Everyday Carry

The 17 Best Small Pocket Knives in 2023

Adam Molina
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The 17 Best Small Pocket Knives in 2023

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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.


Our Top Picks

The Best Overall Pocket Knife: Tactile Knife Co. Rockwall [Buy]

The Best Pocket Knife on a Budget: Gerber Straightlace Pocket Knife [Buy]

The Best Multi-tool Pocket Knife: Victorinox Cadet Alox [Buy]

The Best Pocket Knife Upgrade: Chris Reeves Small Inkosi [Buy]

The Best Traditional Pocket Knife: Opinel No. 6 [Buy]


Our Favorite Small Pocket Knives

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. If you’re looking for a small knife to add to your EDC these are some of the best you can find.

Kershaw

Kershaw Launch 4 Pocket Knife

Purchase
Key Features
Red bullseye firing button
Black-anodized aluminum handle
Tip-up pocket clip
Specifications
Blade Length
1.90"
Weight
1.98 oz
Materials
CPM 154, aluminum
EDC Rating


Price
$$
Ironically, sometimes the smallest and most discreet EDC items tend to pique the most interest. Trending today is the Kershaw Launch 4, a super compact, California-legal automatic knife. When closed, it hardly looks like a pocket knife thanks to its understated, symmetric design and aluminum build. But with the press of a button, the blade deploys in a flash, revealing its 1.9", CPM-154 spear-point blade that's good for slicing and piercing tasks. While it isn't the largest blade, it makes up for its portability and satisfyingly nimble action, perfect for getting to tasks in a hurry. The Kershaw Launch 4 is also made in the USA and comes with a pocket clip for effortless carry.
Gerber

Gerber Straightlace Pocket Knife

Purchase
Key Features
Nail nick opening
Modern sheepsfoot blade
Aluminum handle scales
Specifications
Blade Length
‎2.9"
Weight
‎5.1 oz
Materials
‎7Cr, aluminum
EDC Rating


Price
$
Gerber makes all kinds of classic pocketable EDC gear trusted by many, and the Straightlace Pocket Knife is no exception. The knife measures just under 3” in length when closed and has a nail nick opening along the blade so you can deploy the stainless steel sheepsfoot blade when needed. It has a sturdy pocket clip to carry it wherever you go. It features a slip joint lock and comes in blue or green aluminum scales. If you want a classic-style pocket knife, this is a great option.
Buck

Buck Budgie Pocket Knife

Purchase
Key Features
Rugged black G10 handle
Frame lock for secure use
Pocket clip and lanyard hole
Specifications
Blade Length
2"
Weight
2.1 oz
Materials
CPM S35VN, G10
EDC Rating


Price
$$
Unlike the traditional gents’ knives that Buck tends to make, the Budgie is modern through and through. It starts with its premium 2" hollow-ground drop point blade made out of CPM S35VN stainless steel. It has a well-defined point for piercing work and an extended belly, making it a great slicing tool. And because of its choil, the edge is easier to maintain on a stone than most everyday carry knives. The 3.25” long handle features grippy G-10 scales on one side and a stainless steel frame lock on the other for a firm lockup even during rough use. The handle is designed in such a way as to give your easy right-hand access to the blade’s large eyehole for manual deployment. And on the other side of the knife, a deep carry pocket clip helps the blade disappear into your pockets when it’s not in use. For a bit of flair, the rear backspacer features bright red Cerakote and serves as a lanyard hole if you wish to add one.
Victorinox

Victorinox Cadet Alox Pocket Knife

Purchase
Key Features
Slim and lightweight
Nine functions
Split ring
Specifications
Blade Length
2.45"
Weight
1.62 oz
Materials
Inox stainless steel, Alox
EDC Rating


Price
$
The Victorinox Cadet Alox continues to be an easy recommendation for anyone looking to build or add to their EDC. Only 84 mm (3.3”) total length, impressively thin, with nine useful functions, and hardy embossed aluminum scales with anodic oxidation as an extra protective layer: these all add up to a multi-tool that's not only easy to carry but looks as good as it is functional. Since the Cadet’s release, there have been many slim, multi-function, and affordable blades, but rarely do they line up so well in a single product. And with aftermarket parts like clips, scales, and swapped tools adding even more utility, the Cadet also gives you the platform to build the perfect knife.
SOG

SOG Stout FLK Pocket Knife

Purchase
Key Features
Deep carry pocket clip
Durable frame lock
Flipper and thumb hole opener
Specifications
Blade Legnth
2.75"
Weight
4.08 oz
Materials
CRYO D2, G10
EDC Rating


Just released
Price
$
This little chonker of a knife isn’t just a great gift; it’s a great EDC blade that anyone into gear can appreciate. It hits this nice balance of pocket-friendly yet capable with its well-proportioned “little big knife” design language, measuring just 3.77“ closed. The shorter 2.62” CRYO D2 steel blade may be stout, but it’s surprisingly robust, and its clip point geometry maximizes the usable cutting edge to handle general EDC tasks. Despite its smaller blade, it’s still easy to operate thanks to an enlarged thumbhole and rear flipper tab, offering multiple ways to deploy the blade. It locks into a sturdy steel frame lock to withstand heavy use, while black G10 scales and hardware round out the knife.
Chris

Chris Reeve Small Inkosi

Purchase
Key Features
Right or left-handed orientation
Reeve integral lock with ceramic ball interface
Off-set clip design
Specifications
Blade Length
2.80"
Weight
4.96 oz
Materials
CPM S35VN, titanium
EDC Rating


Just released
Price
$$$$
Chris Reeve knives are considered by many to be some of the finest-made blades you can get. The Small Inkosi takes that same level of quality and puts in a small, pocketable knife that measures just 8.4” when deployed. The blade measures just 2.8”, meaning it abides by most knife laws (but double-check with your local laws just to be safe). It has a titanium handle with built-in grooves perfect for placing your fingers to get a better grip when cutting something. The dual thumb studs on either side of the blade make one-handed deployment a breeze. The Small Inkosi can be picked up with a drop point, insingo, or tanto blade style. Plus, you can choose between a left-handed or right-handed orientation as well, so you’ll get a knife that is perfectly suited to your preference.
Kizer

Kizer Mini Sheepdog Pocket Knife

Purchase
Key Features
Chunky cleaver blade
Flipper opening
Pocket clip
Specifications
Blade Length
2.625"
Weight
3.25 oz
Materials
CPM S35VN, titanium
EDC Rating


Price
$$$
If you were looking for a tough titanium pocket knife, check out the Kizer Mini Sheepdog knife. This unique flipper has a blade that’s just 2.6” in length. It combines stainless steel in the blade and a titanium handle for a lightweight yet tough everyday companion that you can use while hiking or opening boxes in the office. The clever design of the handle allows for better grip and gives the knife its unique look. A built-in pocket clip also makes it easy to EDC as you can simply clip it onto your bag or pants pocket.
Benchmade

Benchmade 533-3 Mini Bugout Pocket Knife

Purchase
Key Features
Blue titanium dual thumb stud opener
Carbon fiber handle scales
Reversible, deep-carry pocket clip
Specifications
Blade Length
2.82"
Weight
1.48 oz
Materials
CPM S90V, carbon fiber
EDC Rating


Just released
Price
$$$$
The Benchmade Mini Bugout delivers full-size EDC knife performance with a compact 2.82" blade length and an overall weight of just 1.48 ounces. It’s super-lightweight owing to its smart design, especially its carbon fiber scaling that delivers impressive strength and grip for the user while being almost impossibly light. And this premium version, with its CPM-S90V stainless steel drop point blade and AXIS lock, you can take on big and small tasks with the Mini Bugout in hand. It has all the qualities of its bigger brother, distilled down to a fantastic and pocketable EDC knife.
Spyderco

Spyderco Ambitious Lightweight Pocket Knife

Purchase
Key Features
Affordable price point
Trademark Round Hole opening
Lightweight FRN handles
Specifications
Blade Length
2.25"
Weight
3.30 oz
Materials
8Cr13MoV, FRN
EDC Rating


Just released
Price
$
A tried-and-true classic for a smaller pocket knife, the Spyderco Ambitious should definitely be on your shortlist. It has a 2.25” blade that securely locks into place thanks to the Walker LinerLock system that Spyderco has all but perfected. When fully open, the knife measures at just 5.8”, and the thumb hole allows for quick and easy one-handed deployment. Textured FRN handles make it easy to grip when slicing, and the drop point blade shape is an EDC favorite, thanks to its versatility. The clip is also removable, so you can carry clip-up or clip-down, whichever is most comfortable for you.
CRKT

CRKT Squid II Pocket Knife

Purchase
Key Features
Resin infused fiber handle
IKBS bearing-assisted opening
Dual thumb studs
Specifications
Blade Length
2.68"
Weight
4.80 oz
Materials
Böhler M390, Micarta
EDC Rating


Just released
Price
$$$
CRKT has a long track record of making quality pocket knives that don’t break the bank, and the Squid II is just another example. It’s a refresh of the classic original Squid knife that features a 2.7” blade made of Böhler M390 steel with a stonewash finish. So it’s as good-looking as it is useful as it can hold an edge for longer. The handle is a rugged green Micarta that can take a crazy amount of abuse and keep going. You’ll get a smooth action thanks to the IKBS bearings, and when you pair that with the thumb studs, it’s a knife that’s easy to use with one hand.
Tactile

Tactile Knife Co. Rockwall Pocket Knife

Purchase
Key Features
Signature groove texture on the handles
Titanium backspacer
Ceramic detent ball
Specifications
Blade Length
2.84"
Weight
2.54 oz
Materials
CPM MagnaCut, titanium
EDC Rating
Just released
Price
$$$$
While premium blade steels already exist, MagnaCut is a custom blend made in collaboration with Dr. Larrin Thomas to create “the best” knife steel. In particular, the immense amount of toughness, edge retention, and corrosion resistance makes it great for thinner blades than can be supported by other stainless steel alloys. And with less material in the blade itself, the overall knife comes out lighter and more EDC-friendly. Of course, this comes at a substantial cost, making it out of reach for many in the community. Known for their high-end bolt-action metal pens designed and crafted in the United States, Tactile has begun making quality everyday carry blades. One of their initial offerings features this super-premium CPM MagnaCut stainless steel. The Rockwall is a beautiful modern gents folding knife with that high-end steel and an all-titanium handle, machined with Tactile’s signature groove texture. The 2.84” blade features a flat grind, and it’s held together after a manual thumb stud opening with the insert lock in the handle.
Morakniv

Morakniv Eldris Pocket Knife

Purchase
Key Features
Included sheath
Square-edged ground spine blade
Good corrosion resistance
Specifications
Blade Length
‎2.2"
Weight
2.82 oz
Materials
Sandvik 12C27, polymer
EDC Rating


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 Scandinavian 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 fire steel 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 safely hang it from your neck via the lanyard hole in the back of the blade itself.
CIVIVI

CIVIVI Ki-V Plus Pocket Knife

Purchase
Key Features
Unique tanto blade shape and angle
Dual jimping
Low-profile clip
Specifications
Blade Length
2.52"
Weight
2.13 oz
Materials
Nitro-V, G10
EDC Rating


Price
$
If you’re looking for something more tactical, look no further than the CIVIVI Ki-V Plus pocket knife. This knife features a 2.5” tanto blade with liner lock and ceramic ball pivots for a smooth action. The handle is made of G-10 material, so you know it’ll be tough enough for any situation you find yourself in. On the blade's spine are dual-jimping points, so whether you’re just slicing open boxes or going harder to cut through something, you’ll have a place to put your thumb to guide the blade. It comes in black, white, or a stealthy all-black with carbon fiber overlay, so regardless of your carry, there should be one for you.
Zero

Zero Tolerance ZT 0022 Pocket Knife

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


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 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’s 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.
OKC

OKC RAT II D2 Pocket Knife

Purchase
Key Features
Affordable classic
Reversible thumb stud
4-way pocket clip
Specifications
Blade Length
3“ (2.75" cutting edge)
Weight
2. 8 oz
Materials
AUS-8, G10
EDC Rating


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 at 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 carrying it, as does the lanyard hole and reversible thumb stud.
WE

WE Knife Co. Mini Malice Pocket Knife

Purchase
Key Features
Flipper opener with a ball-bearing pivot
Button lock mechanism
Tip-up right-hand pocket clip
Specifications
Blade Length
2.98"
Weight
3.40 oz
Materials
CPM 20CV, titanium
EDC Rating


Just released
Price
$$$$
The WE Knife Co. Mini Malice is a pocket knife you shouldn’t overlook. It has a 2.9” drop-point style blade perfect for most tasks and has a black stonewashed finish. The knife has black titanium scales that not only look cool but enhance the knife's grip without adding too much weight. The unique feature of this knife is probably its button lock mechanism that not only deploys the blade but also makes for a safe fidget button. If you want a sleek EDC knife you can rely on regardless of the situation, check this one out.
Opinel

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
EDC Rating


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 requires 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 easily handle daily tasks.

What to Look for in a Small EDC Knife

While larger blades are useful for many situations, a small knife will get the job done just fine for most people. Not only are small knives less intimidating for people in cities or offices, but they’re also way smaller and easy to carry in your pocket or emergency pack when you’re out in the wilderness. The goal is to find a knife that perfectly suits your needs so that you can always have one in your kit. The best pocket knife is the one you have on you. For most people, a larger blade isn’t practical, so hopefully, this list will help you.

  • Size and Weight: A small pocket knife is supposed to be something you’ll never be without. Its small size and weight should encourage you to carry it more as it won’t be much of a hindrance. You’ll want to find something that won’t be a pain to carry daily.
  • Blade Steel Type: The kind of steel the blade is made of is important because it will let you know how durable the blade is and how well it can hold an edge. If you use the blade daily, it’s best to get a knife that can stay sharp for longer. You may want more durable metal if you’re putting it through heavy-duty usage. You can read about each kind of steel in our guide to blade steel.
  • Clip and Other Extra Features: Then there are the small things that make a difference that you should pay attention to. For example, does the clip allow for tip-up or tip-down carry? If you’re a lefty, taking note of whether it’s made for left-handed users is also important. Do you want a built-in bottle opener? These are all things to consider.
  • 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 use jimping or smartly placed finger notches for a better grip.
  • A legal blade length and regulation compliance: 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 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.

Small Pocket Knife FAQ

What is the most useful pocket knife?

The most useful pocket knife is the one you have on you. It’s a cliche, but if you’re looking to add an EDC blade to your carry, it doesn’t matter how much you spend on it if it’s sitting at home on your shelf when you need it most. Pick one that you’re going to be able to actually EDC.

Are pocket knives good for self-defense?

Pocket knives are tools, first and foremost, designed for everyday tasks. Even the best knives would need plenty of training and ideal circumstances to use effectively, making them downright dangerous even to the owner in an emergency, hence the strict laws in some places.

What is the best knife for camping?

The best small pocket knife for camping is Victorinox Cadet Alox. While it isn’t the largest or most rugged knife on this list, it does come with a few other tools that might be useful while camping, such as a bottle opener and a can opener.


How we picked

Decades of experience and deep connections in the everyday carry industry give us a unique viewpoint on the market to inform our product recommendations. We have the depth of information for thousands of products that have come before and an extensive eye on the market to see what’s new and trending for each piece of gear. The result is a buying guide that we feel is informative and useful for EDCers of every trade, industry, and budget.

What is Everyday Carry?

Everyday Carry is both the concept of what people carry in their pockets and the process of picking out gear that thoughtfully considers what one wants or needs in their daily lives. It encompasses everything from style to preparedness to utility, meaning an entire industry full of valuable tools and essentials to choose from.

Why you should trust us

Our team has decades of combined experience in all aspects of everyday men’s essentials, from wallets to pens to bags and everything in between, and we know where to find great gear ideas that you may not come across at your local stores or when shopping online. Our expertise with the industry and familiarity in design, materials, and usability help you make more informed choices when it comes to picking up your next piece of gear.

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Discussion (12 total)

Is there an reason you didn't include the WE Knives Banter and the CIVIVI Baby Banter? Those 2 should absolutely be at the top of the list.
Jim F ·
I did not expect to see it here, given how inexpensive it is, but the Kershaw Cinder is a handy knife for EDC. It is so small that it fits in the watch pocket of my jeans with room to spare. It has a liner lock blade, a bottle opener and a hole for a keyring or lanyard. Is it suitable for serious cutting tasks? Nope. But it will open a package or letter or cut a string nicely or open a bottle of your favorite beverage nicely. Every day stuff. Can be bought for less than $15. I like the new copper colored one.
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