The Best Pocket Knife Brands of 2022

Pocket knives are invaluable for hundreds of different tasks, and different brands have their own specialties. We take a close look at which of these best pocket knife brands will suit your needs.

By Bob Beacham | Updated Jan 14, 2022 8:51 AM

The Best Pocket Knife Brands Options

Photo: amazon.com

Pocket knives are everywhere. They come in an almost endless variety of shapes and sizes and are useful for cutting twine, whittling wood, cleaning fish, carving pumpkins, or any one of hundreds of everyday tasks.

The big advantage of a pocket knife over a fixed knife is that the blade folds safely away when not in use. It also makes a pocket knife more compact and easy to carry. There’s space for a pocket knife in every pair of overalls or jeans, jacket, bag, rucksack, or tool kit.

The only challenge is deciding which model offers the performance you need. To help you find the answers, we’ve selected 10 of the best pocket knife brands and picked a favorite knife from each brand that highlights its qualities.

1. Buck Knives

The Best Pocket Knife Brands Option: Buck Knives

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About the Brand: One of the leading brands for field knives, its original “buck knife” design has been so widely copied that the name is now synonymous with folding hunting knives.
Price Range: $ to $$$

Buck Knives were first made in Kansas in 1902 by young blacksmith Hoyt Buck, who discovered a unique method for improving edge retention. The brand developed through subsequent generations, and today, Buck Knives is still a family firm based in Post Falls, Idaho.

The company’s range of products has grown to include hunting, fishing, survival, and recreational knives, and even cutlery. Each style is known for blade strength, sharpness, and outstanding construction quality. These are not cheap pocket knives, but they are known for their durability and are, unarguably, one of the world’s best pocket knife brands.

The company also offers the option to build a custom knife online, and they produce branded shirts, hats, and other accessories, including a tool no owner should be without—a pocket knife sharpener.

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2. Kershaw Knives

The Best Pocket Knife Brands Option: Kershaw Knives

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About the Brand: Kershaw Knives are known for their innovative designs—with a particular focus on automatic and assisted opening—and also for arriving “shaving sharp.”
Price Range: $ to $$

The U.S. base of operations for Kershaw Knives is in Tualatin, Oregon, but the company sources products from all over the world. The parent company, Kai Industries, makes all manner of cutting tools, from surgical instruments to razors.

The range of pocket knives is immense, as is the wide array of steels the company uses for blades and the diverse materials it uses for handles. Whatever style of pocket knife you’re looking for, Kershaw Knives likely has a version, though gauging quality and value can require considerable attention to detail. To be fair, part of this decision is simply the vast choices on offer, and many of the options are very affordable. However, customer feedback suggests that while the knives’ renowned opening action is always smooth, some lightweight varieties aren’t as robust as they might be.

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3. Emerson Knives

The Best Pocket Knife Brands Option: Emerson Knives

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About the Brand: Emerson knives are, first and foremost, tactical weapons used by military and law enforcement agencies, including U.S. Navy SEAL Teams, Delta Force, Army Rangers, and the British Special Air Service.
Price Range: $$$ to $$$$

Emerson Knives began in a residential garage in 1979, developed by a highly respected, hand-to-hand combat instructor named Ernest Emerson. New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art and Washington’s Smithsonian have both displayed his innovative designs.

While these knives may be visually appealing, the focus is without a doubt on practicality. The brand’s motto is “100 Percent Tough, 100 Percent American,” with all design and production based in Harbor City, California.

The brand’s range of combat pocket knives is extensive, including several specifically for left-handed users. The toughness of Emerson blades is such that they are also used in some Kershaw knives. Emerson knives are not a casual purchase due to the relatively high cost, but durability is usually exceptional. That said, customers have reported occasional quality control issues and a few complaints about warranty work when the knives developed faults.

Top Products:

  • Emerson CQC-7BW: This pocket knife is based on the original groundbreaking tactical folding design with a hard and extremely sharp Tanto blade, plus the brand’s “Wave” feature for rapid deployment. Get the Emerson CQC-7BW at Emerson for $205.95
  • Emerson Sheepdog: With two types of blades—spear point and bowie—this flipper knife has black G-10 handles. It has a lanyard hole, thumb button, and the brand’s Wave Feature that allows it to rapidly deploy from a pocket. Get the Emerson Sheepdog Pocket Knife at Emerson for $255.95

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4. Columbia River Knife and Tool Company

The Best Pocket Knife Brands Option: Columbia River Knife and Tool Company

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About the Brand: Generally referred to as CRKT, the brand produces an enormous range of affordable edge tools from flipper knives to tomahawks.
Price Range: $ to $$$

The Columbia River Knife and Tool Company is based in Tualatin, Oregon. If that sounds familiar, it’s because the founders, Paul Gillespi and Rod Bremer, began their knife-making careers at Kershaw Knives before setting up their own company in 1994.

The CRKT philosophy is one of using designs and manufacturing from the best possible sources, and the company is known for a number of different collaborations. This often results in unique and fascinating styles and allows CRKT to offer an enormous range of pocket knives and other edge tools. Its reputation is one of producing affordable knives that don’t feel cheap. CRKT may not have the kudos of some of the best pocket knife brands, but it likely has a tool for every taste and budget.

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5. Benchmade Knife

The Best Pocket Knife Brands Option: Benchmade Knife 1

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About the Brand: The Benchmade name comes from the original method of precision components assembled by hand, and while much of its production is now automated, the commitment to quality remains.
Price Range: $$$ to $$$$

Founder Les De Asis started out making balisong (butterfly) knives in California in 1979. The company, originally called Bali-Song, became the Pacific Cutlery Company in 1986. After production and financial difficulties, the brand re-emerged as Benchmade in 1988. Today, it is based in Oregon City, Oregon. Benchmade Knife was the first knifemaker to use laser cutting, allowing the company to work with harder blade steels than had previously been possible.

While production is in the U.S., the brand works with several leading knife designers around the world to create high-quality edge tools for every purpose. There are three classes: blue for standard knives, gold for knives that use exotic materials, and black for extreme-duty military models. They are all premium quality, and the prices reflect this quality. However, some critics feel there’s little justification in Benchmade knives being more expensive than CRKT or Kershaw knives.

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6. Boker Manufactory

The Best Pocket Knife Brands Option: Boker Manufactory

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About the Brand: German brand Boker Manufactory is perhaps best known for its classic-styled pocket knives but produces a staggering variety of affordable models from tactical to mushroom knives.
Price Range: $ to $$$$

Boker Manufactory, also known as the Tree Brand for the logo etched into its blades, may be the world’s oldest pocket knife brand still in existence with a history that dates back to the 17th century. Today, the factory in Sölingen, Germany, produces all manner of knives, razors, axes, and swords.

Perhaps because of the popularity of its classic pocket knives, Boker Manufactory is sometimes considered an old-fashioned brand. However, its products are often innovative. The company was the first knifemaker in the world to use a ceramic blade on a pocket knife. Those who overlook Boker might well miss out on a bargain: It’s difficult to find better performance for the price.

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7. Cold Steel Knife and Tool

The Best Pocket Knife Brands Option: Cold Steel Knife and Tool

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About the Brand: Cold Steel Knife and Tool claims to make the strongest, sharpest blades in the world—and it has a reputation for pushing knife design to the limit with some wild and wacky designs.
Price Range: $ to $$$

Founded in 1980 in Ventura, California, Cold Steel Knife and Tool has a reputation for innovation that borders on weird, boosted by its blood-curdling marketing videos. In addition to a wide range of pocket knives, the company also makes axes, machetes, sword canes, and even blowguns. Cold Steel is not all about shock and awe, though. Its superb Tri-Ad blade locking system is strong enough to support up to 800 pounds of hanging weight.

If there’s a criticism of Cold Steel knives, it’s that the “ordinary” models are just that—neither exceptional nor cheap. However, the company does produce some designs you simply won’t find anywhere else for shoppers looking for a unique knife.

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8. Spyderco

The Best Pocket Knife Brands Option: Spyderco

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About the Brand: Spyderco is known for groundbreaking designs and experimental use of blade materials while never forgetting the practical necessities of its tools.
Price Range: $$ to $$$

Spyderco was formed in 1976 by Sal and Gail Glesser. The company is still based in Golden, Colorado, where it began as a manufacturer of knife sharpeners. Spyderco introduced its first knife, the Co1 Worker, in 1981 and set the standard not just for one-handed, ambidextrous blades but also for including a pocket clip and offering a fast-cutting serrated blade.

The brand’s innovation has garnered numerous awards and expansion to include production facilities in China, Italy, Japan, and Taiwan, in addition to the U.S. Sal Glesser is now recognized as one of the world’s leading designers, and Spyderco is considered one of the best pocket knife brands. In addition to pocket, fixed, tactical, and survival knives, the company produces gentleman’s, marine, and culinary models. They feel good in the hand and are durable and competitively priced.

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9. DPx Gear

The Best Pocket Knife Brands Option: DPx Gear

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About the Brand: DPx Gear produces hard-use edge tools for hunting, combat, rescue, and survival that are field-tested in harsh environments worldwide.
Price Range: $$$ to $$$$

Robert Young Pelton is a man of many talents—an adventurer, war correspondent, author, director, and former host of Discovery Channel’s “The World’s Most Dangerous Places.” In 2008, he became a knifemaker, creating DPx Gear and the now-famous Hostile Environment Survival Tool (HEST) knives. From the start, these knives were designed to be multifunctional as well as nearly indestructible.

While the brand’s range of knives has grown, its original principles remain intact. However, DPx Gear doesn’t manufacture a lot of different types of knives to suit all users. It makes tough, lightweight, purposeful tools for hard use in tough situations. They aren’t cheap, but it’s unlikely one will let you down.

Top Products:

  • DPx HEAT Folder Milspec Pocket Knife: Typical of the brand, this knife fits a host of features into a compact size with an extra-hard Sleipner steel blade, titanium frame, tough G-10 composite handle, tungsten carbide glass breaker, bottle opener, and pocket clip. Get the DPx HEAT Folder Milspec Pocket Knife on Amazon for $235.65
  • DPx Gear HEST/F Urban Frame Knife: With a titanium handle and black stonewashed blade, this everyday carry knife has a blade notch that opens the blade quickly and it also opens bottles. It has a hex drive in the handle and a stainless steel glass breaker for emergencies. Get the DPx Gear HEST/F Urban Frame Knife at BladeHQ for $410

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10. Gerber Gear

The Best Pocket Knife Brands Option: Gerber Gear

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About the Brand: Gerber Gear combines constant innovation with long experience to produce a wide range of top-quality knives and other edge tools at affordable prices.
Price Range: $ to $$$

Gerber Gear has been around since 1939 and has grown to become a major manufacturer of knives, axes, multi-tools, saws, and scissors. The Finnish company Fiskars has owned the company since 1987.

The company promotes that it is the number one supplier of knives to the military. The manufacturing facility in Portland, Oregon, goes through 686,000 tons of U.S. steel per year. While much of the production uses modern equipment and robots, it still employs skilled craftspeople for specialist tasks like blade sharpening.

Gerber Gear is continually innovating, testing new materials, and introducing new models. Enthusiasts can also customize their own knife, using one of several popular Gerber models as a base. Affordability adds to the popularity of Gerber knives, though there has been some recent criticism of the quality of its cheaper knives, many of which come from the Far East.

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How We Chose the Best Pocket Knife Brands

After considering more than 100 popular knives from the top brands on the market, we carefully selected our recommendations for the top products based on many critical factors including durability, size, weight, and purpose.

While reviewing the brands’ popular pocket knives, the goal was to select quality options at various price points to meet the range of needs—including hunting, fishing, backpacking, camping, and everyday tasks—that pocket knife users require. Some of the knives selected offer simple and easy release mechanisms, and others have innovative designs and extra features. Whether the need is for an everyday knife or a knife for a specific task, there are knives on this list to meet the requirements of a variety of users.