The top 10 knives available now, Part 1

by Anthony Sculimbrene

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Editor's note: We've published an updated guide with more recent knife releases:

The 10 Best Everyday Carry Pocket Knives Under $50


Original article:

The top 10 knives available now, Part 1

One thing you will notice about carrying a pocket knife on a daily basis is that it is a lot like owning a truck—there are things you with your knife that you’d never imagine doing before but are a part of your daily routine.  Its hard to explain this to folks that don’t carry a knife, but there is a reason that men have carried small, pocketable knives on them since Roman times.  Carry one for two weeks and it will be a lifelong companion after that.  I first started carrying a pocket knife during a summer job while I was in college.  It was a warehouse job and I broke down lots of boxes and crates.  Now, its just as much a part of my daily carry as my wallet or smartphone.  

But if your new to knives, it can be pretty daunting.  All of the brands and steels can be confusing.  All of the opening mechanisms are a pain to compare.  Worse yet, brick and mortar knife stores are vanishing, making it very hard to compare knives in person.   Fortunately I have handled hundreds and hundreds of knives and have detailed reviews of a few dozen (found here).  Every knife on this list is a knife I have used and reviewed.  

10. ESEE Candiru (purchase)

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On its own, the Candiru would rank much, much higher on this list, probably in the Top Five, but because of its form factor (this is a fixed blade knife) it is both more difficult to carry on a daily basis and more likely to startle people when you use it.  But, it is definitely my favorite fixed blade for EDC use.  You’ll be surprised at just how easy it is to carry, it is very thin and relatively small (probably the same overall length as the Spyderco Military when closed).  The steel is a time tested favorite—1095.  1095 is a high carbon steel, meaning it is not stainless, so this is a knife that cannot be left in the snow, for example.  But it is coated, so that should inhibit rust a bit.  The performance of the steel, corrosion resistance aside, is really great.  1095 is known for its ability to get razor sharp and be very tough and this iteration of 1095 is no different.  In fact, ESEE uses a proprietary heat treat developed by Rowen Manufacturing and the results are great. 

9. CRKT Drifter (purchase)

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You can spend a lot of money on a knife and it sill won’t be better than the Drifter.  I have always been on the lookout for great, inexpensive blades and after a lot of trial and error (Budget Blade Shootout here), it became clear that the Drifter is one of the best buys in the gear world.  The G10 version is the way to go as it is basically the same knife, but lighter.  I also like the feel of G10 better than stainless steel.  The blade shape is very simple, and but for a slight recurve, it would be perfect.  The steel is 8Cr14MoV, a very small but oddly noticeable upgrade over 8Cr13MoV.  By following the Occam’s Razor of Gear, CRKT figured out how to make a budget blade really work, spending their few dollars on exactly the right parts to make this knife punch well above is price.   

8. Falkniven U2 (purchase)

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This is one of the more expensive knives on the list, but is probably my personal #2 or #3.  It is, however, decidedly trend bucking as it lacks both a clip and one handed deployment.  The U2’s overall package is the perfect balance of time tested elements (the handle, the great blade shape, and the lockback) with cutting edge performance (thanks to the very rare SG-2 aka SGPS steel).  The fit and finish on the U2 rivals the fit and finish on a Sebenza and it does all of this for under $100 in an easily pocketable package.  GREAT. 

7. Kershaw Injection 3.0 (purchase)

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If you want a custom Todd Rexford you going to need a budget about 70 times the budget for this series as his customs are among the hottest in the knife world right now.  A custom knife he made for Triple Aught Design sold originally for around $700 and then was flipped on the open market two weeks later for around $7000.  The reason for this is twofold—Todd’s elegant designs and his immaculate craftsmanship.  With the Injection you get quite a bit of that design and a surprising level of craftsmanship.  The blade shape is dead simple—a classic drop point.  While the rest of the knife shows off touches entirely foreign to the budget and mid tier knife categories like a decorative pivot, milled thumb studs, convex handle scales, and faux floating backspacers.  I have a handled a ton of knives over the past few years and if I didn’t know the steel (a tough, sharp, but stain-prone bead blasted 8Cr13MoV) I would have never guessed the price of the knife. 

6. A.G. Russell Medium Barlow

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I used to dismiss traditional knives as relics of a bygone era.  But as with many things, as I got older the more I saw the wisdom of these knives.  They lack the pocket clips and one handed deployment that is the hallmark of modern knives, but there is something about the elegant blade shapes, exquisite natural materials, and bolsters that grab your imagination.  If your not ready to jump into the deep end yet and track down a Tony Bose, but you want something different than the horde of black G10 handled knives, look no further than the A.G. Russell Medium Barlow.  This is a spectacular EDC blade with an appearance that will offend no one, a blade shape and size that scream utility, and a trick.  That long nail knick, sometimes called a French cut, is actually cut sharp enough that it can grab the pad of your finger allowing you to swing the knife open one handed.  Its not as fluid or thoughtless as opening a Spyderco, but with a bit of practice you can do it.  You’ll also be shocked at the fit and finish on this knife.  As a sign of the times, it is an American classic, tweaked by the living legend of the knife business (A.G. Russell’s celebrating his 50th Anniversary in the business in 2014), made overseas.  This is a Chinese knife with 8Cr13MoV steel, but its an excellent rendition of the steel with a nice satin finish.  I prefer the cocobolo handles.


Part 2 Continued Here

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