What follows is a list of some of my favorite EDC knives, and knives that I recommend if you aren’t sure where to start. I have broken this down by approximate price point. This isn’t a perfect list, and I consider it a work in progress. That said, if you are new to the site and new to knives, these are what I think are among the very best EDC knives that I have reviewed.
These choices vary in size and price, so some may be too big or too small to fit your budget or style of EDC, but I think most will agree that there isn’t a bad knife in on this page. These are all great knives and I’d be happy to have any one of them in my pocket.
The Best EDC Knife
The reason why I give 2 options is purely based on size (they cost about the same – around $120). If you prefer a smaller EDC with a 3″ blade, go with the Sage 1. The Sage 1 is appropriate for working in an office and more suburban / urban carry (although consult with your local knife laws first). The Para 2 is larger and is appropriate if you can get away with carrying a bigger knife.
While I have developed a great appreciation for all kinds of pocket knives, the Sage 1 and Para 2 rank among my top picks and would be “go to” recommendations for pretty much anyone looking for a solid pocket knife.
If you want to carry something smaller then consider the Spyderco Dragonfly II. It’s an excellent little lightweight knife. Perfect for urban or suburband daily carry and very people friendly.
If you are looking for something well under $40 and a knife that is not a Spyderco, then I recommend the ESEE Zancudo. It has a funny name, and may not be the prettiest knife, but it’s a solid design and is supremely functional. One of my top picks of all time.
OK, what follows will be a deeper dive into the best EDC knives based on price point.
Best Budget EDC Knives (Under $50):
This section is for the best EDC knives under $50. In fact, most of these picks are under $30.
This is a crowded segment with a lot to choose from. Companies churn out budget blades because lots of people buy them. What follows are the knives that keep finding their way into my pocket after years of use (and years of buying and reviewing knives).
|Best Budget EDC Knives||Overall Length (inches)||Blade Length (inches)||Weight (ounces)||Blade Steel||Made In|
|Victorinox Alox Cadet|
|Ontario Rat 1|
|Cold Steel Mini Tuff Lite|
Best Mid Range EDC Knives ($50-$100):
This section is for that tough $50-$100 price point. It seems like manufacturers focus on the high end of the market, and the low end of the market, while the middle market gets ignored.
That is a shame because some of my all time favorite EDC pieces can be found in the $50-100 segment. Most notably, the Griptilian and Mini Griptilian, the American Lawman, and the Spyderco Dragonfly II.
At this price point you get good steel, time tested designs, and a value proposition that is tough to beat if you are looking for a solid tool knife.
|Best Mid Range EDC||Overall Length (inches)||Blade Length (inches)||Weight (ounces)||Blade Steel||Made In|
|Benchmade Mini Griptilian|
|Spyderco Dragonfly 2|
|Spyderco Delica 4|
|Cold Steel American Lawman|
|Boker Urban Trapper|
Best High End EDC Knives ($100-$200):
I draw an arbitrary line at $100+ for high end EDC knives. At that price range you begin to get into more premium blade steels and handle materials, and you see true separation from knives under $100. Most notably, at about $120 you get into Spyderco Paramilitary 2 and Sage territory – 2 of my all time favorite EDC knives.
This is another sweet spot for me. If you go much beyond $200 or so, it becomes hard for me to truly want to carry a knife (I can be quite rough on my EDC knives).
|Best High End EDC||Overall Length (inches)||Blade Length (inches)||Weight (ounces)||Blade Steel||Made In|
|Spyderco Sage 1|
|Spyderco Paramilitary 2|
Best “Ultra” High End EDC Knives ($200+):
I put “Ultra” in quotes because this category starts at $200 plus, and it’s very easy for some folks to collect and “carry” $2,000 custom knives. So there is definitely many levels of knife collecting above this list. But I think for most people a $200-400 pocketknife will be considered a ultra high end carry. Plus I need some way to organize this page so this is the “ultra” section for now.
|Ultra High End EDC||Overall Length (inches)||Blade Length (inches)||Weight (ounces)||Blade Steel||Made In|
|Zero Tolerance 0562 CF|
|Chris Reeve Mnandi|
|Chris Reeve Large Sebenza 21|
|Chris Reeve Small Sebenza 21|
Beyond Ultra High end EDC Knives
There are collectors that specialize in custom knives. Knives that routinely sell for several thousand dollars. I really focus on production knives, with the vast majority of them being under $250. That said, I occasionally fall off the deep end and review $500+ knives. Most notably the Hinderer XM series and the Shirogorov 95T. I do not own any custom EDC knives.
These uber expensive production knives are cool, but I don’t really recommend them for EDC for most people. I find the 3.5″ Hinderer to be bulky. The 3″ version is cool, but expensive. The Shirogorov is a work of art. Just a beautiful knife. Some guys really enjoy carrying them. Personally, I get antsy any time a knife that expensive enters my pocket.
My video on the best EDC knives:
I filmed this video as a supplement to this page on my website on the best EDC knives. It has become one of my more popular videos on YouTube so I figured that I might as well share it here:
General EDC Knife Considerations
As someone who has carried hundreds of different pocket knives, my goal is to help you find the ideal EDC knife for yourself – without having to own hundreds of pocket knives like I have (although it has been fun). If you want to cut to the chase, here are some of my tips for selecting the most appropriate EDC.
This may sound obvious, but size matters when selecting an EDC. The knives I have listed on this webpage have blades that range from 2″ to just under 4″. This begs the question – what is the best size for EDC?
Some countries, states and municipalities pick the appropriate size for you, and have restrictions on blade length for a pocket knife. If that’s the case, then your options may be limited.
For most people, they will want an EDC knife in the 3″ range. Personally, it depends on what I’m doing. If I am working at the office, I’ll want a smaller knife (like the Alox Cadet or Spyderco Dragonfly 2). If I am working in the yard or helping a friend move, then I’ll spring for something larger like a Benchmade Griptilian or Spyderco Paramilitary 2. You will want to consider the tasks you will be using the knife for, as well as social considerations. It probably isn’t a smart idea to bust out a Strider SnG if you work at a call center, but it might be an OK choice if you are a diesel mechanic – common sense will dictate, and some people will actually carry 2 knives (a small one and a larger one) so they have the option depending on what’s going on.
You also want to consider the weight of the knife. Sometimes that’s just as important as the overall dimensions. For me, super heavy knives tend to stay at home. I like lightweight and compact designs that give me plenty of utility without pulling my pants down.
Of course plenty of people will say that steel matters in picking out a pocket knife. It does. To me, it doesn’t matter as much as I can easily and regularly sharpen my pocketknives. If this is a concern for you, check out the Spyderco Sharpmaker. It will turn just about anyone into a competent sharpener.
That said, I know some people will have an absolute desire for the “best” steel. Often people consider the “best” steel to be the one that holds its edge the longest. I prefer a steel that holds a good edge but is relatively easy to sharpen. If you are new to steel I have devoted an entire section of the website to the subject. It should provide you with a decent primer on knife steel.
Perhaps more important that blade steel, blade shape will dictate how you use a knife and how you maintain it. I like a simple non-threatening looking blade for EDC. These shapes tend to function well and won’t alarm people. I prefer a blade shape without recurves and serrations for ease of sharpening. I like a thinly ground blade that slices efficiently. I like a blade with a clean stonewashed or satin finish for aesthetics and ease of maintenance. Blade shape is important to consider.
Handle Design and Ergonomics
The handle directly impacts your use of a knife. A poor handle design will make for an unpleasant cutting experience. I like simple handles without a ton of jimping (serrations) and texture. A little grip is fine, but I don’t need my knife handle to resemble a cheese grater. I also don’t like handles with tons of finger grooves. Each hand is different, and it’s impossible for a knife designer to design a production knife that “fits” most people if it has very pronounced finger grooves.
I generally like the handle to be relatively thin so it rides in the pocket well. I prefer handle materials like carbon fiber and G10, although fiberglass reinforced plastic has its place.
I also like a well constructed handle. When I review a knife I can tell a lot about its quality by examining the handle. I look to see how all of the pieces fit together, whether they have been all properly finished, whether there are any sharp edges. I look at the hardware used to hold the knife together. I look for functional details like milled out liners and I look for artistic details as well. You can tell a lot about a knife by how its handle is made.
Pocket Clips and Carry
Another hugely important consideration for selecting an EDC knife is how it carries in the pocket. A primary consideration is how you are going to carry the knife. Specifically: are you going to use a pocket clip? I could write an entire article on pocket clips, but I doubt many people would derive much value from it because it is such a personal decision. Tip up, tip down, right side, left side, deep carry, ultra deep carry – everyone has their preferences.
Personally, when evaluating a pocket clip I look for slim and discrete pocket clips. I don’t mind a deep or ultra deep carry clip. Sometimes I prefer a clip that rides a little higher in the pocket for a work knife I will be drawing from my pocket frequently. I prefer a blackened clip as it is more discrete. I don’t like lots of branding on my clips. I personally prefer tip up carry.
More importantly, I like a knife that is slim, lightweight, and not bulky. This goes back to the “Size” section. It is important for me to have an EDC knife that I can carry without annoyance. Ultra big and bulky knives don’t make the cut for me. I know some guys who love them, but I’d rather have a small manageable knife that stays in my pocket, than a big knife that lives on my shelf.
These are just some basic considerations for finding the best EDC knife. Did I leave something out? Feel free to tell me about it in the comments section below.