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The Best Pocket Cleaver Knives for Butcher-Style EDC

Best Pocket Cleavers For EDC 0 Hero

Part of the fun of putting together the perfect collection of everyday carry gear is getting to explore all the different options out there regarding functionality, materials, and styling. That rings true especially for what we’d consider the centerpiece of most EDC loadouts: a knife. Widely varying in size, shape, silhouettes, features, etc, there are more everyday carry knives available for purchase than you can shake your fist at. However, if you know what you’re looking for (or you at least have a pretty good idea), it’s a lot easier to whittle down the options to help find that perfect one.

In the case of today’s guide, we’re focusing on a recently-popularized blade shape known as the cleaver. Each of the knives in this collection boasts a blade shape reminiscent of a butcher’s blade, but they’re crafted with folding and discreet pocket carry in mind. Obviously, there’s a stylistic edge to these somewhat aggressive knives — which resemble cutthroat razors in many ways — but they also make great work-friendly daily folders thanks to their sturdy blades and long, gently-curved edges. These are the best pocket cleaver EDC knives you can get right now.

The Best Pocket Cleaver Knives

Butcher’s EDC

What Makes Cleaver Knives Unique?

An everyday carry cleaver is a type of folding knife that’s modeled after full-sized butcher-style cleavers. As such, EDC cleavers typically sport blade shapes that are based on or at least heavily inspired by the square and rectangular silhouettes seen on butcher’s knives. Everyday carry cleavers do, however, lack the robust blade thickness and ample heft and weight that gives full-sized butcher’s knives their unparalleled chopping power. As such, the biggest selling point of EDC cleavers is undoubtedly their unique butcher knife-style appearance and blade shape

This isn’t to say that folding cleavers dont possess their own unique traits and attributes when it comes to cutting and performance. While not particularly conducive to piercing — considering cleaver profiles lack an acute point — the blocky shape of these blades tends to be incredibly robust, being devoid of any small sections that are prone to snapping off when abused. What’s more, while it doesn’t have the weight of a kitchen cleaver, folding EDC cleavers are nonetheless proficient at chopping — an area only furthered by the blade shape’s ample the force control and finger clearance.

EDC Cleaver Qualities

What Factors Should I Consider When Buying An EDC Cleaver Knife?

There are admittedly dozens of areas that one can take into account when shopping for a folding cleaver, though there’s a shortlist of factors that trump all others in terms of importance. And it’s this myriad of areas that we’ll be breaking down immediately below in this condensed mini guide on what to look for when shopping for an everyday carry cleaver knife. 

Blade Shape: Though every knife on this list will be of the cleaver variety, that doesn’t mean there’s not quite a bit of variation amongst these folding cleavers. As such, we recommend reviewing a myriad of available options before making a selection, as the popularity of this space has given way to an enormous number of different styles and variations over the last few years alone. What’s more, a blade’s shape will only play a major role in determining which types of tasks it best lends itself to.

Blade Steel: The type of tasks a knife is conducive to is largely dependent on its blade shape, however, the blade’s ability to maintain a sharp edge is owed to the type of steel used to construct it. The more high-end blade steels on the market – such as CPM 20CV or Böhler M390 — offer markedly better edge retention though are also substantially harder to sharpen compared to more budget blade steels — like D2, AUS-8, or Sandvik 12C27. Blade still also plays a major role in a knife’s price — making this an absolutely essential area to take into account when shopping. 

Blade Thickness: The thickness of a blade will play a direct role in a knife’s ability to stand up to hard use tasks, with thicker blades being significantly stronger. It’s also worth mentioning that thicker blades will have a harder time cutting through certain materials compared to thinner blades. With folding EDC cleavers, the blade’s thickness will also hugely impact its chopping capabilities, as thicker, heavier blades are markedly more proficient at chopping — not unlike full-sized fixed-blade kitchen cleavers. 

Blade Deployment: Another factor that plays an enormous role in determining an EDC knife’s overall user experience is the manner in which its blade is deployed. Because of the heft of the blade, cleaver knives often employ flipper tab deployments, though it’s also common to see folding EDC cleavers equipped with thumb-studs, thumb-hole openings, or a combination of the three. There are also some cleaver knives armed with assisted opening mechanisms or even full auto deployments. 

Locking Mechanism: Representing the element that keeps a knife’s blade firmly in place while being used, locking mechanisms are also of extreme importance and should be closely considered when shopping. The most common mechanisms found on folding cleavers are liner locks, frame locks, and button locks, though there’s also no shortage of cleaver models that feature proprietary locking mechanisms that are exclusive to a particular brand. 

Handle Construction: Another factor that plays a humongous role in determining any knife’s overall durability and user experience is the type of material used to craft its handle. As such, you’ll want to review the construction of a knife’s handle scales, as well as the material used for the handle’s underlying frame or liner. 

Ergonomics & Grip: A handle’s durability is largely owed to its construction, though how that knife fits in the user’s hand and how much grip it offers can be chalked up to ergonomics and grip. This area includes the shape of the handle, its profile, and contours, as well as whether or not the handle has been bestowed with any type of patterns or texturing to bolster traction and grip. 

Size: Modern folding cleaver knives come in all manner of different shapes and sizes, from super compact, ultra-pocketable models to beefy full-size folders that boast actual chopping capabilities. Because of the ample diversity in this area, we recommend checking out a wide array of options before pulling the trigger on your purchase. 

Secondary Elements: While factors such as a knife’s locking mechanism, blade steel, and handle construction are undoubtedly the most important factors to consider, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t also be keeping an eye out for a knife’s smaller, more minor details and elements. This includes areas such as a knife’s thumb-stud hardware, back-spacer, and pocket clip, just to name a few. 

Build Quality: It’s not only the materials used to construct a knife that determine its overall durability and quality, but also how meticulously said materials have been manufactured and pieced together. As a result, build quality should definitely be factored into your decision, as this are plays a massive role in distinguishing today’s more premium boutique-made knives from their cheaper, mass-produced counterparts.  

Buck Knives 252 Trunk Knife

Photo: Buck Knives
  • Buck’s first-ever cleaver knife design
  • Handle offers excellent ergonomics & grip
  • Has multiple blade deployment methods
  • Comes backed by a lifetime warranty
  • Cheap materials

Best Budget Pick: As far as American knifemaking brands are concerned, Buck Knives is an institution. But that doesn’t mean you have to spend an arm and a leg to get one of their blades worth carrying, as evidenced by the 252 Trunk Cleaver you see here. This budget-friendly folder features a serviceable 7Cr steel blade, measuring in just shy of 3″, alongside grippy G10 handle scales, a flipper deployment, and a liner lock. Bottom line: you won’t find a cleaver of this quality for a cheaper price.

Blade Steel: 7Cr17MoV
Handle Material: G-10
Blade Length: 3.75”
Total Length: 6.875″
Lock Type: Liner Lock

Civivi Mini Mastodon

Photo: Civivi
  • Sports uniquely-shaped, pointed cleaver blade
  • Offers fantastic value
  • Features excellent flipper action
  • Surprisingly high-end build quality considering the price
  • Very aggressive-looking blade
  • No longer in production but still widely available at retailers

Best Overall Pick: Thanks to their aggressive styling, you might expect most pocket cleavers to be hefty and perhaps even a bit unwieldy. Well, in the case of Civivi’s Mini Mastodon, you’d be dead wrong. Yes, it definitely has an intimidating silhouette, but the 9Cr18MoV steel blade actually clocks in at a more-than-pocketable 2.97″ total. Pair that with its ergonomic G10 handle scales, liner lock, and deep carry clip, and you’ve got one of the more discreet and pocketable folding cleavers out there. This affordable EDC knife also offers exceptional value.

Blade Steel: 9Cr18MoV Or Damascus
Handle Material: G-10 Or Carbon Fiber
Blade Length: 2.97”
Total Length: 7.17”
Lock Type: Liner Lock

CRKT Pilar Large

Photo: CRKT
  • Modern Jesper Voxnaes-designed EDC knife offering fantastic value
  • Features ultra-beefy, 0.15” thick workhorse of a blade
  • Equipped w/ frame lock mechanism
  • Slips in & out of pockets very easily
  • Offered in several different generations & sizes
  • Would benefit from jimping at blade spine & coil

Best Value Pick: Named after Ernest Hemingway’s famed fishing boat — the same one he used to hunt for Nazi submarines during WWII — the CRKT Pilar is one of our favorite knife designs of the past few years. And it keeps getting better with every new iteration, as evidenced by the Large version you see here with its blacked-out D2 tool steel blade and frame lock handle scale, OD green handle scale, and ergonomic grip. But don’t let the “Large” designation fool you, this 6.625″ knife is still perfectly sized for daily carry and clearly has the materials to back that up.

Blade Steel: 8Cr13MoV, 8Cr14MoV, Or D2
Handle Material: G-10 Or Stainless Steel
Blade Length: 2.67”
Total Length: 6.69”
Lock Type: Frame Lock

Kershaw Static

Photo: Kershaw
  • Rounded belly & pointed tip make for super versatile knife
  • Uses Kershaw’s KVT ball-bearing system
  • Texturing on blade & handle afford fantastic grip
  • Comes backed by a limited lifetime warranty
  • Small handle size doesn’t afford the best grip/ergonomics in larger hands

Most Versatile Pick: If you prefer your everyday carry with a little more sci-fi-inspired styling, you might be drawn to Kershaw’s Static Cleaver. Of course, its spaceship-esque handle isn’t its only point worth noting; as this Kershaw knife model also features a reliable 8Cr13MoV steel blade, a sturdy liner lock, a deep carry pocket clip, a KVT ball-bearing flipper deployment, and more. That’s not half bad for something at this price point.

Blade Steel: 8Cr13MoV
Handle Material: Stainless Steel
Blade Length: 2.90”
Total Length: 6.75”
Lock Type: Frame Lock

CRKT Ripsnort

Photo: CRKT
  • Very elegant take on folding EDC cleaver
  • Fantastic, ultra-smooth flipper action
  • Super sturdy, robust, & easy-to-use take on a liner lock
  • Great build quality for the price
  • Would benefit from texturing or jimping to increase grip
  • Pocket clip can only be configured for tip-down carrying

Best Gentlemen’s Knife Pick: CRKT’s Ripsnort has been around for a few years at this point, but it is still amongst the best cleaver-style knives out there both stylistically (thanks largely to its unique synthetic-metal two-tone handle scales) and in regards to its materials. Sporting a very gentlemanly appearance, he two-toned Ripsnort boasts a reliable and easy-to-maintain 8Cr13MoV blade, Polyoxymethylene synthetic scales, a flipper deployment, a tip-down pocket clip, and a simple liner lock. It might not be a showboat, but it looks great and performs even better.

Blade Steel: D2
Handle Material: Glass-Reinforced Nylon W/ Stainless Steel Inlays
Blade Length: 3.25”
Total Length: 7.75”
Lock Type: Liner Lock

Gerber Asada

Photo: Gerber
  • Super rugged materials & build quality
  • Flipper deployment guided by ball bearing setup
  • Contoured Micarta handle affords excellent ergonomics & grip
  • Framelock is equipped w/ patented Pinch plate
  • Backed by the Gerber Guarantee
  • While very secure, pocket clip creates major hotspot during hard use

Best Workhorse Pick: As far as folding cleavers go, Gerber is definitely a name to know, as this EDC staple brand has crafted numerous options, all of which are probably worth a spot amongst the rest of the brands on our list. However, special credit is owed to the Asada with its ultra-smooth B.O.S.S. Tech flipper deployment, D2 tool steel blade, G10 and steel frame lock handle scales, etc. It doesn’t hurt, either, that this knife has one of the most unique silhouettes out there, even amongst other cleavers.

Blade Steel: D2
Handle Material: Micarta
Blade Length: 3.00”
Total Length: 7.50”
Lock Type: Frame Lock

Kizer Mini Sheepdog C01C

Photo: Kizer
  • Scaled down version of custom knife from Chris Conway
  • Beautiful design
  • Features excellent flipper action
  • Great build quality
  • Offers in absolutely enormous slew of model variants
  • Small handle size doesn’t afford the best grip/ergonomics in larger hands
  • Fairly aggressive appearance (despite small size)

Best Mini Cleaver Pick: Our one big gripe with Kizer’s standard Sheepdog knife is that it’s just too damn big to be a reasonable everyday carry knife. Thankfully, they’ve rectified that issue with the Mini version you see here. Priced at below $100, this version of the brand’s signature folding cleaver is only 5.77″ in total with a 3.17oz weight, making it the perfect size for pocket carry without being what we might call diminutive. The massive popularity of this knife has also given way to an absolutely enormous number of different available model variants, all with a myriad of different blade steel, handle construction, locking mechanism, and blade deployment options. 

Blade Steel: CPM 4V, CPM S35VN, CPM 20CV, or 154CM
Handle Material: Micarta, G-10, FatCarbon, Titanium, Richlite, Or Aluminum
Blade Length: 2.64”
Total Length: 6.18”
Lock Type: Button Lock, Liner Lock, Frame Lock, Or Slip Joint

Gerber Fastball

Photo: Gerber
  • Made in America in small batches
  • Equipped w/ ultra-premium CPM 20CV “Super Steel” blade
  • Great detent & deployment
  • Benefits from the use of B.O.S.S. Tech
  • Can be customized on Gerber’s online configurator
  • Anodized aluminum handle would benefit from texturing

Best USA-Made Pick: Gerber’s Fastball was already one of our favorite USA-made folders, and that was before it was equipped with a cleaver blade. This version has all the same spectacular features as its modified Wharncliffe brethren, but with a heftier blade. For reference, that includes a 20CV steel cleaver blade, a flipper deployment with a buttery-smooth action, a sturdy liner lock, and a size and weight ideal for EDC. It’s hard not to say that this is the best of the best when it comes to pocket cleavers.

Blade Steel: CPM 20CV
Handle Material: Aluminum Or Marbled Carbon Fiber
Blade Length: 3.00”
Total Length: 7.10”
Lock Type: Liner Lock

Spyderco Roc

Photo: Spyderco
  • Highly functional take on a folding EDC cleaver
  • Made in Japan
  • Designed by Serge Panchenko
  • Outstanding build quality
  • Blade features full Saber grind
  • Expensive price considering the materials
  • Very aggressive-looking blade

Best Premium Pick: Followers of HICONSUMPTION will not be surprised to find Spyderco on our list, as they’re definitely a favorite brand of ours. Of course, they’ve earned the accolades through a combination of spectacular designs and top-notch materials. And there’s no difference here with the Roc folding cleaver with its unique, ergonomic silhouette and stand-out makeup — which includes a VG-10 saber-ground blade and G10 handle scales. When it comes to folding cleavers, this is the elite option that, if you can afford it, should absolutely be at the top of your must-have list.

Blade Steel: VG-10
Handle Material: G-10
Blade Length: 3.07”
Total Length: 7.76”
Lock Type: Liner Lock

The Best EDC Pocket Knives

Best EDC Knives 23 0 Hero

Want to check out another selection of stellar EDC blades? Then be sure to head over to our guide to the best everyday carry knives for a curated list of the finest EDC blades currently on the market.