My identical twin sons just turned 10 years old. It’s a day I’ve been looking forward to for, oh, about a decade now.

My family has two traditional gifts for this milestone birthday. One is a first pocketknife. The other is a bicycle. Not the gimmicky tasseled-handlebar bikes that my kids learned to ride on, but real machines, with derailleurs and cable brakes. On my 10th birthday I received a three-bladed Schrade Old Timer folder and a 3-speed Schwinn.

I still haven’t decided on the specific bike my boys will get. It’s likely to be a higher-end mountain bike, one with enough adjustment that it can grow with them.

I have a little more clarity about their knives. My boys are getting identical lock-back Dozier folders from Ka-Bar. You can get a look here at this simple, practical tool.

Picking out a first knife was harder than I expected. My boys have plenty of cheap knives that they’ve accumulated, but this would be the first do-all, everyday carry blade of their lives. A real adult knife to celebrate their second decade.

I picked the Ka-Bar for these reasons:

1. I have one, and it dismantled three elk, two whitetails and a mule deer this fall before it needed resharpening. When I say dismantled, I’m talking about quartering, not gutting. That’s a helluva test of a blade, and a testament to the durability of AUS8 steel.

  1. I love the orange Zytel handle. (Actually, I’m giving one of the boys the orange blade and the other a desert-sand version of the same knife. Don’t want possessions to be too identical, you know.) There are few worse feelings for a 10-year-old than to lose a first knife. I know. I lost my Old Timer within a few months of my 10th birthday, and I was so ashamed I didn’t tell my Dad for months. I don’t want my boys to lose their knives, and this striking color should help them locate it. So will the pocket clip that should keep it snug in their jeans.

3. The lockback mechanism is strong and simple. I don’t want a non-locking blade to cut a finger or fail on some task.

4. It’s a tool, not an heirloom. I considered getting the twins each high-end knives that they might pass down to their kids. But I know these boys, and they’ll use the heck out of these blades before eventually moving on to ones of their own choosing. That’s fine. The Ka-Bars are made to be used, not coveted.

So now you know my choice for a first blade. What’s yours?