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The best pocket knives Credit: Reviewed.com / Jonathan Chan

The Best Pocket Knives of 2022

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The best pocket knives Credit: Reviewed.com / Jonathan Chan

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Reviewed's mission is to help you buy the best stuff and get the most out of what you already own. Our team of product experts thoroughly vet every product we recommend to help you cut through the clutter and find what you need.

Learn more about our product testing
Editor's Choice Product image of Spyderco Delica4
Best Overall

Spyderco Delica4

Made with high-quality Japanese VG-10 steel, this knife will last a lifetime. Its stunted blade and thumb hole encourage precision and dexterity. Read More

Pros

  • Made with extremely strong and durable steel
  • Well-designed blade for intricate cuts
  • Thumb hole for better dexterity

Cons

  • Pricey
Editor's Choice Product image of  CRKT 6450K Drifter
Best Value

CRKT 6450K Drifter

The Drifter is a good entry-level knife. It's plenty sharp and it's well-built, but it may not hold its sharpness as well as you'd like. Read More

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Moderate cutting ability

Cons

  • Required more cutting strokes than with others
  • May lose its sharpness quickly
Product image of Benchmade Griptilian 551, Plain Edge
Best For Everyday Carry

Benchmade Griptilian 551, Plain Edge

Currently
Unavailable

With its sharp design and even sharper blade, the Griptilian is a solid investment, so long as you're okay spending a bit of money. Read More

Pros

  • Sharp design
  • Superior blade
  • Sturdy construction

Cons

  • Expensive
Product image of CRKT Fawkes w/ D2 Blade Steel

CRKT Fawkes w/ D2 Blade Steel

Product image of SOG Flash II TFSA98-CP

SOG Flash II TFSA98-CP

We think you'll like the spring-loaded opening mechanism. It's also easy to sharpen the Flash II's blade, though that means it easily loses its edge. Read More

Pros

  • Spring-loaded opening mechanism
  • Easy to sharpen
  • Cuts through various materials well

Cons

  • Loses its edge easily
  • Opening mechanism is stiff at first

Whether you're peeling apples while on a hike or cutting seat belts in an emergency, a pocket knife is one of the most useful tools around. It's also one of the most versatile, just as likely to be used to slice open a box as it is to whittle a piece of wood or slice through rope. And if it's versatility you're after, you won't be disappointed with our favorite Spyderco Delica4 (available at Amazon).

There are lots of pocket knives on the market, and with a variety of options, it can be tough to know which knives are worth the money. We researched dozens of blades and chose seven of the top products on the market to test in the Reviewed labs for two weeks of testing and heavy use.

These are the best pocket knives we tested ranked, in order:

  1. Spyderco Delica 4
  2. Benchmade Griptilian 551
  3. CRKT Fawkes
  4. Columbia River Knife and Tool 6450K
  5. SOG Flash II
  6. Buck Ranger
  7. Opinel N 08
  8. James Brand Folsom
  9. Coutellerie Cognet Douk-Douk
  10. Tac-Force Rescue Folding Knife
For most people, the Delica is the pocket knife to get.
Credit: Reviewed.com / Jonathan Chan
Best Overall
Spyderco Delica4

The Spyderco Delica4 is the perfect blend of easy-to-use and versatility. The version we tested had a 2.56-inch cutting edge, a 4.25-inch closed length, 5.25-inch open length, and weighs 2.28 ounces. The knife stands out from its competitors in two major ways: it has a thumb hole and a [wharncliffe blade]((https://www.bladeops.com/Articles.asp?ID=278).

The thumb hole is a great feature because it gives you better control over what you're doing with the blade. After spending weeks opening and closing knives for eight hours a day, we can also say that it's easier on your hands. And while you might think that a big hole in the back of the blade would weaken it, the Delica is made of VG-10 steel from Japan. This alloy is known for its durability, resistance to rust, and ability to hold an edge. Ever wonder how Japanese sushi chefs cut sashimi so cleanly? VG-10 steel.

Durable material doesn't mean much if you don't have the design to utilize it well, but luckily the Delica's wharncliffe blade is quite capable. The triangular-shaped knife might be shorter than the others we tested, but it allows for greater control because your entire index finger can fit over the top of the blade. The knife was able to handle more delicate tasks like peeling an apple or stenciling with impressive precision.

With a combination of high-quality material, easy-to-open design, and precision cutting, the Spyderco Delica4 is our top pick.

Pros

  • Made with extremely strong and durable steel

  • Well-designed blade for intricate cuts

  • Thumb hole for better dexterity

Cons

  • Pricey

If you're on a budget, the Drifter is a good entry-level knife.
Credit: Reviewed.com / Jonathan Chan
Best Value
CRKT 6450K Drifter

The Columbia River Knife and Tool 6450K Drifter retails for around $25, and gives you the most bang for your buck of all the knives we tested. This blade is constructed of 8Cr14MoV–which is short for middle-of-the-road Chinese steel with lots of carbon. This material is known for its average resistance to wear and the ability to hold an edge.

During testing, the Drifter’s performance proved to be middle-of-the-road as well. When used to open a box, the Drifter easily cut through packing tape, but by the time we were done, the 2.875-inch blade was covered in sticky goo. And while it managed to slice cleanly through a length of rope, its short cutting edge required the most strokes of any knife we tested.

The Drifter is an entry-level model pocket knife: perfect for first-time blade owners and those of you who may not want to carry a knife with them on a daily basis.

Pros

  • Affordable

  • Moderate cutting ability

Cons

  • Required more cutting strokes than with others

  • May lose its sharpness quickly

The 551 is one of the best pocket knives we've ever tested.
Credit: Reviewed.com / Jonathan Chan
Best For Everyday Carry
Benchmade Griptilian 551

Laid out on a table, the Benchmade Griptilian 551BK invokes images of a black-and-white commercial with a suave voice-over, accompanied by panning shots of wine glasses. It's just that good-looking—and we're happy to say the performance isn't too shabby either.

The 551BK is made in American from 154CM steel, which is slightly softer then VG-10, but makes it easier to sharpen the blade. During testing, we found that the 551BK was one of the sharpest knives right out of the box. It placed among the top two blades in our rope-cutting, soap-carving, and ice-chopping tests. Even after striking the knife with a hammer, the blade stayed firmly in place. We also found the blade insanely smooth to open, proving even easier to deploy than the assisted-open knives we tested.

The model we ordered had a drop point blade, but you can customize the knife with a sheep's foot or tanto tip if you are interested. However, take heed before you order —this beauty will set you back about $100. The only issue we found was that this knife tips the scales at 3.88 ounces and has a 4.62-inch footprint while closed. These measurements make it one of the bulkier knives we tested.

Everyday carry enthusiasts who want to invest in a good pocket knife: this is the one to get.

Pros

  • Sharp design

  • Superior blade

  • Sturdy construction

Cons

  • Expensive

How We Tested Pocket Knives

The Tester

I'm Jon Chan, product technician, everyday carry enthusiast, and senior manager of lab operations. I have carried a pocket knife nearly every day for about a decade now, and I'm always researching the latest and greatest. I also come from a family of Chinese restaurant workers, which means I'm well-versed in the importance of respecting and maintaining a keen blade. At work in the Reviewed testing labs, I frequently need to pull a knife from my pocket to open packages and cut zip ties.

The Tests

We tested pocket knives to determine their utility, ease of use, and portability. The utility testing consisted of cutting rope, carving wood, chopping ice, popping zip ties, and opening packages. We made note of how efficiently each knife handled each task. Top-performing knives were also used for more precise work, like whittling soap and peeling apples.

As we put the knives through these tests, we paid extra attention to whether they felt comfortable to hold and use. We noted how easy they were to open and close, and we researched blade materials to gain insight into what people could expect from the blades in terms of sharpening, holding an edge, and general durability. Blade materials matter and each knife we tested is made out of a different kind of steel.

Pocket knives are also prized for their portability, so we factored each knife's weight and size into our scoring, as well as whether or not they had a pocket clip.

What You Need to Know About Buying Pocket Knives

Types Of Pocket Knives

In our minds, pocket knives fall into two categories: assisted and manual open. Assisted open knives typically have a spring that helps pop the blade open. Manual open knives have either a thumb hole or nub to give your hand purchase. Both can be opened with one hand and in our experience, they’re equally fast.

Blade Shapes

  • Drop point: Drop point blades are one of the most common designs. It’s a middle ground between durability and utility.

  • Clip point: Clip points have a convex curve on the spine of the blade which gives it sharper tip. This design gives the blade a better ability to pierce and for fine carving work.

  • Tanto point: A tanto point is an iconic design found Japanese swords and daggers. The thicker tip greatly increases durability.

  • Wharncliffe point: Created in the 19th century, wharncliffe blades are designed with duraiblity in mind. During testing, we found that they are great for precision work.

Blade Materials

Obstencially, all the pocket knives we tested used steel blades. However, steel comes in many different forms. The most common types are: VG-10, D2, and 1095. Each one contains a varying mixture of carbon, chromium, and other trace elements. We can get into the weeds about the strength and weaknesses of each type, but we have some topline takeaways. VG-10 steel is best known for its resistance to corrosion, it’s why Japanese fishermen favor it. D2 steel blades are prized for their toughness. Knives made from 1095 steel are easier to sharpen and can be made to have a keener edge.


Other Pocket Knives We Tested

Product image of CRKT Fawkes w/ D2 Blade Steel
CRTK Fawkes

The Fawkes is actually named after the Phoenix in Harry Potter—and like its namesake, it springs to life. Small and compact, we found the Fawkes to be a delight to open when we used the flipper. However, if you want to bypass the assisted-open flipper, there is a bevel in the blade to peel it open manually.

The handle is made from a composite resin that is smooth on the sides and textured on the edges. It’s fairly comfortable to hold and the divot for the index finger ensures a firm grip. Still, the handle feels on the cramped side.

When it came to the cutting tests, the Fawkes acquitted itself well. The D2 steel blade cut through rope, paper, and ice with relative ease. It’s not as keen as some of the 1095 blades on this list or as tough as VG-10, but it gets the job done. We think the Fawkes would make a great gift to anyone you know who would want a tastefully orange everyday carry.

Product image of SOG Flash II TFSA98-CP
SOG Flash II

The SOG Flash II is a serious tool. The version we tested had a partially serrated blade, a tanto point, and was coated in black titanium nitride. What separates the Flash II from a model like the Griptillian 551, which we prefer for everyday carry, is the fact that it has an assisted-open mechanism. The Flash II is spring-loaded so that a flick of the thumb stud will pop the knife open. At first, the mechanism is a real thumb-bruiser, but over a few weeks of use, we found it became much less stiff. If you have any safety concerns about the assisted-open, don't worry—there's also a safety latch so it won't go off in your pocket accidentally.

The blade is made from Aus-8 steel, which is well-regarded in the knife collector world for how easy it is to sharpen. However, be aware that knives that sharpen easily won't hold an edge for as long as knives made from harder materials. That doesn't mean the Flash II is substandard, though—we found that the serrated blade could saw through a tree branch, and the straight edge could cut through 1/4" nylon rope in about two light strokes.

The Flash II is a solid product that would be great for someone looking to add to their pocket knife collection, but it may be too much for anyone looking for a simple starter knife.

Pros

  • Spring-loaded opening mechanism

  • Easy to sharpen

  • Cuts through various materials well

Cons

  • Loses its edge easily

  • Opening mechanism is stiff at first

Product image of Buck Ranger 112BRS
Buck Ranger 112BRS

The Buck 112 Ranger reminds us of the ones you see in old cowboy movies—which is to say it has a great, rugged look. The unfolded 420HC steel blade is made in America. It’s sleek from the tip of the clip point to the base. However, testing proved this knife to be more beauty than beast. We understand that a thumb stud would ruin the aesthetic, but the trade-off is you need two hands to pry the thing open. The Ranger's good looks don't really hold up during use, either, as the brass over the tang picks up smudges and fingerprints.

On the performance front, the Buck Ranger is just okay. The knife aced our rope-cutting and wood-carving tests, but it was so tough to open and close that it was hard to enjoy the experience of using it. We think it would make a pretty gift, but it's too heavy, weighing over six ounces, and hard to handle for use as a general everyday blade.

Pros

  • Sharp blade

  • Timeless design

  • Sturdy construction

Cons

  • Difficult to open

  • Hefty to hold and use

Product image of Opinel No. 08 Carbon
Opinel N°8 Carbone

The Opinel N°8 is the most cultured knife we tested. In the book A History of the Garden in Fifty Tools, author Bill Laws writes that Picasso favored an Opinel for carving figurines. It makes sense why. The N°8 is super light, weighing 1.59 ounces and has a small 4.5-inch closed length

With a beechwood handle, you should think of the Opinel as more of a folding kitchen knife than a pocket tool. It peels an apple just fine, but the lack of a locking mechanism made us uncomfortable when we were using it for more robust tasks. Light and fairly sharp, the Opinel is a knife to take picnicking. The design won't raise eyebrows if you take it out in a sunny park.

Pros

  • Made with high-quality beech wood

  • Good for handling more delicate items

Cons

  • Doesn't work for more robust tasks

Product image of Jamesº Folsom
James Brand Folsom

James Brand got started in 2012 and specializes in minimalistic Everyday Carry gear. The Folsom pocket knife represents the epitome of that philosophy. It has a meaty VG-10 blade that made it a great chopper, making quick work of the rope and cardboard tests.

However, the handle left a lot to be desired. Its scales felt more like condensed cardboard than G10 resin. The texture on the scales was meant to help ensure a good grip. However, it wore away within the first week of use. While the resulting mottled pattern on the scales made the knife look cooler, our satisfaction with the blade dipped.

Overall, we think the James Brand Folsom will serve people who love wearing skinny jeans well. Its svelte profile and wide blade provide a favorable cutting-power-to-weight ratio. Still, the poor handle design deterred us from really like this knife.

Product image of Douk-Douk "Traditionnel" - 200mm
Douk-Douk

It’s hard to argue against the classics and the Douk-Douk is undoubtedly a classic. Designed in 1929, this slip joint knife has been in continuous manufacture ever since. During testing, the simplicity of the Douk-Douk impressed us the most. It’s the kind of pocketknife could survive for decades upon decades.

We were less enthused during the performance testing. We found the Douk-Douk hard to open. The slip joint will get more pliable over time, but the lack of a finger divot on the blade will always be an issue. During the cutting tests, the Douk-Douk fell behind more modern pocket knives. The clip point blade did below average on our paper and cardboard cutting tests.

The Douk-Douk will always have a place in the pocket knife world. However, it’s a knife from a bygone era and it lacks the quality-of-use features that most everyday carry gear has these days. We think this pocket knife will serve you best as a desk ornament.

Product image of Tac Force TF-723EM
Tac Force TF-723EM

The Tac Force TF-723EM is an emergency rescue knife. You'll find a glass breaker and seat belt cutter located at the bottom of the handle, which sets the knife apart from the other ones we tested. However, the blade's assisted-open mechanism was not particularly smooth during testing, and the 440 stainless steel blade didn't prove all that sharp. That said, this is an under-$20 knife with a built-in glass breaker and seat belt cutter, not an intricate whittling tool. Buy one and keep it in your car, just in case.

Pros

  • Built-in glass breaker and seat belt cutter

  • Affordable

Cons

  • Blade opening mechanism isn't smooth

  • Steel isn't that sharp

Meet the tester

Jonathan Chan

Jonathan Chan

Senior Manager of Lab Operations

@Jonfromthelab1

Jonathan Chan currently serves as the Lab Manager at Reviewed. If you clean with it, it's likely that Jon oversees its testing. Since joining the Reviewed in 2012, Jon has helped launch the company's efforts in reviewing laptops, vacuums, and outdoor gear. He thinks he's a pretty big deal. In the pursuit of data, he's plunged his hands into freezing cold water, consented to be literally dragged through the mud, and watched paint dry. Jon demands you have a nice day.

See all of Jonathan Chan's reviews

Checking our work.

Our team is here for one purpose: to help you buy the best stuff and love what you own. Our writers, editors, and lab technicians obsess over the products we cover to make sure you're confident and satisfied. Have a different opinion about something we recommend? Email us and we'll compare notes.

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