Folding knives may look like an ultra-modern invention, but they have actually been around for thousands of years. Even Roman soldiers carried friction folders among their other tools.
Needless to say, a quality folder tops the list of most essential EDC items. But, with thousands (more, really) of folders on the market, how do you choose the best folding knife?
Thoughts on Choosing the Best Folding Knife
Many people may do so, but don’t start with the brand. Start by defining how you will use the knife and then go from there. Ask yourself questions like:
● Do I need an EDC knife that will be versatile enough to accomplish a wide range of activities?
● Am I going to carry this while hunting and fishing?
● Will this be a craft knife?
● Is it for a collection or for hard use?
● Will I carry this as a pack knife?
● Will I need to use it for food prep?
As soon as you determine what you will use the knife for, then you can get onto the following considerations:
● Size and weight
Size and weight are the most important attributes of an everyday carry knife. Regardless of knife quality, EDC knives tend to be lightweight and slim – but that doesn’t make them the best.
For instance, a folding knife with a blade length in the neighborhood of 11 inches long (though rare) does not make for a good EDC knife. That belongs in a collection.
If you need to carry a knife in your pack in the backcountry, heavier and larger may be better. That’s why it’s so important to think about knife design before you make a purchase.
● Knife steel
The knife steel is also crucial. If you’re going to use your knife in adverse conditions (borderline abusing it) then a stainless steel blade can be an important asset. Without it, the steel will quickly rust.
However, blade steel affects much more than just corrosion resistance. It also affects hardness and edge retention, toughness, and much more.
● Scale material
Scale material is also important. Natural materials like wood, stacked leather, born and horn are pretty, but they’re also hard to take care of and need to be cleaned and potentially oiled regularly. Synthetics like G10 and Micarta are much more resilient.
● Blade shape
Blade profile vastly impacts knife utility. The stouter the point and the wider the blade stock, the better the knife will be at taking abuse in the form of prying and batoning. By contrast, swept blades with trailing points or clip points are much better for making long, sweeping slices for cutting tasks but lack the same integrity near the point. Drop point blades in this instance are more utilitarian.
● Deployment mechanism
Today, the majority of folding knives have thumb studs or thumb holes, also some pocket knives still deploy via the aid of nail nicks or a small protrusion of the tang. Others feature flippers or assisted opening mechanisms. Get what you’re most familiar with and is most comfortable to you.
● Lock mechanism
There are countless lock mechanisms out there, including ring locks (AKA collar locks) liner locks, frame locks, lock backs, AXIS locks, and triad locks.
The most common are liner locks, frame locks, and lock backs. Both of the former can be engaged and disengaged with one hand. Lock backs require two hands but are probably stronger than the former two.
Some folding knives use a slip joint that does not lock but holds the blade open and closed under tension. These are useful in areas where locking blades are illegal.
● Carry options and versatility
Many folding knives can be carried via the aid of pocket clips, although some are best carried free in a pocket. Some clips can be reversed and used for both tip-up and tip-down carry; whichever works for you. Some lack clips entirely; as with deployment mechanism, get what you’re familiar with and what works for you.
Now you can talk about brands. The following list contains some of the top-quality pocket knives in the industry, although it is not exhaustive. At some point or other, a high-quality model from each of the following brands has been nominated for the laurel of “best folding knife” somewhere or other.
● Victorinox (maker of Swiss Army Knife tools)
● Cold Steel
● Rough Ryder
● Ontario Knife Company (AKA OKC)
● ESEE (Primarily makes fixed blades but does produce some folders)
● Zero Tolerance (AKA ZT)
● Artisan Cutlery/CJRB
● Bark River
● Great Eastern Cutlery (AKA GEC)
● Condor Knife and Tool
● Real Steel
The knives listed above range from cheap to fairly expensive, and you can find all of them and many more at White Mountain Knives.
Need Help Choosing the Best Folding Knife? Check Out White Mountain Knives
Still not sure what makes the best folding knife for you? Figure out whether you’ll be fileting more trout or opening more packages, and then take a trip to White Mountain Knives, at WhiteMountainKnives.com.
They carry a ton of folding knives from the brands listed above and countless others, all at great prices. Plus, they work with these vendors and carry many exclusive lines that are available nowhere else.
They also offer free shipping in the U.S. and have access to countless other products than those listed on their website. If you like what you see but would like to inquire about a specific line or knife, send them a message at [email protected] and let them know what you need.