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Not all pocket knives are created equal. That simple fact can make it difficult to find the right knife that you can count on most when you need a knife. While there are many, many different quality pocket knife brands, we strove to provide you with the best of the best. But what makes the top pocket knives brands?
The primary trait we looked at was dependability. That means that when you reach for that knife, it’s there, sharp and ready to go. That means we also looked at durability and toughness, paying special attention to the knife steel.
In the end, there were a lot of fine quality pocket knives brands that we, sadly, couldn’t put on this list simply because we wanted to present you with the four top rated pocket knife brands.
So, if you’re wondering what the best pocket knife brands are, then look no further. Here are our choices for the four top pocket knives brands, in no particular order except to show you the best one first.
Best Folding Pocket Knife Brand: W.R. Case & Sons Cutlery Company
Case knives are proudly American made and owned. This company has a long history of innovations and commitment to quality -which is why they made our list of Top Hunting Knife Brands, too.
While some may dismiss these knives as “old-fashioned” or as a “grandpa knife,” the quality and continual performance they boast make it easy to see why Case continues to be one of the best pocket knife brands.
You simply can’t argue with a handmade American knife from a company that has introduced many common knife styles nowadays.
To give you an idea of the kind of quality you can expect from a Case pocket knife, we chose one of their classics, the Medium Stockman with Bone Handle, for us to take an in-depth look. Like any stockman, this pocket knife has three blades: a clipped point blade, sheepsfoot blade, and pen blade.
This blade combination makes this a versatile knife whether you like to whittle or are just looking for something to carry on every day. The blades are made of Tru-Sharp surgical stainless steel, which is a high carbon steel designed to have great corrosion resistance and edge retention.
The handle is a sowbelly design, so it has a bit of a curve to it that allows it to fit comfortably in your hand. Nickel silver bolsters on both ends complement the bold navy blue of the genuine bone scales.
The scales have been jigged and are affixed with three brass pins. There is a red Case logo shield inlay on the mark side of the handle. It has a folded length of 3 5/8 inches and weighs just 2 ½ ounces.
In the interest of all honesty, there have been a few remarks that the blades are situated just a touch too close on this particular style pocket knife, with the clipped blade and sheepsfoot blade rubbing against each other just enough to mar the finish but not to cause any actual damage to either blade.
Although relatively young when it comes to knife manufacturers, Spyderco knives have been based in Colorado since its founding in the late 70’s. While other companies may focus on producing beautiful knives that you want to look at more than use, Spyderco has always been committed to providing you with a workhorse knife that will get the job done.
As such, many of their knives may not appeal to those who prefer more classically styled knives. Nonetheless, Spyderco’s dedication to high-performance and innovation - being responsible for the now typical pocket clip and opening hole - made them an easy choice for one of the best pocket knife brands.
To give you an idea of what to expect from this manufacturer, we chose the Manix2. This folding knife features a single drop point blade made of 154-CM stainless steel. This particular steel was originally designed for the fan blades of jet engines. It has a toughness of about 60 on the Rockwell Hardness scale.
Furthermore, it is also known for its great balance of toughness, edge retention, and corrosion resistance - while still being relatively easy to sharpen. The blade features jimping along the top and bottom and an exceptionally large round hole for easy ambidextrous opening (14mm.)
It has full steel scale liners and a G-10 grip in a black diamond pattern. G-10 is an excellent choice for knife handles as it’s made of fiberglass and epoxy, can be easily texturized, and is resistant to oil, water, and some acids. This makes for a highly durable knife that will surely last for years. It also has a ball bearing lock.
It must be noted that while this knife is advertised as being hollow ground, a few buyers have pointed out that they have in fact received a flat ground blade. This knife measures 8 inches in length when opened, with a blade length of 3.86 inches and handle length of about 5 inches. It weighs 5.9 ounces.
Columbia River Knife and Tool
Columbia River Knife and Tool (CRKT) is based in Tualatin, OR where they’ve maintained a staunch commitment to innovation and integrity in manufacturing. As such, each of their products is made using state of the art manufacturing processes and materials. This ensures you have a quality knife with a sophisticated design and performance-minded details.
We’re taking a look at the Law Enforcement Tanto Folding Knife. This is an admittedly different knife than the other good pocket knife brands in this review. Thus, it makes an excellent choice to give you an idea why CRKT is one of our choices for the best pocket knife brands.
This knife has a hollow ground tanto style blade, with dual thumb studs and serration along the blade edge close to the handle. The blade is made of AUS-8 stainless steel which is a remarkably affordable steel with great toughness and corrosion resistance while being easy to sharpen with good edge retention. A black ti-nitride finish on the blade helps to improve its corrosion resistance further and makes for a sleek and stealthy looking pocket knife.
A Carson flipper allows you to quickly and easily deploy the blade, while an added seatbelt cutter makes this knife even more useful as an every day carry. An automatic LAWKS safety locks into place the moment the knife is opened -making this virtually a fixed blade knife.
The handle features 420 J2 stainless steel liners with glass filled nylon scales. It has a folded length of 5 ½ inches, blade length of 3 ¾ inches, and weighs 5 ½ ounces. That makes this a heavy knife which some may find cumbersome to hold or have in your pocket. Meanwhile, others may find this knife to be a great size and weight. It features a four position steel pocket clip but isn’t designed for in pocket tip up carry.
Ontario Knife Company
As one of the oldest American knife companies, Ontario knives have repeatedly proven that they’ve got what it takes to compete in today’s world of ever-increasing technological advances.
With a dedication to the employees that make the company what it is, Ontario knives is a longtime producer of knives for the US military - having been providing knives for our service men and women since WWII.
Based in Southern New York, Ontario Knife Company has one of the largest product lines of any other American made pocket knife manufacturer. We’ve chosen the RAT Model 1 Folding Knife to show you what this company has to offer.
This knife has a 3 ½ inches long clean edge blade made of AUS-8 stainless steel with a satin finish. This is a Japanese steel that is known for being tough and having great corrosion resistance. Dual thumb studs allow you to easily open this knife with either your right or left hand.
And while it doesn’t have an assisted open, this knife deploys fast and smooth. The blade bears the Ontario Knife Company logo on the mark side and has jimping on the spine to allow you a better grip when needing to do any detail work with the point.
The handle measures 4 ½ inches in length and designed ergonomically with a slightly dropped heel and smooth forefinger groove. The handle scales are diamond textured nylon that lack the durability of G-10 but still provides a comfortable grip and hand-feel.
It has an adjustable pocket clip so you can wear this knife on either side and either tip up or tip down. It has an overall length of 8 ½ inches and weighs 5 ounces.
What is the Best Pocket Knife Brand?
This list is in no way an exhaustive list of the best pocket knives brands, but we did, unfortunately, have to draw the line somewhere. The pocket knives in this review are all from American-based companies with a proven history of continually producing high-quality knives that hold up to the expectations and demands of their customers.
We personally feel you can’t go wrong with a Case knife, which is why they’re our choice for the best pocket knife brand. In addition to longstanding history, they continue to produce each one of their knives by hand - so you know that the level of attention to detail is superb. In fact, each knife passes through 125 hands before making it to you. They also have an extensive line of pocket knives with designs and styles to fit nearly everyone’s interests.
Sources and Official Brand Websites
- Case, Official Brand Website.
- Spyderco, Official Brand Website.
- Columbia River Knife and Tool, Official Brand Website.
- Ontario Knife Company, Official Brand Website.
- Why Pocket Knives are Important for Everyday Carry, American Peppers Network.
- What are the Different Types of Folding Knives to Choose From?, ebay.
- All the Types of Knives Ever Made, KnifeUp.
- Pocket Knife Maintenance: Cleaning and Lubricating, Instructables.