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The 14 Best Pocket Knives for EDC in 2021

Jonathan Tayag
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The 14 Best Pocket Knives for EDC in 2021

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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 14 favorite options to carry in 2021 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.

  • Locking system: A sturdy lock mechanism on your knife makes them safer to use during rigorous cutting tasks. Different locking systems 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 14 recommendations to get you started.


The Best Pocket Knives for EDC


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
EDC Rating


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 locking system 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.
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
EDC Rating


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.
CJRB Small Feldspar

CJRB Small Feldspar

Purchase
Key Features
Natural G10
Reversible deep carry pocket clip
Liner lock
Specifications
Blade Length
3"
Blade Steel
D2 tool steel (also available in S35VN)
Weight
2.62 oz
EDC Rating


Price
$
The CJRB Small Feldspar represents great value for money, with a sleek and affordable design that’s not overly tactical but still providing you the top notch cutting performance you demand out of an everyday carry knife. Its drop-point blade is made out of durable D2 tool steel, and it’s deployed easily with either hand via the traditional thumbstuds located on the blade. The reversible tip-up deep carry pocketclip lets you wear this on either side of your body, and a reliable liner lock holds everything in place during use. If you like the design of this knife but you want a more premium blade composition, the Small Feldspar is also available with CPM-S35VN stainless steel.
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
EDC Rating


Price
$$$$
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. Its dual thumb studs, AXIS lock, and reversible clip make it an excellent choice as an ambidextrous knife for left handed users as well.
CIVIVI Elementum

CIVIVI Elementum

Purchase
Key Features
Canvas micarta handle scales
Manual flipper opening
Liner lock
Specifications
Blade Length
2.96“
Blade Steel
D2 tool steel (also available in S35VN)
Weight
2.89 oz
EDC Rating


Price
$
The canvas micarta handles on the CIVIVI Elementum give the knife a touch of class, but it also lends durability to the scales and helps keep the overall knife lightweight at just 2.74 oz total in your pockets. The flipper action on the Elementum is super-smooth thanks to the ball bearings in the pivot, and the flipper itself helps to act as a guard against cutting yourself on your own blade during hard use situations when the knife is fully deployed. The Elementum is also available with a more premium S35VN stainless steel blade if you prefer, too.
WE Knife Banter

WE Knife Banter

Purchase
Key Features
Non-aggressive G10 handle scales
Blacked-out clean aesthetic
Manual thumbstud opening
Specifications
Blade Length
2.875“
Blade Steel
CPM-S35VN
Weight
2.61 oz
EDC Rating


Price
$$$
The WE Knife Banter in all black cuts a discreet and yet handsome look in hand, making it well-suited for EDCers who prefer a more minimal aesthetic. It’s not all looks though, especially with its 2.875" premium S35VN stainless steel blade with a well-defined spear-point tip that excels at piercing tasks. And if you look closely at the handle you’ll notice that it’s made out of gently textured G10 handle scales, giving you more grip than the metal handles of most modern gents knives but keeping things clean without being overly aggressive on your pants pocket as you draw the blade.
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
EDC Rating


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.
Gerber Sedulo

Gerber Sedulo

Purchase
Key Features
3D-textured handle grip
Ambidextrous pivot lock
Made in USA
Specifications
Blade Length
3.4"
Blade Steel
S30V
Weight
3.6 oz
EDC Rating


Price
$$$
The Gerber Sedulo boasts American-made craftsmanship with an everyday carry-focused design and feature set. Its 3.4" blade snaps into action via dual thumb studs, locking in place with an ambidextrous pivot lock. It features a a high-end S30V blade steel, used to keep a sharp edge over time, and a classic drop-point blade shape for everyday utility. Its beefy handle offers excellent control in the hand, with an aggressive knurling pattern and exposed jimped liners for a secure grip. Given its country of origin, blade steel, and limited lifetime warranty, the Sedulo is a compelling EDC option for those looking for a made-in-America knife to carry for the long haul.
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
EDC Rating


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 thumb studs fit 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.
CRKT Pilar III

CRKT Pilar III

Purchase
Key Features
New spear-point blade shape
Ambidextrous thumb slot opening
Steel frame lock
Specifications
Blade Length
2.9"
Blade Steel
D2 tool steel
Weight
3.6 oz
EDC Rating


Price
$$
The original Pilar was one of the community’s favorite knives years ago, and this new iteration of the blade is definitely a worthy successor. This version of the knife has been tuned up by custom knifemaker Jesper Voxnaes to have more of a spear-point style of blade, with a broad belly that makes it great for slicing as well as piercing work. The manual eyehole opening is smooth thanks to the IKBS bearings in the pivot, and the design maintains the deep choil that allows you to get a close up choke grip on the blade for delicate detail cutting and utility tasks too. On one side of the Pilar III there’s grippy G10 handle scales for retention even when things get slippery, and on the other side there’s a solid stainless steel frame lock to ensure the blade stays in place when the going gets tough.
Opinel No. 6 Carbon

Opinel No. 6 Carbon

Purchase
Key Features
Two-hand open
Vibroloc locking system
Traditional styling
Specifications
Blade Length
2.87“
Blade Steel
High carbon steel
Weight
1.0 oz
EDC Rating


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.
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
CPM-S35VN
Weight
4.2 oz
EDC Rating


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.
SOG Stout FLK

SOG Stout FLK

Purchase
Key Features
Flipper tab
Frame lock
Reversible pocket clip
Specifications
Blade Length
2.62“
Blade Steel
D2
Weight
4.09 oz
EDC Rating


Price
$
True to its name, the SOG Stout FLK delivers a “little big knife” experience as a tanky yet surprisingly portable everyday carry pocket knife. Excellent ergonomics, a grippy G10 scale, rear jimping, and a generous finger choil make the most of its rather compact 3.77“ handle. The short and wide design extends to its blade, featuring a capable D2 steel in a versatile clip point blade shape that’ll tackle most everyday tasks with ease. A stainless steel frame lock gives peace of mind during hard use, while a rear flipper tab and elongated thumb hole on the blade make the knife quick to deploy when you need it. Overall, it’s a great knife that inspires confidence to get things done in a satisfying, hefty design that isn’t overly cumbersome compared to larger knives.
SOG Terminus XR LTE

SOG Terminus XR LTE

Purchase
Key Features
Flipper tab
XR lock
Carbon fiber liners
Specifications
Blade Length
3.00“
Blade Steel
CPM-S35VN
Weight
2.35 oz
EDC Rating


Just released
Price
$$$
New for 2021, the SOG Terminus XR LTE takes everything that made original Terminus XR great, like its premium materials and sleek design, and shaves down the weight to make it an even more pocket-friendly knife. The Terminus XR LTE achieves a barely there 2.35 oz weight thanks to its carbon fiber overlays and weight-saving carbon fiber liners. It still features a drop-point blade for general cutting tasks and a high-end CPM-S35VN steel for excellent edge retention. A deep-carrying pocket clip, ambidextrous XR lock, rear flipper tab, jimping, and finger choil round out this classy tactical knife’s impressive set of features.

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Discussion (13 total)

Goldthunder ·
Para 3 or Bugout, cannot go wrong . Interested in seeing ceo myself. Crkt can be hit or miss with me. Never blade issues usually fit and finish
Still waiting for the crkt ceo flipper, it's not for sale yet
I've been carrying the Spyderco Para 2 for the longest time and I love it. My favourite knife thus far and holds an edge super well
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