Butterfly or balisong knives may date back to 800 A.D. Developed in the Philippines, the butterfly knife is both a valued utility blade and one of the oldest weapons of Escrima, the Philippine art of self defense. With a little practice the balisong deftly opens with a flick of the wrist, qualifying the knife as a one-hand opening blade.
The balisong first became popular in the U.S. when American soldiers brought the knives home from the Philippines during World War II. Modern balisong knives are much different than those antique types, with a wide range of quality and some good modern ideas. The type of construction influences the strength of the knife — layered designs built of riveted slabs aren’t as strong as knives built with one piece grooved or channeled handle sections. The operating concept usually is the same as the centuries-old invention, with handle halves that fold back over both the spine and edge of the knife.
Balisong knives feature both traditional materials like rosewood and brass, and modernistic designs of stainless steel and machined aircraft quality aluminum. In the Philippines the knives are common — in the U.S. good balisong knives can be hard to find.
If you’ve seen guys flashing balisong knives around, you know there’s a trick to handling these knives, and the Ellington training butterfly knife gives you a chance to learn without serious damage.
The action is stiff, but the Cold Steel Paradox is a very solid Americanized version of the standard balisong.
Smith & Wesson’s Folding Tanto Powerglide solves many of the common problems of the modified balisong, at a bargain price.