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Rarely does a day go by without me pulling one of my EDC knives out of my pocket. Maybe I need it to snip fishing line when I’m on the river. Maybe I need it to dress game while hunting or to prep dinner when I’m camping. Or maybe I just need it to open packages at my house. The point is, I use it often, and I’m just a guy who writes for a living. Farmers, ranchers, construction workers, and factory users will find even more uses for an everyday carry blade. 

If you’re like me, odds are you’ve gone through a ton of cheap knives that keep breaking from excessive use. My dad used to do the same thing while installing commercial doors before he retired. Thus, finding a quality knife that will last an extended period is necessary.

With that in mind, I set out to test and see some of the best EDC knives available today. Whether you prefer fixed blades, folders, or multi-tools, there should be something here for everyone. We tried to find options covering a wide range of price points to fit every budget from top brands like Benchmade, Gerber, and Kershaw. 

The Best EDC Knives

Best Overall: Gerber Sedulo

Best Overall

Specs

  • Steel Type: CPM-S30V stainless steel
  • Blade Length: 3.375 in.
  • Weight: 3.70 oz

Pros

  • Good scales
  • One-handed operation
  • Crisp components

Cons

  • Tight tolerances

Picking the best overall EDC knife was tough, and I labored over a ton of pocket knives in the decision. I wanted an option that was compact, light, and sharp. However, I also wanted an American-made option that wouldn’t break the bank. Ultimately, the Sedulo’s crisp operation and $129 price tag won me over.

The Gerber Gear Sedulo is just a solid all-around work knife, made with a high-quality CPM-S30V steel. I love the scales on this one. It’s got a more aggressive texture on the handle than some other knives. I have a perpetual case of butterfingers, and this knife always feels great. The pivot lock mechanism is nice and crisp, and I can easily open and close it with just one hand. I can even do it with my non-dominant left hand.

A close-up of the Gerber Gear Sedulo. (Photo/Travis Smola)

I used this tactical style knife extensively working on a van conversion and it handled every task I gave it with ease. The edge retention was better than I expected after ripping cardboard.

I only have one minor complaint: The tolerances are a little tight. It’s gotten better the more I’ve used the knife but don’t expect the blade to swing freely immediately after working the pivot lock. That’s not a dealbreaker for me personally, but I know some people like more play in their folders.

The Sedulo’s scaling provides an awesome grip. (Photo/Travis Smola)

Other than that, I feel the value is off the charts for this steel quality at this price point. Add in the fact that Gerber builds their knives here in the USA, and that feat is even more impressive.  

Best Budget: Ka-Bar Wrench Knife

Best Budget

Specs

  • Steel Type: 425 high carbon stainless steel
  • Blade Length: 3 in.
  • Weight: 3.2 oz

Pros

  • Versatile
  • Strong one-piece design
  • Made in the USA

Cons

  • Sheath could be better

Thanks to the one-piece design, this compact, drop point fixed blade has solid strength and a low profile. This knife conceals well for discreet carry in a horizontal aftermarket sheath. This option is excellent for messy environments because it has no intricate moving parts that can get jammed with debris.

A close-up of the Ka-Bar Wrench knife. (Photo/Travis Smola)

It’s also easy to clean, as I found out after using it to finish a field dressing job on a whitetail. Combine that with the easy-to-sharpen high carbon steel, and this is an easy knife to maintain. I know this knife looks strange, but it has proven to be highly capable for me. 

While I love this knife, I’m not a huge fan of the included sheath. (Photo/Travis Smola)

I’m not a massive fan of the included sheath. I don’t think it’ll be durable in the long haul. However, it’s easy to find a better aftermarket replacement. Edge retention was solid during my cardboard tests. The MSRP is approximately $62, but this one is usually listed for less than $50. That’s an incredible price point for a fixed blade knife made in the United States. 

Best Small: Spyderco Delica 4

Best Small

Specs

  • Steel Type: Various options
  • Blade Length: 2.89-3.37 in.
  • Weight: 2.3-4.9 oz

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Easy locking mechanism 
  • Variety of available steel types

Cons

  • K390 Steel variant requires extra maintenance 

Spyderco makes several different variants of the Delica. The lightest is 2.3 ounces, making it easy to forget it’s in your pocket. Due to the hole in the blade, it’s easy to operate with one hand. This knife is available in multiple steel types like K390 and VG-10. There is something here for nearly every budget. Spyderco even makes a version layered with Damascus steel. The handles of these knives are also available in multiple colors and materials. The fiberglass reinforced nylon handles have a nice texture that’s easy to grip in wet conditions. 

The blades’ full flat grind is appropriate for a range of EDC tasks. However, the K390 steel version will likely need more maintenance than the other options. Some users report that this version develops a patina over time. While some might like the look, others prefer as little maintenance as possible. Fortunately, Spyderco offers options. 

Best Fixed Blade: Benchmade Mini Bushcrafter

Best Fixed Blade

Specs

  • Steel Type: CPM-S30V stainless steel
  • Blade Length: 3.38 in.
  • Weight: 6.45 oz

Pros

  • Incredible strength
  • Excellent edge retention
  • Good sheath

Cons

  • Heavy

The original Bushcrafter was our pick for the most versatile bushcraft knife in the past. Thus, it’s unsurprising that we found a lot to like with this newer, downscaled version. Like the original, Benchmade used high-quality CPM-S30V stainless steel in the construction. It delivered exceptional edge retention during my tests.

A close-up of the Benchmade Mini Bushcrafter knife. (Photo/Travis Smola)

This is a beefy blade thanks to a 0.164” blade thickness. It gives the entire package exceptional strength through the full tang handle. I was never afraid to put some extra leverage on this blade. It effortlessly sliced cardboard during my tests while retaining an edge.  

The beefy profile makes this knife easy and comfortable to hold. (Photo/Travis Smola)

This knife is slightly heavy for EDC at nearly seven ounces, another trade-off scenario for the extra strength and durability. I love the feel of this knife in the hand for more strenuous tasks. The G10 handle material has a solid feel. This knife is best for people who can wear it openly, mainly farmers, ranchers, and construction workers. As the name implies, it’s also a lighter option for bushcraft enthusiasts. It has a nice leather sheath for that task.

Best High End: Benchmade Water Series Mini Adira

Best High End

Specs

  • Steel Type: CPM-MagnaCut
  • Blade Length: 3.88 in.
  • Weight: 4.23 oz

Pros

  • Good tolerances
  • Awesome edge retention
  • Great folding mechanisms 

Cons

  • Expensive

The Adira is a new addition to Benchmade’s lineup. It’s built specifically for use in and around water. The CPM-MagnaCut steel used here offers superb corrosion resistance, especially around saltwater. It also does an excellent job of holding an edge.

A close-up of the Benchmade Mini Adira knife. (Photo/Travis Smola)

It quickly passed my cardboard ripping test. I also used it extensively to cut zip ties and plastic split flex tubing while finishing the wiring on a trailer. When I tested it on braided fishing line, it made a perfect cut with no fraying. Through it all, it retained an incredibly sharp edge. 

The jimping is one of the highlights of this knife for me. (Photo/Travis Smola)

The AXIS lock system is super smooth. I was able to open and close it quickly with just one hand. Some nice jimping on the top of the handle and blade provides solid control. This knife is expensive at over $200, but that’s to be expected with the quality of the steel. The tolerances on this knife are also excellent. When locked into place, the blade has no play, but it still swings freely on gravity alone. 

Best Swiss Army Knife: Victorinox Fieldmaster

Best Swiss Army Knife

Specs

  • Steel Type: X55CrMo14 steel
  • Blade Length: 3.6 in.
  • Weight: 3.5 oz

Pros

  • Practical tools
  • Good features without being heavy
  • Solid price point

Cons

  • Tight tolerances, takes a while to break in

I ranked the Fieldmaster as the best Swiss Army knife in a previous article. More than six months later, it remains my top pick. I’ve used almost every tool at least once since that first article was written. It’s amazing how handy this thing is in a pinch. I’ve ripped cardboard, snipped fishing lines, assembled an electric bike, and more with mine. The X55CrMo14 steel isn’t exactly high-grade; it’s soft Martensitic steel. However, it holds an edge surprisingly well. I haven’t had to sharpen it once since I got it.  

A close-up of the Victorinox Fieldmaster. (Photo/Travis Smola)

Perhaps most surprising here is the sub-$60 price point. Given all the punishment I’ve put it through in under a year, this knife is a bargain. I sometimes prefer it over my more expensive blades. That’s not just because it would be cheap to replace but because of its versatility.

This knife is the rare multi-tool where I’ve found a use for everything. (Photo/Travis Smola)

The only downside to this knife is that the tolerances were too tight out of the box. I think it will vary from knife to knife. It took a while for some of the tools to break in properly. If gifting one of these to a youngster for a first knife, work the blades and tools to break it in first. It will make it easier for them to use.

Best Folding: Kershaw Iridium

Best Folding

Specs

  • Steel Type: M390 D2 steel
  • Blade Length: 3.4 in.
  • Weight: 2.8 oz

Pros

  • Smooth locking mechanisms
  • Lightweight
  • Sharp out of the box

Cons

  • Thinner profile and blade
  • Made in China

Kershaw makes some great-looking lightweight knives that won’t break the bank. The Iridium is a solid folder with one of the smoothest mechanisms in this price range. It’s another handy knife that can be opened with one hand in a pinch. Thanks to its lighter weight, it quickly disappears into a pocket until needed. There are a few variants that all fall into the roughly $60 price range. Sometimes, it’s possible to find them lower during sales. The carbon fiber handle arguably has the best feel and usually costs a little more. Kershaw offers these blades in spear points and a Tanto for anyone wanting piercing power. 

While Kershaw knives are designed in the USA, they are made in China. I don’t think that’s a huge deal. Their knives are among the better ones being made overseas available today. These knives do have a thinner profile and blade, making them easier to carry. However, this comes at some cost of strength. We love the look of this knife, though. It’s a solid option for anyone who breaks or loses a lot of knives because it’s easy to replace.

Best Looking: Case Smooth Rosewood Longhouse

Best Looking

Specs

  • Steel Type: CPM-20 CV
  • Blade Length: 3.4 in.
  • Weight: 3.3 oz

Pros

  • Great looks
  • Good edge retention
  • Lightweight 

Cons

  • No nail nick 

The Longhouse is a newer addition to Case’s lineup. I love the look of the rosewood handles and stonewash satin finish. Even when brand new, it manages to look like something my grandfather would have carried. Case managed to keep the weight down to just 3.3 ounces, making this knife a breeze to carry.

A close-up of the Case Knives Smooth Rosewood Longhouse. (Photo/Travis Smola)

The CPM-20 CV steel was razor sharp from the moment I took this one out of the box. It sliced cardboard and braided fishing line like butter. The tolerances here were solid when new. I noticed zero play in the blade while cutting, and it swung freely on gravity during my test. The liner locking system was crisp and smooth every time. 

The lack of a nail nick is an odd choice, but the knife looks great. (Photo/Travis Smola)

There is a little bit of jimping on the back of the blade to help with opening. However, it’s most puzzling that Case didn’t put a nail nick on this blade. I did have a little trouble opening the blade a few times without one. I also think it would have helped with the old school aesthetics. Still, this is a beautiful knife that’s perfect for anyone who wants a modified clip point with a classic look. 

How We Tested EDC Knives

I’ve owned most of the knives chosen here for a while and have thoroughly put them through their paces. Some of them I’ve owned for years already. I tested each knife for edge retention by ripping cardboard. I do this because cardboard comprises highly abrasive materials that quickly dull poor-quality blades. I also tested the blades on a variety of materials including braided fishing line, plastics, paracord, tape, wood, and wire. I even used a few for field dressing animals while hunting.

Through it all, I looked for the following: 

  • Edge Retention: How long does the knife cut well before it starts to dull? Is it easy to sharpen?
  • Tolerances: Are the folding mechanisms and buttons tight? How freely do the blades move? Does the blade wiggle or move at any point while cutting?
  • Weight: Is the knife light enough to carry comfortably all day? 
  • Grips and Handles: Are the stock components comfortable in the hand? Do they slip or slide if my hands are wet?

EDC Knives Buying Guide

When picking the right knife for you, it’ll depend on what you plan to use it for. Fixed-blade knives will likely be more helpful to farmers and ranchers who need a lot of strength and leverage. They are excellent for wood splitting, fence mending, and carving. Folding knives are better suited for factory workers who must rip boxes and cut plastic bands and zip ties. Here are some other considerations:

Steel Quality

Buying the highest quality steel you can afford is a good idea. Most of the cheaper knives use steels like Chinese-made 8Cr13MoV, which is soft and easy to re-sharpen. It also offers excellent corrosion resistance. However, it’s also more prone to breakage, and the edge retention qualities aren’t great.

CPM D2 steel is a good option for users who want toughness. This steel offers excellent edge retention and strength. The downside is that sharpening is difficult. 

Other high-grade options include CPM S30V steel, which offers good edge retention and resistance to rusting. Once again, the downside is that it’s difficult to sharpen. It also usually comes at a premium price point in the $250-$300 range. It’s a similar story for CPM-MagnaCut, a steel quickly gaining momentum with EDC enthusiasts. 

With almost any steel, there will be give-and-take with its qualities. Dockworkers and ship hands who work around water all day would be wise to choose corrosion-resistant steel like the CPM-MagnaCut, while a factory worker who slices cardboard all day might want something easy to sharpen like the 8Cr13MoV. If you’re interested in food prep, you might want to look at 420 stainless steel.

Folding vs. Fixed Blade

Most people prefer a folding blade knife because it’s the easiest to carry in a pocket. Knives made for everyday carry often include a pocket clip to facilitate this even more. For most average users, a folding knife will suffice.

Fixed blades are best for those who need a lot of strength for more strenuous tasks. They’re also advantageous over folders in dusty, wet, and dirty environments because the design has no locking mechanisms or other moving parts that could get clogged with debris. 

Blade Length and Weight

Striking a balance between blade size and weight can be a challenge. Go too large, and the blade becomes too heavy. But go too small and the blade won’t be large enough for most EDC tasks. Most people will find anywhere from 2 to 4 inches to be the sweet spot. I like a blade around 3 inches. Anything longer than 4 inches starts to get heavy and can even run into legal issues while carrying in some states.

As for weight, I recommend anything between 2 to 5 ounces. You can find heavier knives up to 7 ounces that are still manageable.

Blade Type

The two main blade types for EDC are drop points and clip points. Clip points are thinner and have a smaller point, which is great for wood carving and precision work. They also puncture efficiently. Unfortunately, they lack strength. My dad used to carry clip points all the time for his commercial door work. He almost always ended up breaking the tip off of those blades.

Drop points are thicker, thus offering much more strength. The blade’s deeper profile is excellent for field dressing and skinning work. I like the drop points for ripping cardboard. The thicker blades are easier to control through such an abrasive substance. 

FAQs

Q: What size knife is best for EDC?

This depends on each person’s personal preferences. I like blades in the 2.5- to 3-inch range. Some people prefer a blade of 4 inches. Anything larger than that tends to be too much for EDC purposes as it’s challenging to carry all day.

Q: What type of blade is best for everyday carry?

A drop point or clip point blade is usually ideal. Use a drop point for more demanding tasks where strength is needed. A clip point is sharper and thus better for fine work and wood carving.

Q: What size knife is legal to carry?

It varies from state to state based on their laws. Some states have no restrictions, while others place a 3.5- to 5-inch limit on fixed-blade knives. Limits are often further broken down by the type of knife. For instance, California defines switchblades over 2 inches as illegal. However, Texas does not restrict blades unless they are 5.5 inches or more. Usually, a knife up to 3 inches is safe for carrying, but check your state’s restrictions.

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