The Best Budget Pocket Knives Under $50 in 2023 (Not Cheap!)

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Whether you’re an outdoor enthusiast, an everyday carry aficionado, or someone looking for a reliable tool for everyday tasks, the right pocket knife can be a real game-changer. Budget knives are getting good and worth considering if you’re in the market for your next pocket knife. Interest in everyday carry knives is only growing, and plenty of tried and true options cost less than a trip to the movies nowadays. In this guide, our mission is to help you find the perfect tool for the job without breaking the bank. If you want an everyday carry knife that blends quality, functionality, and affordability, you’ll likely find something that catches your interest here.

This post was last updated on 12/15/2023.

Our Top Picks

The Best Overall Budget Pocket Knife: CJRB Pyrite [Buy]

The Best Budget Knife for Food Prep: Opinel No.06 [Buy]

The Best Budget Slipjoint Pocket Knife: Victorinox Cadet Alox [Buy]

The Best Budget Fixed Blade Knife: Morakniv Eldris [Buy]

The Best Budget Traditional Knife: Buck Knives 110 LT [Buy]

The Best Overall Budget Pocket Knife :hsc_emoji_trophy:
The Best Budget Knife for Food Prep
The Best Budget Slipjoint Pocket Knife
The Best Budget Fixed Blade Knife
The Best Budget Traditional Knife
CJRB Pyrite
Opinel No.06
Victorinox Cadet Alox
Morakniv Eldris
Buck Knives 110 LT
  • Rock-solid design for everyday tasks
  • Button lock
  • Plenty of variations
  • Thin blade making it ideal for slicing and food prep
  • High-quality wooden handle with locking collar
  • Plenty of alternative versions with different sizes and handle wood types
  • Slim and light
  • Large, thin blade useful for slicing
  • Comes with other useful tools
  • Scandi grind helps with ease of sharpening
  • Can be used as a striker with firesteel in an emergency situation
  • Comes in many variations of size and color
  • Includes a polymer sheath
  • Nail nick deployment with a lockback
  • Comes with a sheath
  • Clip point blade
  • LIghtweight nylon body
  • Button lock is usable as a lefty but isn’t truly ambidextrous
  • The carbon steel blade needs a bit more maintenance than other stainless steels
  • Non-locking blade
  • No clip out of the box
  • Scissors would have been nice (but are on the Pioneer X model instead)
  • Size may be a little too small for heavier bushcraft tasks
  • No clip carry option
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At around , it’s hard to ignore the value offered by the CJRB Pyrite knife. It combines ergonomics, a sharp 3.11” drop-point blade, and a sleek all-metal design into something that punches above its weight class.
This probably isn’t the knife you grab for tougher heavy-duty tasks but if you’re cutting up some vegetables or peeling an apple for your picnic, the Opinel No.06 should be on your shortlist.
The Victorinox Cadet weighs only 1.6 ounces and has a tough stainless steel construction, making it great for everyday carry as you get a lot of functionality in a package smaller than most folding pocket knives.
This pocket-sized knife measures just 2.2” long and has a click-lock polymer sheath for safekeeping. At 5.6” in total, it won’t be hard to find a spot for it in your carry. Whether you toss it in your bag on your next hike or choose to pocket carry, this 2.8 oz knife won’t weigh you down.
This classic folding knife features a 3-¾” inch clip point blade that will stay sharp when you need it and safely tucked away when you don’t.
Blade Length
Blade Length
Blade Length
Blade Length
Blade Length
Blade Steel
Blade Steel
Blade Steel
Blade Steel
Blade Steel
Stainless steel
Recycled Swedish stainless steel
420HC stainless steel
Aluminum scales with anodic oxidation
Glass-reinforced nylon

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The Best Overall Budget Pocket Knife: CJRB Pyrite

At around $50, it’s hard to ignore the value offered by the CJRB Pyrite. It combines ergonomics, a sharp 3.11” drop-point blade, and a sleek all-metal design into something that punches above its weight class. It features a proprietary AR-RPM9 powder steel that should help the blade stay sharper and harder than your average stainless steel.

There is some nice jimping along the blade’s spine to help with tougher cutting tasks, and dual thumb studs make for a quick and clean deployment. Once the knife locks into place, the tough stainless steel handle provides a solid grip. Releasing the blade when the job is done is as easy as pressing the button lock, which lets you swiftly swing the blade back into the handle.

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The Best Budget Knife for Food Prep: Opinel No.06

Opinel has been making everyday carry-worthy knives for well over a century. These classic folding knives are made in France and are an excellent option for anyone looking to make light work out of their food at dinner time. This probably isn’t the knife you grab for more demanding, heavy-duty tasks, but if you’re cutting up some vegetables or peeling an apple for your picnic, the No.06 should be on your shortlist. It features a 2.87” Sandvik 12C27 blade that’s designed for sharpness. It’s easy to take care of as well and will be useful for years as long as you remember to sharpen it now and then.

One of the features that makes the Opinel No.06 so iconic is the handle. The company carefully selects high-quality wood that will age gracefully (making these a solid knife to pass down). Opening the blade is as simple as it gets, and by rotating the Virobloc Safety Ring, you can keep the blade locked in the open or closed position, depending on what you’re doing. Anthony Awaken says in his full review that when it comes to an outdoor knife, “the simplicity of Opinel cannot be beaten.”

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The Best Budget Slipjoint Pocket Knife: Victorinox Cadet Alox

You can’t have a discussion about budget EDC knives without bringing up the Victorinox Cadet. This small multitool measures only 3.3″ in length yet packs a punch. Besides the screwdriver, bottle opener, and can opener, it also has a small blade perfect for everyday cutting tasks like opening boxes or peeling apples. The Victorinox Cadet weighs only 1.6 ounces and has a tough stainless steel construction, making it great for everyday carry as you get a lot of functionality in a package smaller than most folding pocket knives.

It’s also a solid option if you work in an office or often find yourself in places where having a knife is frowned upon. The Swiss Army Knife brand is ubiquitous enough that most people won’t feel threatened by one, and the Cadet is top-tier. Best of all, you can almost always pick one up for less than $50. There’s a reason why knife expert Tom of NotoriousEDC fame calls it his “favorite knife ever.”

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The Best Budget Fixed Blade Knife: Morakniv Eldris

Not all great everyday carry knives fold. There are certainly some fixed blades that are worth checking out as well, like the Morakniv Eldris. This pocket-sized knife measures just 2.2” long and has a click-lock polymer sheath for safekeeping. At 5.6” in total, it won’t be hard to find a spot for it in your carry. Whether you toss it in your bag on your next hike or choose to pocket carry, this 2.8 oz knife won’t weigh you down.

The blade is made from Sandvik 12C27 stainless steel, just like the classic Opinel No.6 knife. It’s also easy to keep sharp and has corrosion resistance as well. One of the coolest features is the square-edged ground spine, which can be used as a striker with firesteel in an emergency or the next time you want to roast marshmallows in the yard. It also comes in multiple colors so you can pick up a stealthy all-black option or a high-vis orange. Kenneth Woodham of The Gadgeteer recently called this knife a workhorse, and we must agree.

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The Best Budget Traditional Knife: Buck Knives 110 LT

Buck knives are a classic option for everyday carry, and the Buck 110 LT is a great example of why that has held true for so long. The company has had a reputation for making quality knives for over a century, and every new knife it releases builds on that legacy and knowledge. This classic folding knife features a 3.75” clip point blade that will stay sharp when needed and safely tucked away when you don’t.

The blade is made of 420HC stainless steel, while the handle is tough nylon perfect for even the toughest situations. While the Buck 110 LT does fold down to roughly 4” when closed, it also comes with a handy sheath for quick access when your pockets are full. In this full video review, it’s even called the “perfect EDC pocket knife,” and while it’s hard to say that anything is truly perfect, it’s hard to disagree.

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Our other recommendations

CIVIVI Mini Elementum: The CIVIVI Elementum is an impressive knife on its own and worthy of a spot in your everyday carry, but if 2.96” is too much blade for you, then check out the CIVIVI Mini Elementum. This one features a 1.83” blade made from 14C28N steel which provides great edge retention and is easy to sharpen.

It features a caged ceramic ball bearing that allows for silky smooth action. This flipper is easy to open in a pinch, and the frame lock keeps it open until the job is done. At only 1.4 oz, this knife is so light that some people attach it to their keys. Whatever you decide, chances are you won’t be disappointed in the quality of this knife, especially at this price point. In his full review, Uncommon EDC said this knife is super impressive as long as you’re not going to be doing any heavy-duty cutting tasks with it. As a keychain knife, though, it’s hard to beat.

Ontario Knife Company RAT II: When it comes to budget knives worth their weight, the Ontario RAT II is a classic. Not only is it budget-friendly at around $40, but it’s everything you want in an everyday carry knife. The 3” drop point blade is perfect for everyday cutting jobs, and deployment in a pinch is a breeze thanks to dual thumb studs and a trustworthy liner lock. The blade is made of AUS-8 stainless steel, which is fairly easy to sharpen and rust-resistant. When you combine the 2.9 oz weight with the fact that it measures just over 4” when closed, the RAT II makes a strong case for why it should be in your everyday carry.

Spyderco Ambitious Lightweight: If you’re looking for a capable everyday carry knife that won’t weigh you down, the Spyderco Ambitious might be the one you’re looking for. The Ambitious ditches the G-10 scales in favor of an even lighter fiberglass-reinforced nylon. Everything else about this community favorite stays the same, from the recognizable Round Hole that allows for easy deployment of the 2.43” blade to the 4-position clip carry.

CRKT Tuna Compact: The Burnley Tuna Compact is one of CRKT’s newest offerings and demands to be noticed with its gorgeous 2.73” stonewashed 8Cr13MoV blade and distinct profile. This spear point knife is everything that was already great about the original Tuna in a smaller, more manageable package. It combines a strong steel frame lock, grippy G-10 handle, and dual thumb studs to make a solid do-anything knife perfect for everyday carry.

SOG Terminus XR: The SOG Terminus XR is a quick flipper with a 2.75″ stonewashed D2 tool steel blade and a reliable XR lock at the pivot, with a gorgeous G-10 handle scaling that’s available in several colors that can suit your style. For added convenience, the deep carry pocket clip is reversible for left- or right-handed tip-up everyday carry.

ESEE BRK Zancudo Designed by ESEE: When it comes to the best budget pocket knives, the ESEE BRK also deserves a close look. This model features a coyote tan polymer handle with a frame lock and has D2 steel, which is used in many everyday carry knives as it can take a beating. This knife offers a lot for its $38 price tag and is worth checking out if you don’t want to break the bank.

Gerber Slimsada: Gerber might be best known for its many affordable multitools, but the company also knows a thing or two about making a great pocket knife. The Slimsada folding knife is a prime example. It has a D2 steel stonewashed 3.47” blade, perfect for anyone who needs a little more from their pocket knives and features a Micarta handle for optimum grip. Throw in a nicely sized thumbhole that makes one-handed deployment a breeze, and it’s hard to pass on this knife, especially at this price point.

Kershaw Align: Kershaw is another one of those brands that you’ll see pop up in almost every pocket dump. The Align continues that trend by being a solid everyday carry option for almost anyone. It has a sleek and minimal design, a tough 3.15” 8Cr13MoV blade that’s easy to sharpen, and a built-in flipper for assisted opening. You also get a deep-carry clip for when you need to keep a low profile.

QSP Parrot V2: One of the best budget-friendly options out there is the QSP Parrot V2. This knife costs less than $30 and has a 3.25” D2 blade for everyday tasks. It has a reversible pocket clip so you can carry it however you want, and dual thumb studs make for an easy deployment. The locking mechanism is a trusty liner lock, and when your job is done, the blade folds back down into the 4” handle without a problem. If you’re not a fan of the G-10 handle, a few other models come with a Micarta handle instead.

Types of Budget Knives

It’s a great time to be looking to add a new knife or two to your everyday carry setup. There is no shortage of options, and you’ll most likely find multiple knives to get the job done. With so many different kinds of knives, it’s hard to know which is best for you, but it’s still good to know some of the more common options.

Pocket knives

As you probably gathered from the name, a pocket knife can fit in your pocket. Typically, this means that they fold to fit on your person comfortably. Knives that don’t fold (fixed blade) are also great for a certain kind of everyday carry setup, but chances are that your knife will come with a sheath that straps to your belt or bag. A pocket knife folds into its handle to protect you when it’s not in use. It’s very convenient for everyday cutting tasks, but they also tend to be shorter, averaging about 2.5-3.5”. Some places also have regulations against pocket knives, so as always, it’s worth checking with your local laws before adding one to your kit. 

Frame locks

A frame lock is a kind of mechanism used to ensure that the blade of a folding knife remains locked in place to avoid any accidents. If the blade is deployed, a portion of the metal frame of the handle snaps into place, propping the blade in the open position. The frame lock is durable and easy to open and close with just one hand. These knives make great options for everyday carry, as you can still deploy the blade even if you’re doing something with your other hand.

Automatic knives

An automatic knife is spring-loaded so you can deploy the blade without force. Typically, this happens at the press of a button or switch. There are two types of automatic knives that are worth knowing about. The first is the standard flipper, which swings the blade out and locks it into place at the press of a button. The second is an OTF knife (out-the-front) with the blade hiding inside the handle until a release mechanism is pressed. At this point, the blade deploys straight up and out of the handle. These knives have a quicker deployment time when speed is of the utmost importance and are typically used by tactical forces and law enforcement. These knives also have plenty of restrictions, so get familiar with local laws before picking one up.

Cool knives

This is where you can have fun with your everyday carry blade. Not to say that frame locks and automatic knives aren’t cool, but there are so many options out there that sometimes you just want something that looks unique or has a little added flair. Picking yourself up a knife with your favorite color, engraving something on the handle, or getting a blade that has a distinctive blade shape or material are just some of the ways you can really make your knife your own. Have fun with it!

Budget knives

Budget knives are different from “cheap” knives. Budget knives are typically mass-produced knives that provide high value for the cost without cutting corners when it comes to safety just to shed a few bucks off MSRP. A good budget knife can range from just $20 to over $100, depending on the knifemaker and materials used. While there are plenty of reasons to spend a lot of money on top-tier custom knives, not everyone wants to shell out for something they’ll beat up or potentially lose. The great thing about a good budget knife is that even if you have a collection of expensive custom knives, tossing a budget knife in your backpack or car is a good way to cover your bases if you forget your knife at home or find yourself in an emergency.

Sturdy knives

Your everyday carry knife shouldn’t feel unsafe to use. A sturdy knife has a tried-and-true locking mechanism, ergonomic handle, and strong blade materials. Any knife that skimps on one of these features to save a few bucks isn’t worth your time or money. You want a knife that isn’t going to break on you mid-use and cause an injury.

Cold Steel blades

Cold Steel is a tool manufacturer that was founded in 1980. It specializes in knives and other weapons and its blades are trusted by military and law enforcement personnel. They offer flippers, folders, fixed blades, and mini throwing knives.

Materials Often Used in Budget Knives

When it comes to budget knives, there are a few go-to materials that knife makers rely on. As far as handles go, there is no shortage of options. Some come with stainless steel handles, as with the Kershaw Leek. In contrast, others (like the CIVIVI Elementum mentioned above) have carbon fiber options, which are slightly more expensive but lighter. Carbon fiber is also extremely strong compared to steel, but it’s not the most durable option. Another popular material is Zytel, a reinforced fiberglass material that’s strong and extremely durable. As you go up in price brackets, you’ll likely come across more premium materials like Micarta and titanium. If you’re interested in learning more about those materials and a few others, check out this great resource on handle materials.

Features of Budget Knives to Consider When Buying

If you’re looking to buy a good budget knife, some things should be at the top of your checklist. You’ll want to make sure that your knife can be sharpened easily. A dull knife leads to accidents, so ensuring your blade uses good steel that you can sharpen quickly will help you prevent mishaps. Another thing worth being aware of is the design. What material handle does your knife have? Are there spots to place your fingers or jimping on the spine to help you get a better grip? Things like this might not matter if you’re just opening boxes, but they come in handy when the job gets a little tougher. What kind of locking mechanism your knife has is also worth considering so you know how to operate your knife. If you’re unsure, check out this useful glossary on the different types of locking mechanisms, complete with images and descriptions.

How much should I pay for something quality?

Depending on what you consider quality, you can spend a small fortune on a good pocket knife. Seeing as this article is about budget knives; however, a good price range to consider is around $50. While there are knives around $100 that are worth the price tag, there are so many options at $50 or less that provide fantastic value.

What kind of steel do I want?

While there are numerous kinds of steel for knives, only a handful in the price range of about $50 are worth taking seriously. One of the most common is AUS-8A steel, about 58 or 59 on the Rockwell Hardness scale. It’s known for its rust resistance but also dulls fairly quickly. Thankfully, it’s also easy to sharpen, and a sharp knife is a safe knife. There’s also 8Cr13MoV, which is a trustworthy metal that you’ll find plenty of brands using, like Gerber, Kershaw, and Spyderco, to name a few. It’s tough and easy to sharpen, but it also doesn’t hold an edge very well, so make sure to sharpen it often. Good budget knives also use D2 steel, which is harder than AUS-8A, scoring in the low 60s on the hardness scale. D2 steel also has a slightly higher corrosion resistance and toughness.

How long should my knife be?

When it comes to everyday carry, it’s all about efficiency. While a larger fixed blade is ideal for hunting and skinning, most people don’t carry one in their pockets. That’s what belt clips or a good sheath is for. On average, 3” seems to be the preferred length for most tasks. If you’re mostly going to be in the office opening boxes or cutting the occasional tie, try going a little shorter with something like the Victorinox Cadet. If you need a do-everything kind of knife, sticking to around 3” is your best bet, as it can handle most cutting tasks without much fuss. One thing worth mentioning is to ensure you’ve looked up your local legislation regarding knife size and type, as many places have different laws and requirements.

What about the width?

Blade width is somewhat of a personal preference based on what you intend on doing and how comfortable you are handling knives. Thinner knives are better for precision tasks like slicing filets, while thicker knives are more robust and can handle tasks like chopping. For most daily tasks, people seem to gravitate to blades between 0.8 to 0.16″, but if you’re looking for a knife to add to your survival kit, thicker is better as there is less of a chance of it breaking.


What is the best budget pocket knife?

The best budget pocket knife depends on how and when you will use it. For most people, however, you can’t go wrong with Ontario RAT II or Victorinox Cadet.

What are the features of a great budget pocket knife?

Some important features to look out for when it comes to pocket knives are blade material, locking mechanism, and ease of deployment. You want a steel that’s easy to sharpen, safe to use when open with a trusted locking mechanism, and preferably can be deployed and put away with only one hand.

What are the benefits of a pocket knife?

The beauty of a good pocket knife is that the list of use cases continues to grow in surprising and useful ways. People use their knives for everything from opening boxes and cutting loose threads to slicing lemons and even as a makeshift lock for a bathroom stall.

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 life. 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 in the industry and familiarity with 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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