Best Pocket Knife: Most Important Features & Top 8 Pocket Knife Reviews

Best pocket knife
Dennis Owens
Written by Dennis Owens

Also referred to as a tactical knife, this is simply a folding cutting tool that involves moving parts in its operation. Tactical blades are considered the best self-defense weapons because they are easy to conceal and draw.

The operation of a tactical cutting tool includes a locking mechanism, which determines the effectiveness of individual knives. The best pocket knife will help you face an aggressor through the use of strategy, and help you accomplish a number of simple cutting, slicing, and piercing chores.

The list of product reviews provides you with information for comparing products and ideas for future purchases.

Most Important Features

Commitment to Innovation

You should go for a tactical cutting tool that you will be proud to own and use. Therefore, the model you settle for must be of the highest quality and performance.

Pocket knife

Whether it is for self-defense or multipurpose use, you should always go for blades that have undergone great craftsmanship.

The Blade & Handle Profiles

One of the major benefits of a pocket knife is lightweight and portability. Therefore, the very first thing that you must consider before anything else is the blade length. The longer the length of the cutting edge the heavier the folder will be.

Pocket knife blade

An ideal length should be equal to or less than 4 inches. The cutting edge design should be convenient. Go for a design that incorporates a good drop point and grind. Make sure the blade material is of high quality (good corrosion & wear resistant and retains a fine edge after use).

The handle should be made of high-quality material, such as G-10, Micarta, and stainless steel. The handle should also be conveniently long so as to provide the whole unit with the desired balance.

Locking & Opening Mechanism

There are various locking mechanism that you can consider, the most common ones are: frame lock (when the blade opens, the frame lock moves into the handle opening and locks against the frame); liner lock (it comprises of a liner that is bent so that when the blade opens, the curved liner presses against the rear of the tang, preventing it from swinging back);

Pocket knife Opening Mechanism

And lock back (opening the blade causes a rocking lock plate, visible on the back of the handle to lock against the blade as it is locked into the open position). You should also consider a locking and opening system that is made of special technology, such as the SpeedSafe Assisted opening found in Kershaw knives for secure opening.

Top 8 Pocket Knife Reviews

Benchmade Knife 585 Mini Barrage Plain Satin Blade

Benchmade Knife 585 Mini Barrage Plain Satin Blade

Weight: 3.5 ounces

Blade Length: 2.91 inches

Design Features: Made in USA; 154CM stainless steel blade material; 58-61 HRC blade axis-assist lock mechanism; reversible bright split arrow clip; double 420J stainless steel liners; valox handle material; mini-drop point blade style; and 0.1-inch blade thickness.

Best Use: Self-Defense & Simple Cutting, Slicing & Piercing

Description: Measuring 2.91inches and weighing 3.5 ounces, Benchmade Knife 585 Mini Barrage is a great pocket blade for daily use. It has a unique design for a variety of activities, including self-defense, carving, and slicing.

It has a compact and short structure with an overall length of 4 inches when closed and 6.91 inches when open. It is fitted with a universal clip that enables you to store it on either right or left side. The cutting edge is engineered from 154CM stainless steel.

This is a heavy duty and versatile material, which is easy to re-sharpen and has great edge retention capabilities. The blade has a whole length of 2.91 inches and thickness of 0.100 inches.

The edge is also made of mini-drop point along with a secondary grind. It has a hardness of 58-61 HRC. The back of the cutting edge is back-sanded until smooth on a belt sander. It is fitted with a Valox resin handle that is water-resistant and offers a strong grip.

The handle material is lightweight, moisture-resistant, durable, strong, and easy to use. The knife is fitted with a unique locking mechanism, which is axis-assist lock. This locking mechanism is highly resourceful; therefore, you will rarely experience any opening problems.

The life of this blade does depend entirely on the use. It will remain sharp while providing top performance as long as you maintain it accordingly.

Victorinox Swiss Army Classic SD Pocket Knife

Victorinox Swiss Army Classic SD Pocket Knife

Weight: 0.74 ounces

Blade Length: 1.25 inches

Design Features: Made in Switzerland; 7 functions (blade, toothpick, tweezers, key ring, scissors, and nail file w/ screwdriver); stainless steel construction; and lifetime guarantee.

Best Use: Cutting, Slicing, and Nail Filing

Description: Victorinox Swiss Army Classic SD is a highly versatile pocket blade that weighs 0.74 ounces and has a blade that measures 1.25 inches in length. Unlike most tactical knives, this particular model has a short and slim structure for simple cutting chores.

It is made of stainless steel material that works very well for different activities. It sharpens effortlessly and holds the edge longer than you would have expected it to. It has state-of-the-art construction that features smooth operating hinges that provide you with a simple but highly resourceful cutting tool.

The knife’s assembly features seven functions for your day-to-day use, including: the 1.25-inch blade for cutting & slicing, toothpick for removing food particles from your teeth, tweezers for grasping, key ring for holding your keys, scissors for cutting paper & material, nail file for filing your nails, and a screwdriver for driving screws.

If you are looking for ergonomics, then Victorinox Swiss Army Classic SD is the right pocket blade to buy. It is engineered to optimize versatility and compactness. However, you need to be true to yourself when using this knife for cutting.

It is definitely not an ideal knife for tougher chores, such as cutting through thick ropes, but it is an excellent blade for simple chores. You can maintain easy drawing of the various tools by oiling the locking mechanism with Swiss Army knife oil.

Kershaw Leek Knife

Kershaw Leek Knife

Weight: 3 ounces

Blade Length: 3 inches

Design Features: Made in USA; reversible pocket clip; frame lock; SpeedSafe assisted opening; Sandivik 14C28N steel material w/ bead-blasted finish; and 410 stainless steel handle material w/ bead-blasted finish.

Best Use: Cutting, Slicing & Self-defense

Description: Kershaw’s reputation as far as knife making is concerned dates back to 1974. They have been producing blades that users are pleased to own, carry, and use. One of such great inventions is the Kershaw Leek Knife.

Measuring 4 inches when closed and 7 inches when opened, and weighing only 3 ounces, Kershaw Leek is a lightweight and highly resourceful tactical blade for the money.

The very first feature that will impress you is the SpeedSafe assisted opening technology, which allows you to quickly as well as easily open the blade with a simple manual thrust on the thumb stud. You can also apply the same tech by pulling back on the flipper, which is a built-in feature.

Its operation is based on frame lock system. A section of the knife frame repositions behind the cutting edge so as to lock into position when using the knife. This is a reliable safety feature. You are also presented with a reversible pocket clip.

There are pre-drilled holes situated in the handle that allow you to adjust the part on which the dagger carries or the tip position.

In addition to the abovementioned traits, Kershaw Leek has a drop point blade, which is good for slicing, piercing, and detailed work. This is the model to buy when you are after versatility because it is an ergonomic piece for both left-handed and right-handed individuals.

Benchmade 551 Axis Lock Griptilian W/ Satin Blade & Black Handles

Benchmade 551 Axis Lock Griptilian Satin Blade & Black Handles

Weight: 3.25 ounces

Blade Length: 3.45 inches

Design Features: Made in USA; black Noryl GTX handle scales; premium axis function; ambidextrous thumb stud opener; corrosion resistant blade steel; satin finish blade; lanyard hole; modified drop point; and reversible, tip-up clip.

Best Use: Cutting, Slicing, Piercing, and Self-defense

Description: Benchmade 551 AXIS Lock Griptilian beats all folders as far as all around functionality is concerned. You will certainly admire each and every feature and spec of this uniquely made axis knife. To begin with, it opens manually and its operation is based on premium axis mechanism.

It has a cutting edge that measures 3.45 inches long with a thickness of 0.115 inches. Its closed length is 4.62 inches and opened length is 8.07 inches, along with a handle thickness of 0.64 inches. The blade is made of 154CM steel material with a drop point style and plan edge. The blade has a satin finish accompanied by full stainless steel liners.

Its operation is based on Benchmade patented axis lock, which offers a solid feel. The ambidextrous thumb studs allow the blade to be used by both left-handed and right-handed people. The axis lock disengages extraordinarily smoothly.

In fact, you will be opening and closing it continuously without noticing what you are doing, because of the ergonomic design. It is incorporated with a tip that offers good compromise between an all rounded EDC blade and a needle point.

It uses nested liners; therefore, it has the ideal balance for all the intended purposes. This is a resourceful piece if you are after a hard duty folding blade.

14K Mt Summit Series Mt. Rainier Combo Edge

14K Mt Summit Series Mt. Rainier Combo Edge

Weight: 4.2

Blade Length: 2.9 inches

Design Features: 420J2 steel blade material; 420J2 handle liner; modified drop point; zinc alloy handle material; hollow blade grind; bead blast blade finish; LAWKS safety system; liner lock; 1 position clip carry; combination blade edge; and 51-53 HRC.

Best Use: Cutting, Slicing, and Self-defense

Description: 14K Mt Summit Series Mt. Rainier Combo Edge is one of the best folders in the market. It has a strong inter-frame liner lock construction, providing you with an easy-to-clean open structure along with zinc alloy scales.

Basically, the knife’s weight is minimized without bargaining the extraordinary power. It is fitted with 420J2 stainless steel dual liners. The cutting edge is engineered from 420J2 high carbon steel, which features a modified drop point shape with bead blasted finish. The blade grind is well-structured to keep maximum thickness throughout the length of the back of the blade and at the tip.

The cutting edge is fitted with triple point serrations. A feature unique to this knife is the integration of the patented LAWKS safety mechanism. This safety mechanism transforms this piece into a virtual fixed-bladed dagger.

Victorinox Swiss Army Swisschamp Pocket Knife

Victorinox Swiss Army Swisschamp Pocket Knife

Weight: 7 ounces

Product Dimension: 3.6 by 1 by 1.3 inches

Design Features: Red color; stainless steel tool material; polished cellidor handle material; and 32 tools.

Best Use: Multi-purpose Tool (Fish Scaler to Wire Cutter)

Description:  If you are looking for a pocket toolbox, you should look no further than the Victorinox Swiss Army SwissChamp Pocket Knife. This uniquely made multipurpose tool is packed with numerous functions. It is indeed a gizmo of its own making.

The various functions include: patented mini screwdriver; straight pin; pressurized ballpoint pen; magnifying lens; Phillips screwdriver; pliers with wire crimper & wire cutter; chisel/scraper; fine screwdriver; nail file with metal saw, metal file, & nail leaner; fish scaler with ruler & hook disgorger; wood saw;

Multi-purpose hook; scissors; toothpick; tweezers; key ring; reamer; bottle opener with wire stripper & large screwdriver; can opener with small screwdriver; corkscrew; small blade; and large blade.

Apart from the large and small blades, other resourceful tools that you will certainly use are pliers, mini-screwdriver, ruler, magnifying glass, and bottle opener. You can use the pliers to fix a broken link, adjust guitar strings, and tighten loose nuts.

You can use mini-screwdriver to tighten wobbly eyeglass screws. You can use the ruler to mark ad measure points. The bottle opener is useful for opening bottles. It is easy to maintain the various tools incorporated in the Victorinox Swiss Army SwissChamp Pocket Knife.

To avoid drawing and closing problems of the various tools, you have to open as well as close the edges in warm water. Then you can opt to lubricate the blades once they are dry.

Cold Steel Recon 1 Tactical Knife

Cold Steel Recon 1 Tactical Knife

Weight: 5.3 ounces

Blade Length: 4 inches

Design Features: Japanese AUS 8A stainless steel blade material w/ black Teflon finish; G-10 handle; stainless pocket/ belt clip; clip point blade edge; and 3.5 mm blade thickness.

Best Use: Outdoor Cutting Chores & Self-defense

Description: Measuring 9.375 inches long when opened and weighing 5.3 ounces, Cold Steel Recon 1 is the best tactical blade for the money. The cutting edge is engineered from Japanese AUS 8A stainless steel with black Teflon finish.

This is a heavy duty alloy with high corrosion and wear resistant and has great edge retention capabilities. The edge is vacuum heat treated and sub-zero quenched for quality performance. It is fitted with an ergonomic handle made of G-10 material.

The handle material is strong, lightweight, and very hard, providing you with a rugged and non-slip grip. It comes with an extra-tough pocket clip for effective carry, and thumb disc for effortless opening.

Spyderco Delica 4 Folding Plain Edge FRN Knife

Spyderco Delica 4 Folding Plain Edge FRN Knife

Weight: 2.5 ounces

Blade Length: 2.56 inches

Design Features: VG-10 steel blade material; FRN handle material; 0.09-inch blade thickness; 0.5-inch blade hole; and limited warranty.

Best Use: Cutting, Slicing & Self-Defense

Description: Spyderco Delica 4 is the best folder from Spyderco. It measures 4.25 inches long when closed, and 7.13 inches long when opened. The blade is engineered from VG-10 steel, which is easy to sharpen, retains a fine edge after use, and has great corrosion resistant capabilities.

The handle is made of fiber reinforced nylon, which is lightweight and durable. The handle is fitted with bi-Directional texturing on the surface for slip-free tactile traction. The knife is also strengthened by the dual skeletonized steel liners situated inside the handle. This is the best tactical blade if you are after resourcefulness and versatility.

In Conclusion

The most important aspect of a pocket knife is portability. You have to be able to carry the blade in your pocket at ease without feeling any excess weight. Therefore, the blade and handle length are very important when deciding which folder to buy.

Choose your pocket knife

As discussed under “the most important features”, the blend length should be equal to or less than 4 inches. This way, the weight of the whole unit will be evenly distributed through the handle, providing you with a lightweight piece.

Make sure you match your intended use with the appropriate blade and handle profile. Do you think we have missed any resourceful folders? If so, please let us know in comments.

Dennis Owens
Dennis Owens

Dennis Owens is a graduate of National Camping School and REI Outdoor School. He knows everything about what gear to take with you, how to plan your trip to stay safe and what to do if you get lost in the mountains. We are lucky to have Dennis with us as he is a ‘walking encyclopedia’ when it comes to the wilderness.

  • David Laing

    I’ve never been a great fan of the Swiss army knife, though I appreciate their versatility, I’ve never found any real need for half of the tools it features. Personally, I’d much rather have a solid folder in my pocket. I’ve been using the Cold Steel Recon 1 for a little over a year now and can honestly say it’s one of the best I’ve ever owned. It is big enough to tackle serious work, but still small enough for the finer tasks, the handle is a good size with a nice texture that is easy to grip, the lock is solid and there’s no wobble when the blade is open. A first-rate pocket knife.

    • Dennis Owens

      Swiss army knives are one of the most versatile tools in the market and I really do think they should be included in any wilderness or backpacking inventory. However, pocket knives are great alternative if you don’t want the former’s complexities. To each his own still applies when it comes to knives.

  • Sophie Habron

    For the last five years or so, I’ve been using an old folding knife I inherited from my grandfather, unfortunately, however, he recently passed away and the sentimental value of the knife outweighed its utility. So I decided to retire my 30-year-old Schrade to store it away safely.

    I’ve always been a Swiss Army fan, carrying one as a child and in my early backpacking days and when I came across the Swiss Champ, I had to have one. I could spend an hour writing about the various tools and features the Swiss Champ has to offer (32 in total), however, you’re probably better off going straight to the horse’s mouth or the information in the article above for more in-depth information. While pricey, the Swiss Army Knife is functional, durable and frankly, fun! A must have for absolutely anyone, whether you’re taking it camping or backpacking or simply keeping it in the glove box of your car.

    • Dennis Owens

      A Schrade! That is such a novelty. I’ve met a lot of friends and acquaintances who, like you, grew up with Swiss Army knives. This simply proves they reliability over the years. Some get Swiss Army knives from friends, while for others, it is a family thing!