10 Cheap Pocket Knives That Are Great EDC Blades

An EDC (or Every Day Carry) is a knife you keep with you all the time.  It goes along with your wallet, keys and cell phone.  It is an extremely handy tool to have around. 

How many times in an average week do you need to: open a box or package, cut a piece of cord or string or heavy tape, poke, prod or pierce something, slice or peel a piece of fruit, or mark a line on a hard or slick surface?  There are millions of uses for a small handy knife, and there is a singular joy to that moment when something has to be cut or opened, as you just whip out a blade and have it done before those around even have time to wonder where they left their scissors. 

Carrying an EDC knife has even become rather trendy.  Some of the larger knife manufacturers are now creating whole lines of EDC-style knives (smaller, folding blades) with super high-end steel and all designed-out, making them startlingly expensive.

Below, please take a look at our interactive table full of EDC knives that you can compare against one another:

SOG-Flash-IISOG Flash II$$
Spyderco Paramilitary 2Spyderco Paramilitary 2$$$
Gerber Bear Grylls Ultimate Fixed Blade KnifeGerber Bear Grylls$$
Kershaw-Shuffle-IIKershaw Shuffle II$
Spyderco TenaciousSpyderco Tenacious$$
Kershaw Knockout$$

Does a good EDC have to be expensive?

If you haven’t been keeping up with the knife world in the past couple of decades, you may be surprised by all the folding blades out there going for over $400.  There are some truly awe-inspiring knives out there in that category, but the good news is that for a lot of these knife makers, that push on design and construction has made it possible for them to also turn out some really functional and well made knives at much lower prices as well.  Your EDC knife does not have to be the best pocket knife in the world to get the job done well.

The problem is that this emergence of well made, well designed and inexpensive knives has also opened up a market for cheap imitations that are NOT well made at all, and made from inferior materials.  I have had hours of joy from a $18 knife, and also picked up a $20 knife that after some minimal use got tossed in a drawer never to emerge.  And it isn’t always so simple as “nation of origin.”

To help you wade through this morass, we’ve come up with a list of some perennial favorites that are tried and true, and won’t brake the bank.  Remember, there is nothing wrong with having a $600 pocket knife that can cut through solid diamonds… unless it slips out of your pocket somewhere and you have to decide if you’re going to buy another one.

So by all means, get that CPM-S30V super-steel blade, but maybe you don’t want to carry it around all the time — maybe it has a special place with your prized possessions instead of tossed in with your keys. 

Here is a top 10 list of knives that will be a joy to use, but won’t break your heart if something happens to them, since you can buy another for the price of a few caramel lattes. 

Below, please take a brief moment to view some of the best-selling pocket knives currently available on Amazon:

1) Spyderco Tenacious
2) Kershaw Cryo II
3) Opinel No.7
4) Gerber Paraframe
5) Kershaw Knockout

Lets go through them and look at why these ten made the cut:

  • Gerber Paraframe Mini | Frame Lock
  • Kershaw Shuffle 2   | Liner Lock
  • Smith & Wesson SW602 Folder | Liner Lock
  • CRKT Crawford Kasper  | Liner Lock
  • Cold Steel Tuff Lite Folder | Lockback
  • Ontario RAT 2 Folder | Liner Lock
  • Buck Knives 0835 Selkirk Folder | Liner Lock
  • Victorinox Swiss Army One-Hand Trekker  | Liner Lock
  • SOG Flash 2   | Safety Lock
  • Spyderco Tenacious   | Jimped Liner Lock

Qualities of a Good EDC

There is also a fair amount of variety in the designs of these knives.  You will notice that every one on my list has a locking blade of some sort.  For me, that’s a given for an EDC blade.  This is because of the kinds of use an EDC will undergo.  An EDC knife is the one you are most likely to do something silly with when not paying adequate attention, so requires that extra safety piece of a locking blade in my opinion.

The blades are all under 4 inches because for an EDC, you want to be able to carry the knife easily in your pocket.  These all have clips, so you could wear the knife up on the seam of the pocket or on your belt, but there are times and places you might want your knife to sit invisibly in your pocket, at which point you don’t want it to be too big.  These aren’t bushcraft or tactical knives.  They are for general use and this 2 to 4 inch size seems just right.

Let’s first begin by breaking down the Paraframe Mini by Gerber.

Gerber Paraframe Mini is the smallest and least expensive knife on the list.  The price is a real plus here, as it is about the same cost as a couple of lattes.  At just a little over 2 inches, it is definitely not a fighting blade, but will make short work of packing tape or envelopes. 

It will snuggle down nicely in a pocket, or drop into a side pocket on a backpack.  Its size may make it slightly insufficient for a survival knife, but for sure it is better than nothing in an emergency. 

It is so light weight that you won’t even notice it on a long bike trip, and no one else will notice it in a meeting room.

Kershaw Shuffle 2 is a really cool little knife!  The blade is a short but robust tanto style blade of 8Cr13MoV with a black wash.  For a small knife, it’s rather mean-looking!  But it’s also very functional.  The design gives you a lot of strength in a small blade, and ability to use it with a lot of leverage. 

The handle scales are nicely textured glass-filled nylon, and the handle is relatively large compared to the blade so it feels sturdy in the grip, but still small enough for easy pocket carry.  There’s also a convenient bottle opener on the butt end.  You get real Kershaw quality in a surprisingly cheap pocket knife.

Smith & Wesson SW602 Folder is just a solid little knife with a clip point blade of 7Cr17MoV High Carbon Stainless Steel and really nice wide handle scales of textured G-10.  Smooth opening and solid locking make it a reliable tool.  The duel thumb studs make this a nice ambidextrous knife.

CRKT Crawford Kasper is a fun hearty EDC blade with great action.  It sports a 8Cr14MoV stainless modified drop point blade and black Zytel handle with a jimped liner lock. 

The blade is fairly large, so if you are outdoors a lot, it’s a great one because it really can work for bushcraft and hunting use.  Another nice feature is the secondary safety lock that is engaged with the thumb once open, making this a secure, solid work knife as well as a pocket-fitting EDC.

Cold Steel Tuff Lite Folder is rather unique in this selection because of the blade style.  It is a wide, short hollow ground cutting blade (kind of like a wharncliffe or sheepsfoot pattern, but exaggerated).  The blade design makes this really look like a tool rather than a weapon (rather odd for the Cold Steel brand that specializes in combat knives) which can be a really good thing for an EDC, as some people can get really concerned by a visible tactical knife. 

The blade has a nice thumb hole for one-handed opening, some jimping on the spine and an inset choil that matches a notch on the handle to make two finger grips.  Blade comes insanely sharp, ready for all your serious and realistic EDC tasks.

Ontario RAT 2 has a nice solid black nylon handle, and a serious Aus-8 stainless blade with a slight drop point, in a full flat taper grind.  It’s an impressive blade in a solid package.  The liner lock is a very solid and secure one.  The pocket clip can be set in four different positions. 

Expect fit and finish far above the price point!  The folks at Randall’s Adventure Training know how to design a knife, and the folks at Ontario know how to pull it off.

Buck Knives 0835 Selkirk is a stand-out beauty of this set.  Though a little bulky compared to some others here, still closed it is only 4 1/4” weighing 4 1/2 oz.  The handle scales are beautifully contoured micarta with a metal bolster for an impressive look that’s a modern feel to a classic style. 

The blade is a wide-bellied drop point flat grind of 420HC stainless steel.  This knife is a winner on fit and finish for this price range, and solid in the hand for a more serious EDC.  A small inset choil, thumb stud for opening and some jimping on the spine finish off the look and feel.

Victorinox Swiss Army One-Hand Trekker is a standout on this list, because it’s the only one with multiple blades/functions.  Many knife enthusiasts, often think of the Swiss Army Knife thing as largely a gimmick, perhaps because of all the cheap knock-offs and tourist keychain versions. 

However, this is the model that changed my mind. 

Even before discovering the Trekker, I must admit I ALWAYS had a small Victorinox Swiss Army knife in my pack when spending any time in the woods for one specific reason — the tweezers!  If you’re spending time messing around with raw wood, with hatchets and blades, you are going to get splinters.  Those tweezers can really be a godsend! 

So, I carried it for tweezers, and then found the punch awl to be kinda useful.  And the screw drivers.  And the bottle opener.  You see where this is going.  The only problem was that the knife blade was just too small to be useful in outdoors activities.  Well, how about you throw the convenient goodies in with a solid 3 1/2” blade with a liner lock and a cut out for one handed opening?  Now you have a real  EDC knife that can be handy in just about any circumstance — the very definition of EDC!

SOG Flash 2 is an EDC that can also tickle your tactical itch.  The blade is an Aus-8 stainless, 3 1/2” flat ground drop point that will (as the name implies) flash out with a slight flick of the thumb stud thanks to assisted opening technology.  For added safety it also has a secondary lock mechanism that will keep the blade from opening inadvertently. 

The scales are lightweight Zytel with a somewhat tactical, though non-scary, look.  For a great blade with great functionality features at a great price, this SOG is hard to beat.  One downside is the capacity for a slight play in the blade, but it’s not too serious.

Spyderco Tenacious is a classic that simply couldn’t be left out.  If you have never had the joy of using a Spyderco blade, this is a great place to start, but don’t say you weren’t warned about how addictive the quality of their knives can be (when you start drooling over their selections in the over $200 price range).  With their signature leaf-shaped blade with big round hole for one-hand opening and jimped spine, the blade is made to cut, and cut, and cut!  The design and production are meant for heavy use.  Tight factory fit, secure lock, scary sharp out of the box and comfortable G-10 scales make this knife unbeatable for an EDC you can trust for years to come and handling whatever you throw at it.

There are lots of great knives out there that don’t cost a fortune.  Get a few and use them all you can.  You will soon find what designs and features work best for you.  Then, if you want to look for a more expensive model, you’ll know what you want rather than just buying something popular.  Having one of these tools in your pocket will become second nature, and you will feel naked without one.  Get to know the joy of being ready whenever wherever.

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  3. Guide to Wood Carving Pocket Knives
  4. 13 Great Hunting Knives Under $100
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