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For many long-time readers of men’s lifestyle publications, EDC (short for everyday carry, A catchall phrase for pocket knives) triggers some very specific associations — rugged lumberjack-looking guys doing rugged things in really rugged boots wielding rugged, titanium-bladed knives. (Also, inexplicably, those little rolled beanies.) But while all of that might feel a little weird and unnecessary in this day and age, the pocket knife remains a genuinely useful tool for all the Amazon box-opening, thread-clipping tasks you never think about.
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Naturally, not all knives are built the same, with heritage labels and start-ups alike revolutionizing how EDC looks, feels and performs. When looking for a knife, considering price, materials, and features are all essential to securing the right model for your day-to-day. This, of course, is no easy task, which is why we’ve created a guide to walk you through the ins and outs of EDC. Find the best pocket knives of 2024, from The James Brand, Benchmade, Kershaw and more, below.
A few notes: the knives on this list come in a range of prices, but almost all of them have assisted openers, blades around three inches in length, and clips so they attach easily to a pocket. They’re also all folding knives. Fixed-blade knives certainly have a place in your cutting arsenal, but we’ve yet to find one that’s slim enough to carry every day.
Things to Consider When Choosing an EDC Pocket Knife
Straight Edge Knives: Knives with straight edges are easy to sharpen and work for most uses. It’s the most popular blade type. A straight edge doesn’t saw, but it cuts or slices.
Serrated Edge Knives: Serrated edges are like small saw blades and excel at, well, sawing. A serrated edge knife is a great choice if you regularly need to cut rope or small tree branches. The most annoying thing about serrated blades is sharpening, which can be time-consuming and difficult.
Combo Edges Knives: As the name implies, this style includes both a plain and serrated edge. Most combo knives have a straight edge near the tip and a serrated edge near the handle. While many people like them, personally I find combo knives to be bad at slicing and bad at sawing. I would much prefer to have two separate knives.
Manual Opening: This is the most traditional opening method and it involves simply opening a knife blade with two hands. Many knives have a small nail nick in the blade, which helps open the blade. Other knives have a thumb stud, which lets you flick open the blade with your thumb.
Automatic Opening: Auto knives open with the press of a button. They’re quick and fun. Auto opening mechanisms are most frequently seen in tactical knives.
Assisted Opening: I love assisted open knives. They’re a little slower to open than auto, but faster than a regular manual openers. To open, simply put pressure on the blade, and the spring-assisted mechanism will do the rest.
Materials: Blade and handle materials vary greatly, but stainless steel is the benchmark for a quality EDC, with various other materials — flashy titanium or a high-grade carbon for instance — occasionally making an appearance.
Size: While sizing varies greatly across the category, an EDC knife should fit comfortably into your hand and your pocket. Look for a style that best suits your needs.
The Best Pocket Knives In 2024
Blade material: 420 stainless steel | Blade length: 2.50″ | Opening: assisted frame lock | Clip: yes
The Scallion has been my go-to pocket knife for a decade-plus. It’s small and sleek, and the assisted opener helps the blade flick open faster than most other knives on this list. The 2.25-inch blade may be smaller than most people want, but I’ve found it’s the perfect size for the odd tasks I use my EDC knife for like opening packaging or slicing rope. I also prefer knives with pocket clips and the Scallion’s is one of the best.
Blade material: CPM 154 stainless steel | Blade length: 2.75″ | Opening: push automatic | Clip: yes
Kershaw Launch series knives are known for their snappy actions and quality construction. The Launch 11 is my favorite due to its futuristic design. Two “windows” in the handle look cool and lower the weight. It has a push-button automatic opener and an integrated lock that prevents the blade from closing accidentally. A 2.75-inch drop point blade and a beautifully stone-washed steel handle make it perfect for pocket carry.
Blade material: CPM-S30V stainless steel | Blade length: 3.24″| Opening: folding lock | Clip: yes
Both of the previously listed knives are technically folding knives, but unlike the Launch and the Scallion, the Bugout opens manually with a thumb stud. It comes in a few different handle material options (all different types of plastic) so you can choose the design and look that best fits your style. No matter which one you chose, the Bugout is the consummate pocket knife. It has a smooth action and 3.2-inch steel, drop-point blade that locks automatically upon opening. A deep pocket clip keeps it hidden and secure. Overall the Bugout is a very versatile knife that is capable of 99% of everyday tasks. If you like the design but want something a little smaller, check out the Mini Bugout.
Blade Material: 8Cr14MoV stainless steel | Blade Length: 2.88″ | Opening: thumb folding | Clip: yes
Most budget knives are garbage but the Drifter feels and operates like a knife twice the price. It doesn’t do anything spectacularly, but it checks off all the boxes and is way better than most other $20 knives. It has a three-inch stainless steel blade, a liner lock to keep the blade secure once it’s open, and a clip to keep it in your pocket. The handle is made from G10, a fiberglass composite, that doesn’t feel particularly high quality, but is durable and grippy. The Drifter won’t make your friends jealous, but it makes for a great starter knife, or as a spare to keep in your car. And when you need to use it, you won’t be disappointed.
Blade material: D2 tool-grade steel | Blade length: 2.96″ | Opening: manual; flip | Clip: yes
$50 is a sweet spot for someone who is just getting into knives but still wants a quality blade. Whenever someone asks me what knife to gift a friend, I recommend the Civivi Elementum. Civivi is still relatively unknown, but they’re the budget brand of high-end knife manufacturer, WE Knives. The Elementron’s design is nearly perfect for EDC. $50 gets you a three-inch D2 steel blade, a liner lock to keep the blade in place once opened, and grippy handles that’s stylish enough to consider it a gentleman’s knife. And it’s a flipper, so not fully assisted, but it still opens faster than a thumb stud. It also comes in 22 different blade and handle combinations so you can keep it classic black or mix it up with materials like wood or jade.
Blade material: stainless steel | Blade length: 3.44″ | Opening: thumb slide | Clip: yes
When most people think of OTF (out-the-front) knives, they think of the Microtech Ultratech. Microtech is probably the most well-known automatic knife maker and the Ultratech is their flagship product. It’s been around for years and gets frequent updates. The Ultratech sports a 3.40-inch blade in high-end Elmax steel, which comes in drop point, tanto, and dagger blade shapes. It has an aluminum handle and a deep carry clip that is secured to the knife on the butt of the handle by a carbide-tipped glass breaker. This knife is a prime example of how the best things aren’t always the newest.
Blade material: D2 tool-grade steel | Blade length: 1.5″ | Opening: frame lock | Clip: yes
Many knives claim to be pocket-sized, and while most are not technically wrong, a 13-inch behemoth can sometimes feel excessive for a standard EDC. Enter the WESN Microblade, a true “pocket-sized” knife that packs quite a punch. Clocking in at just 2.25″ when closed, the Microblade is snug is any pack or pocket (we’ve attached ours to our keychain using it’s nifty lanyard hole), but a high-carbon, high-chromium D2 tool-grade steel blade works just as well as counterparts twice it’s size, making short work of tape, cardboard and even wood. It’s discrete, safe and oh-so handy.
Blade material: S30V stainless steel | Blade length: 3.8″ | Opening: button automatic | Clip: yes
Big and bulky, the 06 Auto isn’t the prettiest knife, but it can handle just about anything. The beefy, oversized aluminum handle is contoured for grip and has a stainless strike point on the end for smashing open a window. The knife features an over-sized release button for easy use with gloves, a slide safety that engages in both the open and closed positions, and a blade made using S30V, a premium stainless steel that stands up to incredible abuse while holding it’s edge like no other.
Blade material: VG-10 stainless steel | Blade length: 2.8″ | Opening: assisted slide lock | Clip: yes
If the Scallion or Elementum is your Timex watch, the Chapter is your Rolex. The James Brand makes some of the nicest and best-looking knives out there, but the Chapter is my favorite for EDC. It has a 2.81-inch drop point D2 steel blade, and a stainless steel handle that’s durable and stylish. It’s all black, except for a lime green thumb stud, and looks beautiful both open and closed. A recessed thumb grip is comfortable (and looks cool) and a nice clip keeps it at the top of your pocket.
Blade material: Sandvik 12C27 modified stainless steel | Blade length: 4.82″ | Opening: manual | Clip: no
A penny knife is incredibly simple—no springs or assisted openings, just a blade that friction folds and opens. Because of the simplicity, I find that the Opinel pairs better with a cheese plate in a picnic basket than in my pocket. That said, it’s a handsome knife with a lot of practical uses. I like the wooden handle and unique ring-style locking mechanism. Plus, at $27, you can’t beat the price.
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