What I Think of the Zip Tie Mod on Folding Knives

Updated on July 4, 2020
Mamerto profile image

Mamerto Adan is an engineer by profession, but a writer by night. He loves toys and knives, and has a martial arts background.

As a part of my EDC, I carry both a double-handed opener knife (like the Opinel), and a single-handed deploying folder. They complement each other, and both have their places. I won’t go deep on what makes one better than the other, as the two can’t really compare. But sometimes I have a habit of experimenting to see if a double-handed opener could be opened with one hand. In cases where your other hand is busy, and you only got one hand, it will be nice to open an Opinel with one hand. I explored the idea in one of my articles, which turns out to be possible.

In the case of tactical folders, I’m not so fussy about action, smoothness of deployment, or (usually) how fast the blade flicks. If I can get the blade out with one hand, that is enough for me.

Nevertheless, a friend suggested that I should get a Kershaw-Emerson CQC type. It would save me some extra flicking, they said. A folder that deploys like a fixed blade would be a nice addition to my collection. That will be in my Christmas wish-list, but as I searched the bowels of the internet, I came across this folder modification that involves zip ties. If your knife has a finger hole, why not put zip ties in it to emulate the “wave” feature of the Emerson CQC series?

Sounds like a clever idea, but will it work for me?

Byrd Cara Cara folding knife, one of my favorite folders.
Byrd Cara Cara folding knife, one of my favorite folders.

Some people think the Byrd Cara Cara is not an aesthetically attractive knife. But admittedly it’s a real performer, given that it’s dirt cheap. For me, I love how the knife looks and feels. And with a blade of 3.75 inches, it’s not a small knife. In fact, it is large for a folder. Basically, the open Byrd Cara Cara is about the same length as a Mora Companion, and only slightly shorter than my Kershaw Boot Knife. And as you may have guessed, the large leaf-shaped blade, the shiny finish, the distinct Byrd hole and the way it deploys scared a lot of people in the office.

In order to really get the feel, I decided to try the zip tie mod for a week or so. I thought giving it a day wouldn’t prove much.

And after a week of carrying a Ghetto CQC, here’s what I think of it.

How We Put Zip Ties in the Knife

I did check the internet on how to do it properly. Turns out that you don’t just strap zip ties to your finger hole.

Lovely green color!
Lovely green color!

Nope, those are not grass. Those are the zip ties. Green zip ties were the only ones left in the hardware store, so I no choices in what color to use.

To strap the zip ties, the protruding end must face way from the pocket clip. Now depending on the size of the zip ties, you may put one or more. Mine is not that large, so I put three.

How I strapped them.
How I strapped them.

And below is the finished form. And seeing my knife with three green zip ties in the finger hole, you might be thinking what I’m thinking.

Well, you know what I'm thinking?
Well, you know what I'm thinking?

Zip Ties Ruin the Knife’s Aesthetics

Exactly what I have in mind, I’m not sure, but I don’t like how it looks. It might be a subjective thing. To some, zip ties look good in their knives, but not to me. The bright green shade never helps either. The color is so loud that it almost becomes an eyesore.

Let’s see if you can’t unsee it, but zip ties in the finger hole gave my knife a resemblance to a chicken’s head. Hello Big Bird! And for some, the Spyderco Byrd Cara Cara is not even an attractive knife to begin with!

Anyway, who cares about the looks if the deployment improves.

The Zip Ties Tend to Move Around

And when you did strap the zip ties, make sure it is nice and secure. A loose zip tie means it will be pushed out of place when you EDC your knife in your pocket. And the protruding end will be pushed down when you deploy the blade, resulting in a half open knife, or a failed deployment. The problem becomes prevalent when you have elongated hole, like mine. This could be fixed of course, and fixing it is easy enough. You just strap on more than one zip tie and make sure they are nice and tight.

The Knife Blade Could Spring Back

A potential for serious injury! I forgot that slip joints behave differently than liner locks. If somehow you don’t pull the knife hard enough from your pocket, you might end up with a half-open blade. But just flick it after that, and the thing is fully open. The wave feature worked so well in Kershaw models, being spring assisted and with liner locks. Most of the Syderco brands use slip joints, which require a bit of effort when opening. And sometimes, the blade tends to shut back when not fully opened. And hopefully your fingers are not in the way when it did. To remedy this, one must give the knife a quick pull, so it will open fully.

Zip Ties Can Damage One’s Pocket

Just make sure you will do this in denim pants, or anything with tear-resistant pockets. Cutting zip ties will leave sharp ends, something that will rip the inside of your pockets. Again, this is not much of a problem, as by using larger zip ties or filing the sharp ends will solve everything. Or, just get tougher pants.

But It Works!

With all that mentioned, the zip tie mod still works. It is easy to get past the eyesore of extra plastic in the knife blade. The issues mentioned above are easy to fix. But after working with a modified pocket-knife for a week, this is what I thought.

Firstly, you don’t need to clip the knife in your pocket. Some people do this, so the knife will remain tip down and ready to deploy. My knife shares the pocket with my wallet, so it had no problem staying tip down.

And drawing an unclipped knife proves to be easier.

The pocket clip tends to offer extra resistance when drawing the knife. But when I draw an unclipped knife, I do this at an angle so the zip ties will engage the edge of the pocket.

But still, you could do this with your knife clipped. Unclipping your knife simply makes it discreet. And this is important considering that I work with a lot of fearful snowflakes.

It is also advisable to drill with this new style of deployment. Practice ten times both to test if the zip ties hold and to get used to the deployment.

As for the advantage it gives, well I have no problems with my knife’s deployment to begin with. And if you are used to flicking your knife open without any zip ties, there no need to tweak your blade to deploy faster. It will give you an edge in a defensive situation, but it’s not really a necessity in everyday work.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.


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