Best Pocket Knives In the World


Best Pocket Knife Buying Guide

Looking for the best pocket knife? Whether you're searching based on brand, quality, blade, price or other factors, our pocket knife brand will help you make the right choice.

There are a ton of considerations to keep in mind when searching for the perfect pocket knife. However, a few stand out as particularly important for knife enthusiasts making buying choices. This buying guide examines:

  • How to Decide Which Pocket Knife is Right for You 
  • How Important is Brand When Buying a Pocket Knife? 
  • Steel and Blade Sharpening for Pocket Knives 
  • What Blade Length Should You Look for in a Pocket Knife? 
  • How Much Does Blade Edge Matter for Pocket Knives? 
  • The Handle of Your Pocket Knife 
  • Safety and Pocket Knives 
  • Should You Get a Clip for Your Pocket Knife? 
  • Pocket Knife Price v. Quality 
  • In-depth Guide to our Top 10 
  • The Final Word

In addition, we'll list our top 10 pocket knives and go in-depth on why those brands stand out. Whether your primary consideration is the price or the quality of the blade, our buying guide can point you in the right direction. Take a look at our top 10 list here before reading more about the different factors that went into the rankings and detailed descriptions of each knife.

Ranking

Image

Knife Brand and Name

Manufacturer Website

1

SOG Aegis

Buy Here

2

Case Cutlery Black Trapper

Buy Here

3

 

Kershaw Blur

Buy Here

4

 

Spyderco Delica 4 Lightweight

Buy Here

5

 

CRKT M16

Buy Here

6

 

Benchmade 275BKSN

Buy Here

7

 

Benchmade 581

Buy Here

8

 

Buck/Tops CSAR-T

Buy Here

9

 

Cold Steel Recon 1

Buy Here

10

 

Ontario XM-2TS

Buy Here

 

How to Decide Which Pocket Knife is Right for You

The most important thing to keep in mind while searching for a pocket knife is what you want to use it for. The knife you would want for everyday use is not the same as the knife you would look for for survival or hunting. If you aren't sure exactly what you want in a knife, try looking at several options and trying to figure out if there is a common factor between them that appeals to you. Perhaps you are a collector who cares about the aesthetic of the knife. Maybe the steel involved or blade quality is your most important criteria. Identifying why you want a new pocket knife can help you narrow down and focus your search.

 

In addition, you should check the knife laws where you live. Knife laws can vary greatly from state to state or even year to year. Make sure before you purchase anything that you're aware of any applicable knife laws in the area where you live. Sometimes you can only carry certain types of knives with you in public; sometimes you can't have a knife with you at all. So if you're buying a pocket knife to keep with you all the time, make sure you understand the laws surrounding that in your city, state and region.

How Important is Brand When Buying a Pocket Knife?

Brand is one of the easiest factors to overlook when purchasing a pocket knife. People either already have a favorite brand or don't consider brand at all. However, knowing the reputations of various brands, as well as their strengths and weaknesses, can mean the difference between buying the right knife and getting something sub-par.

Plus, different brands have different policies that effect customers. Some brands have more generous return policies, for example, or offer guarantees and warranties along with their knives so buyers can feel more secure in their purchases. Our buying guide includes nine brands (Benchmade appears twice).

Brand

Policies

SOG

The warranty offered by SOG may be part of the reason it gets such high ratings from its customers. Not only does SOG offer a lifetime warranty on its products, but it also offers to sharpen its knives for free. They even pay the return shipping so you get your knife back for free.

Case

Case is focused on building long-term relationships with their customers. They boast of being the type of knife your grandfather probably passed down to your father as a treasured family heirloom. Case also sometimes offers free shipping and prides itself on making its products in America.

Kershaw

Kershaw has a generous warranty policy that its customers really value. They'll sharpen knives for free as long as they're covered under the warranty. Plus, the warranty protects against manufacturing defaults for a lifetime.

Spyderco

If warranty is important, Spyderco also offers some coverage to its customers for the life of their products. They also offer some repair services, at a small fee.

CRKT

Nervous buyers will feel comforted by CRKT's return policy. They will take returns for any reason at all as long as you ship the knife back within 30 days of receiving it. CRKT also has a limited lifetime warranty for its products.

Benchmade

While you will need to register your purchase with Benchmade, they see a knife purchase as a “lifelong commitment” that they intend to protect for that long. Their LifeSharp service is a lifetime warranty on their knives.

Buck/Tops

Buck Knives welcome you to their “family” with a “Forever Warranty” that backs up their manufacturing and workmanship for life.

Cold Steel

Cold Steel offers very similar warranties to most of the other companies on this list. However, returning a Cold Steel knife can be tricky. If you don't buy it directly from them, be advised that you may need to deal with the return policy of the store where you found the knife and not Cold Steel themselves.

Ontario

When returning an Ontario knife, be sure to do so within the first 30 days. And be advised that there is a 15% “restocking fee” for most items. However, they do include a limited lifetime warranty with their knives.

 

This might seem like a lot to consider, but many of these brand's policies are actually very similar. Most offer at least a limited lifetime warranty and some include free knife resharpening for their products. For some people that is extremely important, but for others it is just a good thing to keep in mind while considering other, more relevant factors. Either way, knowing you're buying from a solid, reliable brand can offer piece of mind while you're making your decision.

Steel and Blade Sharpening for Pocket Knives

There's a lot that goes into the steel in a knife and sharpening it. The most comprehensive guide to knife steel can be found here. A less exhaustive guide will still get you a great knife, however. There are a few key factors to remember, including:

  • Wear resistance: The ability for the steel to hold up as it is used.
  • Strength: This correlates with the hardness of the steel (harder steel is also stronger). However, softer steel still can still be more wear resistant. Don't fall into the trap of thinking only about the strength of the steel to the exclusion of all other considerations.
  • Toughness: How well the steel can withstand impact.
  • Stain resistance: This simply measures whether the steel resists rust or not.
  • Edge holding: How well the steel holds an edge. Note that this is distinct from its wear resistance.
  • Ability to take an edge: Sharpening can result in totally different outcomes depending on how well the steel takes an edge.
  • Manufacturing process: A cleaner, higher quality process results in better steel.
  • Edge toothiness: Some steel always has a sort of serrated edge and never quite takes on a super smooth edge, even when sharpened.

The above list is a just a quick rundown of some of the most important factors in determining the quality of the steel used to produce a pocket knife. However, we can't all be steel experts (nor do we all want to be). Luckily, there is no need for super deep knowledge of steel.

 

For most people, it is enough to know that high carbon steel is usually stronger and more rust resistant than stainless steel, while stainless steel is better at holding an edge after sharpening. Keep in mind that stainless steel is tougher to sharpen and more likely to break than high carbon steel.

 

When it comes to sharpening, pocket knives can be trickier to deal with than larger knives. It is harder to work with a smaller knife blade. Many people with pocket knives use commercial sharpeners or let professionals sharpen their knives for them. However, it is also possible to sharpen a pocket knife on your own if you use a whetstone, as shown in the following video.

 

What Blade Length Should You Look for in a Pocket Knife?

There isn't a ton of variation in the length of pocket knife blades, but it is still important to understand what blade length means for your knife. Different lengths of knife blade are more or less suited to different tasks. A long knife blade of 8 to 10 inches is best for chopping type tasks, while a medium blade of 6 to 7.5 inches offers some of the power of a long blade and some of the precision of a shorter blade.

 

A pocket knife blade will typically fall between 3 and 4 inches, with many close to 3.5 inches. Small blades like these are great for very precise work, such as skinning game, gutting fish, whittling, carving small objects and slicing up small items like roots and tubers. This also makes it an incredibly handy tool to have around just for everyday use. What a pocket knife blade lacks in power and chopping ability, it makes up for in nuanced movements. You can do things with a pocket knife that are simply impossible when dealing with a longer bladed knife.

How Much Does Blade Edge Matter for Pocket Knives?

Most pocket knives will offer either a plain or serrated edge. Many choose a plain edge if you are making pushing cuts. That's because plain edges offer a bit more control and precision. You can make a cleaner pushing cut with a plain edged knife than with a serrated edged one.

 

However, serrated edges certainly have their uses. You can use them to slice rather than push. The serrated edge is also better for getting through tough materials. The serrations can grab as they cut to add more power to a slicing cut.

 

Which edge you prefer depends largely on how you plan to use your pocket knife, or how you think you'll use it most often. Some knives do offer multiple blades with different types of knife edges, or combination edges that are good for either application. However, if you need to choose, think about the most common ways you use your knife. Are you generally skinning game? You'll want a plain edge for that. Or maybe you deal with rope or wood more often. For these tougher materials you may want to consider a serrated edge instead.

The Handle of Your Pocket Knife

There can be a ton of variation when it comes to the handle of your pocket knife. Many manufacturers use G10. This is a great standard made of fiberglass. It's highly dependable while remaining lightweight. It is considered even stronger than Micarta as a grip material while still being quite comfortable to hold because it can be textured.

What G10 lacks, however, is some of the look and feel that a material like titanium can offer. Titanium is strong and light, though very easy to scratch up. Still, it is a knife handle material worth considering because it is so durable and resistant to corrosion. Many knife makers prefer this even though it comes at a higher cost than something like G10.

There are several other options for knife handles, including aluminum, stainless steel and carbon fiber. Some of these are synthetic materials while others are metals. They all comes with advantages and disadvantages. Often, a manufacturer will have a particular preference in what they use for their knives. Here is a table of some of the advantages and disadvantages of different types of knife handles.

Material

Pros

Cons

Stainless Steel

Strong, durable, corrosion resistant

Heavy, slippery

Aluminum

Strong, light, durable, resistant to corrosion

Cold, slippery, susceptible to scratches

Titanium

Strong, light, corrosion resistant

Expensive, susceptible to scratches

Carbon Fiber

Strong, light, nice look

Expensive, brittle

Micarta

Tough, light, durable

Expensive, brittle

G10

Tough, light, durable

Brittle, not visually appealing

FRN/Zytel

Strong, tough, low maintenance, cheap

Feels like plastic, insecure grip

Bone

Cheap, flashy look

Porous, cracks, slippery

Wood

Variety, look, durable, comfort

Porous, unstable

Mother of Pearl

Natural beauty

Expensive, slippery

Leather

Inexpensive, traditional

Weak, not durable

 

Safety and Pocket Knives

Safety can be a concern with pocket knives, especially if you plan to keep your knife with you most or all of the time. That is why so many knife makers offer automatic locks or opening mechanisms. These help protect your fingers, something that can be a particular concern if you carry your knife with you most of the time. These mechanisms vary slightly from one manufacturer to the next, but ultimately produce similar results. The goal of any of these devices is to make sure the knife locks securely when it is closed so that it can't accidentally open without you realizing it.

 

Another method of keeping you and your pocket knife safe is a sheath. Some of the knives in our list are sold in combination with a pocket knife sheath that protects both you and the blade. Sometimes these can get combined with a belt clip for ease of carrying, but not always. Also, sometimes a pocket knife sheath is a bit bulky and can add to the size and weight of the pocket knife. Sheaths are therefore not always the best option for people who want to carry their pocket knife around with minimal fuss and bulk.

 

Caring properly for you knife goes along with safety. A knife that is well-cared for is less likely to cause accidental harm. For example, if you let your knife get very dull and don't maintain the edge, you will need more and more force to use it over time. Eventually, you'll be using way too much force with your knife, which can result in an unfortunate accident if the knife slips.

 

Whenever you're not using your knife, you should clean it and either fold it up or put it back int its sheath. This not only keeps you and anyone around you safe, it also protects the knife itself. A blade left dirty and exposed with wear down and rust much more quickly than one that is cared for. Also, unattended knives can get picked up by children or others who shouldn't be handling them, so always be sure to store your knife when you are not using it.

Should You Get a Clip for Your Pocket Knife?

If your pocket knife does not already come with a belt clip, should you bother with the additional investment to buy one? That really depends on your circumstances.

 

Some people like having a clip so much that the quality and versatility of the pocket clip will actually determine which knife they buy. Having a clip gives you more options, especially if your pocket knife is for everyday use. Your knife will always be close at hand and exactly where you expect it to be. If you don't have a pocket clip you can easily store your pocket knife in a pocket or purse, but it can get lost in the shuffle, especially if it is very small. With a clip, you always know your pocket knife is exactly where you left it. It can't roll around or get lost among other items in your pocket when it is clipped in place.

 

And when it comes to clips, many prefer a four-way clip that allows for the most flexibility possible. A four-way pocket clip allows you to carry your knife tip up or tip down depending on your preference. This gives a lot of knife users peace of mind as they always know their knife is facing the correct direction. Some knife makers even manufacture their products with the opening mechanism and pocket clip synchronized to produce the smoothest possible operation. Many knife users love being able to grab their knife and have it unclip and open in one smooth motion. This is only possible with a pocket clip and opening mechanism that work together.

 

Clips can also help people who want to know that their knife is always on the correct side. Whether you are right or left handed, you probably have a dominant side you prefer to grab your knife with. When it is securely clipped in place, you can always be sure your pocket knife is on the “right” side.

 

However, some people are starting to ditch the clip. This may be because of laws specific to where they live. There are cities and states where the pocket clip on your knife crosses over into uncertain legal territory. It can be confusing, but there are jurisdictions that consider a pocket clip simultaneously open carry and concealed carry. If the laws where you live are unclear, you can run some risk just from having a simple pocket clip.

 

Other people are getting rid of or avoiding pocket clips simply because they don't like how they look. The aesthetics of a pocket knife can be very important; this is a tool you plan to carry with you all the time for your day to day usage. If you find the perfect knife only to have it ruined by a large or unappealing pocket clip, that can sway your purchasing decision.

 

Finally, some people just want a thinner knife. Pocket knives are supposed to be portable and easy to carry and a big, bulky pocket clip might just get in the way. Removing the clip can make the knife thinner and easier to carry around by cutting out unnecessary additions to the knife itself.

Pocket Knife Price v. Quality

Balancing price and quality is a major concern while buying a pocket knife. We try to address this concern in our top 10 list by providing options for every knife buyers' budget. High end knives come at a much steeper cost, but you get high quality for that price. Many knife enthusiasts are happy to pay more for a very good pocket knife that they know they won't need to replace or sharpen frequently. Having a knife you can depend on for life can be well worth a high initial investment.

However, we also considered budget when making our list and tried to place some more affordable knives in the top and middle of the list. There is no reason that a cheaper knife can't come with good quality. Manufacturing methods and materials have become so good these days that it is entirely possible to spend less money but still get a reliable pocket knife you can have for everyday uses.

In-depth Guide to our Top 10

#1 SOG Aegis

 

 

Specifications

 

Price

$111 USD

Length

8.25”

Closed Length

4.75”

Weight

3.10 oz.

Blade Length

3.5”

Blade Thickness

0.13”

Locking Mechanism

Piston Lock

Opening Mechanism

Assisted

Belt Clip Type

Reversible Low Carry

Edge Type

Partially Serrated

Blade Steel Type

AUS 8

Blade Shape

Tanto

Hardness

RC. 57-58

Handle Material

Glass Reinforced Nylon

Handle Color

Black

 

Review

 

SOG has been a trusted knife maker since 1986 that has built up a strong reputation among customers. They are most famous for their reproduction SOG knife from the Vietnam era. In fact, the company name SOG also has a military history, as it comes from a special ops unit named the Military Assistance Command, Vietnam Studies and Observations Group, or MACV-SOG. The group created their own type of knife during the Vietnam War.

 

Their SOG Aegis pocketknife continues this tradition. The name Aegis is Greek for shield or protection and is also used as the code name for the United States' ballistic missile defense system, as well as an integrated air defense system that is the best in the world.

 

Living up to both the proud history of SOG as a knife seller and the prestigious Aegis name, the SOG Aegis is our favorite pocketknife on this list. It has a built-in safety clip and DigiGrip handle for convenience and comfort. It also includes SOG's trademark bayonet reversible clip for keeping it close as hand without any hassle or annoyance.

 

Customers agree. The SOG Aegis is consistently highly reviewed by people who have purchased the knife, with only three negative reviews appearing out of nearly 100. Some knife enthusiasts will even claim the SOG Aegis is the only everyday use knife they'll ever need. A determination like that is up to you to make, but if you can only afford one EDC pocketknife, you wouldn't regret making it the SOG Aegis.

 

The SOG Aegis uses a piston lock for closing and has an assisted opening mechanism. This means it flips open with ease due to an internal mechanism within the knife. In fact, the entire knife seems built for convenience and comfort. The DigiGrip handle is a trademark of SOG. They are extremely proud of these checkered handles because they are so comfortable and reliable for their customers. Many of their other knives also have DigiGrip handles, proving how confident SOG is in this technology. DigiGrip is a type of glass reinforced nylon handle known for its strength and impact resistances. It can stand up to changes in temperature as well, making it great for a variety of outdoor situations where climate can vary. Plus, the glass reinforcement means that the blade will not slip much, if at all, even over time. Slip is one of the biggest dangers with any type of knife, so knowing that won't happen with a SOG Aegis is one of the things that makes it so popular among enthusiasts.

 

This pocketknife is great for just about any use. It is so easy to carry around and reliable that you can keep it with you for any needs that arise. The knife is appropriate for outdoor or tactical situations, as well as precision projects. Whether you want to use this knife for everyday projects and situations or take it with you for a camping or hunting trip, it can get most tasks done. And at $111, it is neither the cheapest nor most expensive knife on our list. This positions it as a fantastic mid-range pocketknife for people looking for something to keep with them all the time and use for everyday tasks.

 

Plus, the SOG Aegis will hold up. You won't need to worry about needing to resharpen the blade super often or having the knife wear down quickly. The tanto-shaped blade is made with AUS 8 steel with a hardness of RC. 57-58. It also has a partially serrated edge on the 3.5” blade. AUS 8 steel is Japanese-made and considered one of the best types of steel. It has a great balance of toughness and hardness and is treated in order to be resistant to wear, abrasion and corrosion. AUS 8 steel is versatile and reliable, and that has made it one of the most popular types of steel to use for high-end pocketknives and other blades. SOG particularly likes using AUS 8 steel for its knives because it produces a strong blade that can withstand normal wear and tear admirably. At the same time, AUS 8 is relatively easy to sharpen, so you won't need to worry when the blade does finally begin to dull a bit.

 

#2 Case Cutlery Black Trapper

 

 

Specifications

 

Price

Ranges from about $50 - $100 USD

Length

N/A

Closed Length

4.13”

Weight

4.0 oz.

Blade Length

3.25”

Blade Thickness

N/A

Locking Mechanism

None

Opening Mechanism

None

Belt Clip Type

None

Edge Type

N/A

Blade Steel Type

Tru Sharp Surgical Steel

Blade Shape

As-Ground Clip and Spey Blades

Hardness

56-58 HRC

Handle Material

G-10

Handle Color

Black

 

Review

 

This is the true all-around knife. Its versatility is what it places the Case Cutlery Black Trapper so high on our list. It isn't for everyone, certainly, but this is the most everyday of the everyday knives on this list. Plus, it can be found for much cheaper prices than most other decent pocketknives. Some sites will see it for as low as $40.

 

The tricky thing about the Case Cutlery Black Trapper pocketknife is that it has been discontinued by its manufacturer, Case. Therefore, most of the places where you'll find this knife will be websites like Amazon and Knife Center. While Case still manufacturers and sells other knives, it has discontinued this particular one. So finding it can be a bit of a treasure hunt, but well worth the effort.

 

The Trapper is the pinnacle of the classic pocket knife. It has that old school feel and look because it's based on a tried and true design that hasn't changed in decades. That doesn't mean it's low quality. While the design of the Trapper is classic, materials and production methods have updated with the times so you can be sure it was produced to a high standard of quality. In fact, Case has been making knives in America since the 1880s and the Trapper has long been a favorite among those knives.

 

The Trapper has two blades, a “master” blade your thumb will tend to hit first and a secondary spey blade. Both are made from Tru Sharp stainless steel, which Trapper uses for many of its knives. This is either 425M or 420HC stainless steel that has been hardened to 56-58 HRC. This isn't quite the quality of SOG's Aegis, for example, but for the price it is quite a good steel. 

 

The blades are easy to sharpen and very straight. They're great for everyday uses like opening boxes or outdoor uses including gutting small game animals. However, the blades are a little long for extremely precise uses, so keep that in mind when considering this knife. The Trapper is truly an everyday knife and not a specialty tool. It will perform much better with that limitation in mind. If the blade length is a particular issue for you, you can also look into the Mini Trapper, which offers slightly shorter blades for more precise uses.

 

Speaking of performance, Case and Trapper both have long histories in the knife world. The Case Trapper is known for being durable. It has been used for so long by so many people that it has established a solid reputation for its durability. And when the blades do wear, they're pretty simple to resharpen. Some people say they become a bit toothy after sharpening, however, as a reliable working knife you can't do much better than a classic Trapper.

 

Ultimately, this knife comes so highly rated because it is the classic all purpose pocket knife. It can perform most everyday functions easily and reliability. In addition, its classic appearance appeals to many knife enthusiasts who want to find a knife that fits into the mold of classic knife designs. That does come at a cost, however. It doesn't have as many blades or options as modern pocket knives of this type. You won't find can openers and other additional gadgets affixed to this knife, for example. But the two blades it does have perform admirably under most everyday conditions. Though it doesn't have a belt clip, it fits easily in the pocket of most jeans, so it's very easy to carry around. For what it aims to achieve, the Trapper is extremely well designed and reliable. It has a long history among knife users that goes all the way back to the 1800s. Trapper has proven itself as a great knife over and over throughout history. All around, this is one of the most reliable knives you'll ever buy and it comes at a relatively low price.

 

#3 Kershaw Blur Black

 

 

 

Specifications

 

Price

$114.99 USD

Length

7.9”

Closed Length

4.5”

Weight

3.9 oz.

Blade Length

3.4”

Blade Thickness

N/A

Locking Mechanism

Inset inner lock

Opening Mechanism

SpeedSafe assisted opening

Belt Clip Type

Reversible (tip-up/tip-down) pocketclip

Edge Type

Multiple options

Blade Steel Type

Sandvik 14C28N, DLC coating

Blade Shape

Slightly recurved

Hardness

55-62 HRC

Handle Material

6061-T6 anodized aluminum

Handle Color

Black

 

Review

 

Kershaw's Blur knives are popular in their own rights, but the Blur Black is one of their most beloved knives, as well as the one that inspired the rest of the line. With great steel, a reversible clip and an inner lock for safety, it's hard to go wrong with a Kershaw Blur Black pocket knife. Kershaw's Blurs make fantastic multitasking tools. (You can even see it in action here.)

 

The Blur Black sets itself apart because it is, well, black. This is a favorite color among knife enthusiasts that looks sleek and stylish in all settings. But the dye isn't just for appearances. The handle on the Kershaw Blur Black offers an extremely solid grip that you can depend on. When the aluminum gets anodized it accepts the black dye better, but also becomes more scratch resistant and tough. So the black handle isn't just an aesthetic; it also has the practical application of providing you with a better handle on your pocket knife. The handle also has Trac-Tec grip-tape for extra hold and uses 6061-T6 aluminum, which is so durable it is sometimes also called “aircraft aluminum” and used for pieces of planes. All that might make it sound like a cumbersome material, but the handle is actually quite lightweight. This all comes together to give the Kershaw Blur Black one of the best knife handles on the market. We recommend it very highly.

 

But a knife is much more than just its handle. Luckily, the blades and other mechanisms on the Kershaw Blur also boast high quality and a superior product to many other knives. The SpeedSafe assisted opening device located on the thumbstud is great for quickly releasing the blade when the knife is closed. You can definitely use these knives one-handed if you need to because of the SpeedSafe mechanism. That's especially helpful viewed in combination with the pocketclip. This clip is reversible so the knife can be positioned point down or point up on your belt. And it can clip just about anywhere or even connect to a lanyard thanks to the pre-drilled lanyard hole in the handle. All of this combined means your Kershaw Blur will be extremely easy to use. Not only can you clip it on your belt for quick access, but you can also grab it and release the blade with one hand and a quick push of a button.

 

Let's not overlook the blade, though. All blurs have a slightly recurved blade that make them fantastic for multitasking. You can use it to slice or pierce equally well. The blade is made of Sandvik 14C28N stainless steel with a DLC, or diamond-like carbon, coating. All this means it is extremely strong, as well as resistant to corrosion and other types of damage. 14C28N is a type of steel that allows for the highest possible hardness without damaging the structure of the steel itself. It is known for being used in high-end knives and the Kershaw Blur is no exception. This type of steel resists micro chipping and rolling or folding of the edge better than most other types of steel used to make knives. This makes it particularly well-suited to pocket knives. Plus, because it is so resistant to water, it is great for outdoor use or use by people preparing food. The natural moisture that would rust or corrode most blades won't ruin this knife as quickly. You can also choose a partially serrated blade with the Kershaw 1670BLKST.

 

#4 Spyderco Delica 4 Lightweight

 

 

 

Specifications

 

Price

$114.95 USD

Length

7.125”

Closed Length

4.25”

Weight

2.5 oz.

Blade Length

2.875”

Blade Thickness

.093”

Locking Mechanism

Back lock

Opening Mechanism

Manual

Belt Clip Type

Ambi tip-up/tip-down

Edge Type

Saber grind

Blade Steel Type

VG-10

Blade Shape

N/A

Hardness

N/A

Handle Material

Fiberglass reinforced nylon

Handle Color

Black

 

Review

 

The Spyderco Delica series has been around since the 1990s and has consistently impressed fans and knife enthusiasts. These dependable knives broke barriers when they came out by offering very lightweight pocket knives that featured one-handed opening. This made them stand out against the pack at the time and is part of the reason they are still so popular. In fact, it is still the case that the two best selling knives Spyderco sells are the Delica and another series, the Endura. That just goes to show how consistent the quality of these knives have been since the 1990s.

 

At the same time, Spyderco has updated over time, steadily improving the quality of the Delcia series. They call their process CQI – constant quality improvement. When it came to the Delica, this including tweaking the ergonomics of the knife to make it even more comfortable to carry. This is where the fiberglass reinforced nylon handle comes into play. The Delica 4 improves on past models by having this type of handle, which is molded with bi-directional texturing. This not only improves the ergonomics of the handle, but also improves the traction. Of course, Spyderco didn't want to compromise any of the existing quality of the knife when improving it to make the Delica 4. That's why the inside of the handle contains dual skeletonized stainless steel liners that made the knife even stronger without adding any bulk or weight to it. As an added bonus, the liner serves as an external and internal anchor for extra other attachments to the knife. This made the Spyderco Delica 4 sturdier and more rigid than previous Delicas.

 

Another improvement Spyderco made over time was to the blades. They refined the steel used for the blades, fine tuning them via repeated performance testing over time. The VG-10 blades  were upgraded with slip resistant jimping along the blade's spine. They have a flat saber grind and improved tip strength. The saber grind is especially useful for making shallow cuts and is considered an extremely strong grind for pocket knives. In addition, VG-10 steel is considered the most popular one for making kitchen tools. It is a type of stainless steel produced in Japan. While it is very good for kitchen applications, it is also useful for multipurpose knives such as the Spyderco Delica 4. VG-10 steel is also used for pocket knives, hunting knives and tactical knives because it is so strong and reliable. It's ability to resist rusting is highly prized among those who use it for cooking. The drawback of VG-10 is that it can increase the cost of a knife. Because it is a such a high quality steel, it is a little more expensive than other, lower quality types of steel, such as VG-1. This does make the Spyderco Delica 4 slightly more expensive than some other knives on this list, but we believe the cost is worth it for the quality and long life you'll get out of this knife.

 

As a final perk, the Spyderco Delica 4 has a multi-directional clip and open/close mechanism. These perks make the Delica 4 an even more convenient and useful pocket knife. The clip is great because it can work for left- or right-handed people and face up or down. The four-way clip is designed for ease of use and comfort no matter what your specific requirements are. Plus, the open/close mechanism is smoothed out with phosphor bronze washers to make it function extremely smoothly. You can open this knife with just one hand and it will respond seamlessly.

 

Overall, we think the Spyderco Delica 4 is a superior pocket knife for most uses. The improvements Spyderco has made over time to the Delica series really show with this knife. The ergonomics are superb and the blade steel is high quality. You can depend on this knife for a long time to come, whether you want to use it for cooking, precision tasks or just as an EDC pocket knife. It is slightly more expensive than some other knives you could find on the market, but we think the quality makes the price well worth it.

 

#5 CRKT M16

 

 

Specifications

 

Price

$49.99 USD

Length

7.125”

Closed Length

4”

Weight

2.3 oz.

Blade Length

3”

Blade Thickness

0.08”

Locking Mechanism

Locking liner

Opening Mechanism

N/A

Belt Clip Type

N/A

Edge Type

Combination

Blade Steel Type

8Cr15MoV

Blade Shape

Tanto

Hardness

58-60 HRC

Handle Material

Glass reinforced nylon

Handle Color

Black

 

Review

 

The M16 from CRKT was designed by Kit Carson in Vine Grove, Kentucky. It is a super affordable pocket knife with a lot going for it. The tanto black features triple point serrations. Many of CRKT's knives feature this technology. It has become a beloved standard for CRKT knives, including the M16. The triple point serrations allow for more versatility when it comes to the blade. This is the first knife on this list with technology like this included on the blade. The rest of the blade is a standard pocket knife blade, with the triple point serrations adding a bit of distinction to the M16.

 

The rest of the combination blade edge is more similar to what you'd expect to see in a pocket knife blade. The entire blade is made from 8Cr15MoV steel with a hardness of 58-60 HRC. CRKT takes pride in the steel it uses, whether its 8Cr15MoV for the standard M16 or AUS 8 for the Titanium M16. They pay special attention to the way all their steel is heat treated and quenched to ensure they get the highest quality steel from their international supplies. The steel used is, in fact, the only significant difference between the CRKT M16 and the CRKT Titanium M16. The Titanium is more expensive and you will indeed get better steel for the added cost. However, we chose to put the standard M16 on this list because even the 8Cr15MoV steel used for this cheaper pocket knife is quite good. We think the balance of cost and quality tilts slightly in the standard M16's favor. However, if steel is a very large concern for you, go with the Titanium M16 to get the higher quality AUS 8 steel with it.

 

Cost is one of the big draws of this knife. It is relatively cheap for such a high quality knife. You can rely on it for everyday uses for a long time to come without having to shell out a high initial investment. This makes it a great middle ground pocket knife (hence its placement in the middle of our list). You can depend on this knife while saving a little money. Later, it may be clearer that a higher priced knife like the Aegis or Delica is more appropriate for specific tasks you want to accomplish with your pocket knife, but for most everyday uses, we think the CRKT M16 offers a fantastic balance of cost and quality.

 

In addition to the high-quality blade, the knife has a locking liner so you know it's secure when you fold it. It is very light at only 2.3 ounces, which is another point in its favor. Many pocket knives weigh almost double that. This is an extra lightweight pocket knife to have on hand all the time. Plus, it is finished with a special EDP coating. This black coating is corrosion resistant so you know your pocket knife won't wear out quickly. Despite its low price point, you shouldn't need to replace this knife any time soon.

 

Like many other knives on this list, it has a glass reinforced nylon handle. This is a popular material for knife handles because it is so dependable. It resists impacts so you can go about your day to day business and not worry about excessive wear and tear on this knife. It will hold up to high temperatures, as well, so most everyday uses won't damage the handle. And this type of handle is reliable. The blade won't slip over time because of the way this style of knife handle is designed. Overall, it is a great handle. There's no mystery why it's become a standard for so many types of pocket knives, including the CRKT M16.

 

Ultimately, we think the CRKT M16 (standard or Titanium) is a great everyday pocket knife. It's suitable for most situations you'll find yourself in in day to day life. Plus, it is extremely reliable and dependable. Despite its low cost, it is made from top notch materials, including the glass reinforced nylon handle and 8Cr15MoV steel. While it isn't quite up to the quality of some of the other knives on this list, it serves well as an everyday pocket knife. If you want to save a little money but still get a fantastic pocket knife, you can't go wrong with the M16 from CRKT.

 

#6 Benchmade 275BKSN

 

 

 

Specifications

 

Price

$230 USD

Length

8.70”

Closed Length

4.88”

Weight

7.68 oz.

Blade Length

3.82”

Blade Thickness

0.160”

Locking Mechanism

AXIS

Opening Mechanism

Manual or automatic opening

Belt Clip Type

Sheath

Edge Type

N/A

Blade Steel Type

D2

Blade Shape

N/A

Hardness

60-62 HRC

Handle Material

G10 handle scales

Handle Color

Brown

 

Review

 

It was tough to choose between the two Benchmade knives in this list. Benchmade is known for producing excellent knives of all sorts. We could easily swap 6 and 7 on this list. That's why we put them side by side for easy comparison. Fans of Benchmade can't go wrong with either of these knives, but we put the 275BKSN slightly higher for a few reasons.

 

One of those reasons is a feature that no other knife on this list can boast of – Benchmade gives part of the proceeds from the sale of 275BKSN knives to Three Rangers and the Navy SEAL Foundation. These organizations help members of the Rangers and Navy SEALs, as well as their families. The Navy SEAL Foundation specifically tries to help US Navy SEALs and their families and loved ones. They offer support for the time and safety sacrificed by Navy SEALs and their families. They assist in helping Navy SEAL members transition from their service back to civilian life by offering opportunities and connections for a post-service career. They also focus on educational opportunities and veteran support. One of their toughest outreach efforts is helping with tragedy assistance and survivor support when Navy SEALs make the ultimate sacrifice for their country. The Three Rangers Foundation is similar and aims to empower veterans so they can be successful after their military career is over. This includes job assistance, as well as spiritual, physical, mental, financial, educational and interpersonal assistance, depending on the individual's needs.

 

Both of these foundations are doing important and impactful work for veterans and their families. Knowing part of your purchase goes to these causes is a benefit only Benchmark can offer. And, specially, the Benchmark 275BKSN. That is important for many knife buyers, who may be veterans themselves. This sets this knife apart from every other pocket knife on this list and even gives it an edge against the comparable Benchmade 581 that appears one spot down.

 

When it comes to the knife itself, it is an excellent product, featuring manual or automatic opening and MOLLE compatibility. It is made in the USA and uses D2 steel with a hardness of 60-62 HRC. D2 is a reliable knife blade steel that has been used by many manufacturers. This type of steel is resistant to abrasion and very versatile. It has been used for a very wide range of knife types and performed admirably in all of them. You'd be hard-pressed to find a knife using D2 steel that is bad or unacceptable. D2 may have different hardnesses and sharpening ability across different knives, but it is a consistently high quality type of steel.

 

However, this knife is much more expensive than most of the others on this list (except the other Benchmade). That can put off buyers on a budget, who can't afford a pocket knife that is over $200. It is also relatively heavy at 7.68 ounces. This is far heavier than a lot of the pocket knives you'll find here and elsewhere; it is even heavier than the other Benchmade on this list. Some people enjoy the heft, but if you're looking for a knife to carry around all day, this extra bulk can be prohibitive. It is also more conspicuous than a lot of other pocket knives. It comes with a sheath that is great for holding the knife and carrying it around, but is a lot more noticeable than a belt clip. If you live in a place with very strict knife carry laws, this could be a deterrent, as there is very little chance of not having this knife be noticeable when you carry it around in its sheath.

 

Still, even considering all these factors, the Benchmade 275BKSN is an excellent pocket knife. It isn't right for all situations and all people, but if it suits your needs it is well-worth the extra cost. It is made with very good steel and part of the high price goes toward assisting veterans and their families. You will know when you buy this knife that you can rely on it for a very long time. If the cost and weight are acceptable, this knife is a stellar purchase for pocket knife users.

 

#7 Benchmade 581

 

 

 

Specifications

 

Price

$235.00 USD

Length

8.35”

Closed Length

4.75”

Weight

5.20 oz.

Blade Length

3.60”

Blade Thickness

0.121”

Locking Mechanism

AXIS

Opening Mechanism

Assisted

Belt Clip Type

N/A

Edge Type

N/A

Blade Steel Type

M390

Blade Shape

N/A

Hardness

N/A

Handle Material

N/A

Handle Color

Black

 

Review

 

The Benchmade 581 is part of the Barrage line of knives from Benchmade. However, the 581 has an upgraded handle and improve blade materials compared to other knives in the Barrage family. It also features a slightly different blade design than other Barrage knives from Benchmade. Fans of the Barrage line don't need to worry, however; the Benchmade 581 stays true to the original design by Warren Osborne that inspired the Barrage line.

 

The steel used for this knife is M390 with a hardness of 58-61 HRC. This Austrian blade steel is generating a lot of buzz as a new “super steel.” The main features of this type of steel are its super high hardness and incredible corrosion resistance. The hardness makes it very resistant to wear and tear. Plus, the edge will hold for a long time thanks to the composition of the steel. Chromium, molybdenum, vanadium and tungsten are added to the steel in order to make it sharper when used as a knife blade. The downside to all this improved resistance and hardness is that it can be tough to sharpen. The same things that make it so dependable and tough also make sharpening a moderately difficult task. However, it will hold that sharpened edge for a long time, so you shouldn't need to sharpen it as often as a lower quality blade. Plus, it is exceptionally easy to clean. You can really polish this blade to a true mirror-like sheen. Overall, the difficulty of sharpening the blade is more than balanced out by the benefits of M390 steel.

 

This is, however, a more expensive knife, as is the other Benchmade. If price is a limiting factor for you, this pocket knife may be outside your budget. At upwards of $200, it is not the best pocket knife for affordability. However, what you get for that higher price is improved quality and a dependable brand. Customers adore Benchmade. They are one of the most popular and reliable knife makers out there. People who have purchased any of their knives consistently rate them very highly. If the 581 is outside your budget, it may be worthwhile to shop around for a more affordable Benchmade. This beloved brand has certainly earned its reputation and standing with fans.

 

Another downside to this knife is the weight. At 5.20 ounces, it is heavier than most of the knives on this list. Benchmade's other knife on this list, the 275BKSN is even heavier than the 581, however. So you can save a little bit on weight with this one if you are set no buying Benchmade. Plus, this knife is only about an ounce heavier than most other pocket knives, which isn't a huge difference. This isn't the right knife for someone who is particularly concerned with knife weight, but it is still not prohibitively heavy compared to most pocket knives for everyday use.

 

#8 Buck/Tops CSAR-T

 

 

 

Specifications

 

Price

$192 USD

Length

N/A

Closed Length

N/A

Weight

8.6 oz.

Blade Length

3.5”

Blade Thickness

N/A

Locking Mechanism

Inner lock

Opening Mechanism

One handed

Belt Clip Type

Sheath clip

Edge Type

N/A

Blade Steel Type

154CM

Blade Shape

Modified Tanto

Hardness

RC 59-61

Handle Material

G10

Handle Color

Black

 

Review

 

Buck/Tops boasts that its CSAR-T folding knife imitates those used in the field by members of the military. This hard core pocket knife is dependable whether you're a civilian or active duty, however.

 

It is made with 154CM stainless steel in the blade. 154CM is actually a slight upgrade on the normal 440C steel you'll find in a lot of pocket knife blades. Though 440C and 154CM are very similar types of steel in terms of corrosion resistance (due to Chromium content), 154CM is better than 440C at holding an edge. This is a big deal for knife buyers who don't want to worry about constantly needing to resharpen their blades. 154CM steel can offer a little extra peace of mind in this regard over 440C. It is also pretty tough and suitable for most everyday uses. You can go about your life knowing you've got reliable steel with you when you're carrying a Buck/Tops CSAR-T pocket knife. When this everyday type of usage does eventually wear the blade down a bit, you shouldn't find it too arduous to resharpen. Many of the top brands in knife making are starting to adopt this type of steel, including Benchmade.

 

The handle is also excellent on this knife. It has a grooved Rocky Mountain Tread G10 handle. Rocky Mountain Tread is a particular type of grip that is unique to Buck/Tops. It can feel a bit too textured for some people, but many customers love it. The grooved handle offers superior ergonomics and control. You can be sure when you hold this knife you grip will never slip. It might take some getting used to if this is your first Buck/Tops knife, but it will prove well-worth the effort of adjusting.

 

The Buck/Tops CSAR-T pocket knife includes many other features that make it super user friendly, as well. It can be opened using just one hand for extra convenience and ease of use. And when you close it back up an inner locking mechanism will ensure it is safe and secure. You can travel knowing you're ready for any situation or need that arises when you have this knife on hand. It is simple to use, safe when locked and convenient to carry around. Some do find it rather heavy at 8.6 ounces, so that is something to be aware of. Even with a sheath clip for carrying, 8.6 ounces is pretty heavy for this type of knife. There are several other knives on this list that are much lighter and therefore perhaps more convenient to carry around all the time. However, if weight isn't a particular concern then this is an extremely useful knife.

 

Price can be an issue for some buyers. At $192, it is on the more expensive end. You get excellent steel and a top tier handle and grip system for that price, but the Buck/Tops CSAR-T is understandably outside some people's budgets. And if the weight or style isn't exactly what you're looking for, there are other knives in this price range that may be better suited to what you need and want out of an everyday use pocket knife.

 

#9 Cold Steel Recon 1 (Series)

 

 

 

Specifications

 

Price

$169.99 USD

Length

9 3/8”

Closed Length

N/A

Weight

5.3 oz.

Blade Length

Various

Blade Thickness

3.5mm

Locking Mechanism

Tri-Ad lock

Opening Mechanism

N/A

Belt Clip Type

Ambidextrous pocket/belt clip

Edge Type

Plain

Blade Steel Type

Carpenter CTS XHP Alloy with DLC coating

Blade Shape

Various

Hardness

N/A

Handle Material

G10

Handle Color

Black

 

Review

 

We're cheating just a little here and reviewing the entire Cold Steel Recon 1 series. These knives are all very similar, but differ in the particulars of how you want to use them. We included them all together in this spot on the list because the models are comparable.

 

The Recon 1 series is popular with military and law enforcement personnel, as well as general knife enthusiasts. It is great for so many purposes that nearly everyone who uses one of the Recon 1s becomes a fan of the series. Cold Steel offers a number of various on this popular style of pocket knife, including a mini for ulta portability and a Point Plain Edge for all-purpose usage.

 

All of the Recon 1s have CTS XHP blades and G120 handles. These dependable features span the entire family of Recon 1 knives from Cold Steel. CTS XHP blades are highly prized among knife enthusiasts. It is even harder than 440C stainless steel and more resistant to corrosion than D2 tool steel. This places it far above most steel used for pocket knives. It is an exceptionally good steel that can reach a maximum hardness of 64 HRC or a minimum of 60 HRC. It is also very forgiving when undergoing heat treatment, allowing for better balance. All of this results in an incredibly sharp knife edge consisting of carbon, silicon, nickle, vanadium, manganese, chromium, molybdenum and iron.

 

But that is not all the Recon 1 series has to offer. It also has a G10 handle for superior grip and ergonomics. G10 is discussed in relation to other knives on this list as well. That's because it's a very popular and reliable material that is even used for gun and other things besides just knives. G10 is a type of plastic made of fiberglass mesh cloth and epoxy resin binder. It is made in flat layers than can contain one color or many. This also allows for coatings like DLC that can improve the durability of the grip. DLC, or diamond like carbon coating, is known for being very hard, resistant to wear, insulated and easily adherent to whatever it is applied to. This means the coating will stick around and protect your knife grip for the life of the tool.

 

The hardest part about the Recon 1 series is deciding which one is right for your needs. The Micro is great because it is lighter and more portable. If you want something dependable to carry around every day, the Micro might be the right choice. It will have a shorter blade than other Recon 1s, though. Other Recon 1s have blades that are 3.4 or 5.5 inches long, offering more flexibility in how they are used. The steel used for all of these blades is excellent, so you can know you get an excellent knife no matter which specific type you choose. They also all feature a Tri-Ad lock that keep your fingers safe from accidental slips while protecting the knife from bumps and shocks. If you are looking for a Recon 1 with lots of power, check out the XL Recons. These are larger in order to provide more power. Overall, it's hard to go wrong with any of the Recon 1 knives from Cold Steel. You are sure to find one that suits your budget and situation.

 

#10 Ontario XM-2TS

 

 

 

Specifications

 

Price

$95.00 USD

Length

8”

Closed Length

N/A

Weight

5.5 oz.

Blade Length

3.375”

Blade Thickness

0.19”

Locking Mechanism

Dual titanium inner locks

Opening Mechanism

N/A

Belt Clip Type

Pocket clip

Edge Type

Plain or combination

Blade Steel Type

N690Co Cobalt enhanced stainless steel

Blade Shape

N/A

Hardness

N/A

Handle Material

Aluminum

Handle Color

Black

 

Review

 

The Ontario XM-2 Black folder rounds out our list at number 10. This in no way means it is a bad knife. In fact, it is an excellent pocket knife that is part of a broader collection from Ontario of fantastic pocket knives. Compared to some other knives on this list it doesn't stand out as much, but that does not mean it is anything less than a durable, high quality pocket knife for everyday use.

 

The Ontario XM-2  is part of the slim line. This line is great for people who want a pocket knife that is easy to carry around and keep with you during your daily chores and activities. It is fairly light at 5.5 ounces, but packs a lot of durability despite that. And with the slim line you can choose between a plain or combination edge depending on your particular needs in a pocket knife.

 

The handle on these knives is 0.60 inches inches and made from aircraft aluminum supported with dual titanium inner locks. It also features a finger groove and ergonomic thumb ramp. This results in a superior handle that will be comfortable for a long time to come. The aircraft aluminum used is just what it sounds like – a type of aluminum used for producing certain aircraft parts. This obviously means it is very durable. However, many knife makers prefer titanium. Aluminum can be lighter, weaker and less resistant to wear compared to titanium, but it does save a lot on cost. That is part of the reason this knife is only $95, an excellent price for the quality. Still, aluminum is very resistant to corrosion and quite common to see in knife handles.

 

The N690Co cobalt enhanced stainless steel used for the blade is a high end steel very similar to 440C. It is not the best steel described on this list, but it still very reliable and durable. N690Co is used by many knife makers to produce durable products that are resistant to wear and tear. N690Co is also very hard, which makes it bear the brunt of everyday use excellently. The balance of cost and reliability with N690Co steel is fantastic. It is so highly regarded that some knife makers will rely on N690Co steel to the exclusion of any other type of steel. The cobalt is a key component to this steel; in particular, it effects the hardness of the steel and promotes uniformity throughout the structure of the blade. Cobalt can also help producer a finer blade edge that holds its sharpness for longer. For being such a slim blade (at just 0.19 inches thick), it is remarkably durable.

 

This knife is available with either a plain or serrated edge, depending on your needs. You can also investigate the other offerings in the Ontario XM-2 line to find the pocket knife that is most perfectly suited to your usage. While this knife is by no means the most powerful or impressive one on this list, it is a stellar pocket knife for everyday usage. Considering the low price point, the Ontario XM-2 is an excellent pocket knife that you will be able to rely on no matter what your particular needs are.

The Final Word

Ultimately, the right knife to pick comes down to you – the user. All of the knives we review here have their strengths and weaknesses. Yet all 10 are also excellent pocket knives. You really can't go wrong choosing any of them. Whether you're looking primarily for price, power or durability, there is a knife in this list that you can trust for your everyday pocket knife needs. Some of the knives here are higher rated because of their affordability while others offer quality that simply can't get matched by their competitors. Consider the factors that are the most important to you when making your decision. Also make careful note of how you tend to use your knife, as some knives are better for specific purposes than others. You will need to balance your own needs, preferences and budget when coming to your decision about which pocket knife to buy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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