The pocket knife is one of the most important tools anyone can carry. From cutting a fishing line to saving someone trapped in a seat belt and everything in between, a good pocket knife is a man's best friend. But with thousands of knives on the market, it can be hard to wade through the options to find the best of the best.
To make things easier, we created this guide to break down what makes the best pocket knives and included some recommendations.
Identify the Intended Use of Your Knife
Before going further into this guide, it's important to note that great pocket knives are often a matter of opinion. What may be one man's favorite knife may be another man's nightmare. However, the knives found in this guide have consistently received great reviews from our customers and around the web. Before deciding on the best pocket knife, you should first determine what you want to use your know for.
If you're the kind of person who always needs a screwdriver or several types of blades, a Swiss Army knife might be your best pocket knife. If you want a strong single blade folder that you can open with one hand, the SOG Flash II might be your best bet.
Common Traits of the Best Pocket Knives
The best pocket knives vary quite a bit from one another, but most of them do share a few common traits.
Blade Length between 3 and 4 Inches
The typical blade length on the best pocket knives lie somewhere between 3 inches and 4 inches. There are a few reasons for this. A larger blade on a folding knife will result in a longer overall length, which would make carrying the knife much more burdensome. The disadvantage of a blade shorter than 3 inches is fairly evident. It's not long enough to handle the more heavy duty tasks you want to do.
There are, of course, outliers to the common trait. The Case Medium Stockman and the Buck Vantage Pro Small both have blades shorter than 3 inches but make up for it in durability and portability.
It's perfectly fine to get a pocket knife with added features like assisted opening systems, and many companies have mastered the art of these unique add-ons, but a common trait of the best knives is a simple construction. The reason the best knives usually avoid bells and whistles is that they're less likely to be a problem or malfunction in the line of duty. Pocket knives, by definition, have moving parts so you can't avoid them completely when a knife has fewer parts that can break, it tends to last longer.
Although it's not immediately evident when you buy the best pocket knives, durability is a common trait among the most highly reviewed and respected knives. There are certain aspects, like the glass-reinforced nylon handle or coated knife blades, that will point to increased durability, but time is the only way to really tell how durable a knife is. Fortunately, others have tried and tested countless knives, so you don't have to.
Top 5 Pocket Knives
A knife is a matter of preference, but these are five of our favorite pocket knives that consistently get rave reviews.
The Colorado-based Spyderco is well known for simple and durable knives with great ergonomics and a unique look. Although Spyderco makes an array of great pocket knives including the Delica and Endura, the Tenacious is by far one of the best. It boasts a 3.88-inch blade held in place by a liner lock. The ergonomic G-10 handle leaves the knife feeling like an extension of your hand and Spyderco's trademark Round Hole makes it easy to open the knife without much effort.
Aside from the quality construction, the knife feels smooth. Unlike other knives, which tend to have more moving parts, the Tenacious embraces its simplicity and it pays off with a durable knife that can take nearly anything you throw at it. Once this knife gets into your rotation, it'll likely become your EDC for years to come.
For a more in-depth look at why we love the knife, take a look at our review of the Spyderco Tenacious.
SOG Specialty Knives built its name on making top-of-the-line fixed blade knives mainly for military use. After manufacturing and perfecting the SOG Bowie, the company brought its modern design and hard-core durability to the pocket knife. Enter SOG Flash II. The knife is respected, affordable and features the SOG spring-assisted technology that will have your knife engaged and ready in no time.
You may have seen a lot of knives, but there aren't many like the SOG Flash II.
No list of best pocket knives would be complete with the Kershaw Leek. The Leek is one of Kershaw's top-selling knives and it gets nothing but rave reviews from anyone who touches one. The first thing that jumps out with this knife is the sleek and sexy all-steel construction. It feels good in the hands and has a great weight.
The true beauty of the knife doesn't start to reveal itself until you actually use it on a daily basis. The quick SpeedSafe assisted opening system makes it a cinch to open when you need it and the 3-inch blade proves just how sharp it can stay after repeated use. And, of course, what may very well be the best selling point on this finely made knife is that it's manufactured in the USA. Nothing beats that.
It's hard to argue with an icon, especially when it has five decades of rave reviews and diehard fans behind it. The world famous Buck Model 110 Folding Hunter is one of the best-selling pocket knives in historyselling more than 15 million since 1964with good reason. The 110 has a 3.75-inch stainless steel blade with a beautiful wood handle and was among the first lockback knives created.
The Buck 110 is widely considered one of the best knives ever and it's not hard to see why. Aside from the quality construction, the knife has everything you'd need in a good pocket knife, which is why it's not surprising that the 110 style is mimicked by many brands. Still, there's only one Buck 110 Hunter and it should be your next pocket knife.
It's impossible to lay out a list of best pocket knives without putting a Swiss Army knife somewhere on it. Choosing between the One Hand Trekker and the SwissChamp was difficult, but the SwissChamp deserves the mention here because of its presence in the lore of knives.
Not only is the SwissChamp one of the most functional and highly regarded Swiss Army knives around, but it puts all other multi-tools to shame. The SwissChamp prides itself on having 32 tools that can turn any novice into a handyman. The knife itself carries the reliable stamp of Victorinox and is beloved by anyone who owns one. For more than 25 years, the SwissChamp has been the first knife of many wide-eyed young men and many knives since then have failed to live up to the quality and dependability of the Swiss Champ.
One criticism occasionally thrown at this knife is that it has too many tools, but the majority of people see that as an asset. If you want to know a little more about the components of the SwissChamp and why it's such a great knife, check out our article on the anatomy of a Swiss Army knife.
Need some more help picking a pocket knife?
If you're still undecided on which pocket knife to buy, check out the comparison chart below. These are some of the highest rated knives from our customers and reviews around the web. You can also browse through our pocket knife buying guide or our wide selection of pocket knives. Don't forget, you'll also receive our 60-day, money-back guarantee with any knife you buy, so you can be confident in your decision.
Best Pocket Knife Comparison Chart
|Title||Price||Blade Length||Closed Length||Total Length||Weight (ounces)||Blade Steel||Locking System|
|Schrade Old Timer Senior||$||3"||4"||6.9"||2.8||400 Series||Slip Joint|
|Opinel Camp Knife||$||3"||4"||7"||1.3||X90 Carbon||Ring|
|Smith & Wesson Extreme Ops Tanto||$||3.3"||4.7"||8"||4.4||Stainless||Liner|
|Ontario Knife Company RAT Folder||$$||3.6"||5"||8.6"||5.0||AUS 8||Liner|
|Gerber Gator Folding Knife||$$||3.8"||5"||8.5"||5.4||420HC||Back|
|Victorinox One Hand Trekker||$$||3.5"||4.4"||8.8"||4.5||X50CrMO||Liner|
|Case Medium Stockman||$$||2.5"||3.3"||5.8"||2.5||Tru-Sharp||Slip Joint|
|Buck 110 Folding Hunter||$$||3.8"||4.9"||8.6"||7.2||420HC||Back|
|CRKT M16-Z||$$||3"||4.4"||7.4"||3.6||AUS 4||Liner|
|Buck Vantage Pro Small||$$||2.6"||3.8"||6.4"||2.3||S30V||Liner|
|SOG Flash II||$$||3.5"||4.5"||8"||3.1||AUS 8||Piston|
|SOG Aegis||$$||3.5"||4.8"||8.3"||3.1||AUS 8||Piston|
|Victorinox SwissChamp||$$$||2.3"||3.6"||5.9"||6.5||X50CrMO||Slip Joint|
|Spyderco Delica FRN||$$$||3"||4.3"||7.2"||2.5||VG-10||Back|
|Cold Steel Recon 1 Tanto||$$$||4"||5.4"||9.4"||5.3||AUS 8A||Tri-Ad|
|Spyderco Endura FRN||$$$||3.8"||5"||8.8"||3.6||VG-10||Back|
|Spyderco Delica Stainless||$$$||3"||4.3"||7.2"||4.1||VG-10||Back|
|Spyderco Endura Stainless||$$$||3.8"||5"||8.8"||5.7||VG-10||Back|
|Boker Cronidur||$$$$||3.1"||4.1"||7.3"||5.6||Cronidur 30||Back|
|Fallkniven TK4 Tre Kronor Folder||$$$$||2.8"||3.8"||6.5"||1.8||3G||Back|