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Unusual Suspects: Knives with Glass-Breakers

This article originally appeared in RECOIL Issue 42

Flash flooding. Engine fire. Highway pileup. Just a few of the many emergencies in which a person would need to be extricated from a vehicle before it’s too late. But what if the doors are jammed? What if the windows don’t work? It’s time to smash the glass.

We’re taking a pointed look at knives with integrated glass-breakers. Not necessarily rescue knives (which we covered way back in Issue 9), but rather everyday carry (EDC) blades that also have the added bonus of a built-in glass-breaker. A crisis can explode unexpectedly at any minute, and you won’t necessarily have the time to get a dedicated rescue tool from the trunk — especially if you’re the one trapped in the driver seat.

The knives in this buyer’s guide are the kind you might already have in your pocket and can pull out when the time is right. Does your daily loadout include a glass-breaker? If not, read on to see if one of these might fill that void.


Make: Bastinelli Knives

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Model: RED Folder
OAL: 8 inches
Blade Length: 3.4 inches
Blade Material: D2 tool steel
Weight: 4.13 ounces
MSRP: $250
URL: bastinelliknives.com

411:
Few knife companies meld form and function so beautifully as Bastinelli Knives, and its RED Folder is no exception. It’s a deadly work of art. The handle features a G10 scale mated harmoniously to a titanium frame-lock, while on the business end the D2 drop-point blade is both sharp and versatile. The integrated glass-breaker sits unobtrusively on the butt-end of the handle. Like the Ferrari LaFerrari and Monica Bellucci, this gorgeous model is made in Italy.

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Pros:
– The glass-breaker is sturdy but stubby so it doesn’t poke you, even if you cap it with your thumb while holding the knife in reverse grip.
– Feels quite at home in our pockets (thanks to a deep carry clip) and in our hands (whether in forward or reverse grip)
– Lethal “tactical art”
– Superior construction and materials

Cons:
– Our ring and middle fingers sometimes grasp the frame-lock while our thumb is pushing the blade open against it — leading to our fingers fighting themselves. This is due to the nature of frame-lock designs in general, and not necessarily this model.


Make: Kershaw Knives

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Model: Barricade
OAL: 8.5 inches
Blade Length: 3.5 inches
Blade Material: 8Cr13MoV stainless steel
Weight: 4.5 ounces
MSRP: $42
URL: kershawknives.com

411:
So, technically, this is a rescue knife. If the carbide glass-breaker and built-in seatbelt cutter didn’t give it away, the bright orange handle certainly did. While it’s meant for first-responders and preparedness-minded people, this folding knife is so user-friendly that you could easily carry this on the daily regardless of your profession. With the Barricade, Kershaw continues to impress us with its ability to make reliable tools at affordable prices. Made in China.

RECP-190500-KNIVES-KERSHAW-REVIEW-02.JPG

Pros:
– Features SpeedSafe, a smooth and crazy fast assisted-opening system
– Quickly deploys one-handed with either thumb-stud or flipper tab
– Fit and finish is so spot-on you wouldn’t know it was made in China
– Easy on the wallet

Cons:
– The knife and the glass-breaker sit tip-down in the pocket, meaning the latter could occasionally poke you in the thigh when you bend your leg.
– The glass-breaker protrudes from the handle just a fraction too much for our liking.


Make: Spyderco

RECP-190500-KNIVES-SPYDERCO-LINEUP-01.JPG

Model: Assist Salt Lightweight Yellow
OAL: 8.55 inches
Blade Length: 3.68 inches
Blade Material: H-1 steel
Weight: 3.9 ounces
MSRP: $170
URL: spyderco.com

411:
While you might not EDC this marine knife like you would the Barricade, this Spyderco folder is a serious life-saving tool. The glass-breaker is hidden in its handle until you squeeze the closed blade into the handle — genius design to keep the glass-breaker from jabbing you. The serrated blade is made of H-1, a revolutionary steel that doesn’t rust because it contains nitrogen instead of carbon. Plus, there’s an integrated survival whistle and a heavily textured high-vis handle. Made in Japan.

RECP-190500-KNIVES-SPYDERCO-REVIEW-02.JPG

Pros:
– Activating hidden glass-breaker by squeezing closed blade is brilliant engineering
– H-1 blade is rustproof and will cut like no one’s business
– Strong lock-back mechanism
– Tough pocket clip

Cons:
– Takes up a lot of pocket real estate
– Large grooves in handle may not feel ergonomic if your hands are smaller or larger than the knife designer’s.


Make: Benchmade Knife Co.

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Model: 407
OAL: 8.76 inches
Blade Length: 3.70 inches
Blade Material: S30V stainless steel
Weight: 6.38 ounces
MSRP: $255
URL: benchmade.com

411:
Also known as the Vallation, this is a duty knife that can serve as an EDC blade for civilians. Influenced by Benchmade’s classic line of automatic knives, the 407 features a 6061-T6 aluminum handle, an S30V stainless steel blade, a deep-carry pocket clip, and a small but strong carbide glass-breaker. It also has Benchmade’s AXIS Assist, an ambidextrous assisted opening system, which is complemented with a safety lock on the handle’s back. Made in the USA.

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Pros:
– Premium S30V blade cuts like a laser and fights off wear and corrosion like a beast.
– The smooth “mohawk” design on the blade’s spine offers comfortable thumb placement without aggressive jimping
– Stout handle feels cozy in forward or icepick grip.
– Carbide glass-breaker is small, discreet, and strong.

Cons:
– If the handle had G10 scales, this knife would’ve been flawless.


Make: Steel Will Knives

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Model: Onrush 632S
OAL: 8.86 inches
Blade Length: 3.62 inches
Blade Material: N690Co stainless steel
Weight: 6.58 ounces
MSRP: $190
URL: steelwillknives.com

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411:
Though it isn’t the biggest model in our buyer’s guide, this Steel Will folder definitely looks beefy and is the heaviest of the bunch. With its angular lines, all-black color scheme, and modified clip-point blade, the Onrush 632S is the kind of knife you’d carry into battle against Decepticons. Its glass-breaker is built into the bottom of the handle so it’s out of the way, while its blade can be opened using either the flipper or the ambidextrous thumb-studs. Made in Italy.

Pros:
– Glass-breaker is pointy enough to break windows, but stumpy enough not to hurt if we place our thumb over it while holding the knife in reverse grip.
– Popular in Europe, the blade’s N690Co steel is sharp, tough, and corrosion resistant.
– G10 is this author’s favorite handle material.
– Pocket clip is carried tip-up and for righties or lefties.

Cons:
– If you use the flipper tab, you’ll need an extra wrist flick to get the blade to fully open.


Make: Microtech Knives

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Model: Socom Elite
OAL: 9.17 inches
Blade Length: 3.98 inches
Blade Material: M390 stainless steel
Weight: 5.4 ounces
MSRP: $300
URL: microtechknives.com

411:
Since debuting it in 1996, Microtech continually improves this tactical folder by tweaking it and upgrading its materials. Case in point: Our review sample’s blade features M390 steel but the company’s website now offers it in ultra-premium CTS 204P steel. This Socom Elite also has a deep-carry pocket clip, an integral glass-breaker on its butt-end, rubber insets on the handle for added traction, and huge thumb-studs for quick indexing and faster opening. Made in the USA.

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Pros:
– Regardless of grip preference, it feels oh-so-good in the hand.
– Clip-point blade is basically a lightsaber.
– Top-tier materials meet sophisticated engineering and construction
– Short glass-breaker is surrounded by a beveled disc to prevent snagging and poking.

Cons:
– The pocket clip allows for any type of carry … so long as it’s tip-down and right-handed only.
– Too bad the rubber insets weren’t G10 instead.


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