Best Folding Knives Reviewed and Compared
We know how important it is to be prepared for every challenge that life throws at you, no matter where you are or what you’re doing. If you are someone who regularly enjoys spending time outdoors, then you know it’s impractical to bring you a lot of items with you. But there are some items that you should never be without. Whether you’re out hunting, cycling, camping, fishing, rock climbing, or just working in your garage, a folding knife is not only incredibly handy but can also be life-saving. These knives are versatile tools, perfect for a variety of different situations ranging from opening envelopes to slicing food. To help you find a quality tool for a great price, we’ve reviewed and rated some of the top-selling models on the market.
In a Hurry? The test winner after 11 hrs of research
Smallest foldable knife available
Can conceal better than any other on the list
- SOG KEY-101
- Kershaw Leek
- Kershaw 1990
- Gerber EAB
- MTECH USA MT-A705
- Smith & Wesson SWMP4LS
- CRKT Squid Folding Knife
- Kershaw Cryo
- Stanley 10-049
- Criteria Used for Evaluation
- Other Factors to Consider
- Frequently Asked Questions
Best Hunting Knives
1. SOG KEY-101
Smallest foldable knife available
Can conceal better than any other on the list
Weakest overall blade strength on the list
At the #1 spot is something a little different, and it comes from the minds of SOG. The key folding knife is a design that has been copied by many companies but perfected by SOG.Read more
Can Be Completely Concealed
No one will recognize this is a knife until you pull it out and the show the blade. It’s small enough to fit in a front pocket or even on a regularly sized keychain.
Long Sturdy Blade
This 5-inch folding stainless steel blade is all you need in the wild, plus the stainless steel housing will keep it rust free.
Cost and Value
Just like the size of the knife, the price is also small. Customers can add this to their collection without breaking the bank.
2. Kershaw Leek
Nice length (7 inches)
Feels good when doing heavy tasks
Removing clip is not straightforward
This USA made knife doesn’t try to do anything out of the ordinary. It’s a simple folding knife made by one of the leading brands in the industry, and with very few flaws.Read more
Durable Stainless Steel
Using high-grade Sandvik 14C28N, Kershaw guaranteed quality from top to bottom. The bead blasted finish on the handle is only icing on the cake.
This blade comes with the speed safe opening system that will give you an extra added layer of protection.
Cost And /Value
Even this far down the list, the price is still low. Most of Kershaw’s products seem to hover around that range anyway, so it shouldn’t come as a huge surprise.
Brilliantly designed blade and handle
Comes with leather sheath and snap closure
The blade is smaller than it looks in pictures
Buck Knives is no stranger to top ten lists, with several of their wares getting a lot of attention. This well-known model is still popular with users today and has a pretty decent following.Read more
Great For Detail Work
Taking out this bad boy for detail work is promising thanks to the crescent tip blade. The point is very sharp and makes the job a lot easier.
This is a beautiful knife with a 420HC steel 3 ¾ inch blade. The style factor is increased with the addition of the Dymondwood handle and custom looking brass bolsters.
Cost And Value
Low priced and valuable, couple it with the lifetime warranty and you’ll get a great deal. Buyers can feel comfortable buying from Buck Knives as they are a reputable company.
4. Kershaw 1990
Low weight with a long length of 7.1 inches
Glass-filled nylon handle
Not good for large hands
The best folding knife on the list is from Kershaw and is the tried and true 1990 Brawler. This knife has a lot of history behind it and is the best all-around knife in its category.Read more
The 1990 Brawler has the beautiful all black look of the Smith & Wesson model and is the sharpest knife out of the box. It also has great build materials and a rock solid locking system.
Superior Quality Long Blade
The blade is 7.1 inches long which is plenty for most that needs doing. But to make it even better it's made of 8Cr13Mov steel and it has a glossy black oxide coating.
Cost And Value
Even though it is tops on the list, the price is still low. This should help with the decision making process when deciding between the other Kershaw knives.
5. Gerber EAB
Can use a lot of low-cost blades
The embedded clip can be used as a money clip
Included blade is hard to find if you want the same one
The first time most users hold this knife it feels a bit different than other products on the list. Besides being multifunctional, it also serves as a great addition to the best folding knives list.Read more
Being able to take out blades that dull out rather than replacing the entire knife is a big plus. Usable blades are standard or contractor grade, so not proprietary.
High-Quality Carbon Steel
This knife has a cool look, almost more exacto than a pocket knife, but even if you don't love the look you'll love that it folds up to an inch and also the replaceable blades.
Cost And Value
The set itself is a low cost just like the replacement blades, so the value is pretty high. Since it has multiple functions, you can get a lot more use out of it than a normal folding knife.
6. MTECH USA MT-A705
One-hand deployment design
Comes in six different colors
The blade is 3mm thick
Built-in bottle breaker and opener
Blade isn’t very sharp
Some found the handle to be fragile
When you’re looking for a new folding knife, you want to make sure that it is a good quality product. A good knife should be strong, sharp and extremely reliable when used on hard surfaced. A low-quality tool can break and possibly cause injury that is why MTECH USA MT-A705 was made to beat your expectations. The blade is made with thick stainless steel and is connected to a lightweight aluminum handle which can also be used as a bottle opener.Read more
In an effort to provide you safety and comfort, the MTECH USA MT-A705 folding knife has a stainless steel straight edge blade with green titanium coating. The handle is also made of titanium-coated aluminum for increased durability.
The advantage of using a spring assisted folding knife is that you don’t have to worry about getting hurt while it’s closed because it has an efficient lock mechanism. What’s more, you can easily unlock it by pushing the flipper.
Cost and Value
This product is designed for long term, heavy-duty use, so you won’t be disappointed with its performance. The MTECH USA MT-A705 folding knife comes at a comparatively low price that varies depending on the color you choose.
7. Smith & Wesson SWMP4LS
Good grip with the black aluminum handle
Partial serrated clip point blade more useful than it looks
Paint is prone to chipping
The famed gun maker also makes comparable knives, most notably the SWMP4LS. It looks as sleek as their guns and performs accordingly.Read more
The Best Design
You wouldn’t think a gun maker would outdo all of the notable brands on this list when it comes to design. This is the best looking folding knife on the list and is sure to get a lot of looks when you pull it out.
Good for Everyone
This has a welcome ambidextrous thumb plate for lefties and it's also made of high quality black 4034 stainless steel.
Cost And Value
The SWMP4LS is a great buy at a low price, and the prettiest knife on the list. With a little bit of sharpening out of the box, it can be your go-to folding knife.
8. CRKT Squid Folding Knife
Small Compact design
Blade made from heavy-duty steel
Features friction grooves for better grip
Comes with a pocket clip
Heavy for its size
May need to be sharpened
CRKT, Columbia River Knife and Tools is a company with over 2 decades of experience in creating high-quality knives and tools for a wide variety of different purposes. They used the newest technology to build some of the best knives on the market. One of their most popular products is the CRKT Squid Folding Knife, which is ideal for everyday use. Its lightweight, compact, and secure design makes it safe and easy to carry it wherever you go.Read more
This knife gives you the precision to slice or chop through some of the toughest surfaces. The blade is made from heavy-duty steel that is built to last and take on the vigorous demands of everyday use.
Safety is important, especially when using a potentially dangerous tool like a pocket knife. CRKT designed this item with friction grooves located on the drop-point blade in order to give you a more secure grip and reduce accidents.
Cost and Value
When you purchase the CRKT Squid Folding Knife, you're buying more than just "a knife," you're adding a reliable tool for everyday use to your collection. It is available in 2 colors in the mid-price range, but the quality is worth every penny.
9. Kershaw Cryo
Only weighs 4 ounces
Blade length is 2.75 inches
Frame release can be a pain to trigger
The first two knives on the list are from Kershaw, with their Cryo knife taking the #2 spot. It is one of the best in the industry and has a horde of followers that swear by its durability.Read more
Strong And Durable
With the lock bar stabilizer in effect, this can be treated like a lot of high-end fixed blade knives There are relatively few tasks that this blade can’t handle head-on.
Comes with a Pocket Clip
We really like the Quadcarry pocket clip that comes with this baby. It provides just another layer of protection for that 8Cr13MoV steel with titanium carbo-nitride coating.
Cost And Value
In keeping with the tune of the rest of the products, this is low priced. With the high-quality materials involved, you’re getting a great deal.
10. Stanley 10-049
Safety blade lock is easy to put in place
Limited lifetime warranty
Handle texture is uncomfortable
Sometimes smaller is better, which is exactly why this pocket knife is one of the most favored on the list. Amazingly light and durable, you’ll get a lot of use out of it when needed.Read more
Stanley is offering the knife in 2, 4, 6, 10, 12 and 24 packs. Or you can simply buy it as a single knife- customers at least have the option of taking advantage of bulk deals.
Not only is the power coated epoxy handle the bomb, but we're also big fans of the replaceable stainless steel blade.
Cost And Value
You really can’t lower the price more without just giving this knife away. It’s the lowest on the list, yet still has a lot of value if purchasing as a single knife or in bulk.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
Pricing is where we started first, even with most of the products having a low price point. We looked at the deals, separating products that offered more for less. And with the lower priced products offering the same (or more) as the higher end folding knives, it became easy to cut the list in half before going to the next criteria. This was one of the most important steps in the entire process since it got rid of a lot of duplicate products. They didn’t bring anything special to the table, and the money saved was better spent on cleaning/maintenance materials.
Comfort was the next thing that showed up on our radar, and once again the list was cut considerably. Folding knives are capable of having the same comfort features as fixed blade knives, but a lot of the products didn’t make the cut. That means what remained was only the most comfortable products to hold, both for short and long sessions. Folding knives that survived this cut also proved their worth by not losing much of their grip when wet. It was a great compliment to their outdoor usage and proved that a comfort+grip could be merged into one capable solution.
Part of the first two criteria we looked at played a role in how we approached durability. It measured everything, including the handle, blade and interior mechanics of the entire product. We shied away from looking at durability based on heavy use and saved it for a later criterion that was more specific. Durability in this area is meant to look at normal wear and tear and how well the folding knife holds up against expected use. That means there should be no problems with the knife lock breaking, rusting or chipping of the blade when it is used normally.
Sometimes the best thing about a knife is the extras that come in the package. This criterion looks at any of the goodies a manufacturer bundles in with their main product. A popular choice with this criteria was sheaths, proving that they have value even when a folding knife acts as its own sheath. For some of the prettier looking knives on the list, a sheath can even serve as a way to protect the integrity of the handle. We didn’t take away points for not including extras since the knives were already competitively priced. But even if they included a lanyard, it was considered a win for the brand.
Style and design came next, and we paid attention to all of the visual cues that make knife shopping great. Instead of looking at available colors, we concentrated on folding knives that had a unique look. Whether it was professional, shiny or colorful, the idea was to stand out from the rest of the pack. A few choices managed that feat easily and really looked great with the knife extended. The design also made its way to the blade but wasn’t strictly about coating. Standouts in the list were surprisingly from the smaller companies rather than the bigger ones.
Expert Interviews & Opinions
Since there are so many big name brands in the industry, going by name alone won’t make for a good buying decision. Customers should decide whether they want a workhorse folding knife or one that excels at concealment. If you split the preferences just between those two, the list looks a lot simpler from a distance.
Other Factors to Consider
Safety features were heavily implemented on all folding knives that made the list. Some handled this criterion better than others, so they were rewarded with a higher spot on the top ten. Safety doesn’t just cover preventing the knife from accidentally opening on its own. The criteria balance out handle quality/grip, blade length compared to handle size and what proprietary methods the company used with its locking mechanism. Marketing aside, the majority of the top products used similar safety measures despite branding them differently. This wasn’t considered a negative as long as the folding knife had a quality lock in place.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, they will always be weaker by design. But they are a lot better now than what they used to be and can handle heavy outdoor tasks.
You don’t have to, and some models don’t even allow you to do that. That’s why keeping it clean is the best maintenance since you won’t track dirt into any of the moving parts.
They’re great for hunting, and sometimes due to space restraints, necessary. You’ll get a lot of mileage out of a folding knife if you’re a dedicated hunter.
Folding knives are great for consumers that want to conceal a weapon, or use little space while packing the rest of their materials. They can be used for personal protection and hunting, with the higher end models holding up well when compared to fixed blade models. The only downside to a folding knife is its lack of power for heavy duty tasks. But this is in comparison to a fixed blade, which was built for a lot of grunt work. So in most situations, a folding knife will be just enough for all tasks that you throw at it.
Every company has its own type of safety built into a folding knife. They don’t accidentally trigger while tucked away, and even if dropped the mechanics won’t send the blade flying out. This is a feature on all models, yet they didn’t get that way by making the product hard to open. There are plenty of folding knives that can be opened with a single hand, with the most famous being a butterfly knife. Useful in many situations, a folding knife gains a lot of respect for being safe without stalling the overall performance of the blade.
Not all folding knives come with sheaths, but it isn’t considered redundant to include them in a package. Sheaths for folding knives are available in lanyard style, on belts and even in a regular clip-on state. They are useful for consumers that are wearing pants without pockets and need full access to their blade. They’re also great for larger folding knives that would be uncomfortable to wear in non-baggy pants. It’s all about choice, so sheaths are great to have when available. Getting an aftermarket sheath for your folding knife is a pain and much different than looking for a customized fixed blade sheath.
There are no differences in price when buying a folding knife over a fixed blade knife. And if you’re buying a folding knife that comes with a sheath, then it is an overall better deal than getting a similarly fixed blade knife. Buyers shouldn’t be too concerned with the price of a folding knife unless it is substantially higher than the normal price in the industry. Blade style and materials will determine the price of a knife, so consumers can grab a good deal if they stick to the features they need the most. Getting a serrated blade when you don’t plan to use that feature is only adding to the cost.
Yes, a folding knife is less durable than a fixed blade knife. This has more to do with the way the mechanics are set up, and not about the quality of the blade. Lighter and efficient blades are used for folding knives leading to less power but better flexibility. This is also helpful for keeping the size of the knife down so that it fits in small areas. Other than lack of durability due to the folding mechanics, the knives are the same from the handle to the blade when compared to other knives. One thing to look for when wanted some added durability with the design is to look for brands that have the best locking features.
The amount of pressure you can use with a folding knife is limited based on how well the manufacturer handled the locking mechanics. If the knife has a weak locking point, then it won’t hold when you’re applying pressure. That means the knife will fold or even break when too much pressure is added to the blade. A good way to examine the pros and cons of folding knives is to think of their locking mechanism as the core. Just like the human body, a weak core drags down the overall performance of all other parts.
Blade length ranges from 2 to 6 inches for the average folding knife. The length isn’t set in stone so it isn’t out of the ordinary to see several products run longer (or even shorter) than competing knives. Multi-tool folding knives tend to run shorter, that way they can make room for the rest of the tools in the handle. Folding knives that concentrate on serrated blades will run longer so that they can handle the sawing motion fluidly. Blade length will come with its own sets of pros and cons, but you’ll notice a common theme when you match the length to blade style.
Like any good knife, the handle can make or break a purchase. Folding knives are in the unique position of working as both the sheath and handle, all in one. So right off the bat, there are more moving parts in the handle than in other knives. That doesn’t mean that folding knives can’t have comfortable blades, but be aware the first priority will go to safety/protection. Products that manage to have a comfortable handle are top tier and considered beneficial buys for users that want folding knives.
Even with the blade being protected by the handle when it is not in use, it is still prone to rust. Like any other knife blade, this can be prevented with proper cleaning and maintenance. On the rare chance you receive a brand new folding knife that came rusted out of the package, companies are good at taking care of the problem. Being rusted directly from the manufacturer isn’t common, yet customers should make it a point to look for any signs of rust once they take out the knife. Once a blade begins to rust, it can accelerate quickly in multiple spots. It’s best to avoid the problem altogether by taking care of the blade with sharpenings and oils.
Warranties are good to have for blades that come out of the package in bad condition. It’s also a good idea to have a warranty when some part of the knife breaks from regular wear and tear. Folding knife companies have wildly different warranty lengths. They also differ with what they cover, so buyers should pay attention to the fine print before purchasing a product. When purchasing a folding knife that will see a lot of use, having a bad warranty can lead to lost money when your product breaks down.