5 Best Pocket Knives Reviews and Pocket Knife Brands for Everyday Use

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Best Pocket Knives of 2019 - Reviews and Buyer’s Guide

Pocket knives are becoming a must-have item for more and more people. They are compact and light, yet very useful in different situations, from opening boxes, cutting ropes, cutting papers, to even eating an apple and other wilderness activities. However, opting for a pocket knife may be time consuming since you are likely to be swamped with hundreds of models on the market.
To make things easier for you, we will give you a few in-depth reviews of the best pocket knives based on your possible preference, purpose, price, size, and quality.

In a Hurry? The test winner after 11 hrs of research

editor’s pick - best product: spyderco paramilitary 2

Editor’s Pick - Best Product: Spyderco Paramilitary 2

Why is it better?

 Supersteel S35VN blade material

≫ Smooth, fast, and consistent deployment with an oversized Spyder hold

≫ Good knife feel with outstanding ergonomics

≫ 4-way pocket clip, which offers good retention and deep carry

≫ Ingenious compression lock, easy to use with one hand

≫ Customizable blade coating

≫ Reasonable price for a “Do-it-all” knife, around $150

94/100
our score
14
Researched Sources
12000
Reviews Considered
11
Hours Researching
17
Products Evaluated
Image Products Rating Shop
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editor’s pick - best product: spyderco paramilitary 2
Products

Editor’s Pick - Best Product: Spyderco Paramilitary 2

Rating
94
Shop Check Price
Total length
90%
Total weight
90%
Blade material
95%
Pocket clip
95%
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runner-up: second best product: benchmade bugout 535
Products

Runner-up: Second Best Product: Benchmade Bugout 535

Rating
90
Shop Check Price
Total length
85%
Total weight
95%
Blade material
90%
Pocket clip
87%
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budget pick - best cheap pocket knife: ontario rat model 2
Products

Budget Pick - Best Cheap Pocket Knife: Ontario RAT Model 2

Rating
83
Shop Check Price
Total length
87%
Total weight
85%
Blade material
80%
Pocket clip
78%
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upgrade pick -  chris reeve large sebenza 21
Products

Upgrade Pick - Chris Reeve Large Sebenza 21

Rating
88
Shop Check Price
Total length
96%
Total weight
80%
Blade material
85%
Pocket clip
90%
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best pocket knife under 50: victorinox one-hand trekker
Products

Best Pocket Knife Under 50: Victorinox One-Hand Trekker

Rating
93
Shop Check Price
Total length
95%
Total weight
95%
Blade material
93%
Pocket clip
0%

1. Editor’s Pick - Best Product: Spyderco Paramilitary 2

editor’s pick - best product: spyderco paramilitary 2
94
Total length
90
Total weight
90
Blade material
95
Pocket clip
95
BEST OFFER FOR TODAY
See deal

Pros:

Supersteel S35VN blade material

≫ Smooth, fast, and consistent deployment with an oversized Spyder hold

≫ Good knife feel with outstanding ergonomics

≫ 4-way pocket clip, which offers good retention and deep carry

≫ Ingenious compression lock, easy to use with one hand

≫ Customizable blade coating

≫ Reasonable price for a “Do-it-all” knife, around $150

Cons:

≫ Not favorably weighted for anyone

≫  Only one option for left-handed users

≫  Shiny, stainless steel pocket clip: probably does not suit everybody’s preferences

This pocket knife from Spyderco, an American knife company renowned for its innovation, is the best folding knife on the market. If you are looking for either a workhorse of an EDC or a strong folding tactical knife, this product should be high on your list. This Spyderco Paramilitary 2 (PM2) has a total length of 8.3’’, a blade’s length of 3.4’’, and an overall weight of 3.75 oz. The knife comes in an array of colors and steel options.

I have owned a Paramilitary 2 (PM2) since 2013, and I rank it 10 out of 10 in terms of its ergonomics, blade material, and G-10 handle.

Its 50-50 choil is made from the blade stock and the handle, allowing you to set your hand back on the knife for maximum reach or to choke up for detailed cutting tasks. This is one of the features that add up to Spyderco’s consistently high ergonomics ratings.

Regarding the blade material, my PM2 was made of SV30VN, which sounds more than adequate for many people because of its durability and rust and corrosion resistance. Yet the 2019 model of the PM2 uses S35VN – more premium steel, which is easy to sharpen and can maintain a sharp edge for a long time.

What is more, the legendary textured G-10 scales make the knife feel stout even in wet hands but help it to easily slip in and out of the pocket.

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2. Runner-up: Second Best Product: Benchmade Bugout 535

runner-up: second best product: benchmade bugout 535
90
Total length
85
Total weight
95
Blade material
90
Pocket clip
87
BEST OFFER FOR TODAY
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Pros:

Beautiful, thin profile

≫ Wonderfully light tactical handle

≫ The blade shape is classical and appealing

≫ Corrosion resistant S30V blade material

≫ Fair price for a USA-made Benchmade product, around $120

Cons:

≫ Short pocket clip

≫ Thumb studs are a bit close to the handle

The Spyderco Paramilitary 2 sounds a bit heavy for you, but you still want to look for a good quality folding knife? Then the Benchmade Bugout 535 is what you need.

The Bugout 535 deserves to be the best EDC knife. The knife is 7.46’’ in length, and the blade is 3.24’’ long, which might sound rather large for an EDC knife to some people. Personally, I do not see this as a drawback since I want to make use of this large size to do heavy-duty tasks that require a bit more grip and a larger blade to work with. Especially when it rains or it’s cold and you have to wear gloves, a blade of over 3’’ will give you more confidence and control. Moreover, the fact that the knife is lightweight – just 1.85 oz. – outweighs its large size.

While some pocket knives go for form over function, the Benchmade Bugout 535 is an exceptional slicing knife. The blade material is S30V, which makes it corrosion resistant and easy to sharpen, and it holds its nice sharp edge.

The ergonomics of this Bugout reaches that of a full-sized knife. The handle is wonderful, light, and offers plenty of room of your fingers to grip, both forward and reverse. The handle has a FRN diamond-texture, which gives the knife a good gritty feel in your hand.

Regarding hand opening, this folding knife has two anodized thumb studs to get the blade opened. However, the studs are quite close to the handle, so it is a bit hard to get the blade out. The locking system is a selling point, however, since it uses an AXIS locking mechanism, allowing for a fully ambidextrous build.

This modern folding knife comes with an oversized lanyard hole and a reversible deep-carry clip, although the pocket clip is quite short compared to the size of the knife. But don’t worry; you can ask nicely for a standard Benchmade clip to replace it, and they may send you one for free.

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3. Best Cheap Pocket Knife: Ontario RAT Model 2

budget pick - best cheap pocket knife: ontario rat model 2
83
Total length
87
Total weight
85
Blade material
80
Pocket clip
78
BEST OFFER FOR TODAY
See deal

Pros:

A bargain for an everyday carry knife

 Fits well in hands and in pocket

 AUS-8 blade material; great edge, easy to maintain, resists rust and corrosion

 Robust liner lock

Ambidextrous with dual thumb studs

Cons:

 Plastic handle scales and aggressive jimping

 Wearable painted pocket clip

If you want more bang for your buck and your philosophy is function over form, I highly recommend the Ontario RAT Model 2 (RAT 2).

This best pocket knife for the money has a simple but effective design, with a 3-inch blade, 7-inch overall length, comes in at 2.75 oz., and is made in Taiwan, although Ontario is a well-known American knife company.

The blade has a classic drop point design with a full flat grind, and the bright satin finish provides a simple aesthetic. The blade material is AUS-8 – a line of steel manufactured in Japan, and is heat treated by Ontario to get the hardness around 59 HRC.

Although this kind of steel is no match for such premium steels as S30V or S35VN, it has its own advantages in terms of super easy sharpening, resistance to corrosion, and suiting most everyday duties.

The handle of this simple pocket knife features plastic scales. Obviously, G-10 material sounds a lot fancier, but on a budget, some corners have to be cut. You can still get a nice grip on the handle. However, the jimping is not comfortable and may bite into your thumb after extended use. The handle comes in six different colors, so you can pick one that suits your preference.

With dual thumb studs and a 4-way reversible pocket clip, the RAT 2 is for both left-handed and right-handed people. The pocket clip, however, comes with a painted satin black finish; therefore, it can show wear and tear easily.

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4. Upgrade Pick- Chris Reeve Large Sebenza 21

upgrade pick -  chris reeve large sebenza 21
88
Total length
96
Total weight
80
Blade material
85
Pocket clip
90
BEST OFFER FOR TODAY
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Pros:

 Titanium handle

≫ Premium S35VN blade material; great edge retention

≫ High performance built to exacting tolerances

≫ Reliable and usable jimping pattern

≫ Robust titanium frame lock

≫ Ceramic ball lock, allowing smooth flip&l

Cons:

 High price, not suitable for starters

 Mostly comes with a single thumb lug

The Chris Reeve Large Sebenza 21 is not a starter knife due to its price, which is around $450. Just as an art collector wants to own a masterpiece, so too do many real knife collectors have this folding knife in their wish list. People who really have an appreciation for knives and have a big budget to buy and hold expensive offerings should buy this knife.

The Large Sebenza 21 has a worldwide reputation for being the best pocket knife on earth, and it is considered a yardstick to which other knives are compared. With some minor changes since its predecessor's debut back in 1987, the iconic Sebenza 21 was introduced to the public in 2008. 

Although some people may call it a tactical knife, the Sebenza is an EDC one. With an overall length of over 8.3’’, a 3.625’’ blade, and a weight of 4.7 oz., the Sebenza is a large folding EDC knife.

The Sebenza 21 features a classic drop point blade, with a signature high hollow grind. The rounded spine and the tip are just perfect.

The blade has a nice stonewash finish, which can hide wear and tear well. 

The blade is made of S35VN steel, which is a premium material and is heat treated. It may not be as easy to sharpen as some softer steels, but in turn, it is a blade made to last for a lifetime. The performance of the blade is outstanding, and I would say that the

Sebenza is a winner in all cutting tasks.

What makes the knife look luxurious may be its full titanium handle with a blasted finish, which goes well with the silver hardware. The handle feels comfortable in my hand with its contoured edge.

The jimping provides some traction by its texture, not by thumb ramp, and hence, it fees reliable and does not create a throbbing hot spot after extended use. When I deployed the knife, it was a little bit tight at first but still extremely smooth.

One interesting point of the Sebenza 21 is its late lockup. You will love opening the blade on the knife and feeling the short and satisfying click when the lock falls into place. You can feel a level of security and refinement that you won’t experience in any other knives. Chris Reeve Knives intentionally makes this lockup 75-80% to ensure both stability and safety.

Regarding the pocket clip, I would not hesitate to give its usability an A-rating. It easily slides into my jeans pocket as I shoved it in and out.

One thing I have to mention is the single thumb stud, which may disappoint some lefties. There is a dedicated lefty model, so hopefully, double thumb lugs will be more common.

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5. Best Pocket Knife Under 50: Victorinox One-Hand Trekker

best pocket knife under 50: victorinox one-hand trekker
93
Total length
95
Total weight
95
Blade material
93
Pocket clip
0
BEST OFFER FOR TODAY
See deal

Pros:

 Affordable price: Just under $50

≫ Nice collection: the main blade, a saw, a screwdriver, a can opener, tweezers, a toothpick, and a key ring

≫ Multipurpose and perfect for camping and hiking

≫ Excellent resistance to rust

≫ Thumb opener and liner lock for the main blade

Cons:

 Not so easy to sharpen the serrated part

 Not very rough grip

 No pocket clip

If you are an outdoor enthusiast or DIY-master and are looking for a pocket knife that costs under $50, this multi-blade knife Victorinox

Swiss Army Knife is for you.

Among multi-blade knives, the One-hand Trekker is one of the most popular pocket knives, with supreme quality and fantastic steel. It features a partially serrated 3.5’’ main blade. This is obviously the selling point of the knife thanks to its utilitarian design. The serrations are placed toward the tip of the blade, and the plain edge is placed toward the handle. This ingenious design brings more control when stripping materials because the plain edge is closer to your hand.

The One-hand Trekker uses a steel liner lock for the main blade, and it has a bit more blade play in all directions compared to other tactical folders. Also, the liner lock opens by pushing to the right – opposite to modern tacticals. However, when taking its price and functions into consideration, these failings don’t seem very important to me. For one-hand use, it has a large enough thumb hole.

Another selling point to the Trekker is the saw. This saw has gained a reputation for its aggressive teeth and efficient cutter. The saw has a sharp spine and can produce sarks off of a ferro rod.

The steel of this knife is what is called 1.4110, which is similar to 440A steel. This material has a nice performance thanks to the perfect heat treating process of Victorinox. The impressive hardness of the steel makes it exceptionally resistant to rust, yet easier to sharpen compared to other premium steels. What can be more annoying than spending a large amount of money on a “fancy” knife but still having to struggle to sharpen it?

As for the handle, the ergonomic finger grooves and textured scales make the handle grippier. It comes in different colors, so you have more options to choose from too.

This Swiss Army Knife does not come with a pocket clip. However, it is not meant to be a tactical knife, so this makes sense.

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FAQs

Q1: How will I be able to use my knife?

Think about the usage priorities of your knife. Will it be used for daily routines, in other words, “urban”, in the backcountry, for hunting and fishing, or for home handiwork?

If the priorities fall into everyday usage, then you should get an EDC knife. It will become a comforting and aesthetic part of each day, just like your cell phone, and you will need an EDC knife with sound ergonomics and impeccable construction. A knife for backcountry usage, however, must be light and compact in addition to being ergonomic and durable. If you are keen on hunting and fishing, then pick a fixed blade hunting knife and long slender fillet knife respectively. Finally, if you are a handy type, a simple blade that can do a number of tasks, or a multi-tool will help.

Q2: How will I carry it?

Now consider the carrying capacity you have and whether you prefer it to be loose or clipped in your pocket. Most modern folders go with a pocket clip, which helps the knife remain vertical and ride higher in your pocket, therefore allowing for quick access. Ones without a clip can take less space in your pocket, but they tend to slide down and ride in a horizontal position against your thigh, and carrying it becomes uncomfortable.

Q3: What opening system should I choose?

There are three types of hand opening, namely manual open, automatic open, and assisted open.

Manual opening depends 100% on the user. Two-hand opening ones are operated with a fingernail, whereas single-hand knives are operated with a thumb by a thumb stud or thumb hole in the blade. This way, you can open your knife at lightning speed.

Automatic open allows the knife to open by pressing a button, but this type of knife is more expensive and illegal in most places.
Lastly, the hybrid of the previous two is assisted open. First, you initiate the opening by your thumb and then use the spring to fully open the blade. Be cautious with this system because it is illegal in some places, too.

Therefore, consider whether you prefer classic aesthetics and don’t mind two-handed opening, or rather want to gain the speed of one-hand opening.

Q4: How many locking systems are there?

The three types of blade locks are lock back, frame lock, and liner lock. The first one is one of the earliest designs. There is a little notch in the handle along the spine of the knife, where your thumb is used to depress the locking system. This does not suit one-hand operation.

On a frame-lock knife, one side of its frame slides under the blade, allowing the blade to fully deploy. This gold-standard locking system optimizes the security and one-hand operation.

Liner lock shares the same mechanism with frame lock, but instead of sliding a whole side of the frame into place, one side of the liner shifts and locks the blade, leaving the rest of the handle to stay in place. This locking system is common on modern knives, and it is secure and functional, yet cheaper to produce than the frame-lock system.

Q5: What features of the blade should I consider?

The two most important factors of a blade are its size and its material.

Firstly, consider the legality in your local area. For example, the blade size is limited to 2.5’’ in Chicago. Blade size ranges from small (anything under 2.75’’), medium (from 2.75’’ to 4’’), to large (anything above 4’’). Small blades are lighter and simpler to carry and usually legal in most places. The medium size is perfect for everyday carry. It suits both detailed cuts and heavy chores. The large knives can handle tasks as well as fixed blades but can be folded for easier carry.

Secondly, the material is significant. There are stainless steel and high carbon ones. Also, another huge factor is the heat treatment of the steel, although this information is not generally shown on the spec sheet. The type of steel and how it is treated results in different toughness, edge retention, and sharpening, so make sure you get the alloy name of the knife, such as 440C or 8Cr13MoV.

Q6: Is the knife edge worth considering?

Think about the tasks your knife will perform. If you will use it mainly for cutting fruit or whittling sticks, a plain edge will suit your needs since it is for push cuts and slicing. It is great for cutting softer materials and easy to sharpen.

A serrated edge, however, is better for pull cuts, such as cutting a rope. It is for cutting tougher materials that need a bit of sawing.

Serrated blades hold their edge longer, but you have to use special tools to sharpen them.

Sometimes you can get a blade with a partially serrated edge. This combo type usually comes with the serrated part toward the handle and the plain one near the tip, but with some knives, such as the Swiss Army Victorinox One-hand Trekker, this order is reversed. Therefore, you can choose the knife with the edge that best suits your tasks.

Q7: What type of handle is the best?

Similar to the edge, material and shape are two criteria to consider when choosing the right handle of your knife.
If you want a classic look for your knife, choose a bone, wood, or plastic handle that resembles the material of either of those. If you prefer something sleek and modern, go with a clean metal handle. If you are after something tactical, a rubber or composite handle will be the best option.

As for the shape, the best handle must satisfy user comfort and carrying preference. If you have large hands or usually wear gloves, the larger the handle, the better. If a compact size is what matters, choose a slim handle.

Q8: What are some trusted brands?

The following are some brands whose businesses are based on reputation:

☑ Benchmade
☑ Spyderco
☑ Buck Knives
☑ Kershaw
☑ Cold Steel
☑ Chris Reeve
☑ CRKT
☑ Leatherman
☑ Case Cutlery
☑ SOG
☑ Schrade
☑ Boker

Time to make the final decision

To sum up, the answer to the question “What is the best pocket knife?” lies in your preferences, purpose, and budget. Perhaps the most expensive one with the highest quality, like the Chris Reeve Sebenza 21, is not necessarily the ideal one for us.

In this case, the Spyderco Paramilitary 2 is the best product. Despite some minor drawbacks, such as not being preferable to lefties and being a bit heavy for some users, it is cost-effective; spending around $150 sounds sensible for such a good quality, durable, and functional product. Everything from the size, blade shape, and supreme material, outstanding deployment, ergonomic G-10 handle, to the robust compression lock make it the best EDC and tactical folding knife.

Finally, after reading all the information in this post, have you found the right folding knife for yourself yet? Should you have any questions to ask or thoughts to share, feel free to leave a comment below.

william  cawley
William is the editor-in-chief at TheKingLive, in which you can come across his writings in almost every imaginable product category. Dog lover, baseball fan, yoga enthusiast, and a believer. Formally working as a freelance copywriter and part-time photographer before channeling his passion into “hunting” for best products available on the market.

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