Designed by Ethan Becker, these knives (now built by Ka-Bar, but previously manufactured by Camillus) are used by legendy men of the mountains to cleave boulders and giant firs in twain... well, pretty much. All Becker knives are fixed blades, all but one are made out of 1095 Cro-Van carbon steel (the diminutive Remora [BK-13] is made out of stainless 440A). Most of them are big thick blades, built to handle anything. The BK-2 "Campanion" certainly approaches life from the "sharpened prybar" perspective, at 5 inches long and 1/4 inch thick. Most other big knives, like the BK-10 "Crewman", BK-7 "Compat Utility", and BK-9 "Combat Bowie" (approximately 5, 7, and 9 inches long respectively) are 3/16 inch thick. Then you have the "tweeners" — knives somewhere between a neck knife and a chopper — like the trailing point BK-15, drop point BK-16, and clip point BK-17. Becker also designed neck knives like the BK-11 "Necker" and BK-14 "Eskabar", and kukri-like blades like the BK-4 "Machax", or the discontinued BK-1 "Brute" and BK-6 "Patrol Machete".
I have a couple Buck folding knives, and in general they're good utilitarian users. The rosewood scales are rather nice looking, and the brass bolsters add to the charm. Of the models I have, the 302 Solitaire is my favorite: it's just about everything I need in the lightest package possible. Buck blades are rather thick, so the knives end up being on the heavy side. Consequently, my 301 Stockman is packed really tightly; the spey and wharncliffe blades rub against each other. My 301 also has a slightly weak spring under the main blade (not weak enough to be a problem, just enough to turn a happy snap into a sad little thud when it finally jumps closed).
These are the angles I have used for sharpening my Condor knives on the Spyderco Sharpmaker. I'm not saying this is the best way to sharpen them, as I'm completely unskilled at using any method other than the Sharpmaker. This is merely the angle that I found worked the best when using that method. Most have sharpened very easily, with the exception of the Kephart, which was unevenly ground (one side was about 20° whereas the other was more like 25°). Angles listed are inclusive.
The Douk-Douk is a simple and hard-working traditional French knife made by M.C. Cognet. The traditional version has a stylish decorative pattern printed on the "Turkish clip point" blade, and an image from Polynesian mythology engraved into the handle. There are two versions: one with a blued handle, the other with a chrome plated handle. The blade is made of carbon steel and has a flat grind. These knives were apparently mostly distributed throughout the French colonies and used by French soldiers. You can see why: they're a big heavy chunk of steel! The blade is big and heavy, and although it does not lock, it does have a half stop and the backspring is incredibly strong. There's no nail nick — the blade sits proud enough to just grab right on. You'll probably want to hold onto it when you close it as well, as that strong backspring packs quite a snap. A rotating bail on the end completes a full tour of the knife; there's nothing more to it. I haven't used mine hard, but as thick and heavy as it is, it seems like it could take a real beating. At about $20 to $25 US, it doesn't quite have the bang for the buck that Moras and Opinels do, but it's still a great knife for the price.
GEC is a well-loved modern producer of high quality traditional pocket knives. They make pieces under three core brand names: Tidioute Cutlery, Northfield, and Great Eastern Cutlery. They also make knives under other brand names, such as Northwoods. GEC makes a lot of different patterns, with many different handle materials. They're all very sturdy and have a reputation for being nail breakers. They're a little on the pricey side, but for $100 you get a great knife that will last you for a very long time.
Made in the legendary steel city of Solingen, the Mercator K55K or "Black Cat" is a low-tech lockback folder. Nowadays they are made by Otter Messer from either carbon (C75 according to Otter Messer's website) or stainless steel. A Mercator K55K costs about the same as the comparable (non-locking) Douk-Douk, around $20 to $25 US.
The classic French farmer's knife with the wooden handle and the collar lock is a tough traditional knife with rustic style and a hard-working pedigree. These little knives are wonderful because they're so simple: there's no spring, and the locking mechanism is simply a sliding ring of steel that blocks the knife from folding. The minimalism of their construction is what makes Opinels so beautiful — and cheap. The price for Opinels is around that of Moras, starting at under $10 US for cheaper models and going up to $30 or $35 for fancier models (like the saws or the outdoors knife). Opinels are available with both carbon steel and stainless steel (Sandvik 12C27) blades, the latter being the only choice on the different wood versions.
Most Opinel knives are numbered, the number indicates the (proportional) size. The smallest size produced currently is the No. 2 (the No. 1 was discontinued in the 1930's for being too small — around the same time, the No. 11 was eliminated because the size gap between the No. 10 and No. 12 was too small). The largest is the No. 13, which is much bigger than the No. 12 (the largest end of the traditional spectrum) and is basically a folding sword. The smallest knife with a lock on it is the No. 6; this and the No. 8 seem to be the most commonly used. The specialty woods editions (e.g. bubinga, oak, walnut) are typically made in both No. 6 and No. 8 versions.
Sharpening-wise, Opinels appear to come from the factory with a convexed flat grind. I'm learning to do convex sharpening currently, which I'm sure will only further refine them into little laser beam slicers. But in the meantime, using the Spyderco Sharpmaker in its recommend configuration (30° bevel with a 40° edge) also works well. Heck, with a flat grind like this you can probably just use a 30° edge; Opinels aren't exactly for chopping up hardwood.
Case has been making traditional knives in the United States for 125 years; from the Peanut to the Large Texas Toothpick, if it's a traditional American folding pattern, they've made it. What's more, they use a wide variety of handle materials and colors, so you can pick almost any combination that you can imagine. As you might guess, between the pedigree of the knives and the wide range of available options, Case knives are not only beautiful and functional, but also very collectible.
For the most part, Case blades are made using ("Tru-Sharp Surgical") stainless steel. There are some families that use chrome vanadium ("CV") steel, which is not stainless. I've never found what exactly goes into the stainless steel, it seems decent enough for day-to-day use, and some people say that it's similar to the 420HC that Buck uses. The CV steel is harder and holds an edge better, but unfortunately is available in rather limited offerings by comparison.
Case knives can run between $40 and $90 new for commonly available models, depending on the pattern (smaller patterns like the Peanut being cheaper than larger or more complicated patterns like the Folding Hunter and Trapperlock). My recommendation before buying a Case knife is to make sure you can see the exact knife that you're purchasing: sometimes dye jobs can be particularly bad, and if you buy online, the knife you receive in the mail may bear little resemblance to the stock photo in terms of color and shade. Usually it's the bone handles that have these problems; artificial (like Delrin) scales are immune.
This is the "miscellaneous knives" page for things that aren't important enough to me to have their own pages. There are a few other sharp tools that to me deserve their own dedicated classification: