BLADE Magazine

The Navaja: A Spanish Gem

Navaja

The Navaja Is A Sleek, Svelte Folder Originating From Spain Hundreds Of Years Ago. Today It Remains Popular In Both The Real And Digital Worlds.

The Navaja is one of the most interesting knives in the world. Its history can be pinpointed to the Andalusia region of southern Spain, and its growth and evolution since its creation more than 400 years ago has been well-documented. 

The History Of The Navaja

The first Navajas that resembled the modern version came to be in the 1600s. The name is derived from the Latin word “novacula” which means razor, and you can see the resemblance to a straight razor in its construction with the long, thin blade that folds away neatly into the handle.

The knife became popular during a period when, unless you were a nobleman, there were many restrictions on swords and other blades. This meant that the Navaja developed as a peasant’s knife and was used for all sorts of utility tasks. One thing that made using it a bit difficult was the fact that it didn’t lock when opened. Later Navajas would have locking mechanisms, but the first versions didn’t. Most notably the Navaja made a distinctive cracking/popping sound as the blade was opened, differentiating it from other knives.

Thanks to the steel innovations that allowed the knife to lock, the Navaja spread its wings and made its way out of Spain and to nearby countries like France. As the knife continued to evolve it was banned by rulers, then became a popular tool for rich and poor alike, and was used as a versatile combat knife. In fact, it became the knife of choice among muggers who would rob people in alleyways and other dark urban areas. Victims knew they were about to be robbed when they heard the unmistakable popping sound the Navaja made when a mugger opened it.

Roughly a century ago, the Navaja began to fall out of favor with knife lovers. However, it continues to endure thanks to a handful of makers crafting their versions, and, in an extremely modern twist, it has become a popular knife to use for players of the video game Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.

Kings County Tools Navaja-Style Knife

A great modern representation of the Navaja is seen in this folder from Kings County Tools.

The blade is not just razor sharp but also razor thin. At three inches in length and just .25 inch wide, the stainless steel knife is excellent at precise, detailed tasks. The brass and steel handle is both handsome and provides an excellent grip while cutting.

Not quite a razor and not quite a penknife, this Navaja shows what the knife can be and how different it is from other folders on the market.

MSRP: $34.75

Castillo Knives Navaja

Castillo Knives Navaja – Olive Wood Handle

A different interpretation of the Navaja comes from Spain-based Castillo Knives. Their Navaja is similar to contemporary lockback knives in many ways and is an all-rounder in every sense of the term. 

The blade is made from Sandvik 14C28N stainless steel and the handle comes in a variety of materials, from two types of Micarta® to four types of wood. Every version looks great, and the 3-inch straight-back blade has a small bit of deep jimping on the spine to aid in grip and force when cutting. Every knife comes with a leather pocket sheath and a 240-grit bonded ceramic sharpening stone.

All told, this 6.5-inch piece is a well-made gem.

MSRP: $109 (Micarta versions), $119 (wood versions)

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