What deadly genius first devised the neck knife is a matter lost to the tides of history, but most guesses trace it back to the earliest man. Just able to make the most rudimentary tools, sewing in pockets or creating a specialized tactical clip to go on their bone blade was far outside the knowledge of the average prehistoric human, but they did have knots, which meant they could tie their tools onto their person. The practice of attaching weapons and equipment via lanyard or thong was common among tribespeople, and it still carries on today. If you carry a neck knife, you’re engaging in a practice likely adopted by your earliest ancestors.
Modern neck knives are made of far tougher materials than bone, and they’re carried with better stuff too. From steel or titanium chains to paracord, how you attach your blade to your body is as important as which knife you carry. Traditional neck knives are small, fixed-blade tools that are hung around the neck for both concealment and fast access. They come in a variety of styles and are used in a plethora of ways, so if you’re ready to join the revolution, one of our 8 best neck knives for EDC could be the deadly jewelry you need.
Cold Steel Secret Edge Knife
Pro: Thin enough for EDC scout carry position
Con: Factory chain is terrible
Limbo Champ: In the battle for how low can you go, Cold Steel seems to have cracked the code with their Secret Edge. It’s barely over 3 ounces and that’s when you include the sheath. Made of Japanese AUS 8A steel, the 3 inch blade is not the finest around, but it’s good enough for a backup and will keep cutting forever so long as you give it some TLC. The handle is G-10, so it laughs at tough weather and wetness. Just 2.5mm thick, the Secret Edge is so thin you can cut yourself or someone else without even noticing, so know that it slides in smooth.
Pro: Sheath includes belt loop
Con: Cheap steel
Hold On: Strap in. This tiny little knife with its low price is rapdily going to worm its way right through your chest to your heart. The grooves on the handle give you one of the sturdiest three fingered grips you’ll find on any knife of any size. Jimping on the rear edge of the blade adds a high degree of control when you’re doing detail work or merely can’t have your knife slipping and sliding as you cut. We love the Wharncliffe blade, even if it does only use 5Cr15MoV steel, which is why it doesn’t cost a whole lot more.
Pro: Can be held and used in multiple positions
Con: Bottom edge is thin with snapping potential
Bare Minimum: You don’t need to go overboard when choosing a neck knife. The Snarl’s simple, sheepsfoot design is miniscule and can slip on and off your fingers for basic cutting, opening packages, or on-the-fly self defense. The total length comes to just over 4 inches, which is just enough space to do damage to an attacker, but not arouse too much suspicion when its being carried around. It ranks in the 58-60 range on the Rockwell hardness scale, making it difficult to scratch or nick, and able to hold an edge for ages. Crafted with the help of knifemaker Jason Brous, the Snarl is the choice of the discrete knife carrier.
Pro: Can be used as a throwing knife
Con: Can be difficult to grip without a wrap (we suggest paracord)
Breakaway: This is a serious change for Benchmade knives – partly because it’s made with Heckler & Koch – which are notoriously expensive, but also typically made from exceptional materials and therefore intended to be heirloom pieces. That isn’t to say the Instigator drops the ball, it’s actually an exceptional knife, but it has a serious eye to function and a streamlined, no-frills attitude that is unusual for the legendary knifemaker. The skeletonized handle is comfortable to use quickly, and made from tip to pommel of AUS-8 stainless steel. It’s long, at nearly 8 inches, but the snap-fit molded Kydex sheath makes it so the knife will never go rogue on you and slip out during movement, the way an EDC item should be.
Ka-Bar BK11 Becker Necker
Pro: Easy to clean
Con: Handle requires modification and personalization
Marine Corps Tough: From the company that has made one of the finest fighting knives ever constructed, the Becker Necker is the neck knife companion for the professional, be they military, paramilitary, or just serious about having a good knife at their throat for when they have a knife at their throat. It’s 1095 Cro-Van steel with a skeletal body that lets you add scales or a wrap if you so choose, but also works just fine if you use it bare. Carry it on a chain, in a pocket, or on your belt, it’s pro-grade EDC.
Boker Plus Voxknives Gnome Knife
Pro: Nice hollow grind
Con: Will not work with larger fingers, period
Back to Basics: There’s no room to fit extra flash on the Gnome Knife since you’re only working with 4 inches to begin with. A green canvas Micarta handle, a simple sheepsfoot blade made out of 12C27 steel, and a lanyard hole give this a high degree of on-the-fly utility. Best for quick cuts, this is the younger brother of the Rhino Knife from Boker. It’s exceedingly sharp, so amateurs need to be careful lest they cut them on the draw. It’s a work of minimalist art that will get the job done in any pinch.
Pro: Optional micarta scales
Con: Rusts easily
Undercover: Proving that black is the new black, the Candiru employs 1095 carbon steel for its construction, allowing it to be sharpened to an edge sharper and more deadly than your mother in law’s comments. A textured black powder coating helps it resist rust for long periods out in the field, the bush, or whiling away the hours in a blind, beer and scotch your only companions. The cutting surface is only two inches, creating a size and ergonomic design that works well for detail cleaning of game or precision slicing while camping. A large handle combines with the diminutive blade for greater control and surgical accuracy.
Pro: Included chain won’t choke the wearer
Con: Small size causes fatigue with extended use
Into the Fray: SpyderCo makes some of the meanest knives in the business, and just because the ARK (stands for Always Ready Knife) comes in at under 5 inches doesn’t mean it can’t run in the pack with their deadliest dogs. From the mind of John Shirley and Sam Owens, the handle is fiberglass reinforced nylon (FRN) that’s built with tactical uses in mind. Sunk into it is a h-1 steel blade that’s wide and flat for carrying a big impact with a low profile. Though not a folder, it has SpyderCo’s notable thumb hole on the full tang back for greater control should you want to use this like a tool, but where it really shows its mettle is coming out for combat purposes.