best pocket knives

Best Pocket Knives & How to Buy a Pocket Knife for EDC

In this guide, we’re going to discuss how to buy a pocket knife and why the elegant gentleman should consider carrying one as part of his everyday carry (EDC) kit.

A beautiful Russian olive knife

A beautiful Russian olive knife

History of Pocket Knives

To talk about the history of pocket knives is to go back as far as the invention of the wheel. Knives have been fashioned from stones and other natural materials since the early Iron Age.

The oldest pocket knife ever found featured a bone handle and was unearthed at the Hallstatt Culture type site in Austria. After experts examined it, it was dated to around 600-500 BCE.

The original pocketknives were called peasant knives, farmer knives, or penny knives and used a very rudimentary pivoted blade that folded into the handle without a back spring, locking mechanism or slip joint as found in modern versions.

The first knives were regularly used in the pre-Roman era but were considered luxuries and not easily afforded by the everyman. In fact, pocketknives didn’t become widely popular until the mid-1600s when cutlery makers began producing them in England. Regular mass production began in the early 1700s which allowed farmers, herdsmen and tradesmen to be able to purchase them at a fairly low cost. A modern example of the original knives is the small Opinel knives from France.

Today, there are many kinds of pocket knives designed with different applications in mind. From the traditional Opinel knives to tactical knives used by emergency responders, there are multi-tools which are a favorite for EDC and often given to boys as a gift as they reach manhood.

Opinel No 8 Inox Knife

Opinel No 8 Inox Knife

Why Gentlemen Should Carry One

It’s easy to disregard the pocket knife as being for the tradesman or the miscreant. Rarely would one assume that a gentleman would carry one with him, however, there are many reasons why more and more elegant gentlemen are choosing to keep on in their pocket or in their bag.

Of course, one can argue that a pocketknife is a reasonably solid weapon of choice for defending yourself, however, there are many other reasons to carry one, and if self-defense is your primary objective, there are better options available.

Here are a few reasons why it is worth carrying a pocket knife:

  1. To open letters, parcels and other mailings.
  2. To cut a loose thread from your clothing, rope, string or remove the tag from a new item of clothing.
  3. To cut a piece of fruit, bread, meat or cheese when on the go. A pocket knife can be especially handy when sampling fresh produce at a farmer’s market and is a great tool if you’re a professional chef.
  4. For emergencies such as cutting a seatbelt after a car accident, picking a lock if your child locks themselves in a bathroom, ripping through clothing to render first aid or as a last resort in self-defense.
  5. To sharpen a pencil, whittle wood or while hiking, camping, or sailing.

There are many great uses for pocket knives. As the old adage goes, luck favors the prepared.

A monogrammed pocket knife

A monogrammed pocket knife

Types of Knives

There are three basic styles of pocket knives.

The Jack Knife

Ideal for those who spend time outdoors, the jack knife bears a hinge at one end and often has more than one blade or a blade and another tool such as a file. It is ideal for outdoorsmen who enjoy fishing, camping or hunting small game. It is also exceptionally useful for rock climbers and mountain climbers.

A vintage jack knife

A vintage jack knife

Multi-Purpose Knife

The most popular pocketknife for the average man, it’s the quintessential Swiss Army. In addition to at least one blade, it usually has a plethora of other tools which can include a saw, tweezers, scissors, screwdrivers, can openers and corkscrews. Some even come with a plastic toothpick. They are great for amateur campers and as gifts for young men. However, the wider it is, the more difficult it can be to handle safely.

The Pen Knife

The Pen Knife

Pen Knife

Ideal for the Gentleman’s Gazette reader, the pen knife can easily slip into a jacket pocket or your trousers. It’s thin and was originally designed to sharpen a quill writing instrument which is where it gets it’s name from. Typically, it will have a few blades that each cut differently and can be used for different purposes.

Depending on what you plan to use your pocket knife for, it is wise to invest in a knife that meets your specific needs. If you require a knife for regular use outdoors or cutting with pressure, it’s a good idea to get a locking blade that requires you to release it by pressing a lever. This way, you don’t have to be concerned with cutting yourself should the knife accidentally close on your fingers.

For moderate use where you won’t be applying significant pressure to cut, a slip joint knife requires a specific amount of pressure to be applied in order for the blade to close. It is inherently more risky and therefore those only using their knife on occasion to open a letter or sharpen a pencil should invest in this type of knife.

There are also other types of knives that rely on friction to keep the blade open or a locking device that turns to secure the blade. Some blades close easier than others, so it’s a good idea to try out different knives or at least research them before purchasing one.

A tactical knife is only good for those who require one

A tactical knife is only good for those who require one

How to Buy a Knife

There are so many styles of knives to choose from. For the gentleman, having one that’s as beautiful as it is functional is often important. New knives with bone handles or ornamental finishings can cost quite a great deal of money. However, investing in a vintage knife found on eBay or Craigslist can often net you a better quality knife that will last a lifetime.

If you are looking for a more tactical knife, it’s worth buying new. Most tactical knives serve distinctive purposes and therefore buying something new and under warranty will ensure you don’t walk away with buyers remorse when you decide to use it for the first time. We only recommend a tactical knife if you truly need it for work. Otherwise, a less expensive pen knife or a beautiful vintage pocket knife will serve you quite well.

Basic wood grain pocket knife is great for EDC

Basic wood grain pocket knife is great for EDC

Things to Consider When Buying a Knife

There are a few factors worth considering before you invest in a pocket knife.

How do you plan to carry it?

Will it slide into your pocket? Be carried in a bag? Or, will it just be kept in the glove compartment of your car? This will determine the size of knife as larger multi-tool knives may be too bulky if you want to carry it in your suit pocket.

What will you use it for?

Will it be for work? To take the kids camping? Perhaps just to open the occasional parcel. By figuring out what you will plan to use it for, you can decide on the type of blade you’ll need, what additional tools you want and how much you want to spend on it.

How long will you keep it?

If you only plan to keep it until you lose it or until you need a different knife, consider less expensive knives you can buy at a local camping store. However, if you’re looking for an heirloom piece you can hand down to your son, consider buying your knife from a cutlery store, jeweler or custom knife maker.

Recommended Knives

Pocket Knife ModelBrandPrice
No8 Carbon Pocket Knife Opinel$
Custom Sigil Copper Chasis Damascus Blade Marfione$$$
Limited Dinosaur Lockback Folder 112028 Boker$$$
Forge de Laguiole by S. Rambaud Forge de Laguiole$$
Victorinox Swiss Army Classic Knife Victorinox$
7825 WBC Cedar Prince Knife Buck Knives$$

Opinel No. 8 Carbon Pocket Knife

This traditional pocketknife from France features a single carbon steel blade, a classic hardwood handle and stainless steel locking collar that twists to lock the blade in place. Inexpensive, it is a great EDC knife for the gentleman who rarely needs a knife but wants the convenience of being prepared. Click here to get the Opinel No. 8 Carbon Pocket Knife.

Marfione Custom Sigil Copper Chasis Damascus Blade

This lovely knife has a solid copper tumbled finish handle, a hand ground Hattori San Mai Cowry-X core Damascus steel blade, bronze hardware and a Cowry-X Damascus steel stop plate on the reverse. Perfect for any gent who needs a reliable knife. Click here to get the MArfione Custom Sigil Copper knife.

Boker Limited Dinosaur Lockback Folding Knife

With a handle dating back more than 130 million years, the scales are actually crafted from a section of petrified bone from the Brontosaurus dinosaur. A true, limited collectors piece, you can click here to get your very own Boker Limited Dinosaur Lockback Folding Knife.

Stéphane Rambaud Forge de Laguiole

A single piece from the ‘Collection Couteliers d’Art’ model line, Stéphane Rambaud is a master knife maker responsible only for unique pieces of the highest level of craftsmanship. This knife is a one of a kind piece crafted from giraffe bone with an etched surface crafted by hand. A truly marvellous knife, it is as much a talking point as it is a practical tool. Click here to get a Stéphane Rambaud Forge de Laguiole knife.

Victorinox Swiss Army Classic Knife

The quintessential pocket knife, this Swiss Army knife is a multi-tool knife that’costs under $20 and is sure to give you years of use. This is also a great first knife to gift or hand down to your son when he becomes a teenager. Comes in a number of color options and it is flat so it is easily put away in your jacket or pants pocket without destroying the look of your outfit. Click here to get the classic Victorinox Swiss Army Classic Knife.

Buck Cedar Prince Knife

This classic Buck knife is designed by Wilde Bill Cody and has a red stabilized cedar handle featuring a beautiful turquoise spacer. Limited to just 250 pieces, each blade is mirror polished and enhanced with custom file work. This is a great everyday carry knife for any man. Click here to get a Buck Cedar Prince Knife .

Pocket Knife Laws

Ignorance is unfortunately not an excuse to break the law. Many cities and states have laws that prevent the carrying of a pocket knife in general, or a pocket knife that exceeds a certain length. Make sure to learn and understand the local laws regarding the carrying of a knife. It’s not worth keeping a pocket knife on you if you run the risk of a criminal charge.

It is also important to research the laws of any area you may travel to as well as any rules and regulations for private and public buildings, transportation and other venues you plan to visit.


Pocket knives are a great tool to keep with you. They can be used for many daily tasks and are instrumental if you happen to work in a trade. Do you carry a pocket knife with you? What kind?

Article Name
Best Pocket Knife Brands & How to Buy a Pocket Knife for EDC
A detailed look at pocket knives incl. why men should carry one, their history and recommended knives.
Gentleman's Gazette
Publisher Logo
21 replies
  1. Alexander_F says:

    That’s really a nice selection. I for my part stick with Opinel. It’s the first knife I’ve ever bought, when I was eight years old, and I still have it, more than twenty years and a knife collection later. With regards to solidity and price-quality-ratio, it’s hard to find something better.

    Greetings to all readers

  2. Camaro says:

    Whats your thoughts on a Scottish Sgian Dubh ? Although they are carried in a sheath, you can get some beautiful designs ?

    • John Henderson Todd says:

      The sgian dubh (black knife) sometimes known as a sgian na h-achlaise (armpit knife) is usually carried in the long socks worn with the kilt. They are essentially decorative but tend to have good quality blades which will take a good edge. They are not really practicable when wearing trousers and fall fowl of some local bye-laws which consider themoffensive weapons. They also tend to be expensive as the good ones are hand made using rare woods, silver chasing and sometimes cairn gorm semi-precious stones. Perhaps the gazette should encourage kilt wearing!

  3. Roger says:

    William & Henry make some very beautiful and sharp knives! They are pricey, but the quality and craftsmanship is incredible. Being from the south, I always carried a pocket knife until I started to travel, and had to give one to TSA at the screening area! Now I do a better job of planning so I hopefully will never have to “give” another one away!!

    • Ernesto Cabrera says:

      I had a similar experience but not at the airport I was going through screening at the Hoover Damn and forgot a had a small 1 inch blade pocket knife in my pocket. The TSA agent made a big fuss about it claiming I purposely did not say I was carrying a weapon. He told me to either go back and leave it in the car or he would confiscate it. Well I wasn’t going back to the car so I took the blade out place my foot on it and broke it off. I then told him he could have the knife. I feel today it’s getting too risky to carry a pocket knife. It doesn’t take much for someone to accuse you of carrying a weapon. I have a very nice Laguiole with a 4 inch blade, but am afraid to carry it as several times when I’ve used to cut something open or cut a sandwich I find people staring. And can’t help to think someone may call the cops one day.

  4. Gary L. Davis says:

    I find that Benchmade knifes are among the finest blades made in the U.S.A. It is my EDC. Be mindful to remove the pocket knife prior to entering government buildings, airports, sports stadiums and courthouses or anywhere that will require you pass through a security metal detector.

  5. NCJack says:

    I carry the smallest model Victorinox on my keychain, and find that I use the little scissors as much as any blade. Most men are only going to need a very small blade, but of course if you do need one, there’s none about, or no good substitute.

    Be warned that even the smallest blade will not be allowed on planes, or through most security gates in courthouses.

  6. Mike Lamb says:

    Very good article. I did quite a bit of research two years back on pocket knives when I wanted to buy a few quality ones and there definitely is a big difference in the brands.
    Something to add as I learned this lesson this year. Be sure that which ever pocket knife that you choose that it truly locks and doesn’t slip when just a bit of pressure is put on the blade. I was attempting to slice the plastic end off of a tube of calk and the knife flipped back on me and gave me quite a gash. I found that scissors did a better and safer job with that.

  7. David West says:

    The jack knife pictured is a sailor’s knife. The pointed round “blade” is for undoing knots. Nice article. Schatt and Morgan is a good, classy knife.

  8. H Ahmed says:

    What is the wooden handled Böker knife shown in the article: (not the dinosaur bone version).
    Also, are there any suggestions for some pocket knives with less than 3 inch blade, as that seems to be the legal limit in a lot of countries, like the UK.

  9. Val says:

    I love the look of the Opinel No. 8 Carbon Pocket Knife.
    Has anyone got much experience with this? In particular how strong that locking function is.. I am just worried that it’ could potentially snap back mid use. Maybe I’m just paranoid but this has happened in the past.


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