In general, the best pocket knives, also termed folding knives, are great for everyday use, but with countless models and makes available in the knife market, you'll need to consider some particular features before purchasing. The best pocket knife of all time has stood the test of time (yes, that'd include even the more modern knives), is recognizable, reliable, and knife enthusiasts globally keep turning to them, time and time again. Each of these pocket knives has a story behind it that's as interesting as the tool itself.
A reliable knife is a number-one tool that you don't dare leave behind for any worthy-tale outdoorsman. Unfortunately, most enthusiasts in the knife world own so many different ones that it can often be a little challenging to decide what you'll take to the field. Most times, you'll end up carrying multiple ones.
But if you do decide to carry one blade, the best EDC folding knife should offer you the best bang. It might not be as durable as your fixed blade, but it's definitely lightweight, versatile, and compact enough to pack or carry everywhere you go.
A Brief History on the Pocket Knife
'Pocket knife' is a term that's fairly ubiquitous around the ancient origins of folding knives. This term is seemingly modern to mean a folding blade or small knife that you can carry around in your pocket. The folding knife, however, dates back to thousands of years in human history.
It's a little difficult to pin precisely when the first folding blade was invented, but there's plenty of evidence that suggests that, at the very least, these knives existed during the Roman Empire's reigns. It dates back to being used by the Roman soldiers who were far from home. The earliest folding knife would be a simple friction folder that consists of a blade, handle, and a simple pivot at the joint.
These early folding knives weren't built for war but for simple utility, such as today's Swiss Army knife. Apparently, they functioned so well, enough to hold up over time, since archaeologists globally found similar examples of the same early friction folders that were used later by Vikings, farmers, artisans, etc.
Sometime later, in the 1600s, folding blades saw their first evolution into slip joint knives. These non-locking blades were easier to use and much more secure than the friction folders that came before them.
Until the late 1800s, these types of knives would see their quickest and most significant evolution. This is around the time when brands like Opinel and Victorinox were first launched. A modern period when pocket knives evolved exponentially into the vast knife world landscape that we know today.
What was once a simple handle with a swinging blade attached to it has become something entirely individualized and a tool that can be used for many tasks. EDC knives come with as much personality as the people who use them. The variety and scale in tech used to build them regarding materials, design, and construction have exponentially increased.
With this in mind, it's impossible to distill this significance as seen in every pocket knife into a single article. Still, a few boldly stand out when you consider factors such as durability, blade shape, iconic design, blade length, blade material, and locking mechanism.
What are The Types of Locking Mechanisms?
Different locks give different locking mechanisms, but ultimately, they all accomplish the same task but go about it differently.
In this mechanism, one side of the handle's inner liner is bent, making it act as a spring. When you open your blade, the spring liner slides over behind the tang of your blade and keeps it from closing.
Pro: Inexpensive and simple
Con: Fingers might be in the way as you're closing
Similar to the liner lock system, the frame system uses one side of the knife's frame slide to deploy it.
Pro: Very secure
Con: Won't work well with both hands
In this system, a locking bar runs up the spine of your knife's handle to spring up into a notch in the knife's tang. To close it, you'll need to press on the bar that's close to the bottom of its handle to pivot it out of the knife tang.
Con: It can quickly wear out, causing your blade to wiggle once deployed
In this mechanism, the steel bar passes through the handle and slots into a notch in the knife's tang. As a result, it's significantly much stronger than the liner lock, and you don't have to adjust your grip to operate it. Benchmade knives had the proprietary Axis that was first to market but is now joined by SOG's XR crossbar mechanism and others.
Con: More breakable small parts
A circular collar thats around the base of the blade twists to lock it or open it. The lined-up gap in the collar is excellent for unimpeded deployment.
Pro: Simple to use
Con: Collar wears out over time, and it doesn't operate as smoothly
How to Take Care of Your Knife?
Simply put, the best pocket knives are a beauty that very well deserves to be taken care of. So here are some knife care tips to help keep your folder blade in peak condition:
- Keep it clean- Pocket knives will be subjected to all kinds of grime daily. So periodically wipe it clean or scrub it in soapy water if it's a nasty cut.
- Lightly oil its hinges and pivot points with the light gun oil, but if the knife is not a stainless steel blade, oil all the metal parts
- Don't leave your folder knife in a jumble of your coins, tools, and junk since it'll become battered, beaten up, and dirty
- Keep it sharp, so it can cut cleanly, efficiently, and safely
- Don't drop the knife into things like coins, keys, etc. which will cause some unnecessary wear on it
- Wear your folder knife in a suitable pocket by itself, or place it in a quality belt sheath that'll help keep it clean, protected, and ready for use
What is the most popular pocket knife?
Buy on Amazon
1. LEATHERMAN, Wingman Spring-Action Multitool
- ONE OF OUR BEST: A classic, designed and assembled with...
- 14 TOOLS IN 1: Equipped with 14 tools to handle almost...
- OUR GUARANTEE: We’re proud to stand behind every product...
- ONE-HAND OPENING: Open all the tools with one hand, even the...
- ALWAYS ON HAND: With its compact size, lightweight design...
This mid-sized multi-tool with stainless steel ranks high as one of the best pocket knives by Leatherman. This is a brand of choice amongst many EDC knife fans. You can use it to clean out the trout, cut free some frantic saddlehorses of the barbwire tangles, perform some field repairs on your hunting rifle, open cans of beans and pork, pull out cactus spines from dogs, horses, and people, and still slice apples.
The most-used features of this knife would probably be the pliers, the blade, and the screwdrivers. But, once in a while, you might come across big game tags and use the scissors, or the wood/metal file could save the day.
2. Victorinox Swiss Army Classic SD Pocket Knife
- A CUT ABOVE THE REST: Compact, agile and ready to face any...
- DURABLE CONSTRUCTION: Swiss made stainless steel...
- COMPACT CARRY: Bring this knife with you on your daily...
- FIT FOR ALL TASKS: At their heart, all our pocket knives are...
Another iconic brand that gives one of the best EDC knives globally. The Classic SD was introduced in 1935. Even though it's not the oldest Swiss Army knife, it did help influence the trajectory of countless other knives.
It's a good knife for any keen enthusiast in the everyday carry world. It comes in a vibrant red scale and a recognizable symbol. This Victorinox Swiss Army knife establishes a new genre of knives that come in a versatile design acknowledged as one of the best pocket knives ever. Of course, you can reliably pick any of its Swiss Army knives, but the Classic SD rightfully earns the top spot on the list that's the most popular worldwide.
This Swiss Army knife comes with the epitome of blade material in a light, compact and functional design. Despite being so light, weighing less than an ounce, the Classic SD Victorinox usefully features 7 tools: a pen blade, 2.5 mm screwdriver, nail file, keyring, toothpick, scissors, and tweezers.
3. Opinel Folding Pocket Knife
- This essential tool is unchanged since 1890 and is a must...
- The Stainless Virobloc safety ring has two sections, one...
- Opinel's carbon steel is extremely hard, thereby...
- Handle is made from hard, durable Beechwood from France
- Opinel products are guaranteed under normal use and...
Victorinox and Opinel are the two knife brands that are most responsible for the exponential trajectory in the evolution of today's pocket knives. Opinel, in particular, has one of the earliest histories that can be traced back to the early 1800s, to a small family-owned cutlery business, with the first folding knife in 1897.
This not only makes Opinel a significant timeless brand but also explains why the same silhouette featured on its original folding blade can still be found in each of their knives to this very day. This EDC knife comes in a simple, natural wood handle and a stainless steel blade like others in the line. A simple 'peasant's knife' with a modest 5-part construction with only what you'd need and nothing else; a carbon steel blade, wooden handle, metal collar, a pin that holds the two together, and a metal lock ring holding the blade open when in use.
4. Buck 110 Folding Hunter Wooden Pocket Knife Knives
- Blade Material: 420Hc Stainless Steel
- Handle Material: Macassar Ebony Diamond Wood
- Knife Length: 4 7/8 Inches(folded/closed)
- Country of Manufacture: U.S.A.
- Includes: Knife, Box and Genuine Black Leather Belt Sheath
This specific Buck model by Buck knives is a significantly heavy EDC knife that's all about representing personality and passion. This Buck knife is ideal for carrying in your pocket every day and comes in excellent quality and performance; that's key. The Buck 110 knife line was introduced in the 1960s and has served many this far as a go-to work, hunt, and utility knife.
Traditionally, Buck knives are known to be durable, well-constructed, and ready to work. They are mainly composed of simple materials such as wood or brass and feature small knife blades that are pretty easy to maintain. The Buck 110 Ranger comes in a classic design, built simple yet effectively with luxurious details and materials that give it strength and durability through generations.
Its Macassar Ebony Diamond wood handle scales, brass bolsters, and uniquely heat-treated blade give it reliable performance. It also comes in an excellent handle for an easy grip and maneuver, with no hotspots. In addition, the 420HC stainless, cold steel blade means it is built for rugged use, while its incredible Bos Heat Treat process gives a lot longer edge life that's easier to resharpen and less likely to fail.
5. Old Timer 98OT Ramrod 6.3" S.S. Traditional Folding Knife
- DIMENSIONS: 6.3 inch (16 cm) overall length with a blade...
- DURABLE: Blade is made of reliable 7Cr17MoV High Carbon...
- DEPENDABLE: Quick and easy access with the convenient size,...
- SECURE: Have confidence that the blade will not slip with...
The Schrade Company was founded in Walden, New York, in 1904. The quality of the cutlery produced at that time was unique, and this company grew to produce a full range of value-priced folding pocket knives.
The Old Timer 98OT Ramrod comes with 3 lightweight blades, 7Cr17 high carbon stainless steel; the clip point, Sheepsfoot, and Spey blades. All provide excellent choices to tackle daily outdoor tasks. In addition, the handles come with a rugged saw cut design, nickel silver bolsters, brass pins, and brass liners that give the solid build and durability.
6. Kershaw Clash Pocket Knife
- 3.1" 8Cr13MoV stainless steel blade with black-oxide finish...
- Textured Glass-filled nylon handle scales offer a solid grip...
- Drop-point, partially serrated blade is perfect for tackling...
- Feature rich handle includes SpeedSafe assisted opening,...
- The Black clash is a great tool for any hiker, hunter,...
Kershaw Clash serrated pocket knife is a plain-edged, serrated knife that has long been handy. If you like a folding knife that's a little more unique in capability and style, you may want to consider this. It is an excellent offering by the Kershaw brand that offers you the best of both blade worlds thanks to its partially serrated blade.
This allows you to choose whatever suits the job best. It's purposefully crafted to be used both indoors and outdoors as the perfect all-rounder knife. Kershaw is a dominating folding pocket knife brand that's made exceptional high-quality knives that are durable and affordable for years now.
This is an excellent pick for anyone who wants a simple yet reliable folding knife that can be used to cut literally anything. It's ideal for hunters, fishermen, campers, and hikers. It's also a great knife to keep in your emergency glove box
7. Benchmade-mini Griptilian 556-S30V Pocket Knife
- BUILT TO PERFORM: Simplicity meets unmatched function, no...
- AMERICAN MADE 154CM STAINLESS STEEL: For first-rate edge...
- THE GRIVORY HANDLE: Is fully ambidextrous, has a textured...
- AXIS LOCKING MECHANISM: Ensures safety and a smooth open and...
This Benchmade-mini Griptilian takes a lot of what makes the full-size Griptilian Benchmade knife so great and reliably shrinks it down into a package that's perfect for urban EDC enthusiasts. The Mini Griptilian comes with a 2.91-inch blade and an overall length of 6.78 inches. It has a total weight of 2.5 ounces.
All these dimensions make the Mini Grip more ideal for EDC lovers since it's small enough to carry comfortably and still big enough actually to get some real work done if you need to. However, if in a position where you need an automatic knife that's capable of more difficult tasks such as defense, it'd work great as a defensive knife.
The Mini Griptilian comes with a classic drop point blade shape that's timeless in design and that features a swedge and hollow grind. This design will give you a great tip when you need to do some piercing and detail work. It also comes with plenty of belly for common utility knife tasks. Depending on your preference, you have different choice finishes, either the satin finish or the black coated blade. Other than the drop point blade design, the Benchmade-mini Griptilian also comes with a tanto version and a sheepsfoot, giving you a choice between a plain edge or a partial serration edge. The nice all-around steel is 154CM, and Benchmade also offers this mini-knife in S30V. The solid handle is made of fiberglass and Reinforced Nylon (FRN) over the full stainless steel liners.
8. Spyderco Paramilitary 2 Signature Folding Knife
- AN IMPROVED CLASSIC - Undeniably one of Spyderco's most...
- SUPERIOR QUALITY - We kept the same high-performance full...
- A SECURE GRIP - The G-10 handle is narrowed at the end...
- EASY-TO-USE - The Para Military 2 features extreme strength,...
- DEPENDABLE - Refinements to overall construction may not be...
The Spyderco knife brand, under Sal Glesser, has grown to one of the most dominant names in the cutlery field, with a wide and impressive array of products to suit different budgets and purposes. The Spyderco Paramilitary 2 knife is arguably one of the best everyday carry pocket knives.
Its evolution dates back to the original Paramilitary. The Spyderco Paramilitary 2 is a smaller derivative of the full-sized Military 3.5 inch blade and overall 8.3 inches. The Paramilitary 2 versus the original blade includes; the 4-way clip reshaped tang that doesn't protrude from its closed handle, flush screws, a slightly longer blade, and a mildly reshaped handle.
What to Consider for the Best Pocket Knife of All Time?
Making a list of the things you'll need to consider can be difficult, typically a little controversial, and more subjective. So to make decisions a little more transparent, here are some guidelines that you could consider to see why all the knives mentioned made it to the list and others did not.
Briefly, an excellent knife must be:
A) Is it Still in Production?
Yes, the Spyderco Worker by Spyderco knives was the first iconic knife to introduce knife features such as the pocket clip and set the standard that early tactical folders took on; but you can't find it anymore. You want an amazing knife that is also still around.
The best-selling knives in a production line are a great place to start. Even though a custom knife-like, the Bob Loveless Drop Point Hunter is simply revolutionary, factory-made knives are more reliable on continuity.
B) Is it Easily Recognizable?
As a knife enthusiast, you want the best EDC iconic knife in your knife collection that is most recognizable to most knife users. One official definition of iconic is something that's well-established and widely recognized.
Of course, not every knife will consistently be recognized by every knife enthusiast in the knife world. However, if it's famous or recognizable as a nice knife inside or outside the blade community, it sure counts.
C) Is it A Game-changer?
By introducing something new and unique, even as minor as the locking mechanism, new knife features are simply transformative, especially for an everyday carry.
D) Is it Compact?
For an everyday carry blade, the best EDC knife should be big enough to get the job done and not too bulky that it's not comfortable carrying. A 3-4 inches blade length is just about right, and any EDC pocket knife with an integrated pocket clip or belt will help secure your knife where it belongs. Synthetic scales on an everyday carry made out of Micarta or nylon help reduce what the knife weighs and are as durable as natural wood handles would be.
E) One-handed Opening?
Just about all folding blades, including EDC knives, can be opened using one hand with practice. There's no beating the convenience and speed that comes with a knife that can be operated using one hand. The standard mechanisms for this range from thumb stud holes to indents on the blade to the ridges and levers on its spine that will help deploy it instantly.
A one-handed operation is not just a flashy trick you can thrive on; it can actually spell a huge difference between a life and death situation. For example, you might need to cut something loose, ranging from straps, ropes, or belts, using one hand while you hang on to dear life with the other hand. So keep the blades in your knife collection well-oiled and practice opening it with one hand so that it's a technique that's second nature, especially when you need it most.
F) Is it Versatile?
Whether you are gutting out your deer catch or slicing some gouda cheese at the family picnic, you will need some sort of blade. You could opt for a low-cost everyday carry knife that's both traditional and has a sharp edge; some of the best EDC knives have been around since the 1890s and are still remain just as functional and classy as ever. However, if you prefer a more techy alternative with a maximum cutting surface, consider blade shapes and options with a scalpel-sharp double blade with a thumb-activated automatic opening.
Frequently Asked Questions on the Best Pocket Knife of All Time
1. Where does German steel come from?
German stainless steel or German steel doesn't necessarily mean th0is blade material was produced in Germany but rather that the steel was made using German steel composition formulas. So the steel might have been produced in a different country, other than in Germany.
2. Is German steel better than Japanese steel?
Technically, some steel formulations will be much harder compared to others. However, due to the difference in forging techniques in the knife industry, harder Japanese steel knives contain more carbon and give you an awesome knife with a better edge.
However, that also means that they're more brittle and less durable since they're more prone to chipping and breaking. The softer German steel version knives are far durable, but the downside is that they won't maintain the edge as long as the harder steel would.
3. In which state is it illegal to carry a Butterfly knife?
- In Texas, this kind of knife is considered to be a switchblade, making it illegal
- In Wisconsin, there's some level of legality, but it's only allowed on your own property
- Utah forbids these knives in the state of concealment
- Oregon also forbids these knives in the state of concealment
4. Why is the Japanese blade steel so sharp?
Most Japanese quality knives can be sharpened to a more delicate cutting edge because of the nature of the hard steel. This razor-sharp aspect makes the best pocket knives perfect for an everyday carry that you can easily use out in the wild to slice and cut through things.
5. Are spring-loaded pocket knives illegal?
Generally, spring-open knives are not prohibited by the federal government. However, you can't carry a fixed blade hunting knife or assisted-opening pocket knives into areas where knives are prohibited, such as the courthouse, a federal building, school, or the airport.