The Best Folding Knives for Everyday Carry

Updated on October 13, 2019
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Authoritative and detailed guides to the things you're curious about.

Buck Knives and Other Quality Blades

My outdoor life has been full of encounters and situations that demanded the best gear possible, including folding knives and other cutting tools. For many years I have spent time in remote and sometimes hostile environments as part of environmental research projects. Most of this work involves assessing animal life that requires me to be awake and busy for much of the night.

When I arrive at a site I need to quickly figure out where to set up camp, where to set up traps and collection sites, and how to keep everything powered and functioning. I learned very quickly that the simplest tools are often the most useful, and that's one reason my folding knives see so much use. I have at least 5 Leatherman-type multi-tools, as well as enough folding saws and pocket clippers to supply an army of campers, but my buck knife is what I reach for first. It can cut through small branches, slice up any kind of rope or cord, and dig into hard-packed Sonoran desert dirt with no problem. I put my folding knives through a lot, and demand perfect performance.

Camp breakfast, brought to you with the help of a good folding knife.
Camp breakfast, brought to you with the help of a good folding knife. | Source

Number 1: The Buck 110 Famous Folding Hunter Knife

I straight up love this knife. I use a buck way more than I do my Leatherman multi-tool, even though the multi-tool has all of the screwdrivers and pliers I always think I'll need. The fact is, a single razor-sharp buck blade has done more for me when it counts than any collection of screwdrivers and mini-pliers ever have.

I just got back from a North Woods expedition, and I found myself flipping open my buck at almost every turn. Fishing, camp set-up, even cooking -- I used a buck.

A genuine buck knife can be a thing of beauty for the outdoorsman.
A genuine buck knife can be a thing of beauty for the outdoorsman.

Find Your Best Buck

The buck knife I prefer has a quick, razor-sharp blade that means I don't have to mess around with a dull or weak blade. Just flip it and it's out, sturdy, thick steel that can cut through just about anything. I often need to clear small branches, for example, and the buck is more than up to the challenge.

Some basic features:

  • Razor-sharp stainless clip blade with excellent strength, edge retention, and corrosion resistance.
  • Easy to open with a nail notch on the blade
  • Lock back mechanism locks the blade open for reliable strength and safety while you work.
  • Crelicam Ebony handle and brass bolsters provide a perfect combination of beauty and balance.
  • Perfect for everyday carry -- includes a leather sheath with snap fastener.
  • Made in the USA
  • Forever warranty -- these knives are virtually indestructible.
  • After 50 years, the 110 Folding Hunter is still one of America's best selling knives, and one that's handed down from generation to generation

To me, a buck knife means freedom.
To me, a buck knife means freedom. | Source

Folding Knife Need-to-Know

If you're thinking about picking up a good folding knife for yourself or as a gift, consider these elements of knife like the Buck:

  • Most Buck folding knives are quick-open with a nail notch on the blade. The blade locks solidly and is both strong and reliable.
  • The walnut handle and brass bolsters identify a true Buck knife. They are often handed down from generation to generation.
  • Most Buck folding knives include a leather sheath with brass snap fasteners.
  • A good folding knife will see a lot of use, whether as a hunting and fishing tool or for everyday moments when you need a good blade.
  • Buck knives carry “Forever Warranty.”
  • A good quality folding knife will have a stainless steel clip blade, which for a folding knife is preferable to more fragile carbon blades. They have a controllable point, which give a folding knife a wider range of uses.

Knives and Personal Security

Since I only carry a folding knives when I'm out in the wilderness, I think of it more as a tool to help get things done than as a means of self-protection. But many people who decide to buy a quality folding knife or give one as a gift, especially some of the more technical spring-assisted blades, want and need a weapon like a knife to stay safe. Security professionals, law enforcement, and other professions may carry a tactical folding knife as part of their everyday gear, while students and people who work nights could carry one for protection.

There's also the off-chance that you'll encounter a dangerous animal while camping or hunting. If you're hunting, I'm going to assume you have a gun and can deal with the issue that way. Campers, fishermen, and researchers may wish they had some kind of weapon when there's something big rustling in the bushes around the tent in the middle of the night.

Number 2: 8" US Navy Sailor Tactical folding knives

This is a pretty cool blade that I could see giving to a starting camper or hunter. It's flashy enough that it would appeal to someone concerned about the looks for their blade (that's not me, but I do understand where they're coming from), and it has excellent cool features that suggest there's more to this blade than just a pretty face.

  • Great Quality Folding Knives For Every Day Carry! Smooth and Quick Operation.
  • 440 Stainless Steel Blade. Liner Locking System.
  • Navy Emblem. Full Aluminum Handle.
  • Pocket Clip. Glass Breaker Stub.
  • Seat Belt Cutter Slot. Overall Length 8" inches. Blade Length 3.25" inches.

As the manufacturer notes, this is a good, mid-level blade for every day carry. It has a good locking system and a glass-breaker stub that could conceivably save your life some day. It's a good size, too, with a 3.25-inch blade.

Number 3: Tac Force Digital Camo Spring-Assist Folding Knives

I like this folding knife mainly because it has a spring-assist opening mechanism. In the field I rarely have both hands free, and it is admittedly something of a pain to have to open up a folding knife when you need it. Also, if I'm being honest, I think the black-and-white digital camo look is pretty cool. I'm not sure when you'll ever wish your folding knife had better camouflage against digital drone surveillance, but it's good to be prepared.

Features:

  • Spring assisted quick-open blade
  • Stainless steel black blade
  • Cool snow/black digital camo design
  • Glass breaker and seat belt cutter

Number 4: The SOG Key Folding Knife

I recently bought one of these sharp little knives and I love it. I have had a mini Swiss Army knife on my key ring for a couple of years, and the blades on that are seriously sharp, almost like scalpels, but the design is awkward and too bulky for a key ring.

The SOG Key Folding Knife, on the other hand, is so slick that it looks like a real key -- same size, same metal finish, same weight. Bt hidden in the genius design is a strong, wickedly sharp blade that is perfect for almost any use. I use the knife on my key ring more than I use the little light. Both light and blade just make life easier.

Features:

  • Blade hidden in a key shaped handle
  • Lock back with handle the size and shape of
  • Great for everyday carry on a key chain
  • Key chain tool conceals a compact blade in the size of a standard house key so you are always prepared
  • Straight edge, folding 1.5-inch stainless steel blade has a drop point shape with a hard cased black finish
  • Lockback provides additional safety while the knife's in the open position
  • Black key handle is made of stainless steel that's shaped like a house key
  • Comes with a limited lifetime warranty

Notice that this folding knife has over 2,500 reviews on Amazon, and an impressive 4.5-star rating.

Number 5: Boker 112004ST Stag Lock Blade Hunter Folding Knives

I owned a beautiful red-handled Boker knife for awhile, and I have seldom found a better balanced or more artistic folding blade. This knife is a classic stag-handle folding knife with Boker's typically elegant look. Boker makes many styles of folding knives that are collectible as well as useful, though it would be perfectly understandable if you elected to keep yours in pristine shape rather than use it on your next fishing trip.

Features:

  • Straight edge blade constructed of 440C stainless steel
  • Lock back safety mechanism to prevent accidental closing
  • Nickel silver bolsters add style
  • Limited lifetime warranty

Resources

The following sources were consulted for this guide:

gearjunkie.com/folding-knife-review-best-blades

bladereviews.com/folding-knives

wildernesstoday.com/best-pocket-knife

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

Comments

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    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 

      22 months ago

      Good article on the importance of safety with knives. So many different options to choose from but you have given people good tips to help decide.

    • clivewilliams profile image

      Clive Williams 

      22 months ago from Jamaica

      cool knives

    working

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