A pocket knife is one of the most useful tools you can carry on a daily basis. Being able to open clamshell packaging or a letter, or peel an apple, or cut a loose thread, without having to go looking for a pair of scissors is great. The general utility of the pocket knife is so great, in fact, that it led to the development of what is now termed “EDC culture”: the discussion and analysis of the tools people carry with them every day.
There are other tools that are convenient to have in your EDC, but perhaps none are more convenient than a bottle opener. Although more limited in application than a knife, it’s still something that most people use every day. Perhaps it is not surprising, then, that there are many pocket knives that integrate a bottle opener into their design.
It is a tricky thing to integrate a bottle opener into a pocket knife design without impinging on the utility of either the blade or the opener; thus, it can be hard, when searching for such a tool, to sort the wheat from the chaff.
Below, please use the table to view and compare some of the top pocket knives available on the market:
Choices of Knives with Bottle Openers
Below, I’ve chosen what I consider to be the five best pocket knives with bottle openers, and will discuss each separately throughout this in-depth article. They selected knives are as follows:
- The Spyderco Clipitool
- The Sanrenmu 763
- The Victorinox Cadet
- The Kershaw Shuffle
- The Great Eastern Cutlery Beer Scout
This list excludes multitools; although things like the Leatherman Skeletool CX are excellent, they are not primarily pocket knives. All the tools listed above are, first and foremost, knives, and needed to work as such to be considered. Therefore, the bottle opener is simply an integrated, secondary function.
Below, please take a moment to view some of the best-selling pocket knives currently for sale on Amazon:
|1) Spyderco Tenacious|
|2) Kershaw Cryo II|
|3) Opinel No.7|
|4) Gerber Paraframe|
|5) Kershaw Knockout|
Spyderco entered the multifunction knife fray last year with the Clipitool line. There were three versions of this tool. Each version featured the same small, stainless steel slipjoint knife frame with a single additional tool added in on a second backspring. The model we’re discussing here has a combination bottle opener/screwdriver as the secondary tool.
There is a lot to like about the Clipitool. It has a pocket clip, unlike the Beer Scout and the Cadet. And, because it is so small, it carries very discreetly. The blade shape is excellent; it is essentially a scaled-down Paramilitary 2 blade. It isn’t large enough to use for more than light-duty tasks, of course, but you know going in that this thing isn’t a tank.
The bottle opener itself works great. There is a definite art to getting these openers to function properly, and Spyderco nailed it on their first outing.
The downsides are few. I’ve already mentioned the limited scope of cutting tasks it is designed for. The backsprings are stiff enough to make this essentially a two-hand opening knife, despite the Spyderhole. The tightness is understandable given that there is no lock, but it’s still a bit of a bummer.
It should be noted, too, that the stainless steel scales are also going to ding and scratch pretty easily, if that sort of thing bothers you. All in all, the Clipitool is excellent, and a very competitive offering from Spyderco.
Sanrenmu is a bit of a controversial topic in the knife-using community. They are Chinese company that has been an OEM, or Original Equipment Manufacturer, for many knife companies. Essentially the cheaper, overseas-produced products from CRKT, Kershaw, etc. are made to spec by Sanrenmu and other, similar companies, and then sold under their respective brands. But Sanrenmu also makes knives under its own name, including the Sanrenmu 763, which is an excellent little pocket knife with an integrated bottle opener.
There is a notch in the spine of the 763’s blade that, when closed, meets with the pivot area of the handle in such a way as to create a bottle opening notch. It works great; the lower end of the notch is long and narrow enough to fit under the crenellations of a cap. Sometimes, you’ll notice that bottle openers are too fat to be effective, but that isn’t the case here.
You also get a larger blade than any of the others on the list. At 2.5” it still isn’t a monster, but big enough to really be put to work. The lock helps with that as well: it is the same patented Axis Lock seen on most Benchmade folding knives, which means it’s safe, easy to use, and reliable.
Now, you may be wondering how Senrenmu is able to use a patented lock. The truth is that they aren’t. Our copyright laws and patents here don’t affect what is manufactured in China, of course, and one could perhaps argue that the lock on the 763 isn’t necessarily a carbon copy of the Axis Lock (although, to be fair, many would argue that it is).
Making something functionally identical but mechanically different isn’t illegal, as SOG did something similar with the ArcLock.
But the fact remains that it is perhaps uncomfortably close in function and design, and if that bothers you, you may not want to support the Senrenmu 763.
The only functional downside of the 763 is that it doesn’t feature any other tools, as all the other knives on this list have at least one more tool as part of their overall design. Given that a bottle opener is what we’re looking for, however, that isn’t an issue. The 763 is also the cheapest knife on the list, available online for about $10-15.
The whole gear world knows and loves the Cadet. It is among the best EDC knives ever made. It combines utility and beauty into an eminently “pocketable” package.
If you aren’t familiar with the Cadet, it is a small (two layer) Victorinox Swiss Army knife. It has a single large spearpoint blade, a nail file with a screwdriver tip, a can opener, and what is widely considered the best bottle opener in the pocket tool world.
It covers so many bases in such a small and pretty package. It’s durable too: the Alox scales are basically immune to wear and tear. And if you buy the standard silver model, it will look as good ten years later as it did the day you bought it.
Seriously, this is as good as it gets in a small pocket knife. It is the best slicing knife of the blades discussed here–it is a peerless apple peeler. It doesn’t have a pocket clip like the Clipitool, 763, and Shuffle. It doesn’t offer any sort of deployment alternative to the hoary old nail mark. But what you get in exchange is an elegant, durable, and very useful tool. In fact, every time I carry my Cadet, I’m amazed at how much it can do.
The bottle opener is, as mentioned above, perfect. It is the obvious inspiration to the Clipitool. This knife would be worth it with just the bottle opener and blade (and actually, that knife exists: it’s called the Bantam). The extra tools, at little extra weight, are just gravy.
The Shuffle is a newer offering from Kershaw. It features a 2 3/8” long main blade with a liner lock, and on the back of the handle there is the dedicated bottle opener. Additionally, the pronounced lanyard hole is designed to be used as a screwdriver.
The Shuffle is a likeable design. You’ll often see it at Wal-Mart, and with good reason: you can see the average user being attracted to the extra features and modern folding knife aesthetic of the Shuffle. The bottle opener works well, and the blade shape and grind are nice. Kershaw has also mastered the sub-$20 knife fit and finish. This is a $15 knife that feels like it should cost $40. It also comes with Kershaw’s phenomenal, no-worries warranty: they will take care of you if anything ever goes wrong with your knife.
The screwdriver is no great addition however. You really get the feeling that it was added in just to check another box off on the feature list, rather than to be all that helpful. The ergonomic scalloping on the handle, always a pet peeve of mine, is bad, because it tells you how you have to hold the knife instead of letting you decide (look at the plain, unadorned handle of the Cadet or the 763 to see how it should be done). Finally, I find the Kershaw “K-texture” on the handle to be garish.
All in all, the Shuffle is probably my least favorite knife on the list—but the fact that it makes the list is indicative of its quality. Having a bottle opener on an affordable knife from a company that you can trust is reason enough to consider it.
Great Eastern Cutlery Beer Scout
Great Eastern Cutlery, the manufacturer, is a premium traditional knife company out of Titusville, PA. They are constantly putting out variations on their tried and true patterns; the Beer Scout is a riff on the #15 Boy’s Knife. That knife traditionally features a large main blade and a smaller, secondary pen blade that operates on a second spring, similar mechanically to the Clipitool.
The Beer Scout replaces that secondary blade (which I always found useless anyway) with a combination bottle opener and screwdriver. This actually isn’t the first GEC to feature a bottle opener, as the style they make is similar to the Cadet’s, although it is a little stubbier and more angular. I would call it a half-step down in performance, insofar as we can grade the performance of a bottle opener without feeling ridiculous.
The opener on the Beer Scout will be more than adequate. You are also getting a beautiful-looking traditional knife, available in a variety of cover materials.
The biggest downside to the Beer Scout is the blade steel. GEC insists on using traditional 1095 carbon steel for their blades. The performance is actually quite good: 1095 takes a great edge easily, and holds it for a good while. The issue is that, being a carbon steel, it is prone to rust. Regular maintenance will help with this, but I personally dislike having to worry about my blades rusting out on me constantly.
The Cadet, by contrast, is made out of a steel that will almost never rust on you, no matter how negligent you are with it. It isn’t that I’m opposed to the idea of having to maintain my blades, and the patina 1095 will develop over time is beautiful, but in this day and age, with stainless steels being as affordable and prevalent as they are, it just feels like an unnecessary adherence to the past on GEC’s part.
Also, the Beer Scout is considerably more expensive than any of the other knives on this list. It will be between $80-120. If it is a limited run and doesn’t stick around, expect to pay more than that on the secondary market.
But as anyone who has owned one will tell you, there is something indescribable about a GEC blade. They are charming and beautiful, and always a pleasure to have and use, and I’m sure the Beer Scout will be no different. If you are attracted to traditional blades but want that added functionality, definitely consider the Beer Scout.
Well, truthfully, there isn’t a “winner” here, as all five of these multiuse knives are excellent tools. They combine what I consider to be the definitive EDC item, a blade, with the convenience of a bottle opener.
If I had to pick one, I’d go with the Cadet, simply because it is not just a great tool, but a classic one. At around $30, you can have a great pocket knife, a great bottle opener, and some nice additional tools, in a package that weighs less than 3 oz.
Part of what appeals to us gear geeks and knife knuts is being prepared. Knives are useful by themselves, but multifunction knives (the good ones, anyway) expand on that capability without complicating things. Doing more with less has an innate appeal, and all five of these knives are worth checking out because of that.
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