Every Day Carry knives used to be one of the quintessential coming-of-age gifts for young men – and in places with a strong knife-making and mountaineering tradition, like Switzerland, they still are. Open-carry laws may have put stricter caps on blade sizes or edge shapes, but they have not eliminated the need for a quality all-in-one letter opener, poker, and utility aid.
In addition, both fashion styles and price ranges for EDC knives are now as flexible as ever. They are no longer limited to rugged-looking tactical gear of video-game-worthy stiletto blades with stardust coated handles. You can get superb craftsmanship, strong blades, unique designs, and even unique stories for less than $100, all made in high grade steel.
Up and coming knife maker JAMES may not have the history or tradition of the ancient Japanese crafters or American military suppliers, but instead, it offers cutting edge technology and an undeniably futuristic look. The blade is 2.8 inches long and the handle barely hits 4 inches when folded, but the choice of materials and sleek design make this look like Commander Shepard’s knife.
The carpenter blade is made from 416 Stainless Black-Oxide Steel, and the handle is available in G-10 composite, bone, or ebony versions. All finishes offer the same liner lock mechanism and superb balance, as well as the same smoothness that makes it easy to switch between hands.
This is a strong and thick foldable knife for the tactical enthusiasts who don’t want to abandon their rugged ways during their Monday-through-Friday grind. Despite the apparently standard shape and folding mechanism, this is actually a very powerful and fast-deploying knife; Kershaw named it the “Blur” for a reason.
The blade is made from superior and extra-resilient S30V stainless steel, stonewashed and coated with titanium. The handle comes with SpeedSafe assisted opening technology and is reinforced with aluminum. You can choose one of six different finish combinations, which combine black or silver blades as well as serrated and smooth edges. In particular, their black-handled and blackwash-bladed version, nicknamed “the Glass breaker” has all the looks of a stealthy combat knife, despite keeping its blade just under 4.3 inches.
Case is one of the U.S.’ oldest knife manufacturers, but they do not shy behind their history in order to justify outrageous prices. In fact, this elegant piece is surprisingly cheap for something made out of chrome vanadium steel and a composite-encased textured bone. The overall effect looks rather retro, but its performance is anything but decorative.
The main blade is 3.25 inches long, spey-shaped, very slim, and remarkably sharp – enough for skinning or cutting rope during a hunting trip. However, it also has a secondary clip blade that adds some extra city-friendly functionality. This makes the handle a little bit thicker than average, but it’s still remains light and small enough to fit in a pocket. The bone-handled version comes in three different colors: crude, blue, and red. If you need something a bit more discreet, try the synthetic version instead.
While many brands often go out of their way to include increasingly technical gadgets or add-ons on their pocket knives, or even to disguise them as anything but an EDC knife, Ontario Knife keeps to what it does best. They do this out of principle, and judging from the reliability of their RAT-1, they clearly know their game.
The plain edge blade is 3.5 inches long and made fully from AUS-8 blade steel. However, the knife feels much smaller thanks to its open-post retraction mechanism. This makes it easy to clean, awards it with 4 different clip positions, and keeps the full package under 5 ounces and barely 4.5 inches when folded. Despite its light weight, the handle is very resilient and unlikely to break. The finely grained texture will provide you with a good grip, while still preventing any grime from accumulating around it.
This miniature marvel of Danish design offers just 2.4 inches worth of blade, but it is one of the finest, scarily-sharp blades found at this price range. Both the blade and the handle are made from high-grade, corrosive-resistant steel and have received a delicate satin finish. However, the handle also has a bead-blasted side that increases grip and maneuverability without the need to add any extra length.
When fully extended, this knife stays firmly below 6 inches and is slimmer than a cased smartphone. While easy to hide, it is hard to ignore: the piece’s futuristic shape and high-tech finish is further improved by the thumb slot deployment system and a cleverly hidden pocket clip.
Just because it’s tiny and slim doesn’t mean it doesn’t pack a good punch; the Kershaw Cryo G-10 is smaller than many letter openers found in the premium alley at Staples (when folded, the blade is barely 2.75 inches long) and yet it still performs beautifully outside the city. As a brand, Kershaw specialized in outdoor and camping utilities, and this is the kind of knife that will definitely resist the trip; the stainless steel blade is hard, sharp, and a corrosion-resistant titanium coat.
This impressive amount of power is all cleverly and safely hidden beneath a durable handle and held together by a fast assisted opening system; thanks to their patented SpeedSafe design, it just requires a small amount of pressure at the right spot in order to open smoothly. It also has a 4-position lock and an additional flipper, enabling you to deploy it as best fits the circumstance.
The combination of cutting edge American design and traditional Japanese craftsmanship have turned Spyderco into a premium knife making house. The Delica 4 shows exactly the kind of performance this marriage can reach while still keeping the price in the double digits.
The bi-directional blade is 2.87 inches long but barely 13 mmm thick, and yet it includes a finely polished mark and a practical opening hole. On the other end, the handle is made from reinforced fiberglass and packs skeletonized stainless steel liners, which will protect the blade while making deployment smooth and quick. The slightly curved shape and textured surface are not immediately noticeable but provide a much better handling precision. Plus, it’s available in six different colors.
At first glance, this is a standard budget-friendly folding knife. However, the choice of materials and the attention paid to the handle details clearly move it to the “surprising value category.” The blade is made from a single, 2.91-inch-long piece of 154CM stainless steel, which will ensure it falls just below the legal limit in most states without accidentally leaving you wanting for an extra inch.
The handle itself is made from glass-filled nylon, which protects the blade from rust when folded and keeps the overall package neatly light. It also comes with a dual opening system; you can deploy it manually or secure it with its AXIS lock. Fully made in the USA, it also comes with a lifetime warranty and is available in six different colors.
The Homefront Tactical EDC knife is great proof that you do not need to reinvent the wheel in order to create a truly remarkable and reliable knife. This knife’s overall design keeps everything classic and unassuming. However, the 3.5-inch blade is made from AUS-8 steel, which provides one of the best edge retentions currently available. The blade is a little thicker than usual, and reaches a full 0.133 inches, which increases its durability and resilience while keeping the total weight under 5 ounces.
The handle also has some hidden perks lying beneath its simple design. First, it’s made from aircraft-quality aluminum, reinforced with a textured composite case. The spring-powered flipper makes it very quick to open and keeps your thumb from ever coming too close to the sharp edges. A hidden side screw will allow you to dismantle and re-assemble the knife easily whenever you need to deep-clean it.
Slim, neat, and cheap are rarely a combination that screams style or durability, and yet the Gerber Paraframe Mini ticks all the aforementioned boxes. The handle’s open frame is stylish and even has a bit of personality added to it, thanks to its polished steel finish. However, it also brings two important advantages to the table; it will be extra easy to clean and offers a safe and seamless closing mechanism.
The blade is barely 2.22 inches long, and the fully-extended knife barely hits 5.25 inches, which makes it fully worthy of the “minimalist” label. It weighs less than 2 ounces, and its extra slim build makes it perfect for the kind of jeans pockets that usually live little to the imagination.
Size-wise, the Broken Skull may fall just at the upper limit of the EDC range, but this has not prevented Cold Steel from providing it with an aggressive name and the specs to match. The 4-inch-long blade is made from CTS XHP grade steel, and has a total thickness on 0.14 inches. It has also been provided with a carbon diamond-like coating that protects it from rusting, protects the edge, and makes it easier to clean. As a result, this is the kind of knife that can be taken hunting, camping, or to extreme days-long fishing trips.
The handle also deserves special mention; made from 610 steel, it has been neatly textured on the sides to facilitate better grip. The double-curved shape makes it easy to deploy and provides a natural resting space for your thumb that will keep it safely away from the bladed edge. The lock back mechanism further increases its safety rating. The full knife weights just 3.10 ounces and measures 9 inches.
Not all EDC knives need to look the part during a camping trip; there are plenty of uses for one at a normal, urbane office, ranging from seamless letter opening to giving your creditors the right impression. The 110 Hunter by Buck Knives is made from elegant materials and designed with class, and yet it can still be yours for less than $50.
A blade of 420HC stainless steel and a handle of Crelicam Ebony and Glass make this knife pretty enough for a glass case. However, it is not merely ornamental: the 3.75-inch-long blade is corrosion resistant and has superb edge retention. It is also equipped with a practical nail notch that will keep it safely closed when needed, as well as a lock back mechanism that will keep it straight and balanced while it’s being used. It comes with its own leather sheath and belt loop.
Those who are shopping for something a bit classier than the standard functional EDC knife may want to take a good look at the Opinel Carbon Blade N°6, even if just a quick glance may be enough to close the sale.
The carbon-reinforced steel blade is just 2.9 inches long, which keeps it firmly on safe, legal territory. However, there is still a lot of oomph factor in that high-grade blade, and it is likely to keep its value and edge for years to come, especially if properly tended to. However, the fine wooden handle makes it look like a beautiful accessory rather than a threat, while still remaining easy to grip and relatively quick to deploy.
Ultra-sharp and discreetly badass, the Twitch II is SOG’S foray into the city market. This brand has a well-established reputation in the tactical and military gear niche, so most of their creations fall in the “explanations and permits needed” branch. Nevertheless, with a blade that’s only 2.65 inches long, the Twitch II will keep you on the safe size without sacrificing its potential.
This is achieved both thanks to its high-grade AUS-8 steel and the spring-assisted “kicking” mechanism included in its rosewood handle. It can be opened very quickly, with almost no pressure but more than a bit of an awe effect. It also comes with SOG’s signature lifetime warranty and certification.
Despite looking like a miniature butcher knife, the Sheepdog by KIZER is a superb option for hikers and adventurers who may need something that can cut rope or gut fish easily. The extra-wide blade may look a little bit threatening in the city, despite being barely 3 inches long. That being said, the fine construction and the use of 154CM steel mean that you are unlikely to need anything longer than that.
The handle is made from G-10 composite material (available in green, black, and blue). It is naturally rugged and cleverly curved to provide seamless grip even when exerting force. It also has a caged ceramic pivoting ball that allows for fast deployment.
History buffs are always thrilled when provided with the opportunity to purchase a handcrafted piece by a brand with a history. For such an audience, the traditional practices kept by Nagao Seisakusho will offer a double thrill: first, from owing and carrying around a knife, and second, from having it made by one of the last remaining members of a guild that used to build blades for the Samurai.
Each one of this brand’s blades is largely assembled by hand. The blade is just under 3 inches long, while the handle adds an extra 4 inches to the fully-extended package. The longer-than-usual handle is meant to enhance maneuverability and precision movements, whether you are fixing a tent or saving a life. Fancy spring-enabled retracting mechanisms are forgone here in favor of a slim build, a one-click lock, and old-school Warikomi steel.
Light, compact, and fast make the Zoom a remarkable option for anyone looking for superb quality in a minimalist package. SOG has made sure to keep this knife safely concealable and light despite providing all the features worthy of a full-blown tactical knife. The blade, which is made from AUS-8 steel, is 3.6 inches long and thoroughly coated with a beautiful and functional satin finish.
The brand’s proprietary assisted open technology provides an aggressively fast, yet maneuverable deployment. The handle is fully gripped and smartly contoured to offer several holding positions and precise movement. It also included a small pocket clip at the back.
Spyderco includes some impressive high-end blades in their catalogu, but don’t let them (or their prices) detract from the rugged simplicity offered by their Tenacious Plain Edge Knife. A 3.25-inch-long blade made entirely from 8Cr13MoV steel is accompanied by the brand’s recognizable flower-shaped mark. The handle is made from G-10, a very resistant carbon-based composite that is sure to resist stiff boots, old age, and even Rambo-style teeth marks.
The blade is slim enough to be strapped to a belt or stashed in a back pocket with little fuss. The edges have just enough texture to significantly improve the grip. This model does not come with any fancy retracting springs or security locks, just a simple and efficient folding mechanism. However, at its price and with a total weight of just 4 ounces, it is still a well-rounded and budget friendly option.