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While many wouldn’t agree, it cannot be denied that the need for a knife can arise at any time. Whether you’re at home, traveling, or going on an outdoor adventure, the humble knife can prove to be vital and useful in a number of situations (you should not have to watch Expendables, 24, or The Hunted to figure this out!). A large number of people still look at the knife as only a weapon. But it was the first tool man ever invented.
From cutting logs to make a fire to hunting animals for food, the earliest humans did everything with these sharp tools that they made out of rocks and stones. These days, knives come in various forms. There are large knives for making mince meat and smaller ones for self-defense. You can even get knives in the form of a keychain. Though small and easy to conceal, they are highly useful.
Can they stand up against the bigger knives? Probably not, but they are useful for several purposes, from cutting open a package, to removing tags from new clothing, or defending yourself against wild cats. It weighs a little more than a keychain, and is a versatile tool to keep in your pocket.
At a Glance: Our Choices for The 10 Best Keychain Knives
Click on one of the links to go directly to our overview, opinion, and features of each knife.
Things to Consider When Choosing a Keychain Knife
A keychain knife is meant to look like just another set of keys in your pocket. Knife enthusiasts would love to carry their everyday carry knives everywhere, but such a prospect is highly impractical. Thankfully, technology had advanced far enough to let you carry a knife the size of a keychain. Cool!
These knives are so shockingly small that first-timers may wonder if they are of any use at all. You’ll be surprised that these knives often offer better value compared to their bigger counterparts.
There are various types of keychain knives available today. You can get one online for as little as $5. But not all keychain knives will perform the same. One will always be better than the other, depending upon the make, blade, and finish. There are some very popular brands around, and there’s a reason why they became popular. They offer everything that is desired in a keychain knife.
It might seem like an easy task to buy a keychain knife because they cost so little, but some of them can be frustrating to use and the bad ones can even slice off the top of your finger. Therefore, whether you buy a keychain knife online or from a store, several factors must be considered before purchase, from the blade, to size, to the design and cost.
Even if you buy a keychain knife online, the criteria for choosing one remains the same as when you buy one from a store. Buying a product online is a little different because you can’t hold and feel the product to ascertain the quality. To make sure you get only the best, you should buy only from known or proven brands (though this is not always the case – perhaps a new business is putting out a stellar product for a decent price – every fantastic business has to start somewhere). With that said, let’s look at the factors to consider when buying a keychain knife.
Size: A keychain knife should be no bigger or heavier than a set of keys. In fact, it is meant to be carried inside a pocket or a purse, disguised as a keychain. The size and weight of the knife is one of the first things to consider. What size will comfortably fit in your pocket or purse?
The ideal weight shouldn’t be more than three ounces, and no more than four or five inches when open. Keychain knives are capable of a lot, so you can safely by a lightweight one without worrying about functionality.
Blade: The ideal blade length of keychain knives is between one and two inches. Most keychain knives are between 0.5 and 0.7 inches when closed, and when open, the blade extends another inch or so. The blade is usually made of steel, most common being AUS 8A, 3CR13, and 420C stainless steel.
The handle is usually made from glass filled nylon for maximum durability and ease of use. Since a keychain knife is tiny, the easiest blade shape to achieve is the drop point, although there are other shapes too, such as a serrated blade. All these factors come together to make an ideal keychain knife.
Attachments: Keychain knives – especially the branded ones – usually come with a lot of attachments. Most knives come with a keyring and bottle opener, but good ones also come with a nail filer, scissors, screwdriver, toothpick, and tweezers. Yes, when you buy a good keychain knife, you get to carry a multi-utility tool with you all the time. Whether you need to uncork a bottle or need a pair of scissors urgently, having a multipurpose keychain chain is a wise idea.
Cost: How much are you willing to spend on something the size of a house key? Keychain knives come for as little as $5, and can even be as costly as $100, depending upon the brand, the build, and the attachments. If you don’t need the knife for much, then $5 knife will suffice, but if you need more functionality, then there are more expensive options.
You should not expect to obtain a high-quality knife or even an average quality knife for $5.
Top 10 Keychain Knives
Given the wide range of keychain knives available on the market, picking the right one can be confusing. There are budget options, as well as expensive ones that come with a number of attachments. Below are the top ten keychain knives.
If you’re looking for a really tiny knife that disappears in your pocket, you should be looking at the Spyderco Manbug. Spyderco is known for making multi-utility tools, but you cannot admire the Manbug enough until you hold it in your hand.
At only 0.64 ounces, this is one of the lightest, tiniest, and most portable keychain knives you can ever get. It is easy to clip onto your keychain, or let it float free in your pocket. It also locks solid, just like an EDC knife. You cannot imagine how small it is until you see it for yourself, but it’s easy to open with one hand, and also has fantastic grip. It’s like a diminutive version of a regular pocket knife.
The knife is 4.5 inches when open and 2.5 inches when closed. The blade is constructed of high-quality VG-10 steel, while the handle is fiberglass reinforced nylon, a standard on all Spyderco knives. As mentioned earlier, the handle offers excellent grip, despite the size. Even when wet, there’s little chance it’s going to slip out of your hand and get lost somewhere.
The size, combined with the fiberglass reinforced nylon, makes this knife ultralight. Since the handle isn’t metal, you can carry the knife along with your keys with adding to the jingle in your pockets. The knife doesn’t come with a keychain, but can be attached to your existing keyring easily. There is no other tool included either.
Conclusion on the Spyderco Manbug: This is a quality keychain knife if you don’t mind spending $35. There’s everything here that you would ever desire from a tiny knife, and it performs beautifully. The Manbug also has a slightly smaller version called Ladybug, targeted at women. If both partners are knife enthusiasts, the pair could make a nice gift or collectible.
Cold Steel Micro Recon 1
Cold Steel is known for making some of the best knives and utility tools, and it doesn’t disappoint with the Micro Recon 1 keychain knife.
This little keychain knife by Cold Steel ticks all the right boxes: lightweight, small, unassuming, affordable, sharp enough to cut open a box or a seatbelt, and easy to open with one hand. Cold Steel is a company that’s been around for a long time, so coming from them, this knife is definitely impressive.
At only 0.16 ounces, this is one of the most lightweight knives that you can ever find. When closed, the knife is about 2.5 inches, and about 4.5 inches when fully open. Even though not too tiny, the knife is light enough to carry with your set of keys or in your purse.
The blade of the knife is made from Japanese AUS 8A stainless steel with black Tuff-Ex coating. At 2.5mm, the blade may be on the thicker side, but it comes razor sharp. The ergonomics of the two-finger handle are impressive, with a deep finger choil, good grip, and a flat bottom.
The flat blade shape lets you put your thumb along the back in a firm grip for maximum strength while cutting. This is a knife that can put your pocket knife to shame. You can use the Micro Recon 1 not only for small tasks such as cutting open your Amazon packages, but also for more serious tasks.
Conclusion on the Cold Steel Micro Recon 1: Don’t laugh at how small it is; the Micro Recon 1 is a workforce for everyday tasks. With a sharp blade and grippy handle, this is an ideal tool to keep in your purse, pocket, or car, and is capable of much more than just opening boxes for you.
No, this is not something you want to try to take on an airplane!
Gerber LST Ultralight Knife
The LST Ultralight has existed for over 20 years, but hasn’t changed one bit. It isn’t without reason. Gerber generally doesn’t like to mess with what is already perfect.
Gerber is known for making high-quality knives and utility tools, and this keychain knife is no less than perfection. At 1.2 ounces, this might be heavier than the ones already discussed, but it delivers a powerful performance all-round.
The blade is 1.34 inches long, and comes ultra sharp out of the box. The overall length of the knife is 0.62 inches when open and 2.65 inches when closed. The weight and the size of the knife make it ideal for carrying in your pocket or putting together with your keys.
This is a stellar product but it does not mean this is something you should buy your two-year-old child!
This small, portable knife has a handle made of lightweight synthetic with tactile texturing while 420HC steel has been used to make the blade. The lock-back design ensures the blade remains in place. The knife is good for light-duty tasks such as opening packages or cutting ropes, or for use around a campsite. The texture on the handle provides good three-finger grip, so it won’t slip out of your hand.
Since there is no metal lining to the handle, it makes the knife even lighter. On the downside, this can make the handle break easily when used for rough jobs. But at less than $10, this is one gem of a keychain knife that you can carry everywhere without feeling like you’re carrying a weapon.
Conclusion on the Gerber LST Ultralight Knife: If you’re looking for a solid keychain knife under $10 for light duty tasks, this is an ideal choice. It’s small, compact, grippy, and strong enough to last everyday use.
SOG Centi II
The Centi knives by SOG are meant to go with you everywhere. That’s why they are compact, small, and lightweight, easy to carry on any keychain or lanyard. The SOG Centi II is a tiny but versatile knife meant for everyday light duty tasks.
The 2.1-inch blade and the ergonomic handle have been constructed from high-quality stainless steel. When open the knife is 5 inches long and weighs only 1.3 ounces. It features a lockback design to make sure the blade stays in place when open.
This tiny knife may be thinner than most car keys, but it’s strong enough for household tasks or for use on a camping trip. SOG is known for making high-quality utility and survival tools, and this little guy doesn’t disappoint.
The super sharp knife is easy to pop in and out, and the sturdy handle makes one-handed use a breeze. Since the handle is made from steel, you can safely use it for heavy-duty tasks without fear of breakage. The total length of the closed knife is 2.9 inches, which is about the size of a car key.
You can use it to peel an orange at work (without scaring everyone with a knife) or use it open packages. In an emergency, the knife can even cut open a seatbelt. There’s a hole at the bottom of the handle for inserting your keyring.
Conclusion on the SOG Centi II: One of the best budget keychain knives on the market today, this one is small and light enough to stack with your keys and strong enough for everyday use.
This is an impressive tool but this is not the knife you want to use when carving up the turkey on Thanksgiving. That would be ridiculous!
Spyderco Bug SS
Marketed as the smallest knife in the Spyderco family, the Bug SS has an open length of 2.87 inches, and a closed length of 1.6 inches, with 1.3-inch blade being made of 3Cr13 stainless steel. The handle is made of satin-finished stainless steel, and is slip resistant.
Unlike other keychain knives that are held open by a lock, this knife doesn’t feature a locking mechanism. Instead, the blade is kept in place by resistant pressure at the pivot area.
Well-built and sturdy, this knife is small enough to disappear in your pocket (it’s half the size of a standard house key). It comes super sharp and can also be sharpened easily if need be. The Spyderco Bug SS is also one of the cheapest keychain knives available today, at only $12.
Conclusion on the Spyderco Bug SS: Possibly the tiniest keychain knife you can find, the Bug SS is cute to look at and comfortable and easy to use. At $12, this is a knife everyone will want to buy. Just don’t allow your ten year old to take it school, that may not go over too well!
Gerber GDC Zip Blade
At just $8, this is one of the cheapest knives from the house of iconic knife maker Gerber. The company is over 70 years old, and has several generations of fans and followers. Founded in 1939 and based in Portland, Oregon, Gerber specializes in utility tools that make life easier.
Even though the class and quality of the products remain the same, Gerber now designs their products keeping in mind the unique and specific challenges of the modern world. The Gerber GDC Zip Blade is a daily use pocket knife. Whether you need to cut a twine or slice open a box, this compact and efficient GDC Zip Blade can handle all your emergency blade needs.
The knife is part of Gerber’s Daily Carry collection, and is sturdier than all others in this collection. Small enough to fit in the palm of your hand, but strong enough to rip wire, cut cardboard, and carve clamshell packaging, the 0.68-inch fine edge stainless steel blade is great for all tasks.
The overall length of the knife is 2.6 inches when open and 1.70 inches when closed. There is frame lock for improved security, a zipper attachment for easy access, and a thumb clip for easy deployment. The knife is small enough to blend with your stack of keys, so you can carry it along everywhere. Even though the blade doesn’t have a replacement, the thick edge makes sure it lasts a long time.
Conclusion on the Gerber GDC Zip Blade: This product from Gerber is made in the US, and is designed to meet all your everyday blade needs. Carry it in your pocket or hang it on your jacket zipper, this is a handy little tool to own.
The Cinder is a perfect, non-threatening EDC knife for anyone looking for a capable knife that fits on a keychain. The small size of the knife is ideal for carrying it everywhere from work to camping, without scaring anyone away with a sharp weapon.
Simple cutting tasks such as opening packages or cutting cardboard boxes are what the knife is made for. The 1.4-inch blade has an upswept tip offering ample cutting edge. The textured glass-filled nylon handle has good three-finger grip.
The blade’s rugged stonewashed finish easily hides scratches and fingerprints, keeping the shine intact. There’s also a secure locking liner for easy opening and closing. The lanyard hole lets you attach the knife to a keychain or bag, while the bottle opener comes as an additional useful tool.
Weighing only 0.8 ounces, the knife comes for under $7, and is ideal for everyday use. The knife is about 2.6 inches closed, and a little over 3 inches open. Perfect little tool for keeping with you or gifting others.
Conclusion on the Kershaw Cinder: For a budget keychain knife to stack with your keys, the Kershaw Cinder is a stellar pick. Affordable, sharp, and sturdy enough for everyday tasks, it is built to last and designed for the maximum convenience and portability.
But don’t even think about using this tool to spread the butter on your pancakes. This is not a butter knife!
SOG Micron 2
This is a different version of the Micron 1 from SOG and weighs only 1.4 ounces and comes with a keychain-ready size, lockback mechanism, and tanto design. The 420 steel blade is 2.25 inches and has a black finish. The ergonomic handle is also made of steel.
This knife has a closed length of 2.75 inches, and a total size of 5 inches. The blade has a very sharp tip good for piercing, and the blade is easy to sharpen. The Lockback mechanism keeps the blade in place when open. The knife comes with a limited lifetime warranty and covers manufacturing defects.
Conclusion on the SOG Micron 2: This little knife is perfect for all urban purposes, from opening boxes to cutting cords. It’s lightweight and disappears into your pocket. The two flat edges can be used for chiseling, scraping, or fixing screws.
The Micron 2 is golden but this is not the gift you want to give your mother in law. That would impress no one!
Boker Plus CLB Subcom Titan
If you wish to own a knife that looks different from the rest, the Boker Plus CLB Subcom Titan is a judicious choice. This keychain knife has a Japanese VG-10 steel blade, and it comes with a frame lock to keep the blade in place when open.
The scales on the handle are CNC milled to not only create a stylish design but also help with a proper grip. The thumb-stud facilitates easy one-handed opening, while the lightweight design prevents excess bulk. The blade length is a little under two inches, and the overall length is 4.5 inches. The knife weighs 2.3 ounces, and comes with limited lifetime warranty.
Conclusion on the Boker Plus CLB Subcom Titan: With a very strong blade material, unique design, quality, and lightweight feature, this little knife is something every knife connoisseur should own.
Columbia River Knife and Tool Delilah’s P.E.C.K.
The CRKT Delilah’s P.E.C.K. comes with a 1.75-inch wharncliffe blade made that’s constructed from 3Cr13 steel, and has a non-reflective black coating and a thumb stud for ease of one-handed opening. This full stainless steel knife is 2.63 inches when closed, weighs 0.9 ounces, and has a frame lock and a lanyard hole. There’s also a metal pocket clip for easy attachment.
Conclusion on the CRKT Delilah’s P.E.C.K.: For attention to detail and brilliant craftsmanship, the Delilah’s PECK is a top-notch product. Affordable at under $20, this sturdy, compact design is great for all-round use.
This cool looking little knife (Delilah’s P.E.C.K. is sharp in the figurative sense – who says aesthetics does not matter?!) is amazing to look at but this does not mean you want to hang it around your dog’s neck. Your dog will not like that and that would be absurd!
Whether you want a budget or expensive knife, these keychain knives are all terrific and handy enough for daily tasks. For a small multipurpose tool that easily blends with your stack of keys, these ten knives are ideal picks.
Just don’t try to open your car door with them, that would be the wrong decision. And someone may call 911 on you!