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A pocket knife may be small to look at and easy to conceal, but its usefulness isn’t insignificant at all. There are several purposes that often require the help of a pocket knife, from tearing packaging to opening boxes to cooking things like fish and meat.
A plenitude of professionals such as military service members, fishermen, hunters, and emergency personnel, carry pocket knives with them all the time. A knife also acts as a weapon for self-defense when a gun isn’t allowed or accessible.
Also known as Every Day Carry (EDC) knives, they can be hidden inside a pocket or in a pair of boots or concealed in a belt buckle, without anyone noticing. Even though small in size, an EDC knife is as dangerous as a dagger. They can be used for wounding and killing if need be. You may not be able to carry a pocket knife everywhere, particularly on a flight (as will be mentioned later), but it is a useful tool to own.
At a Glance: Our Choices for The 10 Best EDC Knives Under $50
Click on one of the links to go directly to our overview, opinion, and features of each knife.
What to look for in a great EDC knife
Pocket knives are popular. So much so that you can have several in various shapes and sizes around the house. But not all knives will perform equally. Depending upon the make, blade, and finish, one knife is better than the other.
There’s a reason why the popular brands became popular. It seems an easy task to just go out there and buy any pocket knife that appeals to you, but the real fun is when the knife breaks into two while you’re trying to open a box. Therefore, when buying an EDC knife, several factors must be considered, from the blade and pocket, to weight, to the design and cost.
Whether you buy an EDC knife online or from a store, the criteria for choosing the product don’t change. It’s true that buying a product online is a little hard because you can ascertain the quality, but that’s the reason you should only buy from reputed brands (more about that later). Let’s take a look at the factors to consider when buying an EDC knife.
Reason: You cannot purchase a knife just because it’s cool. Remember that a knife is a weapon, and you must have a good reason for owning one (or many). Besides being a weapon, a knife is also one of the oldest tools known to mankind. In the prehistoric times, stone flakes used to be treated as knives for cutting and hunting.
A pocket knife is a useful tool for cutting open crates, boxes, packaging, for cutting free a seat belt in an emergency, chopping small branches of trees, and to start a fire. If you’re a paramedic, fisherman, hunter, mechanic, plumber, or electrician, you will need an EDC knife every day. But if you’re none of those, then you must have a good reason for owning an EDC knife.
Local laws: Another vital factor to consider are the local laws where you live. Not all places allow you to carry a knife all the time. If your state permits the public possession and use of knives, always carry a copy of the knife law in your pocket or wallet. If in doubt, do not carry a knife.
Weight: Since an EDC knife is carried inside a pocket, its weight needs to be considered before purchase. How much is comfortable to carry in your pocket? The ideal weight shouldn’t be more than five ounces. Most lightweight pocket knives are capable of a lot, so you don’t need to go for the bigger, heavier ones like Crocodile Dundee used to walk around with or the Native American in the amazing sci-fi action thriller Predator.
Blade length and shape: Both the length and the shape should be determined by your purpose. The ideal blade length of EDC knives is between two and five inches. Anything longer than that is difficult to carry.
When it comes to blade shape, there are seven different types to choose from, depending on what you want to use the knife for. Some of the most popular blade shapes are the drop point, spear point, clip point, trailing point, tanto, sheepsfoot, and wharncliffe.
Edge: The edge of the blade determines how sharp your knife is and how easy it is to sharpen. While there are several different edge types, some of the most common ones are Full Flat Grind, V grind, and Hollow grind. Full Flat Grind is easy to sharpen and use since it has less surface area. V grinds blades weigh more because they have more volume in the body. Hollow grind blades are best for cutting delicate substances.
Handle material: EDC knives are usually made of either stainless steel or carbon steel, but the handle comes in a variety of different materials. Metal, thermoplastic, fiberglass reinforced nylon, and carbon fiber are some of the most common materials used to make EDC knife handles. Metal is the most expensive and usually less durable than other types of handles. There are often other features on the handle for better grip and control.
Cost: How much do you want to spend on a pocket knife? EDC knives begin from as little as $10, and go up to $2,000 for a custom made one. If you want decent quality under hundred dollars, there are several reputed brands that offer various types of EDC knives. At $50, you can get a quality EDC knife that will last for years.
Other features of an EDC knife to consider are blade and pocket retention, open mechanism, and lock type. These features vary from one knife to another. Brands offer the same knife in several different features, so you can pick the one that best suits your purposes.
The Top EDC Knives Under $50
Now that we know what to look for in a stellar EDC knife, let’s take a look at some of the best you can find under $50, without sacrificing quality.
Kershaw 1556TI Cryo II
One of the most popular brands of EDC knives today is Kershaw. The Kershaw 1556TI Cryo II is the older cousin of the renowned Cryo, designed by award-winning knife-maker Rick Hinderer.
The 3.25-inch blade is razor-sharp, made from heat-treated stainless steel that is tough, corrosion resistant, and has good edge retention. The whole knife is coated all over with titanium carbo-nitride for increased longevity, hardness, and edge maintenance.
The handle is made from stainless steel, with the built-in flipper or thumb knob making it super easy to open and use the knife with one hand. There’s also a lockbar to ensure the blade securely locks when open. The thin and lightweight knife can be comfortably carried in the pocket thanks to the four-position deep-carry pocket clip.
The slick knife is both good-looking and effective. The blade is sharp out of the box and doesn’t require sharpening. The simple design of the handle that feels great in the hand, while the frame lock disengages without much effort.
The knife sells online for $28, and considering the price, this is a stellar product. Since this is such a well-designed attractive knife, any knife enthusiast should have one in their collection.
Conclusion on the Kershaw 1556TI Cryo II: For a quality EDC knife within $30, it is hard to beat the Kershaw 1556TI Cryo II. Compact, comfortable, effective, and razor sharp, the knife is easy to use and carry and comes with a nice price.
Just don’t try to take this on an airplane!
Ontario Knife OKC Rat II
Those who have used and loved the Rat I will certainly love the Ontario Knife OKC Rat II as well. The Rat I is a big, tactical knife that offers complete bang for your buck. But it is definitely not pocket-friendly. That’s the reason why the Rat II is here. It has everything that the Rat I does, but is smaller.
The total length of the Rat II is 7 inches, with a three-inch blade. The knife weighs 2.75 ounces, which is the perfect size and weight for an EDC. It is easy to carry in the pocket, comfortable to handle, and the knife is sharp enough to get the job done.
The blade style is a modified drop point, and although the design is rather plain, the utilitarian blade is great for all kinds of tasks. The edge comes in a full flat grind, easily cutting through all types of material. The pointed tip is great for tasks requiring detail and precision, while the bright satin finish is good looking as well as corrosion resistant.
The stainless steel handle has an ergonomic design for the best grip and control. The rounded corners add to the comfort and precision, while the handle colors are attractive. The knife also comes with a pocket clip that has been given a satin black finish. It can be fit to any of the four corners of the knife. It is easy and smooth to disengage the blade, and the lockup is robust with a strong liner lock.
Conclusion on the Ontario Knife OKC Rat II: For under $40, this is a remarkable EDC knife. Convenient, comfortable, efficient, and is fairly priced, the Ontario Knife OKC Rat II should feature in every knife enthusiast’s collection.
No, your dog does not want this knife as a present – your dog wants some steak and eggs though!
If you’re looking for a knife that figures between compact and large, the Spyderco Tenacious ticks all the right boxes. The total length of the knife is a little more than seven inches, the blade is a little more than three inches, and the weight is around four ounces.
Not only is the blade long but it’s also quite wide at an inch and a half. The size is a little larger than the typical EDC knife, so if you’re interested in something smaller and more compact, you should look at the other knives by Spyderco.
The blade of the Tenacious is leaf-shaped and made of 8Cr13Mov Stainless steel. The steel is heat-treated, making it sharper, harder, and more durable. It is also easy to sharpen the Tenacious, even though the steel requires frequent sharpening with regular use. Though you certainly cannot sharpen it if you are using it to slice into your pancakes!
The edge is a full flat grind, which is great for cutting and slicing through anything. The Tenacious has a fairly big handle that is comfortable to hold and feels good in the hand. The rounded corners provide additional comfort. The knife also provides good traction and grip.
The deployment is smooth, the lock is solid, and the pocket clip fits the pocket nicely without damaging clothes. Overall, this is a quality knife at around $40.
Conclusion on the Spyderco Tenacious: The name is apt for the knife. No matter what you use it for, it will keep ticking for years. This well designed affordable knife is for those looking for a larger EDC.
Cold Steel Pro Lite Tanto
It isn’t always easy to find a good knife that’s also affordable. That’s what the Cold Steel Pro Lite is — a budget EDC knife that boasts of super quality. The blade of the knife is a little more than three inches long, the handle length is four and a half inches, and overall, the knife is exactly eight inches, weighing 3.2 ounces.
The knife is both stylish and useful. EDC knives are meant to be used, but that doesn’t mean the blades should look dull and plain.
The clip point blade of the knife is made of Krupps 4116 steel, which is durable and rust resistant but isn’t as good as the AUS-8A. It comes sharp out of the box, and is also easy to sharpen. The knife isn’t particularly small, but it has amazing ergonomics, is comfortable to use, and the thin blade slices through everything in its path.
The designer of the knife Andrew Demko put extra effort into the handle of the knife, and it clearly shows. The handle has great ergonomics that give you superior control over the knife. The guard does its job of keeping your hand from going forward but isn’t big enough to interfere with the cutting.
The finish is so perfect that it’s one of the most nimble blades you’ll ever get to see on a midsized knife. The deployment is slow because of the plastic washers, but the Tri-Ad lock is super.
Conclusion on the Cold Steel Pro Lite: Although not the greatest out there, the Cold Steel Pro Lite is a remarkably designed EDC knife at the $30 mark. Despite its flaws, the design shines through and makes this a good purchase.
No, you don’t want to use the Cold Steel Pro to carve up your Thanksgiving turkey! That would be ridiculous!
CRKT Drifter 6450K
Sometimes we want things to be simple. Keeping it simple is the beauty of the CRKT Drifter 6450K, a basic EDC knife that not only does the job, but also comes at an affordable price and boasts of some quality features. This affordable, no-nonsense pocket knife is easy to open and use, and comes in two variants: One with a stainless steel handle and the other with a G10 handle.
The former weighs 3.2 ounces, while the latter is 2.4 ounces. Both the variants have the same length of 6.5 inches, with a 2.88-inch blade. Those who love ultra lightweight knives should pick the latter. With the low weight and small size, the knife is a delight to carry and use, and figures among the best EDC knives of today.
The classic drop point blade has a swedge and hollow grind and also a gentle recurve, but nothing that makes it hard to sharpen. The pointy tip is good for detail work but not that will break easily. The G10 variant gets a gray Titanium Nitride and the stainless steel variant is satin finished.
The handle is long enough to fit comfortably, while the metal washers make the deployment smooth. The lock-in is also solid enough to keep the blade secure. Overall this is a decent EDC knife for under $25, and is sturdy enough to last a long time.
Conclusion on the CRKT Drifter 6450K: If you’re looking for your first EDC knife, you can’t go wrong with this one. Sturdy, sharp, and utilitarian, this super affordable knife will get the job done smoothly.
SOG Salute Folding Knife
SOG is known to make big quality outdoor gear, so the Salute Folding Knife doesn’t come as a surprise. This tactical knife has a 3.625-inch blade made of 8Cr13MoV stainless steel.
The blade is just the right size for comfortable one-handed deployment. The hard cased black finish imparts a sleek sophisticated look to the knife. The clip point shape of the blade facilitates a quicker action, sharpens easily, and completes the task fast enough.
The knife comes with a Lockback that keeps the blade secure while it’s in use, while the ergonomic handle made of G10 reinforced fiberglass with a black finish and no-slip texture fits comfortably in the hand. There’s also a pocket clip that allows you to discretely carry the knife everywhere. But you don’t want to carry this around into an MLB or an NBA game because that is not allowed and could land you in some trouble!
Conclusion on the SOG Salute Folding Knife: One of the most inexpensive EDC knives out there, the SOG Salute isn’t the best that is out there, but does the job and is sturdy enough to last. It also looks attractive, thanks to the black finish of the blade.
Buck Knives 286 Bantam
Buck has a reputation for quality knives, and the 286 Bantam is no exception. It’s lightweight, with the blade measuring a little more than three inches. The knife is a mid-lockback featuring a range of enhancements for convenient use. The drop point tip has a swedge on top and no serrations.
There is also a thumb stud on each side for easy opening. The blade is made of 420HC steel. The five-inch-long handle is made of black thermoplastic, and has three finger grooves and contouring. The wide sloping edge of the knife slices through everything easily, while the textured handle provides ample grip and control.
Conclusion on the Buck Knives 286 Bantam: If you don’t want to spend more than $20 on a pocket knife, then the 286 Bantam offers you a nice price for a quality product. The handle does feel too light and the blade can cut bad if not careful, but the knife is good for everyday use though this does not mean you want to use it to smooth the jelly and peanut butter out on your sandwich. That is a little illogical!
Smith & Wesson Extreme Ops SWA24S
Looking for something under $15? Yes, there’s an EDC for you. It’s the Smith & Wesson Extreme Ops SWA24S, a midsized pocket knife that has a blade 3.1 inches of length and weighs 3.5 ounces. The blade is made of 7Cr17MoV Black Oxide stainless steel, and has a black aluminum handle.
There is no spring assist and the thumb knob allows easy deployment and closing of the knife. The design is simple, with no pointy end that could damage the pocket. The blade is sharp out of the box and is durable.
Conclusion Smith & Wesson Extreme Ops SWA24S: This is a remarkable knife under $15. It’s functional, durable, and razor sharp. As a first EDC knife, this a perfect choice.
Gerber Freeman Guide Folding Knife
Are you looking for an affordable knife that also gives topnotch performance? Look no further than the Gerber Freeman Guide Folding Knife, which has a blade length of 3.6 inches, and a total weight of 6.6 ounces.
Yes, it’s a heavy knife, but it is still compact enough to carry comfortably on the belt or in the pocket. The blade is made of stainless steel, and has a strong and robust construction. The handle has a soft rubber grip for better control and traction. The blade is also pretty sharp out of the box.
Conclusion on the Gerber Freeman Guide Folding Knife: Although a decent knife at a bargain price, this EDC is too heavy for everyday use and has a blade too big. If you don’t mind the weight of the knife, this is a good one at a good price. But using it to smooth out the ketchup at your son’s Little League game when eating a hot dog from the snack bar is probably not a decent image you want to offer the public!
Hoffman Richter HR-30
For unmatched performance, it’s hard to beat the Hoffman Richter HR-30 tactical folding knife. A strong, sharp, long (3.75 inches) blade, sturdy and heavy design, and remarkable sharpness and efficiency are some of the key selling points of this ED knife that retails for $40 online.
Conclusion on the Hoffman Richter HR-30: At this price, the knife exceeds expectations. The superb edge retention, the feel and the sharpness of the blade, besides the stylish design, make the knife score full marks.
The Richter is impressive but no, your wife does not want this on her anniversary!
Armed with this handy guide, it shouldn’t be difficult to choose the next EDC knife to add to your collection. Within $50, these are ten great EDC knives you can find in the market today.