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The Best Pocket Knives on a Budget in 2021

Jonathan Tayag
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The Best Pocket Knives on a Budget in 2021

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When it comes to picking out an everyday carry knife of your own, it can be all too easy to fall into the trap of thinking that you have to spend a lot of money to get a quality product. While you can certainly get a great knife design featuring premium materials at higher price points, it’s simply incorrect to dismiss all knives that don’t cost a pretty penny as somehow not deserving of your attention. It’s entirely possible to get a quality affordable EDC blade with all the features and performance you need without having to break your budget. Better yet, because these knives don’t cost an arm and a leg, it’s less likely you’ll fall into the other trap when it comes to EDC knives: being too afraid to actually use your blade.

Whether you’re just starting out in the world of EDC and you’re looking for the best cheap knife, or you’re a seasoned vet looking for a beater backup knife or just something new, there’s plenty of options out there in 2021. To help you along in your search, we’ve put together this guide which rounds up some of the best budget knives that you can have in your pocket right around $50 today.

CRKT CEO Pocket Knife

CRKT CEO Pocket Knife

Purchase
Key Features
Liner lock
Manual thumbstud
GRN scales
Specifications
Blade Length
3.1"
Blade Steel
8Cr13MoV
Weight
2.1 oz
EDC Rating


Price
$
The CRKT CEO has been one of the most popular EDC knives released recently, and with its low price matched with its sleek and slim design it’s easy to see why. Designed in collaboration with custom knife maker Richard Rogers, the CEO is an elegant pocket knife that is suited for all tasks, but it’s especially useful in a professional setting where large tactical blades might turn the wrong sort of heads when all you’re trying to do is open letters and packages quickly and effectively. Its 3.11" 8Cr13MoV blade is easy to maintain, and the GRN scales offer a decent grip despite the slim nature of the handle itself. If you’re willing to spring for a more upscale version of this knife, there’s versions of this knife featuring a more hardy D2 tool steel as well as a premium S35VN stainless steel that meets the needs of some of the most discerning users in the EDC community.
CIVIVI Elementum Pocket Knife

CIVIVI Elementum Pocket Knife

Purchase
Key Features
Liner lock
Rear flipper opening
G10 handle
Specifications
Blade Length
2.625“
Blade Steel
D2
Weight
2.89 oz
EDC Rating


Price
$
The Elementum is one of the community’s favorite knives from CIVIVI, and its sleek, minimal design and easy one-handed flipper opening makes it a great value. The 2.96" hollow-ground drop point blade features D2 tool steel, and there are caged ball bearings in the pivot that make for a smooth index finger actuated opening with either hand. The G10 handle scale helps keep the knife in your hand during use, and the liner lock prevents the blade from closing up on you when you’re trying to get work done.
Gerber Flatiron D2 Pocket Knife

Gerber Flatiron D2 Pocket Knife

Purchase
Key Features
Frame lock
Eyehole opening
Micarta handle scales
Specifications
Blade Length
3“
Blade Steel
D2
Weight
5.35 oz
EDC Rating


Price
$
With its D2 tool steel blade, you can really get to chopping with the distinctive cleaver-style shape of the Gerber Flatiron. Its stout shape stands up to rough use, and the stainless steel frame lock gives you confidence that the knife won’t close on you when you least expect it. The large choil on the blade lets you get a choke grip on the blade for fine control and added security, and with its hollow grind you can even do a bit of food prep on the go if you need to so long as you make sure to use only food safe oil when maintaining the knife. It's a good cheap knife if you're exploring the versatility of EDC cleavers.
CJRB Swaggs Maileah Pocket Knife

CJRB Swaggs Maileah Pocket Knife

Purchase
Key Features
Liner lock
Flipper / thumbstud opening
G10 handle
Specifications
Blade Length
2.375“
Blade Steel
AR-RPM9
Weight
2.27 oz
EDC Rating


Price
$
CJRB is the more budget-oriented line of Artisan Cutlery, but they don’t skimp on the design or the materials when it comes to their offerings. Take the new Maileah folding knife for example, which brings Artisan Cutlery’s exclusively-designed AR-RPM9 powder steel that’s intended to bring the high hardness and edge retention of powder steel to a lower, more accessible price point. This sets this knife apart from most budget knives in this category that use 8Cr13MoV stainleess steel or D2 tool steel, and that combined with its 2.375" wharncliffe blade shape and front-flipper design with inset liner lock make this compact knife a great choice for EDC on a budget.
SOG Terminus XR Pocket Knife

SOG Terminus XR Pocket Knife

Purchase
Key Features
Ambidextrous XR lock
Rear flipper and thumbstud opening
G10 scale
Specifications
Blade Length
2.75“
Blade Steel
D2
Weight
3.32 oz
EDC Rating


Price
$
The SOG Terminus XR is only slightly above the target 50 USD price point, but the small amount more you pay is worth what you get: a quick flipper opening 2.75" stonewashed D2 tool steel blade with a reliable XR lock at the pivot and a gorgeous G10 handle scaling that’s available in a number of colors that can suit your style. For added convenience the deep carry pocket clip is reversible, for either left or right-handed tip up EDC.
Opinel No. 9 Carbon Pocket Knife

Opinel No. 9 Carbon Pocket Knife

Purchase
Key Features
Virobloc ring lock
Manual nail nick opening
Beechwood handle
Specifications
Blade Length
3.51"
Blade Steel
Carbon steel
Weight
2 oz
EDC Rating


Price
$
With how affordable the Opinel is, it’s easy to leave it out of the conversation. But it’s been a venerable everyday carry knife for generations now, and for good reason. The No. 9 features an extremely thin, razor-sharp 3.51“ high carbon steel blade that’ll cut through just about anything especially when you lock the blade in place using the iconic Opinel Virobloc safety ring. Its classic design and two-handed manual nail-nick operation also won’t raise eyebrows in public.
CRKT Pilar III Pocket Knife

CRKT Pilar III Pocket Knife

Purchase
Key Features
Frame lock
Manual eyehole opening
G10 handle
Specifications
Blade Length
2.75“
Blade Steel
D2
Weight
3.6 oz
EDC Rating


Price
$
The CRKT Pilar, made in collaboration with custom knife maker Jesper Voxnaes, has been one of the most successful collaboration designs released to the EDC community in the past few years. Now in its third iteration, the Pilar III features a more slender and organic shape that improves on the already-great ergonomics of the original knife. There’s an extended choil for a choke grip, and the G10 handle scales help you hold on to this knife no matter what. The Pilar III also features a 2.75" blade with a modified spearpoint shape that excels at both piercing and slicing tasks, and it also has a large eyehole for ambidextrous manual opening made even more smooth with IKBS ball bearings in the pivot.
Kershaw Random Leek Pocket Knife

Kershaw Random Leek Pocket Knife

Purchase
Key Features
Frame lock
Spring-assisted flipper opening
Stainless steel handle
Specifications
Blade Length
3"
Blade Steel
14C28N
Weight
3 oz
EDC Rating


Just released
Price
$
The venerable Kershaw Leek is still one of the best options for budget, if not general, everyday carry. One of its newest iterations is the ‘Random Leek’ which features a new reverse tanto blade shape that makes this Leek more suited for EDC utility tasks with a beefier blade. The blade steel remains the ultra-reliable 14C28N which enjoys high corrosion resistance, and of course the lightning-quick SpeedSafe spring-assisted opening comes with this Leek too.
Spyderco Tenacious Lightweight Pocket Knife

Spyderco Tenacious Lightweight Pocket Knife

Purchase
Key Features
Liner lock
Round Hole opening
FRN handle scales
Specifications
Blade Length
3.39"
Blade Steel
3.8 oz
Weight
8Cr13MoV
EDC Rating


Price
$
Spyderco makes some of the most popular everyday carry knives in the business, and their budget options deliver a quality experience at a lower price. One of their best is the Tenacious Lightweight, which weighs in at 3.8 oz while providing a capable mid-size 3.39" 8Cr13MoV blade with Spyderco’s trademark leaf-shaped blade and a sharp full-flat grind. The signature Round Hole opening allows for easy ambidextrous manual opening even when you’re wearing gloves, and the textured FRN scales let you keep a hold on the knife even when things get wet. The liner lock holds everything in place even during rough use, and for more delicate work you can avail of the aggressive top jimping on the blade to have more precise control over the cut.
QSP Penguin Pocket Knife

QSP Penguin Pocket Knife

Purchase
Key Features
Liner lock
Manual thumbstud
Micarta scale
Specifications
Blade Length
3.125“
Blade Steel
D2
Weight
3.17 oz
EDC Rating


Price
$
The QSP Penguin features a sturdy utility-oriented 3.125" sheepsfoot blade featuring a straight edge that has a flat ground profile made out of D2 tool steel. Its micarta handle scales offer a ton of grip even when things get wet, and a liner lock holds it all in place during use. If you’re not a fan of flipper style openings found on most budget D2 knives, the QSP Penguin is a manual thumbstud design that has less chance of opening up on you when you least expect it in your pockets. And when it is sitting in your pockets the deep carry pocket clip helps you stay discreet until you need to pull out the knife to accomplish the task at hand.

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