When going on overnight vacations, it’s simple to bring a pocket knife in your pocket or backpack. They can also be used in the garden, during work, and while hiking. Some of the best pocket knives have extra features like serrations around the blade to further protect it from cuts, while others are made of premium steel that can tolerate constant use.
When shopping for a new pocket knife, there are several factors to consider before making a final purchase. The most important of these is whether the handle is comfortable to hold. You should also consider how sharp the blade is, how durable the knife is, and whether it has a proper tip (the more acute the better).
What To Consider When Choosing The Best Pocket Knife
Pocket knives aren’t as simple as they used to be. Today, manufacturers have added features to make their products more attractive and easier to use.
Like many tools, pocket knife blades come in a variety of materials. The main types of blade material include steel, plastic, and glass.
- Steel blades are tough but can easily become rusty if they’re not properly cared for. They also require regular sharpening with an appropriate tool like a high-quality knife grinder or a dedicated manual pencil sharpener. Keep them stored separately from other kitchen knives so that bacteria cannot grow on them.
- Plastic blades tend to be less durable than metal blades, though they’re generally maintenance free. Plastic is cheaper than metal, too, making it a popular option for disposable cutting boards and other small cutting needs.
- Glass blades are typically made of BK7 glass (a type of silica) and feature a layer of titanium dioxide coating. These blades are sharper than those of any other material and stay sharp longer without having to be sharpened. However, they don’t last forever; eventually, they will need to be replaced.
The handles of today’s pocket knives are designed to facilitate comfortable gripping while reducing hand fatigue. Many pocket knife handles incorporate ergonomic shapes and textures that conform to the contours of the human hand. Others utilize soft rubber or foam grips that absorb excess moisture and reduce slippage during operation. Some pocket knife handles even have textured grips that help maintain control regardless of whether the knife is wet or dry. Still others feature hollows that allow the user’s fingers to breathe, preventing cramping.
A locking mechanism allows the user to keep the knife open or closed at his/her discretion. Common mechanisms include button, switch, slider, knob, and dial designs.
- Buttons and switches often lock the knife via a push-button action. This design works well when the knife has only one or two settings, but multiple options require additional buttons or switches.
- Sliders and knobs usually provide continuous adjustment, which is great for fine tuning the balance or angle of the cut. Knobs and sliders work particularly well on pocket knives with barrel or cylindrical handles, such as chef’s knives, since twisting the handle changes the angle of the blade.
- Dials are commonly found on automotive ignition systems; this particular style locks the knife via a rotating ring rather than a push-button system.
Weight and Balance
Weight and balance should both be important considerations when selecting a pocket knife. Consider something greater in terms of total size and bulk if, for example, you want a larger knife that feels heavier. On the other hand, pick a product with a smaller diameter and thickness if you want a lighter knife. With only a grip and a blade, you are however limited in what you can accomplish. Therefore, consider purchasing a pocket knife with additional bells and whistles if you want it to work at its peak.
Pocket knives are available in different sizes depending on how much storage space you have for them and how large a knife you want to own. Smaller models measure between 8 and 10 inches long, whereas full-size versions can reach 14 inches. Small pocket knives are perfect for everyday carry, leaving the house, or quick jobs that don’t take very long. Larger models are better suited for professional kitchens, camping, survival situations, and big game hunting.
Materials used for knife construction fall under two categories: stainless steel and carbon steel.
- Stainless steel pocket knives are made using 18/8 stainless steel, which resists rust and corrosion. Most quality stainless steel pocket knives will display a forged finish, which gives them a smooth appearance and slightly rough texture. A brushed finish is also acceptable, but it makes the knife feel less sturdy.
- Carbon steel pocket knives are often called Japanese sushi knives because of their traditional use in restaurants for preparing fish. Though these knives are harder than stainless steel, they’re prone to damage. If a carbon steel knife gets too damaged, it can actually turn black. Because of this risk, avoid buying a secondhand carbon steel knife unless you plan to thoroughly clean and care for it.
Many folks are satisfied with a pocket knife that costs $30. They simply purchase a new one when it breaks. On the other side, some people would support spending more money on a knife that is of a far higher caliber. If you want anything that feels better or looks finer, you’ll need to spend more than $60. Spend more money if you enjoy the feel of high-quality tools and are passionate about their smooth pivots, exotic materials, and extreme exclusivity.
Types Of Pocket Knives
There are four main types of pocket knives. Each type has its own unique features and advantages, so it’s important to know which one you need before you start shopping.
The clip point blade is the quintessential EDC knife. It can be used for a variety of purposes, but its primary function is as a utility blade. This makes it very handy in combat scenarios or emergency situations because it can serve as an extremely useful tool. The clip point blade design is also quite versatile, making it a great choice for someone looking for their first pocket knife. However, this style does require some maintenance to stay sharp, which most beginners have trouble keeping up with. This is by far the easiest style to maintain. Simply wipe down your blade frequently to keep it running smoothly.
A drop point blade functions similarly to a clip point blade, with the exception that it has two cutting edges as opposed to one. One is longer than the other, and when closed, they form a drop point. For greater overall performance, these blades frequently have a modest size advantage over clip points. Due to their ability to cut through heavy clothes and skinning kits, these blades are more frequently found on hunting knives. They make excellent camping companions because there are no protruding sharp edges that could cut you as you sleep. However, campers don’t always get along, so it’s advisable to store these blades out of sight until needed.
The sheepsfoot blade was originally developed for use in sheep herding. Since then, it’s become a common sight at rural festivals and fairs where people come together to celebrate traditional farming methods. Today, this blade is treasured for its simplistic yet effective design. It’s made from steel that stands up well against heavy use without becoming too dull to handle. It’s available in both full-sized and miniature varieties. Miniature sheepsfoot blades are easier to carry around due to their smaller size. However, they’re not legal to carry in public places such as airports and schools. If you do decide to purchase a mini version, store it somewhere safe and secure.
How We Chose Our Top Picks
We began by looking for knives that met the standards of being a decent everyday carry or survival knife with excellent features. We then focused on price range and availability to further reduce our search. Being available is crucial in this situation because, if you’re reading this, odds are good that you don’t have any gardening tasks keeping your hands busy right now.
Frequently Asked Questions About Pocket Knives
What is the best type of knife for self-defense?
The one you train with.
How sharp should a pocket knife be?
Sharp depends on how you utilize it. Choose the most cutting-edge option that is yet affordable if you’re a casual user searching for a tool that can serve as both an EDC and a workman’s tool. On the other hand, keep it as sharp as you can if you intend to work on important projects like whittling or making exact cuts.
Are pocket knives legal?
In general, no. However, there are so many different state and city laws out there that it’s impossible for us to cover them all in the scope of this article. It’s always best to check your local laws and restrictions.
Can I carry a pocket knife concealed?
That depends entirely upon your locality. Certain states prohibit the concealed carry of fixed blade knives, while others only ban open carry. As always, it’s best to be informed before packing up to head out.