If you’re looking for a pocket knife to carry every day, here are our recommendations for the best pocket knives.
The Best Pocket Knife: Kershaw Leek
Kershaw is one of the most trusted pocket knife brands, and for a good reason. The Kershaw Leek has an assisted opening, making it easier for you to get a decent blade open with a single hand. This model from Kershaw comes outfitted with SpeedSafe technology that lets you deploy the sword at your own pace. It also happens to be slim enough that it makes a great choice as an everyday pocket knife—not too bulky, but not so slim as to make you think twice about carrying it. This is probably the best pocket knife you can get, period.
Kershaw Leek pocket knife with SpeedSafe technology.
The Kershaw Leek pocket knife is the model I carry everyday pocket knife. It’s an assisted opening pocket knife, meaning it can be opened one-handedly, but you have to apply some pressure to the thumb stud or flipper tab first. For me, this pocket knife has just enough heft that I feel secure using it as my pocket knife without being too heavy for long periods of carrying around town. It’s not a tactical pocketknife, so you’re not going to hurt anyone if you use it on accident or without intending to, and its construction makes sure your fingers are safe from injury.
Choosing a Knife
Look for a folder that will fit readily on your belt or in your pocket when it’s closed when choosing knives for everyday carry (EDC). It should be light enough to carry cozily but with a blade and handle size to your preference. The majority of knives in this category are 2 to 3.5 inches long and have a drop-point shape. Handles are generally 3.5 to 5 inches long.
Its handle is made of textured plastic with a grip that makes it easy to use. The blade is 3.9 inches long and features a thumb ramp for controlled cuts without slipping out of your hand while you’re working, as well as finger grooves that keep everything in place while you’re carving wood or opening stubborn packaging. It also won’t close on your fingers when you use it, making it safer. The stiffness of a locking blade lets you control the knife at various angles, such as when whittling wood or opening complicated packages. Plus, because the back of the blade can be used for fire sparking rods without closing or bending on you, the knife also makes a good pocket backpacking camping knife.
The Kershaw Leek pocket knife is the model I carry everyday pocket knife. The Kershaw Leek pocket knife is the model I carry simple pocket knife. The assisted opening mechanism makes it easy to get the blade open with one hand, but you have to apply some pressure to get it started before moving on its own. Once the edge starts opening, there’s no chance of injury to your fingers or palm while you’re using it because its SpeedSafe technology lets you close it again without having to worry about injuring yourself in the process.
The steel of the blade is also an important aspect to consider. The most popular types are carbon, stainless, and tool steel. Carbon steel is easy to sharpen, keeps a sharp edge for a long time, and is durable, but it requires more care because the metal corrodes quickly. 420HC, XC90, and 1095 are examples of carbon steels. Stainless steel isn’t as hard as carbon steel, but chromium makes it less prone to corrosion.
Stainless steel blades are frequently less expensive than carbon ones. Choose stainless steel, such as AUS-8, VG-10, or 8Cr13MoV, and its relatives in the 9Cr and 7Cr series if you will primarily use your knife for water activities like processing games or cooking while camping. Tool steel is another option that may include titanium, molybdenum, vanadium, or other elements. The result is generally a sturdy blade with excellent edge retention and corrosion resistance (though not as good as stainless). D2, CPM S30V, and CPM S35VN are popular tool steels.
Types of Locking Mechanisms
Don’t be scared by the many types of locks. They all accomplish the same goal, but they do it in diverse ways.
Liner: The handle’s inner liner is bent, making it resemble a spring. When you open the blade, that springing liner glides over behind the blade’s tang to keep it from closing. Pro: Simple and inexpensive to make. Con: Fingers are in the way when closing.
Frame: This mechanism slides the other side of the knife’s edge behind the blade when you open it. Pro: Dependable. Con: It does not function with both hands.
Lockback: The blade’s handle is encircled by a locking bar that rises into a slot in the tang. To close, push on the bar near the butt of the handle to pivot it out of the tang. Pro: Ambidextrous. Con: Can wear down and cause the blade to wiggle when deployed.
Crossbar: The knife’s handle is encased in a steel bar that fits into a notched tang. It’s far more durable than a liner lock, and it doesn’t require you to change your grip to work. Benchmade’s Axis mechanism was the first to market, but SOG’s XR mechanism and others have since arrived. Pro: Ambidextrous Con: More small components that could break.
Collar: A circular collar around the base of the blade twists to secure or release it. For easy deployment, align the gap in the collar with the sword. Pro: Ease of use. Con: The collar’s metal may deteriorate over time and not work as well.
Automatic: A switch kicks in the spring-loaded blade. For pocket knives, the most common type is called a “switchblade” because it can be opened with one hand by pushing against the handle’s spine—the blade moves forward on its own when you open it up.
Blades are forged from different types of steel
All of which have slight variations when it comes to edge retention. If you want your pocket knife to stay sharp the longest, look for blades made of high-carbon stainless steel such as VG-10 or AUS-8, which will not rust and can hold an edge well.
You’ll also see some pocket knives that use more exotic materials like titanium and ceramic, but these metal. They are more fragile than pocket knives made of steel.
A pocket knife is not an accessory, so go for something sturdy rather than flashy. G10 is one of the most popular handle materials because it’s durable, lightweight, and nonporous, meaning it won’t harbor smells or attract dirt. It also has a sure grip even when wet. If you prefer metal handles without too many embellishments, look for aluminum or titanium ones. Both are lightweight and incredibly tough—perfect pocketknife material if you want to avoid weighing down your jeans’ pocket with extra ounces.
Comfortable Handles Make All the Difference A pocket knife will be in constant use throughout its life, so pick a model that fits well in your pocket and your hand. While pocket knives are made for right-handed people, knife makers have been updating their designs to accommodate southpaws too.
The benefits of titanium pocket knives include being strong yet light, corrosion-resistant, and highly durable. Titanium pocket knives can be polished from time to time by rubbing them down with a soft cloth and some wax (beeswax or carnauba). This coating will prevent the natural material from becoming dull like steel would over time. Finally, it would help clean your pocket knife regularly using dish soap and warm water to remove the dirt accumulated on the handle, then dry it thoroughly before storing it away.
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