The awkwardness of giving knife advice...

Discussion in 'Edged Tools' started by petey-k, Aug 14, 2019.

  1. petey-k

    petey-k Tracker

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    Old man pondering: If you are known as a knife person, sometimes others ask for advice. For some reason they never like my recommendations (=opinions). Like get a Mora (or a generic cheap something) and a quality sharpener then start learning sharpening. Maybe they want somebody to agree their own original idea or something. How about you?
     
  2. rhino on INGO

    rhino on INGO Supporter Supporter

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    I temper my advice with consideration of the audience. If I think they are willing to learn the fundamentals, recommending a More and some sharpening gear are a viable option. If they just want to cut a few things or want something shiny, the recommendation will be different.
     
  3. petey-k

    petey-k Tracker

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    I try to do it likewise, but my track record is bad. 2 out of 3 a miss.
     
  4. rhino on INGO

    rhino on INGO Supporter Supporter

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    No good deed goes unpunished! And some people are unable to graciously accept or disregard advice, even if they explicitly requested it!
     
  5. Doubles

    Doubles Guide

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    A Mora is ALWAYS good advice, especially for someone asking very basic "what knife should I own" knife questions. It does depend on what they're looking for, though. Maybe they just want to hear about options from a knowledgeable, live source
     
  6. MAD Punty

    MAD Punty Supporter Supporter

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    There is a lot that goes into that question, and it has been posed to me a few times. I have a couple of tricks.

    First, I discuss (teach) them features of knives, different types of grinds, for example...why hollow is better for skinning, but scandi is better for wood, that kind of thing. Remember, non knife people look at cool knives in the movies...they don't know anything about actual form of function. I teach them about full tangs, stick tangs, that kind of stuff, drop points vs swept points...I try and use knives I have as props.

    Second, I advise them about about using the right tool for the job. If there is a specific job, you buy a wrench that is the specific size you need, but if you have a lot of jobs and one tool, you buy an adjustable wrench...I sort of make that comparison.

    Third, I might bust out my Opinel, my Jakarripukko (whatever...can't spell it), and my Skrama. I tell them these are my primaries and why.

    Fourth, I might talk a little bit about MY journey...especially the "mistakes", knives I thought I would love but didn't, and why they didn't work for me....like the BK2, which felt more like a crowbar than a knife to me, whereas the BK9 feels like a knife..nice and balanced.

    Then, if they have an idea of what they want their knife for, you can explain the features they will want in their knife...blade shape, grind, handle ergos, handle materials, types of steels and the effect on maintenance and sharpening...that kind of thing.

    People who ask may not want you to actually recommend a knife, because they don't know why that knife is recommended, and it is either uncool or expensive. You can certainly recommend a knife, but they should at least understand why that is a good knife for them.

    When you are done talking with them, they should be able to, for example, look at a web page and have some insight into what they are looking at besides just aesthetics.

    Remember, we forget sometimes. We all know that the "cooler" a knife looks, the more it sux, and the really cool, best knives, have nothing that will appeal to a non knife person from a picture....it maybe looks like something in their kitchen. Know nothing people look at knives with cool looking curves in the blade, cool looking handles, maybe a saw on the back of the knife...BudK catalog kind of stuff...the modern day Rambo knife junk. You can't talk them out of their first impressions, what you need to do is give them the education to distinguish between a knife and a movie prop.
     
  7. central joe

    central joe Wait For Me!! Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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    Also remember that most people who ask for advice really just want someone to agree with them. joe
     
  8. Texas Scout

    Texas Scout Tracker

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    Awesome thread!!

    I teach “wood tools” in BSA. My Troop went to summer camp “in council” this year and I was even asked to teach wood tools at summer camp.

    I was actually asked a similar question at summer camp. Right, wrong, or indefferent, my answer was obligatory. LOL

    While teaching the Totin Chip, I was asked what knife I would recommend. I asked the four adults present to show what type of knife they carried. All four of us carried a different type of knife. My suggestion was to pick a knife that felt good in your hand and to take care of your tool. I feel like it is more important to keep sharp/clean/oiled tool than anything.

    (PS, “movie props” are not alowed in BSA, so I didn’t have to address that.)

    Just my thoughts.

    Duane
     
  9. Vanitas

    Vanitas Supporter Supporter

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    It’s best to ask what they have in mind... if they are asking they probably are eyeing something already. Give them qualities of what make a good knife then tell them the mora while inexpensive has all those qualities. Explain everything else is personal preference.
     
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  10. riokid87

    riokid87 Scout Banned

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    First I'd ask them what they intend to use it for primarily.
    Processing med to large animals a 4-5" hollow ground drop or w good non slip grip and small finger guard. Buck vanguard comes to mind.
    Small animals, sharpfinger.
    General camp knife cutting a little wood, food prep, rope ect, maybe a 5" flat/saber grind. That ka bar navy knife is good.

    I'd also ask them what they think they like in a knive. They may think a rubber molded handle is cheap looking and never be satisfied with it no matter how it performs. Their idea of a good fixed blade outdoor knife may just have to have a stacked leather handle just like his dad's old knife. Or he may be totally ok with hunter orange g10 easy to see scales.

    Then I'd check the local laws where he intended to use it. Some places can be just stupid.

    I think I'd go over save knife handeling and edge maintenance and sharpening.

    Then if possible go to a store where he could hold a few to see how they feel in his hand.

    But after having a ss and cs Mora, I wouldn't recommend one to anybody. I find them good at making feather sticks and fair to poor at just about everything else.
     
  11. popedandy

    popedandy Scout

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    Yup. "I want some advice" almost always means "I want you to tell me what I have already decided I want to hear." On my good days I remember that. On my bad days I try to give advice and always regret wasting the energy.
     
  12. Muskett

    Muskett Scout

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    I don't know why it is but most men think they are genetically a close relative of Robin Hood, Davy Crockett, Zorro, and Jim Bowie; plus they have adsorbed all these people's knowledge by magic.
    It taken me most of my life to get at least competent with some of these characters hardware. I know what works for me. I own a GB Small Forest Axe which doesn't make me a Lumberjack.

    When it comes to knives most people really don't care much. Those that do already have their own ideas. Then there is price which for most is: it shouldn't be much.

    Get into the hobby then sometimes a discussion can be had. Sometimes you can pass on what has worked for you. But for those wanting to pick up some knowledge then the number of "experts", each with their own ideas, just makes it all such a conflicting mess. There is some right old rubbish spouted by the "Y tube experts".

    I now stick to my short list. Ask what they want to do with the knife and then recommend something off my list. Then suggest they get something that fits them and they like, all within their budget. Invariable they turn up with something I wouldn't recognise from my input, and way over the budget they first said. Occasionally they come back with one of my recommendations.
    I doubt I was any different when I first started out. Heck, I have one of the first Cold Steel Master Tantos made. Who the heck needs one of those in the woods? (They are a great knife, just not great for the woods.)

    Opinals, SAKs, Skramas, Benchmade, and Spydercos...you can't go much wrong with. Did I miss a few dozen great manufacturers and thousands of perfectly good knives? Yup, all whilst playing with my Large Sebenza. You know you are a knife junkie when Blackjack is a knife maker not a game of cards.
     
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  13. JeffG

    JeffG Guide

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    Some people seem to earnestly solicit people's advice on something, and then do what appears to be the complete opposite. o_ORather than be frustrated, I have started to answer a question with a question: "What did you have in mind?" "Have you been working toward a solution?" "What have you done, does it work?" If somebody wants mentoring, they can watch what I do, and ask questions. :50:
     
  14. r_oneal

    r_oneal Supporter Supporter

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    What @central joe said x 2!! Great answer. My take on it is, they asked for my advice so that's what I'm going to give them. I've learned to not get bent out of shape if folks don't take it. They're obviously idiots if they don't. :D
     
  15. CamoDeafie82

    CamoDeafie82 Guide

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    Related to the above post... for other things... I find it best to ask the person asking... "what do you want me to say/how do you want me to respond?" And follow up with "Are you looking for validation of your ideas, critiques, or are you asking for my opinions on whatever you may purchase?"
     
  16. Unistat76

    Unistat76 Nerd Supporter Bushclass I

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    I find that ridicule and condescension work best. Then they never bother to ask me stupid questions again.

    That is the goal, right?
     
  17. Unistat76

    Unistat76 Nerd Supporter Bushclass I

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    But seriously, I direct most people to Gerber or Buck for folders and Mora or Condor for fixed.

    The first two are well known names they can latch on to and get a decent EDC knife for a good price.

    Most of my buddies only want a fixed blade after they go camping with me. I usually hand them one of my spares for the trip. After we get back, if they want one, I tell them what brand and model it is.
     
  18. John from Alberta

    John from Alberta Supporter Supporter

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    Seriously? You’re asking that question? What are you, a child? Do you even know anything at all? :D
     
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  19. DarrylM

    DarrylM Supporter Supporter

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    It's already been mentioned, but some people only want to hear their preconcieved notion in your voice.
     
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2019
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  20. TWill

    TWill Guide

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    If they are just jonesing to have a knife then they already know what type they want and are looking for validation. If they have had and used some knives then they might be looking for real input from you so figure out what their use of it will be and give them your best two or three choices. for an example if someone was looking for a knife to cut sticks and maybe dress out a deer I would say get yourself a $13 Mora Companion or a $40 Svord Trapper. Neither one is a budget buster and will cut stuff and resharpen without a lot of fuss. 1000s of other knives will do those tasks for similar money or go nuts and spend big money if you really want to.
     
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  21. Beach Hiker

    Beach Hiker LB 42 Supporter

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    Ain't that the truth!

    I don't give advice. Too often it just comes back and bites you in the a$$.
     
  22. petey-k

    petey-k Tracker

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    On lighter side: For a Finn to recommend Swedish Mora is like pulling your own tooth with rusty pliers. We kinda have a friendly competition with...
    But I agree: utility, price point, etc: excellent (Jag älskar Mora knivar)
     
  23. Beach Hiker

    Beach Hiker LB 42 Supporter

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    Lol. Yeah.... I sometimes like to get my Finnish friends riled up by calling them Scandinavian. They usually seek revenge by calling me American (I'm Canadian).
     
  24. trafficjuzz

    trafficjuzz Scout

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    If someone asks me for a knife recommendation I first ask what they want it for and how much they want to spend...then I send/ show them a few pictures of different types of knives, either fixed or folders or both and ask which of the bunch they liked the most visually...then I give them my honest opinion - sometimes I say the handle on the one they have chosen really is not good for actual use, but if they really just more or less want to play around with it while watching TV and they like the looks they should get it - I also e.g. tell them how it compares to cheaper/ more expensive options..usually this works pretty good..

    however it definitely is not easy to give advice to people..
     
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  25. GreyOne

    GreyOne Elder Lifetime Supporter

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    The "cool" BudK style knives are design abortions compounded with cheap poorly heat treated blade steel and garish pot metal fixtures.
    I give advice to my son and daughter if they ask. Found the best advice was giving them what I thought would work best.
    For most of the rest of rhe world, I just pick up what I am using that day and say "I like this". That usually disposes of the question.
     
  26. haunted

    haunted Guide

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    just smile and say "thats not a knife..."
     
  27. Muskett

    Muskett Scout

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    Often they already have a knife when asking what knife to use.
    First thing to ask them is if their knife is sharp. Usually it isn't, well nothing other than whats left from the factory. Then I show them mine which is.

    Often they don't need a knife; they need to know how to sharpen one.


    What sharpening kit is another minefield. Getting them to make the investment is one thing but getting them to actually give it a go is altogether even harder. Sharpening a knife with a half decent sharpening kit ISN'T DIFFICULT...it really isn't for I can do it...so can my daughter :cool:
     
  28. OrienM

    OrienM Guide

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    The only time I'll freely give out knife advice is in my primitive skills class...I find teenagers are a lot more receptive to advice than most adults. Adults know everything already, lol;)

    The advice is usually something like, "get an inexpensive one you like, keep it sharp, keep it clean, and keep it sheathed or in your pocket when not in use". Simple enough, but a knife is a simple tool, really. Sharpening is a bit trickier, and we often spend quite a bit of time on it in class. The school purchased a set of Moras for students to use; the kids are generally quite impressed that a $20 knife cuts so well.
     
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2019
  29. Matthew Post

    Matthew Post Tracker

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    A mora is always a good recommendation. Sometimes my $300 knife stays home and I take the mora
     
  30. americanstrat98

    americanstrat98 Wanderer Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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    Amen!
     
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  31. petey-k

    petey-k Tracker

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    Excellent advice, thank you. MAD Punty: Your way is the correct way, IMHO. I kind of realized that I also have a cultural bias (prefer classical Puukkos and Leukus) as well has my own journey with different blades and configurations. Also trying to cut corners and jump to recommendation (without the steps you detailed) was not not very clever.
    Not tricks but a recipe for topnotch knife education! Kudos!
    Pete
    —-
    Sent from my mobile phone
     
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  32. Noddy

    Noddy Scout

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    Funny thing I find is that whilst I am outdoors a lot I don't really 'present' like that ... mildish, urbane, no tats or beard, diffident, feckless and avuncular looking; that sort of thing ... so when I suddenly come all knowledgeable about cutlery and camping I think people have a tendency to look at me as if they have discovered some alien creature inhabiting someone else's body ... they end up wondering whether or not they should call the authorities rather than listening ... so, I just gas on regardless :lol:

    Anyway, MAD Punty's point about one's own tale is an important one. Knives are about a narrative relating to their use.. So, I tell people about my dad and grandad and the cut-down bayonet and navy knife (w/marlin) they gave me when I was younger. Then I tell them about the Fallkniven F1, Roselli Carpenter and German Eye large stockman that were the first pieces I bought when I decided to move on from the various kitchen/fillet knives etc that I used for years. I also told them that if I had my time again, I would have stuck with the Eye, the Fallkie and Roselli and never have bought another knife (maybe a thin carver). I tell them to stay away from knife sites as much as they can, because knife jewellery and the next must-have will bankrupt them eventually :lol:

    I tell them two other things now too 1) buy a Victorinox Compact and thereby improve their daily existence, and 2) that whilst I own a couple of Moras I never ever use them (might suggest a Svord to them). :)
     
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2019
  33. snapper

    snapper Guide

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    I find that a lot of people are really searching for someone who will agree with them; not necessarily show them a better way of doing the skill they're asking about. Kind of sad but I've seen it too many times over the years.

    That's all for now. Take care and until next time...be well.

    snapper
     
  34. fx77

    fx77 Scout

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    I have a corporate world friend who is very successful. he has dealt with some of the biggest egos ands stupidest powerful people on the planet.
    He told me that when someone asks for advice..respond with , What do U think?
    Most people do not want your opinion , they want someone to agree with their's.
     
  35. Brommeland

    Brommeland Scout

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    I have taught several skill sets over the course of my life. My observation is that most folks are :
    A. Lazy and don't want to put in the actual effort necessary to learn skills.
    B. Emotion driven and want to be told something that makes them feel good.
    C. React badly to being told something that they did not want to hear.

    My personal sense of integrity requires that I answer questions truthfully (whether they like it or not). That's my responsibility. Whether they listen (or not) is their responsibility.

    I've actually had someone ignore my advice and then get killed as a direct result. I really did some soul searching after that, and what I realized is that God gave us all free will. With that free will comes the responsibility of living (or not) with the consequences. I had offered to train this individual (for free) and they did not see the need.
     
  36. beacon

    beacon Simul justus et peccator Supporter Bushclass I

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    Yep, and it's not just about knives. I've been experiencing this kind of thing A LOT lately with family, and in many cases I've decided it's not even worth my time/energy to actually give my advice/opinion.
     
  37. M.Hatfield

    M.Hatfield Midnight Joker #42 Lifetime Supporter

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    My go to response is almost always: "do your own research and reach your own conclusions."

    For every person there is a different opinion or piece of advice that could be offered. I encourage everyone to find what works best for them. :)
     
  38. rhino on INGO

    rhino on INGO Supporter Supporter

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    For what it's worth, I know a bit about knives. If I ask someone for advice, I am grateful for it even if I choose a different path.
     
  39. FreudianSlip

    FreudianSlip Guide

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    Well if the person asks for advice that’s a good start. People often don’t like unsolicited advice in general. If they don’t ask for it you can always say ‘may I offer an idea?’ Or something like that. You’re delivery of advice does matter. If you disagree and it’s done in a carefully worded way a lot of times it will be more received and heard.
     
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  40. Muskett

    Muskett Scout

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    Talking "knives" is thirsty work. Each beer I become even more an expert. What else are you going to talk about around a fire after women and guns? Both of which, ten beers in, I'm an expert on too.
    Thankfully no one can remember anything the following morning.o_O

    Its probably why all that advice goes out of the shop window, and you go home with a Cold Steel Master Tanto for your bushcraft blade. Don't buy with a hangover.
     
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  41. rhino on INGO

    rhino on INGO Supporter Supporter

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    I've heard of Beer Goggles and now Beer Expertise! Hah!
     
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  42. riokid87

    riokid87 Scout Banned

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    Beach hiker.
    "They usually seek revenge by calling me American (I'm Canadian)."
    You should be so lucky.
     
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  43. riokid87

    riokid87 Scout Banned

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  44. goon

    goon Scout

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    One thing with Moras - they’re usually pretty cheap, and punch way above their class. Even if you move on to a different knife later, most people won’t regret having a Mora in the kitchen drawer or glove compartment.

    I’m also getting into SAK’s and plan to add a medium one for EDC before too long. My Forester is a little big for that. But SAK’s aren’t glamorous - nor are Moras. Bear Grylls isn’t diving off cliffs with an SAK in his teeth and trying to sell them, even though an SAK is a great tool everyone should try out.
     
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2019
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  45. Medicine maker

    Medicine maker Guide

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    I just hate when ignorant people call every folding blade a "switchblade" like we live in the Outsiders or something.
     
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  46. petey-k

    petey-k Tracker

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    Good observation. :dblthumb:
    It's a blind spot for me, I guess. I often think "This knife is good for feather sticks etc" when my current use is cutting cheese and sausage to make lunch at a city park.:)
     
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  47. Muskett

    Muskett Scout

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    One issue with Moras as a recommendation is that they are cheap, well most are. They also need regular sharpening. If you are trying to actually educate people about knives and the various attributes then they have their place, but because they are cheap they are treated as cheap. Because they don't hold an edge long and many people don't sharpen then these knives become just more disposable junk. Just another blunt knife in the drawer.
    (My Moras are toolbox blades and for lending out. I really can't get excited about them, I get more excited about Opinels and SAK which are "classier".)

    If someone makes a little more effort, invests a bit more, then they might go and get the kit to maintain their knives. Give them something they might cherish then they might look after it???!!!
    It really is the case of recommending a few choice sharpening kit items. If you can give them a lesson on how easy it is then do. Do that and as often as not the person comes back thanking you as all their blunt knives, some which cost a bob or two, all are useful again. Don't need a new knife now after all.
     
  48. Corso

    Corso Guide

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    I usually hand them one of my old Moras and tell them to play with it for a week and then decide if their first choice was a better option...
     
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  49. Alaskaoneday

    Alaskaoneday Tinder Gatherer

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  50. field-expedient

    field-expedient Misfit Supporter Bushclass II

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    I dont care what kind of knife someone uses, what they can do with it is what matters. Showing them how to use what they got is more productive.

    With the internet its easy for someone to develop a gear over skills mentality. I dont want to add to it by promoting things I like. Telling a guy his knife is no good will spread to all the rest of his gear and he will be spending more time shopping than practicing skills.
     
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2019

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