Most knives can be described as more than just weapons, but tools for taking on tasks ranging from cutting seat belts on a wrecked car to just slicing open a package you received in the mail. Karambits are not tools in that same sense. While you can use them for the odd job when the situation calls for it, these things are first and foremost tools built for self defense.
Originating from the South Pacific countries of West Sumatra and Indonesia, this style of knife has been interpreted and re-imagined thousands of times over and used by everyone from practitioners of Pencak Silat to modern law enforcement. Originally taking its design cues from the claws of big cats, these knives now come in a variety of materials, shapes, and sizes – all of them deadly. The curved blade on these knives make them uniquely equipped to hit critical points on an attacker, while the ergonomic handle provides for a grip that’ll keep the user from slipping and cutting their own hand in even the most frenzied situation.
Some of the best models for everyday carry are folding karambits. These knives combine the solid grip cutting action with blades that are as easy to open up as they are to conceal in your pocket. Whether you are looking to keep a knife on hand to protect yourself or you are just a fan of the style and want to add a one to your collection, this list of best folding karambit knives will help find the perfect blade.
Boker Plus CLB
Designed by Chad Los Banos, a corrections officer, martial artist, and knife maker, this karambit’s retention ring doubles as a spring assisted clasp for clipping onto your belt loop or bag for easy access and secure storage. The 440c stainless steel titanium coated blade on this knife measures in at just under 3 inches and clips into the G10 handle with a frame lock. Dual thumb studs make flipping the blade open easy no matter what your dominant hand is.
5.11 Tactical Karambit Folder
An updated version of the C.U.B. Master, the business end of this knife is made from AUS8 blade steel and flips out from a textured FRN handle. Despite measuring in at just under 3 inches long, don’t let this curved blade fool you, it is as deadly as it is good looking with its charcoal oxide black finish. Designed by Steve Tarani and equipped with a reversible pocket clip, this piece from the classic knife maker is reliable enough to take into the fray and unassuming enough to carry everyday.
Mantis MK-4 Vuja De Balisong
While not technically a flipper – this fold out karambit from mantis boasts an impressive balisong style movement that exposes this hawkbill style 2 inch long blade made from M-VX proprietary stainless steel. With a clip for easy access, a tough G10 grip to keep this 7 inch long knife in your hand when you need it most, and a push button style lock to keep the blade from wiggling around – this is tool is as useful as it is capable.
QTRMSTR B.A. Baracas
While this knife is no longer being sold by QTRMSTR, we couldn’t help but include it on our list. An angular and rugged design along with a 2.2 inch long blade made from powder-metallurgy 154 ultra premium steel sets this knife apart from others on the market. These specs and design make it so anyone carrying this knife can use it in even the most extreme situations and know that it’ll stand up to the challenge. Another unique feature on this knife is the oversized ring that makes it easy to use with thick gloves on while the G10 handle provides for a solid grip. Keep an eye out for one of these being sold on forums.
Fox 479 Black G10 Folding Karambit
Field tested in some of the most demanding climates and situations – this karambit from Fox Knives is among one of the best blades on the market today. Made from NC690Co stainless steel designed and manufactured in Maniago, Italy, this 3 inch long tiger claw blade can hold an edge longer and resist corrosion extremely well no matter where you take it. With a G10 handle for great grip and a retention ring that can function as a blunt object or simply a feature to help retain a secure grip. The most notable feature on this knife, however, is the Emerson Wave. Developed by the eponymous knife brand, it allows a user to deploy the karambit’s blade while simultaneously pulling it out of their pocket, reducing the chance of fumbling around when you can least afford to.
Emerson Combat Karambit
This offering from the famed knife maker is a no-joke, honest to goodness combat karambit built to take on the toughest situations without fail. Sporting a 2.6 inch long 154CM chisel grind blade that can be deployed in either a reverse or forward grip thanks to the patented Emerson Wave, users can rely on this weapon to perform with just a second’s notice. The blade, rated at a 57-59 on the HRC scale, folds out of a 4.6 inch long handle with a black G-10 epoxy and glass laminate that connects to a 1 inch diameter finger hole. Folks can pick themselves up one of these in either Black or Stone Wash.
Conceived and designed by Sal Glesser, the founder of the Colorado based knife maker, Spyderco, this karambit knife features a cutlery grade VG-10 stainless steel hawkbill blade is capable of doing some serious damage and then some. Connected to a skeletonized stainless steel handle with G-10 scales and a high-strength back lock, once this blade is fully opened it won’t retract or move around until you guide it back into the handle on purpose. Like all high-quality folding karambits, opening this blade is easy thanks to the use of the patented Emerson Wave feature. With an ambidextrous hourglass clip and a traditional finger hole for all of the classic karambit movements, it is one hell of a knife to add to your arsenal.
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