A well-made pocket knife is a highly versatile tool. From carving wood to peeling fruit, this powerful little knife makes everyday life much easier. For this reason, pocket knives are excellent for camping, hiking, or even everyday carrying. But how do you find the best folding knife?
Since you’ll use your knife frequently for several different purposes, the main thing to think about is its quality. The blade and handle materials play a huge role in the knife’s overall performance. Of course, the design (handle, mechanism) shouldn’t be overlooked either. If this seems confusing, don’t worry – we’re here to help.
In our 10 Best Folding Knives in 2021 guide, we will talk about the different features of folding knives, how to choose the best knife, and we’ll answer all of your questions. Hopefully, this can help you decide which pocket knife design best suits your needs.
Ready to get started? Let’s go!
How To Choose A Pocket Knife – Buying Guide
When you are deciding which knife is the best to buy, it is important to consider a few key features. There are many different styles, materials, and blades for you to choose from. About this, there are elements of each design that can enhance your safety while delivering sharp and precise cuts.
Pocket knives can be used for a variety of different tasks. Whether you need an outdoor survival tool for wilderness survival, or you’re completing your hiking or backpacking checklist, a pocket knife can be a great investment. It’s a great addition to your other survival gear items like compasses, paracord survival bracelets, or flashlights.
In addition, a knife can be a fantastic addition to your camping utensils. It may even help you repair your tent or create shelter. Because of the variety of tasks that it can complete, every outdoor enthusiast should look for the best folding knife for their needs. The in-depth overview of the features below will help you do that.
Many different materials can be used to make a knife. From the handle to the blade, you want a material that has the strength to accomplish a task while feeling secure in your grip. Also, you want materials that are anti-wear or anti-corrosion to ensure that you can use your knife for many years.
The handle of a knife may be made of metal, carbon, wood, or other synthetic or natural materials. Most traditional folding knives feature a wood handle. Wood is a durable material and it is generally more visually appealing. Wood that has been properly finished will have no issues with use in water, but you should always store your knife bone dry. Wood can also last for a very long time.
Some traditional folding knives are made of synthetic materials (like Delrin or mica pearl) and can be extremely sturdy. If you are looking for a working knife it is best to choose a hard material like Delrin. If you are looking for a knife as an accessory, a mica pearl may be the style you are trying to achieve.
Others are made of bone or antler, which gives a unique look to your knife. However, keep in mind that folding knives made of natural materials may not be as strong for a working knife.
Most modern pocket knives will feature a handle made of metal, plastic, or carbon. Carbon may not be the most popular choice when compared to more durable metal or plastic. Metals such as aluminum or stainless steel are common choices for handles. When comparing the two, aluminum is more popular because it saves on weight. An aluminum handle is a great long-lasting choice for a knife because it is anti-corrosive and anti-wear. Stainless steel is also anti-corrosive and anti-wear but, as implied, it is a heavier metal. Carbon can be a great choice for a handle because it is also lightweight (like aluminum), but it may not be as good at resisting wear and tear.
Perhaps even more important than the handle is the blade material. Most blades will be made of stainless steel or high carbon steel. There are also blades made from a non-stainless metal, but they will rust if left untreated. The best folding knife blade is anti-corrosive to ensure it can be used with a variety of tasks that involve fresh and saltwater.
However, stainless steel isn’t as soft as a high carbon blade and is more prone to breakage under stress. Stainless steel knives also are more difficult to sharpen. You won’t be able to get as fine an edge as a high carbon blade, but stainless steel will hold its edge for longer.
High carbon blades are normally tougher than stainless steel blades because of their grain structure. This means that they are less likely to snap under pressure. They are also softer, which makes them easier to sharpen to a fine edge. However, high carbon blades are generally not as anti-corrosive or wear-resistant as a stainless steel blade is.
High carbon steel is a material that will come out of the box looking shiny, but in time it will adopt a dark brown patina. This is normal and the dark brown color can help with corrosion resistance.
While the handle is an important part of your folding knife, it’s not something you should consider over the knife blade or the number of blades you want. You should first choose the blade you want and decide how many blades you need and then accept the design of the handle as it is.
There are many different types of handle designs and each comes with its name. There’s the Swell End Jack, the Sunfish, the Coke Bottle, and many more. Most handle designs will be paired with specific blade designs. The most popular knife handle designs are the Swell End Jack and Serpentine pattern.
Some knife handles will have additional features in their design. Some feature grooves for your fingers, giving you a better grasp on the knife. Others will have tools embedded in the handle, which is helpful for survival. Some knives are fully survival-oriented, built to help you in an emergency.
The handle can have a strap cutter or glass breaker to help you escape if you’re trapped. Some folding knives also feature a bottle opener on the bottom end (incorporated in the glass breaker design).
Other knife handle designs will have a variety of ways that you can carry the knife. A pocket clip can be attached or detached from the handle’s side or you may be able to attach a lanyard. Smaller features, such as these, may be important to you and help you decide which knife to choose.
As mentioned in the Material section, there are many different materials that a handle can be made of. Most traditional folding knives will have a natural material for the handle. The natural materials can be made of hardwood, bone, antler, pearl, and others.
Most modern knives will feature a synthetic material or metal for their handle. You must match the handle material to the job you would like to achieve.
A working knife is better with a tough and durable synthetic material because it gives the knife rigidity. Knives that are used for accessory and style purposes can have a handle made of natural materials because they won’t be subjected to high stress as a working knife.
The strength of a knife is a very important factor to consider. It’s directly responsible for his reliability. A strong working knife will have a hard-synthetic material for the handle and usually a stainless steel blade. Most modern folding knives will be made of all synthetic materials.
Traditional knives can be made of natural materials and it is best to decide if a handle made of hardwood will be strong enough to do the jobs you plan on using your knife for.
Synthetic materials tend to be best for knives that will be put under a lot of stress. The synthetic materials are often very hard and durable and add a great deal of rigidity to the design of the knife.
The rigidity allows you to put the force down on your knife without worrying that the knife will break. You want a knife that is rigid because this will allow you to do a variety of tasks and make using the blade easier.
Blade strength depends on the material of the blade. Like we said, most blades will be made of stainless steel, even though you can find non-stainless and high carbon blades as well. The strength will be based on the work you plan to do with the knife. If it is a working knife, some designs are built to pierce and design that are built for cutting.
A piercing blade will have a fine tip point and be made of a hard material such as high carbon, to ensure it will not snap during use. Stainless steel is harder than high carbon on the hardness scale, but they are more prone to snapping because of this. The best traditional pocket knife for working should have a balance of hardness and flexibility to ensure it does not bend or snap under pressure.
The best you can do when choosing between all the high-quality pocket knives that are offered is to decide what tasks you want to use a knife for. Many knife designs are well-balanced to do their job right, whether they are for working or style-oriented. The strength of the knife will come from the materials and design of both the blade and the handle, making sure the knife can withstand its intended use.
The blade of the knife is the most important part of the design. After all, the blade is what you will use to cut, slice, and pierce things. However, different blade designs cater to different uses. If you are looking for a working knife, the blade design will be different from a knife used for self-defense. If you don’t plan on using your knife very much and it is only a stylish accessory, then you can probably do it with a blade that is great for everyday use. There are differences in the point design of the blade too.
Most modern knives will feature a clip point or drop point blade design. This means that the tip of the blade is actually closer to the center of the knife’s design and that the cross-section is narrower there. Knives with a clip point or drop point blade are best used for piercing because of their sharp tip.
With these knives, you will not get as large a range of sweep, even if a deep belly is included in the design. A working knife is best used for cutting and slicing. The best folding knives will have an extended cutting edge and a mild sweep that goes to the belly to give a good range, maximizing the length of the cutting edge.
The closer the blade point is located to the centerline of the blade, the better the knife is for tactical use. If a blade point is located above the centerline, the knife is best for general purposes.
Clip and spear point blades are great general-purpose blade designs. They have an extended belly for a longer cutting edge, which can make them great for tasks such as whittling. A Sheep’s Foot blade will provide a straight edge that goes to the end of the tip, which gives you a short but highly aggressive cutting edge.
You should also consider whether you would like a completely straight blade or a serrated edge on the blade. There are many knife designs, and some combine a straight edge with a serrated section (half-serrated). The straight-edged blade will easily slice through material and piece an object, while a serrated edge can be great for cutting through items like a rope.
The teeth of the serrated edge give the knife grip and better traction to cut through materials that may be more fibrous than others. If you think you will be using your knife to cut ropes and cordage out in the wilderness, you should get a knife that has a blade with both the straight and serrated edge in the design.
In addition, the blade of the knife can be customized. There are many different colors that the blade of your knife can be. Some blades are covered in black carbon or oxide, giving them a matte, non-reflective finish. Other blades feature the well-known gray of uncolored stainless steel.
If you are looking for some flair, some companies even offer a coating that makes the blade iridescent. While the color of the blade is not that important, it may still be a small preference that can help you decide between different knife models.
There are many different blade options with different features that can cater to your needs. Think about the jobs you wish to accomplish and match the blade design. Some traditional knives will feature multiple blades (up to four) within the same handle, with each blade having a different design.
Q: What Is The Point Of A Pocket Knife?
The point of a foldable knife is always having a versatile tool within hand’s reach. A pocket knife is a small and handy tool that can do a large number of things. When you’re at home, a pocket knife can open letters and packages. It can remove clothing tags, cut plastic zip ties, or even sharpen pencils. Some people find it very useful for peeling fruit.
When using it outdoors, it becomes even more valuable. It can make kindling for lighting a fire, carve wood, or cut ropes and cordage. It’s incredibly handy when cleaning and slicing meat and vegetables when preparing food. Of course, it’s excellent as a means of protection too. As you can see, a small knife like this can go a long way in many situations.
Q: Are Pocket Knives TSA Approved?
Unfortunately, you are not allowed to have your knife with you when entering the plane. TSA regulations prohibit you from carrying any type of sharp object as carry-on luggage, including pocket knives. Don’t try this because your knife will get confiscated at the security gate.
However, you may be allowed to bring it in the checked baggage. If you love your new knife and want to bring it with you, be sure to check with the airline before flying with it.
Q: Can I Carry A Swiss Army Knife On A Plane?
No, you’re not allowed to bring it in your hand luggage because it still counts as a knife. While some countries around the world allow small blades on-board, the USA regulations prohibit you from taking a Swiss army knife with you in the cabin. If you need it with you on your travel, make sure to put it in your checked baggage.
Q: What Is The Best Knife For Everyday Use?
The best pocket knives for everyday use are small enough to fit in a pocket but pack enough power to easily handle daily tasks. As an example, the Spyderco Delica and Tenacious models are well-made, secure, and easy to use, so they make great choices for everyday use. We also want to mention the CRKT we also featured because it’s incredibly compact and easy to take with you anywhere.
Q: What Is The Best Pocket Knife For Whittling?
The best pocket knife for whittling has an extra-sharp blade that is thin enough to handle precision work. Many modern pocket knives have thicker blades, so be sure to check this out when buying a new knife. As for the shape, whittling knives use a standard clip point or even a sheep foot blade design.
As a great example of a pocket knife for whittling, the Case Stockman knife we’ve featured comes with three different blades that give it plenty of versatility when shaping wood.
Q: How Much Does A Good Pocket Knife Cost?
In general, a good pocket knife costs anywhere between 30 and 70 dollars. For this amount of money, you’ll get the best balance between price and quality. This means that you can count on a high-quality blade and sturdy construction without spending too much money. Our top-rated 110 Buck Knife is a perfect choice in this category.
However, we’re aware that spending this amount on a pocket knife may be too much for some people. Luckily, there are some great pocket knives that you can get for as little as 10 dollars. The Smith and Wesson folding knife we’ve featured as our budget pick is affordable to everyone but still manages to have admirable quality and excellent performance when handling everyday tasks.
Q: What Is The Best Material For Pocket Knives?
Stainless steel and high carbon steel are the best choices for pocket knives. However, it’s difficult to say which of the two is better. High carbon steel is extra-hard and durable. It holds an edge well and it’s easy to sharpen when it gets dull. However, it’s sensitive to water and can get rusty easily if you won’t pay attention.
On the other hand, stainless steel is perfectly safe to get wet, even in saltwater. However, it gets dull faster, and it’s more difficult to sharpen. Also, while it has exceptional strength, it’s more prone to snapping than high carbon steel.
Q: What Is A Pocket Knife?
A pocket knife is a small and versatile folding knife that fits in your pocket (as the name implies). This type of knife features a folding blade design, meaning that the blade of your knife will actually collapse down into the handle of the knife and be stored there.
Most folding knife designs will have a locking feature to ensure that the knife stays open when it is being used. Some locking features have a pin that automatically drops into the lock to add extra security. A folding knife design must have a liner lock. This gives you the security that your knife will not accidentally disengage while it is being used. A knife that collapses when being used can easily lead to accidents and injuries.
Some pocket knives can have up to four different blades in one handle. This is specific for folding knives and gives you a lot more options compared to standard, fixed-blade knives. Fixed blades do not have space or the ability to have more than one blade in them. Folding knives can easily have multiple blades in one handle because the other blades can be securely stored and folded down while one blade is in use.
On knives that have multiple blades, each blade has a different style so that it can be used for different tasks. The most important aspect is that the knife has a folding design, which ensures that it is compact for carrying. Due to the variety of pocket knife designs, many can suit your specific needs. It is best to carefully analyze the features of each knife before deciding which design will give you the best use.
Because of its compact design, a pocket knife is a great EDC (everyday carry) knife. However, they may not be strong enough for heavy and stressful work because the folding and pivot joint can be weak point. This means that the knife is not one solid piece and therefore it can collapse if under a lot of pressure.
As we’ve mentioned before, the knife should have safety features to make sure the blade is locked into place when fully extended. Folding pocket knives are excellent for being carried for basic, everyday use. You can easily clip it to your clothes or wear it around your neck because many models feature a pocket clip and hole to place a lanyard.
Q: What Is The Best Way To Clean A Pocket Knife?
Most pocket knives are safe to wash with warm water, soap, and a soft cloth. However, if you have a high carbon blade, make sure to thoroughly dry it if you want to avoid rust. Cleaning the knife will ensure that you can get rid of any dirt or debris on the knife handle and blade.
If you have a serrated or half-serrated edge, an old toothbrush works best. Afterward, you can use a lubricating spray like WD-40 on the blade and scrub it with a nylon pad. Rinse well and repeat the process until the blade is entirely clean. As for the joint, you can add WD-40 or some other lubricant like household oil, so the hinge is still fully functioning.
It is very important to remember that after cleaning the knife, you need to allow it to fully dry. Water leads to rust and it can make the knife blade deteriorate faster and dull quicker. It is best to let the knife fully dry because water and oil don’t mix well — you won’t be able to properly oil a wet knife.
This means that there most likely won’t be one smooth coating of lubricant on the knife. A knife that has been properly cleaned and lubricated will consistently give high performance and durability. A pocket knife is a great investment and, with a little care and attention, it can last for a lifetime.
Q: Is It Legal To Carry A Pocket Knife?
Yes, carrying a pocket knife is legal in most cases. However, this depends on the blade length and regulations of the state you’re in. Each state has different laws regarding what knives are considered legal to carry. As a rule of thumb, most (if not all) states allow folding knife blades up to 3 inches. If your knife doesn’t exceed this, you’ll be good to go.
Knives that are considered tools are normally governed at the state level. If the knife is more like a utility or workman’s knife, it’s more likely the knife will be legal to carry (because it is considered a tool). If you are looking to carry a knife around in public spaces, it's best to choose a utility design that can be used for a variety of tasks.
In general, most states have more laws against knives that closer resemble (or are) tactical knives. Tactical knives can have certain design features that can make the knife a deadly weapon and therefore, are discouraged from being carried in public.
Some of these knives are too tactical to be considered for legal street carry. You will also find that switchblades are generally not considered a legal carry knife. Some states even state that you cannot have a switchblade in your possession, whether you are using it for work or wanting to display it as a part of your collection.
There are normally two laws that can help you discern whether or not your knife is legal in your state. States should list both a carry law and an ownership law, which will tell you whether it is legal to be carried around. A carry law means that you are allowed to have the knife with you outside of the home or workplace. A knife with a carry law is generally considered a tool and not a weapon.
An ownership law means that certain knives are entirely forbidden to possess. Having a knife that breaches an ownership law is illegal and the knife can’t even be in your possession at all, even for display in your home.
Different knife designs fall under these law categories. Each state should list its laws and which knife designs fall under each. Remember that all knives can be used as a weapon, but when used appropriately they are considered tools.
If you are a responsible knife owner and you inquire about your state’s specific laws, you should have no problem legally carrying a knife. The best you can do is to look at the laws of your specific state and consider what kind of knife you want and what you will use it for.
Q: How Do I Sharpen A Pocket Knife?
A knife blade is usually sharpened with a whetstone, allowing you to get the perfect edge. There are many different whetstones and edges that you can use to sharpen your blade. Normally, sharpening a blade is rather straightforward, but if you don’t have the experience it may be best to take your blade to a professional.
Whetstones have a specific grit that you can grind the edge of your knife against, sharpening the blade. In terms of type, there are water and oil stones. As the name suggests, water stones use water as the lubricant to sharpen the knife, while oil stones use oil as the lubricant. Different knife blades will require different whetstones and different angles to properly sharpen them.
Furthermore, there are many different edges that you can achieve when sharpening. It is also important to note that different blade materials will be easier or harder to sharpen. A harder-edged blade, such as stainless steel, will not hold its edge for as long and cannot be sharpened as finely as a high carbon blade. Softer blades can be sharpened to a very fine edge and tend to be relatively good when holding their edge.
Most knives will also be bound to a specific edge design when they are purchased. Manufacturers should list what kind of edge the knife features, showing that the knife is best used with that specific type of edge. You may be able to change the edge of your knife by re-sharpening it to a different style, but it is best to consult the manufacturer’s guide or a professional knife sharpener before doing so. You wouldn’t want to ruin your knife and destroy the blade trying to change the grind and edge to a different style.
If you are planning on going on a trip with your knife, it is best if you can carry a pocket sharpener with you to ensure a clean edge throughout your trip. A dull knife can lead to frustration, accidents, and injuries. If you know you will be using your knife a lot in the wilderness for an extended amount of time, it’s best to sharpen on the go. A sharp edge is what delivers secure and precise cuts.
Then, once you have completed your trip, you can sharpen the knife again using a proper whetstone. A knife that is properly sharpened will easily complete all the tasks at hand. Remember, a sharp knife is a safe knife.
Globo Surf Overview
Choosing the best small pocket knife can seem complicated at first glance. Luckily, it doesn’t have to be this way. If you follow some of the advice from this guide, you’ll have an easier time choosing a knife. It is important to get a knife that gives you confidence and comfort because you will likely use it for a long time.
Knives are tools meant to assist you in your tasks. When cutting difficult materials or objects, you want a knife that can easily handle the job. You shouldn’t have to wrestle with a knife to cut something. Whether you only use it a couple of times a year or every day, your knife will be a companion so it needs to be reliable. The best pocket knives will ensure that you can make consistent and sharp cuts for many years.
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