Picking up on Thursday’s post on the whys of EDC, I visited the State Surplus Store, which is where some confiscated items from TSA end up. I didn’t take any pictures in there. Think of any swap meet/flea market/mass garage sale and you have a pretty good picture of what it all looked like. There were several bins and tubs with knives and multi-tools in piles, roughly separated by type.
The best way to shop here is to go in knowing more or less what you want. It’ll look like several piles of junk at first, so you’ll need to spend some time looking through the bins. My guess is that the pricing is on a par with most pawn shops and ranges from $1 to $25. Your lower priced tools are going to be the generic and lesser known brands with the full-size multi-tools costing $25.
I bought a knife and a keychain multi-tool for $4 + tax. Any used tool needs to be cleaned thoroughly once you get it home and the cleaning can take some time.
Knives – Things to look for:
Blades with play
Chipped blades can be professionally ground. It won’t look like the original but you won’t see the chip. It’s a knife, not a prybar. But people forget that. Modified blades can have added or custom serrations, sharpened swedges, custom jimping added to the back. A sharpened swedge can make the knife illegal to carry in your city or state. Check the laws on this. Blades with play may have been used for prying. This can sometimes be adjusted or repaired but it lowers the overall performance of the tool.
Bear in mind that you’re buying a used blade for $1-8 which retails for $20 or more. The cost of repairs could exceed the price of a new one. Sometimes it’s best to save up and buy new.
The Metro Whitaker by Buck lists an MSRP of $25.95 on their website. It retails for around $18-20. The blade is 420HC steel. The frame has decent jimping and a lanyard hole. This one looks like it had only been used to open packages.
Note: I saw a pile of CardSharp folding credit card knives. That tells me they’re not slipping by TSA in people’s wallets as easily as some might think.
Multi-tools – Things to look for:
Tool blades missing or broken
Modifications to tool blades
Tool blades with play
These tools have their limits. They’re useful for quick fixes but aren’t the answer for every job. As a result, sometimes a blade will break. If you’re paying $3 for something you might forgive an imperfection like a missing tweezer. A full-size tool priced at $25 at this store needs to be well inspected.
The Micra by Leatherman retails for around $20. It falls in the category of an introductory, or keychain tool. It has tweezers, a file, screwdrivers, a knife, a ruler, and it’s primary tool is the scissors. The Surplus Store has them priced at $3.
If you’re thinking of buying something, to “fix it up” and resell it, this is not the place for that. You’d be better off checking garage sales as the people usually just want the stuff gone and will charge less for it.
Get a tool. Carry it. You’ll find many answers to the question, “What would I use it for?”