Pocket knives have been around for literally thousands of years, but surprisingly there are still many people who consider them toys. We would like to think of a well-chosen pocket knife as a precision tool for a variety of hobbies and tasks. But which one is right for you?
Best Pocket Knives for the Money
Buck Knives 110BRS Folding Hunter Knife
Buck is known for delivering high-quality hunting knives, and this is no exception. These blades arrive sharp, so be very careful when opening the package. This is one folding knife that’s guaranteed to be a perfect hunting accessory. It’s adept at every camping need, from dressing to skinning, cleaning to scaling. This is one of those true classics that never really goes out of style.
The 110BRS is a wonderful balance between a nostalgic feel and a truly high-quality tool, offering Buck customers a product that they would be proud to pass along to their kids. This knife has a gorgeous design and an incredibly sharp blade.
Pros: This knife offers a great value for the money, at just under $. It’s not often that you find a durable product for this cheap, but Buck delivers in spades. Sharp, beautiful, and built to last.
Cons: It can take two hands to open it while you’re working to break it in. It’s also a bit heavier than similarly-sized tactical knives. Eventually, this can be an advantage, but it will take a while to get used to it. It also takes a bit of maintenance to keep it looking its best, but if you want a knife to be proud of for many years, you’re going to want to take care of it.
Benchmade 585 Mini-Barrage Osborne Knife Plain Edge
This Benchmade knife is significantly more expensive than the Buck above, but 95% of customers recommend the 585 Mini-Barrage Osborne to others. This type of customer satisfaction is what we like to hear about, so naturally we had to check it out.
While the 585 looks very simple, this is a finely tuned knife that’s just the right length for a daily carry. There is a safety lock that ensures it won’t accidentally come open in your pocket – which is a great comfort if you’ll be carrying this directly on your person.
The scales at the sides of this blade are plastic, which you might think “cheapens” the feel of the knife – but if you’re more concerned with the locking mechanism (like we were), you’ll understand that wooden scales would have made for a more expensive knife, and Benchmade chose instead to put their money into the blade.
Pros: High-quality knife with a high satisfaction rating. Good length for a daily carry and for basic self-defense needs. Innovative safety latch to save your thighs when carrying it in your pants pocket.
Cons: On the expensive side considering the plastic grips, but this is made up for in other areas.
Spyderco Delica4 Lightweight FRN Flat Ground Plain Edge Knife
This knife is a surprisingly strong contender in the right-around-$$ price point, and don’t let the bright color fool you. This knife is a certified beast. It has a comfortable weight in your hand, and the bright orange color is sure to stand out if you need to find it in a hurry. Even better, there is a thumb grip and a deep ridged design to make sure it doesn’t slip out of your hand when you’re counting on it most.
More than just the look and feel, this knife is a truly wonderful piece of equipment. The clip can be easily attached to your pocket (just in case you don’t like digging around for it – we don’t) and the blade stays super sharp for months. Overall, this knife delivered far more than we expected for the price.
Pros: Bright, distinctive color – not exactly neon, but definitely visible. Smooth locking mechanism that locks in tight. The thumb grip is a hole, instead of a peg like many other knives in this price range.
Cons: The blade is short when compared to the handle, and the safety choil limits it even further. (Although, to be fair, both of these things are probably intended as safety features.)
Victorinox Swiss Army SwissChamp Pocket Knife
It used to be that Swiss Army knives were the quintessential knife to measure all other knives against, but these days the extra tools and features are often viewed as cumbersome. They generally take away from the knife – which is many people’s primary focus. But if you’re going to get a multi-function knife, you may as well get the best multi-function knife available, and that’s the SwissChamp.
This knife has an astounding 33 different tools in it, and each one is specifically crafted to provide an extraordinary experience for the user. If you’re going to be camping for longer than a night or two, a Swiss Champ is an essential tool that will help carry an entire tool chest (as well as tweezers and a magnifying glass strong enough to start a fire) in a single pocket.
While most days will not call for a multi-tool such as this, it would be great to have one on hand in case you ever do intend to be stuck without modern luxuries for a while, as it will satisfy many more needs than your traditional pocket knife. It’s not without some drawbacks, though – the primary one being a wide selection of cheap knock-offs that will only disappoint. Another downside for those who are new to multi-function knives is that this is very heavy – make sure you wear a belt!
Pros: Any tool you could ever need, in one package. The originals are truly masterpieces, and when well maintained they can last a lifetime.
Cons: Many knock-offs make it difficult to find the real deal (although Amazon will usually refund if it’s found to be counterfeit). Additionally, very heavy if you’re not used to carrying this big of a knife.
Kershaw Ken Onion Leek Folding Knife with SpeedSafe
If you’re looking for a simple blade that will hold up and deliver from day to day, for under $$ (at the time of this review), there’s no better choice than the Ken Onion Leek Folding Knife from Kershaw. Abidextrous SpeedSafe assisted-opening system lets you open the blade with either hand – no need to use both (and no need for lefties to worry about extra troubles).
This probably isn’t a good choice for wet conditions or things that require precision, but the blade stays sharp with whatever abuse you throw at it. The sleek handle has an attractive look, although it does compromise the grip. (If you’re very concerned, you can always buy some grip to put on yourself, but in most cases you probably won’t need it.)
It is very inconspicuous if you’re looking for a daily carry – the profile is so slim in your pocket that it’s unlikely to draw attention… Until you pull it out. This thing is gorgeous! Unfortunately, when we tried to switch the clip to the other side, we were unable to screw them back in, but Amazon replaced them and we were good to go in just a few days. Still, we advise against taking the clip off unless it’s necessary – it will be more of a hassle than it seems!
Pros: Gorgeous design, at an inexpensive price. Inconspicuous for daily carry. Assisted opening to help things along. Ambidextrous with adjustments.
Cons: No grip, whatsoever, and the screws for the clip are not the greatest.
BlizeTec Pocket Folding Knife
If you want an all-purpose knife with a slim profile to keep in your car, this BlizeTec knife is a sure bet. Unlike many other multi-tools that stick a lot of different ideas into a relatively small space, this knife offers a few basic survival tools and it offers them in an attractive format. Although the company advertises it as a five-in-one, it’s important to know that a few of their features are not tools themselves – namely, the pocket clip and the liner lock. However, these features are nice upgrades.
It’s important to realize that the BlizeTec 5-in-1 is considered an emergency knife, and as such the blade is very sharp and comes out very quickly. While this can be a benefit if you’re actually in an emergency, it can be dangerous if you’re unprepared, so please be aware when you are taking it out.
The selling points of this particular knife are that it houses a seatbelt cutter and a glass breaker, both of which are highly specialized tools that will help in an instant if you are trapped in a car due to a car accident. As someone who has been in a few scary car accidents, let me tell you – you will want to get out as soon as possible. This knife is a beautiful tool that will help you do just that, and for under $$ there’s no excuse to not keep one in your car door pocket.
Pros: Super sharp and attractive. The blade comes out very quickly and it has added emergency tools that will help in the event of a car accident. The slim line of this knife will fit almost anywhere, and the stainless steel blade will stay sharp for a long time.
Cons: Not as many safety features as you’d expect – combined with the sharpness and the blade opening speed, and there’s a recipe for disaster if you’re not careful. (Although it is always your responsibility to exercise proper knife safety when using.)
Do You Need a Pocket Knife?
Things pocket knives are good for:
- Carrying in your car, in case you need to cut your seatbelt
- Cutting ropes, wires, and cords
- Cub Scouts
- Backpacking through brush
- Cleaning fish
- Preparing food when camping
- Defending yourself from a human attacker
- Helping on a farm
- Cutting boxes and other thin materials
- Sharpening things
- Carving and whittling wood
Things pocket knives are not good for:
- Surviving wilderness conditions
- Exerting pressure
- Chopping or sawing
- Defending yourself from wild animals
Types of Folding Pocket Knives
Depending on your needs, the pocket knife you need might vary. The specifics will vary between different brands, but generally there are a few things that each type of knife is “better” for:
These knives hold a large amount of tools, and lend themselves to usefulness in a variety of situations. It’s a great idea to keep one in your glove box, as well as with your tent – they have the basic tools required to help fix almost any problem. But they are clunky, and a bad choice for self-defense, as they can take a long time to open, and even longer to memorize.
These knives are a single tool that often focuses on the quality of the blade. There may be improvements to the handle, but even without, they generally are easier to hold than a multi-function knife. Some may have a lever to help open them more quickly as well.
When deciding which knife you will purchase, there are a few important factors to consider:
- Your budget. While expensive knives are often attractive, it’s important to not spend more than you can afford.
- Your needs. Someone who is looking for a daily carry knife will have different requirements than someone who needs an emergency tool.
- The size. The knife should feel comfortable in your hand, and should fit well in your pocket (if you intend to carry it in your pocket).
- Your local laws. In some places, there will be regulations that limit the type, size, or other components of a knife that you may keep on your person.
The Bottom Line
Pocket knives are great tools to keep on your person or in your vehicle for a variety of reasons, and it’s helpful to make sure you’re buying the highest-quality knife you can afford. With the information we have laid out in our extensive review, you should be able to find a knife that meets all your needs.