The Gerber fixed blades are some of the BEST knives you can start teaching your kids with. Amazing for camping, hunting, or just having an everyday carry around the home, they provide the perfect platform for a parent wanting to teach their child the importance and value of a knife along with all the safety lessons that go with it.
Why Start with Gerber Fixed Blade Knives
When it comes to the world of the “razor sharp” things, smaller is not always better. High quality multi tools and folding knives are definitely fun and convenient but also not always the best first start for a child. You want to keep things simple and reduce the need to manipulate a a sharp edge or other tools from their cover or shroud.
If educating your child (boy or girl) on the importance and utility of a knife not found in the kitchen is an idea you like, then fixed blade knives are quite possibly the best place to start. In my opinion, it would also be a better starting place than something like a Spyderco Endura. A knife like that requires them to unfold the knife and ensure it is locked before use.
Choosing the First Knife
When you are looking for your first fixed blade knife, you don’t need to get a full “survival knife” but should look for a heavy duty, high quality, carbon steel blade. We originally bought the boys Swiss Army knives when they were little (like 5 year old Ikah in the photo) but learned that a folding knife isn’t best, especially if it doesn’t lock out.
When I chose the Gerber Strongarm, I also decided to opt for one without the partial serration as that makes it harder to sharpen (which will need to happen) and isn’t really necessary when teaching the boys basic skills. What I was looking for was a good knife for camping with a high quality stainless steel blade that had a good spine that I could use with a ferro rod as a fire starter. This means that it will last a long time with basic care.
Why the Nylon Sheath is Better
Along with the benefits of the the tool itself, the Strongarm comes with a pretty versatile nylon sheath that allows for standard vertical belt carry, is molle compatible, and has a number of other mounting abilities. A typical leather sheath that comes with many knives isn’t as versatile and is far more susceptible to the elements and aging.
I also own a Ka Bar Becker which also comes with a nylon sheath but has far fewer mounting options right out of the box. While it does make a good camping knife, it’s a tad more difficult to pack along so I typically just throw it into my bag where it’s less accessible. The Strongarm’s sheath also comes with with a better sheath than the Morakniv Companion.
Teaching Safe Knife Skills
When it comes to getting your kiddos started on their bladed journey, start with the basics. The first and best thing you can do as a parent is determine the readiness of your child for their use of a knife. No one knows your kid better than you do and there is no “standard” when it comes to where a child is developmentally nowadays.
In the last two years, a whole new generation of kid emerged due to mandates, “zoom school”, and a general lack of exposure to society as it once was. If you want to asses your little one, I break this all down to three main factors.
Finding out if Your Child Ready For a Knife
The main factors you will want to mentally evaluate when considering a knife for your youngster is their maturity, physical capability, and emotional readiness. These might take a little thought and insight but will give you peace of mind before handing over any of those Gerber fixed blade knives.
- When you evaluate their maturity, look at how well they listen to instructions, follow directions, and retain rules, themes, or philosophies. This will help determine if they will constantly follow safety rules, even when not being watched.
- Physical capability can be determined by seeing if they can actually wrap their hand all the way around the knife handle, keep a good grip on it, and have the wrist strength to manipulate the knife under pressure. Even though it happens from time to time, you don’t want a knife flying out of their hands while whittling a twig or battoning some kindling.
- Emotional readiness can get confused with maturity but is geared more towards determining the motivation of your child with a knife as well as their ability to handle stress in things like moments of failure or panic. Ask yourself, “If they are handling a knife and either gradually or slowly become emotionally altered, will they make a good decision?”
The 5 Simple Knife Rules for Kids
If you’ve determined your little buddy is ready, here are 5 simple rules to teach them to keep them and others safe. A knife can be useful, fun, and even dangerous depending on the use and respect it is given. It is a tool and safety starts and ends with the user.
- Leave your knife in it’s sheath until you are ready to use it.
- When using, always maintain a firm “positive” grip on your knife. This means no limp fingers or wrists while the knife is in your hand.
- Handle your knife with maturity. Take your time. Never waive a knife around, don’t use it to point at people, and never stab or cut something without knowing what’s attached to it or on the other side.
- Look before you move. If you have to walk around with a knife in your hand, ALWAYS turn your head and use your eyes to look where you are about to go before moving. This helps keeps others safe around you.
- Treat your knife with respect. Never leave your knife laying around (in hand or sheath at all times), keep it clean and sharp, and keep it in a safe place out of reach of others when stored.
How to Gift a Knife to Your Child
Another important factor to think about is when to actually give your child a knife. You might want to think about picking the right moment as you might want to make it a simple but special one. A birthday is great but there are alternatives.
In my case, I chose to plan a small camping trip and decided to give the boys their knives to them just before dinner. With a little campfire going, I pulled out their new tools and handed it to them. My hope was that they might remember the setting and moment long after I was gone, a lot like my decision to take the boys hunting.
A knife is a Personal Choice
I hope that the few things that I wrote might inspire you to consider the possibility of perhaps learning and then teaching your children valuable knife skills. What’s important is that you do what is best for you and not feel like you are diving too deep too fast. Take your time and enjoy the world outdoors.