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Making The Cut: The Best Pocket Knife Brands

Best Pocket Knife Brands 0 Hero

We cannot stress enough that every man should have, carry, and use a pocket knife. Literally as often as legally permissible and reasonable it is to do so. That being said, we wouldn’t encourage anyone to just go out and buy a knife without doing any sort of research. The unfortunate truth is this: there are far too many unworthy blades on the market today. We live in a world where, for some, the mighty dollar reigns over all. And those types of people will take advantage of the uneducated consumer.

Thankfully, there are also a lot of pocket knife brands that take a tremendous amount of pride in their work. These are the organizations that we hope to steer you toward. Whether you are picking up your first or your fiftieth folder, these brands are the cream of the crop when it comes to pocket knives. In the following write up, we’ve endeavored to illustrate to you a little bit about each company, and why they’re on of our favorites in the pocket knife space.

What Makes A Good Pocket Knife Company?

There are tons of factors that impact how knife companies are viewed. Ultimately every company represented on this list was chosen for one or more reasons. This includes companies that are extremely innovative, as well as brands that deliver outstanding, novel, or just aesthetically beautiful designs. Build quality and craftsmanship are also major factors, as are the materials that these brands opt for. The level of value and bang for your buck offered by a brand is also a substantial element that was considered. At the end of the day, the biggest determining factor is whether or not a knife company has the ability to consistently deliver a quality cutting tool, regardless of the size, price, model, or design. 


Photo: Benchmade
Why It Made The Cut
  • Unequivocally one of the most revered knife brands currently in operation. 

Started in 1988 with one goal in mind – to create and craft the best knives in the world – Benchmade is a company that has stayed absolutely true to their roots. Headquartered in Oregon City, Oregon they continue to make what some people believe to be the best overall folding knives available on the market today. Probably their most popular knife thus far, the Griptilian is highly lauded in the everyday carry community for its dependability and long working life. If you don’t mind their relatively high starting price, it’s pretty hard to do better than a pocket folder made by Benchmade.

Best Known For: Premium American-Made Knives
Year Founded: 1979
Location: Oregon City, Oregon
Popular Models: Bugout. Osborne, Griptilian
Price Range: $150 to $700


Photo: Böker
Why It Made The Cut
  • A more than 150-year-old German brand producing a wide range of value-focused & premium knives. 

Boker is kind of a dark horse in the folding knife community – or so it would seem. The German brand make some pretty amazing blades, but we think they don’t get the credit they deserve. They’ve also got a pretty rich and lengthy history. This brand has roots that date back as far as the 17th century, when it was just a small-end tool shop in Germany. During WWII, their factory in Sölingen was actually destroyed and wasn’t rebuilt until the 1950s. Now, they make a wide array of cutting tools that range from EDC knives, to hunting blades, to kitchen cutlery. They were also one of the first brands to make ceramic bladed folding knives, as can be found on their Anti-Grav knife we’ve featured here.

Best Known For: German-made regular & premium knives
Year Founded: 1869
Location: Solingen, Germany
Popular Models: Kalashnikov, Kwaiken, Rockstub
Price Range: $15 to $1,550

Buck Knives

Buck Knives
Photo: Buck Knives
Why It Made The Cut
  • An iconic American knifemaker best-known for its classically-styled pocket knives. 

It was in 1902 that the first Buck knife was created by Hoyt Buck as he endeavored to invent a better way to temper steel. You see, Hoyt wasn’t happy with the way that knives of the time held an edge. It would seem that his techniques and quality products struck a chord with his fellow hunters and outdoorsmen, because Buck Knives remains to this day one of the best American heritage hunting knife brands out there. Their 110 model is one of their oldest and most successful for its usability, quality of materials, and understated elegance. It may not be flashy, but this knife is as reliable as they come.

Best Known For: Classically-styled American-made pocket & hunting knives.
Year Founded: 1902
Location: Post Falls, Idaho
Popular Models: 110 Folding Hunter, 112 Ranger, Deploy Auto
Price Range: $20 to $600

Chris Reeve Knives

Chris Reeve Knives
Photo: Chris Reeve Knives
Why It Made The Cut
  • An incredibly elite American outfit that’s widely regarded as the holy grail of knife makers. 

Chris Reeve is almost certainly one of, if not the single most prolific knifemaker working today, with a long list of noteworthy and game-changing innovations that include the invention of the Reeve Integral Lock locking mechanism— now more commonly known as the “frame lock.” Always favoring quality over quantity, Chris Reeve Knives crafts a small selection of folders and fixed blade models, though the Idaho outfit is best known for its Sebenza knives, which are widely considered to be the holy grail of everyday carry knives, with a level of fit and finish that’s vastly superior to mass-produced knives from even the most reputable big-name knife brands. 

Best Known For: Super premium, meticulously-made pocket knives crafted from top-shelf materials.
Year Founded: 1984
Location: Boise, Idaho
Popular Models: Sebenza 31, Green Beret, Inkosi
Price Range: $275 to $675

Cold Steel

Cold Steel
Photo: Cold Steel
Why It Made The Cut
  • Incredibly rugged — and at times over-the-top — knives, tools, & weapons that offer great value. 

Cold Steel has a reputation for being a little odd, thanks in part to their wide product range – which includes everything from broadswords to woodcutting axes – and their promotional materials. But that doesn’t mean that they make a bad product. In fact, their dedication to innovation is near unmatched. Founded in 1980, this Ventura, California brand has managed to put themselves at the forefront of modernization with knife technology like their patented Tri-Ad lock. And, judging from their constantly evolving catalog, they’re looking to keep things that way.

Best Known For: Accessibly-priced knives, tools, & weapons
Year Founded: 1980
Location: Ventura, California
Popular Models: Voyager, AD-15, Espada
Price Range: $6 to $650


Photo: CRKT
Why It Made The Cut
  • An American brand offering quality cutting tools at a fair price.

Easily one of the top dogs in the folding knife community, the Colombia River Knife and Tool brand has earned their place amongst the elite. Not only do they have a wide array of products that cover every venue from the most hardcore outdoors to the all-day-every-day EDC, but they’re no slouches in regards to technical innovation, either. In fact, we’re pretty sure that their tool-free field strip technology – which was designed in conjunction with lauded designer Ken Onion and can be found in their Homefront knife featured here – is going to be the next big evolutionary step in the world of pocket knives.

Best Known For: A wide range of rugged knives & cutting tools offering exceptional value
Year Founded: 1994
Location: Tualatin, Oregon
Popular Models: Provoke, M-16, Pilar
Price Range: $20 to $500

Emerson Knives

Emerson Knives
Photo: Emerson Knives
Why It Made The Cut
  • Another American brand producing rugged, value-laden knives with a military influence. 

This brand has one of the most loyal fan bases in the entire folding knife community. And it’s with good reason, because their blades are of an incredibly high quality. They also have a price tag to match. But, you get what you pay for: every Emerson knife is proudly made in the USA – a fact of which they are viciously proud. What began as a custom knife garage brand in 1979 has grown into one of the all-time best tactical knife making companies in the world. Another lesser known fact: the brand’s founder, Ernest Emerson, is also one of the world’s most respected and sought-after hand-to-hand combat instructors in the world.

Best Known For: Rugged, military-focused knives that are built to last.
Year Founded: 1996
Location: Harbor City, California
Popular Models: Sheepdog, CQC-7BW, Combat Karambit
Price Range: $99 to $353


Photo: Gerber
Why It Made The Cut
  • A maker of rugged yet accessibly-priced knives & tools that’s also popular amongst military personnel. 

Not to be confused with the baby food brand, Gerber Gear has been making quality tools, knives, and more for literal decades. Started in 1939, this Portland, Oregon based brand prides themselves both on their heritage and their unabashed desire to constantly be innovating. By combining high quality materials and forward-facing designs – which are made to stand up to a lifetime of use – Gerber has solidified themselves not just in the pocket knife world, but in the greater hard-use tool world. Whether you’re a weekend warrior with a penchant for fishing or you’re a dedicated long-term everyday carry enthusiast, this brand has something for you.

Best Known For: Super rugged & dependable knives that offer great value.
Year Founded: 1939
Location: Portland, Oregon
Popular Models: Flatiron, StrongArm, 06 Auto
Price Range: $17 to $250

The James Brand

The James Brand
Photo: The James Brand
Why It Made The Cut
  • A boutique, style-conscious brand producing a wide array of knives & other EDC staples. 

Since its inception in 2012, The James Brand has quickly grown from a small Oregon-based operation into one of the most coveted and respected EDC brands on earth. More of a lifestyle brand than a mere knife company, TJB employs much more thoughtful and carefully considered designs that put stylish twists on existing items, from fixed blades and folders to keychains and carabiners. The company’s eye for design and immense popularity has also resulted in a slew of other leading names in the space — like Huckberry and Field Notes — linking up with The James Brand to deliver limited-edition collaborations alongside the brand’s standard lineup of world-class EDC knives. 

Best Known For: Minimalist, design-conscious EDC knives
Year Founded: 2012
Location: Portland, Oregon
Popular Models: The Carter, The Palmer, The Redstone
Price Range: $59 to $1,250


Photo: Kershaw
Why It Made The Cut
  • An Oregon-based knife company offering quality cutting tools at a reasonable price. 

In 1974, knife salesman Pete Kershaw started his own cutlery company after leaving his previous employer, Gerber Legendary Gear – now known as just Gerber Gear. That company became the pocket blade brand we know of today as Kershaw Knives. This brand specializes in high quality relatively low priced folding blades. And most of them feature a proprietary assisted-opening deployment known as SpeedSafe. They also have a penchant for working with custom knife designers and makers like Ken Onion, Rick Hinderer, and Ernest Emerson – to name a few. If you’re looking for a high quality blade at an incredibly reasonable price, you’ll be hard pressed to do better than a Kershaw, especially if you pick up a Cryo.

Best Known For: Quality cutting tools that are often penned by renowned designers & sold at a fair price.
Year Founded: 1974
Location: Tualatin, Oregon
Popular Models: Cryo, Iridium, Leek
Price Range: $12 to $530


Photo: Microtech
Why It Made The Cut
  • A Carolina-based operation that unquestionably produces some of the finest tactical knives in the world. 

The makers of John Wick’s knives of choice, Microtech is an exclusive brand founded and headed up by industry legend Tony Mafione. Though best known for its out-the-front knives like the Ultratech, Exocet, and Glykon, Microtech produces a wide range of fixed blades, folders, and other automatic-firing knives. On top of its stellar designs and use of premium materials, Microtech’s knives also massively benefit from the fact that their entire manufacturing process is carried out entirely in-house, with even the knives’ hardware being precision-machined on site. And, while all Microtech knives are high-end, the company offers its most discerning customers even more top-shelf options in the form of its Mafione Custom Knives lineup, which produces limited edition variants using even more premium constructions. 

Best Known For: Tactical automatic OTF knives
Year Founded: 1994
Location: Fletcher, North Carolina
Popular Models: Ultratech, MSI, Socom Elite
Price Range: $183 to $560

Ontario Knife Company

Ontario Knife Company
Photo: Ontario Knife Company
Why It Made The Cut
  • A more than 130-year-old company still crafting a wide range of knives, tools, & cutlery. 

OKC, which stands for Ontario Knife Company and not Oklahoma City, have been making a wide range of quality products – including knives, cutlery & kitchenware, and tools – for over 125 years out of upstate New York. A big part of their business, in fact, has been making some such products for the United States military. So, as you might imagine, OKC is extremely proud both of their heritage and of the fact that their range of merchandise is made here in the USA, as well. They may not be a household name when it comes to pocket knives, but they’re certainly not anything short of masterful in their creations. Grab one of their products and we’re sure you won’t be let down.

Best Known For: Rugged yet affordable military knives.
Year Founded: 1889
Location: Franklinville, New York
Popular Models: RAT 1, TAK-1 Ti 22
Price Range: $14 to $230


Photo: Opinel
Why It Made The Cut
  • A French company famous the world over for its super affordable peasant knives. 

Not only does Opinel make some incredibly reliable, unique, and inexpensive folding knives, but they’ve been doing it for over a century. Started in Savoie, France in the 1800s as a family owned and operated working man’s knife making brand, Opinel popularized the peasant’s knife. Now they offer a full range of folders – which are still styled like their original predecessors – kitchen cutlery, and a number of specialty tools. Their blades are on the simpler end of the spectrum, but for the price you will absolutely not find anything that’s better quality than their offerings. Their No. 8 Trekking Knife featured here is an excellent companion on hiking trips and is a superb all-purpose outdoorsman’s folder.

Best Known For:  French peasant knives
Year Founded: 1890
Location: Savoie, France
Popular Models: No.08, No.06, No.08 Outdoor
Price Range: $11 to $179

Quiet Carry

Quiet Carry
Photo: Quiet Carry
Why It Made The Cut
  • A boutique American brand with a major focus on top-shelf materials, minimalist design, & expert construction. 

Employing a remarkable amalgamation of form and function, Quiet Carry produces a range of knives and EDC accessories that are as utilitarian and functional as they are visually appealing. Exclusively utilizing premium blade, handle, and hardware constructions, Quiet Carry is best-known for its minimalist yet high-end takes on everyday carry knives, though the California company also makes some of the best EDC key organizers in existence, along with an expansive range of tools and other EDC items

Best Known For: Minimalist, design-conscious EDC knives
Year Founded: 2014
Location: Costa Mesa, California
Popular Models: The Drift, The Waypoint, The iQ
Price Range: $55 to $335


Photo: SOG
Why It Made The Cut
  • A company that focuses on producing tactically-inspired knives & tools for military personnel & EDC enthusiasts alike. 

During the Vietnam War, there was an elite highly classified special ops unit known as MACV-SOG. This company of soldiers carried a specialized combat knife with them on their covert missions. It was the recreation and production of this knife in 1986 that gave SOG their name and their start as a company. Now, they continue to produce superb tactical blades – including the Navy SEAL’s knife of choice – but also have a full and evolving line of all-purpose folders for everyday carry, hunting and the outdoors, and industrial use. If you are looking for a pocket knife with a more aggressive edge, SOG might just be the brand for you.

Best Known For: Dpendable knives & tools with an unmistakable military influence.
Year Founded: 1986
Location: Lynnwood, Washington
Popular Models: Aegis, Terminus XR, Twitch II
Price Range: $12 to $350


Photo: Spyderco
Why It Made The Cut
  • An immensely respected Colorado-based knife maker responsible for a slew of industry firsts. 

Based in Golden, Colorado, the Spyderco brand is perhaps most famous for their unique leaf-shaped blades. This, however, is an oversimplification of their value as a company. Even without their exclusive silhouettes, the quality of this brand’s knives are superb. They also have a penchant for experimenting with new blade steels and were, in fact, the first company to use powder metallurgy in a production knife. Spyderco also has a long history of working alongside some of the leading names in pocket knife design, including (but not limited to) Jens Anso, Ken Onion, Bob Terzuola, Ernest Emerson, and Tim Wenger. But, to give credit where credit is due, Sal Glesser – the brand’s founder – is a brilliant knife designer in his own right.

Best Known For: High-quality, utilitarian, built-to-last knives sold at a fair price.
Year Founded: 1976
Location: Golden, Colorado
Popular Models: Delica 4, YoJumbo, Para Military 2
Price Range: $30 to $770

Toor Knives

Toor Knives
Photo: Toor Knives
Why It Made The Cut
  • A boutique brand producing tactically-minded fixed blades & folders that elite operators can trust with their lives. 

Toor Knives is a boutique company that produces high-end, American-made knives and tools. Based in El Cajon, California, Toor is operated and owned by U.S. military veterans — a fact that’s frankly unsurprising considering the military- and tactical-inspired feel that a great many of the company’s knives possess. Alongside an expansive lineup of fixed blade and folding knives that are perfect for self defense, Toor also makes a myriad of other EDC items and accessories. And, whether they’re intended for use in an active war zone or on one’s daily commute, one trait that all Toor products share is their immense quality — something that’s owed to the use of premium materials, ultra-exacting standards, and small-batch production runs.

Best Known For: Super premium, American-made, tactically-focused fixed blades & folders.
Year Founded: 2014
Location: El Cajon, California
Popular Models: Serpent, Merchant 2.0, XT1
Price Range: $195 to $495


Photo: Victorinox
Why It Made The Cut
  • A household name of a company responsible for Swiss watches, Swiss luggage, & of course, Swiss Army knives

If not for their name, Victorinox is certainly a world famous and recognizable knife making brand for their most popular product, the Swiss Army Knife – a knife which earned its name for being the official knife of the Swiss military. Their name is a portmanteau of the name of the founder’s mother, Victoria, and an abbreviation of the French word for stainless steel, “inox.” Founded in 1884, this brand’s hybrid pocket knife multitools are still a staple amongst the everyday carry community. And they’re proof that, sometimes, if something isn’t broke, there’s no need to fix it. Another interesting fact: the other brand famous for making Swiss Army Knives, Wenger, was acquired by Victorinox in 2005, leaving them the sole official producers of SAKs.

Best Known For: Swiss Army Knives
Year Founded: 1884
Location: Ibach, Switzerland
Popular Models: Classic SD, Ranger 55, Super Tinker
Price Range: $18 to $500


Photo: WESN
Why It Made The Cut
  • A boutique Detroit-based brand delivering functional heirloom-quality knives for the modern era. 

Back in the mid-2010s, Billy Chester began looking for an heirloom-quality knife that he could carry and use on a daily basis, before eventually passing the blade down to his next of kin. Unsatisfied with the available options on the market, Chester would launch the WESN brand in 2016. Engineered to stand up to several lifetimes of hard use, WESN’s knives use a combination of modern and classic knife designs, all of which are crafted from high-end modern materials. Based in Detroit, this American knife brand also produces an equally impressive range of keychains, carabiners, leather holsters, sharpening kits, and other EDC accessories. 

Best Known For: Premium boutique-made knives & EDC gear
Year Founded: 2016
Location: Detroit, Michigan
Popular Models: The Microblade, The Allman, The Henry
Price Range: $75 to $185

Zero Tolerance

Zero Tolerance
Photo: Zero Tolerance
Why It Made The Cut
  • The markedly more top-shelf sister brand to Kershaw

Sharing a parent company with another brand on this list, Kershaw, the more high-end Zero Tolerance brand exclusively makes their pocket knives here in the United States. Started in 2006, Zero Tolerance quickly became one of the most highly lauded blade makers in the world for their incredibly quality, good design, and overall reliability. Truly, it’s hard to do better than a knife by this brand. Between their premium steels, master craftsmanship, and uncompromising attention to detail, it’s no wonder they claim that their products are “proudly ‘overbuilt.’” But, if you want the kind of quality offered by this Tualatin, Oregon-based brand, you also need to be prepared to pay an appropriate amount.

Best Known For: Over-built super premium EDC knives with a tactical influence.
Year Founded: 2006
Location: Tualatin, Oregon
Popular Models: 0006, 0350TS, 0562CF/TI
Price Range: $188 to $376

The Best EDC Pocket Knives

Best EDC Knives 23 0 Hero

For a deeper dive into some of our favorite knives from our favorite knife brands, be sure to head over to our guide to the best every day carry knives for a curated list of the latest and greatest EDC options that money can buy.