10 New EDC Knives Under 3" in 2018

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When it comes to everyday carry knives, bigger is not always better. Sure, bigger knives are great for large tasks, but their added heft can them impractical in some situations and a burden on your pockets. And even if you did have the pocket space for a bigger blade, they're not always legal to carry depending on where you live. That's why smaller, more compact, pocketknives under 3 inches enjoy wide popularity in the EDC community. With the right design, materials, and build quality, they can handle your daily tasks, and even more, when the time comes. Today is a great time to be in the market for such a knife, with plenty of new and innovative designs released this year. In this guide, we'll highlight some of our favorite recent sub-3" knife releases and show why they belong in your everyday carry.


The James Brand Elko

The Elko is a classy modern minimalist folding knife that's designed for discreet pocket carry with its titanium or anodized aluminum handle that accomodates a keyring. It features a razor-thin 1.79" straight edge drop point blade made of Sandvik 12C27 stainless steel. In keeping with its modern gent's styling, the Elko opens with a nail nick, and a slipjoint offers enough stability for the blade to stand up to light tasks. For added utility, the keyring attachment point also doubles as a screwdriver and light pry tool in a pinch.

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Bestech Goblin

The Goblin features a stout, overbuilt design with a premium 2” S35VN modified wharncliffe blade. While it is a compact knife, everything about the design is meant to give you maximum control over the cut. It has an ergonomic handle and a large, curved bolster that acts as an extension to the grip, letting you get a firm grasp on the blade. There's also aggressive top jimping on the knife as an additional control surface.  The precision CNC-machined titanium handle features a frame lock, and the blade opens easily with the manual flipper opening and ceramic ball bearings.

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MecArmy EK36

The EK36 cuts a strikingly unique and modern look for a compact EDC folding knife. Its 2” flat ground Bohler M390 wharncliffe blade settles flush with the space-age styled titanium handle for a crisp and futuristic look. The large nail nick lets you get the knife open when you need it, and the handle has a frame lock built in for security.

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Boker Plus Gent-X

The Gent-X is a slim and elegant modern gent's knife with a hollow-ground 2.9” 440C mirror-polished stainless steel blade that works well for repetitive utility slicing tasks. It's matched with an attractive titanium handle with an orange peel finish that's been textured for additional grip and control over the cut. The manual flipper makes for an easy one-handed opening, and the slim handle features a frame lock for security.

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Kizer Vanguard Mini Sheepdog C01C

The Vanguard Mini Sheepdog is a stout folding cleaver knife with an overbuilt design that lets you take on bigger tasks than the short 2.63” blade length might suggest. For a knife made for constant utility use, the VG-10 stainless steel blade construction features excellent edge retention while providing for relatively easy resharpening. The ergonomic handle conforms to your hand, and the huge flipper tab helps prevent you from cutting yourself on your own knife during rougher use. G10 scaling on that handle adds to the grip, and a liner lock keeps the blade open during use.

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Kershaw Fraxion Tan

The Fraxion features a sleek and efficient design made in collaboration with custom knifemaker Jens Anso. It features a 2.75” clip point blade with an attractive blackwash finish and easily-maintained 8Cr13MoV stainless steel construction. There's a large top swedge to help you fit the knife into small spaces and seams, and the slight recurve adds to the slicing potential of the knife despite its modest overall size. The handle features an attractive combination of carbon fiber and G10 for weight savings, and an inset liner lock for security. Deployment of the blade is made easy with the KVT ball bearings and the manual flipper tab opening.

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Spyderco Lil Native Compression

The Lil Native takes everything that made the original Native a great knife and sizes it down for a more versatile EDC use case. It features a full flat ground 2.5” S30V stainless steel blade with the trademark Spyderco eye hole for easy ambidextrous opening. The ergonomic handle conforms to the shape of your hand, and the additional grip at the bolster helps offset the stout design, giving you a full grip. And the textured black G10 scaling will help you keep a secure grip on the knife even when it is wet. Designed for rough use, the blade features a reliable compression lock that eliminates blade play when open and ensures security while you're doing work with it.

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Benchmade 486 Saibu

With a name that literally means 'details,' the 486 Saibu is certainly chock-full of them. Made in collaboration with Seiichi Nakamura, the Saibu features a 0.114” thin 2.98” premium CPM-20CV stainless steel drop-point blade made for easy slicing. It's matched with an attractive handle featuring black contoured G-10 scaling with beautiful cocobolo wood inlays to catch your eye. The knife features an ambidextrous manual thumbstud opening, and the trademark ambidextrous AXIS lock for security during use. The reversible tip-up clip design adds to this knife's versatility, letting you carry it how you want in your pockets.

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WE Knife Vapor

The WE Vapor boasts a futuristic yet organic look with smooth curves that inspires confidence in hand and makes for a beautiful knife. It features a sleek 2.95” stonewashed CPM-S35VN stainless steel blade with a hollow grind and a drop point shape that has a pronounced tip for easy piercing. With its flipper tab opening, you can get the blade open with one hand, and the eye holes in the blade allow for an additional alternate and ambidextrous opening when you need it. The titanium handle boasts a carbon fiber overlay for both looks and to make things a bit wider and more ergonomic in hand. It also features a frame lock to keep the blade open during use.

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CRKT Gungho

The Gungho is a no-nonsense tactical folding knife with a stout 2.784” modified tanto blade that emphasizes its piercing abiities. It also features CRKT's quick Outburst assisted spring opening, augmenting the thumbstud design for rapid yet secure deployment of the blade when you need it. The handle features an aggressive G10 scaling on one side, and a stainless steel panel on the other, with a deep carry pocket clip and a frame lock rounding everything out.

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For last year's picks, check out our guide from the archives.

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Discussion (8 total)

The pic you have for the Kizer is the full size Sheepdog, not the mini
I can't get round the proportions of that Benchmade. The handle looks like it was made for a blade far bigger.
Lil native looks solid.
Is it just my phone, or does the link for the MecArmy take you to the Bestech instead?
I've fixed that link, thanks for the spot!
Looking at that Elko, I'd wonder why anybody would pay that price instead of getting a Victorinox Classic or Rambler...
Solid! Price points for everyone and wow that CRKT reminds me of the mini grip. Nice to see small blades getting the higher steel upgrades