So, what use does a cop have for a neck knife you ask? Expand your mind a little, I answer… and make sure your Chief won’t have a coronary if he finds out you’ve got one on your person. Reality is that a cutting blade is one of our most used utility tools. Whether we’re cutting barricade tape, rope, nylon webbing, clothes, seatbelts or (hopefully not) bad guys in a fight for our life, there is no denying that having a knife within easy reach and comfortably carried is a good thing. Sometimes the type of knife we carry and the way we carry it are perceived as less than professional or “squirrely.” I find myself often asking, why?
The Constant II neck knife from Bear & Sons Cutlery is one of those knives that I feel might have a place in law enforcement for plain clothes and off duty officers. My only concern with an on duty officer, in uniform, carrying/wearing it is access mixed with security. If you need a knife on duty in uniform, you’d better be able to get to it QUICK and having a neck knife tucked away behind a buttoned up uniform shirt just doesn’t support QUICK. Further, if you get into a physical altercation on duty, you want to be 100% certain (or at least that confident) that the knife isn’t going to come out of the sheath at an inopportune time and unintentionally cut someone, especially yourself. Given those concerns, I specify the neck knife as a potential option for plain clothes officers and officers off duty.
With all of the foregoing taken into consideration, we also have to recognize that, especially in a fight for your life, surprise is a beautiful thing to have on your side. It can radically imbalance your opponent and often turn the tide of the fight your way with little effort. In a lethal force fight if you “magically” produce a knife that your opponent didn’t realize you had, it can stagger them a bit; make them rethink their course of action; make them step back out of the reach of that blade’s potential bite. For sure and certain it makes them realize that you are NOT a willing victim and you WILL fight tooth and nail (and blade) for your survival and victory.
Now… let’s take a look at this neck knife, the Constant II, from Bear & Sons Cutlery. With an overall length of just over five inches and a two inch cutting edge, the Constant II is just about perfectly sized for a neck knife. I know some folks who think that two inches isn’t enough cutting edge but I’d encourage everyone to reconsider that outlook. In most utility deployments, only about one inch of the knife’s edge is necessary. In defensive uses, only about one quarter to one half inch of the blade is really required to do severe and permanent damage. So, in either case, two inches ought to be plenty. I’d be more comfortable with a longer grip – more than three inches to hold onto – but given that it’s a neck knife, that’s a good compromise between too short and not concealable.
The blade and handle/grip are (obviously) all constructed of a single piece of steel, which is 1095 Carbon Steel with a black epoxy powder coating. Rockwell Hardness is 58-60. That’s hard enough to keep an edge in rugged use but not so hard as to make it impossible to sharpen the edge up when necessary.
The knife comes with a Kydex Sheath and neck chain. (It’s a neck knife – duh). So how’s it carry and work? Like all knives I test, this one had to go through some cutting tests, suffered through a stretch dunked in salt water and got worn for a few weeks during my day to day routine.
The cutting work: With a two inch edge the knife wasn’t, in my opinion, designed for deep thrusts or punctures. It was designed to cut and slash. I put it through cutting tests on an assortment of materials to include: string, twine, 120# fishing line, 1” nylon webbing, ½” ugly plastic yellow rope, ½” cotton rope and paracord (550 cord). Given that it has a 3” handle and that’s not the easiest handle to get a good strong, leveraging pull on, the knife’s edge had to do most of the work (as it should). The ugly plastic rope was the only thing that took two passes; everything else the Constant II cut through in a single pull.
Satisfied that it would cut well enough, I wondered about the constant carry under a shirt, rubbing against skin and potentially getting wet with sweat. To satisfy my curiosity about its ability to handle on-going or long term exposure to such moisture, I dropped it in a bucket of brackish water out of the Chesapeake Bay. I let it sit in there for two weeks in my shed, with at least one of those nights dropping well below the freezing mark, so the knife froze and thawed as part of the exposure test. When I removed it from the water, I shook it off but didn’t dry it, and hung it up in my shed. Three days later I went back to see if there was any rust on it and I couldn’t find a spot of any.
The only thing that was left was to wear it for a bit and see how comfortable it was. I rinsed it with fresh water and dried it. Because I’m not fond of the feeling of the neck chain bare against my skin, I used a piece of paracord “skin” – the outer nylon shell – to cover the chain. Once I had it in place, I melted the nylon ends and they conformed to the chain, holding the nylon in place and providing me a cloth neck loop as compared to the chain. That done, I wore the neck knife day to day for a couple weeks and noticed no discomfort other than the unfamiliar feeling of having a neck knife on. It’s not something I normally wear or carry and it took a bit of getting used to. However, just like dog tags, once you’re used to it then you don’t even notice it unless you do something to cause it to be in your face.
I have to give the Constant II full marks for having passed all testing. MSRP on the Bear & Sons Cutlery website is $60.00, but a Google search found some online retailers selling it for as low as $39.95 plus shipping. If you’ve never considered a neck knife as an option for carrying a blade, try it out. You might like it. If not, at least you tried it and have an experienced reason for why you don’t wear on. If you do like it, then the Bear & Sons Cutlery Constant II neck knife might be ideally suited for your needs.