When looking for the best pocket knife, make sure you follow these simple yet weird tips or else you might be in for a big shock. Pocket knives can vary greatly in terms of design and, for that reason, you should pick one based on your intended usage. This guide will walk you through what you should look for in a pocket knife as well as the top 10 pocket knives recommended by KnifeUp.
Unlike other reviews online, this review is part personal review as well as part meta-review (we research the web and are reporting what other people are stating about the best pocket knife). The benefit of this to you is that you save time! Read on as I share with you some amazing knives.
What to Look for a Pocket Knife
The best pocket knife for you depends upon what your intended use for the pocket knife is. If you are planning on using it for hunting, you will need a different knife than if you were planning on using it for everyday carry.
This guide will walk you through what you should look for in an all-around great pocket knife that will last you for years in a wide range of tasks. These are pocket knives that you can easily and legally (see what knives are legal in your state) carry in your pocket day in and day out. These knives are great for cutting up thick shipping boxes, slicing apples, or even self defense.
Brand DOES Matter!
Believe it or not, a knife’s brand really matters. Name brand knives are, on one hand, more expensive than cheap knives but, on the other hand, will give you less headaches as well as last longer.
For example, Benchmade allows you to send in any knife of theirs for as long as you own it to the factor for restoration. They will sharpen the blade to the correct angle, adjust all screws, replace worn down parts, and give it a factory shine. Non-name brands do not offer this.
On top of that, name brand knives give you better customer service. If you would like to sharpen a knife to factory condition at home, you can call the manufacturer’s customer service number and ask about the angle the factory uses for a certain model. No only will the representative tell you, he might also give you insights about the knife that you didn’t know before–that was my experience with Cold Steel when I called them.
Some big brands also issue lifetime guarantees with their knives. This makes the $50-$100 investment in a good knife worth it. If you purchased a flea market knife for $20 and, every year, it breaks, after 5 years, you’ve spent $100! By paying a little more upfront at first, you save yourself money in the long run for the best pocket knife.
Great Steel Makes Great Knives
It should be no surprise that a great knife is made from great steel. All the knives reviewed here use top quality steel that will keep it’s blade over a lot of tough use. If you are interested in what a certain steel’s properties are, use KnifeUp’s search widget on the top right–KnifeUp has an extensive collection of steel guides. KnifeUp also recommends this steel guide.
Don’t Ignore the Handle!
If you are planning on carry a knife every day, you must get a knife that has a great handle. Cheap plastic handles will hurt your hands and give you blisters after long, heavy use. Some handles will warp or fade colors when exposed to UV light; avoid these if you are outdoors a lot. The knives reviewed here all have high quality handles and this guide will talk about each one in depth further on.
For Safety Reasons, Have A Good Lock
A pocket knife is a folding knife and, for that reason, you must have a good lock on the knife if you are planning on using the knife for heavy duty purposes. A lock prevents the blade from closing when you are using it and higher quality locks give the knife a firmer feel. Cheap knives use small or flimsy locks that will make the blade wobble after time.
EDC Requires a Good Clip
If you are planning on carrying a knife everyday, a good, secure clip is vital. Low quality clips can damage your pants or break. Poorly designed clips do not secure themselves properly to your pants and, often times, lead themselves to falling out of your pocket. Look for a smooth clip with no sharp edges.
Avoid clips that have a protruding screw, even if the screw is beveled. Try to get a clip that allows the knife to sit deep inside your pockets. Some clips can also be too tight and make it hard to remove a knife from your pocket.
My Top 10 Recommendations
Below are the top 10 pocket knives that would be great for almost any use. Their ratings were based upon quality, price, and features.
#10 Buck & Tops CSAR-T
Buck Knives and Tops teamed up to produce the CSAR-T. Tops is a famous custom knife maker whose designs are considered one of the best. Buck knives is a large knife manufacturer whose production capabilities allow for this sturdy $85 knife.
The CSAR-T is short for Combat Search and Rescue Tool. Given its purpose, the knife performs exceptionally well.
The knife has a ATS-34 steel blade with a tanto tip. ATS-34 is a high grade stainless steel. With regards to stainless steel in general, ATS-34 is low in corrosion resistance but, for EDC use, this steel is fine–just don’t go diving with it.
The knife comes with a condor sheath that, for a pocket knife, is rare and worth a good price by itself. The condor sheath fits MOLLE gear for military and law enforcement personnel.
The handle is made of G-10 and has a steel liner. The steel liner gives the knife a very solid feel when open or close. When cutting, the liner makes the knife feel as if it is a fixed blade knife. The liner lock is very thick and solid.
34 online reviewers gave this knife 4.5 out of 5 stars and called it “one great knife,” “helluva knife,” and “hulk knife.” KnifeUp highly recommends this knife for mid-range consumers who need a good EDC or heavy duty knife.
#9 Columbia River Knife and Tool (CRKT) M16
CRKT is an Oregon based knife company whose knives are mostly produced in China and Taiwan. Overseas production allows them to have a much lower price point than other knife manufacturers. The M16 is a $32 knife that was designed for everyday carry.
The knife has a 3 inch AUS4 steel blade with a spear point tip that is coated black to protect against glare. AUS4 is not as good as AUS8 but, given its price, is much better than 440 or other possible steels in this price range.
The knife features CRKT’s AutoLAWK which is not that much more difficult than a traditional liner lock but gives the knife a much more stable feel. The knife’s handle is made of Zytel and lacks a steel liner. The lack of features reduced the M16’s price point but, for the knife was well designed, does not reduce it’s performance.
45 online reviewers stated that the knife was 4.5 out of 5 stars. Comments such as “great product,” “great knife,” and “great, light-weight utility knife,” were common. KnifeUp recommends this knife if you are someone who is worried that you’ll lose a knife. At this price, the knife performs well and, if you happen to lose it, it is no big deal.
#8 Benchmade 581
The 581 is the Mercedes of knives. This knife, priced at $200, features M390 Super Steel, a G10 and Aluminum handle, as well as Benchmade’s patented AXIS assist lock. KnifeUp would rate this knife higher but, for the price is very high, it is not practical for all readers.
The two toned, aluminum and G10 handle gives the knife a very shiny and smooth look when closed or open. The knife weights 3.2 ounces and opens in a split second. The AXIS assist has a safety lock that can lock the knife in the open or close position. Safeties are common on super dangerous items such as guns but, given how the AXIS lock is, it is fitting.
The knife is very well built and, when you hold it, it is easy to see that the knife has a huge amount of harmony in design, production, and use.
The clip is reversible and compliments the handle nicely. The knife’s M390 tool steel is extremely tough, giving the knife a super sharp edge as well as it’s high price tag.
#7 Cold Steel Recon 1
Cold Steel, a California based knife maker, was formed in 1980 and offers a wide variety of good knives, machetes, and martial arts equipment at reasonable prices. Cold Steel also has bi-annual factory second sales on their products.
The Recon 1 is a tactically designed knife that has a AUS-8A Teflon coated blade to prevent glare, reduce friction, and look tough. The blade has a clip point which makes it great for stabbing. AUS-8A is a high quality Japanese steel that is much better than other steels in this price range. The 4 inch long blade gives you plenty of room for slicing, dicing, and all other cutting needs. The knife has a thumb stub that opens the blade with ease. The stud is adjustable.
The knife has a locking lever that is super tough and sturdy. Once you purchase the knife, the lock will be tough but, after time, the lock will break in. The lock makes the knife feel very secure.
The handle lacks a steel liner but, given that it is made of G-10, the handle is not flimsy and compliments the lock very well. The G-10 handle is very sticky.
However, the G-10 handle is not smooth behind the clip and this reduces the knife’s ability to be drawn out of one’s pocket. The clip is adjustable and rides low in one’s pocket. The fact that the knife sticks to one’s pocket is a major downside to this knife.
103 reviewers online gave this knife 4.5 out of 5 stars. Their reviews stated that the knife was “sturdy, solid and very sharp,” “blade is beyond razor sharp,” and “almost perfect.” KnifeUp recommends this knife for occasional utility use.
#6 Kershaw Blur
Kershaw, an Oregon based knife company, has been around since 1974. The company produces pocket knives, sporting knives, and kitchen knives. The company has a second brand, Zero Tolerance, that produces high end knives as well.
The Blur is a popular line of knives that opens in a blur. It features a thumb stud that, once you master it, can open the knife as fast as a switchblade. This is not an automatic knife however, it is just a very well designed knife by Ken Onion.
The blade is made of 440A, a so-so metal. The metal is not the greatest but, at $53, it is adequate. Online reviewers stated that the knife comes razor sharp. An advantage to 440A is that it sharpens easily if you need to sharp it at home. Other, harder steels sometimes require professional sharpening.
The handle is made of aluminum with Trac-Tec inserts. These inserts feel like silicon and gives the handle a very sticky feel. For the price, the handle is adequate as well.
The clip is adjustable for tip up or down carry. However, the clip is tight in my opinion and I would not recommend this knife for tactical use.
241 online reviewers stated that this knife was 4.5 stars out of 5. KnifeUp views that, for the price, the Blur is a great budget folding knife. It does the job well given its limitations.
#5 XM-2TS by Ontario
Ontario is a prominent knife manufacturer that produces lots of military knives. Ontario was contracted for many famous military knives such as M7 bayonet, M1942 machete, and USAF survival knife. Given that, their knives are all well designed and built for the hardest uses.
The XM-2TS, the second in the XM series, is marketed as “extreme military” and is made in Italy. The knife is made fully of metal and does not use a single plastic part. This gives the knife a very sturdy feel.
The blade is made of N690Co stainless steel and features a liner lock. The blade is partially serrated for cutting rope and other natural items. The blade has an ultra sharp point that is clearly designed for stabbing. It also features a blood groove.
The handle is made of aircraft aluminum and, unlike the XM1, the XM2’s handle is lighter and smaller. The improved handle makes the XM2 a better EDC knife than the XM1. The clip is reversible.
At $112, the knife is not cheap but, for it was designed for the military, it is well priced.
#4 Case Cutlery Black Trapper
Case Cutlery, full name W.R. Case and Sons Cutlery, is based in New York State and mainly produces traditional pocket knives and pen knives. These knives look and feel like classic pocket knives and are not suited for heavy duty use.
The knife is small (4.1 inches long) and light (4.8oz). The blade uses surgical steel and is razor sharp. The blade opens easily with one hand and features a liner lock. The knife’s handle is made of a tough synthetic material that feels sturdy. The clip holds the knife securely in your pocket but, unlike other knives featured here, is not reversible.
This knife is good if you want a classic looking knife that is ultra sharp for small, light tasks such as cutting an apple and opening a letter. The knife’s handle and design does not lend itself to tough uses. For $95, the knife is expensive but, given the brand, it is moderate.
#3 Benchmade 275BKSN
Benchmade, a high end knife manufacturer from Oregon, produces great knives as well as balisongs. Benchmade also has a patent on its AXIS lock technology which makes folding knives feel just like fixed blade knives with regards to sturdiness. The Sibert uses the AXIS lock. The Sibert is apart of the ADAMAS line of knives that were military designed and inspired. Part of the proceeds also go to injured veterans.
One of the first things you’ll realize when you hold the Sibert is that it is heavy! Weighing 12 ounces, it is a tank and, given its military design, is fitting. This knife is for super heavy duty users and military personnel only. The weight makes it too heavy to be an EDC in my book.
The blade is razor sharp and made of D2 tool steel. D2 is a very high quality steel that has high wear resistance. It’ll stay sharp forever and is only used on the best knives. The blade features a small blood groove and a well positioned thumb stud. The drop point and AXIS lock makes the knife feel very tough and uniformed. Given its heavy duty purpose, the blade performs exceptionally well.
The handle has three holes that gives the knife a very sturdy hold. The handle is made of G-10, a very sturdy and light material. The blade flips open easily out the handle and one is able to open the knife with one hand easily. The knife has no lock to keep the blade close however but, at this weight, I don’t expect it opening by itself on accident.
Online reviewers stated that the knife is “perfect,” “could replace dog as man’s best friend,” and is a “folder that can work like a fixed blade.” KnifeUp agrees and, if you are a in need of a heavy duty knife, the 275BKSN is the knife for you. At $144, the knife is well priced.
#2 Aegis by SOG
SOG is a reputable US knife maker who has been producing quality knives designed for military, law enforcement, and outdoors use since 1986. The company’s first knife was a redesign of the SOG Knife, a knife used by special forces soldiers in Vietnam. Today, the majority of their products are designed with heavy duty use in mind and the Aegis is no exception.
The Aegis features a digital camo printed Zytel handle that resembles a mixture of the Army’s Multi-Cam uniform and its ACU uniform. Zytel is a mixture of nylon and fiberglass which gives the handle a very secure and durable feel. Some reviewers online stated that the handle is plastic but they are incorrect, it is Zytel, a much sturdier material.
The handle features a super low riding clip that allows the knife to be seated very, very low in one’s pants pocket. This is great for military members during marches and field exercises where losing a knife is a big ordeal. The clip is reversible for lefties.
The blade, made of AUS-8, is a great all around steel. AUS-8 is a Japanese made medium carbon steel that is high in chromium. The carbon content gives the steel extra hardness while the chromium gives it rust resistance. The blade comes razor sharp right out of the box and is partially serrated. The serrated edge is great for cutting rope and other natural materials.
The Aegis uses SOG Assisted Technology (SAT) to give users a very fast opening with one hand. Along with the pointy tip and guard, the Aegis is able to be used in self defense situations if needed. The spring assisted opening also features a safety that prevents the knife from opening on accident.
The Aegis received 4.5 stars on online reviews and was stated to be “well crafted,” “a good everyday carry knife,” and “one of the best pocket knives I have owned.” Given its price of $65, the Aegis is a great tool for anyone who is in law enforcement, military, or any other heavy duty users. The Aegis can be a great survival knife as well given its rugged features.
#1 Delica4 by Spyderco
Spyderco, a company based out of Golden, Colorado (where Coors is brewed), has been around since 1976. The company is focused on innovating and creating better knife technology and, because of that, the president, Sal Glesser, was placed in the Blade Magazine Hall of Fame. Spyderco specializes in folding knives.
The Delica4, the fourth installment of the Delica series, is one of Spyderco’s most popular and best selling knife. The knife is ultra light weight at 2.5oz and perfect for EDC. Other, more heavy duty knives, can handle harder tasks but the Delica4’s VG-10 steel allows it to withstand harsh work if needed.
The Delica4 features Spyderco’s signature “Spyder Hole.” The Spyder Hole allows one to open the knife fast with one’s thumb even when wearing gloves. It is much more ergonomic than a thumb stud and will not irritate your thumb after prolonged use.
The clip is a 4-way clip that allows you to position it in many different ways, giving you ultimate comfort when carrying this knife. The clip is smooth, sturdy, and yet springy. It can securely attach itself to your pants and, yet, still allow you to quickly remove the knife in a second. The clip has three screws that prevent it from sliding. Knives whose clip is secured by two or one screw will not be as stable as the Delica4.
The Delica4’s handle is made of Spyderco’s classic Bi-Directional Texturing that is featured on a lot of their knives. The texturing gives you grip in a very comfortable and ergonomic manner. The handle has steel liners that adds a feeling of stability to the knife when you use it. The handle also has a pivot screw that allows you to adjust the screw if the blade becomes loose.
The Delica4 uses a David Boye Dent lock and this lock is a very, very good lock. Even under a super firm grip, the lock still holds. You can trust this lock even under the most demanding tasks.
Reviewers have rated this knife 4.5 stars, stating that it is the “perfect EDC” as well as “best EDC [knife] available for the price.” Given its super low price of $58, KnifeUp agrees and recommends this knife as the top knife for anyone who needs an all around good knife for day to day use.
Within this article, we reviewed what you should look for in the best pocket knife as well as 10 great knives on the market today. Based upon your needs, the ordering might or might not be accurate for you. Take our guidelines into consideration when you are buying a knife. If you have any recommendations, leave them in the comment box below.