Best Pocket Knife

Having a good pocket knife is essential for anybody who works with their hands. Whether it’s your everyday carry, for hunting, or some other use, we break down our recommendations in several categories to help you make the best decision possible.

Our Findings

Overall, we found that there are several great knife manufacturers who make their products right here in the USA. Buck, Gerber, and Case are some of your most popular ones (and with good reason), but we also found some lesser known American made manufacturers who are making some of the best pocket knives in certain categories and somewhat flying under the radar. Check out our top recommendations in the chart below, along with more detail about each one below that.

Top Recommendations

Best Pocket KnivesBest for:
Buck Knives 112BRS Ranger Lockback Folding KnifeEveryday
Gerber Gator Premium Folding KnifeHunting
Buck CSAR-T Tactical Folding KnifeHeavy Duty
Kershaw Ken Onion Blur Folding KnifeEasy Open
Benchmade Griptilian 551Grip
Spyderco ParaMilitary 2 G-10 KnifeCompact
Case Amber Bone Stockman KnifeMulti-Blade

Recommendations: Going Deeper

Take a look at our in-depth analysis below for each of our top picks. We outline additional details for each product, what we like, what we don’t like, and any additional products that deserved a shout out.

Best Basic, Everyday Pocket Knife

Buck Knives 112BRS Ranger Lockback Folding Knife


Buck Knives is one of the most reliable knife manufacturers in the USA, making several great product lines. The 112BRS Ranger Lockback Folding Knife is a 3-inch steel knife with a clip blade shape. A reliable tool for everyday use, and the smaller version of the 110 Hunter made by Buck Knives. It has a good weight to it, 8.5 ounces – not super heavy, put feels solid in your hand. This knife has a nice woodgrain handle, made of dymondwood.

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Things we like:

  • Sturdy in all directions, zero lateral movement
  • Smooth opening
  • Keeps a sharp edge for a long time
  • Sleek look
  • Comes with the Buck Forever Warranty (will repair or replace any defective knife at any time for it’s entire life)

Things we don’t like:

  • Don’t store the knife in the black leather sheath for long periods of time. Chemicals used to treat the leather can cause discoloration on the knife.

Honorable mention: Bear & Son Damascus Steel Lockbacks

 

Best Hunting Pocket Knife

Gerber Gator Premium Folding Knife


The Gerber Gator is the best basic hunting knife we found on the market, made in in Portland, Oregon, USA. It locks up well, can easily be opened one-handed while your other hand is occupied, and has a very simple design. No fluff, just performance. It has a reliable rubberized grip and comes in a clip point (pictured) or gut hook blade version. The blade is roughly 4-inches long, plenty big for most use cases.

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Things we like:

  • No-slip rubberized Gator Grip® – tested in several conditions (wet grip, humid weather, etc.)
  • Amazingly sharp right out of the box
  • Easy to open with one hand
  • Fits snug in sheath, no worries of it popping out
  • Heavy, stands up well for virtually all uses

Things we don’t like:

  • None

 

Best Heavy Duty Pocket Knife

Buck CSAR-T Tactical Folding Knife


The Buck CSAR-T Tactical Folding Knife is great for any heavy duty work, inspired by the needs of our US military operators in the field – reliable, heavy duty, and easy to carry. It has a 3.5-inch steel blade (5-inches in total closed length) and a grooved handle, which we found resulted in a surprisingly secure grip.

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Things we like:

  • Secure blade, easy to open
  • MOLLE (Modular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment) compatible carrying sheath
  • Reversible, stainless steel carrying clip
  • Grooved handle design made for a solid grip that fits the hand well
  • Easy to sharpen

Things we don’t like:

  • Initially not as sharp as we expected (easily sharpened)

 

Best Easy Open Pocket Knife

Kershaw Ken Onion Blur Folding Knife


The Kershaw Ken Onion Blur Folding Knife is a great option if you really value ease of opening and carrying a knife that is lightweight. This knife comes in at 3.9 ounces in weight and a SpeedSafe assisted opening – an easy push on the thumb stud at the base of the blade opens the knife quickly. The steel blade is 3.4-inches with a DLC coating, a fancy name that really just means it’s hard to scratch and has additional corrosion resistance. Great multitasking knife.

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Things we like:

  • SpeedSafe easy open
  • Trac-Tec grip tape for a reliable grip
  • Lightweight, but durable
  • Reversible pocket clip for easy carry
  • Sharp blade out of the box

Things we don’t like:

  • Some consumers have experienced early wear and tear of the DLC coating
  • Liner lock is sensitive. Easy to open, easy to close with a light tap on the back of the knife.

 

Pocket Knife with the Best Grip

Benchmade Griptilian 551


Just like the name implies, the Benchmade Griptilian is a tough knife to let go of. It has a GFN (Glass Filled Nylon) handle that, for its weight, has great strength. 4.8 ounces in weight with a 3.45-inch drop-point style blade. Made in Oregon, USA.

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Things we like:

  • Comes sharp, easy to put a clean edge on it when resharpening
  • Amazingly solid grip
  • Secure, virtually no wiggle
  • Lightweight, good for light everyday use

Things we don’t like:

  • Not the easiest to open, liner lock occasionally gets stuck as well

 

Best Compact Pocket Knife

Spyderco ParaMilitary 2 G-10 Knife


The Spyderco ParaMilitary knife is two-thirds the size of its big brother (the original Military) with a thin profile, and still boasts good strength and durability. The blade length is 3.4 inches, it weighs in at just 3.9 ounces, and has a blade thickness of merely 3.5 millimeters. Good for most everyday use if you’re looking for a sleek lightweight knife. It has a nice textured handle for a good solid grip. Made in Golden, Colorado, USA.

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Things we like:

  • Compression lock for extreme safety and strength
  • Easy to operate with one hand
  • Extremely sharp, cuts well
  • Well balanced
  • Round hole at the base of the blade makes for easy operation for people with large hands or gloves on

Things we don’t like:

  • Diamond Like Coating on blade has a tendency to wear down after extensive use (doesn’t affect blade effectiveness)

 

Best Multi-Blade Pocket Knife

Case Amber Bone Stockman Knife


Case is a classic American made knife manufacturer, known for their handcrafted, smaller multi-blade pocket knifes. The Amber Bone Stockman Knife comes in 43 different colors and variations. The small size makes it good for a lightweight everyday carry or as someone’s first starter knife. Comes with 3 blades: Clip, Sheepfoot, and spey blades. Blades on this knife are made with Case Tru-Sharp Stainless Steel, which offers good long-term durability and corrosion resistance.

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Things we like:

  • Beautiful amber bone finish
  • Easy to sharpen
  • Lightweight
  • Easy to open

Things we don’t like:

  • Tiny bit of blade rub
  • Not the sharpest cut out of the box

Factors We Considered

Blade Quality

After all, what’s a good knife without a quality blade? We looked for a few different things related to quality: the type of steel used, durability/longevity, coating used (if any), the type of blade cut, and the size. Each of these characteristics are vital to the success of a good pocket knife.

Safety

Our pocket knife recommendations passed all of our safety quality standards. We want to make sure we’ve giving recommendations that are safe for you and your family. We eliminated several knifes from our consideration that have had a history of being unreliable, opening unexpectedly, or having a variety of other issues.

Grip

You can’t do much with your pocket knife without a solid grip (which also has safety implications). We looked for knives that fit well in our hands under several conditions: humid weather, wet grip, and more. We found that not one style of grip led the field for most secure – there were a variety of materials that worked well in our research.

Opening Ability

A good pocket knife needs to be relatively easy to open, especially with one hand if you only have one available. We looked at several knives that were just too stiff, and thus didn’t make our cut. All of our recommendations passed our opening tests.

 

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