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The Best Neck Knives for EDC

The Best Neck Knives For Everyday Carry 0 Hero
Photo: TOPS Knives Sneaky Pete Mini

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 best neck knives for EDC could be the deadly jewelry you need.

The Best Neck Knives

What Exactly Is A Neck Knife?

Neck knives are a genre of fixed-blade knives that typically sport small, compact proportions and designs. The term “neck knife” is derived from the fact that these items come with an included holster or sheath on a necklace, allowing the knife to be worn around its user’s neck where it can quickly and easily be accessed. 

What’s The Purpose Of A Neck Knife?

Not unlike boot knives, neck knives can be carried by themselves, but most commonly are utilized as backup/last resort blades intended to be deployed in emergency situations. Unsurprisingly, as last-ditch blades, neck knives tend to be engineered primarily for self-defense applications, with blade profiles designed for piercing and slashing. With that said, there are also more utilitarian, workhorse-style neck knives, though they aren’t as common as their defense-focused counterparts. 

What’s The Ideal Size/Length For A Neck Knife?

Neck knives have a difficult balancing act to pull off, as they need to be small enough to be comfortably worn on a necklace — and be concealed beneath the wearer’s shirt — while still being large enough to afford the level of grip required to actually be useful in self-defense applications. As a result, most neck knives tend to clock in at around 5” to 6”, though there are exceptions that are both larger and smaller. 

The Makings Of A Quality Backup Blade

What Factors Should I Consider When Buying A Neck Knife?

If you’ve never bought, owned, or used a neck knife, it can be difficult to know what to look for when shopping for one. In a bid to help streamline the purchasing process, we’ve pieced together this condensed guide on the most important factors to take into account before pulling the trigger on your purchase. 

Size: As touched on above, neck knives need to be large enough to be effective as a backup weapon, while being small enough to be comfortably concealed and worn around the neck. Because of their intended use, we generally recommend opting for neck knives on the larger end of the spectrum as they objectively offer markedly better grip, performance, and defensive capabilities. 

Blade Steel: The type of steel that a blade is made from is always of extreme importance on any knife, however, with neck knives being fixed-blade items that are frequently of the skeletonized, Paracord-ready variety, blade steel composition is even more pivotal. As such, you’ll want to look into the type of blade steel being used, as well as the blade steel’s hardness rating on the Rockwell scale. 

Blade Shape: The profile of a blade plays a major role in how a knife will perform, with some shapes better lending themselves to slicing and slashing while others are more conducive to puncturing and piercing. We recommend selecting a knife with a blade shape based on a combination of your intended use and preferred fighting style. 

Blade Thickness: As brutal as it may sound, it’s not uncommon for blades to bend, snap, or break in close-quarter combat situations. As a result, we tend to see the more high-end tactical combat knives on the market bestowed with ultra-robust and beefy blade thicknesses that can withstand the type of immense pressure and force experienced in combat. Neck knives can similarly benefit from thicker blade constructions for this same reason. 

Handle Material: The type of construction used for a neck knife’s scales will play a major role in the handle’s durability and grip, with the most common being G-10 and Micarta. Additionally, there are plenty of neck knives with skeletonized full-tang handles that can be left bare, wrapped in Paracord, or, in some cases, fitted with optional handle scales. 

Grip & Ergonomics: As blades that are primarily intended for self-defense use, the ability to get a firm grasp on a neck knife’s handle is beyond crucial. For this reason, you’ll want to pay close attention to a neck knife’s handle’s size, material, texture, and shape, as these elements collectively determine a neck knife’s level of grip and ergonomics. 

Holster/Sheath: By definition, neck knives have to be sold with a sheath or holster that comes suspended on a necklace. Because this element determines how well and secure a knife will be held when not deployed, it’s of extreme importance — an area furthered by the fact that neck knife sheaths and holsters can massively vary in terms of quality and performance. As a result, you’ll deinfately want to look into the type of sheath or holster being used and the item’s construction. 

Böker Magnum Li’l Friend Micro

Boker Magnum Lil Friend Micro
Photo: Amazon
  • Offers AMAZING bang for your buck
  • Outstanding materials & fit & finish considering price
  • Handle offers fantastic grip for its size
  • Highly compact at just 3.35” overall
  • Sold w/ included chain-equipped click-in sheath
  • Better workhorse than self-defense knife

Best Value Knife: While it could be used in self-defense applications in a pinch, the Böker Magnum Li’l Friend Micro undoubtedly best lends itself to more woo-focused utilitarian tasks and uses. Spanning just 3.35” overall, this mini full-tang item sports a 440A blade construction with a black-stonewashed finish. Mated to the blade is a textured, grippy set of G-10 scales. Despite a sub-2” length, the handle’s G-10 scales, tang and spine jimping, and finger grove collectively manage to afford stellar ergonomics and grip. What’s more, not only does the Li’l Friend Micro come with an included click-in Kydex sheath, but it also manages to tip the scales at just 1.34oz, making its presence practically unnoticeable. 

Blade Steel: 440A
Handle Material: G-10
Overall Length: 3.35”
Blade Thickness: 0.11”

Cold Steel Secret Edge Knife

Cold Steel Secret Edge Knife
Photo: Amazon
  • Dagger blade offers great piercing abilities
  • Inspired by the Scottish Skean Dhu
  • Sold w/ included Secure-Ex sheath
  • Weighs in at only 3.2oz w/ sheath
  • Dagger blade not double-sided
  • Handle made from faux G-10
  • Factory chain is terrible

Best Affordable Knife: 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.

Blade Steel: AUS-8A
Handle Material: Faux G-10
Overall Length: 6.50”
Blade Thickness: 0.098”

CRKT Folts

CRKT Folts
Photo: Amazon
  • Handle shape offers unbeatable ergonomics relative to its size
  • Offered in HUGE variety of blades profiles for different uses
  • Sheath includes belt loop
  • Sold w/ included thermoplastic sheath
  • Cheap steel
  • Blade only 0.10” thick

Best Ergonomic Grip Knife: 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.

Blade Steel: 5Cr15MoV
Handle Material: Micarta
Overall Length: 5.0”
Blade Thickness: 0.10”

SOG Snarl

SOG Snarl
Photo: Amazon
  • Fixed blade self-defense neck knife designed specifically for EDC
  • Can be held & used in multiple positions
  • Ultra-beefy 0.25” thick blade
  • Dual finger holes afford incredible grip despite small handle size
  • Offers great value
  • Low-quality removable clip

Best Overall Neck Knife: 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.

Blade Steel: 9CR18MOV
Handle Material: 9CR18MOV
Overall Length: 4.3”
Blade Thickness: 0.25”

KA-BAR BK11 Becker Necker

KABAR BK11 Becker Necker
Photo: Amazon
  • Reinforced blade tip & stellar grip make for amazing tactical blade
  • Has integrated bottle-opener
  • Easy to clean
  • Injection-molded GFN sheath compatible w/ TDI metal belt clip
  • Incredibly ergonomic handle (even better w/ Paracord)
  • On the larger side for a neck knife at nearly 7”

Best Tactical Knife: 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. And, while it can be wrapped in Paracord for better grip, KA-BAR also sells an optional set of Micarta scales for the Becker Necker. 

Blade Steel: 1095 Cro-Van
Handle Material: 1095 Cro-Van
Overall Length: 6.75”
Blade Thickness: 0.165”

ESEE Candiru

ESEE Candiru
Photo: Blade HQ
  • Immensely popular outdoor fixed-blade model
  • Incredibly versatile
  • Made in America & backed by lifetime warranty
  • Sold w/ injection-molded sheath
  • Can be upgraded w/ available Micarta scales
  • Rusts easily
  • Handle lacks ergonomics without Paracord or scales

Best Outdoor Knife: 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.

Blade Steel: 1095
Handle Material: 1095
Overall Length: 5.125″
Blade Thickness: 0.13″

Spyderco Ark

Spyderco Ark
Photo: Amazon
  • Designed specifically as concealable self-defense knife
  • Great for piercing & slashing
  • Made in Japan from extremely corrosion-resistant nitrogen-based alloy
  • Has FRN scales w/ Spyderco’s signature bi-directional texturing
  • Weighs just 2oz w/ sheath
  • Handle doesn’t fit well in larger hands
  • Small size causes fatigue with extended use

Best Defense Knife: 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.

Blade Steel: H-1
Handle Material: FRN
Overall Length: 4.98”
Blade Thickness: 0.80”

TOPS Knives Sneaky Pete Mini

TOPS Knives Sneaky Pete Mini
Photo: TOPS Knives
  • Compact self-defense-ready workhorse
  • Excellent craftsmanship
  • Compact handle offers stellar grip
  • Can be Paracord-wrapped for even better grip
  • Expensive price

Best Premium Knife: Like “Snake Eater,” “Sneaky Pete” is a nickname for members of the United States Army’s Special Forces, and it’s this unofficial monicker used for TOPS Knives’ top-of-the-line last-ditch neck knife, the Sneaky Pete Mini. The TOPS Knives Sneaky Pete Mini is a high-end take on a neck knife that offers impressive utility and self-defense capabilities in a compact package spanning just 6” overall. Sporting a matte gray finish, this knife features a 1095 high-carbon steel blade with a skeletonized handle that can be wrapped in Paracord in order to afford better grip. It’s also worth noting that TOPS produces an 8.0” version of the Sneaky Pete that features a 154CM full tang construction with the same blade shape and skeletonized handle setup, albeit cloaked in Micarta scales. 

Blade Steel: 1095
Handle Material: 1095
Overall Length: 6.0”
Blade Thickness: 0.13”

The Best Boot Knives For Discreet EDC

Best Boot Knives 00 Hero

Want to check out an additional selection of solid backup blades? Then be sure to head over to our guide to the best boot knives for everyday carry for a curated selection of defense-focused last-ditch deployment options.