You won’t be disappointed by the best pocket knife brands in the field. Trusted knife manufacturers have been around for years, making high-quality edges that are built for hard use and action. Are you unsure where to begin? Today’s guide will help you find the best pocket knives available.
Pocket knife companies are not perfect. This is normal. The buy-it-forever ethos has seen an increase in brands that place a premium on quality and not cutting corners. Below, we review the best pocket knife brands worthy of becoming your EDC knife.
Despite being called the “Ontario Knife Company”, OKC is actually based at the tippy top of New York state. Their work has focused mainly on making blades for military personnel. They are an all-American pocket knife manufacturer in every way.
The RAT knife is a popular bargain EDC option, but they also have a much deeper bench that includes everything from kitchen cutlery to tactical knives.
A knife is just that: a knife. When it’s a Benchmade, it’s something else entirely.
Benchmade was founded in 1980 with one goal in mind: to make the best knives possible. They have been working hard to make this a reality since then. They are one of the most expensive manufacturers, but they strive to make lifetime pieces.
If you want to avoid losing your Benchmade, you will only need one.
More than a hundred years of experience lies behind each Case knife. Their bone pocket knives are elegant and designed for utility and hunting.
The well-respected brand of pocket knives has many attractive models. These blades are durable and look great.
4. Brous Blades
Brous Blades was founded by Jason Brous in 2010, just as he was entering his twenties. He was a young prodigy in knife-making.
The brand’s young and innovative pocket knives are made by a scrappy, young company. Brous Blades’ designs are modern and trendy. They help revive the pocket knife market with flashy, fun articles that don’t compromise on quality. Ideal for everything from camping to EDC.
Despite being named “Columbia River Knife & Tool” there are not many who could recall any tools they make that aren’t knives. They make great tools, but their blades are just so impressive.
You can spend days looking through the catalog, admiring all the varieties, many of which were designed by Ken Onion, a master at what he does.
Begun by a California knife-maker, Emerson had practice making military and police items for rescue and combat before there was a company name to go with it.
These Emerson are for hard work, hard luck, and hard use in the most difficult conditions. An Emerson is a great choice if you are heading into the middle of the storm.
In 1968 Hogue burst onto the firearm scene making grips and stocks for guns. After decades of success, they transferred their engineering skills to the knife industry.
Both close-quarters and ranged fighters can now get all the Hogue gear they need.
8. Cold Steel
It’s easy to discount Cold Steel as a pocket knife company. They have a pretentious name and a website that is overbearing. Then they make swords and other weird stuff.
Cold Steel uses only the best materials to make EDC pocket knives with a distinctive flair that complements their robust construction.
Inexpensive camping knives are the battle cry of Opinel, though they wisely mash a lot of value into their knife line. The handles are made from softwood and can be used for extended periods of time. They also have a collar lock that gives the carbon steel blades a firmer feel, allowing them to make more confident cuts.
This pocket knife brand is affordable and it would be a mistake not to take advantage of its value proposition.
For a long time, Spyderco was the pocket knife brand to carry if you were expecting a fight. They still have the unique hole in each blade that allows for you to open it with your thumb.
They are a formidable combination of badass, great-looking, and fun to work with
Gerber’s low cost and subsequent rudimentary materials tempt many to pass them up as one of the best pocket knife brands. They are so consistent good, if they are not always great, it is a mistake to overlook them. While you won’t find the best, you will get a budget that you can afford to lose.
SOG isn’t so much a toolmaker so much as a knife company that knows the value of being prepared. The pocket knives of SOG are made for action with high-quality steel and rugged construction. This knife is a great choice for rescue and recon that won’t break your bank.
Everyone should have a Buck knife in their collection somewhere. You can choose the timeless folding knife or one of the modern Buck knives for a fresh twist on an old favorite. They offer a “Forever” warranty that isn’t just for show. Buck is a trusted brand in pocket knives.
14. Zero Tolerance
The killer who used to head straight for Spyderco has found a new friend in the Zero Tolerance pocket knife brand. This company makes flipper knives that can be deployed quickly, stealthily, and ended combat with just a few quick slashes. These knives are durable and quick. They make a great investment.
Also known as “The Tree Brand”, Boker is one of a handful of import pocket knife companies that can go toe to toe with American manufacturers. They use only the finest materials under the strict supervision of industry experts. This is the result that true enthusiasts must admire.
Zero Tolerance is owned by the KAI Group, which also happens to have Kershaw in its pocket. Kershaw knives offer the most diverse selection of options. They can be used as tools, weapons or appliances.
The only true Swiss Army knife maker in the world, without this world-famous pocket knife brand, there would likely be no Leatherman or other multi-tool maker. The Swiss cross is a symbol of supreme engineering by multi-purpose knife experts.
Schrade has seen many changes in ownership over its 100+-year history. This has resulted in some difficult launches and lean times. They’re currently putting out outstanding quality, but who knows how long this will last. It’s amazing to see their hits, but it can be horrifying when they miss. Schrade will continue to be the best at what it does for many years to come, thanks to the new trend.
How to Choose the Best Pocket Knife Company
When it comes to EDC gear, it’s easy just to say “buy American” without thinking twice. There are many outstanding pocket knife brands around the globe, and they don’t all have to be expensive. These are some tips to help you choose the right model and brand for you.
Finding the best pocket knife company can be difficult, but it is the most important. Is the brand still in existence after many years, or even decades? They likely have found their niche and are able to produce knives that consistently meet buyers at the right price.
Older companies that have been sold multiple times should be avoided. Multi-national corporations often cash in on trusted names and don’t back them up with quality. It could be a sign that production has moved overseas if your grandpa’s beloved knife is being sold at a bargain price.
A wide range of pocket knives is what the best knife companies offer. Knives are the most important tools you have, so one-size-fits-all is not always the best option.
The branding should match the intended purpose. Tactical knife companies will favor simple, rugged designs intended for combat, while survival-oriented companies will focus on multi-tools. Others still may spread cast a wide net to include swords, guns, or cutlery. It is best to avoid big-tent corporations and instead choose niche brands.
It is amazing the amount of mark-up that a brand can command. Do your research to ensure that the quality of the knife, the locking mechanism, steel type, handle materials and accessories you are paying for is satisfactory. Many times, pocket knife companies make knives that are just as durable and useful as their higher-end counterparts.
These days, it’s rare to find knives with satisfaction guarantees. Pocket knife companies that stand behind their products with warranties are obviously putting their money where there mouth is. They have to make promises to replace or repair damaged gear. This is why they will tend to invest in better designs upfront. You can win regardless of whether your knife holds up over time or falls apart.
Different types of pocket knives explained
You would think a knife is just that. But that’s not true. There are many types of blades, styles, and mechanisms.
Here is a quick overview of the most popular types of pocket knife blades.
- Drop one point – A straight blade with a gradual slope towards the tip. It is ideal for piercing but thick enough not to break the tip.
- Clip point: The clip point is a classic pocket knife blade profile and is a sharp tip that can be used for thrusting. The “clipped” indentation helps you grab the blade and opens it.
- Sheepsfoot This straight blade is named after the sheep, but it was originally used to cut down sheep hooves. It’s used most often for whittling and woodworking, as well as rescue situations.
- Tanto– This weapon borrows the angled tip from traditional Japanese weaponry. It is ideal for thrusting and puncturing during combat, but less for slashing. You can also use the chisel tip to scrape.
- Pen blade A pen blade can be used for fine cutting, although it is smaller than the larger drop points. Its name comes from the time when quill ends had to be pierced in order to write.
- Wharncliffe – A straight blade with a curving spine. This helps to prevent accidental piercing while the goal is to slicing.
- Hawkbill The hawkbill, which looks like a bird-of-prey talon, is an efficient slicer. It transfers force to the blade tip. This blade type is common in box and carpet cutters.
- Spey point Originally designed to spay or neuter animals, the flat blade features a sharp point that turns up at the tip. The idea is to avoid accidental piercing. This was a favorite among hunters back then as well.
- Spear/needle point – Symmetrical blades that focus force directly into the sharp point to puncture armor and hide. Although spear points are more thick than needle points, the concept is the same.
You can find different styles of pocket knives that include any combination of these blades and other accessories. These are only a few of many popular models:
- Camper– Every man needs a multi-tool. It doesn’t matter if you need a Leatherman, Swiss Army Knife or another generic tool, having several tools at your disposal is convenient.
- TrapperThe Trapper is a combination of a clip point and a spey. It has a slimmer profile which allows for excellent control when slicing.
- Stockman A double-ended knife that is similar to the Trapper, but with a Sheepsfoot-shaped blade. Some variations swap out the spey point for a pen knife.
- Congress Honest Abe did one of his EDCs, but that’s not the origin of the name. Instead, Congress refers to the four blades that come together when folded: pen spear, twin sheepsfoot, and spear. Why are there two? It enabled tobacco farmers to work twice the time without having to stop to sharpen.
- Canoe This simple design packs a pen blade with a drop point. Its canoe-shaped folding shape is what gives it its name.
- Barlow The Barlow knife has a tear-shaped handle and is loved by outdoorsmen and Americana enthusiasts for its simplicity and reliability.
- Tactical folding This is a broad term that covers a variety of ergonomic features designed for hand-to-hand combat. It features a robust handle grip, thumb studs or small holes in the blade that are easy to open, a secure locking mechanism, and blades specifically designed for piercing rather than cutting.
- Open Assistance – Any knife that opens by pressing a button. The most well-known example is the switchblade, which has been in violation of law in many countries. In most cases, thumb studs will work just as well with practice.
Most pocket knives fold up in order to fit in your pocket. It is possible to cut your fingers by extending the blade without a locking mechanism. These are the three most popular types of locking mechanisms. There are many others.
- Liner lock Liner locks are simple to use, reliable, and easy to make. A tensioned metal spring bar catches the blade’s tang underneath the hinge and holds it in place. To sheath your blade, simply push the bar to one side.
- Frame lock This lock is functionally the same as the liner lock but more durable due to the locking bars being embedded directly into the handle. This is a problem with knives made cheaply, but high-quality frame locks are better than liner locks and cost accordingly.
- Lock your back This tensioned lock mechanism pivots above a central fulcrum, popularized by Buck. The locking notch is raised by pressing down on the back of the lock. This allows the blade to move in and out without obstruction. The blade will stay fast in place when the notch is released.
The Best Pocket Knife Brands
You should now have a good understanding of how pocket knife companies earn their money. Here’s a quick overview of the top pocket knife brands that suit a range of budgets and use cases. We also have a rundown of the most popular types of pocket knives.