A quality pocket knife is one of the most important pieces of survival gear you can add to your everyday carry. Choosing the right knife will give you a tremendous amount of life saving capabilities in a compact, lightweight package.
A good EDC pocket knife can assist you in basic everyday chores such as food preparation and opening mail, to more serious tasks such as first aid, emergency rescue and self-defense.
In this article, we will discuss the best pocket knife brands on the market and help you decide which one might be right for your everyday carry needs.
THE IMPORTANCE OF CARRYING A POCKET KNIFE
The first knives were invented approximately 2.6 million years ago, which actually precedes us homo sapiens. Early humans used knives as weapons, tools, and eating utensils, similar to how we use them now. Of course, technology has evolved a lot over the years and our knives are no longer made of stone or flint.
The knives listed in this article are high quality, compact, and lightweight enough for everyday carry. They can easily disappear in the pocket of a men’s suit or a woman’s purse. There’s no excuse to go without one and plenty of benefits to having a knife with you every day. Here are some common uses for an everyday carry knife.
These are the simple things like opening boxes and mail, cutting tags and threads off clothing, slicing open food packages. Sure, a lot of these tasks can be accomplished by clawing your way through it with your nails, but it’s a lot more convenient if you have a sharp knife that you can easily access and operate one-handed.
EMERGENCY FIRST AID
If you or someone you’re with ever has an injury that needs to be tended to, a knife will prove to be an extremely valuable tool. Slice a seatbelt to pull someone from a wrecked or burning vehicle. Cut clothing open to access a wound. Cut strips of cloth to dress and bandage a wound. Remove splinters.
Prepare kindling to start a fire. Food preparation, which includes slicing fruits and vegetables, skinning and preparing animals, cleaning, and scaling fish. Basic bushcraft tasks such as building a shelter.
While you may not think of yourself as an outdoorsman, you will certainly find a small pocket knife handy on some occasions. Let’s go over some of the best pocket knife brands.
You might want to also check our best EDC pocket knives article.
TOP 15 BEST POCKET KNIFE BRANDS
Benchmade knives have an undisputed reputation for quality in the knife industry. This is exactly what you want when you’re choosing a knife brand to bet your life on. Benchmade is not the cheapest brand, but you get what you pay for here.
Benchmade offers high-end blade steels, excellent fit and finish, a wide range of models to choose from, and a “Life Sharp” guarantee. Send Benchmade your knife and they will tune or replace any worn parts, clean and lube the knife, put a factory edge on it, then ship it back to you, all at no charge.
If you’re familiar with Benchmade, then you’ve probably heard of the flagship “Griptilian” model. The “Mini Griptilian” has all the same great features in a smaller size. Choose between a variety of handle colors, blade shapes and styles. The Mini Griptilian is an excellent EDC knife choice for any discerning buyer.
The Barrage features Benchmade’s Axis lock, which is legendary for its strength and smooth action. The blade on this model has a tanto point which is good for tactical situations as well as everyday carry tasks. The “Axis assist” switch helps the user with easy one-handed operation of the blade.
Spyderco introduced the C01 Worker in 1981. This knife was the first to use a hole cut into the blade for easy, ambidextrous one-handed operation.
This knife was also the first to use a clip integrated into the handle. The rest is history. Pocket clips have become ubiquitous on pocket knives but I still believe Spyderco does it best.
Spyderco knives may look odd and unconventional, but if you give them a chance you will find them to be extremely ergonomic and functional. I’m a big fan of Spyderco and it’s my current choice for an everyday carry knife.
Here’s a budget knife that’s packed with excellent features. Quality blade steel, good ergonomics, G-10 handles for secure grip, a liner lock which assists in one-handed operation, a four-way adjustable pocket clip for a variety of different carry options. The Tenacious is a great value at this price point.
The Manix 2 features S30V blade steel which comes razor sharp, holds an edge well during use and gives you excellent corrosion resistance. The handle is made out of a durable G-10 and features a ball bearing lock that secures the blade in the open and closed position for added safety.
Check out our recommended small EDC knives under 3 inches article.
3. ZERO TOLERANCE
If you’re looking for a rugged knife then Zero Tolerance is the brand for you. These knives not only look cool, but they’re also built like a tank and constructed out of some of the best materials on the market.
S30V blade steel for durability and corrosion resistance. G-10 handles for extreme strength and a secure grip in all conditions. These knives are overbuilt and designed for heavy-duty use, so they’re not the lightest EDC knives on our list. However, if you want a solid knife that won’t fail on you in the most extreme circumstances, Zero Tolerance is a good choice.
The 0350 features a 3.25” S30V stainless steel blade with black tungsten finish. The handle is thick and ergonomic with black G-10 slabs for excellent grip in all weather conditions. Weighing in at 6.2 ounces, this model is rugged yet still lightweight enough for an everyday carry knife.
If you prefer something more lightweight, the Zero Tolerance 0450 is perfect for you. The handle features a carbon fiber front and titanium back, which shaves the weight on this model down to just 2.45 ounces! The blade has a long point which is perfect for everyday carry tasks.
4. BUCK KNIVES
When I think of the classic American pocket knife, I think of the Buck Hunter. Maybe it’s because my father carried one, or maybe it’s just something about those smooth wood and brass handles. It’s a timeless design. The first Buck knives were hand-built in 1902 and the company is still going strong today.
There’s an overall feeling of quality and nostalgia built into these knives. They may not be the most “tactical” looking knives out there, but they are a quality product at an excellent price. Buck stands behind their products, offering a lifetime warranty on all knives.
You can’t go wrong with the classic Hunter Knife. The downside is there’s no pocket clip, so deep pocket carry or sheath carry are your only options. The knife ships with a sheath, if you choose that carry option. The classic lock-back design is excellent for all your everyday carry needs.
Buck has plenty of modern knife designs in their catalog as well. The Buck Vantage features a thumb hole in the blade which allows for easy one-handed operation. The reinforced nylon handle offers excellent durability and a secure grip, all while keeping the weight down to 2.3 ounces.
Learn more about the best pocket knives under $100 by clicking here.
5. KIZER KNIVES
Kizer is a new company, just coming onto the market in 2012. Since then, they’ve gained a reputation for building high-quality knives at affordable prices. Kizer Knives are manufactured in China, but that old stigma of cheaply made copies of other popular knives doesn’t apply here.
Kizer Knives is one of the first Chinese knife companies to set themselves apart from the competition. They build unique designs using high-quality components that rival some of the top US knife manufacturers. Their wide range of products includes everything from folding knives to fixed blade knives, bush knives, and other everyday carry gear.
The Begleiter knife is an excellent example of what the ideal everyday carry knife should look like. The VG10 stainless steel blade offers good edge retention and corrosion resistance. At 3.5 inches, the blade length is long enough for heavy-duty tasks while remaining compact enough for pocket carry.
This unique design from Kizer uses a wide sturdy blade for heavy-duty cutting power in a small package. The build quality is rugged, using G-10 grips and a sturdy pocket clip for carrying. The “flipper” design on the blade allows for fast and easy one-handed operation of the blade.
6. BOKER KNIVES
If you’ve spent any amount of time researching everyday carry knives, I’m sure you’ve heard of Boker. This great company has been making pocket knives in the same area of Germany for the past 300 years! They’ve survived wars, financial crises and even had their factory blown up. Yet, they’re still there today making some of the best knives in the business.
Whatever kind of knife you’re looking for, chances are Boker has you covered. Their catalog is enormous and features every style of pocket knife imaginable. Big or small, from tactical knives to kitchen knives, Boker has something for everybody.
The Kalashnikov is a heavy-duty folding knife built for the outdoors. The 4-inch blade features an oversized thumb disc and a flipper to assist in one-handed operation in all weather conditions, even with gloves on. There’s even a window punch built into the handle for added versatility.
The Magnum is an excellent choice for anyone who wants an everyday carry knife with rescue knife capabilities. The Magnum features a seatbelt cutter, can opener and bottle opener, all tucked away in the handle until you need them. The end of the handle also has a glass breaker built into it.
We recommend checking our top EDC knives under article.
7. COLD STEEL
Cold Steel is one of my favorite knife companies. However, just calling Cold Steel a knife company is a little unfair. They also make swords, daggers, hatchets, axes, bats, training gear, and a plethora of other weapons. There are some interesting things in their catalog so you should have a look sometime.
They have some of the best pocket knives on the market, yet they still keep their prices extremely affordable. You might not be getting the most premium blade steels or the most high-end handle materials, but these knives are built tough and they look good as well.
If you’re looking for a rugged everyday carry knife, then look no further. The lock-back design on the Recon 1 is rock solid and feels like a fixed blade when open. The G-10 texturing assures a solid grip. The Recon 1 is a bit large, but it’s extremely capable.
The Code 4 has the same rugged build as the Recon 1 in a more compact package. The handle is constructed of aluminum, giving it a lower weight. Also, the blade on the Code 4 features a satin finish, which doesn’t show scratches as easily as the black finish on the Recon 1.
In the knife world, the word Emerson is synonymous with quality and innovation. Emerson is famous for being the first knife company to put the “wave” feature on their blades. This brilliant design incorporates a hook into the spine of the blade which allows the user to quickly and easily open the knife one-handed.
The wave works by hooking the spine of the blade onto your pocket when you’re drawing the knife, pulling the blade open as it’s removed. Emerson knives aren’t cheap, but you can rest assured that you’re getting some of the best craftsmanship available in a folding knife.
If you’re looking for a heavy-duty tactical knife for your everyday carry, it’s tough to beat the Super Commander BT. The 4-inch blade features the wave for lightning-fast deployment. The rugged G-10 handles provide a secure grip and the liner lock is one of the strongest on the market.
If the Super Commander is too large for your everyday carry needs, you might consider the Mini Commander a better fit. It’s the same tough design and rugged build as the Super Commander, just a trimmed down version. Don’t be fooled by the name, this knife is not exactly “mini.”
Kershaw knives have been in my everyday carry rotation for decades. Kershaw’s patented speed safe assisted opening mechanism is extremely fast and allows for easy one-handed operation of the knife.
Their catalog is extensive and has everything you could ask for from large tactical knives to small gentleman’s folders. They also build excellent rescue knives, fixed blade knives, keychain knives, and more! They’re constantly coming out with new models as well.
Another great thing about Kershaw is their pricing. The knives listed below are high quality, well-built EDC knives that cost just a fraction of some of their competitors.
If a small, lightweight gentleman’s folder is what you’re after, the Kershaw Leek is a fantastic choice. The straight, pointed blade is perfect for everyday carry tasks. Weighing just 3 ounces and available in a variety of colors, the Leek is one of the best EDC knives on a budget.
The Blur is one of my favorite knife designs. The large, textured thumb stud combined with the speed assist opening makes this one of the best knives for one-handed use. The grips are aluminum with a textured rubber inlay making this knife both lightweight and easy to grip when wet.
CRKT is a well-respected knife company that’s been in business since 1994. Their goal is to build quality knives at an affordable price point, and I’d say they’ve achieved in that mission.
Their flagship M16 model is popular with military and law enforcement officers, as well as civilian users who want a rock-solid knife for their everyday carry. CRKT knives feature a flipper on the blade which assists in one-handed deployment.
The blade steels are mid-range and you won’t find any premium handle materials here, but you will be getting a reliable knife for an affordable price.
The M16 is one of the most easily recognizable knives. The drilled-out handle keeps the weight down while allowing for easy cleaning. The flipper assists in rapid deployment and the automatic liner safety provide a solid lockup when in use. Available in a variety of colors and blade styles.
If the M16 design doesn’t do it for you, then check out the Foresight. The grooved aluminum handle gives this knife outstanding ergonomics and a lightweight, perfect for EDC. Ball-bearing pivot for a smooth action. Black titanium nitride finishes for added durability. Deep pocket clip for discreet carry.
SOG makes some of the most highly rated tactical knives and they’re priced far lower than some of the competitors. No doubt, SOG is one of the best bangs for your buck.
The blade steel used in SOG knives is usually mid-range, and the handles are made out of reinforced nylon which can feel a bit cheap, but at this price point I can’t complain.
SOG has an impressive catalog of folding knives, both big and small. Whether you want a heavy-duty tactical knife for camping or an ultra-compact folder for office carry, SOG has you covered.
The Flash II is the ideal EDC knife. The weight is just 3.1 ounces. The deep carry pocket clip is excellent for discreet carry. There’s an additional safety lock for added security. Fast one-handed deployment, good grip texturing, and an affordable price. I can’t find any faults here.
The Trident might look like an unusual design, but if you get one in your hands you’ll quickly realize how functional it is. Lightweight, ergonomic with a rugged tanto tip. The handle has a slot cut into it so the knife can be used as a seatbelt slicer when closed.
12. CHRIS REEVE
Chris Reeve started his knife operation alone in a one-car garage back in 1984. Over the decades he’s made a name for himself as being one of the top knife makers in the industry, even being inducted into the Cutlery Hall of Fame in 2015.
The company specializes in precision knife making using the highest quality materials. Known for their sleek designs and top-notch fit and finish, these knives are more than just tools, they are works of art.
Unfortunately, this brand of premium cutlery does not come cheap. These knives are the most expensive on our list.
The flagship model Sebenza is an excellent example of a premium everyday carry pocket knife. Available in large or small, the large Sebenza features a 3.625-inch blade constructed out of CPM S35VN stainless steel. The handle and pocket clip are made of titanium for a lightweight, durable build.
If the Sebenza is a bit too big, then you might prefer the Small Inkosi. It weighs just 3 ounces with a 2.75-inch blade. The Inkosi is heirloom quality with a lock like a bank vault. The integral lock bar ensures an accurate lock up for the lifetime of the knife.
Gerber is well known for making excellent folding knives, multitools, and an extensive line of survival gear. If you’ve ever watched Bear Grylls on TV, you might have seen him using his popular Bear Grylls Ultimate Survival Knife which was made in partnership with Gerber.
Whether you’re a civilian looking for a lightweight everyday carry knife, or a first responder looking for an emergency rescue blade, Gerber has the right tool for the job. They make high-quality survival gear at an affordable price and they offer a lifetime warranty. This company gets the Survivor’s Fortress stamp of approval, for sure.
Designed for first responders, the Hinderer features a seatbelt cutter and a glass breaker in the handle for emergency vehicle extractions. The knife is still compact and lightweight enough for civilian everyday carry as well. If you want more capabilities in your EDC knife, the Hinderer is a good choice.
The Gerber Gator is named after the alligator inspired grips used on the handle. This grip pattern, when combined with the thermoplastic comfort handle gives you a secure purchase on the knife in wet and dirty conditions. The clip point blade is 3.75 inches in length and half serrated.
Ontario Knife Company was founded in 1889 in upstate New York. They’re best known for their legendary fixed blade knives that are highly rated and reviewed by thousands of satisfied customers online. They also make folding knives, hunting knives, kitchenware, bushcraft tools, and more.
Ontario’s line of folding knives offers an excellent value with their rugged build quality and solid liner lock design. These knives use a lower end AUS-8 steel, which some might view as a negative. However, if you need an affordable, heavy-duty knife for everyday carry then the Ontario Knives Ratline is an excellent choice.
The Rat I from Ontario Knives features G-10 handles with aggressive texturing for a sure grip in all weather conditions. The four-way adjustable pocket clip is a welcome feature and the liner lock allows for easy one-handed operation. For this price point, the Rat 1 is a fantastic buy.
If the Rat I is too bulky for you, then try the Rat II. It has a 3-inch blade and weighs in at just 2.75 ounces. If you want a small, affordable everyday carry knife that can handle heavy-duty tasks, the Rat II is a definite winner.
15. WE KNIFE CO.
WE Knife is another new company from China. Although they are relatively new to the scene, they’ve built a solid reputation amongst knife lovers for producing high-quality products. WE Knife puts out products that can stand up to the best of the American brands such as Benchmade and Spyderco.
I’ll be the first to admit, WE Knife is a silly name. Plus, they’re built in China, so my expectations weren’t very high. However, my assumptions were wrong. These knives have a good build quality and they use high-end blade steels. I expect them to keep growing in popularity.
- WE KNIFE MODEL 801
The 801 uses a titanium handle with carbon fiber inlays for a lightweight, durable knife with a premium feel. The blade is a black and stone washed drop point made out of M390 stainless steel. A flipper built into the blade allows for smooth, one-handed operation of the knife.
- WE KNIFE MODEL 809
The Model 809 features a beautifully shaped drop point blade constructed of S35VN stainless steel, which is considered one of the best knife steels on the market. The tan G-10 handles have a rugged cross texturing for a sure grip while still being smooth enough not to damage your pockets.
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