The 5 Best EDC Knives on a Budget

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One of the best tools you can add to your EDC is a folding pocket knife. Along with generating light and making a fire, a sharp edge is one of the things human beings don't naturally produce or easily come by. Adding one to your kit means cutting down on the time spent on daily tasks, from opening a package to preparing food, even working on a hobbies like whittling or working with paracord.

One thing a knife doesn't have to be is expensive. Modern manufacturing techniques and the availability of quality materials means there's never been a better time to invest in a great knife without breaking the bank. Inexpensive doesn't mean cheap!

The best budget knives…

  • Use good materials. Many common steels competently hold an edge and sharpen easier than their more expensive counterparts. Common as they are, G-10 handles are actually unparalleled in terms of weight and toughness!
  • Stand out among their peers. In spite of their price point, these knives have unique features often found in their higher-priced counterparts. Even the most affordable Spydercos and Benchmades bear the trademarks of their creator, like the Spydie hole and the AXIS lock.
  • Are built to last. Our picks for 2015 weren't released this year, but their reliability in the hands of daily carriers made them timeless.
These are our picks for the best EDC knives you can buy this year if you’re on a tighter budget. They’re knives that time and time again answer the question "What knife should I buy?" The hundreds of appearances of these knives in carries on the site over the years speak for themselves. Even better: these knives are all under 3", making them a safe EDC choice for most parts of the world where larger knives are prohibited.

Under $15

Opinel No6 Carbon Knife

The Opinel No6 with its 2.875" blade takes all the classy, carbon steel goodness of Opinel's inexpensive knives and packs it into a useful and non-threatening size. You get the same high-carbon, razor-sharp X90 steel, beechwood handles, and Vibrobloc safety ring in a compact package you can easily slip into a pocket until needed. For all these reasons, it earned a spot in our first 15 Under $15 list of affordable gear (be sure to check out our second 15 Under $15 if you're looking for essentials to round out your carry on a budget!).

BUY ($12)

Under $50

Kershaw Cryo

Kershaw as a manufacturer came out of nowhere, making top-notch knives for a fraction of the cost of their competitors. The Cryo fast became one of their most popular models by bringing high-end knife design, fit, and finish to a wider audience. Robustly built, it's designed by distinguished knifemaker Rick Hinderer. For quick deployment, its SpeedSafe flipper mechanism is a pleasure to use. Its handles with integrated framelock keeps things light and locked in. There are few knives out there that look this good with this many features at this price.

BUY ($25)

Victorinox Alox Cadet

To no one's suprise, the Alox Cadet is one of the most recommended Swiss Army Knives in our forum. It has the legendary Victorinox quality, a surgical-sharp blade, and attractive aluminum handles that come in many colors. It's thin, light, and does many things flawlessly with its solid complement of tools. Best of all is its low price, making it once of the best value EDC knives — and multitools! — in the market.

BUY ($30)

Spyderco Persistence

No, not the Tenacious, but for good reason. The Persistence features the Tenacious' best features: 8Cr13MoV steel blade, milled G-10 handle, skeletonized steel liners, and trademark Spydie hole. The difference is in its length — a 2.75" blade means better compliance to local laws around the world. If you have bigger hands or need the extra cutting length, however, the Tenacious is still a viable option. Otherwise, the Persistence makes for a great value entry-level blade.

BUY ($37)

Under $100

Benchmade 556 Mini Griptilian

The Mini Griptilian features everything great about Benchmade's manufacturing and design. It has a useful drop point blade made of tough 154CM steel. Its ambidextrous Valox handles also give superior strength and stiffness while providing its namesake grip, and feature the trademark AXIS lock favored by many knife enthusiasts. It has the pedigree, features, and quality of its bigger brothers without the bigger price.

BUY ($84)

There are a lot of great budget knives out there that we couldn't fit on this list. What's your favorite? Tell us about it in the comments below!

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Discussion (65 total)

Whaaatttt? No love for the Spyderco Dragonfly 2 and all it's awesome flavors?! D:
Such great quality and perfect size. It's almost always under $50.
http://www.amazon.com/Spyderco-Dragonfly-Plain-Edge-Knife/dp/B00CHHF8P6?tag=bg999-20
As a Dragonfly 2 (ZDP-189!) owner myself, believe me it hurt to take it off my own list -- but the Tenacious trio with the Ambitious and Persistence seem to resound with more people for its size and features. Worry not, I'll make sure the DF2 is in a future list. ;)
Don't forget the Resilience Mikey! It's a quartet after all.
Poor Resilience, nobody loves him because he's "big" :(
I love my Resilience, but that thing scares the heck out of everyone who sees it. :(
I love my Resilience! It's my camping culinary knife!
I am also a Dragonfly 2 ZDP owner and I believe it should have been added to the list. The quality and utility for the size easily makes it one of the best small size knife on the market. The VG-10 version is very affordable as well.
I recommend to visit http://bestreviewz.org/best-pocket-knife-reviews/, Awesome knives in the list.
Have had them all on the list! Great knives. It's difficulty to keep a short list of "budget" knives since there have been some amazing blades made in the last 10 years. Yea, the Dragonfly is great, the Ontario RAT, as well as other offerings from Spyderco and Kershaw but this list is a great overview.
I love the SOG Twitch II. It's super small, looks awesome in both aluminum and wood scale versions, and the spring assisted opening make for a great little knife. I really liked the pocket clip too.
New EDCer, but I also love my Twitch II. The clip is a bit wider, so I can attach my key fob for my car.
Ontario Rat 1 or 2 should have made the list.
Boker Urban Trapper
I feel I should point out that the Kershaw Cryo is best purchased in the G10 handled version. From what I've read, they improved the knife when they changed to the G10 handles.
http://www.everydaycommentary.com/2014/07/kershaw-cryo-g10-review.html
Great info, thanks!
What about the famous Kershaw Emerson CQC 6K?
Just picked up one on Massdrop!
Nice article, But list could have been better, I bought one from http://bestreviewz.org/best-pocket-knife-reviews/, The list has some great quality knives.
Rat 1 all the way. Love my SAK Soldier, discontinued though. Alox
Pioneer just as good.
I like the simplicity and light weight of the Ka-Bar Dozier Hunter knife. Check it out, it's a quality knife that only sets you back around 20 dollars.
I'm carrying a Spyderco Delica 4 at the moment and think it's also a great option.
I have two on this list, I am happy with both. Opinel No6 Carbon Knife and the Spyderco Persistence.

I have the Victorinox Cadet. Great knife/multitool. Getting a Cryo G-10 Soon.
Loving the Spyderco. Under 3" is handy for countries with strict knife laws. Sadly, UK laws also doesn't allow locking blades so I opted for the Spyderco Squeak instead. Very happy with my squeak.
On recommendation from EDC I recently bout a black Kershaw Shuffle. I love the ambidextrous thumb flip opening and the pocket clip. It also has a bottle opener and laynyard hole, super helpful for a quick pull out of the pocket. The blade is short, but very sharp and the handle is glass filled nylon.
Purchased...not bout
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