The Best Pocket Knives — Top Folders from Top Brands

Last Updated: by Aiden Williams

Pocket knives are no longer restricted to emergency response teams and outdoor people. They are now handy tools that can be used for everyday ordinary stuff and even self-defense. The best pocket knives are easy to carry around and are practical for any task that you would need it for.

When looking for a pocket knife, you’ll need to consider the type and how well it fits in your hand. Other features like the shape of the blade and the quality of the knife should also be considered as well as how easy it is to use.

On average, that description would fit hundreds of knives in the market. But there are a few special knives that stand out from the crowd to get the job done.

In this article, we’ve reviewed our top 9 best pocket knives for everyday use and we’ve also compiled a buying guide to help you understand the best features that you should be looking out for.

But first, if you just want to get right down to it, our top choice is the Benchmade Mini-Griptilian 556. It is a compact and lightweight knife made with high-quality materials that will give you long term service.

The Best Pocket Knives Are:

ProductDetails
1. Benchmade Mini-Griptilian 556

  • Overall Length: 6.78 inches
  • Blade Length: 2.91 inches
  • Blade Thickness: 0.10 inch
  • Gross Weight: 2.81 oz
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2. Smith & Wesson SWMP4LS M&P Assisted Folding Knife

  • Total Length: 8.5 inches
  • Blade Length: 3.5 inches
  • Blade Thickness: 0.13 inch
  • Gross Weight: 7.6 oz
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3. Gerber Applegate Covert Knife

  • Total Length: 8.70 inches
  • Blade Length: 3.78 inches
  • Gross Weight: 4.9 oz
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4. Spyderco Para 3 Folding Knife

  • Overall Length: 7.24 inches
  • Blade Length: 2.95 inches
  • Blade Thickness: 0.145 inch
  • Gross Weight: 3.40 oz
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5. Tac Force Assisted Opening Rescue Tactical Folding Knife

  • Total Length: 7.75 inches
  • Blade Length: 3.25 inches
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6. Kershaw AM-5 Pocket Knife

  • Total Length: 7.75 inches
  • Blade Length: 3.5 inches
  • Gross Weight: 3.8 oz
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7. Buck Knives The 55 Pocket Knife

  • Overall Length: 5.75 inches
  • Blade Length: 2.625 inches
  • Blade Thickness: 0.084 inch
  • Gross Weight: 1.9 oz
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8. SOG TW18-CP Twitch II

  • Overall Length: 6.20 inches
  • Blade Length: 2.65 inches
  • Blade Thickness: 0.10 inch
  • Gross Weight: 2.60 oz
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9. Kershaw Fraxion 1160 Folding Pocket Knife

  • Overall Length: 6.75 inches
  • Blade Length: 2.75 inches
  • Gross Weight: 1.90 oz
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1. Benchmade Mini-Griptilian 556 — Best Folding Knife

Benchmade - Mini Griptilian 556 EDC Manual Open Folding Knife Made in USA with CPM-S30V Steel, Drop-Point Blade, Plain Edge, Satin Finish, Black Handle

The Mini-Griptilian is a lightweight manual opening pocket knife that comes with different blade styles and color handles to choose from. It is the smallest knife in the Griptilian series and is built to be convenient for everyday tasks.

It comes with a high-quality CPM-S30V stainless steel blade in six different styles to choose from and you can also get it plain or combination edge.

The choice of premium steel for the blade ensures that you get excellent edge retention and corrosion resistance. And for maintenance, you can take advantage of the Benchmade LifeSharp service to re-sharpen and maintain the knife for free.

The Griptilian handle is designed for comfort and control when using the knife. Grivory is a glass-filled nylon material that is durable and comes in many colors. It comes with a reliable axis locking mechanism that gives you a smooth opening and closing action.

Specs

  • Overall Length: 6.78 inches
  • Blade Length: 2.91 inches
  • Blade Thickness: 0.10 inch
  • Gross Weight: 2.81 oz

Key Features

  • CPM-S30V Blade
  • Grivory Handle
  • Axis Locking Mechanism
  • Ambidextrous Thumb Studs
  • Reversible Tip-Up Pocket Clip
  • Lanyard Hole

Pros

  • Compact size for concealed carry
  • Comfortable and durable textured handle
  • Choice of different blade styles and handle colors
  • Reliable and safe Axis locking mechanism
  • Superior edge retention and corrosion resistance
  • Comes razor sharp and ready to use

Cons

  • Pocket clip coating wears off quickly

The Mini-Griptilian could be one of the best for utility, self-defense, and survival use. It is high quality, reliable, and comes in a variety of choices to suit your needs.

Overall Rating – 4.5/5

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2. Smith & Wesson SWMP4LS M&P Assisted Folding Knife

Smith & Wesson SWMP4LS 8.6in S.S. Assisted Folding Knife with 3.6in Serrated Clip Point Blade and Aluminum Handle for Outdoor Tactical Survival and EDC

The SWMP4LS is a multipurpose everyday pocket knife that uses a 2nd generation MAGIC assisted opening technology. Smith & Wesson is a well-known maker of firearms and knives for law enforcement and military use as well as commercial use.

It’s certainly one of the best pocket knife brands, and each one of their blades is made with the same precision and quality that you find in the firearms and are designed for rugged use.

MAGIC is the abbreviation for Multipurpose Assisted Generational Innovative Cutlery. It is an assisted opening technology that utilizes an internal mechanism to operate the release switch that deploys the blade. The switch is fitted on the handle of the knife and is designed to make the one-handed opening as simple and smooth as possible.

The SWMP4LS features a drop point blade in 4034 carbon steel construction. It is a soft steel used to make budget knives and has little edge retention and wear resistance, but it offers decent corrosion resistance.

The drop point blade is partially serrated to improve cutting performance and the entire blade is coated in black oxide which gives it a military aesthetic.

The black and grey handle is equally well designed and offers an excellent grip. It’s made from anodized aluminum and comes with a strap cutter, a glass breaking tool for emergency response.

Specs

  • Total Length: 8.5 inches
  • Blade Length: 3.5 inches
  • Blade Thickness: 0.13 inch
  • Gross Weight: 7.6 oz

Key Features

  • 4034 Carbon Stainless Steel Blade with Black Oxide Coating
  • Partially Serrated Drop Point Blade
  • Anodized Aluminum Handle
  • MAGIC Assisted Opening Technology
  • Strap Cutter
  • Glass Breaker

Pros

  • MAGIC assisted-opening for easy open-handed opening
  • Liner lock keeps the blade safely locked inside
  • The partially serrated blade allows multipurpose use
  • Excellent grip and good knife control
  • Comes sharp out of the box

Cons

  • The pocket clip gets loose quickly
  • The spring-assist mechanism is unreliable

The SWMP4LS is a good knife for law enforcement and emergency response but it is also handy for everyday use. It has some design flaws that have made it unreliable and not durable.

Overall Rating – 4.5/5

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3. Gerber Applegate Covert Knife

Gerber Covert Knife, Serrated Edge, Black [22-01966]

The Applegate Covert features the Applegate-Fairbairn design that is inspired by the dedication and sense of purpose found in the armed forces. The knife features rugged and reliable construction for military, industrial, and civilian use.

Gerber is a renowned brand that produces innovative and dedicated knives designed with unique features for each specific use.The Applegate’s most innovative feature is it’s patented forward action spring technology, abbreviated as FAST, which allows the blade to be deployed quickly and reliably using a single-handed motion.

Another unique feature is its patented Roto-Lock technology that keeps the blade firmly in an open position without the danger of an accidental collapse.

It features a 154CM stainless steel double edge blade with titanium nitride coating to boost its corrosion resistance. The blade steel is superior with better edge retention than most stainless steel varieties and excellent toughness. The blade is complemented by an ergonomic G-10 handle which has good durability and offers excellent grip in all conditions.

Specs

  • Total Length: 8.70 inches
  • Blade Length: 3.78 inches
  • Gross Weight: 4.9 oz

Key Features

  • 154CM Spear Point Blade with Combination Edge
  • Titanium Nitride Blade Finish
  • Textured G-10 Handle
  • A.S.T Technology
  • Roto-Lock Technology

Pros

  • Practical and versatile use
  • High quality build with innovative features
  • Has long-lasting edge retention and toughness
  • Sturdy knife with an ergonomic and grippy handle
  • Excellent strength and balance

Cons

  • Spring-assist mechanism and the safety lock is unreliable

The Applegate Convert is one of the best in class tactical folding knives that have been widely used by military personnel. It is also backed by a lifetime warranty.

Overall Rating – 4.0/5

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4. Spyderco Para 3 Folding Knife

Spyderco Para 3 Signature Folding Knife with 2.95" Stainless Steel Blade and Durable G-10 Handle - PlainEdge Grind - C223GP

Para 3 is a compact version of the immensely successful Paramilitary 2 knife. The Paramilitary series is one of the most successful product lines in the market and it introduced the Compression Lock mechanism that has proved to be more reliable than the liner lock.

The Para 3 was designed to be an efficient knife with a 3-inch blade for customers who wanted a smaller and legal knife to carry. It comes in a plain or combination edge and is made from CTS BD1N stainless steel with a full flat grind to give you superior cutting performance.

The clip point blade features the iconic SpyderHole for ambidextrous one-handed opening and also includes a textured finger choil and thumb ramp that provide a solid forward grip while cutting. The Para 3 is an all-purpose cutting knife with excellent edge retention and corrosion resistance.

To keep it lightweight and exciting, the Para 3 features an open-back construction style that tucks in the stainless steel liners within the textured FRN handle. This design keeps the handle profile slim and also provides secure support for the knife’s Compression Lock mechanism. It is an exceptional locking system that is strong, reliable and easy to use.

Specs

  • Overall Length: 7.24 inches
  • Blade Length: 2.95 inches
  • Blade Thickness: 0.145 inch
  • Gross Weight: 3.40 oz

Key Features

  • CTS BD1N Clip Point Blade
  • Textured FRN Handle with Stainless Steel Liners
  • Compression Lock Mechanism
  • Trademark Round Hole
  • Reversible Deep Pocket Wire Clip

Pros

  • The blade has excellent edge retention
  • Excellent fit and finish
  • Smooth open and close action
  • Has a reliable safety lock

Cons

  • FRN handle too light for comfortable handling
  • The pocket clip is not durable

The Para 3 is one of the most capable folding knives in the market. It is versatile for everyday use and compact for easy carry.

Overall Rating – 4.7/5

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5. Tac Force Assisted Opening Rescue Tactical Folding Knife

TAC Force Spring Assisted Opening Tactical Rescue Folding Knife Pocket Silver Gray (Half Serrated Blade)

This Tac Force knife is a tactical folding knife that is specially designed to handle different survival situations but it is also versatile for everyday tasks. Tac Force is the new kid on the block in the knife industry but they’ve made an impact in the market with their reasonably priced tactical knives.

The Tac Force features a black spear point stainless steel blade that is tough and reliable for tactical and survival situations. It has a gap along the length of the blade which doubles up as a uniquely cool feature as well as reducing the overall weight of the knife.

Spearpoint blades have the tip of the blade symmetrical with the center of the blade length. It is good for piercing and stabbing actions but not well suited for cutting and slicing.

The knife comes with a textured steel handle that provides a good grip. It also comes with a deep carry pocket clip that is not user friendly for left-handed people. The spring-assist mechanism works reliably well and opens quickly and safely.

Specs

  • Total Length: 7.75 inches
  • Blade Length: 3.25 inches

Key Features

  • 440C Stainless Steel Clip Point Blade
  • Anodized Aluminum Handle `
  • Liner Locking System
  • Spring Assisted Mechanism

Pros

  • Safe and fast blade opening
  • High quality and durable construction
  • Uniquely designed to be lightweight
  • Sharp out of the box with good edge retention
  • Reasonably priced and works well

Cons

  • Doesn’t accommodate left-handed people

The blade features a text that references the Batman movie, The Dark Knight, which is a cool feature even if you’re not a Batman fan.

Overall Rating – 4.2/3

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6. Kershaw AM-5 Pocket Knife

Kershaw AM-5 Pocket Knife (2340), 3.5 Inch Stainless Steel Blade with SpeedSafe Assisted Opening and Frame Lock, G10 Black Gripped Handle and Deep Carry Pocket Clip

The AM-5 knife is the largest installment in the AM series of knives by Kershaw. The knife was initially designed by Al Mar and then manufactured by Kershaw and this collaboration has produced a high quality and affordable knife.

The knife features an 8Cr13Mov steel blade in a black oxide finish. This is a stainless steel material used for making budget knives and it offers great value in toughness and hard-wearing. It is a soft steel that allows easy sharpening and decent corrosion resistance which is the reason why it is coated with black oxide.

In contrast, it comes with a top-quality G-10 handle that is durable, ergonomic with finger choils and offers a good grip. It features the SpeedSafe assisted opening that is a uniquely Kershaw feature.

It comes with a frame lock safety feature and a flipper option for opening the blade. The pocket clip is for right-hand carry only which doesn’t favor the left-handed people.

Specs

  • Total Length: 7.75 inches
  • Blade Length: 3.5 inches
  • Gross Weight: 3.8 oz

Key Features

  • 8Cr13MoV Stainless Steel Drop Point Blade
  • Black Oxide Blade Finish
  • Texture G-10 Handle
  • Flipper Opening
  • SpeedSafe Assisted Opening
  • Frame Lock
  • Right Side Pocket Clip

Pros

  • Drop point blade provides a multipurpose function
  • Quality G-10 textured handle for a non-slip grip
  • Compact and lightweight for easy carry
  • Reliable and affordable knife

Cons

  • Doesn’t favor left-handed people

The AM-5 is a folding pocket knife and not an out the front knife but we mention it here to highlight the SpeedSafe opening assist system that is one of the safest in the market.

Overall Rating – 3.7/5

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7. Buck Knives The 55 Pocket Knife

Buck Knives The 55 Folding Pocket Knife

In 1964 Buck Knives introduced to the world the first folding knife that had a revolutionary locking system which has since made it one the best selling knives to date. The Lockback is a mechanism that locks the blade in an open position which is activated by opening the blade fully.

Buck Knives is a family-owned American company incorporated in 1961. The Lockback innovation of their Model 110 Folding Hunter knife propelled the company into national recognition and into a successful brand.

The Buck 55 is the smaller version of this renowned knife and comes with the same quality and excellence that made the Buck 110 a favorite for many hunters. It comes with a 420HC clip point blade that has gone through the best heat treatment process in the industry and quality performance testing to give the best edge retention in the market.

The handle is equally unique and classy. It is a genuine ebony handle that is attractive with a beautiful grain pattern that gives every unit a unique signature. Buck Knives has partnered with Taylor Guitars to get from them a sustainable supply of ebony wood to make beautiful, hard-wearing handles.

Specs

  • Overall Length: 5.75 inches
  • Blade Length: 2.625 inches
  • Blade Thickness: 0.084 inch
  • Gross Weight: 1.9 oz

Key Features

  • 420HC Stainless Steel Plain Edge Clip Point Blade
  • Crelicam Genuine Ebony Handle with Brass Bolsters
  • Lockback Mechanism
  • Unconditional Lifetime Warranty

Pros

  • Compact knife with great performance
  • A strong and smooth locking mechanism
  • Classy aesthetics with polished wood and brass
  • Perfect size for everyday carry

Cons

  • Poor quality control on finishing

The Buck 55 is a traditional knife that is a great size for everyday utility and is attractive. However, there are a few quality issues with uneven edges and the general finish that is underwhelming.

Overall Rating – 4.6/5

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8. SOG TW18-CP Twitch II

SOG TWI8-CP Twitch II 6.20 Inch EDC Folding Knife

SOG is an American tool and knife company that has been named in honor of MACV-SOG. It was a special ops outfit during the Vietnam War that was equipped with a highly functional combat knife which later became the inspiration for the creation of SOG Knives.

The Twitch 2 is built on the foundation of this legacy. It is a highly functional compact knife built with the same military standard as the original knife that the SOG brand is built on. It comes with a drop point blade made in high-grade AUS-8 steel that will give you razor sharpness and stain resistance.

It features an anodized aluminum handle that will give you long-lasting service and it also features the SOG Assisted Technology that allows for quick blade deployment. Also built into the frame is the Lockback locking mechanism that will keep the blade securely open.

The Twitch 2 is a lightweight knife that carries low in the pocket without adding bulk. It has a sleek and classy design for versatile use.

Specs

  • Overall Length: 6.20 inches
  • Blade Length: 2.65 inches
  • Blade Thickness: 0.10 inch
  • Gross Weight: 2.60 oz

Key Features

  • AUS-8 Stainless Steel Drop Point Blade with Plain Edge
  • Hard-Anodized Aluminum Handle
  • SOG Assisted Technology One-Handed Opening
  • Lockback Locking Mechanism
  • Reversible Low-Carry Pocket Clip
  • Lanyard Hole
  • Lifetime Warranty

Pros

  • Slim compact size allows for easy everyday carry
  • Drop point blade performs a wide range of tasks
  • A reliably safe locking mechanism
  • The blade steel is razor-sharp
  • SAT deploys quietly and reliably

Cons

  • Lockback locking mechanism enforces two-handed closing
  • The Twitch 2 is a limited-edition knife with only 700 units made. It is a compact all-around pocket knife with great features and durability.

Overall Rating – 4.5/5

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9. Kershaw Fraxion 1160 Folding Pocket Knife

Kershaw Fraxion Folding Pocket Knife (1160) Lightweight, Contemporary 2.75 In. 8Cr13MoV Stainless Steel Blade With G10 Handles, Inset Liner Lock And Reversible Pocket Clip; 1.9 oz.

The Fraxion is a multipurpose knife for utility, survival, and self- defense. The knife is designed by Jens Anso who is a Danish knifemaker and industrial designer. His knife designs are characterized by pimped up G-10 handles that are more stylish than the ordinary handles.

The knife comes with an 8Cr13MoV stainless steel blade which is a mid-range steel that is very easy to sharpen to razor sharpness. The blade is designed in a clip point blade style with a plain edge and black oxide finish to help with corrosion resistance. It comes with some thumb jimping on the spine to provide stability while cutting.

The sleek looking handle is a classic Jens design where the G-10 is overlaid with carbon fiber to pimp it up and give it some added strength. The handle is lightweight with the liner lock being the only metal component in its frame. However, that doesn’t mean that it is weak because, on the contrary, it is quite sturdy and ergonomic to fit comfortably in your hand.

Specs

  • Overall Length: 6.75 inches
  • Blade Length: 2.75 inches
  • Gross Weight: 1.90 oz

Key Features

  • 8Cr13MoV Stainless Steel Clip Point Blade
  • Plain Edge Blade with Black Matte Finish
  • G-10 handle with carbon fiber overlay
  • Manual Opening
  • Liner Locking Mechanism
  • Reversible Deep Pocket Clip

Pros

  • Very light and compact for easy carry
  • Ergonomic handle with good traction
  • Manual opening is fast and reliable
  • Has a very sharp blade edge
  • Good value for money

Cons

  • Comes with sharp edges on the handle that needs a bit of sanding down to stop pinching.

The Fraxion is a manual opening knife that uses a finger flipper to open the blade. It is lightweight and perfect for everyday use.

Overall Rating – 4.1/5

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Features To Look For When Choosing A Pocket Knife

Most pocket knives are designed to be multi-functional. But, with so many uses and so many pocket knives to choose from, the options can get a little overwhelming.

That’s why we’ve narrowed it all down to the most obvious features that you can look at to determine which knife to get.

Blade Steel

The choice of metal for the blade highly determines how effective the knife will be. Most knives come from any one of the many varieties of stainless steel or carbon steel.

Stainless Steel

Stainless steel blades are the popular choice for pocket knives because they’re more affordable and have better corrosion and stain resistance than carbon steel.

They are also softer and less brittle which means that though they are less likely to chip, they will dull but sharpen easily. Common stainless steel varieties include S30V, 420HC, 154CM, AUS-8, and the CrMoV series.

Carbon Steel

Carbon Steel, on the other hand, is more useful for rugged use because it is harder and more durable. It is mostly found in survival and tactical knives where sharpness and edge retention is a big consideration. The trade-off is brittleness, which is caused by too much carbon in the metal and it is highly corrosive.

Most carbon steel blades are finished with a layer of coating to deal with the corrosion problem. They are also difficult to sharpen, so most people prefer to have them sharpened professionally. The common carbon steel varieties include 1095, D2, and 4034 carbon steel.

Blade Style

Generally, the blade should have a cutting edge and a pointy tip for piercing. Most pocket knives have a drop point or clip point blade which can perform a wide variety of tasks. Some blades come in a spear point style which is equally effective if it is sharpened on both edges.

Another consideration is the length of the blade. If you want a pocket knife that is compact and easy to carry but also effective for most tasks, then you should consider a blade that is 2 to 3.5 inches long.

Locking Mechanisms

The locking system of a folding knife works to prevent the knife from closing in on you while you’re using it. There are different types of locks, but they’re all designed to achieve that same purpose. Ideally, the best system would be the one that allows you to open and close the blade with one hand, a skill that you can perfect over time.

Liner

It is the most common and affordable locking system in the market. As the blade opens, a split piece of the liner slides in behind the tang of the blade to keep it open. It is not very safe because it puts your fingers in the line of the blade while closing it. It can also dislodge and close the blade on you unexpectedly.

Lockback

Popularized by Buck Knives, this ambidextrous system utilizes a pivoting metal arm along the spine of the handle that comes out of a notch in the tang of the blade to keep it open. You close the blade by pressing down on the back of the metal arm to collapse it and release the blade.

Axis Lock

It is a proprietary Benchmade design that is completely ambidextrous. It features a tensioned steel bar across the width of the handle. Pulling back the bar allows the blade to open, and when you release it positions itself along the tang of the blade to keep it open. To close, you pull it back again to release the blade.

Compression Lock

It is a Spyderco design, and the simplest way to explain it is that it is an up-side-down liner lock. It puts a thin split liner inside a wedge between the tang of the blade and the stop pin.

It is much more effective than the liner lock because it is less likely to slip, and it allows you to close the blade a lot more safely.

Conclusion

In the end, getting the best pocket knife will be largely determined by personal preference. It is our wish, however, that you now know what to look for when you decide which pocket knife to get.

Our pocket knife reviews should set you on the right path. We hope the knife you end up getting is versatile with a wide range of use, as well as compact, lightweight, and easy to carry.

The Benchmade Mini-Griptilian 556 is one such knife, designed for everyday tasks. It is also reliable and comes in a variety of styles and colors to suit your needs.

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