Best EDC Knives

The 20 Best EDC Knives

Posted in Everyday Carry, GEAR GUIDES By

My name is Adam Smith. I do not spend my life behind a computer screen. I have been a career firefighter and a paramedic for the past 16 years, and am currently serving in that capacity as a Lieutenant for the fire department where I currently live. This is my list of the 20 best EDC knives available today.

Before you landed here, you may have visited another site or two that feels they are the expert advice on the best EDC knives. After all, some sites do merely regurgitate Amazon reviews. But let us be honest. Simply taking pictures of knives you have bought in no way implies that you have either carried or actually used said knives in any way. Besides, the more knives you own, the less any one of them gets used. Period. Would you rather get your information from a youtube channel or someone like myself who has put in over a decade and a half of protecting life and property? I’ll let you decide. After all, anyone who says that Spyderco’s Spyderhole is their favorite deployment system obviously doesn’t use their EDC knife for much anything other than slicing butter.

I haven’t included any fixed blade knives on this list, simply because there are just too many decent folding knives available to worry about trying to conceal a knife that just won’t fit into your pocket. Maybe Gerber’s Ghostrike deluxe kit could be added into the mix, simply for the ankle strap. I have carried several of these EDC knives on a regular basis, but not all of them. For the ones that I have not carried, I more than likely spoke with someone who does carry the knife in question, and was even able to get my hands on a few of them.

An EDC knife is meant for everyday carry. What you do everyday is your business, and therefore what may be the best EDC knife for me may not, in fact, be the best EDC knife for you. Our lives are probably very different and we likely require different things from the tools we carry. Keep that in mind as you read my list of the best EDC knives available right now.

The Best EDC Knives: #1-5

The first five EDC knives on this list are in order based on my personal preference. I’ve carried 4 of them for a considerable amount of time as part of my everyday carry. Yes, a Spyderco knife made the top five on this list, but the knife in question had nothing but positive reviews from those close to me that have carried it. Read on for a full description of each of my 5 favorite EDC knives.

Cold Steel Recon 1 Tactical EDC Knife

Cold Steel Recon 1 Tactical Knife

Although this list is technically in no particular order, there is a reason i’ve placed Cold Steel’s Recon 1 Knife first on this list. Not only is it questionably one of the best tactical folding knives on the market, but it is one of the two EDC knives that i personally carry with me every single day. As both a firefighter and paramedic by trade, an EDC knife is almost a necessity, and I can personally attest to the Recon 1’s durability as well as it’s ability to perform in the field. I’ve used it to cut things such as rope, webbing, boxes, and even a seat belt on one occasion.

The knife’s blade is available in your choice of a tanto point or spear point and is made from AUS 8 stainless steel. While not the world’s strongest by design, they have been vacuum heat treated and then cooled in sub-zero temperatures which questionably makes them stronger. Additional features include a black teflon coating on each blade that resists rust and glare while providing a consistent lubrication during cutting tasks, a scaled G-10 handle, and Cold Steel’s Tri Ad locking system. It’s a beastly knife — larger than any other on this list, and, in my personal opinion, the best EDC knife on the market. BUY IT NOW

Zero Tolerance 0801 Titanium Knife

Zero Tolerance 0801 Titanium Blackwash Knife

This is my second favorite EDC knife on this list, just after the Cold Steel Recon 1. I have since retired it, but not because it didn’t meet my carry needs. The best part about this knife, much like other all-metal frame knives, is how solid and weighty it feels in both your hand and pocket.

Consistently carrying the 0801 and exposing it’s titanium frame to the elements gives it a handsome, worn-in look, while an ELMAX stainless steel blade is fairly sharp straight out of the box. Additional features include an integrated pocket clip, a built-in flipper for rapid, one-handed deployment in either hand, and a frame lock with a hardened steel lock bar insert that locks the blade securely in place during use. BUY IT NOW

Zero Tolerance Hinder EDC Flipper Knife

Zero Tolerance Hinderer Flipper Knife

For everyday carry, you really can’t go wrong with any knife that Zero Tolerance has to offer. They’re strong, lightweight, and tend to only become better looking after you put a little wear and tear on them over time. An EDC knife needs to do more than just look the part, however, it also needs to function day in and day out.

I carried this knife as part of my EDC for about 8 months, and it performed every task assigned to it around the firehouse without fail. The flipper action is also a breeze to operate, maybe even addicting. It features a strong, corrosion and wear-resistant ELMAX steel blade that is known for maintaining superior blade retention over time. It’s built-in flipper opening mechanism utilizes a KVT ball-bearing system for rapid and easy deployment with one hand, while a titanium frame lock with a steel lock bar locks the blade in the open position so you can slice, dice, and cut with confidence. A standard black G-10 and titanium combination handle and Zero Tolerance’s versatile pocket clip round out the knife’s notable features. BUY IT NOW

Spyderco Paramilitary 2

Spyderco Para Military 2

You don’t have to be a Spyderco fanatic to recognize the ParaMilitary 2 as a good choice for an EDC knife. While I personally haven’t carried this knife, I did hit up my former EMT partner who does to gain some insight into what it offers a potential buyer. I won’t attempt to “regurgitate an Amazon review” to describe this knife as some other hypocritical blog authors claim is prevalent on the web right now, but I will give you a brief summary of the knife’s notable features to assist you in forming an opinion.

It has a 3.44 inch S30V steel blade, a G-10 scaled handle, and Spyderco’s round hole for deploying the blade with one hand. The integrated round hole found on Spyderco Knives is unique, and it works. I get it. But I prefer Kershaw’s patented SpeedSafe Assisted Opening system. More on that later. Overall, the Spyderco ParaMilitary 2 is compact, lightweight, sharp as hell, and a perfectly acceptable EDC knife that has consistently found it’s way into countless everyday carry kits since it’s release. BUY IT NOW

Benchmade 581 Barrage Folding Knife

Benchmade 581 Barrage Folding Knife

Anyone who knows anything about knives or EDC has probably carried or knows someone who carries a Benchmade knife. In my humble opinion, Benchmade knives have always sported somewhat of a simple appearance. Under no circumstances should you let that fool you. Benchmade builds some of the smoothest, toughest, most functional knives on the market, and has been doing so for well over 30 years. A closer look at one of their best EDC knives to date, the 581 Barrage, will help support that last statement.

The 581 Barrage measures in at 8.35 inches long with the blade deployed and 4.75 inches when closed, which renders it a bit on the larger side as far as EDC knives are concerned. However, unless you’re frequently wearing skinny jeans or nut hugger shorts, carrying it all day in your pocket shouldn’t be an issue. The 581’s blade deploys via Benchmade’s AXIS Assist—an ambidextrous, spring assisted mechanism—that delivers a rather speedy blade deployment with a simple push on the thumb studs.

The blade itself is probably the best part of this knife, and is made from an advanced M390 steel that tends to hold an edge really well after repeated use. You certainly can’t go wrong with the 581 Barrage, and countless positive reviews by those who carry it only reinforce that statement. If you prefer a smaller knife for everyday carry, however, then you may want to consider something else altogether. BUY IT NOW

The Best EDC Knives: #6-20

If my 5 favorite EDC knives above are out of your reach, here are 15 honorable mentions that will more than pull their weight day in and day out as part of your EDC collection. Read below for a full description of each one.

Kershaw Launch 3

Kershaw Launch 3

Although its almost like comparing apples to oranges, I feel that Kershaw knives are a lot like Zero Tolerance knives in that they sport a nice heavier weight to them and their opening action is smoother and quicker than most any other brand on the market. This particular Kershaw, the Launch 3, is the third edition in the company’s Launch series. Before you purchase this knife for everyday carry, you should know that its fully automatic, meaning that the CPM154 powdered steel blade deploys fast and strong with the push of a button. The Launch 3 is illegal in some U.S. states, particularly up north, where it can be a major infraction for carrying open or concealed. As always, check your state and local laws before you purchase an EDC knife.

As I stated earlier, the Knife’s blade is made from CPM154 powdered metallurgy steel and will hold a sharp edge pretty well. It is also DLC coated, which gives it added protection and an attractive blacked-out appearance. Additional features include an anodized aluminum handle, and an ambidextrous, reversible pocket clip.

There is one safety feature that I like on this knife that is worth mentioning. To help prevent accidentally deploying the blade—which can be a dangerous problem with some automatic knives—the push button on the handle is recessed so that it resides level with the rest of the handle. Overall, the Launch 3 is a very attractive automatic knife, and easily in the top 20 best EDC knives available today. At least until the Launch 4 becomes available. BUY IT NOW

Al Mar Mini Sere 2000

Al Mar Mini Sere 2000

The Al Mar SERE 2000 is an iconic knife in it’s own right. Its been around for decades and was designed specifically for use in the Army’s Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape program, hence the name SERE assigned to it. the SERE 2000 has been a top choice for an EDC knife by many, including Army special forces. This, however, is not that knife. This is the Mini SERE 2000, a smaller version of the original that fits a bit better into your everyday carry routine. Does it compare to it’s bigger brother? Absolutely it does. I love this knife. The 3-inch blade is of the VG-10 steel variety, which is both strong and easy to sharpen, and is a lot less likely to break at the tip.

The blade is deployable via a pair of thumb studs, while a scaled G10 handle on top of steel liners provides a sound grip. At 3.5 ounces, the Mini SERE 2000 is fairly lightweight, and nearly half the weight of it’s full-size counterpart. BUY IT NOW

Gerber GDC Tech Skin EDC Knife

Gerber GDC Tech Skin Pocket Knife

At 3.4 inches when closed, Gerber’s GDC Tech Skin Pocket Knife is by no means a beast of a knife, but then again your pockets aren’t an infinite space into which you can fit an endless amount of gear either. Smaller is almost always better for an EDC knife, and this one hits the mark for those who looking to keep their carry gear as lightweight as possible.

A 2.5 inch, stainless steel drop point blade manages light everyday cutting tasks such as opening letters and boxes without a hitch, while a rubberized handle provides a secure grip and eliminates scratches to your smartphone screen and other items you may be carrying in your pockets. An integrated thumb stud with a lock back safety provides quick one-handed opening. All in all, The Gerber GDC Tech Skin Knife is good for everyday carry in your pocket. Just be prepared to sharpen the blade when it arrives at your door step. BUY IT NOW

Boker Plus Subcom Pocket Knife

Boker Plus Subcom Pocket Knife

Boker offers a fair selection of folding knives for everyday carry, but its this little tactical gem that has found it’s way into our EDC arsenal, and for good reason. As mentioned earlier, a knife with a smaller stature is more pocket-friendly, and the Boker Plus Subcom Pocket Knife measures in at only 4.5 inches and weighs a mere 2.5 ounces.

For a small Boker knife, it’s also built really well. First, the black coated stainless steel blade is partially serrated for versatility. Secondly, the nylon handle is reinforced with fiberglass, and is outfitted with a pocket clip that doubles as a money clip, and thumb and palm index ramps for tackling more intricate EDC cutting tasks such as peeling an apple. Just don’t expect it to perform much heavy duty cutting, because you may be disappointed. BUY IT NOW

Cold Steel Code 4 Folding Knife

Cold Steel Code 4 Folding Knife

Credited with bringing the American tanto blade back from the dead in the 1980’s, Cold Steel has become a leader in the manufacture of steel weapons. Walk into any firehouse or police station and the chances are good that one or two of them is carrying a Cold Steel knife. They are strong enough for everyday carry and are built to last longer and stay sharper than quite a few of their folding knife counterparts.

The Code 4 is their latest to hit the shelves, and it was designed as the choice EDC knife for both fire and police professionals. A 3.5 inch, Japanese Aus 8A stainless steel blade is available in your choice of a tanto point, a spear point, or a clip point depending on your needs, while a slim 9mm thin aluminum handle keeps the knife’s weight down to 4.3 ounces so it won’t weight you down after a long day of carrying it in your pocket. Additional features include Cold Steel’s Tri-Ad locking mechanism and an ambidextrous stainless steel pocket clip. While i myself have not ever carried this knife, a coworker has and his review was anything but negative. BUY IT NOW

Benchmade 556 AXIS Mini Griptilian

Benchmade Mini Griptilian 556 AXIS Knife

Some people swear by Benchmade knives, claiming them to be the best thing since sliced bread. While I personally disagree with that statement, they undoubtedly manufacture quality knives. If I had to choose a Benchmade knife to add to my current EDC collection, the Mini Griptilian is it.

This one features Benchmade’s spring-loaded AXIS locking mechanism along with a nylon molded handle, a convenient pocket clip for attaching to your belt or pocket, and ambidextrous thumb studs that open the stainless steel combo-edge blade. Its a rather lightweight knife, as are most knives of this size, and it arrives sharp enough to slice or hack through pork, wire, rope, or any other light to moderate cutting tasks you may require of it. Even if you’re not the world’s biggest Benchmade fan, you’ll more than likely love the way this one feels in your hand. BUY IT NOW

5.11 Tactical DTP Knife

5.11 Tactical DTP Knife

5.11 is known mainly for their Rush tactical bags and extensive line of tactical EDC flashlights, and I rank them right up there with GoRuck and Triple Aught Design. They also make knives. I was skeptical at the thought as well, but i was able to get my hands on this Tactical DTP Knife several weeks ago at a local distributor, and it felt right. I didn’t cut, slice, or use the blade in any way, but the DTP knife feels sturdy in your hand and is compact enough to consider for everyday carry in your pocket.

The knife features a 2.85 inch Aus8 steel blade with a spear point, a grey teflon coating that reduces glare and repels moisture, and a semi-skelotonized handle with a textured grip that feels rugged in your hand. Additional features include ambidextrous thumb studs for rapid blade deployment, a reversible pocket clip, and a reinforced lock back mechanism. If you’re one of those so-called knife experts that refuses to carry anything but a Spyderco, then this EDC knife is probably not for you. But if you’re open to exploring your options, then I recommend trying this one on for size. You may be surprised. BUY IT NOW

Buck Vantage Force Pro EDC Knife

Buck Knives Vantage Force Pro

When choosing an EDC knife, I consider the blade deployment mechanism first and foremost. Most might disagree, but i find, especially in a self defense situation, that rapid blade deployment takes precedence over steel strength, blade locks, and other things that don’t matter in a fight or flight mode. That is why both assisted opening and flipper knives like the Buck Vantage Force Pro are some of my favorites for everyday carry. Granted, an EDC knife is rarely used for self defense, so you really have to go with what best meets your particular needs.

Buck’s Vantage Force Pro is tactical by design and sports a non-reflective S30V steel drop point blade and a stainless steel frame. Unlike some others on this list, Buck knives are sharp as a tack straight out of the box. This is good because the high carbon blade can be difficult to sharpen on your own. This knife is heavier and thicker than a lot of other EDC knives you may be considering, making it a solid choice as a general utility knife, rescue knife, or self defense weapon. BUY IT NOW

Gerber Propel Downrange AO Knife

Gerber Propel Downrange AO Knife

The website you previously visited before you landed on this one probably didn’t have a single Gerber knife on their ‘best EDC knives’ list, and it’s probably making you wonder why there’s a Gerber knife on mine.

Firstly, i’m getting pretty fed up from all of the complaints i’ve been reading regarding Gerber knives as of late, including the several emails i have personally received on the subject. Not all Gerber knives are made overseas. To say otherwise is a bold faced lie. Its true that plenty of them are in fact put together in china, taiwan, or some other non English speaking country and can easily be found on Walmart shelves. This one, however, is made in Portland, Oregon and is carried by many public safety and military personnel.

The Propel Downrange AO is considered a full-size tactical knife and would probably be my current EDC knife if i could ever get my hands on one. The blade steel is an acceptable S30V and can be rapidly deployed with one hand via Gerber’s assisted opening mechanism and locked in the open or closed position by a reliable plunge lock and safety switch. It sports a G10 composite handle, a slim, pocket-friendly profile, and a three-way adjustable pocket clip that provides a number of different carrying options. BUY IT NOW

Spyderco Dragonfly 2

Spyderco Dragonfly 2

As you have probably guessed by now, i’m not the biggest Spyderco fan on the internet. I also don’t hide behind a computer and bash other websites for a living either. Instead, I respond to the distress calls of citizens young and old and have sworn to protect life and property, and my everyday carry is legit.

You’re likely thinking that I am in fact a hypocrite right now because you have found several Spyderco products on this EDC knives list that I have specially curated for you. The truth is, i have carried the Dragonfly 2 before, and there is no denying that Spyderco makes quality EDC knives. I just don’t believe the hype that they are the next best thing. Yes, they’re very small and easy to carry, but so is the Gerber GDC Tech Skin Knife mentioned above, and I just don’t see either one contributing anything more than lightweight cutting tasks. Spydercos are, however, much sharper. And that counts for something.

From a purely everyday carry standpoint, the Dragonfly 2 is extremely lightweight at 1.2 ounces and very pocket friendly, while it’s ergonomically designed, fiberglass reinforced nylon handle feels surprisingly comfortable in your hand. I’m not sold on the Spyderco hole opening process. There are just too many other easier and better ways, in my humble opinion, to deploy a blade. The Spyderco Dragonfly 2 has been a very popular knife, and of course has it’s place in the EDC setting. Just make sure you test the waters with other knife brands as well before finally deciding on one that you’ll carry everyday. BUY IT NOW

Kershaw Cryo II Folding Knife

Kershaw Cryo II

Some of my favorite EDC knives to date have come from Kershaw, especially the Cryo II. The Cryo II was designed by Rick Hinderer, a man who, like myself, has ample experience as a firefighter and emergency medical professional. I believe that experience directly affected the knife’s beautiful, functional design.

While it sports a rather slim design, the Cryo II is a fairly large EDC knife, but not so much that carrying it everyday would be a comfort issue. It is outfitted with a 3.25-inch steel blade that has been coated in a grey-colored titanium nitride, mostly just for looks. The winning feature is Kershaw’s SpeedSafe assisted opening mechanism, probably the smoothest on the market thanks to the built-in flipper. You can also deploy the blade via a thumb stud, but only if you would rather live a joyless life devoid of Kershaw’s amazing flipper action. You can’t go wrong with any Kershaw knife, so the Cryo II is an EDC knife you won’t regret purchasing. BUY IT NOW

CRKT No Time Off EDC Knife

CRKT No Time Off EDC Knife

The CRKT No Time Off is the tough-as-nails workhorse of the everyday carry world, and maybe even overlaps into the camping and survival knife category. I have personally never touched this knife or seen it in person, but have been urged to add it to the list by those who know of it’s prowess. The Knife weighs around 6 ounces, measures 7.25 inches when opened, and sports a glass-reinforced nylon handle with a waffle grip texture and an easy to sharpen BD1 steel drop point blade. Watch a detailed review of this knife here. BUY IT NOW

Schrade Magic Liner Lock Folding Knife

Schrade SCHA5B M.A.G.I.C. Folding Knife

Schrade’s new M.A.G.I.C. Assisted Opening Liner Lock Folding Knife ($53) is easily the best-looking folding knife the company has ever produced. A matte black aluminum handle boasts an angled design and houses a 3.3-inch black, high carbon stainless steel clip point blade with ambidextrous thumb knobs, a pocket clip, and a built-in lanyard hole, while the handle’s safety lock prevents the blade from accidentally closing during use. As far as EDC goes, you won’t mind pulling this one out of your pocket frequently to show your buddies or anyone else that would be willing to give it a look. BUY IT NOW

Cold Steel Pocket Bushman

Cold Steel Pocket Bushman

This is the EDC edition of Cold Steel’s Bushman series of knives. For lack of a better term, the Pocket Bushman is the fixed blade knife of folding knives. With a blade length over 4 inches and a handle almost 6 inches, this is by no means a small knife. It is, however, fairly lightweight, and sports an extremely sharp 4116 Krupp steel clip point blade well-suited for intricate cutting tasks. The design is delightfully minimalistic thanks to a mono block construction devoid of any spacers, scales, or liners. The blade deploys rather forcefully, and utilizes Cold Steel’s patent pending Ram Safe lock—a locking mechanism designed to be the world’s strongest for a one-handed knife. You be the judge. BUY IT NOW

Boker Plus Epicenter Framelock

Boker Plus Epicenter Framelock

The Boker Plus Epicenter pocket knife was a big step forward for the company, and the most innovative knife in the Boker Plus lineup. Its the first one to sport a titanium frame lock, and features a 3.5 inch drop point blade made from VG-10 steel. Deploying the blade is a manual process via a double-sided thumb stud, while a reversible titanium pocket clip allows for either tip-up or tip-down carry.

The Epicenter has all of the general qualifications of an acceptable EDC knife. But what really sets it apart in my eyes is the understated titanium handle. Everything except for the blade is titanium, and that, along with the smooth edges and clean lines, renders it the most beautiful knife on this list. It is a highly functional show piece that can be handed down to the next generation of knife enthusiasts. BUY IT NOW


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