14 Best Small Pocket Knives in 2020

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14 Best Small Pocket Knives in 2020

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When it comes to your EDC knife, size matters. And bigger isn't always better. A pocket 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 pocket 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 to consider small pocket knives, what to look for in a pocket-friendly EDC knife, and highlight the best EDC knives around the 2.5” to 3” sweet spot that are a cut above the rest.

What to Look for in a Small EDC Knife

  • An ergonomic handle: The best small pocket knives should have an ergonomic handle, since these more compact form factors have  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 on your EDC knife, don't gloss over how big it is when it's closed. Folding knives and flip knives are great at saving space, which is why they’ve found their way into the pockets of many EDCers.

  • A sturdy, low-riding pocket clip: If you’re going to be carrying your EDC 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 EDC knife easily accessible while freeing up space at the bottom of your pocket.

The following small pocket 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.

Benchmade Mini Bugout Pocket Knife

Benchmade Mini Bugout Pocket Knife

Purchase
Key Features
Popular design
Lightweight
New Grivory scales
Specifications
Blade Length
2.82“
Weight
1.5 oz
Materials
CPM-S30V, Grivory
Reviews
No reviews yet
Price
$$$
The Benchmade Mini Bugout delivers full-size EDC knife performance with a compact 2.82" blade length and an overall weight of just 1.5 ounces in total. It’s super-lightweight owing to its smart design, especially with its Grivory scaling that delivers impressive grip for the user without being too bulky and heavy for your pockets. And with its CPM-S30V stainless steel drop point blade and AXIS lock, you can take on tasks both big and small with the Mini Bugout in hand.
Spyderco Lil Native Pocket Knife

Spyderco Lil Native Pocket Knife

Purchase
Key Features
Versatile blade shape
Compression lock
Ergonomic grip
Specifications
Blade Length
2.47“
Weight
2.4 oz
Materials
CPM-S30V, G10
Reviews


Price
$$$
The Lil Native features Spyderco’s unique compression lock technology, which ensures a secure blade that won’t wobble around or much less close up on you even during hard use. That reliable locking technology allows you to leverage its compact 2.47" S30V stainless steel blade to the max. And with its G10 scales and the additional grip surface at the choil of the blade, you can get a full and tight grip on the pocekt knife during use, giving you precise control over the cut.
CRKT Sketch Pocket Knife

CRKT Sketch Pocket Knife

Purchase
Key Features
Burnley design
Unique blade shape
Liner lock
Specifications
Blade Length
2.894“
Weight
3.7 oz
Materials
8Cr14MoV , stainless steel
Reviews
No reviews yet
Price
$
CRKT designed this small pocket knife in collaboration with custom knifemaker Lucas Burnley to be a heavy-duty EDC knife that’s well suited for utility cutting and slicing tasks. It features a 2.894" K-Tip style blade that’s a bit of a mix: it has a somewhat cleaver-style shape that makes for great chopping, but it pairs that with a pronounced belly for maximum slicing power. And unlike some utility-oriented pocket knives, the Sketch keeps enough of a sharp tip that you can use it for piercing tasks as well.
The James Brand Ellis Pocket Knife

The James Brand Ellis Pocket Knife

Purchase
Key Features
Multi-function design
Combo blade
Lockback
Specifications
Blade Length
2.6“
Weight
2.8 oz
Materials
Sandvik 12C27, anodized aluminum
Reviews
No reviews yet
Price
$$
The Ellis is a minimalist EDC knife that can do more than just cut, but with its 2.6" Sandvik 12C27 stainless steel drop point combo blade it can definitely cut well. It features clean styling and a more-traditional lockback mechanism and nail nick opening, but it is a cut above your grandpa’s old timer knife. But what makes The Elis even more useful than other small pocket knives is the fact that it comes with a separate screwdriver, scraper, and bottle opener, making this a veritable multitool for your everyday carry needs.
CRKT Vox Piet Pocket Knife

CRKT Vox Piet Pocket Knife

Purchase
Key Features
Vox design
Versatile drop point
Reversible clip
Specifications
Blade Length
2.689“
Weight
2.5 oz
Materials
8Cr13MoV, glass-reinforced fiber polyamide
Reviews


Price
$
CRKT partnered with custom knifemaker Jesper Voxnaes to put together this sleek EDC knife with a formidable 2.689" drop point blade that’s easily deployed with either hand thanks to the big eyehole opening. The glass-reinforced fiber polyamide scales make for a lightweight 2.5 oz package, but it’s also sturdy with a stainless steel liner lock and a gorgeous blue backspacer that contrasts the rest of the knife’s design.
Morakniv Eldris Pocket Knife

Morakniv Eldris Pocket Knife

Purchase
Key Features
Compact fixed blade
Included sheath
Plenty of colors
Specifications
Blade Length
2.2“
Weight
2.8 oz
Materials
Sandvik 12C27, polypropylene
Reviews


Price
$
If you think a fixed blade knife can’t have an edge under 3" and still be worth carrying, you haven’t seen the Morakniv Eldris. It’s a pocket-sized Scandaniavian blade featuring a 2.2" edge and corrosion-resistant Sandvik 12C27 stainless steel. Its stubby blade profile is well-suited for outdoors cutting tasks, and it’s even designed to work well as a firesteel striker for getting a flame going when you’re camping. It comes with a symmetrical sheath that positively locks the blade into place, so you can be sure it won’t come out until you need it. This also means that you can hang it from your neck safely via the lanyard hole in the back of the blade itself.
Spyderco Insistent Pocket Knife

Spyderco Insistent Pocket Knife

Purchase
Key Features
Affordable
Ergonomic design
Reversible wire clip
Specifications
Blade Length
2.48“
Weight
3.7 oz
Materials
8Cr13MoV, G10
Reviews


Price
$
The Insistent is a budget-friendly compact Spyderco knife that doesn’t skimp on performance. Based on the popular Efficient, the Insistent is a slightly scaled down version that retains the favorable ergonomic design that makes the original such a great choice for everyday carry. It starts with the now 2.48" flat ground blade with Spyderco’s hallmark eyehole opening. The G10 scales on the handle allow for a sure grip even when your hands are wet, and the curved choil also acts as an additional grip section for increased control over the cut. A secure liner locks holds the 8Cr13MoV blade in place during use.
Bestech Isham Reticulan Pocket Knife

Bestech Isham Reticulan Pocket Knife

Purchase
Key Features
Unique design
Premium materials
Frame lock flipper
Specifications
Blade Length
2.00“
Weight
1.25 oz
Materials
CPM-S35VN, titanium
Reviews
No reviews yet
Price
$$$
The Besttech Reticulan is a collaboration design made with custom knifemaker Elijah Isham, and it has a distinct look that looks as sharp as its premium S35VN blade can cut. The attractive titanium handle is precision-machined into an organic curved shape that conforms to the shape of your hand for a tight grip during use. Deployment of the blade is easily accomplished with one hand, either from the flipper index tab on the blade itself, or the ambidextrous eyehole cut into its sides. The titanium frame lock is reinforced even further with for a secure lock-up, even during hard use.
Benchmade Micro Pocket Rocket Pocket Knife

Benchmade Micro Pocket Rocket Pocket Knife

Purchase
Key Features
Unique compact design
Premium materials
Frame lock flipper
Specifications
Blade Length
1.87“
Weight
3.52 oz
Materials
CPM-20CV, titanium
Reviews


Price
$$$$
With an overall length of just 4.83" fully deployed and a blade length of just 1.87" total, it might be easy to dismiss Benchmade’s Micro Pocket Rocket as a novelty. But the premium CPM-20CV blade composition combined with the secure titanium frame lock means that this is a super-compact EDC flipper knife that can perform like its larger cousins.
Zero Tolerance ZT 0022 Pocket Knife

Zero Tolerance ZT 0022 Pocket Knife

Purchase
Key Features
Galyean design
Premium materials
Flipper
Specifications
Blade Length
1.8“
Weight
1.7 oz
Materials
CPM-20CV, carbon fiber, titanium
Reviews


Price
$$$$
Not to be outdone, Zero Tolerance partnered with Tim Galyean to bring you the smallest pocket knife they can offer, featuring a 1.8" CPM-20CV premium stainless steel blade with a versatile clip-point style blade shape that combines a strong piercing tip with a curved belly for slicing work. This small pocket knife weighs in at just 1.7 ounces, and that is thanks to the use of carbon fiber on one side of the scaling, which contrasts well with the stonewashed titanium frame lock design on the opposite end of the blade.
CRKT Pilar D2 Pocket Knife

CRKT Pilar D2 Pocket Knife

Purchase
Key Features
Vox design
Ergonomic shape
Frame lock flipper
Specifications
Blade Length
2.669“
Weight
3.8 oz
Materials
D2, G10
Reviews


Price
$
The Pilar quickly became one a community-favorite compact EDC knife when it was released two years ago. Recently, CRKT has refreshed its design by sizing it up slightly and upgrading the blade composition to formidable D2 tool steel. This updated design is still compact, with a 2.669" long blade and the ergonomics that let it cut above its size.
OKC RAT II D2 Pocket Knife

OKC RAT II D2 Pocket Knife

Purchase
Key Features
Affordable
Plenty of value
4-way pocket clip
Specifications
Blade Length
3“ (2.75" cutting edge)
Weight
2.75 oz
Materials
D2, G10
Reviews


Price
$
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.
Benchmade 556-1 Mini Griptilian Pocket Knife

Benchmade 556-1 Mini Griptilian Pocket Knife

Purchase
Key Features
Popular, versatile design
Premium steel
Grip-focused handles
Specifications
Blade Length
2.91"
Weight
2.9 oz
Materials
CPM-20CV, G10
Reviews


Price
$$$$
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.
Opinel No 6 Carbon Steel Pocket Knife

Opinel No 6 Carbon Steel Pocket Knife

Purchase
Key Features
Classic design
Affordable
Excellent for food prep
Specifications
Blade Length
2.87“
Weight
1.2 oz
Materials
Carbon steel, Beechwood
Reviews


Price
$
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.

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.

#opinel #ontario-knife-company #zero-tolerance #bestech #morakniv #james-brand #crkt #spyderco #benchmade #buying-guides #knives #best-small-pocket-knife #best-small-knives #best-small-edc-knife #best-small-edc-for-30gmail #every-day-carry-loadout see all



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Discussion (65 total)

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 knives...you 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 play.so 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
Well for Slip Joints start with Swiss Army.
Then look at the brand Oldtimer.
Spyderco has had a few but don't see the ones i got listed anymore. Honey Bee or some such names.

BTW I think that after sized the legal problem are more about assisted opening.
But laws very.
See prior post for USA Knife Law App
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.
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?
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.
That CRKT is heavy! When I process deer, I tend to bring a Benchmade hunt series into the timber with me. Nothing wrong with what anyone uses, just happy we all like knives!
+1 on the Gerber paraframe being a piece of junk
Well, one of my early knives. Not as junky as some brand less cheap-o knives but its just wrong for me. Its in some Secondardy emergency kit somewhere.
An Important Head's Up
Law Enforcement doesn't only consider size.
The type of knife matters too.
Its probably best to remove that clip and don't put your knife in your jean's back pocket where itmakes a clear outline.

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I really like the Spyderco Deliica 4. One handed opening,, V10 steel, nice size, and good size. This knife is a winner. It is not a dress knife/gentleman’s folder. Much too sporty and casual looking; however, it is my EDC. Until I discovered the Spyderco Pingo! It is a two-handed, non-locking, 2.35 inch sheeps foot blade. Legal practically anywhere in the world. Good spring in knife mechanism means that it stays open until you want to close it. I really love this knife and carry it often. I alternate it with the Delica. Both are great pocket knives.
I have one. I like the blade but its handle is flat making it as non-ergometric as you can get.

Fortunately, the texture makes it pretty much non-slip.
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.
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.
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.
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.
My favorite edc small knives are Benchmade mini griptilian and the Bugout. Seems like the Bugout is always in my pocket. I also carry victorinox SD in my fifth pocket everyday for the toothpick.
For 3" and under blades, I like the Civivi Elementum. It's the perfect size and moderately priced. The Spyderco Dragonfly 2 is great too. It's super lightweight. I also have the Pilar Large, though not the D2 version. It's a great knife but a little heavy and the blade isn't as slicey as I prefer.
Personal favs

Benchmade Mini Griptilian (the nicer Doug Ritter variation is no longer available but the Benchmade Mini Freek is similar.
Ontario RAT II in AUS 8 and D2
I use the RATS more as backup knives but recommend as excellent Budget EDC knives.
Also partial to Spyderco Dragonfly 2
for a sharp well made small knife.

SOG Folding Knife – Twitch II w/ 2.65 Inch Locking Blade
An affordable small, practical non-threatening gentleman’s folder that’s not a steak knife (it is an assisted opener there might be a away to disable that).

Also Spyderco Ladybug 3 and slightly bigger Manbug for outstanding, useful keychain knives.
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