If you’re in the market for a folding knife, more colloquially known as a pocket knife, then you might be overwhelmed by just how many options there are out there. Honestly, finding the best folding knife for you can take years of trying different models to see not only which one works well but also lasts. That’s what we’ve done. We’ve narrowed down the folding knives we’ve tested to the ones we consider best so that we can help people like you feel less overwhelmed when making this investment.
Ultimately, choosing a tool like this is up to personal preference because you’re the only one who knows what will work for you. So, even though we are recommending the pocket knives we think are best, our main hope is that our advice and reviews can help you make the absolute best decision for you.
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What to Look For in a Folding Knife
There are some main characteristics we look for in a good folding knife; but there are numerous features that can make a great tool. We’ll cover a few good characteristics to pay attention to before reviewing our picks for the best folding knives.
The action refers to how the folding knife opens. Actions can be either manual or automatic; we prefer an automatic action that will allow the safety and control of a manual action. To elaborate: some folding knives have automatic spring actions that cause the blade to snap open in an almost dangerous way. While quick draw is ideal, especially since this tool can serve you well in self-defense or survival situations, having an action that is too fast and aggressive can injure the knife-holder or cause them to lose control of it. We look for a smooth automatic action that is also safe.
When purchasing any tool, especially a bladed one, the ergonomics of the handle should be of high importance. This is how you grip the tool, it dictates how efficiently you can use it, whether you can use it comfortably and also how long you can use it comfortably for. A knife can have the best blade in the world but if it’s impossible to hold there’s no point. We consider size and shape of the handle as well as overall design to make sure it does provide the optimal ergonomic experience.
As with any knife, the blade is the most important feature. You need something sturdy and sharp that will retain sharpness, last well and serve the purposes you need it to. We generally look for a blade size between 2 and 4 inches, but size is more up to your personal needs and preferences. What is important is that the metal is good quality and won’t be easily degraded by repeated opening and closing and use.
Folding Knife Reviews
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This is a great feature, though it can hinder quickdraw capabilities; we found that the locking mechanism for the blade worked reliably without this added security feature, but it is always good to have as much safety as possible.
It’s a little on the small size, but we still found it a sturdy tool with a fairly ergonomic grip. This knife does not have an automatic action, but it is still easy and safe to deploy; it merely takes a flick of the thumb. This still allows a fairly quick draw function for self-defense situations, for example. Even though it isn’t automatic it is smooth and quick.
The only real downside to this product is the single-side, non-reversible pocket clip. This means you can only carry it in one position unless you carry it loosely inside your pocket. That fact aside, this is an excellent tool for the affordable price it’s listed at!
The handle isn’t as ergonomic as other models but still offers a fairly secure grip. Because the blade is designed like a cleaver, you can’t do all the typical tasks you can do with a more traditional design; but, this blade is strong, sturdy and sharp and stood up to some intense wear and tear.
The pocket clip arrived quite tight, but can be worn in or loosened. Overall, this isn’t the best pocket knife, but its unique and ultimately sturdy design mean it would make an excellent investment!
The Kizer handle is quite ergonomic, with the dip just before the blade offering reinforcement on certain grips. The mechanism to unlock and release the action is slightly awkward one-handed, especially for a left-handed user; but the action is quite smooth when deployed.
It’s slightly smaller than expected but the power and quality in the blade make up for that. The blade is strong and long-lasting with a good edge and besides being slightly small for some larger-hand users, this is a great pocket knife option.
This product wins bonus point for incorporating multi-tool function without exaggerating the price. The pocket knife includes a bottle-opener that doubles as a carabiner. The grip on this handle is solid and it is fairly ergonomic. The blade is slightly smaller than we like to see in this size pocket knife.
The action on this product is smooth and fairly easy to open for both right and left-handed people. It locks well when closed. The clip is also reversible or removable if you have a basic screwdriver. Overall, this isn’t our favorite for an everyday carry folding knife, but it is a solid product that won’t disappoint.
There are innumerable reasons why people carry pocket knives. Whatever your reason or reasons are only matter so far as they dictate what kind of knife you should ultimately invest in. For a folding knife, you want a good blade, smooth action, and comfortable grip. We’ve spent years carrying and working with different folding knives and narrowed down the ones that we think are the absolute best. Ultimately, many of our reasons are subjective and your choice is your choice at the end of the day. We just hope we’ve been able to offer sage advice that will help you feel less overwhelmed by the decision-making process and fully satisfied with the decision you make.
Our favorite folding knife is the Kershaw Everyday Carry Pocket Knife. It is an excellent folding knife with ergonomic handle and sturdy, long-lasting blade. We love its aesthetics as much as the way that it functions. This particular product comes in a low-visibility black which is optimal for self-defense situations. The black also gives it a cool, modern appearance. The action is smooth and easy to deploy. Overall, this is the best pocket knife we’ve found and we highly recommend it for your folding knife investment.
Our second pick was the SOG Santo Everyday Carry Knife. This was also an excellent tool, with a sturdy, sharp blade. The handle was slightly less comfortable to grip than the Kershaw, but overall the design was ergonomic. We appreciate that this product comes with a safety lock for added security even though the blade locking mechanism seems designed well-enough to keep it closed when closed. While this wasn’t our top pick, it would make a great pocket knife for everyday use and if it is the one that appeals to you most you should not hesitate to buy it!
The CRKT Drifter Folding Knife is our budget pick. This is the best knife we could find at such an affordable price. This would make a great everyday carry tool, it is sturdy and ergonomic with a decent action, though the deployment on this product is manual rather than automatic. The clip placement and design limits the way you can carry this knife, but despite that it is the best knife you can find if you’re under a tight budget.
Buying a pocket knife is an investment that you should put consideration into. At the end of the day, however, no amount of expert opinion can tell you what knife is right for you. We hope our advice has helped you narrow your search and made the decision-making process less overwhelming. Any knife on this list would make an excellent folding knife purchase!