Here at Knife Informer we’ve compiled our list of the best EDC knives for every budget. Remember, your EDC is not intended to be the ‘master-of-all-trades’. There will always be a better knife for specific tasks like slicing tomatoes, carving tent pegs from a fallen branch or skinning a deer but most of us want a single “do-everything” knife that stays with us throughout the day and is good enough for almost anything. It needs to be dependable, comfortable to carry and perform well in a variety of situations.
All the knives you see on this page are great choices but the knife we find ourselves recommending more than any other is the Benchmade Mini-Griptilian. It’s a good size for everyday use, well-made by a reputable company and attractively priced.
Don’t feel you have to drop a king’s ransom on your EDC knife. If you’re a knife enthusiast or someone who just has to have the very best then it’s fine to spend more, but for the average Joe there are plenty of excellent choices in the lower price brackets. Remember, the most valuable knife is always the one you’re carrying when the need arises.
Our recommendations for the best EDC knife
Without further ado, here is a list of our favorite EDC folding knives available today in order of price range:
Key Specs: Ontario RAT 2
The RAT 2 is one of our favorite budget blades as few other folding knives offer the equivalent performance, fit and features at this price point. Last time I checked the RAT 2 can be had for under $30 which is phenomenal value for a folding knife that performs at this level. It’s small and lightweight with an impressive blade that’s been heat treated to perfection. The handle is tough yet comfortable and the whole thing feels incredibly well balanced in use. The deployment is slick and it locks up with reliable certainty each and every time thanks to the full stainless steel liners.
With a choice of handle colors and blade variations, Ontario Knife Company has elevated the RAT 2 into the epitome of a ‘do-everything’ knife to suit everybody’s tastes.
Key Specs: Kershaw Skyline
Kershaw’s Skyline has been a fan favorite for many years now and the reason is simple – the Skyline is slim and lightweight yet provides formidable performance at this price range. The blade is made from 14C28N steel which is arguably the best in class at this budget level. The handle is G-10, providing maximum grip and near indestructible.
The flipper on the Skyline provides an effective method of deployment which can be mastered in short order. There’s no assisted mechanism here but to many that is part of the appeal. The pocket clip is simply one of the best you’ll find and can be positioned for tip up or down carry. All-in-all the Kershaw Skyline excels on so many levels and is the perfect balance of superiority and simplicity. Check out my full review here.
Key Specs: Kershaw Cryo
The original Kershaw Cryo has been a popular low-priced EDC option for many years now. While it was a good looking knife it had some shortcomings in being a little too heavy and not grippy enough. Well, Kershaw listened and introduced the Cryo G-10 which is both grippier and lighter! Like the similarly priced Spyderco Tenacious (see below) it uses 8Cr13MoV, an affordable Chinese made stainless steel similar to but harder than the popular AUS-8. The stonewash blade is only two and three quarter inches long and the knife weighs in at about 3.7 ounces.
Overall the Cryo G-10 is solid and sturdy with its well performing frame-lock and oozes plenty of cool. Without doubt it’s a nice looking knife. With the inclusion of the SpeedSafe fast deployment technology and pocket clip this sure is one heck of a pocket knife for the money. A great choice for those on a budget.
We’re big fans of Spyderco here at Knife Informer and the Tenacious is a terrific little performer at the lower end of the budget scale. It carries 8Cr13MoV steel like the Kershaw Cryo but has a very different look and feel. The blade is leaf-shaped and immensely sharp right out of the box as we tend to expect from Spyderco’s these days. I did a video review of this bad boy to show you it up close and personal. Ergonomics are top notch and it almost feels like an extension of your hand as you slice through the day’s tasks. We also like the four-way pocket clip that can be installed up or down on either side.
Columbia River Knife & Tool (or CRKT) are the masters of producing exciting designs and making them affordable without feeling cheap. They had a bona-fide hit on their hands with the Jesper Voxnaes designed Pilar (which was named after Erneset Hemingway’s beloved fishing boat), and now they’ve started to diversify the Pilar lineup with a slightly larger model (disappointingly not named the Pilarge) as well as models with better materials than the standard stainless handles and 8Cr13MoV steel. The larger Pilar has a 2.62” blade and adds a flipper tab for deployment but still uses Teflon washers like the standard model.
The carbon fiber/D2 version is pretty compelling. The same things everyone loves about the Pilar are still there; the compact size (2.4” blade and 5.9” overall), the deep forward choil for a full grip, and the funky sheepsfoot blade shape. It still oozes character from every corner, but now it’s lighter (weighing 3.1 ounces versus the standard version’s chunky 4.2), better looking, and holds an edge longer. It’s a ton of knife for under 50 bucks. The G10/D2 versions are also a great deal, weighing under 3 ounces and coming in at only $40 retail when you can find them – they all sell out quickly!
Ruike isn’t a household name in the knife industry, but they will be soon. They’re a division of Fenix lights and they make a series of affordable knives – including the P801, which is one of the most impressive knives in terms of value for money on the market. They also produce a series of very interesting Swiss Army style multitools under their own name as well as for Boker – we reviewed the Trekker LD51 here.
For only thirty bucks, the P801 offers a utilitarian 3.5” drop point in Sandvik 14c28n steel – originally developed in conjunction with Kershaw to be the best performing stainless steel that’s fine-blankable. It also has a stout stainless framelock build and uses ball bearings for the pivot to make the flipper deployment smooth and fast. There’s a pair of thumb studs if you prefer that for deployment, and a deep carry pocket clip as well. Splashes of blue anodization on the thumb studs, pocket clip and pivot collars give it a little visual spice too. These were features of $200 knives only ten years ago, but now you can get it for less than the price of a good steak. It doesn’t look like a space age art project, but it’s handsome in a simple way and it’s tough enough to do some real work.
At under $40 retail, I find myself recommending the oddly named Steel Will Cutjack Mini to a whole lot of people who ask me what the best cheap knife is. I reviewed it a while back and still stand by my mostly slack-jawed amazement at how great of knife they make out of such simple materials at such a low cost. You don’t normally become so enamored with a value-priced product, but the Mini Cutjack is just that good. They also make an up-level version that features G10 scales over stainless liners, a slick ball bearing pivot, and high-end M390 steel. It’s made in Italy, but it also brings a much higher price tag with it (3” for ~$140, 3.5” for ~$150) and there are some questions about the provenance of its steel.
It strikes a lot of the important points for a great knife. You have a choice in sizes: a 3” “Mini” or a 3.5” regular version. They’re both quite light: 3.7 ounces for full sized and an even 3 ounces for the small. Construction is molded and textured FRN with contoured edges on top of skeletonized stainless steel liners for strength. It uses a flipper with phosphor bronze washers for deployment – which is quite good – and the drop point blade uses D2 steel for strong edge retention. It also has a pronounced forward finger choil for a better grip. You should absolutely get one.
If you have more to spend then keep reading for some higher-end knife offerings. That said, if you’re looking for an EDC ‘beater’ knife with only $30 or so to spend then these are super choices.
$50 – $100
Benchmade is a respected manufacturer of high quality, dependable pocket knives based in Oregon, USA. They sell more Griptilian models than any other knife and the reason is simple – this is arguably the best all-round EDC knife under $100. The Griptilian with patented Axis lock has won the hearts of knife enthusiasts since it’s original release several years back. Make no mistake, this is a top quality knife that excels in almost every department and still costs less than $100 which makes it a bargain.
The standard Griptilian (model 551) with its 3.4″ blade is not a small knife but still small enough to qualify as an EDC and weighs surprisingly little at under 3.5 ounces. The 154CM stainless steel blade is impeccable and the Noryl GTX (think fancy plastic) handle performs very nicely and offers superb strength to weight ratio. If the standard Griptilian feels a little on the large side to you’re in luck as Benchmade also offers a Mini Griptilian (model 556) which is is about half an inch shorter, weighs closer to 2.5 ounces and costs about $10 less. To spoil you for choice, Benchmade also recently came out with a higher spec version of the Griptilian so check that out too if you have more to spend. Either way, the Griptilian is a firm contender for the best EDC knife dollar for dollar.
The Manix 2 is an outstanding pocket knife in a class of its own. Served up in premium S30V stainless steel as standard, it’s technically a better steel than the 154CM used on the Griptilian yet both knives are in similar price brackets (though the Manix 2 tends to go for a little more). At close to five ounces it’s a little bit heavy for an EDC but for those looking for something more meaty this is a real workhorse. Let me just say what it loses in the weight category it more than makes up for in its capabilities. The Manix 2 is built like a tank and more durable than most any EDC folding knife we know.
Spyderco decided on a ball bearing lock for the Manix 2 which leads to a super solid lock-up – that blade won’t be going anywhere when opened up. The handle uses Spyderco’s textured G-10 material and the overall ergonomics are supremely tuned for optimum control. This may not be the EDC for your average Joe but if you’re looking for something with a little more ‘oomph’ and tough enough to laugh in the face of the meanest of tasks then the Manix 2 is for you. Here’s my full review on the Manix 2.
The Delica is an all round classic and has stood the test of time for two decades now. The key here is all about the design – it’s simple and unintimidating but effective. The size is just about spot on. Small and light enough not to be a burden to carry, yet the blade is long enough to get the job done. Look, the Delica is never going to win any beauty contests, or awards for innovative features – it carries few bells and whistles but the reason it sells so well year after year is that it’s pretty darned effective as an EDC. Read more in my full review here.
By spending a little more you can pick up a Kershaw Blur which in our opinion is another solid EDC knife. Sure, it’s beefy but to some that’s a plus point. The blade is just under three and a half inches and overall weight a notch over four ounces. Kershaw originally used 440A steel but recently began using 14C28N which is far superior. It also comes in the higher-end S30V steel variant which is naturally more expensive but worth it if you have the dosh. Here’s a link to my detailed review.
Like the Cryo the Blur comes with SpeedSafe for fast opening and the blade locks firmly using a liner-lock mechanism. The blur is American made and will serve you well for many, many years. It also comes in a number or varieties such as a black blade, partial serration and tactical models. Beautiful knife for the money.
Civivi is the “budget” line of WE Knives, a Chinese manufacturer that is the OEM for several other product lines including many of the Massdrop/Ferrum Forge collaborations like the Gent. They’re incredibly good at screwing knives together, and now they’re bringing that to the affordable realm with the Civivi value line. They’ve added a new model to the lineup that’s been designed by Elijah Isham called the Anthropos. This is the first time Isham has collaborated to make an affordable knife, and it’s a real looker – even if it’s not as futuristic as MC Escher-esque designs like the Pleroma or the Kizer Minitherium.
Carbon fiber scales over anodized steel liners make the Anthropos seem more expensive than it really is, and the blade is unusually utilitarian for an Isham design: a full flat ground drop point in D2 steel, measuring 3.25” long. The knife features a ball bearing pivot for smooth satisfying deployment and an effective liner lock mechanism. An ambidextrous deep carry pocket clip for tip up carry is a nice touch too. The Anthropos is available in either black, brown or blue highlights peeking out from under the carbon fiber scales. It’s a lot of knife for the $80 retail price point.
The Kershaw 7777 Bareknuckle is another knife we’ve reviewed that seems like an absolute home-run for the money. For ~$60 retail, the Bareknuckle gives you a lot of the flavor that Zero Tolerance buyers are so addicted to without such a heavy hit on the wallet. It doesn’t use all the expensive materials that a ZT does, but it shares a lot of the same design chops and quality.
It’s based on the versatile Natrix design but stretched out and slimmed down to make it more pocketable. It features KVT caged ball bearings in the pivot, an incredibly stiff detent, and a modified 3.5” drop point in Sandvik 14c28n steel with a nice stonewash finish. The party trick is the sleek sub-frame lock nested inside the anodized aluminum handles, which make the 3.5 ounce weight even more remarkable. A unique deep carry pocket clip is slightly recessed from the surface of the handle to prevent hot spots, and there’s also an oversized decorative pivot on the show side and a unique floating backspacer design to give the Bareknuckle some visual pop. It’s pretty but it’s definitely ready to work, and it carries great as well.
$100 – $200
Since 2010, a single knife has captured the attention of knife enthusiasts worldwide and still today represents an iconic design that everyone loves to talk about – the Spyderco Paramilitary 2. Perhaps one of the few ‘must-have’ knives that every collector considers an obligatory purchase. Check out my detailed review here.
It’s no secret that Spyderco produces great pocket knives and this is one of their finest. Even though the PM2 tends to go for a bit less than the 940 Osborne, it’s often out of stock so you have to be patient. Still, the value for money is excellent as the Paramilitary 2 checks all the boxes you want for only half the price of some “premium” knives out there.
It has everything to make us happy, premium S30V steel, G-10 handle, unparalleled ergonomics and US-made. We rarely see blades so sharp out of the factory like this before. Hair popping sharp. The Paramilitary 2 features a compression lock which boggles many but works amazingly well. Never a hint of blade play. Supreme ergonomics as we expect from Spyderco and the overall fit and finish is excellent. Unlike many other premium pocket knives, this pocket knife is made for real world use for those who really value a good knife that delivers in the field.
Dangerously close to perfection, the Benchmade 940 Osborne puts most others to shame. It’s ridiculously lightweight yet constructed with tremendous rigidity and design genius that only Warren Osborne could provide. The S30V stainless steel blade is given the Benchmade special treatment to bring the most out of it and holds it’s edge for a crazy long time. Everything about this knife reeks of quality, perfection and beauty. Read my full review here.
Sure, it’s pricey but knife enthusiasts know it’s a bargain for what you’re getting. How on earth this knife does not even hit 3.0 ounces is beyond me…you literally forget it’s in your pocket most of the time. Classy yet talented the 940 Osborne is deadly when you need it to be and gets the job done each and every time. What’s more, Benchmade treated us to a suped-up version of the 940 in the 940-1, with a glorious S90V steel blade and carbon fiber handle. Sure, it’s almost $100 extra but you deserve it 😉
The Spyderco Shaman is what happens if you combined the genetics of the Paramilitary 2 and the Native 5, with maybe a dash of the Manix for good measure. While it’s not the good deal it once was before a round of MAP updates put Spyderco’s retail prices through the roof, at ~$190 retail the standard Shaman is still one of the very best knives you can get under $200 in terms of both utility as well as fit and finish.
The blade shape is like a Native on steroids, an almost full flat ground (with a small flat at the spine) leaf shaped drop point measuring 3.58”. CPM S30V steel with a stonewash finish is great for a working knife. From the PM2 it takes the textured G10 scales – but here, they’re contoured towards the edges for a comfortable grip. It also uses the beloved compression lock, giving it a high fidget factor as well as safe and secure one handed opening and closing. It also features a four position clip and a lanyard hole for different carrying options. There was a limited edition Blade HQ exclusive sprint run with natural jade green scales and CPM M4 steel, but it sold out in approximately 5 minutes. Future sprint runs are likely – but hopefully Spyderco sees the light and adds a full production CPM S110V version with “blurple” scales.
GiantMouse is the collaboration brand between Jesper Voxnaes and Jens Anso, producing unique and charismatic designs at approachable prices through an OEM in Italy. While some of their flagship models are fairly pricey, the ACE line brings the cost down by using G10 handle scales rather than machined titanium. The Nimbus is probably the most successful design (along with the curvaceous Biblio), offering a beautiful design with real utility and remarkable materials for the money.
Blade steel on the Nimbus is Bohler-Uddeholm M390, one of the best performing stainless steels on the market today for toughness and edge retention. The blade is a full flat ground 3” drop point with an oblong thumb hole opener for deployment via phosphor bronze washers. The Nimbus also uses a deep carry wire clip like Spyderco, which can be configured for tip up left or right hand carry with a single screw. With a 4 ounce weight and an overall length of 7.25” inches, the Nimbus is in that just-right sweet spot for EDC knives – not too big, not too small, and always ready to get things done.
Benchmade had an instant hit on their hands the moment the Bugout dropped. It’s not hard to see why – it offers real knife size and performance with half the weight of many rivals. Literally, it weighs under two ounces (1.86 to be exact) and offers a 3.25” drop point blade in CPM S30V. It achieves that weight through a shrunken and lightened axis lock bar and ultra-thin grivory handle scales without any liners. It’s designed with weight-conscious hikers in mind for whom every gram counts, but it’s also a fantastic EDC option due to the light weight and super thin profile. It comes with a deep carry clip as well. Some people don’t like the flex of the handles, but they say the same about the lightweight Manix 2, and I’ve never seen one break.
Benchmade recently added a brother to the Bugout, called the Bailout. It uses similar thin linerless Grivory handles but trades the drop point S30V blade for a ultra-tough CPM 3V blade with a cerakote finish and a tanto profile. If you’re not familiar, 3V is a high speed tool steel that Crucible says is even tougher than Cru-Wear or M4, but it’s not stainless (thus the coating.) It’s a little more expensive than the Bugout (about $15 more) but both are excellent options for EDC use.
The Kizer Feist is another knife we loved when we reviewed it. Designed by Justin Lundquist, the Feist combines the size and shape of a traditional pocket knife with the materials and construction techniques of a modern folding knife. It’s one of the few mainstream front flipper knives on the market as well. The super simple handle shape and clean, basic drop point blade let all the details do the talking – like the rounded spine, smooth contoured handles, and useful sculpted titanium pocket clip.
The handles are full titanium with a bolt-in lockbar stabilizer insert, and the knife rides on a ball bearing pivot for smooth deployment. Stonewashed CPM S35VN steel is par for the course at this price and holds an edge very well. It’s just-right sized with a 2.8” blade and weighing in at 2.7 ounces. A joy to carry and use for every little task you come across. There’s also the option of the newer Feist W, which has a reverse tanto blade shape (also 2.8” long) and a series of holes milled into the show side scale for decoration. It also comes with Kizer’s new-style flat pivot bolt (versus the old swirly pivot) but recent production of standard Feist models has switched to this improved hardware as well. The pricing is the same for both versions, as is the weight.
When money’s no object…
There comes a time in every man’s life when you say to hell with the cost, I just want the very best. Thus, I present to you the Chris Reeve Large Inkosi. Over the year the Chris Reeve brand has become the very symbol of manufacturing perfection with a price tag to match. Sure, the Sebenza model has been the company’s lifeblood and still today commands all the attention but in our opinion the Inkosi is the new chief. Yes, Inkosi means Chief in Zulu so you know what we did there. With its wide hollow ground S35VN blade, perforated phosphor bronze bushings, ceramic lock bar interface and strengthened pivot, the Inkosi checks all the boxes. But for your $445 smackers what you’re really getting is the best that American small-shop manufacturing has to offer, with insanely tight tolerances and quality control. Sure it’ll cut things, but you don’t buy this knife to open your Amazon boxes. You buy it to admire, cherish and eventually pass down to your grand kids.
We were lucky enough to review a Holt Specter a while back, and it’s the kind of knife that blows you away with the little details. Ostensibly a competitor for heavy hitters like the Grimsmo Rask or the Shirogorov F95, the Holt Bladeworks Spector is handmade and distributed in the USA by a husband and wife team who make them in their spare time. You certainly don’t get that impression from the knife, which has top-notch construction quality and machining work, along with killer flipping action thanks to a bearing pivot and a Brian Nadeau-style detent ramp. It’s available in two different “trim levels” – a Refined and a Prestige, with Prestige getting you options like a Damasteel blade and exotic inlays. Pricing varies depending on options selected, but is generally around $500 for a Refined grade knife – pricey, but not really that expensive for a full custom product you can actually use.
Olamic Cutlery’s mantra is “never the same”, and the midtech variant of the Wayfarer – called the 247 – makes good on this promise. With a choice of 8 blade shapes, 6 blade finishes, 5 handle styles, and a bazillion other little options, all Wayfarers are unique in their own way. Olamic’s website gives you a choice between a Build Your Own where you pick every detail, or a Maker’s Choice where you give them a design direction and a color scheme to work with – and let their creative talent work it’s magic.
But they’re also all useful. The 247 is the only model that Olamic produces somewhat en masse, with some initial parts pre-machined in Italy but the rest of the knife hand finished in California like the other knives. You can choose from four blade shapes – drop point, tanto, “sheepscliffe”, and harpoon – depending on your preference. All Wayfarer 247’s flip on caged ball bearings with a ceramic detent ball, and use a hardened stainless lockbar/overtravel stop insert. The blades are 3.5” long and made from Bohler M390 and the knives weigh about 5 ounces, putting them on the larger side of an ideal EDC blade. The selling point is the mixture of unique and exotic builds with actual day to day utility, for around $600 retail. Worth it if you have the money, for sure!
How to choose an EDC knife
Wondering how I evaluate my EDC knives? There are certain characteristics I look out for when choosing the best EDC folding knife. The most important ones I discuss below:
First off, since you’re going to be carrying your EDC knife almost every single day you want it to be reasonably small and light. Forget about fixed blade knives and focus on pocket or folding knives for your EDC. Sure, there are bigger and better performers out there but an EDC is not always about having the best performance, it’s about practicality. We recommend a pocket knife blade length of no more than 3.5 inches and an overall weight of no more than 4.5 ounces. The sweet spot for me is typically 3-inch blade, 4-inch handle, 7-inch total and weighing 3.5 oz.
We’re talking about the blade and the handle. The blade steel needs to be tough enough to withstand wear and tear and keep its edge for as long as possible. You won’t want to be sharpening your EDC every week. Now we can’t all afford premium steels like S90V, Elmax or M390 but these days it doesn’t cost much to get an excellent all-round steel like S30V. Alternatively, a good reasonably affordable choice is something like 154CM or VG-10 on the higher end or even taking it a notch down with 440C, AUS-8 or 14C28N. Stick in this range and you’ll do well. For the handle we would recommend the ever popular G-10 that is super tough or perhaps Zytel which is a bit grippier. Either of these will feel great in your hand which is key for an EDC.
In terms of features and functionality it’s important to compromise. Sure, a 15-function multitool will serve your every need but at the expense of it feeling like a brick in your pocket. In general a single blade will cater for 90% of your needs but a partially serrated blade adds additional functionality for those times when needed. A sharp tipped blade is also recommended as we are regularly presented with tasks that call for a sharp point. You should also look for knives with a pocket clip which allows you to keep the knife handy at all times. I tend to prefer pocket clips that keep the knife tip facing upwards as they allow for swifter deployment.
Again, let me stress that you’re not looking for the world’s best pocket knife here but it’s important that your EDC knife be of sufficient quality to perform time and time again. We recommend buying a knife made in the USA if possible. We’re not against knives made overseas but we do tend to find the American made knives are of superior quality in general. More importantly, you should ensure the knife has a robust lockup mechanism – the last thing you want is for your EDC to close up accidentally which can cause injury.
No golden rule here but we tend to find that the price of admission starts at $25 to fulfill the basic requirements listed above. There are many decent choices in the under $50 range as you can see from our picks above. As you move into the higher priced categories you’ll start to see the quality and durability of materials increase. That translates to less maintenance required on your end (sharpening, tuning-up, etc.) but remember a budget knife can perform just as well as a pricier blade if it’s well maintained. Don’t feel you need to splash out more than $200 on your first EDC pocket knife. Start low and work your way up as you begin to get a feel for what’s important to you in a knife.
So why do we call it EDC anyway?
For the uninitiated it’s worth reflecting a little on what exactly EDC means. EDC stands for “everyday carry” (or “every day carry”) and refers to things that you carry with you all of the time. These are items that are either essential to your normal daily routine or things that you would not want to be without in an emergency situation. There is no standard list of EDC items as each of us value certain items a little differently depending on our personal situation.
However, there are a number of items that are fairly common among most of us these days and include things like a cell phone, keys, a watch and ID cards. An increasing number of us are also choosing to carry items that prepare us for a variety of unforeseen situations ranging from the somewhat boring to life threatening. Such items include things like a flashlight, writing implements, first aid kits and of course the trusty pocket knife! This is what we mean by EDC knife.
Some people take the EDC concept very seriously indeed and these “EDCers” are well prepared for most any type of emergency or survival situation that comes their way. Others simply choose to carry those items needed for their job or to provide peace of mind. While we don’t think everyone should necessarily become a walking survival store we do agree it is important to carry a pocket knife at all times (where permitted of course) and hence we do highly recommend you pick out an EDC knife.
You’ve read through our recommendations of the best EDC knives so what are you waiting for? Go ahead and treat yourself.