20 Best Pocket Knives for EDC in 2020

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20 Best Pocket Knives for EDC in 2020

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If there’s one item that separates your usual setup of a phone, wallet, and keys from a bona fide everyday carry (EDC), it’s the venerable pocket knife. It’s become a symbol of preparedness, widely regarded as a staple of EDC gear. That’s because having a good pocket knife can come in handy in a surprising number of ways, from everyday tasks like opening packages or prepping a snack to emergency applications such as self-defense or outdoor survival alike. With so many ways you can use a pocket knife, it’s no surprise you’ll have plenty of options to choose from, which can be daunting. In this buyer’s guide, we’ll break down what to look for when choosing the best pocket knife for your EDC, as well as highlight our 20 favorite options to carry in 2020 to make your search for your next pocket knife easy.

How to Choose the Best Pocket Knife for Your EDC

As with all EDC gear, finding the right knife for you depends on plenty of factors. For general everyday use, you’ll most likely want a folding pocket knife with a locking mechanism, clip, and a blade that’s around 2.5“ to 3” long. However, there are still a few things to consider besides those factors:

  • Size and weight: The most useful knife is the one you have with you. An EDC knife should be compact and light enough that you won’t feel inconvenienced to carry it every day, but large and robust enough to feel comfortable in your hand and effective while cutting. A good ballpark range for an EDC knife size is around 4“ long when closed and around 3.25 oz in weight.

  • Blade length and shape: A drop-point shaped blade between 2.5“ to 3.5” long should handle most everyday tasks. The trade off with length is the longer you go, the more cutting edge you can work with, potentially making tasks easier. Any longer and it may feel unwieldy in hand. Shorter blades are ideal for lighter cutting tasks and seeming less threatening when using them in public.
    Be sure to check your local knife laws about restrictions on blade length as that may narrow down your options. If you can only legally carry a smaller knife, be sure to check out our guide to the 14 Best Small Pocket Knives for EDC.

  • Blade steel: The steel used in your knife can affect its cutting performance, edge retention, corrosion resistance, ease of maintenance, and much more. The knives on this list feature good steel in general, but if you want to learn more about the different kinds of steels, be sure to check out our beginner’s guide to blade steels.

  • Lock type: A sturdy lock mechanism on your knife makes them safer to use during rigorous cutting tasks. Different locks operate in different ways—some are ambidextrous, some move your fingers away from the path of the blade, and so on. Learn more about common knife lock mechanisms in our beginner’s guide to knife locks to find the right one for your needs.

    Be sure to check your local knife laws about restrictions on locking knives, as that may narrow down your options. If you can’t legally carry a locking knife, see our guide to the 10 best non-locking EDC knives.

  • Handle Materials: There’s more to a knife than its blade—the handle is an important part of the equation. You’ll want a handle that’s comfortable, durable, and grippy. G10 is a good all-around material for its light weight and grip but you might also like other materials like anodized aluminum, micarta canvas, or wood.

  • Styling: Once you’ve gone over the considerations above, you can narrow your search to knives that look great and fit your style alongside the rest of your gear. You might want a tough-as-nails tactical blade, a classy gent’s knife to use around the office, or a traditional design for that timeless appeal.

Now that you know what to look for when picking the best pocket knife for you, take a look at our 20 recommendations to get you started.


The Best Pocket Knives for EDC


Opinel No. 6 Carbon

Opinel No. 6 Carbon

Purchase
Key Features
Two-hand open
Vibroloc lock mechanism
Traditional styling
Specifications
Blade Length
2.87“
Blade Steel
High carbon steel
Weight
1.0 oz
Reviews


Price
$
The venerable Opinel No. 6 Carbon knife is seriously affordable but don’t mistake that for poor quality. The super-thin high carbon steel blade cuts through most things like butter so long as you take care to keep it free from rust because that performance comes at the price of corroding quick if you leave it wet. The traditional yatangan shape of the blade lets you slice cleanly with it in hand, and carve with the tip when needed, and for added security the signature Virobloc system on this knife lets you lock the blade in place with a turn of the ring on the handle.

Header image courtesy of Christian.
CRKT CEO

CRKT CEO

Purchase
Key Features
GRN handle scales
Liner lock
One-position tip-down right hand deep carry clip
Specifications
Blade Length
3.125"
Blade Steel
8Cr13MoV
Weight
2.1 oz
Reviews


Price
$
The CEO is designed as a knife you can take to the office without turning too many heads, whether or not you’re the CEO of the company. Its sleek streamlined safe makes it great for gents or executive carry, and its slicing power works well whether you’re using it for utility tasks or using it as an extra-fancy letter opener. At just 2.1 oz in weight, you can carry this in a shirt pocket without dragging you down, and the deep carry pocket clip lets you do so without it screaming to everyone that you have a knife when that isn’t something you want to do. The thumbstud opening fits into a recess on the handle that allows the blade to close completely without sticking out and ruining the aesthetics of the design, and with the IKBS ball bearings in the pivot, the opening is smooth and quick.

Header image courtesy of Yuri.
Kershaw Anso Fraxion

Kershaw Anso Fraxion

Purchase
Key Features
Rear flipper opening
Lightweight
4-way pocket clip
Specifications
Blade Length
2.75“
Blade Steel
8Cr13MoV
Weight
2.0 oz
Reviews


Price
$
With its lightweight combination carbon fiber and G10 scaling and the telltale design language of a Jens Anso-designed everyday carry knife, it’s easy to see why the Kershaw Fraxion enjoys such popularity in the community. It delivers great value for money, with a barely-there total weight of just 2 ounces and a clip point shape on its 8Cr13MoV stainless steel blade that makes short work out of your daily cutting and slicing needs, especially with its hollow grind geometry. Jimping on the top of the blade allows for increased grip when you need precise control especially when carving with the tip. And the flipper mechanism allows for easy one-handed opening, and you can carry this knife in either pocket with its reversible tip-up pocket clip.
Spyderco Para 3 Lightweight

Spyderco Para 3 Lightweight

Purchase
Key Features
Compression lock
FRN scales
Ambidextrous tip-up deep carry wire clip
Specifications
Blade Length
3"
Blade Steel
CTS-BD1N
Weight
2.4 oz
Reviews


Price
$$
At just 2.4 oz weight in total, the Spyderco Para 3 Lightweight truly lives up to its name. And with a premium BD1N stainless steel blade featuring a full-flat grind and Spyderco’s trademark leaf-shaped design, it’s ready to take on any EDC task you bring to the table. The compression lock at the spine is built sturdier than their regular liner and lockback mechanisms as well, making this agile knife ready to take on heavy duty use when it’s required. And don’t just take our word for it: the Para 3 Lightweight won ‘Most Innovative American Design’ at Blade Show 2019, and it features in many EDCer’s pocket dumps as a result.
TOPS Knives MSF-4.0 Mini Scandi

TOPS Knives MSF-4.0 Mini Scandi

Purchase
Key Features
Rear flipper opening
Micarta handles
Made in the USA
Specifications
Blade Length
3.25“
Blade Steel
N690Co
Weight
3.5 oz
Reviews


Price
$$
You probably know TOPS Knives more for their impressive line of everyday carry fixed blade knives, and if you’re looking to get the cutting power of one of their Finnish-inspired knives in a folding package, check out their Mini Scandi Folder. With its durable canvas micarta handles and the Bohler N690Co steel blade, it has a similar make up to their fixed blade offerings, but with a beefy steel liner lock to hold everything together once you flip the blade open. And that blade features a great scandi grind on the knife, which makes for a sharp edge that you can maintain easily especially if you use a whetstone to sharpen and hone your knives.
Zero Tolerance ZT0462

Zero Tolerance ZT0462

Purchase
Key Features
Carbon fiber/titanium construction
Frame lock
Made in the USA
Specifications
Blade Length
3.7"
Blade Steel
20CV
Weight
3.7 oz
Reviews


Price
$$$$
Sinkevich-designed blades have a hallmark slender shape that makes them excellent for cutting and slicing tasks, and one of the best knives you can buy with that right now without dipping into custom designs is his collaboration with Zero Tolerance: the ZT 0462. This knife features an 4“ flipper blade with a upswept point and a slicing belly that takes full advantage of the length to perform well. Because of the KVT ball bearings in the pivot, deployment of the blade is easily accomplished with a single hand, and the premium CPM-20CV stainless steel composition of the knife will hold an edge much longer than cheaper knives can. The gorgeous red-black carbon fiber scales give this knife an elegant touch as well, making it well suited for times when you have to dress for the occasion.
Leatherman FREE K4X

Leatherman FREE K4X

Purchase
Key Features
FREE magnetic locking
Fold out scissors and other tools in handle
Made in the USA
Specifications
Blade Length
3.3"
Blade Steel
420HC
Weight
5.5 oz
Reviews


Price
$$
If you carry both a knife and a multi-tool but you want to consolidate your carry down to one item, the Leatherman FREE K4X is the best choice. Where the knife is almost an afterthought on most multi-tools out there, the FREE K4X features a blade-centric design that incorporates a full-size 3.3" locking blade with a useful wharncliffe shape that’s great for everyday utility cutting and slicing tasks. And because the blade is made out of 420HC, it’s great for use as a beater knife because it’s easy to fix and maintain. Thanks to the integrated fold out spring-loaded scissors and pry tool in the handle, though, you can avoid using your knife in ways you shouldn’t, and the bottle opener, screwdrivers, and awl comes in handy as well.
Ontario RAT II D2

Ontario RAT II D2

Purchase
Key Features
Liner lock
G10 handle
2-way pocket clip
Specifications
Blade Length
3"
Blade Steel
D2
Weight
2.75 oz
Reviews


Price
$
The Ontario RAT II has been a community favorite budget-friendly EDC blade for a few years now, but its best incarnation is the upgraded version that features D2 tool steel which is harder and can hold an edge much better than the run-of-the-mill AUS-8 steel version can. The tradeoff is that D2 isn’t a stainless steel, and while it won’t immediately attract rust if you stop looking at it for a second, you need to take extra care while maintaining the knife to make sure it remains in tip-top shape as you use it. Other than the blade steel though, the excellent tactical ergonomics of the blade which made this knife a top pick for the community remains the same, and the grippy G10 scales help you keep a handle on the knife even when things get wet and slippery.
Cold Steel American Lawman

Cold Steel American Lawman

Purchase
Key Features
G10 handle
Tri-Ad lock
Made in the USA
Specifications
Blade Length
3.5"
Blade Steel
S35VN
Weight
4.0 oz
Reviews


Price
$$
If your first impression of a Cold Steel knife is a huge folder more suited for cutting meat hung off a rope in a theatrical fashion, their American Lawman is far more tame and practical. And while their marketing can be a bit over the top, there’s no denying that their knives are made to tackle seriously big challenges. And with its CPM-S35VN stainless steel drop-point blade, it’ll be able to handle hard use for longer than knives that use less premium steel. The presence of the sturdy lockback mechanism also gives an added dimension of security as it’s going to take quite a lot of abuse to have the knife fail on you during use. The big choil integrated into the blade and handle allows for a choke grip that lets you have fine control over the blade, but you can also take a more stand off approach and grasp the entirety of the grippy G10 handle scales with a more traditional hold as well. The lack of a flipper protests against unintended deployment, but the cut out in the handle means that it’s not too hard to get this knife open with the thumbstud.
CIVIVI Chronic

CIVIVI Chronic

Purchase
Key Features
Rear flipper opening
Slim G10 handle
Reversible pocket clip
Specifications
Blade Length
3.25“
Blade Steel
9Cr18MoV
Weight
2.5 oz
Reviews


Price
$
The minimal design of the CIVIVI Chronic makes it a great option if you’re looking for a knife you can take with you everywhere without drawing eyebrows for an overly-tactical look. Its low-profile yet functional G10 handle scales conceal a 3" 9Cr18MoV stainless steel clip-point blade that deploys with a single hand thanks to its flipper tab deployment. That flipper tab pops up as part of the choil of the knife helping you keep from slipping up on the blade handle and cutting yourself accidentally, and the stainless steel locking liner helps prevent bad accidents as well while the blade is in use. Once you’re done, you can close it up and make it disappear in your pockets with its reversible deep carry pocket clip.

Header image courtesy of George.
Benchmade 533 Mini Bugout

Benchmade 533 Mini Bugout

Purchase
Key Features
Grivory scales
AXIS lock
Deep carry reversible tip up pocket clip
Specifications
Blade Length
2.82"
Blade Steel
S30V
Weight
1.5 oz
Reviews
No reviews yet
The original Benchmade Bugout was one of the community’s favorite production knives in recent times, and in 2020 they’ve sized things down even further to make for an excellent compact EDC knife with the Mini Bugout. In this smaller edition, the premium CPM-S30V stainless steel drop-point blade measures just 2.82" long, and at just 1.5 oz this is one of the most lightweight folding knives you can pack today.
Gerber Fastball

Gerber Fastball

Purchase
Key Features
Aluminum handle
Stainless steel liner lock
Three-position left/right hand tip-up/down pocket clip
Specifications
Blade Length
3"
Blade Steel
S30V
Weight
2.79 oz
Reviews


Price
$$
If you wanted to pick up a Gerber knife today, the Fastball is your best bet. It features premium S30V stainless steel with a Wharncliffe-style blade shape that retains enough of a tip to pierce well when you need it. Gerber’s B.O.S.S. tech ball bearings in the pivot make for a smooth opening, and the precision detent in the handle lets you flick it open and closed kind of like a light switch. The knife is American-made, and the precision machining in the aluminum handles as well as the stainless steel liner allow for a lightweight carry without sacrificing a secure lockup for bigger tasks.
Buck 110 Folding Hunter Slim Pro

Buck 110 Folding Hunter Slim Pro

Purchase
Key Features
Lockback
Micarta handle
Made in the USA
Specifications
Blade Length
3.75“
Blade Steel
S30V
Weight
3.1 oz
Reviews


Price
$$
This isn’t your grandpa’s Buck knife, although it does share the overall design of the original Buck 110 Folding Hunter. The Slim Pro variant is as it sounds: a slimmer, lighter in weight version of the classic gents folding knife with a pro twist with its premium and superior S30V stainless steel blade composition. It achieves weight savings by bucking the traditional wood and brass scales on the handle for much more durable canvas micarta available in brown or green colorways. If you prefer G10 handle scales, that’s available as well in a lower-profile black. And whether the traditional Buck knife has to be held in a holster for easy carry, this modern update to the timeless classic gives it a reversible deep carry pocket clip for added convenience.

Header image courtesy of Nazul.
ESEE-3

ESEE-3 Fixed Blade

Purchase
Key Features
Fixed blade
G-10 handle
Kydex sheath
Specifications
Blade Length
3.785"
Blade Steel
S35VN
Weight
6.0 oz
Reviews


Price
$$$
If you prefer to carry a fixed blade knife, you’re probably already familiar with the built-tough performance of ESEE knives. While their blades tend to be made out of 1095 tool steel for durability’s sake, they’ve recently made the ESEE-3 camp knife available in S35VN stainless steel for the first time. The stainless composition of this new knife makes it less susceptible to corrosion and wear over time, and the improved hardness allows it to cut and slice better than the standard model. Of course, the tradeoff is that with harder steel comes relatively less durability, so you probably shouldn’t abuse and baton this knife through wood like you can usually get away with on other ESEE knives.
Böker Plus Panchenko Brass Lancer

Böker Plus Panchenko Brass Lancer

Purchase
Key Features
Antimicrobial brass handle
Gent’s knife styling
Titanium pocket clip
Specifications
Blade Length
3“
Blade Steel
S35VN
Weight
4.2 oz
Reviews


Price
$$
Böker has been making quality everyday carry knives in Germany since the mid-1800s, and in the modern day they leverage their generations of expertise along with the design chops of top custom knifemakers to bring you some of the best production knives you can pick up for EDC today. Their collaboration designs with Serge Panchenko feature his unique style, and everything about the Brass Lancer screams quality and precision. The premium S35VN stainless steel blade has a large eyehole the deploys easily from the precision-machined brass handle, and its black finish contrasts nicely against the yellow of the metal for an added touch of class. But it’s not just for show, as it features a sturdy titanium locking liner that will handle better over time compared to traditional stainless steel, which is good because you’re going to want to carry this knife around with you long enough to see the beautiful patina that develops as the brass reacts to your skin and the environment as the years go by.
Kizer Vanguard Splinter

Kizer Vanguard Splinter

Purchase
Key Features
Rear flipper open
Liner lock
Gent’s knife styling
Specifications
Blade Length
3.25“
Blade Steel
N690
Weight
2.35 oz
Reviews


Price
$$
Kizer has helped disrupt the EDC knife market by bringing quality materials and great design in a folding knife to price points that far more people can afford, especially with their Vanguard line. The Vanguard Splinter ditches the titanium scales of the original with much more grippy G10 handles for those of us who prefer that. The ergonomic blade allows for a secure hold on the knife that helps prevent against cutting yourself on your own blade during rough use. And the Bohler N690 steel used in the slender Wharncliffe-style blade is no slouch either, providing some of the best hardness and edge retention you can get at the price point while still being a stainless steel. The flipper blade deployment isn’t assisted, but it’s still smooth and fast while providing enough resistance against accidental deployment to make it safe to carry in any pocket with its reversible tip-up pocket clip.
Bestech Thorn

Bestech Thorn

Purchase
Key Features
Rear flipper opening
Liner lock
G-10 handle
Specifications
Blade Length
3"
Blade Steel
Sandvik 12C27
Weight
3.9 oz
Reviews


Price
$$
If you’re looking for a budget everyday carry knife but you don’t want to compromise too much on blade steel, check out the Bestech Thorn. With its 12C27 Sandvik steel blade, it’s not too soft like some of the competition, but yet it’s still entirely affordable for most people. And with blade’s extended belly, the Thorn is an incredible slicing knife. The flipper deployment allows for quick access, and the G10 scales allow for a secure grip at all times giving you superior control over the cut when precision matters. The stainless steel liner lock on the knife is solid, with little to no blade play from side to side, giving you piece of mind as you go about your day with it in hand.
SOG Flash AT-XR

SOG Flash AT-XR

Purchase
Key Features
AT-XR Lock
Assisted opening
Deep carry pocket clip
Specifications
Blade Length
3.13“
Blade Steel
D2
Weight
4.49 oz
Reviews


Price
$$
In years past, SOG’s assisted-opening line of Flash knives were high on the list of people’s favorite everyday carry knives. In 2020, SOG has given the knife a welcome upgrade, with a more functional flipper design that features a super useful drop-point blade with a deep belly that excels at slicing tasks. The steel composition of the knife has been upgraded as well, with D2 tool steel for great edge retention and sharpness. But the highlight of the new design is SOG’s XR lock, which features a cross bar mechanism that allows for ambidextrous operation and security even during rough use.
Chris Reeve Large Sebenza 31 (Plain)

Chris Reeve Large Sebenza 31 (Plain)

Purchase
Key Features
Reeve Integral Lock (Frame Lock)
Titanium 6Al4V scales
Lots of upgradable options for handle scales
Specifications
Blade Length
3.61“
Blade Steel
S35VN
Weight
4.7 oz
Reviews
No reviews yet
Price
$$$$
The Sebenza 31 is the newest incarnation of the everyday carry community’s perennial "grail" knife. And with its skillful mixture of premium materials, customization options, and raw performance, it’s easy to see why. On first glance, however, the Sebenza 31 looks pretty similar to the older model, the 21, but some quality of life improvements have been made that make up the difference. The Sebenza 31 features a new ceramic ball at the end of the lockbar, which improves the durability of the frame lock and makes it easier to operate quality as well. The Sebenza 31 is also available with additional kinds of handle inlays, letting you pick the model that truly fits your aesthetic. But everything else that makes this a great knife stays the same: the CPM-S35VN stainless steel blade and the beautiful 6Al4V titanium frame handle’s quality set this knife apart from the standard mass-produced item you might find on shelves, and that impeccable attention to detail is available to you if you have the cash to spring for it.
Steel Will Kobold

Steel Will Kobold

Purchase
Key Features
Compact blade
Liner lock
G10 handle
Specifications
Blade Length
1.75“
Blade Steel
2.65 oz
Weight
D2
Reviews
No reviews yet
Price
$$
If the length of blade you can carry is restricted, you’re looking for a backup knife, or you’re just looking for a short discreet knife to EDC, the Steel Will Kobold is a compelling option. The Kobold features an intelligently-designed 1.75“ drop-point blade that integrates a pronounced belly for slicing work and a strong trip for heavy-duty piercing work. Its D2 tool steel composition makes it well suited for everyday utility tasks, and the liner lock ensures the blade remains deployed after a quick flip or a flick of the large eyehole cut into the steel.

Do you have a favorite knife you'd recommend to your fellow EDCers? Let us know what's in your pocket by leaving a comment below!

For more gear to go with your next pocket knife, check out our other guides:

Header image featuring Benchmade 533 Mini Bugout courtesy of Brenn B.

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Discussion (10 total)

Spyderco shaman, black DLC
I picked up a Ruike P801-SB earlier this year and haven't put it down since. A great all around knife for a great price (around $30). If you like the look of the Chris Reeve Sebenza, but want a knife at a fraction of the cost, the P801-SF is a great choice. And in my opinion I prefer the flipper tab and deep carry clip that the P801 offers.
No 'The James Brand'? And I thought they were the sh*t 😂
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