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Knife Guidelines Print E-mail

Creating a troop's pocketknife policy can be difficult at times due to the fact there are no specific official Boy Scout knife policies. Below is some insight intended to help troops with their knife polices for scouts as well as give some incite as to why some troops may have they policies they do.

Lockable blades
Lockable blades are good to bring on a campout assuming they are not too big.  4" is largest a scout should have to carry.  Anything beyond 4" can more of a hazard than serving a useful purpose.  Many scouts prefer using blades that lock because there is no chance of the blade folding back during use.

Serrated edges
Serrated edges have the benefit of that they usually stay sharp longer than straight blades.  Having a sharp blade is important because if someone does get cut it is a cleaner cut which heals faster.  The downside is serrated edges are harder to sharpen and need to be sharpened by someone who is experienced at sharpening knives.

Double-edged blades
Double-edged blades serve no practical purpose in scouting and a scout should not have them.  There is no reason a scout should need one.  They are more of a danger than a useful tool.  A double-edged blade means a scout has twice the chance of cutting himself or someone else. It is important scouts understand a knife is a tool and not a weapon or toy.

Maximum blade length
There is no official max blade length.  A knife with a blade of 4" will be able to handle most needs a scout will have for a knife.  In many states a knife with a blade over 3" can be considered a concealed weapon so many troops set a blade length of 3" as the max a scout should have.

Spring-loaded blades
They serve no purpose in scouting now matter how far they pop out and a scout should not have them.  Many times spring-loaded blades invite scouts to play with them and see how they work with an end result of someone getting hurt.

Switch blades are forbidden at most camps. Many Boy Scout camps have a policy of taking switch blades from scouts and keeping them till they leave.

Sheath knives/ fixed blade knives
The official BSA policy regarding sheath knives according to the "Guide to safe Scouting" is 'Avoid large sheath knives' and most camps do not allow scouts to carry them.  Many years ago the BSA sold official sheath knives however scouts had to one up each other till scouts were carrying machetes. At that point most camps banned all sheath/fixed blade knives.  The only knives a scout should be carrying is one that allows them to fold the blade into the handle for safe carrying. Almost every camp will allow scouts to have fixed blade knives in kitchen areas at campsites but the knives must stay in the kitchen area.

The Boy Scouts do not have very many official policies regarding knives.   Many camps have formed their own polices with respect to knives. Most camps policies are all about the same but policy is up to the camp ranger to decide.   Many troops allow older scouts to carry slightly larger knives while younger scouts are very highly encouraged to carry smaller Swiss army knives (or cheap Swiss army knock offs since young scouts are always loosing knives).  Many scouts find a pocketknife that has scissors rather than a huge knife is more useful since the scissors will most likely be used more than the
knife.  Pocketknives should not be used for preparing meals, that is what kitchen knives are for so there is no need for scouts to carry large blade knives.

Many troops have a policy of if a scout is using a knife improperly they are first shown the correct way to use it and if they continue using the knife in an unsafe way the knife is taken away for a certain period of time.  Some troops will cut a corner off a scouts totin' chip card if they use a knife improperly but since many scouts do not carry their card with them or were
never given one, cutting corners is not a very effective means of keeping scouts safe with knives.  The important thing is a scout needs to understand is a knife is a tool that can seriously hurt them so they should treat the knife in an appropriate manner or they can loose the privilege of being able to use one.