One of the best tools you can carry with you is a folding pocket knife. It's something that can come in handy more than you might even realize.
For example, think of all the times you've had to open a package. Without an EDC knife, what would you do? You'd probably run off to hunt down a pair of scissors, or struggle to tear through a gunky mess of tape and cardboard using one of your keys (or worse—your teeth!).
A good EDC knife saves you that time, effort, and headache. Its usefulness doesn't stop there, but the best way to find out how a knife can be helpful to you is by simply carrying one.
Now here's the best part: you don't have to spend too much money to get a quality EDC knife! Inexpensive doesn't mean cheap, and there are plenty of good knives out there that don't cost an arm and a leg.
In this guide, we've rounded up 10 of the best pocket knives you can buy less than 50 bucks. They're the knives we'd recommend if asked “What knife should I buy?" and we made sure there was something for every type of EDCer.
Find the Right EDC Knife, Even If…
- You're a beginner who's never owned a knife before and doesn't know where to start
- You live where it's hard to find a knife that's good AND legal to carry, like NYC or the UK
- You're a minimalist and hate having too much stuff in your pockets
- You like knives, but you LOVE good, affordable knives and want more for your collection
With so many options out there, it can be hard to narrow down your choices to find the right knife for you. We made this round-up with these key qualities you should look for in mind.
What to Look For in an EDC Pocket Knife
- Bang for your buck: Your EDC knife should use good materials that are built to last. Investing in sturdy knife will serve you well for years and years and make sure you get your money's worth.
- A comfortable carry: You'll be carrying this thing every day, so whether you're a lefty, prefer it clipped, want it to sit in your coin pocket, or hanging off your keys, your knife should accommodate your preference and be ready to use when you need it.
- Efficient cutting performance: Carrying a pocket knife doesn't mean you're out looking for trouble or heading out on the trail every weekend. Sometimes, all you need is a more efficient means to cut, no matter the size.
Some of these knives are already your favorites, having made appearances in your carries on the site, while some of them are surprisingly good recent releases. Read on to find the best knife for your everyday carry. (Editor's Note: The photos you're about to see are all on the same scale to give you a better sense of how each knife compares in size.)
The Best Budget Pocket Knives Available Now
Ontario RAT II
Stand-out features: High-performance steel, great blade shape
Who it's for: Beginner EDCer who needs a general-purpose knife
If you've never carried a knife before, this is a great first option. The RAT II is inexpensive, packs a multi-purpose blade shape made from workhorse AUS-8 steel, and is a good size to carry. The price is right for this complete package.
Stand-out features: Incredibly sharp and thin blade, unique combination of carbon steel blade and hardwood handles
Who it's for: People who want to try an inexpensive, uncomplicated knife without tactical features
This French folding knife is popular due to its price and surgical edge out of the box. Opinels come in a wide range of sizes, but the No8 with its 3.25” blade is best for EDC. The high carbon content in its blade makes for a strong edge, resistance to wear, and ease of sharpening.
Victorinox Pioneer X
Stand-out features: Everything you loved about the Cadet, now with scissors
Who it's for: Everyone who loved the Cadet, but needed scissors
Victorinox's medium-sized aluminum oxid multitools pack a lot of utility into a very narrow frame. The Cadet model is one of the most versatile and compact multitools you could carry, but is missing a pair of scissors to complete its functionality. The Pioneer is here, ready to both slice AND cut, and packs 7 other functions into your pocket.
Boker Plus Nano
Stand-out features: Robust, beefy styling in a tiny package
Who it's for: People who want a “little big knife”
If you look at pictures of the Nano without a size reference, you wouldn't believe its blade is only 1.875 inches. It has the features of a knife twice its size, like textured handles with an integrated frame lock and a sizable cutting belly on the blade.
Stand-out features: Light weight, friendly appearance
Who it's for: People who live in places with stricter knife regulations
The Spyderco Roadie's appearance and features were inspired by a TSA announcement that would have allowed knives on planes. That regulation didn't go through, but the Roadie still made it to production. It's a versatile pocket knife, with a non-locking, long-bellied sheepsfoot blade, and lightweight nylon handle scales. At just 1 ounce, it disappears in the pocket.
Cold Steel Micro Recon 1
Stand-out features: Hardened tanto tip on a knife small enough to hang off your keychain
Who it's for: People who want a backup knife for tougher tasks like poking and piercing
Cold Steel's Recon 1 series has a reputation of being overbuilt performers. Their tanto-tipped AUS-8 steel blades are a signature look, and the Micro is the most compact iteration. At only 4.375” closed, the Micro Recon 1 is one of the smallest knives on this list, while being one of the most durable.
Kershaw Shuffle II
Stand-out features: Hangs off a lanyard, opens bottles, and can even drive screws
Who it's for: Multitaskers who want more than just an edge from their pocket knife
It's hard to believe the Shuffle II costs under $20 given just how much it can do. It can cut, pop bottles open, drive and scrape, and look good while doing it with its blacked-out tanto blade and textured nylon handles. Is it a pocket knife or a multitool? Why not both!
Case Medium Stockman 079
Stand-out features: Three blades, beautiful amber bone, all bases covered
Who it's for: Your future children who will fight over this heirloom
Remember grandpa's pocketknife that you wanted badly as a child? This is its modern sibling. The Stockman comes with three blades to cover all your cutting needs. With its Peach Seed Jigged Amber Bone handles, its traditional styling adds a touch of class to your carry.
Stand-out features: Balanced drop point with a wide cutting belly, internal frame lock
Who it's for: People who need large cutting performance from a small knife
The Squid was designed by knifemaker Lucas Burnley to be a minimal pocket knife with the performance of a full-sized folder. Thanks to its width, the Squid maximizes the full belly of its 2.25” blade, offering you great everyday utility.
Stand-out features: Built military tough, size and shape ideal for EDC, ambidextrous lock
Who it's for: People needing a general-purpose blade for outdoor adventures
The Dozier's blade comes in a workhorse, AUS-8 steel, with nylon handles providing a full-sized grip. It features a hollow-ground drop point blade shape, ideal for outdoor tasks like slicing and skinning. A lockback locking mechanism and reversible clip also makes the Dozier a versatile, ambidextrous assistant.
Now you can add a knife to your EDC without breaking the bank, and still have some enough left over to assemble the rest of your carry.
If you found your next knife with the help of this guide, please share it with your friends on the hunt for an EDC knife too!
Already have a favorite budget knife? Leave a comment with the best knife you've bought under $50—we'd love to hear about your finds.
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