Best Pocket Knife Definitive Guide
Everyone has their best pocket knife favourite. The pocket knife is like an extension of the hand. They can get you out of an endless array of jams and make even the simplest of everyday tasks even easier. Choosing the right pocket knife can be a difficult task, so we are here to help you make a better choice.
Types of Pocket Knives
Pocket knives comes in many forms: a single folding blade, 2 or 3 blades of different lengths and purposes, or a mix of blades and tools in the form of multi-tools and Swiss Army-style knives. In this guide, we will take a closer look exclusively at single blade folding knives, as they are most commonly associated with everyday carry.
What Makes a Quality Pocket knife?
With so many options to choose from, deciding on the best pocket knife for you depends on a variety of factors.
- How frequently will you be using your knife?
- Are you right-handed or left-handed?
- What will you be cutting the most?
- Will you use your knife indoors or outdoors?
These questions, in addition to other circumstantial factors, will come into play when choosing a good knife for everyday carry. Additionally, there are a few aspects that differentiate among single blade folding knives, each of ultimately depend on your individual preference.
Most quality pocket knives employ the use of stainless steel, carbon steel, titanium, or some other steel alloy. A blade goes through a complex series of tests to evaluate the steel’s hardness, blade sharpness and edge retention, wear and corrosion resistance, and other factors of strength and durability.
Quality pocket knives should be razor sharp straight out of the box and hold their edge without chipping or bending. Some materials and blade styles are easier to sharpen than others, something to consider when deciding on yours.
Blades come in a variety of lengths and point styles, the most common of which are the clip point and drop point. Then there is the option of serrated blades, which may run for a portion or the entirety of the blade. Plain edge blades fail to perform the sawing tasks of serrated blades but are generally preferred for their precision cutting and slicing and ease of sharpening.
For maximum effectiveness on tasks big and small, a handle should be strong, resist moisture and abrasion. It should also give you a comfortable and interchangeable grip to alter the way you handle the blade. An easy to grip handle make a blade safer to handle, but the handle also contributes to the overall weight, balance, and profile of the knife.
In frame lock knives, a piece or part of the handle itself serves as the locking mechanism for the blade and must be high quality to serve its role safely and effectively. In other styles of locking mechanism, the handle typically houses the locking components, and must therefore be built to protect the system. Another thing to consider is that some knives are made with an elaborately designed handle at the cost of a quality blade, so opt for well balanced.
A blade locking mechanism is a safety feature that serves to secure the blade in place when in use to prevent it from folding closed in your hands and causing serious injury. Most locking pocket knives employ the use of one of three styles of lock: liner, frame, or back lock.
Liner locks, or locking liners, first came around in the 1980s and is now the most popular form of pocket knife locking mechanism. This system uses two additional pieces of steel within the frame of the liner, one of which slides inward to lock the blade in place when opened.
To disengage a liner lock, you manually move the liner over from beneath the blade to close it. The handle of frame locks are normally made of thicker steel in order to apply enough pressure to keep the blade securely opened when engaged.
Back locks are one of the most common forms of pocket knife locking mechanism. Back locks predate both systems and have long been renowned for their reliability. The back lock employs the use of a locking arm that fits along the spine of the handle and is fitted with a hook that fits into a notch behind the blade.
Reviews of the 5 Best Pocket Knife
The following reviews features several knives considered by the knife community to be among the best overall selections for their quality of materials, sharpness, overall versatility, and affordability. The chosen knives strike a good balance between application and design and use the best materials and trade techniques in the manufacturing process. To view more pocket knife, go to our knife comparison chart created to help you make a better decision.
SOG Flash II
The SOG Flash II features a blade length of 3.5-inches and an overall length of 8-inches when opened. It is constructed of AUS-8 steel, a medium carbon variety of stainless steel with high chromium content, known for its rust resistance and edge retention.
The handle is made of glass-reinforced nylon (GNR), a very strong material gaining in popularity partly because of its lightweight. GNR is also quite resistant to contact with chemicals like those found in motor oil and transmission fluid that could come into contact with the knife.
The SOG Flash II has a great, ergonomic feel at 3.1-ounces. The Flash II uses SOG’s signature SOG Assisted Technology (SAT) and features dual thumb studs to quickly open the blade for easy, ambidextrous deployment. The knife features a very sturdy tip-up pocket clip that allows it to ride low in the pocket without exposing any of the knives, great for discreet EDC. We also did a full SOG Flash I review, its predecessor which you can read more.
For other SOG pocket, you can read our review of SOG SlimJim here.
Kershaw Ken Onion Leek Folding Knife with Speed Safe
The Kershaw Leek by Ken Onion is one of the most elegant everyday carry knives you’ll ever lay your hands on. It looks like an accessory for a business professional, but performs like any fisherman’s best gutting blade.
The entirety of the knife is made of stainless steel for a sleek and streamlined design all the way through when opened or closed. The blade itself is made of Sandvik 13C26 stainless steel that’s razor sharp straight from the box with truly lasting edge retention.
The handle, measuring 4-inches when closed, is also made of bead-blasted stainless steel fortified with recessed bolts. Like the Kershaw Ken Onion Chive and the Ken Onion Ripple, the Leek opens via Onion’s signature Speed Safe assisted-opening system. Just a little manual pressure applied to the ambidextrous dual thumb studs or rear flipper helps open the knife with ease.
A frame lock keeps the blade secured in place while in use and a tip-lock slider–the only part of the knife made of plastic–keeps the blade closed when not in use. The Kershaw Leek weighs a little over three ounces, has an incredibly stylish aesthetic, and is one, sharp EDC., the Leek opens via Onion’s signature Speed Safe assisted-opening system. Just a little manual pressure applied to the ambidextrous dual thumb studs or rear flipper helps open the knife with ease.
Benchmade Barrage Osborne Design 581S, Partially Serrated Folding Knife
The blade of the Benchmade 581 Barrage is 3.6-inches long and extends to an overall length of 8.35-inches when opened. the Barrage is made with a great balance and manages to weigh mere 3.2-ounces, significantly less than most comparable sized knives.
The blade is forged of Bohler M390 Super Steel, tool-grade steel often used in surgical cutting instruments. With a high concentration of Chromium and Vanadium, the blade has exceptional wear and abrasion resistance in addition to precision sharpness.
As tool-grade steel, it is made to withstand consistent use in the outdoors and in the elements, as it will maintain its strength, shine, and sharpness no matter how much moisture, dirt, or sunlight exposure it sees. The 581 is an assisted opening pocket knife that uses Benchmade’s AXIS system, considered one of the industry’s best designs.
The handle on the Barrage is a mix of textured G-10 scales and an aluminium bolster, designed for both grip and strength. The handle’s two-toned color/texture scheme is both elegant and practical. Overall, the Benchmade 581 Barrage is one, tough EDC pocket knife that will prove its value when it’s still your go-to in ten years time. Also, you can read the review of the non serrated Benchmade 581 Barrage.
Buck 112BRS Ranger Hunting 3″
Buck has been one of the most iconic producers of locking hunting-style knives since 1964. The 112 Ranger, and its larger sibling the 110 Hunter, have their imitators, but nothing stands up against the Post Falls, Idaho-made classic from Buck.
The 3-inch blade is made from 420HC (high carbon) rust and corrosion resistant stainless steel that holds a razor-sharp edge. The Ranger features Buck’s classic looking Ebony wood grain handle flanked with quality brass bolsters, giving the knife an equally rustic and elegant look.
Buck was one of the originators and first mass producers of the rear lock-back system that is a safe and simple way to keep the blade open and resistant to accidental closing. Designed with hunting and fishing tasks in mind, the clip point Bowie-style blade is a great choice for gutting and skinning, and an all-around versatile pick for wilderness and survival purposes. Those wanting a no-frills pocket knife with a timeless look that will stand up to the toughest tasks should stop their search with the Buck 112 Ranger.
556 Benchmade Pardue Mini-Griptilian Manual Folding Knife
The Griptilian Mini falls has become a popular EDC choice among knife enthusiasts. It’s the perfect sized knife for nearly any home, work, or outdoor task and at just over 2.5 ounces you’ll barely know it’s in your pocket. The 2.91-inch drop point blade is made of 154CM stainless steel that can be easily sharpened and holds its edge.
The Griptilian has a smooth action using ambidextrous thumb studs and features Benchmade’s AXIS locking system, which engages a small, spring-loaded steel bar that shifts between the handle liners and engages a machined notch to securely lock the blade in place. The handle is made of incredibly lightweight Zytel with a grippy, no-slip finish for use in any conditions.
With consistent positive reviews across the board and a price tag of roughly 80 bucks, the Griptilian Mini is one of the most practical Benchmade EDC pocket knives. For more pocket knife selection, that you can view our comparison of other pocket here.
Hope You Can Make A Better Choice Now
By now you have a better sense of what to look for when choosing the best pocket knife. Remember, with a good pocket knife in your pocket, you’ll always be prepared for those little tasks that get in the way of your day.