Is a knife a weapon or a tool? That’s been a long common discussion but here at Marine Approved, we have the answer, it’s both!
Carrying a knife with you is by far the easiest and lightest way to ensure you’re ready for a plethora of life challenges and no matter what, whether you need to defend yourself or you need a handy tool to get the job done, a high-quality EDC knife is always there ready to deploy and save the day!
This guide was created to help anyone and everyone find the right EDC knife to add to their daily load-out and within this guide, you’ll find helpful details that should outline what to look for, how to choose a high-quality knife, and finally, where to find the best EDC knives the market has to offer!
If you don’t already know, EDC stands for everyday carry and essentially means that you’re choosing to carry a knife with high utility value that is easy to transport and contain on your body without it significantly slowing you down or taking up all of your storage or pocket space. EDC knives can come in all shapes, sizes, and lengths and what is considered a proper EDC knife is usually subjective.
Here at Marine Approved, we usually refer to an EDC knife as a folding pocket knife that suits your day-to-day needs. For those of you looking for a fixed blade EDC knife, check out our fixed blade knives page here.
- Here Are the Best EDC Knives in 2019
- 1. Benchmade Foray 692-281
- 2. Benchmade Anthem 781
- 3. Benchmade Turret 980 (Editor's Choice)
- 4. Zero Tolerance 0566BW Black Wash
- 5. Benchmade EDC 940
- 6. Benchmade Griptilian 551
- 7. Benchmade Bugout 535 (Best for the Money)
- 8. Tops Knives Mil-Spie Hunter Edition
- 9. Boker Plus Stingray
- 10. Zero Tolerance 0350
- 11. Kizer Cutlery Ulrich Hennicke Sealion Ki4509
- 12. Katsu Camping Razor
- 13. Spyderco Manix 2
- 14. Spyderco Delica 4 (Best Under $100)
- 15. Cold Steel Recon 1 (Runner Up Under $100)
- 16. CRKT Seismic
- 17. Boker Plus Urban Trapper
- 18. Off-Grid Knives Rapid Fire
- 19. CRKT M21-14SF
- 20. Spyderco Dragonfly 2 Light
- 21. Counter Strike 1 by 5.11
- 22. Buck Knives Ranger 112
- 23. SOG Flash 2
- 24. Spyderco Tenacious (Best Under $50)
- 25. KA-BAR Mule Field Folder
- 26. ESEE Knives Avispa
- 27. Kershaw Clash
- 28. Kershaw Cryo 2
- 29. Western Active Honey Badger
- 30. Gerber Freeman Guide Folding
- 31. Ontario Knives Co. Rat (Best Budget EDC Knife)
- 32. CRKT Squid Compact
Blade material is the primary driving force behind the reliability, durability, weather resistance, and usually the price tag. Simply put, spending more money on more expensive metal means you’ll have a knife that is tougher and longer-lasting.
Of course, there are some caveats here such as sharpening ability, blade thickness, knife maintenance, and use-cases. Different metal types have different sharpening characteristics, some being more difficult to sharpen but holding an edge longer and some dulling quickly but being a piece of cake to sharpen and everything in between those. Depending on the thickness, a lower quality blade may be stronger than a high-quality blade. Some metals require regular maintenance to ensure its durability and some of the top tier metal materials require special attention such as regular lubricating with oil to ensure they don’t rust and fall apart.
Of course, steel is the primary material you’ll find among pretty much all general usage knife categories, however, as technology progresses, we’ve found ways to mix other elements in with steel to create mixtures that have incredible properties and high tensile strength. A common example you’ll see will be steel with carbon. Carbon-based blades on there own are often not very strong but have incredible edge retaining attributes while steel blades are often very strong with very little edge retention attributes. This means that by adding carbon to steel you can get a very strong and durable blade that maintains its edge for long periods of time even through regular abuse. The tricky part is figuring out what the best tradeoff is between the two and finding a mix that provides the user with the best experience. Many brands have different opinions on this and thus, different types and methods of steel and carbon mixtures are made.
Figuring out what metal to buy can be very confusing and although many of the top brands offer a plethora of different knives to choose from, brands in my experience tend to stick to a specific metal or maybe just a couple, while there are actually tons of different metal options to construct a blade out of. I’ll try and outline the most popular metals used in EDC pocket knives below but for your sanity and the health of my fingers, I won’t be able to list each and every metal type possible.
Before I do that, though, keep your eye on HRC. HRC is a measurement of hardness that correlates to the strength of the blade, with the higher the number being a stronger blade. HRC is a unit on the Rockwell C hardness scale and is fairly universal across the globe.
Remember, there is no “best steel” when it comes to forging blades. The trick here is trading off properties for properties you need the most, while maybe sacrificing on certain attributes that you won’t need as much. A good example of this is in hardness versus maintenance. A super hard blade will incredibly durable up and to a point, but once that threshold is met and the blade becomes damaged, it’ll be extremely difficult, perhaps impossible, to repair the blade properly. In this case, you’ll probably want an EDC knife that isn’t incredibly hard so that if you do damage it with daily use, you can repair it easily and keep it sharp at all times.
The three most common categories of blade steel types are Stainless Steel, Carbon Steel, and Tooling Steel.
Stainless Steel is a mixture of three things, steel, carbon, and chromium, making for a highly corrosion-resistant mixture that offers decent levels of performance with the tradeoff of overall toughness and durability. These blades are more likely to incur blade damage or even catastrophic blade failure under heavy usage but will last longer against weathering than any other type of blade material.
Some popular examples in this category are AUS, VG, CTS, MoV, Swedish Sandvik, Crucible, 400, and 154CM. You can find more information about Carbon Steel at the Metal Supermarket link here.
Carbon Steel is a blade composition where steel and carbon are mixed together, creating some of the most durable blades on the market with an emphasis on toughness and surviving high levels of abuse. These blades have incredible edges and are easy to sharpen with the tradeoff here being that they aren’t great against weathering and corrosion.
Some popular examples in this category are SAE, 10xx (ex 1095) and 11xx (ex 1110). You can find more information about Carbon Steel at the Metal Supermarket link here.
Tooling Steel is basically just a steel alloy that is hardened and refined to offer good, but not exceptional performance across the board. They don’t have nearly the same anti-corrosive resistance as stainless steel and they aren’t even close as sharp as what you can get a carbon steel blade to be, but they are usually cheap to purchase and offer decent hardness.
Some popular examples in this category are CPM xx (ex CPM 3V), D2, and O1.
You can find more information about Tool Steel at the Metal Supermarket link here.
If you would like detailed explanations of the most common steel types used in popular blades you can check out this guide made by Knife Informer at this link here. Their guide does a great job of explaining the pro’s and con’s as well as ranking them by quality and popularity!
The Never-Ending Battle Against Weathering
Since we’re talking about knives that we’ll be carrying every day and using often, we need an EDC unit that is reliable and ready to rock and roll at a moment’s notice. This means you need something that is fairly resistant to corrosion and needs little maintenance to ensure it’s not rusting away. Simply put, in terms of EDC, I would highly recommend choosing knives that have special attention to being corrosion resistant.
There is a caveat here, though. Knives with top-class resistance to corrosion have to give something away to achieve a decent level of protection, usually in the edge performance department. This doesn’t mean anti-corrosive blades will automatically have horrible edge retention but they will most likely not have as high a performance level as a blade that doesn’t have anti-corrosive properties, given that both metal materials are of relatively the same quality. Of course, if you’re willing to spend some good money on high tier brands, you can find blades with incredible edge retention that are well protected from corroding.
There are a few metal materials that are especially great at resisting corrosion and water damage such as H1, LC 200 N, and Nitinol 60. If you’ll be using your knife anywhere near saltwater or planning on being wet often, a knife blade made of those would be ideal with other metals like Sandvik, N690, and VG-10 performing decently and being anti-corrosive but not as good as the aforementioned materials. H1 is probably the best material for use in salt-water as it has top-class anti-corrosive properties but of course, it’s nowhere near as sharp and as good at keeping an edge as other metals.
To the untrained eye, blades seem to be relatively similar and probably all seem to fit the same job. Some stabby stab and some cutty cut and the blade gets the job done, so why worry about it’s design?
Well, you don’t have to worry about the design as most sharp and strong pieces of metal will cut things more or less the same, however, if you’re going to spend your hard-earned money on a shiny new EDC knife, you may as well get something that is actually designed for what you intend on using it for! There are many different types of blades but when you break it down, there are 12 primary styles total and really only 10 of those would be ideal for EDC usage in a folding pocket knife. The TLDR here is this: Buy a drop point for general versatility or buy a Tanto for self-defense EDC carry.
Drop Point: This is by far the most common blade type and if you’ve had experience with pocket knives before, there’s a very high chance you’re actually familiar with the drop point. These blades have a convex shaped spine that curves slightly down from where it connects to the handle all the way down to the point of the blade. These blades provide excellent slicing capabilities and are probably the number one choice for general all-purpose blade styles. If you don’t know what to get, grab a knife with a drop point and you’ll be happy.
Tanto: One of my favorite go-to blades for self-defense and probably the most effective self-defense knife that still offers day-to-day usability as well. The Tanto blade design was originally utilized in short swords like the Samurai sword but has been implemented well in pocket knife form factors. These blades have a very flat and straight belly with a harsh upward curve by the point with a spine that reinforces the point of the knife, creating a very strong and sharp piercing capability. You can use these to slice as well, but they obviously suffer in this regard as the point is difficult to use for slicing and the belly is short.
Clip Point: The clip point is another very popular design where the spine of the blade comes out from the handle in a flat line until a certain section, usually halfway or perhaps a little more than half, where the blade is essentially clipped out in the same shape a fingernail cutter cuts your nails. These are decent all-purpose blade types too although they are usually made for small cutting jobs and maneuvering the blade through something, like if you were to cut a specific shape out of a cardboard box.
Gut Hook: The gut hook blade is generally very similar to what a drop point would look like but with the added addition of a hook on the spine near the tip of the blade. These are primarily used in field dressing or fishing where the hook is especially useful in cutting through animal hide and also very useful for one-handed fishing line cutting. If you’re an avid outdoorsman, a gut hook might be the blade for you!
Straight Back: These are very traditional blades that aren’t so popular anymore but you can certainly still find them and they have a very elegant and symmetrical appearance. The spine of the blade is either perfectly straight from the handle to the tip of the blade or very close, with only a few degrees of difference, hardly noticeable to the human eye. These blades are useful for slicing and chopping and provide a stable surface for you to put your hand on top for added pressure.
Talon Blade: These are certainly an option for EDC although definitely not the most versatile and/or useful on a day-to-day basis. These blades mimic the idea of a claw or talon, with the point of the blade reaching downwards with the curvature of the cutting edge while the spine also follows a similar contour. These blades are purpose-built to be used with a pulling-cutting motion, making them especially useful for cutting carpet, cardboard, linoleum, and some garden maintenance tasks.
Sheepsfoot: These blades have a very straight cutting edge from handle to tip with a slightly down curving spine. These are built to slice with the intent of minimizing its stabbing and piercing capabilities. These were originally engineered for use in trimming of hooves for sheep and horses, with the idea that even if you make a mistake and slip, you won’t stab your livestock! These probably aren’t the blade type you’ll want unless you’re a farmer or perhaps giving your child their first knife.
Wharncliffe: These are very similar to the Sheepsfoot blade with the primary difference being that the spine continually and gradually curves downwards into the point starting from the handle. These are excellent slicing knives and also have a similar effect as the Sheepsfoot in the idea that it protects somewhat from an accidental piercing. These aren’t great for self-defense but are exceptional for farm tasks involving animal management.
Spear Point: These blades have one primary focus and that is to create a point that is ultra sharp and ultra-strong for spearing. The blade shape is often close to symmetrical on both the spine and cutting edge sides and is especially useful for thrusting motions. These are most commonly found in weapon-based knives but are useful in a pocket knife as a self-defense oriented EDC knife. Double-edged spear points are also popular in the world of knives but are not usually found in pocket-knife form factors and do not make good EDC knives as they’re generally utility usage is very low with a high risk of self-injury.
Spey Point: These blades are no longer very popular and probably won’t be something you’d choose for EDC but they are still commonly found in traditional style pocket knives. The spine is pretty much completely flat with some variations having slight curves and the cutting edge is usually flat for the majority of the knife, curing upwards towards the very end near the point. These blades are favored by farmers because they have a similar use-case as the Sheepsfoot blade in that they offer a level of protection from an accidental piercing.
Serrated or Fine Edge?
As a final factor regarding blade design, you’ll need to choose whether or not you would like to have a serrated blade, a fine edge blade, or some mixture of the two. Now, in regards to EDC, we want a knife that is usable and capable of taking on many challenges in many situations. A fully serrated blade doesn’t make much sense for an EDC knife as it limits how many things you can use the knife on and a fully fine-edged blade doesn’t encompass the positives that serrated blades do, so, finding a blade that is ¼ to ½ serrated is probably your best bet and in my opinion, offers the most versatility.
A serrated blade is a blade that has teeth, kind of like what you’d expect a saw to look like. These are used to cut through soft materials where a fine edge would have trouble with grip such as leather, textiles, rope, etc. Not everyone, including myself, appreciates this function, and many people try and stay away from blades with serrated edges as they can be distracting and limit the blade space you can use (if you aren’t using the serrated part). I usually carry a complete fine edge blade, but this is really up to you and your personal preference.
Blade Length and Size
First and foremost, it’s important to state that we consider EDC knives as knives that are easy to carry and quick to deploy, meaning that many folding pocket knives are usually the ideal form factor. A lot of people do enjoy carrying fixed blades and that’s great, we’ve made an entire page dedicated to fixed blades that can be found here.
EDC knives do not have a specifically defined length but as a general rule of thumb, knives that are carried on a daily basis generally tend to be best found in the 2.5” to 4.5” range. My personal favorite EDC knives are generally 3” or 3.25”. This may sound short to some people but remember, the knife has to be easy to carry and in most cases, you’ll be concealing or mostly concealing your knife, meaning it needs to fit comfortably in your pockets or on your belt. A knife too large might be too uncomfortable to carry and thus being left at home, not serving you when you need it!
Remember, we’re focused on pocket knives for this guide and that means the blade length is usually slightly less than half the length of the entire knife, including handle, will be when unfolded. For example, a knife with a blade length of 3” will probably be close to 6.25” including the handle when opened and will likely be close to 3.25” when closed. If you’re choosing a knife with a length specific to what can fit in a sheath you already have, consider the length of the entire knife and not just the blade length as the shell of the knife has to be larger than the blade to allow the blade to fold into it.
Another characteristic to consider is its overall weight. If you’re lugging around tons of other gear already, you know that each and every gram of gear you add considerably makes you slower and heavier. A good EDC knife is a knife that is focused on utility and is helpful for most daily tasks but doesn’t slow you down in the process! I won’t give you an exact weight to shoot for as I do believe you should be choosing a knife that fits your needs and your needs may differ from mine, but for the most part, try and shoot for lightweight designs that are relatively strong but as small as possible while still getting the job done!
You’ll likely utilize your everyday carry knife hundreds of times a month meaning that you’ll want a good user experience that allows you to flip open your knife as fast and as comfortable as possible while having a locking mechanism that you can trust.
I personally enjoy spring-assisted opening devices but as with everything, there are tradeoffs between the different styles that may suit a certain activity or use-case differently.
Before we get started here, it’s important to note that not all opening mechanisms are legal everywhere and it is your job to ensure you’re carrying a knife that complies with all the laws you’re operating in.
There are eight primary opening mechanisms you should be aware of to ensure you get the proper knife that suits your style and use-cases.
Nail Slot: These are probably the most common, especially with cheaper knives. The nail slot is exactly what you imagine it is from the name. It’s a slight machined cut out on the top of the blade near the spine that allows you to grip the blade with your fingernail and pull out the blade from the handle. These are usually the slowest to deploy pocket knife designs and can be a hassle to use if the blade fits into the handle tightly.
Thumb Hole: These blades replace the nail slot with a hole that is much easier to grasp and faster to open but adds weight and size to the knife that may not be necessary or may create an uncomfortable carry experience.
Flip Out: These are knives whose blades sit on a pivot point that can easily flip the blade out with the flick of your wrist. A lot of quality flip out knives have adjustable pivot tension allowing you the option of tightening them, making them require lots of motion to flip out or even requiring you to pull them out, or loosening them, making them extremely easy and smooth to flip out with just a quick snap from your wrist. Some flip out knives lack a locking mechanism so make sure you find something that suits you.
Thumb Opener: These knives utilize a stud on the spine of the blade close to the handle that you would place your thumb on and push, deploying the blade with the pressure from your thumb. Be careful lefties, some knife brands only make thumb studs for right-handed users! Some thumb stud equipped knives are also assisted opening knives or flip out knives.
Thumb Slider: These are knives that allow the blade to sit inside of the handle and deploy straight out in a vertical motion instead of in a folding action. The thumb slider fits inside a groove along with the handle and allows you to slide the knife out through the end of the handle.
Assisted Opening: These mechanisms utilize a button or small lever with a spring system that, when the knife is folded, is held under tension. Upon pushing the button or lever, the spring ejects the blade quickly. These are not great options for people new to carrying knives as they’re easy to misuse and accidentally deploy, however, they are the fastest to deploy and garner some serious cool points to boot.
Hidden Release: These are similar to assisted opening knives but instead of a button or level, use some type of mechanism that is a little more covert with a special identity. These come in many different flavors and sometimes utilize a slider, pressure pad, etc.
Butterfly: These are knives where the handles fold around the blade instead of the blade folding into the handle. The handles are split into two pieces and are both attached to the blade via two pivot points allowing some pretty slick flipping action. These are sometimes also called balisongs and are illegal in many places.
Here Are the Best EDC Knives in 2019
1. Benchmade Foray 692-281
Estimated Price: $600
Blade Length: 3.22”
My Review: Have you bought all the gear you’ll ever need and have run out of things to spend your money on? Never fear, Benchmade will gladly accept your leftover riches in the form of sending you a Foray 696-181 EDC knife!
Now, I’m not suggesting this is by any means the knife anyone and everyone should buy for EDC. This is the knife that you buy when you’re a knife enthusiast and you truly adore the craftsmanship and attention to detail, creating one of the best pocket knives ever built.
The Benchmade Foray is pulling out all the stops and going with an extremely expensive but beautifully elegant Damascus steel blade, coming in at 3.22”. For those who aren’t familiar, Damascus steel is a type of blade making art where multiple high-quality alloys are hand folded over each other to create an ultra-strong blade. Damascus can be done in many different methods and in this case, Benchmade has finely crafted these using the Loki pattern.
Oh, you thought just the blade was going to be absolutely insane? No, Benchmade has made sure every aspect of this knife is insane! The handle we get here is marbled carbon fiber that consists of handwoven resin. This makes for a layered handle that is able to flex without breakage and is of one of the highest quality handles ever found in the pocket knives world. Not only is it tough as nails, but it’s also actually very light and incredibly comfortable to use!
Of course, Benchmade has equipped the Foray with its proprietary best-in-class AXIS locking mechanism and their reversible deep-carry pocket clip. All of the hardware in this knife is of the highest quality available and to take things a step further, it’s all been coated in black Diamond Like Coating (DLC).
This knife is the cream of the crop. The knife to rule them all. I can’t think of another knife that is readily available that utilizes the same level of technological fortitude along with handcrafted detail that is both ready for the showcase and ready to go to war at the same time.
- The most stunning pocket knife blade on the market, featuring a 3.22” Loki style Damascus steel drop point
- Manual opening action with the Benchmade AXIS locking mechanism
- Carbon fiber marbelized handle with anodized and DLC coated hardware in a Mother of Pearl design
2. Benchmade Anthem 781
Estimated Price: $400
Blade Length: 3.5”
My Review: Benchmade is a brand you’ll be seeing a lot on Marine Approved and the reason is simple, they are the best. Period. As long as you’re capable and willing to pony up for high premium price tags, Benchmade offers the best knives across many different categories and especially EDC knife categories.
These are manufactured and design with the utmost attention to detail and finest blade materials and are always backed by the best-in-class Benchmade Lifesharp program and their lifetime warranty. Lifesharp is a program they offer free of charge to their customers in which you simply send in your knife and they ship it back to you, shiny, sharp, and cleaned up with everything fixed and looking like factory new! This applies to all Benchmade knives on this list and any Benchmade knife you can find on their website. By the way, Benchmade knives are now 100% made in the USA.
The Anthem is pretty much the cream of the crop when it comes to EDC knives and although they don’t offer serrated blades for it, I’m perfectly okay with that! They’ve chosen the ultra-versatile drop-point blade design and crafted it out of 20CV steel making it one of the strongest and most versatile fine edge blades on this list.
But wait, there’s more! You are getting yourself some very amazing features for $400 that you will absolutely not find on cheaper knives, even other Benchmade knives. First off, the pivot point has actual bearings inside ensuring the smoothest opening action on a knife I’ve ever reviewed. The AXIS locking mechanism is simply the best and was actually patented by Benchmade which withstands something like 800lbs of pressure.
The handle and belt clip are made of billet anodized titanium making for the strongest and lightest material composition possible. These knives are ultra-light but upon holding them, you can immediately recognize the high quality and high durability factor of the Benchmade Anthem.
- The coveted Benchmade Axis locking mechanism supporting up to 800lbs of pressure
- Constructed of the finest materials including 20CV steel for the drop-point blade and forged titanium for the clip and body
- Manual opening mechanism with ball-bearings to ensure ultra-smooth and fast deployment
3. Benchmade Turret 980 (Editor's Choice)
Estimated Price: $200
Blade Length: 3.7”
My Review: A huge favorite of ours here at Marine Approved, the Benchmade Turret is a knife that was purpose-built to survive just about any type of abuse you can force this thing through. The black oxide coated 3.7” drop-point blades are forged from S30V stainless steel that is among the best stainless steel found in knives today and coupled with fiberglass injected G10 handle soaked in resin and heat treated. It’s certainly not the titanium handle found on the Benchmade Anthem but if saving $200 excites you, the G10 handle and the S30V blade found here still hold their rightful place as top-notch EDC knife contenders.
On many Benchmade knives is the AXIS locking mechanism that is capable of withstanding 800lbs of pressure as opposed to competing locking mechanisms only rated of 200-300lbs.
These are the best G10 handles on the market coupled with top tier blade materials and the best locking mechanism ever built. The American made S30V steel is one of the best blade materials I’ve reviewed in terms of edge retention, even when being heavily abused. If you need a durable and reliable knife on a daily basis that needs very little maintenance, the Turret 980 is your knife.
- 3.7” Drop point blade design constructed of American S30V stainless steel
- The AXIS locking mechanism that is simply the best ever made
- Our number one recommendation for EDC knives as it has impeccable resistance to abuse and requires very little maintenance
4. Zero Tolerance 0566BW Black Wash
Estimated Price: $175
Blade Length: 3.25”
My Review: Finally, I get to review something that gives Benchmade a run for their money! Zero Tolerance has always impressed me but I typically end up finding something I like more from Benchmade at the same price, so I always ended up with Benchmade products instead. Well, that ends here, kind of. These knives are similar in quality and price and as such, I really think it’ll come down to personal preference for most people.
These 3.25” blades are quite hefty, being constructed of powder-coated Crucible S35VN, meaning they excel in blade durability and toughness and do quite well resisting weathering. Of course, super-tough blades are generally a bit difficult to sharpen but it doesn’t seem like this knife is too difficult to maintain for the average user.
A very similar fiberglass G10 handle can be found wrapped around that beautiful drop point blade and is of similar quality to what you get from Benchmade. I really like the simplicity this handle offers while still feeling very much so ergonomic.
Huge points here to Zero Tolerance, I absolutely love their SpeedSafe open design. The easy to pull tab on the back of the blade allows the blade to smoothly slide out almost effortlessly and is among my favorite opening actions I’ve yet to review. If quick deployment and everyday abuse are what your future knife will endure, this is a strong contender and worthy of a good look.
- 3.25” Crucible S35VN blade materials powder coated with a proprietary Blackwash finish
- Fiberglass G10 with a frame lock mechanism
- SpeedSafe assisted opening mechanism is one of the best I’ve reviewed
5. Benchmade EDC 940
Estimated Price: $175
Blade Length: 3.4”
My Review: This is the “I want a Cadillac style knife with capabilities of getting down and dirty when need be” knife. It’s beautiful, well designed, elegant in nature, and absolutely terrifying should someone threaten you and have this deployed on them. Of course, I’m not advocating you use this on people, but if an EDC knife capable of self-defense is what you’re after, Benchmade is on the same page with you.
The EDC 940 is equipped with a reverse Tanto blade, being excellent for self-defense but pretty decent at everything else too. The blade is constructed of CPM-S30V steel which is an excellent all-around blade composition that offers pretty good edge retention, blade toughness, and durability without sacrificing much in the maintenance department.
Lefties, I forgot to mention in my raving about the AXIS lock in previous Benchmade reviews that each and every knife equipped with AXIS lock is ambidextrous! This is, of course, the best locking mechanism you can get on any folding knife.
If you’re after something versatile, light, and highly dependable when you need it most, this is the knife you should be considering! Benchmade has checked all the right boxes when it comes to durability and material composition and for under $200, this is probably one of the best folding knives that don’t utilize the drop-point design you can get. Ideal for everything was their goal and I’d say they hit the nail right on the head!
- 3.4” reverse Tanto blade constructed of CPM-S30V steel
- Available in either satin or coated finishes with your choice between a full fine edge or half-serrated blade design
- Held together by a 6061-T6 aircraft grade aluminum handle that is both anodized for elegance and durability
6. Benchmade Griptilian 551
Estimated Price: $120
Blade Length: 3.45”
My Review: The Griptilian is an absolute tank of a pocket knife and would surprise me to a great extent if you ever had any issues with it under normal usage! These knives were purpose-built to be excellent well-rounded devices and are among my favorites when it comes to every day carry knives.
The drop-point blade found in these has a nice taper effect on the top and is constructed from 154CM stainless steel, meaning these are great in the edge holding department while being incredibly tough and resistant to regular abuse.
The handles you get attached to the Griptilian are that delicious fiberglass G10 handle we know and love from much more expensive knives and are both impeccably tough while being insanely lightweight! Of course, the name kind of implies this knife has a great grip, and I’d say that’s completely true! I really like the texture found here and I usually dislike companies’ attempts at ergonomics, but this knife was made to be simple and fits any size hands quite well.
If the Griptilian interests you but the 3.45” is more than you need, check out the Benchmade Mini Griptilian here, which sports a smaller 2.91” with the same great features as the full-size knife.
This is another great utility EDC option for those of you who are left-handed as the pocket clip included with the knife is reversible and the coveted AXIS locking mechanism is ambidextrous by design.
A final note here, most of these that I’ve seen for sale are of the 154CM steel, which is great, but you can also find them in S30V which I’d recommend over 154CM for general usage, although these are more difficult to seek out.
- 3.45” or 2.91” blade length options both constructed from 154CM stainless steel and utilizing the popular drop-point blade design
- Equipped with the Benchmade button-slider action AXIS locking mechanism supporting up to 800lbs of stress
- Multiple versions available across four different color schemes with options of full fine blades or half-serrated blades
7. Benchmade Bugout 535 (Best for the Money)
Estimated Price: $100
Blade Length: 3.24”
My Review: I know, you’re probably wondering if I’m some corporate Benchmade shill by now since most of the top contenders on my list are from them and the truth is, I’m not sponsored by them, I just love their company philosophy and the quality they continually deliver. They have tons of knives, so many great knives that I could have made an entire EDC list out of just Benchmade alone.
The Bugout is an excellent choice for exactly what the name implies, however, what makes a great bugout knife, by default, also makes for a great EDC knife! These knives come with 3.24” manually opening blades that are drop-point blades in design and CPM-S30V in material construction. Of course, you’re getting the super-strong AXIS locking mechanism that is by far the best on the market and those handles are some of the lightest handles on any knife of this size, consisting of glass-filled nylon.
To me, this knife is similar to the Griptilian in that it offers excellent versatility across all situations and is built to withstand plenty of abuse over extremely long periods of time without the need for special attention to maintenance. Really, the primary differences are the blade length and how the blade is thinner here on the Bugout than the Griptilian, sacrificing a little leverage power for a slimmer and lighter carry experience. The difference between the two is minuscule, but still, something to consider. Think of this knife as the Griptilian that went on a diet and lost a few grams!
- 3.24” beveled drop point constructed of CPM-S30V steel
- AXIS locking mechanism equipped that is ambidextrous in nature
- This is one of the lightest fully functioning pocket knives offered by Benchmade at an astounding 1.85oz
8. Tops Knives Mil-Spie Hunter Edition
Estimated Price: $200
Blade Length: 3.5”
My Review: Tops Knives is a brand I almost always recommend to anyone asking me about high-quality knives. They make great stuff in just about any knife category and of course, this list wouldn’t be complete without taking a look at what TOPS has to offer the EDC world. If you were wondering, the Mil-Spie acronym stands for “Military Special Projects Individual Equipment” and was created by the DOD for experimental military technology developed and tested by Special Operations units.
The Mil-Spie hunter pocket knife consists of a 3.5” blade constructed of N690, which is a steel that has been infused with cobalt and vanadium from Bohler in Austria. These build materials aren’t found outside of Europe very often but do rival some of the best steel’s in the world due to there ease of sharpening, low maintenance, and excellent slicing ability because of its razer sharp and thin edge capabilities. The shape of the blade is kind of a mix between the drop-point and the spear point with the top of the spine mimicking the curvature of the blade, giving you the best of both worlds. The blade is finished off with Black Traction textured coating.
You can find these with Tanto blades as well!
This knife comes with textured aircraft grade 6061-T6 aluminum scales, includes a multi-positional pocket clip, and uses a manual thumb stud opening action with a steel liner lock.
- 3.5” drop-point blade consisting of Black Traction coated N690 steel
- Aircraft-grade aluminum handle with steel liner lock mechanism
- Includes multi-directional pocket clip and a suede knife sheath
9. Boker Plus Stingray
Estimated Price: $160
Blade Length: 4.125”
My Review: I’ve gotten to review hundreds of knives across a plethora of brands before I ever ran into Boker and I really wish I had someone that told me of their impeccable quality earlier! These knives are downright excellent and provide insane value while offering designs that really speak out to the minimalist but utilitarian mindsets.
That rather large (for a pocket knife) 4.125” blade is coated with a very elegant satin finish and is constructed of VG-10 steel. This isn’t a metal material that you can expect to find often, but, it’s pretty solid and offers some of the best corrosion resistance of any knife on this list with similar hardness and durability of steel-carbon mixes. It’s difficult to get such great knife performance while being resistant to corrosion but the engineers at Boker have done just that!
The grip you’re getting here rivals knives of much higher price tags and includes a material composition of titanium, ensuring both durability and lightness. This knife carries like it’s much smaller, but deploys with that large and versatile drop-point blade that is more than worth the price tag.
If you’re tired of having blades get rusty and you don’t want to spend much, if any, time on maintenance, this is the knife to have. They aren’t the sharpest or the most durable, but they are some of the most well-rounded knives you can find on the market today and perfect for those working in and/or around the water like a fisherman.
Note: These knives can also be found with 440C steel, although in my opinion, the VG-10 version is better and should be the one you try and get your hands on. Both are great, I just prefer the VG-10 version.
- 4.125” drop-point blade constructed of VG-10 steel
- Excellent corrosion resistance due to the VG-10 steel used in the blade and titanium grips
- A long and slim blade design that allows for easy maneuvering that you don’t usually find in pocket knives
10. Zero Tolerance 0350
Estimated Price: $135
Blade Length: 3.25”
My Review: Zero tolerance never disappoints so long as you’re willing to pay for high-quality knives and the 0350 is absolutely no exception. This knife is very similar to the other Zero Tolerance knife, the 0566 that I recommend in that it’s made of similar materials, a similar design, and similar specifications. The main difference is the blade style, which is more of a teardrop drop-point blade in the 0350 as opposed to the 0566.
You’ll be getting an ultra high quality 3.25” S30V teardrop drop-point coated with Tungsten DLC mated with an ergonomic and textured G10 handle. Most of their knives, like this one, comes with the SpeedSafe assisted opening mechanism which is one of the best-assisted opening technologies on the market today. These knives are meant to be deployed lightning-quick and to me, seem to be some of the most consistent assisted opening pocket knives you can get.
We see the same four direction pocket clip here as we do on most of their knives with a handy dandy thumb stud to begin the assisted opening mechanism. These knives are excellent all-purpose pocket knives and are among my favorites when it comes to EDC!
- 3.25” S30V drop-point blade coated in black Tungsten Diamond Like Coating (DLC)
- SpeedSafe assisted opening action with double steel locking liners
- G10 handle scales equipped with a multi-directional four-position pocket clip
11. Kizer Cutlery Ulrich Hennicke Sealion Ki4509
Estimated Price: $100
Blade Length: 3.38”
My Review: Kizer Cutlery is known for many things outside of pocket knives, so when I came across their tactical EDC offering, I was a bit skeptical considering it’s $100+ price tag.
Little did I know, there isn’t much to worry here as they’ve really gone out of there way to compete with knives in the $100 arena. These knives focus on extremely fast deployment by utilizing a manual flip-style action that is easily deployed with just a flick of the wrist. I really like these opening designs because there is little hardware that can fail, while still offering super-fast blade deployment.
The blade you get here is a 3.38” drop-point constructed of CPM-S35VN steel coupled with a polished titanium handle that is both extremely light and highly durable. I know, the finish looks fancier than it does durable, but don’t let it fool you, this knife is a tank disguised as a Caddilac!
The finish on this knife is beautiful. Most EDC pocket knives go for that rugged and tactical appearance but this knife seems to take a rather tactical inspired design and dressed it up like James Bond!
- 3.38” slender drop point blade constructed of CPM-S35VN steel
- Lightweight titanium handles and pocket clip
- Manual flick-open deployment action is one of the best in this price range
12. Katsu Camping Razor
Estimated Price: $100
Blade Length: 3.9”
My Review: A handcrafted Japanese folding knife constructed of titanium and carbon for under $100? It can’t be!
Oh, but it can, as long as you deal with Katsu! This knife is an incredible refreshment to the idea of an everyday pocket knife and really stands out with it’s Stonewashed 3.9” reverse Tanto blade consisting of VG-10 steel. These VG-10 constructed blades are really starting to perk my interest as they are among the best in corrosion resistance without sacrificing anything noticeable in the sharpness and durability departments.
That belt clip, by the way, is downright sexy and is probably my favorite belt clip in terms of appearance! The knife is also equipped with a slider bar locking mechanism which isn’t nearly as good as the Benchmade AXIS locks, but seems to be much better than other knives with the same locking mechanism in this price range.
The opening mechanism is a ball bearing thumb notch manual opener, providing for a quick flick opening action that is far smoother than what I’d expect to get for this price. This knife just screams value and long-lasting durability and that’s exactly what you’re getting!
- 3.9” Reverse Tanto blade consisting of the highly anti-corrosive VG-10 steel
- Japanese style thumb flick opening mechanism with ultra-smooth ballbearings
- Incredibly strong but also lightweight handle and belt-clip due to being crafted of titanium and carbon
13. Spyderco Manix 2
Estimated Price: $140
Blade Length: 3.37”
My Review: Spyderco is well known for its more affordable knives in most cases and I actually thought they only sold knives on the cheaper side for a very long time, and I was quite happy with those knives! Among stumbling over their Manix line, my mind was blown and I had to tell you guys about it!
The Manix 2 is a diamond-like coated (DLC) 3.37” spear point with a full flat grind consisting of CPM S30V steel, one of my favorite blade materials! This knife is quite similar to the tenacious, that I also reviewed in this guide, but simply put, it’s made out of much higher quality materials and is guaranteed to last significantly longer. If you can afford the Manix 2, I highly recommend opting for this instead, but if you can’t, the Tenacious is still a great knife as well.
Something you’ll notice immediately upon getting this knife in your hands is its exceptional smoothness. They achieve one of my favorite manual opening mechanisms by using a ball bearing system that rivals knives two to three times more expensive. These ball bearings are hiding in a super durable polymer encasement and allow the knife to lock and unlock with the push of its slide button.
The handle you’ll be getting is the popular and well-respected G10 with blacked-out hardware including the pocket clip and all the screws.
- 3.37” spear point blade constructed of CPM S30V steel
- Manual folding knife with the iconic Spyderco circle cut out
- Available in diamond-like coated black or with a polished finish with options for entirely plain edges or combination edges, adding serration to roughly half of the blade
14. Spyderco Delica 4 (Best Under $100)
Estimated Price: $80
Blade Length: 2.9”
My Review: These Spyderco knives are downright thievery when you buy them because they really do offer a ton of value in such a small and low-cost package. $80 for this knife is absolutely nothing at all considering the fact that you’re getting a 2.9” VG10 steel drop-point blade coupled with a high-quality fiberglass reinforced nylon handle.
If you’ve read the reviews on the other Spyderco knives that we like, such as the Tenacious, then you’ll be familiar with the form factor found here with the Delica 4. You get that familiar triangular drop point style blade with the oversized Spyderco hole punched.
So, what’s the difference between the Spyderco Tenacious, Spyderco Manix, and the Spyderco Delica? Well, they’re all pretty close in blade length with the Delica 4 being the shortest by a hair and they all come in a very similar form factor, however, the steel used for the blades are all different, making a significant difference in their performance and the jobs they handle well.
For the Delica 4, the VG10 steel is especially corrosion-resistant, making it the go-to if you plan on using the knife in a wet environment often. The S30V found in the Manix 2 is significantly stronger but doesn’t provide for as much corrosion resistance as the Delica 4 and the steel used in the Tenacious is just flat out cheaper, falling behind the other two, allowing people on a budget to still get there hands on this style of knife from Spyderco.
Aside from that, the handles also consist of different materials with the Delica 4 being my favorite, since it has the FRN handle which seems to be a bit stronger than the G10 handles found on the Tenacious and with a better texture in my opinion than the polymer handles on the Manix 2.
- 2.9” flat-ground plain edge drop-point style blade constructed of VG10 steel
- Rear frame lock mechanism
- FRN handle available in eight different color schemes, all with a polished steel blade
15. Cold Steel Recon 1 (Runner Up Under $100)
Estimated Price: $85
Blade Length: 4”
My Review: Cold Steel is always a solid brand to choose if the likes of Benchmade and Zero Tolerance are out of your price range. Cold Steel has been making solid pocket knives for as long as I can remember and I’ve never had one let me down!
First and foremost, an elephant in the room we need to address. The gentlemen at Cold Steel have designed a “proprietary” locking mechanism called the Tri-Ad meant to rival Benchmade’s AXIS lock and they claim it holds the same amount of pressure. I’m not so sure I’d put my money on this lock being even close to the AXIS lock, however, with this price tag in mind, I’d say this is the best locking mechanism on the market under ninety bucks and is certainly better than what most other knives offer in this price range.
With that aside, this stealthy looking pocket knife comes equipped with a “Spartan Super-Sharp” 4” drop-point style blade constructed of Japanese AUS10A steel. This knife closely resembles the utility and versatility of a standard drop-point with the added advantage of spearing if you happen to need that, making this an excellent choice for EDC self-defense.
The handle you get here is a Griv-Ex injection-molded ABS plastic handle with steel heat treated liners. I will say the handle is good, certainly a good value at this price point, but is not nearly as great as G10 or titanium handles. With this said, however, it does allow for carrying without imprinting on your pants, meaning the Recon stays true to its name in the idea that its a very stealthy EDC knife to carry. As a last tidbit here, the knife is openable with a one-handed flick of the wrist or, with the Demko plate, opens upon deployment by using friction from your pants.
If that 4” blade is just a bit too large for your liking, you can find the same characteristics in the Recon 1 Micro found here with a 2” blade instead.
- A 4” drop-point blade constructed of AUS10A steel
- The Cold Steel Tri-Ad locking mechanism meant to support up to 800lbs of pressure
- Kopis-inspired Griv-Ex Injection molded handle with steel liners
16. CRKT Seismic
Estimated Price: $130
Blade Length: 4”
My Review: Ever had a knife designed and manufactured by a Brazilian? They aren’t exactly known for superior knife quality and designs and if you’re like me, this may be your first impression of Brazilian knife craftsmanship. I must say, Mr. Flavio Ikoma, you’ve done a great job!
First off, this blade is very unique and adds a different flavor to the market than what I’ve previously been accustomed to. The blade is kind of an upward trailing spear point with a smooth curve in its spine giving it a very slender but ominous appearance. This blade is excellent for cutting and slicing but also gives major bonus points to spearing over a traditional drop point. It’s kind of the best of both worlds between a spear-point and drop-point blade and I really like it!
If the very appearance of the knife didn’t give it away, I’ll comment on the fact that this knife is probably more so built towards the idea of self-defense with utility on the back burners. That’s not to say it’s not a great knife with versatility, it’s just that I find this knife to be far deadlier than a versatile drop point would be. Couple that with a very premium feeling G10 knife and you’ve got yourself a very deadly but usable tool!
These long but slender 4” blades are constructed of 1.4116 steel which isn’t something you see in EDC knives very often. This steel is actually the same steel the Swiss Army knives are made out of and offers a lot of new knife owners friendliness. This material does not come close to other premium EDC knife steels in terms of holding a razor-sharp edge, but it does offer one of the best sharpening experiences for a newcomer to gain experience with and it offers great corrosion resistance!
- 4” spear-point blade constructed out of 1.4116 steel mended together with a G10 composite handle
- Flipper opening design with a hilt
- Utilizing a button action steel Deadbolt locking mechanism
17. Boker Plus Urban Trapper
Estimated Price: $105
Blade Length: 3.5”
My Review: This slim and slender pocket knives from Bok are just downright sexy and certainly serve a purpose just as good as they look! The Boker Urban Trapper is probably one of my top favorite slim knives and being constructed of Japanese cutlery VG-10 steel, they host incredible water resistance and anti-corrosive properties that make these knives especially useful for a quick and dirty fish cleaning if you forgot your fillet knife.
That’s not all they’re good for, though, as these were engineered with incredible strength and versatility in mind. Don’t let that slim blade fool you, these are tough as any other knife in this price range and certainly hold their own against some of the more well-known brands.
Speaking of well-known brands, these knives host a ton of the same features you’d expect to find across the board including a titanium frame locking liner, a brushed titanium handle, and an ultra-smooth well-refined flip style opening action. You get all of the same great features we rave about on heavier knives in a package that’s as lightweight as the blade is slim, coming in at only 1.7oz.
- 3.5” drop-point slim blade consisting of Japanese cutlery VG-10
- Flip-style opening action with titanium liner lock
- Titanium handle drilled in every possible way to create an insanely lightweight knife, being only 1.7oz, which is far lighter than most other knives with similar blade lengths
18. Off-Grid Knives Rapid Fire
Estimated Price: $85
Blade Length: 3.75”
My Review: Off-Grid has designed an EDC knife for exactly what their brand name suggests, being off the grid and finding yourself in situations where a high-quality EDC knife is of the paramount importance.
These knives are equipped with 3.75” cryogenically treated Japanese AUS8 steel blades that are in the shape of a traditional drop-point with some rather rugged black Titanium Nitride coating. AUS8 Steel is notoriously on the soft side, offering pretty good snap resistance but losing an edge rather quickly. With cryogenic treatment, however, the edges are hardened and thus allowing the blade to keep its sharp edges for much longer and with a significant improvement in corrosion resistance.
The blade is nice and of course, the handle is just as nice to match! What you get here is a tactical appearing textured grip consisting of fiberglass reinforced with nylon (FRN) scales. These knives contain a lot of attributes I wouldn’t expect to find under a hundred bucks, so, at this price point, these knives are an excellent value and extremely prepared for daily abuse!
- 3.75” drop-point blades constructed of cryogenically treated AUS8 steel with plasma deposition TiNi coating
- Textured FRN scales with a multi-directional pocket clip
- Flip-lever action with thumb stud and steel liner lock mechanism
19. CRKT M21-14SF
Estimated Price: $85
Blade Length: 4.38”
My Review: Another impressive entry to EDC knives from CRKT is the 14SF line up featuring one of my favorites, the M21. Similar to the Seismic, this blade offers a very elegant spear-point blade design but unlike the Seismic, this knife utilizes a quarter blade serration and dual hilt design. The dual hilt flipping mechanism has long been a favorite of mine ever since I was a child and I really like how they’ve integrated the hilts into this knife without them protruding too far and making EDC uncomfortable.
The locking mechanism here is a simple steel liner lock and the handle with its reversible belt clip is constructed from T6 machined aluminum, meaning it’s light and fairly durable with the option to get a G10 handle as well!
I know, the 4.38” blade length makes this a bit on the long side for an EDC knife and if that’s a deal-breaker for you, you can find the smaller 3” version on the CRKT M16 here. You can find variations of this knife with Tanto blades or varying configurations of serrated and/or fine edged blades too!
The original M16 version of this knife actually earned the designer, Kit Carson, a feature in the Blade Magazine Cutlery Hall of Fame. This knife design is very well known and well-liked among enthusiasts from all around the world and at under ninety bucks, this knife is certainly Marine Approved!
- Many configurations of this knife are available with options of black or desert tan with either spear-point or Tanto blade designs, all constructed from 8Cr14MoV steel
- Your choice of T6 aluminum or G10 handles
- A highly decorated designer became famous with the introduction of the small M16 version
20. Spyderco Dragonfly 2 Light
Estimated Price: $60
Blade Length: 2.28”
My Review: If you love getting awesome designs without paying astronomical prices, Spyderco is the brand for you! I love shopping around Spyderco’s store and I always look forward to their new products because they are always surprising in appearance but fully functional in design.
The Dragonfly 2 is a bit of a different flavor in terms of EDC knives and is really focused on being a bare-bones utility knife with a little addition of danger. These tiny teardrop-shaped fine edge spear-point blades are small, sure, but they do pack a lot of functionality that blows my mind!
The blades are constructed of VG-10, the steel we know and trust when it comes to anti-corrosion and durability without much maintenance and is held together with fiberglass nylon filling and polymer blended handle.
A quick note here: The knife I reviewed is the fine-edged version, however, Spyderco is well known for its SpyderEdge blades, which are essentially 100% harshly serrated edges. You can find this variant on the same page as the fine edge version and you get to choose between four different color schemes.
- Small but mighty 2.28” spear-point tear-drop flat ground blade constructed of anti-corrosive VG-10 steel
- Available in either full fine edge or SpyderEdge serrated blades
- FRN Fiberglass, nylon and polymer blended handles with bi-directional texturing available in four colors
21. Counter Strike 1 by 5.11
Estimated Price: $55
Blade Length: 3.75”
My Review: 5.11 has long been known for their premium tactical gear and backpacks and it’s about time they’ve jumped into the knife game! The Counter Strike (CS1) is a mid-grade mid-priced thumb stud ambidextrous manual folding knife sporting a 3.75” partially serrated Tanto blade.
Of course, that Tanto blade takes away a bit of its overall utility but there is no better middle ground between utility and self-defense than a good Tanto! These blades are manufactured from the fine AUS 8 steel offering a great middle-ground between durability and performance.
- 3.75” Tanto blade with roughly ¼ serration, all constructed from AUS 8 steel
- Ambidextrous opening mechanism using a manual thumb stud action
- FRN fiberglass and polymer blended handle with steel reversible belt clip
22. Buck Knives Ranger 112
Estimated Price: $55
Blade Length: 3”
My Review: Never hopped on the Tacticool bandwagon? Prefer the oldies but goodies? That’s perfectly fine because I have the EDC knife for you! The Buck Knives Ranger brings us back to those old school knife designs where things were simple, strong, and classic in nature.
These knives come with a 3” clip point blade constructed of 420HC steel utilizing the traditional nail slot opening action. These knives encompass everything that was good about those classic folding hunting knives and paired those attributes with the latest and greatest technology in blade forging. Of course, to top off the classic hunting knife look, you get a genuine leather sheath to carry it around in!
To bring it all together, you get a beautiful ebony handle with shiny brass hardware and a lock-back locking mechanism.
All Buck Knives are American made since 1902 and have the Buck Knife “Forever warranty”.
- 3” Clip-point blades crafted out of high-quality Buck Knives 420HC steel
- Traditional attributes including the nail slot opener and back end locking mechanism
- Included is a genuine leather sheath with real ebony handle
23. SOG Flash 2
Estimated Price: $50
Blade Length: 3.5”
My Review: SOG has long been making excellent EDC knives at affordable prices for any and everyone to gear up and have some protection. The flash II EDC knife is equipped with a very standard 3.5” drop point fine-edged blade that is constructed from AUS-8 steel.
Everything about this knife screams middle ground. It isn’t built for a single specific task but more so with the idea that it’ll be ready for the widest range of challenges possible. The quick-release locking mechanism is great, by far better than what you’d find on similar knives in this price range and the flip motion to deploy the knife is buttery smooth, just like I’d expect from a quality SOG product.
The handle you get here is a flashy Flash II glass-filled nylon handle with a nice steel belt clip. These knives are assisted opening knives that are great to deploy quickly and offer excellent value at this price point.
- 3.5” drop point blade constructed of AUS-8 steel
- Spring-loaded assisted opening action with a quick-release locking mechanism
- Reinforced Nylon filled handles
24. Spyderco Tenacious (Best Under $50)
Estimated Price: $50
Blade Length: 3.39”
My Review: You know we love Spyderco here at Marine Approved and it wouldn’t be an all-encompassing EDC knives review without the Tenacious! These knives are excellent bangs for the bucks! In my opinion, this is the best EDC knife under 50 dollars.
The blade here is a nice 3.39” drop-point that has some qualities of a drop point as well, constructed of the good old’ 8Cr13MoV steel that offers general usage performance and easy to maintain material composition. The blade is outfitted with a punched hole for deployment and it’s all held together with a very high-quality laminated G10 handle, which is woven epoxy filled with fiberglass.
These knives don’t do anything the best, but they do pretty much everything. The particular model I reviewed is a flat grind fine edge blade which is exactly what I like to carry on the daily and the knife overall is rather lightweight. The steel clip you get is a multi-directional adjustable clip. These use a traditional liner lock and have a nice little hole punched out at the end of the handle for a lanyard.
- 3.39” Drop-point blade constructed of 8Cr13MoV steel
- Deployable by pulling on the punched hole and locked with a liner lock
- Well crafted and laminated G10 handle with a slight weave texturing
25. KA-BAR Mule Field Folder
Estimated Price: $35
Blade Length: 3.5”
My Review: KA-BAR always makes great products and surprisingly enough, most of what they offer is actually really affordable and offers great value for the money. This field knife is a fantastic folding knife for those looking for something simple, tough, and low priced.
The blade we have here is a 3.5” half serrated AUS-8A steel blade in the form of a beveled clip-point. This blade is deployed with a manual thumb stud and locks with a lockback style lock located in the middle of the handle. Speaking of that handle, you’re getting nylon fiberglass filled two-piece handle with a lanyard hole cutout in the end.
A quick note here, I’d recommend putting some Loctite on the screws as some people have reported issues with the clip screws falling out! This isn’t a breaking issue, but something easily fixable when you get the knife.
- 3.5” half serrated clip-point blade constructed of AUS-8A steel and coated in black
- Manual thumb stud deployment action
- Lockback lock mechanism and nylon sheath included
26. ESEE Knives Avispa
Estimated Price: $35
Blade Length: 3.5”
My Review: ESEE is a brand I’ve only taken notice of in the last couple of years even despite the fact I’ve only reviewed a handful of their products, I’ve yet to be disappointed or to find a bad deal on one of their products. They don’t do well stacked up to premium brands but when you set them aside knives of similar quality and price, you’ll see why I recommend them as their value versus their direct competitors is always right on par or better.
I really like this knife. Yeah, I know that’s not very helpful or descriptive but this knife is just so simple and minimalist that it really speaks to how I use knives on a daily basis. The blade you get here is a flat ground 3.5” drop point constructed of AUS-8 steel and sometimes found in D2, which I have yet to review but has similar qualities. This steel rivals 440 and is a great place to start if you’re new to owning knives. It’s easy to sharpen, it holds an edge decently, and it provides resistance to most forms of abuse.
The handle this knife implements is a simple nylon fiberglass handle that has a great feeling textured effect. The knife is lightweight and utilizes a frame-lock, meaning there is a bar that extrudes up through the handle and blocks the blade from folding until you depress the lever located about midway on the underside of the handle.
- 3.5” flat ground drop point blade constructed of AUS 8 or D2 steel
- Fiberglass and nylon textured handles
- Frame lock mechanism with included belt clip
27. Kershaw Clash
Estimated Price: $32
Blade Length: 3.1”
My Review: Kershaw is probably one of the best budget knife manufacturers out there and dollar for dollar almost always outperforms similarly priced competitors. Kershaw has been in the game for a very long time and has quite the reputation so I’d say buying a knife from them is pretty low risk despite the lower price tags.
This knife is built around the 3.1” drop point that is half serrated and is deployable via SpeedSafe opening mechanism, which is a spring-loaded assist function that allows for an extremely fast opening of the blade. That blade is constructed of 8Cr13MoV so it’s pretty good for beginners and also hosts attributes that experts can appreciate as well.
- 3.1” Drop point half-serrated blade with black oxide coating constructed of 8Cr13MoV steel
- Tactically textured fiberglass filled nylon handles
- SpeedSafe assisted opening mechanism with a locking liner and reversible clip
28. Kershaw Cryo 2
Estimated Price: $32
Blade Length: 3.25”
My Review: They probably named this knife the Cryo because when its cold outside this handle will freeze your fingers off! Jokes aside, I actually enjoy the stainless steel handles and this knife overall is bountiful in terms of value.
That blade you get hidden inside those hefty steel handles is a 3.25” fine-edged drop point constructed of 8Cr12MoV steel and coated in black oxide. Attached to the stainless steel handle is a steel 4-position deep carry clip.
This knife utilizes the same SpeedSafe assisted opening mechanism that the Kershaw Clash has and both are great! The main difference between the two really is the serrated or fine edge blades and the handle composition.
- 3.25” fine edge drop point blade constructed of 8Cr13MoV steel and finished in black oxide
- Stainless steel handles
- SpeedSafe assisted opening mechanism with frame lock
29. Western Active Honey Badger
Estimated Price: $30
Blade Length: 3.19”
My Review: First things first, this knife comes in tons of variations that are not well labeled so it’s easy to get confused. I’m reviewing the standard drop-point version that is coded “Straight – Tan”. There are tons of other blade configurations and color schemes such as talon blades, claw blades, gut hooks, etc. They seem to like having all of their bases covered and I can’t blame them!
Alright, so, the knife I’m reviewing has a 3.19” drop point blade constructed of 8Cr13MoV steel with a nice polished look to it. These are deployed via ball-bearing equipped flipping mechanisms that are super easy to deploy and quite a bit smoother than what I’d expect at this price point.
These knives were designed in South Africa and you can tell there’s a lot of design flair and character in these despite them being in the budget range. The shell is a beautiful honeycomb texture that consists of FRN handles, which are those glass-filled nylon handles.
- 3.19” fine edge drop point blade constructed of 8Cr13MoV steel and available in other options such as claw, gut hook, etc
- Glass-filled honeycomb styled handles
- Super smooth flip open action riding on 20 ball bearings
30. Gerber Freeman Guide Folding
Estimated Price: $30
Blade Length: 3.6”
My Review: Just real quick before we get started if you search for just “Gerber Freeman Guide” you’ll find a fixed blade knife and that isn’t what we’re reviewing today so make sure when looking this knife up that you add the folding to the end of the name! Also, you can find these in Gut Hook variants, but the drop point model is the model I’m reviewing here.
Gerber is a great brand to buy when you don’t know much about knives and won’t be relying on them with your life. Of course, anything this cheap isn’t going to be of top-notch quality but I do think there’s a good reason to tell people about these knives because they’re great for beginners and those of you who might not be able to afford top brands.
The Freeman Guide Folding is a 3.6” drop point blade consisting of that tried and true 8Cr13MoV steel. It’s a great value at this price and even these lower-cost steels still manage to hold an edge quite well with today’s machining technology.
The handle you get on the Freeman Guide whether its the folder or fixed blade is the TacHide handles, meaning they’re hardened plastic scales coated in rubber.
- 3.6” drop point blade constructed of 8Cr13MoV steel
- Rubberized plastic handle with TacHide technology
- The opening mechanism is a thumb stud and is not flip capable
31. Ontario Knives Co. Rat (Best Budget EDC Knife)
Estimated Price: $25
Blade Length: 3.5”
My Review: My experience with Ontario Knife Co. has only been with their top tier premium knives and so you could imagine my excitement seeing a knife offered by them for roughly the cost of a case of brews. Calling this knife “cheap” by no means does it justice and I honestly believe this is the best knife you can get being on a low tier budget!
The Rat utilizes a 3.5” drop point blade consisting of the well known AUS-8 steel with a flat grind and no serration. The handles you get on this bad boy are of textured nylon construction and encompass the frame lock mechanism. That blade is deployed via a manual thumb stud and opens rather smooth, smoother than any other manually opening knife in this price range.
- 3.5” drop point flat ground and constructed of AUS-8 steel
- Nylon handles with frame lock mechanism
- These are manual one-handed opening knives with a thumb stud
32. CRKT Squid Compact
Estimated Price: $15
Blade Length: 2.15”
My Review: This knife is currently going for fifteen bucks which is an absolute steal considering they were first offered at $35 and even at that price, they were a good buy. These knives by no means offer incredible precision or fancy mechanisms but instead are built like tanks. These were designed to simply survive and keep on serving you no matter what you throw at it!
The blade you get here is a stonewashed compact drop point constructed of 8Cr13MoV steel. The blade holds it’s edge decently while enduring constant abuse and with stainless steel handles surrounding it, it’s certainly not light for its size but it definitely is durable and capable of surviving even the toughest usage, far more than what I’d expect a $15 knife to endure.
These come with a frame lock mechanism and a low profile steel clip. They call this the “pistol of knives” and I can see where they’re going with that! I wouldn’t trust this knife with my life but I would certainly buy one to keep in the truck or give to a younger person that hasn’t had much experience with knives yet.
- 2.15” drop point blade constructed of 8Cr13MoV steel
- Stainless steel handles with frame lock mechanism
- Includes steel pocket clip and manual opening thumb stud
Corporal Wabo is a former Infantry Squad Leader with 3rd Bn 4th Marines that specialized in Mortars. In his free time, he enjoys hunting, hiking, running, shooting guns, and reviewing gear. He started this website while transitioning out of the Marines, and since has recruited several other Marines to help him work on the Marine Approved website. We are currently looking for former Marines to join the team who are interested in writing about tactical gear, survival gear, hiking supplies, etc. For more information about us or joining the team, check out the “About Us” tab.