I carry a few knives on me.
I carry a Spyderco Delica as a self-defense knife. I carry a Leatherman Wave as my portable toolset. Whenever I need to cut something, like opening a box the UPS man dropped at the doorstep, I always pull out the Wave. The reasoning, due to my training, is to keep the Delica reserved for those “special needs” one may unfortunately be involved in. You want to keep that knife sharp and ready for such a circumstance.
I just came to the conclusion that’s the wrong way to go about it.
I should be using that Delica for every cutting need I have.
Reason? Doing so would put it in my hand a lot. It gets me using the knife in its intended context frequently. It makes it comfortable in my hand. To draw it, to unfold it, to cut with it, to fold it back up and put it away. We tell gun folks to dry fire practice all the time and go to the range and live fire practice too. Why aren’t we doing that with our knives? And if we are, why must we only do it in a special “practice time” context? Why can’t it just be a normal part of the day? In a self-defense situation the hardest part will be deploying the knife, so why shouldn’t we have hundreds upon thousands of repetitions of that to ensure we’ve got it down and it’s a natural thing? If you need to open a box, use the Delica. If you need to cut some rope, use the Delica. Open a letter, use the Delica. That’s what I should be doing.
So using the knife will dull it. Of course it will. This is why you must periodically clean it and sharpen it. Get yourself something like Spyderco’s Triangle Sharpmaker; it does such a great job and is really easy to use. If you don’t or can’t use that, just get something that keeps your knives honestly sharp. There’s no excuse for your knives to be anything less than razor sharp; even Cub Scouts earning their “Whittlin’ Chip” card are taught that the safest knife is a sharp knife (if you don’t know why, ask me). If the knife is regularly maintained, that negates the need to reserve it to avoid the wear and tear. Besides, a good self-defense knife shouldn’t be some expensive beauty queen you don’t want to risk breaking or losing; it should be solid and perform but nothing to cry over should it be damaged or lost (thus the choice of a Delica).