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Best Pocket Knives

Having a good pocket knife is essential for anybody who works with their hands. Whether it’s your everyday carry (EDC), for hunting, or some other use, we broke down our recommendations into several categories to help you make the best decision possible on a pocket knife made in the USA. We also included some notes on all of the factors we considered in our research.

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 Knives Best for:
Buck Knives 112BRS Ranger Lockback Folding Knife Everyday
Bear & Son 751 Stag Delrin Bird & Trout Knife Hunting
Buck CSAR-T Tactical Folding Knife Heavy Duty
Hogue Extreme Series Knife Easy Open
Benchmade Griptilian 551 Grip
Spartan Blades Damysus Fixed Blade Knife Fixed Blade
Case Amber Bone Stockman Knife Multi-Blade
Emerson Combat Karambit Karambit
Medford Knife Praetorian G High-End

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 Everyday Carry 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 at their factory in Post Falls, Idaho. 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

Bear & Son 751 Stag Delrin Bird & Trout Knife


The Bear & Son 751 knife is the best basic hunting knife we found on the market, made in Alabama. It comes with a sheath, has a nice contouring handle to give you a good grip, and has a very simple design. No fluff, just performance. This specific 751 knife is great for lots of hunters, campers, and fishermen. It’s intended for smaller spaces to help you dress smaller game, fish, and birds. We found it to cut really smooth and neat. For bigger game, Bear & Son has several Bowie knives and other varieties that are made in the USA and can help you get the job done. Just make sure to check the steel they use in the model you’re looking at – most of their steel is sourced here, but they do have a few knives using a Swedish steel that you need to look out for. Their about page details which steel types are sourced here.

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Things we like:

  • Contouring design for a good grip
  • Very sharp
  • Great for small game and fish

Things we don’t like:

Honorable mention: Gerber Gator Premium Folding Knife

 

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

Hogue Extreme Series Knife

Hogue Knives are absolutely top notch and are actually issued to all branches of the U.S. military. They were founded by Guy Hogue in 1968 and are based in Nevada. They are mostly known in the firearms industry – they didn’t get started in knifemaking until 2010. Their Extreme series is a tough tactical knife that is easy to open, a great cut, and has a reliable grip. Hogue Knives are designed with law enforcement in mind and have a lot of really good options.

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Things we like:

  • Easy open
  • Reliable grip
  • Sharp drop point blade

Things we don’t like:

  • Light weight can feel cheap, but it is well made

Honorable mention: Spyderco ParaMilitary 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. The blade is made of 154CM stainless steel, which helps in not only strength, but rust prevention as well. We found that this knife also holds it edge very well after several uses. 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 Fixed Blade Pocket Knife

Spartan Blades Damysus Fixed Blade Knife

Spartan Blades was started by a couple of retired Green Berets and is headquartered just outside of Fort Bragg, North Carolina. They make some great fixed blade and folding knives and have won a bunch of awards over the years for their performance and innovative designs. Made with a carbon steel drop point blade, their Damysus fixed blade knife is one of my favorites and a great overall tactical knife.

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Things we like:

  • Carbon steel blade is very sharp
  • Full tang
  • Lanyard hole
  • Flat grind blade

Things we don’t like:

  • Locking mechanism on the sheath can be tricky for some

 

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 EDC 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. Check out our full review of the Case Amber Bone Stockman Knife.

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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

 

Best Karambit Knife

Emerson Combat Karambit

This company was founded in 1996 by Earnest Emerson, who is a custom knifemaker and actually a great martial artist, he has been inducted into the Martial Arts Hall of Fame. I really like their Karambit knives which is a special type of blade resembling a claw that is popular with fighters and the military. If you like this style of knife, Emerson is a great option.

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Things we like:

  • Very sharp blade
  • Ergonomic design
  • Lightweight
  • Great personal defense weapon

Things we don’t like:

  • None

 

Best High-End Pocket Knife

Medford Knife Praetorian G

Medford is a relatively small-scale operation but is handcrafting all their knives and is even doing all of the heat treatment for their steel in-house, which is pretty rare. They source all their steel from American Metal Xchange based in California and have a lot of great options for folding, fixed blade, and automatic knives. They are a bit pricey, but if you want a top notch pocket knife, definitely give them a look. I especially like their Praetorian G, which you can build to your own specifications.

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Things we like:

  • Huge blade
  • Handcrafted
  • Pelican case
  • Easy locking mechanism

Things we don’t like:

  • Too pricey for some

Recap: Best Pocket Knives Made in the USA


YouTube Video: How to Find American Made Pocket Knives


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, ability to sharpen the blade, and the size. Each of these characteristics are vital to the success of a good pocket knife. Check out our YouTube video above for a bunch of detail on steel and blade quality, and why American steel is better than Chinese steel and other imports.

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. Here are some of the most common handle materials we looked at:

  • Stainless steel
  • Aluminum
  • Titanium
  • Carbon fiber
  • FRN (Fiberglass Reinforced Nylon)
  • G-10
  • Bone
  • Wood
  • Mother of Pearl
  • Leather

Opening Ability

A good pocket knife needs to be relatively easy to open, especially with one hand if you only have one available. However, there are some knives that were easy to open and did not pass our test, primarily because their sturdiness was questionable. 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.

Value

We eliminated several pocket knives from contention where we felt like the quality did not live up to the cost. After all, we want to make sure you’re getting the best pocket knife for your money! Common issues we saw with some brands were: lack of significant product warranty, unnecessary features that don’t add valuable functionality, and general lack of durability.

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