When it comes to choosing a best EDC pocket knife, there are a lot of factors to take into consideration. There is no single best answer for what you should get because everyone has their own preferences and needs. That being said, we will go over a few things that you should think about when deciding on the best EDC pocket knife for your needs.
Because it matters: Size
In my personal collection I have an Ontario Knife Company RAT 1 which comes in at an overall length of 8.5in with a blade of 3.625in, it’s the biggest in my collection. I also have a Quiet Carry Bandit which comes in at an overall length of 3in with a blade of just 1.2in. Obviously the size difference is vast but it highlights the point which is, you’d use each of these tools for very different jobs. I’ve used my RAT 1 on bigger jobs while the Bandit is typically on box duty. So, what are you going to be using your next purchase for? Will it be a heavy duty tool or will it be a letter opener? If you’re looking for something intended for general use, I would recommend a 2 – 3in blade. Most of the blades I carry come in under 3in and are very pocketable as well as useful.
Verdict: 2-3″ for most daily applications. (Check applicable knife laws in your area)
Weight & Material
These days, knife scales or handles are made from a variety of materials. Titanium, brass, copper, micarta, Gcarta, G-10 and many more. Each of these materials add weight to the knife which again will affect the ideal use of the tool. Another factor is how you will carry the knife. Will it be in your pocket? Personally I don’t like to EDC my RAT 1 in my pocket, it’s just a little too heavy and bulky, even with GFN scales. It usually ends up in my messenger bag while a smaller knife ends up in my pocket. The RAT 1 comes in at 5 oz as a point of reference. To me it is on the heavy side so if you’re looking for a good EDC blade think about finding something around 2.5oz.
Verdict: Try for around 2.5 oz weight and lighter materials for EDC.
Blade shape & Material
This post isn’t going to get into the different steel types and blade shapes, I’ll get into those details in another one. That said I will touch on a few of my favorites to watch for. For shape, I prefer an all-around blade shape that is going to offer versatility in an EDC situation. In my collection I primarily have drop-point, spear point or wharncliffe. I’d like to add a tanto point in the near future but these are the types I’d suggest looking at when buying an EDC knife.
When considering which blade steel to target we once again need to take a few factors into consideration. Intended use, blade geometry, corrosion resistance and edge geometry. I intend to add articles to each of those categories but for the moment we’ll say that for a typical EDC purpose you’re going to be best served by choosing a tool that you are comfortable with maintaining. A well maintained and sharpened blade will out-perform a poorly maintained tool of higher quality or price.
Opening & Locking Mechanisms
Another choice when choosing your best EDC pocket knife is how you will open and close the knife. Many people are satisfied to use both hands in either opening and closing the knife. Others prefer to be able to deploy and close their pocket knife with a single hand. Read on for some of the opening and closing options.
The most popular EDC knives are going to fall into this category. There is the tried and true cutout like the nail tick that you’ve probably seen on a Swiss Army Knife or similar tool. Thumb studs are also a pretty popular feature for knife opening. Spyderco has popularized the thumb hole method which on their knives is a circular hole but on many other brands the shape and size can vary. One method that I’ve yet to collect is the front open but I’m keen on getting one!
Automatic or Switchblade
Where I live, these are illegal. Things are changing but for many of us this type of opening mechanism wouldn’t be practical to carry every day due to legal issues. That said, this type of opener would engage with the push of a button or switch.
This method uses an internal mechanism to finish the opening process once the blade has been partially opened by manual force. Usually a more legal option to the automatic. Kershaw comes to mind as a brand that makes a lot of assisted opening knives.
Usually found on a more traditional pocket knife, the slipjoint locking mechanism are one of the most common mechanisms for folding knives. The slipjoint uses springs or tension to hold the blade in place but it doesn’t actually lock the blade, with pressure the blade will close, sometimes unexpectedly.
If you’re a one-hander, this or the frame lock is the locking mechanism for you. The liner of the handles, usually a plate of hard metal is curved inward toward the base of the blade. When the blade is open the liner pushes towards the inside of the handles, locking the base of the blade in place. To release, you manually slide the liner back and the blade will then close.
Another option for people preferring single hand operation of their knives. A framelock will usually have an L-shaped notch in one of the scales of the handle, this extends upward and curves like the liner lock but in this case it’s the scale frame that locks the blade in place rather than a metal lining. When the blade deploys the handle scale moves inward to lock the blade in place. To release, you manually slide the frame back and the blade will release for closure.
If you have trouble finding the best EDC pocket knife for you, look below for a few of my favorite suggestions. If you are still struggling let me know in the comments section and I’ll be sure to give you some direction. Until next time!
- QSP Penguin – Tan Micarta ~ $33
- QSP Parrot – Denim Micarta ~ $29
- Civivi Elementum – G10 ~ $50
- Ontario RAT 1 ~ $34