Is your old blade getting a bit rusty or dull?
Want to get some info on the best pocket knife for your needs but don’t want to bother with sifting the internet for countless reviews?
You’re in luck then, as this guide is a cut above the rest!
An active lifestyle demands the right tools for the job. Whether you’re a lover of camping trips and losing yourself out in the great outdoors, or if you just want a sturdy tool that can help you with various projects around the backyard and serve as a formidable weapon when push comes to shove, what you need is a knife in your pocket that can keep up provided you keep its edge keen.
To save you from the hassle of having to read through countless guides scattered throughout the net, we’ve compiled a guide that showcases what we believe to be some of the best knives currently available.
By examining it, you will come to know what’s on offer both when it comes to premium models with superior cutting capabilities and to more affordable blades that can still hold their own in a fight or when up against some menacing shrubbery.
In the end, there’s also a general section outlining some basic parameters you should keep in mind before committing to any one product and that is sure to enhance your decision-making experience.
Ready to get stuck in? Then, it’s time to start your journey into the world of clean cuts!
|Product||Blade Length (inches)||Overall Length (inches)||Weight (ounces)||Blade material||Price|
|Sage2 Titanium PlainEdge||3||7.5||3.5||S30V stainless steel||$$$$|
|Zero Tolerance ZT0350TS G10||3.25||7.75||5.6||S30V stainless steel||$$$$|
|Spyderco Paramilitary 2 Black Blade||3.44||8.28||3.75||S30V stainless steel||$$$$|
|Zero Tolerance G10||3.25||7.625||6.2||S30V stainless steel||$$$|
|Zero Tolerance Sinkevich Titanium||3.25||7.4||2.9||CPM S35VN||$$$$|
|Kershaw Ken Onion Blur||3.4||7.9||3.9||Sandvik 14C28N||$$|
|Buck 110 Famous Folding Hunter Knife||3.75||7.9||7.2||420HC stainless-steel||$|
|Kershaw Leek||3||7||3||Sandvik 14C28N||$|
|Spyderco Delica4 Lightweight FRN||2.875||7.125||2.5||VG-10 stainless steel||$$|
Premium Pocket Knives
1. Spyderco Sage2 Titanium PlainEdge(4.9 / 5)
Spyderco have been one of the top manufacturers of pocket knives in the world for a while now, affirming their status with, among other things, the Sage1, predecessor to the model we’re reviewing today.
On their own they’re already a force to be reckoned with, but the company decided to bring outside help for the Sage2 in form of world-renowned knife designer and innovator Chris reeve, and boy does it show.
First of all, the knife is made out of premium quality CPM S30V steel most manufacturers and enthusiasts will agree is one of the best steel types for making the strongest, sharpest blades. Finely honed into the Sage2, the steel will stand up to the most demanding of tasks and holds its edge very well under duress as well as everyday use.
The blade’s length is 3 inches, which is ample for any job you’d subject your pocket knife to. A large signature thumbhole has been cut out of it, allowing for quick and easy one-handed deployment.
The handle is made out of lightweight titanium and although you might expect it to slip occasionally judging by its looks, it actually provides a firm grip in any situation.
Three identical screws hold it together, which is very practical since you only need to use a single tool to remove the entire handle and put it back together again. Its choil will protect your fingers in the very unlikely event that the locking mechanism fails, so it’s safe to say that your hand will be well protected.
Speaking of the locking mechanism, the Sage2 features a flawlessly executed, unhindered lock that will produce the same satisfactory sound and have the knife ready for action in a heartbeat in a matter of seconds the first time and very likely many years down the road too.
Only one initial push is required for the lock to release the blade and deliver a very smooth deployment. Once it’s time to sheathe it again, the whole handle snaps the blade in place and will keep it there until it’s time to use it again without wobbling.
The overall ergonomics and balance of the knife are superb. The handle offers a secure grip and is suited for right-and left handed people alike. The knife is somewhat thin yet sturdy enough to tackle any kind of task, and customers have repeatedly stated that they like to use it as an EDC knife because of this and its fast response time.
We were thoroughly impressed with the Sage2’s overall performance and, try as we might, couldn’t find any flaws in the design or weaknesses in the execution. The used materials and employed craftsmanship are both top notch, making sure this is the type of instrument you’ll be using for many years to come, and maybe even hand it down to the next generation.
The price tag might be a bit hefty for some, but you’re probably paying for one of the last pocket knives you’ll ever need so the investment is worth it.
Needless to say, the Sage2 is our pick for best pocket knife overall, and the title is certainly well-deserved.
2. Zero Tolerance ZT0350TS G10(4.9 / 5)
Sometimes, you don’t just want the sharpest pocket knife that will take whatever you decide to throw its way and come through unscathed. Sometimes, that knife also needs to look cool while doing so. This is why we’re turning our attention to the entirely American-made ZT0350TS G10.
We were pleasantly surprised by the knife’s reduced weight. The manufacturer claims it has been decreased by 10 percent when compared to its previous iteration, and it can be felt while performing various chopping and slicing motions, but doesn’t have an adverse impact on its capabilities.
The ZT0350TS G10 is made from high-quality stainless steel with a blackened tungsten finish resembling tiger stripes that gives it a badass look and makes it perform better.
The steel blade itself is more likely to hold its edge better than carbon or other varieties, and its titanium finish makes it resistant to various types of damage such as water and corrosion while also eliminating glare that could give away your position at an unwanted moment, making it great for survival as well as personal defense scenarios.
As if this weren’t enough, the coating helps diminish surface friction while cutting. Translated into English, this means that it will help the blade slice through different materials with much less effort and increased efficiency.
Its handle is made out of G-10, essentially a fiberglass substance that is great at providing optimal grip while being lightweight and robust.
It feels very balanced and natural in one’s hand, making for easier and more precise cuts. What’s more, the material absorbs almost no moisture, thereby increasing its longevity even further since acids produced by sweaty palms won’t find their way into the handle and slowly degrade it over time.
The best pocket knife in the world couldn’t be of much use if you couldn’t draw it on time, and the answer the ZT0350TS has to that is a system named SpeedSafe that lets you draw it with one hand. Just press the conveniently placed thumb stud and the bar that holds its blade in position will be released.
You can always use the flipper to flip it open it if you want to as well. Once it is open, a vertically-placed lock bar holds the blade in place, making the knife as a whole almost as strong as a fixed blade variant.
It’s no secret that the ZT0350TS has impressed us very much. Its outstanding make coupled with great balance and ease of use make it a top contender for title of best pocket knife and a choice that will tip the scales if you are still on the fence on whether to carry such a weapon or not.
True, the price is somewhat steep, but you need to consider that you’re spending it on some of the most robust and critically acclaimed materials used in the business today which have been painstakingly engineered and sculpted into an extraordinary tool for survival, and if you find yourself in a situation where your life might depend on it, the extra cost paid now will be the least you could have done.
3. Spyderco Paramilitary 2 Black Blade(4.8 / 5)
Another quality entry from Spyderco, the Paramilitary 2 is similar to the previously reviewed entry both in terms of quality and the fact that it manages to improve upon an already successful model. Given that it’s also a bit less expensive than the Sage, this is one of those pocket knives that has a lot going for it.
It is a mid-sized pocket knife with a 3.4 inch long blade of an unusual design that you’ll know is Spyderco the moment you lay eyes on it. Made from S30V stainless steel, it will withstand a lot of punishment and will not require honing even after tasks that would leave lesser quality pocket knives dull and useless.
If the unique style of its blade didn’t trigger your Spyderco senses, the signature thumb hole leaves no room for doubt. It is a bit larger than we’re used to, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing since it allows you to have it out and ready even when wearing gloves.
At about 0.15 inches thick, it is one of the thinner blades we’ve encountered, but its exceptional make will prevent it from snapping or deforming regardless of that.
The Paramilitary 2’s handle is made out of high-quality G-10 which makes for a superior grip every time regardless of conditions. As with other top rated pocket knives, the ergonomics of the handle are superb.
Couple that with its light weight, and it will feel more like a natural extension of your hand than a cutting tool. It is also a very robust and safe design, providing great footing for finger placement and a solid choil that will protect them if need be.
Even though it is nice to know that you won’t lose your digits in case the knife somehow malfunctions, this is very unlikely to happen as the Paramilitary 2 has one of the finest locking mechanisms we’ve ever seen.
When the blade isn’t in use, the compression lock makes it rock-solid and is virtually unbreakable under any kind of normal circumstances.
We especially enjoyed the blade’s versatility. It stood up very well regardless of the motion performed, so expect to be able to slice, stab, swing or chop with equal efficiency. The tip might seem frail at first glance because of how thin it is, but we have encountered no problems with it and the tip has held up without dulling or deformation.
In the end, we believe the Paramilitary 2 is definitely up there with the best pocket knives.
As with other Spyderco models, its execution and superb characteristics make it stand out and the manner in which it was built makes it a solid, long-lasting knife you’ll want to have by your side for many more seasons. A definite recommendation.
4. Zero Tolerance G10(4.7 / 5)
We’re suspecting that the Zero Tolerance in its name is aimed at bad pocket knives, since this company can’t seem to make one of them. Just a fraction smaller and a bit heavier than the ZT0350TS, the G-10 is a high-quality pocket knife in its own right.
Walking a thin line between an EDC or camping blade, the G-10 will likely fill either role perfectly thanks to its robust construction and durable cutting edge. The widely acclaimed S30V makes an appearance again, ensuring that the hardened edge will stay keen under the most difficult circumstances.
The added tungsten coating has the same effect as it does on the ZT0350TS, providing an added layer of stealth, resistance and cutting power. The recurve blade performs wonderfully when having to cut, and is still strong albeit a bit less so when it comes to slicing and chopping.
It’s the type of weapon that requires a certain finesse to use effectively, and becomes dangerous in the hands of a trained user.
Its grip is made from the G-10 fiberglass we’ve already touched upon, ensuring that your grip will not falter even if you have sweaty palms or are using the knife in less than ideal weather. It remained very tight after an extended period of use, attesting to the overall quality of its make.
The only drawback we could find was that the tungsten coating started to rub of after running the knife through its paces. This didn’t have much impact on the edge itself however, which remained sharp without the need for additional adjustments.
All in all, the G-10 might not be the best folding pocket knife we’ve reviewed, but it has both the durability and performance you’d come to expect from a premium product made by a renowned manufacturer.
If you’re the outdoorsy type that likes to keep a blade suited for more than cutting rope at his side at all times, this is a great choice for you.
5. Zero Tolerance Sinkevich Titanium(4.4 / 5)
Another collaboration between a famous designer and prominent manufacturer, this pocket knife created by Dmitry Sinkevich is as gorgeous as it is sharp, blending an inspired design with state of the art metallurgy developments.
The first thing you’ll notice when you flip it open is the simplistic yet gorgeous blade. A prominent swedge is this only adornment, and it doesn’t need any other.
Its drop point design makes it a beast at handling any kind of cutting or slicing task, and the CPM S35VN steel it is made from has proved itself a worthy alternative to the S30V thanks to its meticulous balance of hardness and edge retention. On top of that, it reacts wonderfully to polishing, so you’ll be able to impress your friends with how shiny you can make it.
The handle isn’t as aesthetically pleasing with its stonewashed titanium make, but does a great job of providing satisfactory grip and an ergonomically sound experience. It is also quite slim, which is quite surprising given the blade it needs to hold.
Flipping it up is lightning fast and easy thanks to ZT’s patented KT ball-bearing system and detent. It will take you a few openings before the detent settles into a comfortable action, but once that hurdle is passed you’re in for incredibly smooth opening.
The locking mechanism is an improvement over previous models as well since steel inserts have been put between the blade’s steel and the handle’s titanium lock bars. In short, if you don’t want it to open, the blade will stay secured firmly in place.
We were quite happy with Mr. Sinkevich’s latest deign. This is certainly one of the best pocket knives in the guide, and for good reason – the materials used in its production offer an enviable degree of sharpness and quality, while its timeless design is sure to secure it a place among collectors and serious users alike.
More Affordable Pocket Knives
1. Kershaw Ken Onion Blur(4.9 / 5)
The best folding knife needs to be at the ready in an instant, or in a blur if you ask Kershaw’s own Ken Onion. Inventor of the SpeedSafe system we’ve already encountered in some of ZT’s models, Onion has chosen to make this pocket knife speedy, deadly and visually attractive to boot.
Available in variants with or without serration, the drop point blade is made out of Sandvik 14C28N steel, which has exceptional durability and sharpness retention properties given the price you’ll pay for it. Expect to have to hone it only after prolonged use involving materials that are hard to cut.
Another cool sounding buzzword to pay attention to is Trac-tec, the silicone material that helps you keep a firm grip on the handle.
Balance and comfort are its other main features and equally well-executed. What impressed us most about the blur is its Speedsafe action that works by applying pressure to the thumb stud and then rotating the blade out of its handle.
Once a certain point has passed a built-in torsion bar takes over, extending the blade to its final position in mere moments.
The main problem we’ve found with the Blur is its unreliable locking mechanism. The liner lock has been known to fail on occasion, and this might lead to injury in a worst case scenario.
If you take the proper precautions though, we’re sure you’ll agree with us when we say that the blur is the best pocket knife in the affordable pocket knives category. Its fast deployment does its name justice, and the breadth of options when choosing its handle will satisfy the pickiest of customers.
If you want a great mix of quality and price, the Blur will not disappoint.
2. Buck 110 Famous Folding Hunter Knife(4.9 / 5)
When you’ve got a pocket knife with a design that hasn’t been altered much since 1964 and still manages to hold up to the competition today, you know you’re holding something really special in your hands.
As its name implies, the knife is best utilized for skinning and hunting. This is also apparent when you take a look at its design and material.
Made from 420HC steel which features a high corrosion resistance thanks to its high carbon content, the blade has been additionally heat treated to make its qualities reach their full potential. It might not be as razor-sharp as some of the high-end steels we’ve seen with other models, but it gets most any job done flawlessly.
Its luxurious handle is made from Macassar ebony and brass, providing a comfortable grip and timeless elegance to boot. Its pioneering lockback mechanism can be found on many newer models and continues to be one of the strongest mechanisms of its type even today.
Weighing in at 7.2 ounces, you’ll certainly feel it in your back pocket. The 110 even comes with its own leather sheath, and we find this to be fitting given its heft.
This isn’t your modern-day tactical, that’s for sure, but the 110 easily makes the grade and is our pick for best pocket knife when it comes to timeless design and staying power. It is a beautiful, sturdy knife that has stood the test of time and we are certain that it will continue to do so for a long while yet.
3. Kershaw Leek(4.7 / 5)
Even though it proudly carries the name of a vegetable, the Leek is a meaty piece of survival gear that has enough of a bite to contend with more expensive models we’ve reviewed. Kershaw export them by the boatload, and it is one of the most successful pocket knives in its price range.
Made out of Swedish Sandvik 14C28N stainless steel, its blade has the performance one would compare to more high-end steels like the S30V at a fraction of the cost.
It is a very straight edge with almost no curvature, thinning out at the tip and allowing for a multitude of tasks. Kershaw have made a whole slew of different blades and handles for the Leek, making style choices in that regard truly broad.
Its stainless steel handle has a bead-based finish that makes it strong and durable, but as with all steel handles, it can become slippery, especially if you have sweaty hands. Its light weight and great balance even things out though.
The Leek comes equipped with Kershaw’s own SpeedSafe system we explained in detail earlier, and has a sturdy frame lock where the handle is moved behind the blade and locks it into position, offering a problem-free, secure locking experience.
The only potentially big problem with the Leek is its frail tip. Since the blade is so thin, even moderate pressure can cause it to break off and effectively ruin your pocket knife.
If you plan on using it for slicing and chopping though, the Leek is a solid blade and probably the best pocket knife for the money. Given that there are so many options you’re sure to find just the right style to perfectly complement its above average performance.
4. Spyderco Delica4 Lightweight FRN(4.5 / 5)
Finally, there’s the Delica 4 from Spyderco. Small, sexy and oh so sharp, it is a great choice for anyone that is looking for an EDC that offers great value for the money.
Its first noteworthy feature is the VG-10 steel used in its blade. First utilized in making Japanese chef knives, the steel has since been widely adopted by manufacturers of pocket knives since it is highly rust-resistant and easily sharpened.
Its grind top design allows for effortless slicing and dicing, while the spider hole we’ve come to know and love helps with effortless brandishing.
Fiberglass-reinforced nylon makes up its grip and is textured bidirectionally, allowing for a sturdy, solid grip. It holds the blade tight and yet allows for really smooth opening. A mid-lock system keeps it in its place and the way it is constructed allows for a thinner handle than the ones we’ve encountered with liner-lock pocket knives.
The Delica4’s only major flaw is the fact that its edge doesn’t quite hold up, requiring constant maintenance.
Other than that though, if you are looking for a versatile EDC that is small enough to fit in any pocket and as deadly as its bigger competitors, then look no further.
Factors to Consider when Purchasing
With the pocket knife reviews out of the way, it might be worth your while to take a look at an additional set of guidelines that will help you hone in on the product that is right for your own needs and personal preferences.
Plain vs. serrated edge – Ah, the age-old question of choosing the right edge type. Each has a number of strengths and weaknesses, and it is up to you to choose the one you’ll need based on the work you mean to do with the pocket knife. Plain edges are easier to maintain and offer cleaner, more precise cuts. On the other hand they’re useless when it comes to performing sawing motions.
Serrated edges are great at sawing and pull cuts and excel at tackling harder materials out in the wild. They also require less overall maintenance because they don’t get dull as often. When they do however, you’ll have to send them to the manufacturer to get the job done correctly.
Getting a partially serrated edge might be a good idea, since it combines the best of both worlds.
Different sizes, different uses – from knives the size of a credit card to sword-like monstrosities, pocket knives come in many sizes.
The smallest are also the easiest to conceal, and many states’ laws do not prohibit the carrying of one if its blade is less than 2.75 inches long, making them perfectly suited for EDC. As one would expect, these pocket knives can’t do that much damage and aren’t suited for more demanding cutting tasks.
The largest pocket knives are able to cause more serious wounds and are more intimidating, so you might not need to use one in the first place. They are heavy and cumbersome though, and can be illegal to carry in some places. Unless you have your heart set on one of the extremes, it would be a good idea to get one that is between 2.75 and 4 inches long.
Different opening methods – The way in which your blade springs into action can give you an upper hand or leave you hanging, and not even the best folding knife can save you from a faulty opening mechanism. There are three methods to smooth blade opening.
Manual blade opening relies on either nail nicks you’d encounter on any Swiss army knife, or thumb studs that let you open it with just one hand. Either way, the entire action is accomplished by hand from start to finish. Automatic or switchblades spring into action with the push of a button. They’ve been outlawed since the 1950s, but some states are relaxing their rules on the issue, making them viable again.
A middle ground has emerged in the 90s in form of assisted-opening mechanisms that are popular today. The blade will only open when enough pressure is applied to it, making its use more controlled and responsible than that of switchblades.
So, what is the best pocket knife? With a product as versatile and laden with choices such as this, it is really hard to give a direct answer without short-changing other manufacturers and models.
We were especially pleased by the fact that every single product on the list, except maybe the timeless Buck 110 has a plethora of additional options to explore.
Different types of blades including serrated and combined, an array of tactical coatings and not to mention a whole host of different handle designs would take up as much space as this guide and then some to fully appreciate, so we’ve restrained ourselves and only provided you with the nitty gritty.
Whether you’ve found the perfect companion for everyday carry or are looking for the next high-end beast to add to your growing collection of pocket knives, the choices are plentiful and superb.
We’ve made picking a great and useful tool easier, but leave the important choice of color and design up to you.