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How to Choose a Pocket Knife - The Five Best Folding Knife Companies
Best Folding Knives
Every man needs a quality pocket knife in his pocket, and every woman a knife in her purse. There are so many times every day when string needs to be cut, boxes and packages opened, apples peeled, and pencils sharpened (well, maybe not so much anymore). The only real question should be “What pocket or folding knife should I carry?” or "What is the best folding knife for me?"
How To Choose the Right Pocket Knife
Well, that depends – if you don’t care about knives, just go pick up a cheap Opinel knife online at Ragweeds Forge or a Rough Rider or Steel Warrior trapper or stockman from Smoky Mountain Knifeworks or from Ebay. They will do the job acceptably and be a lot better than any gas station knife. There is also the option of a very small fixed-blade knife that rides in a pocket, but most people prefer a folding pocket knife (or are forced because of state or local law to carry a folding knife). If you love a quality item, read on –
In the world of quality pocket knives, some of the best pocket knife companies just stand out in the crowd. All those fellow blade fans who love a good knife know what it means when a knife speaks to you saying “Carry me!” That knife may vary wildly for each person depending on their preferred usage and characteristics. Some people prefer tactical knives, others like traditional styles like trappers, stockman, copperheads, and peanuts. Blade length, blade thickness, lock type, steel type, handle material – knife nuts go crazy about all of these, but regardless of other disagreements, most agree about these companies and knives:
1) Benchmade Knives
These guys are my absolute favorite! They produce top-quality, strong knives in excellent steels and from top designers. The Benchmade Griptilian is my favorite knife ever and it was by far the best knife I have ever owned (the only reason I don’t still have it is that I lost it at my church work day). The Axis Lock is just awesome! Some people prefer other lock types, but the Axis lock is the best lock out there, in my opinion. It opens quickly and easily, but holds the blade open and closed very securely. Benchmade also makes a small version of the Griptilian in a variety of colors, such as pink, yellow, and blue!
The Rukus, Model 610, was an awesome knife that was recently discontinued. If you want a folder that thinks it is a fixed blade, the Rukus is for you if you can find one. The Rift is another great hard-use folder that is a little cheaper than the Rukus. Benchmade’s only real downside is the expense. Nothing is cheap, although a number are reasonable. You aren’t going to find many $20-30 knives here. Most models start around $75 and range as far as $300. Most knife enthusiasts consider either Benchmade or the next company as the top in production folders. On the downside, Benchmade, Spyderco, and Kershaw all tend to the tactical knife market. If you prefer a traditional pocket knife, you probably will want to look at Case or Buck.
2) Spyderco Knives
Spyderco is the other primary choice for the top production knife company. They are known for their "spidey hole" opening system and their rather distinctive blade shapes. I do not have any real experience with most of their models besides handling them a couple of times, but they have the reputation for being the real deal. The Delica and the Endura are probably the best-known models. Look at the Endura if you want a larger folder and the Delica for a smaller pocket knife.
Spyderco’s prices are better overall than are Benchmade’s, but still not dirt cheap. They have a couple of very good quality cheaper Chinese-made knives, including the Tenacious and the Resilience. I have a Resilience and am greatly impressed. It is a very large folder, but is not too large to easily carry and is well-designed. Spyderco also has a budget, but still good, Chinese line under the Byrd name like the Byrd Cara Cara, which is a great larger pocket knife, similar in size and style to an Endura. Customer service is excellent and they have a great value. If Benchmade for some reason doesn't have a model that suits your fancy, Spyderco probably will!
3) Kershaw Knives
A great, well-known American knife company that provides an excellent product at a reasonable price. They have a wide variety of tactical knives along with a more limited line of traditional knives. They may not have quite the reputation of Benchmade or Spyderco, but there are enough models that anyone should be able to find something. The Skyline, Shallot, and JYD and JYD II are excellent knives. Kershaw makes a line of assisted-opening knives that are very popular. The Leek is one of their most popular assisted-opening knives for lighter-duty pocket knives, while the Blur and Blackout models are excellent heavy-duty assisted-openers. Kershaw even makes small pink and rainbow folders for the ladies or men who like a colorful knife! They also do a number of limited runs, such as the Tyrade, that are amazing. Kershaw also has a line of hard-use very strong tactical folders under the ZT (Zero Tolerance) line.
4) Case Knives
Case is a little different than the above brands. Case is an American tradition, and still makes their knives in the United States. Unlike Benchmade and Spyderco, Case concentrates on traditional slip-joint knives such as the stockman, trapper, copperhead, and others instead of a more tactical style. The stockman and trapper models are excellent choices for a good pocket knife. I like the trapper slightly better, but the stockman is probably the traditional American style folder and a great knife in its own right. The cost is lower than Benchmade, fairly comparable with Kershaw. They aren’t cheap, but you can get decent models for less than $50. If you want an old-fashioned, traditional pocket knife, Case is one of the best options!
5) Victorinox Knives
Everyone knows about Swiss Army knives, and Victorinox is the best-known brand. They sell a huge variety of Swiss Army knives, with all kinds of tools and in several sizes. In this smaller size, which is the normal length for a Swiss Army knife, the Farmer is an awesome choice. There are several similar models which are all great. The alox handle is probably a better choice than the red plastic. In the larger models, try the Rucksack or the Trekker. Victorinox is more reasonably priced than the other companies listed, although some of their fancier models can get fairly expensive.
These are some of the best pocket knife companies out there, but in choosing the top 5 I had to leave a few great companies out, which really belong here such as Buck Knives. If you would like more information on pocket knives or love reading about them, visit best-pocket-knives.com.
If you are looking for a good survival fixed blade knife, How To Choose The Best Wilderness Survival Knife has some good criteria and suggestions.