The problem with much of your EDC gear is going in and out of your pocket multiple times a day makes it highly susceptible to being lost. While you can usually keep track of your wallet and your phone, something that requires hard use as much as your knife is bound to get misplaced from time to time. You can go with a nice Benchcraft and be out a couple hundred dollars every time that happens, or you can spend a less than $50 on an affordable knife that won’t break your heart should it go wandering.
Choosing any tool for everyday carry is all about balance. It needs to be able to cut well and work comfortably, but shouldn’t necessarily be made of the finest materials available. Rather, you want it to be made of the toughest budget construction you can find. At the sub-$50 price point, focus on choosing something that is likely to give you a year or two of good use, not an heirloom piece that will be buried with you. Naturally, buying any of our 10 best EDC knives on a budget will give you a companion that is in it for the long haul.
Pro: A mere 1.6 ounces
Con: Must be oiled to prevent rust
Cook and Clean: If you’re one of those who loves a fast-action quick-opening knife, then the Opinel is not going to be for you, but if you want something that is light, looks impressive, and can work for all the daily tasks you actually do, rather than the badass uses you wish it had, then the #8 is right up your alley. X90 carbon steel holds a better edge than its stainless counterparts and the locking collar prevents any slips when in use.
Pro: G10 or steel handles available
Con: Stiff pocket clip
Entry Point: Due to their relatively low-cost, high-value selection of knives, CRKT is responsible for kicking off more knife collections than any other brand we’ve encountered. With gateway drugs like the Drifter, it’s easy to see why. Coming in both a liner lock version and SS framelock variety, landing at the perfect balance of 6.5-inches and 2.4-3.2 ounces, this offers a few options, a beautiful cut, and a tiny price tag.
Pro: Large handle produces no hot spots
Con: Difficult to open, especially one-handed
Extended Cut: Coming in with an overall length of 8.6 inches, this runs toward the large end of the scale for something to ride in your pocket all the time, but if you want a tank as your daily commuter, who are we to stop you? It weighs a full 5 ounces as well, which makes the heft noticeable, but we find it pleasant and reassuring rather than unwieldy. Made entirely of AUS-8 steel with a hardness rating of 55-56 HCR, it is as much tactical blade as heavy-duty daily cutter.
Cold Steel Pocket Bushman
Pro: Slender body
Con: Closing the blade takes practice
Fixed Faker: The Bushman is an oddity in the knife market, but the uniqueness might appeal to some willing to overlook its 10+ inches of length. It’s built using the mono block construction made famous by French Douk Douk knives, wherein a single sheet of steel is folded around the blade to make the handle. The end result is a strong body that is meant to emulate a fixed blade when combined with the 4116 Krupp steel blade and rear locking bar.
Pro: Flow through design prevents rusting
Con: Thumb studs tend to snag in pocket
Wide Load: The first thing to note about the Cryo is it is a hulking brute of a knife. At only 6-and-a-half inches long, it weighs more than 4 ounces, and all of that can be felt in the body. Aside from that, this is a fine looking knife with a 8Cr13MoV stainless steel blade that was designed by Rick Hinderer to be the everyman’s knife. Easy to resharpen on the move, the Cryo also opens handily with a spring-assist and phosphor bronze bushings.
SOG Twitch II
Pro: Holds an edge for a long time
Con: Spring assist can jam and rust
Basic Blade: Even in the budget knife bracket, we didn’t expect to be able to get much out of something you can pick up at Walmart. Well, we’re big enough to admit when we’re wrong. With zero frills the Twitch II bears a lightweight but impact and oxidization resistant aluminum handle and AUS-8 steel that has enhanced durability thanks to SOG’s cryogenic heat treatment. Best of all, the slim cut takes up a minimum of space.
Pro: Liner lock produces no pressure on the blade
Con: No pinch point for finer control
Quick Work: Made with the smooth Spyderco drawing and fast opening action, it’s clear from using the Tenacious it is meant to come out early and often. The G10 handle is sufficient for the roughest tasks, and the straight construction allows the locking mechanism to land every time without fear of an off-centered blade. Jimping on the back and the knurled handle allow for easy use with dirty or greasy fingers, and the flat grind stays deadly sharp.
Pro: Incomparable locking mechanism
Con: Minor play in the blade
Irreplaceable: Buck’s Forever warranty should give you a sense of the ideology behind this knife. For as inexpensive as it is, you’ll find yourself coming back to it year after year as the timeless brass bolsters and Dymondwood handle call out to you. The perfectly balanced 420HC steel lasts for ages without trouble and can easily be kept honed on the move. Just don’t expect a fast deployment.
Kershaw Ken Onion Leek
Pro: Spring action feels like an auto knife
Con: Slick handle can be tough to grip
Ergonomic Art: Truly USA-made, the Leek is one of the first and last names when it comes to everyday carry, because it manages to check all the boxes without busting your budget. Sleek and trim for easy placement in a shirt, pants, or side pocket, it has an elegant design with a quick and easy ambidextrous opening system that locks at every attempt. It’s reasonably long at 7-inches, but only weighs 3 ounces.
Pro: Excellent ergonomic grip
Con: Hard to safely close one-handed
Concealed Weapon: Another offering from Spyderco, because we just can’t help ourselves, the Dragonfly2 is less of a working man’s knife and more the boot blade you take everyday when you need a light, tight, deadly piece of kit in your pocket. Less than 6-inches long and made of VG10 stainless with an FRN handle, this is the affordable leaf fighter of choice.