If you enjoy camping, outdoor pursuits, or are planning a survival weekend, or you just need a a robust, sharp and compact knife for work, then you’ll find a well-made pocket knife one of the most useful gadgets you can carry with you.
On this site, I’ve written a whole bunch of guides that give you the low-down on the dozens of established manufacturers producing great knives … and help you work our which is the best pocket knife for you.
You’ll find brands such as Smith & Wesson, Buck, Kershaw, Benchmade, and Boker. These companies produce a wide product selection ranging from $10 to $500 but with so many features and prices, it can be confusing – so I’ve written dozens of guides and reviews to help you choose the right knife for you.
To help you with your research, I’ve put together my best folding knife comparison chart below, that lists the top ten pocket knives on the market and helps you compare the shape of a blade, types of steel and other features to find the best knife for you! Or take a look at my ultimate comparison guide, with full details comparing over 60 of the best pocket knife models
Best Folding Pocket Knife Comparison Guide
In this site, I take a look at pocket knives: one of the most popular accessories and gadgets for any outdoor enthusiast! Carrying a pocket knife always proves a handy and versatile tool wherever you go outdoors, at work, camping, gardening or even out on a survival weekend.
However, knowing you’d like to find the best new pocket knife is the easy part: with hundreds of models available, from the best folding knife to a survival knife, trying to narrow your search can be more difficult. This is where I can help!
Top Features of a Folding Knife
Pocket knives, including a folding knife or any of the survival knives reviewed, have just two main components – the blade and the grip – and it’s really important to choose these carefully. Look for a blade made from the best quality steel you can afford (see my guides on the differences between stainless steel, 154CM, ATS34, and 440C steel).
On the grip, look for either a decorative material or a shaped grip made of a practical material (such as G-10, Noryl GTX, Zytel, Micarta, canvas Rucarta, Grivory, and Hypalon).
Check out the comparison guide below and read my guides and reviews for more details on the advantages of each type of steel, blade and grip construction.
My Top Five Pocket Knives and Folding Knives
Any of the knives above are great options and you can’t go wrong if you choose one of my top 10; but if I had to whittle it down (pun intended) to a top 5 list, here are some quick overviews of my favorites. (Keep in mind, I go into more detail on each of these in the reviews section). So, go grab your marshmallow stick and campfire chair and lets get down to the nitty-gritty…
Smith & Wesson SWA24S Tactical Folding Knife
This very popular tactical knife is a low-cost tactical knife includes a part-serrated folding blade, aluminium handle and a stainless steel blade – all in black for the tactical look. Read our in-depth review of the SWA24S here.
The 3.1-inch blade is made with 7Cr17MoV Black Oxide High Carbon and the construction make this a light, convenient knife to carry. It does not feature any assistance mechanisms to help open or close the knife, so you’ll need to get to grips with the thumb knobs to open and two-handed close.
SOG Flash II(FSA8-CP) Folding Knife
The story of SOG Knives is pretty remarkable, originating from a highly classified US special ops unit in Vietnam. Read the full story in this in-depth review of the SOG Flash II. Needless to say, it garners being listed as a top knife. The Flash II is a tactical folding knife featuring a Titanium Nitride coated, 3 1/2″ long, partially serrated, drop point blade made from AUS-8A hardened to 57-58 Rockwell, let’s just say this steel is very hard for a working knife of this style.
It also features SOG’s unique Assisted Technology (S.A.T) that functions via opposing coil springs, making the Flash II a pleasure to open. It just feels great in your hand as you press the release to flip the blade out. Not to worry the glass-reinforced nylon grip features a lock to keep the blade from opening unintended. This is a sexy knife, with over 200 favorable reviews, and for under $50, this knife is a great buy.
Boker Folding Hunter w/ Faux Tortoise Shell Handle
Another great one is Boker’s Classic Folding Hunter. Although this knife is available in many different handle materials, I particularly like the Faux Tortoise Shell handle slabs. This knife features high quality nickel silver bolsters which add to its beauty.
While the particular steel used in manufacturing this knife is not listed, the large clip point blade and trailing point blade each hold a nice edge and are highly corrosion resistant similar to 420 and 440 series steel. I’m also a big fan of the “Copperhead” handle shape with its curving spine towards the butt of the knife. It just contours and fits well in your hand.
Buck 110 Folding Hunter Knife
Finally, how can I have a list of top pocket knives without mentioning the legendary Buck 110 folding hunter? I write about this model in my full review.
Benchmade 710 McHenry & Williams Folding Knife
Benchmade is successfully carving its position at the top of quality knife manufacturers. They offer an exceptional line of popular designs, specifically the Griptillian and the McHenry & Williams. The 710 was one of the best knives available – but has now sadly been discontinued. If you can find one (on popular auction sites, or by digging around in the back of a specialist store!) then you’ll have a knife that’s unlike many tactical pocket knives in that it is designed to be a sportsman’s and outdoors-man’s folding knife. It features an overall length of 8 3/4″ inches when open and 4 7/8″ closed, with a non-serrated, satin-finished, modified clip-point blade measuring 3 7/8″ in length. Manufactured from D2 semi-stainless tool steel and hardened to 60-62 on the Rockwell scale – this knife holds a sharp edge and can withstand rigid use.
Another awesome feature about the 710 is that it features the patented Benchmade AXIS lock, which in my opinion is the easiest lock to release with a single hand. The 710 McHenry Williams also offers an ambidextrous design with 420J stainless steel liners with black, Nyrol GTX grips and a reversible steel pocket clip. Overall, I love this knife, it is hands down my favorite EDC knife.
Schatt & Morgan File & Wire Mountain Man Series #3 Edition #1
Today, the brand name of Schatt & Morgan is widely recognized among knife collectors. They offer some of the highest quality American-made cutlery in existence, with the use of high quality steels and meticulous attention to fit and finish. Specifically, the Schatt & Morgan File & Wire series #3, edition #1, “Mountain Man Lock Back” is one my favorite folding knife designs due to both the history behind this iconic American knife brand and the quality of craftsmanship it displays. This knife measures 4 1/2” closed and features a flat ground 3 5/8” drop point blade made from ATS-34 steel (Rockwell hardness unknown), with a slip joint lock back design. At that size, it not only looks nice, but it also slips nicely into your pocket
In addition, it also features dark brown, worm jigged, bone handle slabs with brass liners, a lanyard loop, and high quality nickel silver bolsters. This knife is one of the finest hunting and/or every day carry (EDC) folding knives on the market today. Not only is the knife perfectly constructed, it is in my opinion, truly a work of art that is a pleasure to behold.
How Do I Decide Which is the Best Folding Knife for Me?
It would be impossible for me to accurately review and list every model available. There are survival knives, a range of great folding knife, and even tactical knives on the market – but with so many different types and brands you don’t want to have to sort through every knife. I’ve made the search easier for you and have only listed ones that I would be happy buying.
Likewise, there are many different price points, and depending on your preference, you could buy the most expensive knife or be just as happy buying a more economical one… which brings me to my next point. Which one should you buy?
To answer this question, you’ll have to decide between a number of feature. For example, when you’re looking at the blade, you should think about what’s your main use and so should you look for:
- a larger blade,
- a serrated blade,
- type of blade grind (hollow grinds, semi-hollow grinds, flat grinds, etc)?
- type of blade shape do you prefer (straight back, trailing point, drop point, etc)?
What will you be using it for? Are you going to use it to just open up boxes in a warehouse or clearing out your drains or chopping up tough food for your garbage disposer unit or will you carry this along on every future camp out or to go fishing? The interactive chart above is useful for comparison, but here are four important things you must keep in mind…
The best steel? Knife blade materials
The blade is the most important part of the knife. The Rockwell Hardness of each steel indicates how well it will hold an edge. The type of steel of the blade is important for sharpness and longevity, you can read more about blade steel and blade finish here. Just keep in mind that stainless is the best to avoid rusting, and that 154CM its Japanese equivalent ATS34, and 440C are the top of the line.
Choose the right grip for your knife
The last thing you want is a knife that is uncomfortable to hold or has a handle that easily scratches/cracks. Most knife manufacturers know this and offer great fitting grips and materials such as G-10, Noryl GTX, Zytel, Micarta, canvas Rucarta, Grivory, and Hypalon. The best folding knife will have a grip made from any other those materials. Another factor to consider is the shape of the grip, there are also many different knife handle styles each designed with different purposes and use.
Overall design of a folding or pocket knife
Be conscious of the design and ergonomics of the knife. All of the knives listed on this blog are good, so keep to the selection here. One feature to keep in mind when it comes to design, is the type of locking mechanism: slip joints (non-locking), lock backs, frame locks, and liner locks. You can research more about the types of knife locking mechanisms and blade grinds here. In addition, there are three different types of opening mechanisms consisting of unassisted, assisted, and automatic. Automatics are fun, they offer a spring-loaded design that opens the knife with the press of a button; but, I would just stick with “assisted” which have thumb studs or holes for one handed opening.
Pocket Knife Reviews – my conclusions
Coming up with this list was difficult, these are all great knives. Nevertheless, I hope this article, the comparison chart and guide above, the reviews on this blog, and my tips and suggestions help you in your search for the best pocket knife. (If you want historical background, take a look at the Wiki page.) But, ultimately, finding the right knife will require you to handle some of these knives and play around with them. Albert Einstein said it best “The only source of knowledge is experience.”
15 thoughts on “Buy the Best: Pocket Knife Reviews”
Great comparison chart! Thanks for putting this together. I’m curious to hear your thoughts on the Buck 301… It is one of my favorites.
John, you’re right the Buck 301 is a great knife! That’s why we listed it in our top 10. We’ll be reviewing it soon, stay tuned. Our blog is new, but we’re off to a great start. You can checkout more of our reviews on the “Reviews Page“.
Nice chart and great info. Also appreciate the reviews. I’m a big fan of the Mini Griptilian myself. I like the griptilian knives on the sides of the site.
Thanks Steve! Glad you found it useful.
Thank you for putting this comparison chart together Bill! Very useful. I love the Griptillian, but like you said, all of those knives you listed are great.
WOW! What a nice resource. Bill, you’ve really put together a helpful guide for anybody looking to buy a pocket knife. Thanks for the nice comparison chart, and the helpful tips. I can tell you know your stuff and that your are passionate about pocket knives! Great site!
Thank you for the compliment Richard! Glad you find it useful. You’re right I do have a passion for cutlery, specifically pocket knives.
I also really enjoy reading your individual review posts. I like how you give in depth history about the knife manufacturers and different models. Keep the good content coming!
Thanks again Richard! I try to post about twice a week. Keep checking back and stay in touch 🙂
Great site, nice breakdown on the different types of knives!
Thank you Jason!
I’m glad to see my work knife on the list. Buck 301. Just got a new one. Yellow. I love it. Always carry one. Great knife.
Hey John, it was a hard list to compile given the amount of quality pocket knives out there. I had to include the Buck 301!
This is a great site – I am currently making research work for creating a survival kit. Your site gave me an excellent overview for all different kinds of knives. The best I’ve seen so far – and the best source for all my research work and my project. Thank you very much and keep up your good website.
Hey Bernhard, happy to be of help, glad your found my list useful for your content!