a selection of knives

The Best Pocket Knife? Comparing the Best Pocket Knives on the Market

Why Carry a Pocket Knife? What to Look for in the Best Pocket Knife?

Pocket knives have accompanied men for centuries, and the reason is clear: like multi tools, pocket knives are tools with a huge amount of potential for solving any kind of problem and situation you have in front of you.

A knife is a tool first and foremost. They have been standard equipment of military forces all around the globe, but nowadays they are frowned upon, mainly based on fear and ignorance. That said, we at A Tool for Every Job the benefits of carrying a pocket knife everyday still outweigh the drawbacks.

What's the best pocket knife?

Find the best pocket knife

Knives can be used in many different ways through the day. Here are some examples of carrying a pocket knife:

  • Opening letters, presents, boxes and any other kind of package.
  • First aid, like cutting bandages.
  • Self-defense. Maybe not the most effective ones, but knives can be used as weapons (who knew?).

Not All Pocket Knives Are Created Equal: How to Choose the Perfect Pocket Knife

With literally thousands upon thousands of different models to choose from, deciding which knife to buy can be overwhelming. To find the best pocket knife, to know which type of knife to buy, you should consider some factors first.

Best pocket knives comparison

What to look for in the best pocket knives?

Legality

It’s always a good idea to check whether it’s legal to carry one in your state. For the most part, in the US it’s legal to carry small ones, but if you want to double check just to be sure, here’s a handy page you can visit at TheFiringLine.

Purpose

Pocket knives come with different types of edges and points. While most pocket knives will be able to do almost anything you want, you should consider what you truly need when choosing a model.

Get to know the best pocket knife brands

There are good pocket knife brands

Size and weight

A knife should be small enough to fit in any pocket, yet long enough to be useful. Stick to the common 3 inches for the length, since longer blades may be illegal in certain states.

Blade material

The blade is the most important part of the knife, but it’s difficult to choose a material. You will find carbon steel and stainless steel in most models, but it comes down to what the intended usage is. If you want more information and recommendations, be sure to check out our survival knife guide where we cover the different type of blades available.

Opening mechanism

The best pocket knife varies from model to model

Opening mechanism example on the best pocket knife

There are manual and automatic methods for opening the knives.

Manual methods include, for example, the little indentation found in multi tools, allowing you to grab and pull the blade with the nail.

Automatic knives (or switchblades) are automatically opened by a spring when a button is pushed. This type is illegal in many countries, including the US.

Another mechanism is the assisted-opening knife. Main difference between this type and the switchblade is that the former requires the user to apply manual pressure up to a certain point before opening, while the later does this without any help. Wikipedia has some more information about assisted-opening mechanism and switchblades if you are interested.

Lock

The lock refers to the mechanism on the knife that keeps the blade in place when opened. Like with opening mechanisms, there are many different types of locks. The lever lock for example, prevents the blade from moving by passing a pin through a hole. A frame lock uses the handle to help folding the blade. You can watch the following video if you want to see some examples.

Straight blade vs. serrated blade

Like the case with survival knives, there are basically two types of edges you can choose from: straight and serrated. Again, it’s a matter of personal preference. Serrated blades are more difficult to maintain, often requiring professional help to sharpen. Straight blades are easier to clean and sharpen, and will cut almost anything you put in front of it.

The Best Pocket Knife Brands

There are many brands out there that produce quality pocket knives. The following are some of our favorites, hopefully you’ll find the knife you are looking for.

KnifeWeight (ounces)Closed length (inches)Blade length (inches)MaterialPrice
Spyderco Delica42.54.252.56VG-10 stainless steel$$
Kershaw Ken Onion Blur4.24.53.37513C26 stainless steel$$
Schrade 8OT Old Timer Senior2.83.93.0400 series stainless steel$
Victorinox Swiss Army SwissChamp73.52 blades (32 tools total)Stainless steel$$

Spyderco

Examples of pocket knife brands

Spyderco: one of the best pocket knife brands

A pioneer in the market, Spyderco is known for its designs and innovations that are now standard among folding knives, like serrations and the opening hole. The Spyderco Delica4 is a favorite among the fans, featuring a unique “skeleton” like design, the one-handed opening and closing, and its high quality VG-10 stainless steel. It is also really affordable and extremely lightweight. It retains the sharpness pretty well and the blade resists corrosion and rust.

Kershaw

Some of the best pocket knives are Kershaw

Kershaw produces some of the best pocket knives

Kershaw has a reputation for the quality and performance of its knives around the world. One of its best-seller products is the Kershaw Ken Onion Blur, a folding knife that includes an assisted opening system (spring-assisted). The 3-3/8-inch blade is made of 13C26 stainless steel, it’s highly durable and resistant to corrosion and rust, and the built in lock system keeps it in position to be ready for use. The knife opens quickly and the grip is comfortable, using thin rubbery silicone inserts.

Schrade

Schrade Old Timer pocket knife

An Old Timer pocket knife means quality

The Old Timer pocket knife is known for its high quality stainless steel and its traditional design. It’s classy and very durable. The brand has been an important manufacturer for over 100 years. One of our favorite models is the Schrade 8OT Old Timer Senior Pocket Knife which includes 3 stainless steel blades.

Victorinox

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Image courtesy of Leo-setä

Known also for its multi tools, Victorinox is the sole supplier of the Swiss army, and the biggest manufacturer of pocket knives in the world. The SwissChamp is one of its best-selling products, featuring not only two blades, but also over 30 other tools. It fits in any pocket, and comes with a lifetime warranty for any kind of malfunction. The stainless steel blades are really sharp and durable, but unfortunately they do not come with an assisted-open mechanism, so you may consider purchasing both a multi tool and a knife separately.

Personalizing your pocket knife

Personalized pocket knives: example of engraved pocket knives

Example of engraved pocket knives

Something you may be interested in is the fact that you can buy personalized pocket knives. Engraved pocket knives, for example, are a great gift for anyone looking to distinguish themselves from other knife owners. You can choose to have a word or phrase, for example your name, directly engraved on the blade. Several online stores offer this option, so be sure to check it out before finishing your purchases.

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