 countries supply variants of the utility knife to their military forces, and NASA included the Swiss Army Knife in tool kits for astronauts. 

The utility knife is a staple for almost every prepper, those who love the outdoors, contractors and anyone else who wants access to a multi-tool that can be used right away for a million-and-one purposes.  Make sure that you don’t forget to include a good utility knife in your survival kit or bug out bag.  However, due to the fact that they are so popular, and many companies produce their own versions, it’s important that you test its quality and functionality before relying on it in the field.  However, once you get the right knife for your needs, it will definitely make life a lot easier now as well as in the midst of a survival situation. 

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Gun Safety in the Home: Preventing Accidental Shootings

Gun Safety in the Home:  Preventing Accidental Shootings

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A gun is a powerful deterrent for a would-be home invader, as they don’t want to be staring down the barrel of a gun just like anyone else.  However, statistically, more innocent people are hurt or killed in accidental home shootings than criminals.  Some reports suggest that numbers can be as high as 4 to 1.  Four “good guys” get shot for every one bad guy.  It is important that all of us follow certain safety protocols to ensure that accidents don’t happen. 

However, it is also important that the weapon is easily-accessible and ready for immediate use during a life-or-death confrontation that can develop in a matter of seconds.  This is the dilemma that most people face:  How to keep guns safely tucked away while making them accessible at the same time. 

Unfortunately, there are no easy answers that work for every situation.

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Safes

The biggest advantage to having a gun safe is that it provides solid protection and limited access.  Of course, there are lots of different safes on the market, and some are better than others.  Try to find one that has a keypad as well as a key lock for a backup.  This will allow you to have faster access as opposed to a dial combination, and you can get into the safe with the key if you forget the numbers. 

The big things to decide when using a safe is where to put it and whether to keep the gun loaded or have the clip outside of the firearm.  Some people also keep bullets or the magazine in a different location, such as a drawer near the safe for some added protection.  Only you can decide on the level of protection that will keep the weapon secure and out of the hands of children, house guests or even intruders.  Just remember that the more complex you make your system, the longer it will take to access, load and draw the weapon. 

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Trigger Locks

There is a lot of debate about the benefit of trigger locks.  News reports a few years ago showed that some top-name manufacturers were producing products that could easily be compromised.  Furthermore, many models by different companies were strikingly similar.  This meant that cables could be cut through and locks picked with minimal expertise or effort.  It’s safe to say that there are excellent and effective trigger locks out there, but it’s very important that you shop around and buy one that will work for your particular gun while also living up to its claims.

The two main options with trigger locks are the cable system and the trigger guard.  The cable system is essentially a pad or combination lock that is attached to a cable.  You feed the cable through the empty magazine chamber or revolver wheel and secure the weapon.  The trigger guard fits in the trigger space and prevents fingers from getting inside. 

Aside from the weaknesses mentioned above, you will need a key or combination to open and remove the lock.  If you use a cable guard, then you will also need to load the weapon before use.  This can take valuable time and be cumbersome during the heat of the moment.  However, practicing can help to free and prepare the weapon quickly, so trigger locks shouldn’t be ruled out entirely.

You can also use a combination of both options or come up with your own as well.  The point is to find a way to keep your weapon out of the wrong hands in order to prevent accidents, and the best solution for you will depend on your particular needs and preferences.  The important thing is to do something.

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Children

By far, the most accidental shootings at home are caused by children who get a hold of a gun and show it off to friends or satisfy their curiosity.  Aside from taking practical steps such as those listed above, you may want to consider taking a more direct approach.  Talk to your children about gun safety and the importance of staying away from where you keep the weapon. 

You may also want to consider taking it a step further and showing them stories or images of kids who are involved in accidental shootings.  This may seem a bit gruesome and harsh, but it may be one of the best ways to drive the message home that playing around with a gun, even with the most innocent of intentions can lead to tragic consequences.

Take time to evaluate your current level of gun safety in the home.  Weigh the pros and cons as well as your needs in order to find the best solution to keep that weapon secure while making it easily accessible.  This is the only way to minimize the risk of accidental shootings and ensure that only the bad guys end up facing the business end of your gun. 

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