Your EDC knife says a lot about you. And while any standard everyday carry knife can get the job done, chances are it'll raise some eyebrows and awkward questions depending on when and where you use it. That's why carrying something that can fly under the radar is often a good idea. A tactical folder probably isn't the best fit for this, especially when you need to dress up a bit for the occasion. What you want is something your coworkers won't bat an eye at. Something that looks as sharp as it cuts. That something, for a lot of EDCers, is a gent's knife. Thankfully, there's a wide variety to choose from when it comes to gent's knives. In this guide, we'll focus on 10 of the more “old school” options with traditional designs and timeless charm.
What's a gent's knife?
A gentleman's knife, or gent's knife, is deeply rooted in tradition. In the old days, it was simply unbecoming to carry something like a large knife in polite company. Instead, people carried pocketknives made with premium materials that reflected their taste and social status.
Even though they are made to add a touch of class to your ensemble, they aren't made just for show. The gent's knife is practical, but it isn't a run-of-the-mill utility knife. The gent's knife is beautiful, but it isn't going to be a futuristic-looking tactical blade.
For a large segment of the EDC community, only knives derived from the traditional forms fit the bill. Classic gent's knives either lack a locking mechanism, or they rely on older technology like slipjoints and lockback designs.
Now that you've got an idea of what a gent's knife is, check out these 10 excellent options.
The Best Gentleman's Folders for EDC
Opinel No. 8
The venerable Opinel No 8 is an affordable introduction to classic EDC gent's knives. It has an extremely sharp blade, making cutting tasks a breeze. It also comes in an assortment of beautiful wooden handles for you to choose from, including rare and exotic styles. The Opinel also has a twist collar lock that lets you hold the blade in place for more strenuous work.
The unique blade steel is what sets the Fallkniven U2 apart from the rest of the knives on this list. It's made of Super Gold Powdered Steel, an extremely high carbon alloy that has incredible sharpness and edge retention while remaining durable enough for daily use in your EDC. It's also ambidextrous, with nail nicks on both sides and a symmetrical handle.
Buck 110 Folding Hunter Knife
If you're looking for a larger knife, the Buck 110 is your best bet. It has a sharp 3.75" 420HC blade with a sturdy lockback. When this knife came out in the 1960s it became famous both for its great looks and because it locked up reliably enough to be used like a fixed blade.
Boker Wine Knife
If you want a classic gent's knife that'll do more than just cut, this one comes with a bottle opener, corkscrew, and flathead screwdriver.
Case Small Texas Toothpick
The Texas Toothpick is a long and slender slipjoint knife that's great for opening up envelopes and cardboard boxes. Its unique blade shape makes it easy to slot it into small spaces. Just don't pry things open with it, it definitely isn't made for that.
The douk-douk is based on a traditional French design, and it strikes a slimmer and longer profile compared to the Opinel. With its high-carbon steel blade, it can be honed to incredible sharpness. Just make sure to take care of it to avoid rust. The douk douk also lacks a locking mechanism of any sort, making it easier to carry around legally in more places.
Higo no Kami
Traditional gent's knives aren't just from the West. The higo no kami is a traditional friction folding knife from Japan. It's designed so that the pressure you exert while holding the handle when the blade is open is enough to keep it in place for most light work. It has a brass handle and a tanto blade shape that is perfect for piercing tasks despite its small length.
Al Mar Hawk Classic
The Hawk Classic is a lockback that features a small yet capable 2.5” AUS-8 blade. It's incredibly lightweight at just 1.5 ounces. You'll badly notice it until you need it. You can make this knife your own by choosing from a large number of available handle materials including mother of pearl and cocobolo.
Schrade Old Timer Gut Hook
The Schrade Old Timer Guthook combines classic gent's folding lockback styling with a gut hook for dressing fish. It isn't just for the outdoors, though. When the blade is closed, the gut hook remains partially exposed. This helps you cut things like twine and rope without having to get the whole thing open.
Great Eastern Cutlery Lick Creek
A purist will tell you the only acceptable gent's knife has multiple blades on a slipjoint. The Lick Creek model from Great Eastern Cutlery is one of the best within that criteria. It has a pair of slipjoint blades: a spear point for general use and a smaller, secondary pen blade for precision cutting (or to keep a sharp edge just in case). This particular style has a more minimalist appeal to it, with a clean ebony wood handle and sterile steel bolsters.