The Best EDC Knives Under 3" in 2020

The Best EDC Knives Under 3" in 2020

When it comes to your EDC knife, size matters. And bigger isn't always better. A knife that's too big can be unwieldy to use and carry, not to mention illegal depending on where you live. On the flip side, a knife that's too small might take more effort for even simple tasks. For a lot of you, the best EDC knife is just under 3" long. In this guide, we'll break down why you might want a smaller knife, what to look for in a compact EDC, and highlight 10 EDC knives around the 2.5” to 3” sweet spot that are a cut above the rest.

What to Look for in a Compact EDC Knife

  • An ergonomic handle: Smaller blades means smaller handles, and less room for error. Make sure to choose a knife that’s comfortable to hold and makes use of jimping or smartly placed finger notches for a better grip.

  • A legal blade length and lockup: Be aware of your local knife laws as they vary from place to place. Some places don’t allow you to carry locking knives, while others don’t allow any knives to be carried at all. A good EDC knife can be a super useful tool, but it won’t do you much good if it gets confiscated.

  • A space-saving design: While it's important to consider the cutting length of the knife, don't gloss over how big it is when it's closed. Folders and flippers are great at saving space, which is why they’ve found their way into the pockets of many EDC’ers.

  • A sturdy, low-riding pocket clip: If you’re going to be carrying your knife in your pocket, it’s a good idea to be aware of the clip orientation of the knife. Do you prefer tip up or tip down? Are you a righty or a leftie? Pocket clips are great for keeping your knife easily accessible while freeing up space at the bottom of your pocket.

The following knives are some of the most popular and widely recommended options for EDC that measure in around the 2.5” to 3” blade length range.

The Best Small Pocket Knives for Everyday Carry in 2020

Kershaw Cryo G10

Kershaw makes plenty of great affordable knives, but one that checks all the boxes for EDC is the Cryo G10. Its 8Cr13MoV steel blade measures 2.75” while the G10 handle on this updated model cuts weight and enhances grip. You can get the knife from your pocket to open position in no time thanks to Kershaw's signature SpeedSafe assisted opening that locks up with a sturdy frame lock. It also comes with a four position pocket clip which just adds to its versatility.

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Spyderco Delica 4

Spyderco first released the Delica in 1990, and every iteration since then has made it an even better EDC knife. The Delica 4 is the latest and greatest, with a 2.8” VG-10 blade that's shaped for general slicing utility. Its lightweight, bi-directional nylon handle gives you plenty of grip for those tasks that require a little more power. Whether you prefer to carry tip-up or tip-down, the 4-way clip of the Delica 4 has you covered.

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Gerber Paraframe Mini

A great EDC doesn’t need to break the bank. Just look at one of the most-carried knives by our readers: the Gerber Paraframe Mini. It only has a 2.2” blade, but because of its small size it’s easy to carry whether you take advantage of the pocket clip or not. This folder has a frame lock built into its sturdy stainless steel frame that's skeletonized to save on weight, making it great for everyday carry and use. Best of all, you can grab one for less than ten bucks.

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Benchmade Mini Griptilian

The Benchmade Mini Grip is a classic EDC knife and an excellent option for beginners and southpaws. Benchmade’s ambidextrous AXIS lock system gives it a smooth action so you can quickly deploy the blade with just a flick.  It has a 2.9” drop-point blade made from 58-61HRC steel that many EDCers swear by. Between the knurling on the handle and the smartly placed jimping along the spine, it’s easy to see where the Mini Grip gets its name.

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Victorinox Pioneer X

If you're looking for an EDC knife that covers as many bases as possible without the bulk, look no further than the Victorinox Pioneer X. Between the scissors, bottle opener, and screw drivers, the Pioneer X offers plenty of functionality to go along with its super sharp stainless steel blade. For simple tasks few knives are as versatile and convenient as the one that comes packed into the Pioneer X.

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CRKT Pilar

Judging by its popularity with other EDCers, the just-released Pilar from CRKT is already shaping up to be one of the best sub 3-inch knives you can get. It's a Voxnaes design with top notch handling, thanks to a finger choil in its 2.4” blade. The blade itself is made from 8Cr13MoV steel and has a thumb slot for flicking open the blade with one hand. Top that all off with two-way pocket clip, and the Pilar is a uniquely bold pocket knife that any EDCer can appreciate.

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Opinel No. 6

If you want a more traditional looking knife, an Opinel from France is a classic that still holds up today. The Opinel No. 6 is an affordable folder with a 2.7” carbon steel blade placed firmly in a classic wooden handle. Its unassuming design makes it easier to use around others without raising too many eyebrows. It does require some maintenance because of its carbon-rich steel, but if you take care of it you’ll be rewarded with a handy knife that can handle daily tasks with ease.

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Ontario RAT II

The RAT series from Ontario Knife Company earned its well-deserved reputation as an excellent set of value EDC knives for their slim, sturdy design and useful blade. The RAT II is 20% smaller than the original model, with a blade length coming in just around 3”. Slicing is a breeze with its thin, AUS-8 steel blade and ergonomic handle. The 4-way pocket clip offers plenty of flexibility in terms of how you choose to carry it, as does the lanyard hole and reversible thumb stud.

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Buck Vantage Pro 0342

You might be familiar with Buck for their iconic lockback knives for hunting, but their USA-made Vantage Pro 0342 should definitely be on your radar as a compact EDC option. This flipper has a 2-⅝” long drop-point blade with a nice balance of belly and thickness for more demanding cutting tasks. The Vantage Pro uses excellent materials as well, boasting S30V stainless steel between a molded nylon G10 handle. It has a reversible, deep pocket clip so you can carry it tip-up in either pocket.

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Chris Reeve Small Inkosi

Many knife enthusiasts and EDCers hail the Chris Reeve Sebenza as one of the best knives ever made for its excellent materials, craftsmanship, balance, and utility. So it's no surprise that their newest knife, designed to be a more EDC-focused update, could be your next grail. The Inkosi's titanium handle holds the 2.8” CPM-S35VN stainless steel drop point blade in place, with a smooth action that deploys with ease. Jimping on the spine of the knife and ergonomically placed notches in the handle provide excellent grip and control. With these utility-focused upgrades, the Inkosi has earned its place on the wish list of blade enthusiasts and amateurs alike.


Do you carry a knife on the smaller side? What's your favorite EDC knife in the sub-3” class? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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Discussion (51 total)

Solid list! I personally love the Cryo (but it doesn't fit my hand), the Delica and the RAT II. The Paraframe is a good knife, but it doesn't keep it's edge very long and it can be hard to sharpen (personal experience).
That's because the paraframe is mystery crap steel lol.
Perfect knife for those sub-3" carry days is the Spyderco Techno, designed with Slysz.
I think any of the. Sub 3" spyderco budget line models could be added.
That's not the Cryo in the pic, right? I was looking into the Cryo but ultimately didn't get it because I'm not a huge fan of flippers (I have no idea why I don't like them... It's irrational, I know).
The Kershaw Reverb is a great new small EDC knife. I don't need the carabiner on it but it works as a bottle opener, so that works for me! I think it's way better and better looking than the Gerber Paraframe Mini. That's boring.
Out of this list, the RAT II and Cryo are my vote for best budget knife. The Mini Grip is a solid blade, but the handle feels lacking considering the price tag.
I do like the Delica, it's a solid knife and middle of the road for budget.
I don't know why the Gerber EAB isn't on here. It uses a utility blade is the only reason I can fathom but I've been carrying one every day for years. Favorite by far.
they did a feature on utility blades recently, pretty sure the EAB popped up there.
Who spends $400 for an everyday knife? Nothing wrong or against the manufacturer but contextualising within the concept of "everyday carry" what precise, reliable, life saving use can justify such expense?. A knife for everyday use (open letters, boxes, cut fee things etc..) shouldn't cost more that $40, the rest is for more specific use (which maybe 1% of us does repeatedly) or collectibles
Some people do more than open letters. Also, everyone spends unnecessary money. People who buy an upgraded car model with leather seats spend unnecessary money. You might want to judge what people spend their money on but I bet you have spent your money on something someone else here would like is overkill. Just remember that when you judge others, they will judge you back.
Joe, I was gonna use the car analogy also, some people drive a Mercedes and some drive a Toyota.
I carry a sebenza everyday and spare it nothing but the meanest jobs.
Processing game, kitchen duties, boxes, whatever it'll do the job but it also brings me joy a lady a quality price of gear that I also see as art.
Don't yuck my yum and I won't yuck yours.
*joy as a quality piece of gear*
I am not judging who buys expensive knives. I was just wondering if the current approach on buying knife (and knife use...I will get there in a bit) is still attained to the very concept of everyday carry. And when you say "everyone spends unnecessary money" you confirm what I was trying to state. But then you went on judging me and what should be right to say or not. I just expressed my opinion and I go your judgement... fair enough... moving on I understand that people might live a life where are more appropriate use for a quality knife (processing game, btw I am a hunter too) but then I would not used of everything. Bottomline more times than not a tool that does everything is fairly good at everything but doesn't excel in anything. And then finally regarding the use of a knife I would invest more money on a multi tool rather than a knife as i embrace the philosophy of "each tool for its job"... you can do more than cutting with a knife, like splitting, opening can etc etc but how well do you do it? My common sense is smiling at the idea of prying something, especially metallic, with $400 knife.
if you're prying with your edc knife, then yeah, spend the money elsewhere (like on a prybar).
Knives and ARs are where cost snobs come in and look down on others. If you have the disposable income to blow on whatever product...more power to you. It's the "let them eat cake" comments that piss people off.
I can afford to blow a little cash on my toys, ammo is my preferred indulgence. Quality metal is very nice to work with, but the fan-boys have allowed the makers to keep the prices much higher than they should be.
I could care less who designed a given knife. It either works for the tasks at hand or it doesn't. Many people will buy a bench made for +$300 instead of buying a spinner widget. Admit it, opening and closing the knife because "it feels good" is a major reason for buying over priced knives. They fidget with them.
Those that have not held a chris reeves will never understand.. Your paying for perfection
Why shouldn't an EDC knife cost $400 or more? Many such knives (Chris Reeve, Strider, Rick Hinderer, Medford Knife and Tool to name some) are hand assembled, and are extremely well-made knives that last a life-time. Take care of them, and they can increase in value. Are they for everybody? No. Not everyone can afford them, but that's life. A knife is a tool, simple as that. You choose how you want to use it. We can debate all day and night on this topic, but anyone can make an argument for or against the $400+ EDC knife. I mean an automobile is an automobile, right? Why should anyone drive a $70K Heavy Duty diesel truck unless you haul things for a living? Why should anyone daily drive a BMW M3?It's all about personal preference. I find nothing wrong with people that daily drive expensive automobiles. It's their choice. The same goes for EDC. I personally like seeing high-end stuff that the community uses. Who wants to see the same Made in China stuff all the time?
Pfft, "hand assembled", there's only like 4 parts (blade, clip, front side, back side, and misc screws and washers and stop pin). It's not like put putting together a mechanical watch.
Yes, hand assembled---aka the ultimate in quality control. LoL--watches are another great topic! The $20 Timex is far more accurate than any watch out there with the exception of watches like Casio G-Shock that receive an atomic signal each day. For those that have used more expensive knives, I need not convince them of their quality.
The " wouldn't understand" comment is getting old. I have been around long enough to understand that quality comes with a price. Problems arise when price goes with a name. Mose of these knives are not art, they are production knives.
If you really want quality, get a custom hand-made knife for +$1,000. If you have never handled and used one of these truly higher end wouldn't understand!
I am new here. Been looking at this sight for a couple of years but never signed up. I have to say though that if someone wants to spend $400 on a knife, it's fine with me. Although I am a knife enthusiast, I appreciate nice tools. I use a knife everyday for many different tasks. I was taught to save your money, buy a good one that you really want and you only have to buy that item once. My expensive knives will last me throughout my lifetime. I believe in investing in yourself.
I always say you get what you pay for. If you want to buy a 40 knife to ahead and it'll work fine but don't expect a good blade steel or exceptional quality. My first ever knife was an M-tech and as I'm sure anyone into knives can assure you m-techs are the shittiest worst built knives ever made. It held its edge for about a day and a half and screws started falling out by the end of the week. I stent 45 dollars on that knife. Now this christmas I got a kershaw leek. Spent like 105 on it. Its still, with light-medium duty and everyday use, razor sharp and has just about no blade while I agree that 400 dollars on a knife is very expensive it might also last you 10 times as long and save you 10 times as much trouble as the 40 dollar knife will.
Would've been nice to see more slipjoint knives on this list. Especially as they're often more law-friendly in many countries/states.

I carry a Spyderco Squeak daily. Good steel, nice fat blade, one-handed opening and UK friendly carry.
Good point! It would have been cool for them to have mentioned a GEC
This had multiple quality knives. However, how could anyone recommend the Gerber paraframe? It has mystery steel. That's a piece of junk. You should have recommended the Gerber pocket folding razor blade over the paraframe. I hope no one wastes their money. I hate when people say, get this knife because it's only $10! You get what you pay for. its better to save up a little more and go with some of the other options listed.
Goto EDCs: Boker Beer Barrel Canoe and Benchmade Impel. To change it up some, I'll grab an old Chicago Cutlery L30 that I used to carry back in high school.
+1 on the Gerber paraframe being a piece of junk
That CRKT Pillar is a real awesome looking knife. Never really been a fan of Spiderco, Bench Made an ZT, not because I find anything wrong with there craftsmanship, but simply because they are heavily over priced. Then again, depending on what you use your blade for some peaople might prefer a more "showy" knife. I abuse my knife on a daily basis. Its used from skinning dear, to chopping wood. I personally can't afford to buy a $400 every year. So I buy a box of cheap knifes, work it till the blade is as thin as a needle, then toss it in the bin.
Do you skin deer on a daily basis? Also how do you use your knife chopping wood?
I Skin at least 5 to ten dear a week. I chop branches, kindle and small sticks for camp fires on a daily basis. I use the blade as a chisel and hammer on it with another stick. I am a PH, I make my living by taking people on hunting trips. Its my full time job. It doesn't pay much, so cheap tools is the best I can do.
You can get the Opinel in stainless steel. A rather good one. I love my stainless No 6.
Honest question: Are the Chris Reeve knives made so much better to justify being 8x the price of a Kershaw? I don't personally know anyone that carries one but how is it that much better than a $50 Kershaw?
Personally I carry a Sypderco Ambitious. I actually got it recently and was definitely an upgrade from my Kershaw Shuffle.
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