Pocket Knives

Complete Guide to the Best Pocket Knife Brands

Written by Survival Gearist

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Want to buy a knife from one of the best pocket knife brands?

Pocket knives are the perfect small, yet functional and reliable tool that you can keep with you at all times. They can used for almost any daily cutting need.

Whether you’re going out camping, hiking, hunting, fishing, walking alone or working on a craft project – a pocket knife will come in handy in many situations.

  • Hunting and fishing: A pocket knife should be part of every outdoorsman’s gear. A pocket knife is useful for cutting fishing line, removing fishing hooks, butchering fish and game, foraging and so on.
  • Camping: While camping outdoors, you can use pocket knives for shaving down kindling, roasting or slicing food, tweezers for splinters, cutting rope and anything else you might unexpectedly need a sharp edge for.
  • First aid or survival: If you find yourself in a dangerous or emergency situation, you can use a pocket knife to cut rope or band-aids and have an easily accessible self-defense item.
  • Casual everyday use: Pocket knives can be used to slice gift boxes, open letters, peel fruit, make crafts and so much more. Collecting pocket knives can also be an entertaining hobby.

Surely when you purchase a pocket knife you’re in search of a reliable and long-lasting pocket knife to suit your individual requirements. The good news is there are tons of great brands to choose from, and each makes a variety of knife options.

Even if you’re a seasoned pocket knife user or collector, learning more about different pocket knife makers and designers can help you uncover new and interesting products.


To find the best pocket knife for your tastes, budget, and needs, you’ll have to start looking at what each of the best knife brands has to offer.



Benchmade Knives

Headquarters: Oregon, USA

Top Picks: 551 Griptilian, 531 Axis, Mini Griptilian 556

Benchmade is a USA based knife company inspired from an innovative knife design created by Les de Asis in 1979. Benchmade set up its first small shop in California in 1980 but has since moved to Oregon. Read more about the history of Benchmade here.

Benchmade creates knives that unite precise manufacturing with quality hand-made assembly. Based on the concept of improving and modifying the traditional butterfly knife, Benchmade has since grown and improved their products. Some even name them as the best folding knife makers on the market. Check out this article to learn more about their quality. If you’re in search of a tried-and-true pocket knife made in the USA, Benchmade is a safe bet for a higher budget.


Boker Knives

Headquarters: Solingen, Germany

Top Picks: Plus Subcom, Plus Anti-Grav

The Böker brand has been handcrafting knives since 1869, originating from a family-run sabre business first formed in 1829. Böker now manufactures blade and handle materials all across the globe. Read more about the long history of Böker here.

Böker manufactures a variety of bladed products, including pocket knives, fixed blade knives, kitchen knives, razors and more. Böker pocket knives are recognizable by the “tree brand” logo, indicating a high-quality product made from high-end materials. If you’re searching for a knife brand with a rich history and positive notoriety, check out Böker.


Brous Blades

Headquarters: California, USA

Top Picks: Silent Soldier V1, VR-71 Blackout

Brous Blades is a relatively new knife-making company founded by Jason Brous. To learn more about Jason and his interesting journey in founding a style-specific knife company, check this out.

Brous Blades pocket knives are inspired by a combination of fantasy artistic design and serious functionality. The out-of-the-norm artistic craftsmanship of Brous Blades is just as important as the quality. Check out this article to learn more about the “Biomech” design of Brous Blades and consider Brous if you want something really unique and fierce.


Buck Knives

Headquarters: Idaho, USA

Top Picks: Model 110 Folding Hunter, 284 Bantam BBW0119 Special

Buck Knives was inspired by Hoyt Buck, a young blacksmith from Kansas, and his techniques for creating long-lasting, sharp-edged steel. To learn more about Hoyt and his legacy, check out the history of Buck Knives.

Buck Knives is renowned for their well-designed and durable products that represent American heritage – they even offer a forever warranty. The most famous Buck Knives product, the Model 110 Folding Hunter, uses a unique folding locking system that is renowned among pocket knives. A buck pocket knife is a trustworthy choice for hunters and outdoorsmen who aren’t looking for flashiness.


Case Knives

Headquarters: Pennsylvania, USA

Top Picks: Medium Amber Bone SS Stockman, Small Red Bone Lockback

Case Knives began in 1889 with four brothers who sold knives on an old wagon trail in New York. The company has since teamed up with Zippo Manufacturing Company, the manufacturers of the famous Zippo lighter. Case Knives also has licensing agreements with several other American brands, with a reputation for crafting beautiful and reliable products. Learn more about the history of Case Knives here.

Case Knives pocket knives have a unique elegance with interesting, colorful blade designs. Case Knives are often sought-after by collectors for their iconic branding and design, so check them out if you want something with a little extra flare.


Chris Reeve Knives

Headquarters: Idaho, USA

Top Picks: Small Sebenza 21, Large Sebenza 21

Chris Reeve first became a full-time knife maker in South Africa in 1984. Chris eventually moved the business to Idaho and has since worked to develop vibrant products made for customer satisfaction. Read here to learn more about Chris’s story.

Products from Chris Reeve Knives have a nontraditional look and feel with an exclusive style of handle embellishment. Their knives are developed with top-quality steel and designed to be used as supreme working tools. If you don’t mind spending more for exclusive, top-of-the-line pocket knives, check out Chris Reeve Knives.


Cold Steel Knives

Headquarters: Arizona, USA/California, USA

Top Picks: Spartan, Finn Wolf, Tuff Lite Plain Edge

In 1980, the founders of Cold Steel Knives set out to make a knife company to make the sharpest blades in the world. Cold Steel Knives manufactures folding knives as well as other tools and weaponized equipment used in the emergency services, law enforcement and military action. Click here to learn more about Cold Steel.

Cold Steel Knives claims to make the safest folding knives on the market due to the incorporation of a specialized locking feature. Cold Steel Knives have continued to push the boundaries of efficient, innovative blades and handles. If you have the budget for something more advanced and interesting, check out Cold Steel.


CRKT Knives

Headquarters: Oregon, USA

Top Picks: Squid, Hootenanny EDC, M16-14SFG Special Forces

CRKT, which stands for “Columbia River Knife & Tool”, is an Oregon-based company founded in 1994. Watch this video to learn about the values of CRKT knives.

CRKT makes knives and tools for the purposes of heavy duty work and long-term durability. Their pocket knives are created with a simple two-piece construction for optimal strength in various outdoor, tactical and survival situations. With CRKT, you’ll find products that were custom-designed by individual professional craftsmen and artists. If you’re comfortable spending more for an elite level brand, CRKT is a great choice for more hardcore knife products.


Emerson Knives

Headquarters: California, USA

Top Picks: Gentleman Folder A-100, Commander

Earnest Emerson started out in his garage as a knife maker in 1979. He has since grown the Emerson brand, creating military-grade products inspired by the need for an efficient hand-to-hand combat tool. Read here to learn more about Earnest’s story.

Emerson Knives is a popular made-in-America brand and specialize in producing high-quality tactical knives to be used for military work, law enforcement, survival and collection purposes. Emerson Knives feature a patented wave on the top of the knife which can be used as a quick-access pocket opener. To see the Emerson knife wave in action, look here. Get an Emerson pocket knife if you’re looking for a heavy duty American brand with unique features.


ESEE Knives

Headquarters: Variable

Top Picks: Izula-II, 6P Black with Desert Brown Molded Polymer Sheath

In 1997, Jeff Randall and Mike Perrin developed an idea to bring realism and practicality to survivalist gear, beginning with jungle survival training in the Peruvian Amazon jungle. Learn more about their history here.

Aside from offering training courses, ESEE manufactures USA-made tactical pocket knives meant to be used in the field by law enforcement and military personnel. They offer a lifetime warranty for each knife sold so you can always have peace of mind when heavily using an ESEE knife. Check out ESEE knives if you’re interested in outdoor pocket knives designed for tactical and defense purposes.


Fallkniven Pocket Knives

Headquarters: Boden, Sweden

Top Picks: U2 Cassiopeia Constellation Super Gold Powder Steel 3G, Gentleman’s Pocket Cocobolo

Fallkniven first began in 1984as a Scandinavian family-run firm with a specialization in folding and fixed blades. The Fallkniven family takes inspiration from generations-old hunting and fishing lifestyles, with the need for a reliable and quality-tested tool for fieldwork. Read more about them here.

The serial manufactured pocket knives from Fallkniven are professionally tested at the Lulea University of Technology in Sweden. This allows them to support their claims for premium blade strength. Look into Fallkniven if you’re interested in purchasing tested pocket knives from a Swedish family-based company.


Gerber Knives

Headquarters: Oregon, USA

Top Picks: Paraframe Mini, EAB, Freeman Guide

Joseph R. Gerber started out the company as a small knife-making business in 1939. The Gerber Knife brand has grown into a highly renowned manufacturer of lightweight folding knives created with skillful knife-making techniques. To learn more about the history of Gerber, read here.

Gerber has a proud heritage of creating knives for “hunters, soldiers and tradesmen”. Due to the incredibly high standard for Gerber tactical and survival pocket knives, Gerber offers lifetime warranties for all of their products. Consider Gerber if you’re in search of a tried-and-trusted American brand of heavy duty pocket knives.


HEAdesigns Knives

Headquarters: New York, USA

Top Picks (See Website): Equilibrium, Sabertooth

Sam, the founder of HEAdesigns, originally began his business with ideas for designing an everyday pocket tool that was necessary and useful.

HEAdesigns knives are set apart from others based on one-of-a-kind blade/handle layouts and compositions. HEAdesign presents a premium collection of pocket knives designed with “organic lines and natural flow”. See for yourself here. If you’re searching for a very special, modern-looking pocket knife or scimitar, check out HEAdesigns.


Hoffman Richter

Headquarters: California, USA

Top Picks (See Website): HR15 Tactical Folding Knife

Hoffman Richter is a specialized manufacturer of tactical and survival blades and tools that can also be purchased for general household purposes. The tools and knives from Hoffman Richter are made to combine lightweight design for easy carry and strong, efficient material for extreme, consistent use.

Hoffman Richter folding knives have an aesthetically pleasing blade and handle backed by “big and beefy” strength and durability. Their HR15 tactical folding knife even comes with a glass breaker for emergency situations. If you’re searching for a beautifully crafted 440 stainless steel and aircraft aluminum pocket knife, consider Hoffman Richter.


Hogue Knives

Headquarters: California, USA

Top Picks (See Website): X5 Folding Knife

After its foundation in 1968, the Hogue Knives company has been making knives and tools based on a “proud family tradition of American quality and innovation”. The founder, Guy Hogue, passed on his legacy to his sons and grandson for hard-working craftsmanship of sporting products. Learn more here.

Hogue Knives are made with a old-world crafting techniques combined with modern manufacturing and design. Their folding blade pocket knives present unique blade and handle shapes to help maximize functionality while in the field. If you’re wanting a pocket knife from an American manufacturing brand made with sporting and tactical use in mind, consider Hogue.


KA-BAR Knives

Headquarters: New York, USA

Top Picks: TDI Law Enforcement, Dozier Hunter, BK-22 Becker Companion

KA-BAR is one of the most popular and renowned USA knife and survival tool manufacturers. They were first established in the early 1900s by a group of cutlers with a dream for quality knife making. To get an extensive outline of KA-BAR’s history, read here.

KA-BAR has a very high reputation to uphold, and that’s why all of their products go through a rigorous testing phase during the crafting process. To see how KA-BAR knives are made, check this out. If you’d like to browse through a wide variety of well-made pocket knife options from a highly established company, look at KA-BAR.


Kershaw Knives

Headquarters: Oregon, USA

Top Picks: Leek, Cryo, Ken Onion Blur

Kershaw has been crafting sporting, survival and collector’s knives since 1974. It exists as a brand of Kai USA Ltd and involves the collaboration of overseas resources and US-based manufacturing. The extensive collaborations allow for the products to be more affordable while maintaining good quality.

Kershaw has introduced several innovative techniques to the industry, including Blade Traders and Composite Blades (read more here). From lightweight and colorful pocket blades to tough and powerful folding knives, Kershaw has affordable options for every need. Consider purchasing a Kershaw knife if you’re searching for versatile US-made products backed by a lifetime warranty from a renowned company.


Leatherman Knives

Headquarters: Oregon, USA

Top Picks: Crater C33TX

Leatherman boasts the title of producing “the original American multi-tool” courtesy of Tim Leatherman, the man who started developing his multi-tool idea in 1974. To read more about Tim’s story, go here.

Leatherman is famous for the Leatherman multitool, which features sharp blades as well as pliers, scissors, screwdrivers and much more. Leatherman also crafts easily operable pocket knives complete with carabiner/bottle openers and “blade launch” technology. If you’re looking for a simple yet multi-functional product from a well-established brand, consider one of Leatherman’s Crater pocket knives.


Microtech Knives

Headquarters: North Carolina, USA

Top Picks: 1532T Death on Contact, Marfione Custom Anax Tanto

During the year of 1994, Microtech was founded in Florida but has since relocated to Pennsylvania. The founder of Microtech Knives, Anthony Marfione, based the company’s values on customer satisfaction and attention to detail. All Microtech parts, materials and labor are based in the USA. Read more about Microtech here.

With Microtech, you can register your knives to ensure you get the highest level of customer service. They offer several nontraditional pocket knives, making them an interesting knife brand to consider if you’re looking at higher-end custom products.


Nesmuk Knives

Headquarters: Solingen, Germany

Top Picks (See Website): Exklusiv Folder, Janus Folder, Soul Folder

Nesmuk is a German knife company inspired from historic cutlery practices. Nesmuk states that their products use the basic form from knives that existed over 3,500 years ago. To learn more about the Nesmuk brand, read here.

Nesmuk takes the form and function of traditional knives and turns them up a notch with innovative craftsmanship and contemporary design. If you’re looking for beautifully handcrafted knives from award winning knife brand, consider Nesmuk.


Ontario Knife Company

Headquarters: New York, USA

Top Picks: 8848 RAT, 8902 Joe Pardue Utiliac

Ontario Knife Company was founded in 1889 and has been operating in Upstate New York for over a century. Ontario Knife Company produces tools for survival, science, tactical and everyday use purposes for people in need of something affordable yet reliable, even in extreme situations. Read more about the Ontario Knife Company here.

The Ontario Knife Company offers up a variety of pocket knife series based on intended use. While they have a more generalized focus on knife products, many of their products are sold to the US military. The prices are fairly affordable, so it’s a good company to consider if you’d like a decent pocket knife from a seasoned brand.


Opinel Pocket Knives

Headquarters: Florida, USA

Top Picks: Carbon Blade No8, Carbon Blade No6

The first Opinel folding knife was developed in 1890 in France. Opinel describes their brand as a “timeless cult object” and an “unavoidable symbol of French culture”. Read more about Opinel here.

Opinel pocket knives are renowned for simplicity in a combination with robustness. As you can see here, the signature look of an Opinel pocket knives consists of a simple carbon blade with a wooden handle. If you’re looking for something affordable, simple and historically iconic, look at Opinel Savoe France.


Reate Knives

Headquarters: Guangdong, China

Top Picks (See Website): Models will vary

Reate is a relatively new and small cutlery company founded by a knife enthusiast with a background in manufacturing and mechanical design. Learn more about the Reate brand here.

Reate a self-proclaimed “professional manufacturer of custom knives”. In other words, the products may be limited or specialized, and cutlers or designers have the opportunity to get their ideas made into a real life product with Reate. If you’re looking for an interesting, one-of-a-kind pocket knife or you’d like to customize your own, check out Reate.


Rike Knife

Headquarters: Guangdong, China

Top Picks (See Website): Thor 2

Rike Knife was fairly recently established in 2008 and currently located in Yangjiang, Guangdong Province, China. They classify themselves as “high end” producers of various outdoor or multifunctional knives. Learn more about the Rike mission here.

Are you in search of knife products that feel like they’re from a futuristic space age? That’s the kind of aesthetic that Rike delivers. Their knives are also made with tough materials such as titanium, so be prepared to pay extra for quality.


Schrade Knives

Headquarters: Minnesota, USA

Top Picks: Old TimerImperial IMP16S Stockman

Founded in 1904, Schrade Knives began as the Schrade Cutlery Company in New York. However, the ownership of the company has since been shuffled around; they are now owned by Taylor Brands LLC. To learn more about the history of Schrade Knives, read here.

The early years of Schrade reflect a high reputation for the production of skillfully crafted products and a brand familiar to generations of Americans. Many speculate that the quality has since declined, but Taylor Brands LLC continues to uphold reverence in the cutlery community. Consider Schrade if you’re looking for a sleek yet rugged style and check out the Old Timer for something classic.


Smith & Wesson Knives

Headquarters: Massachusetts, USA

Top Picks: SWMP4LS M&P, Extreme Ops CK5TBS

Smith & Wesson is most famous for producing firearms, but they also manufacture high-quality knife products. Horace Smith and Daniel B. Wesson first started selling firearms in 1852 and the company has since grown through many years of trials and tribulations. Read more about the history of Smith and Wesson here.

While Smith & Wesson doesn’t specialize in pocket knives, they still have several reliable products that back up their long-standing reputation. Consider a Smith & Wesson pocket knife if you love their USA-made style.


SOG Knives

Headquarters: Washington, USA

Top Picks: Key Folding Knife, Fielder FF38-CP, Twitch II TWI8-CP

The beginnings of the SOG brand was set forth by Spencer Frazer and his inspiration by the specialty combat knives used in special ops combat. SOG is now a large producer of tactical blades. Read more about Spencer here.

SOG knives are fully designed to be used out in the field for frequent, heavy duty use in extreme conditions. The SOG website allows you to search for products according to a category for intended use, including tactical and hunting options. If you’re looking for an aggressive looking pocket knife backed by tactical knife experts, check out SOG knives.


Spyderco Knives

Headquarters: Colorado, USA

Top Picks: Tenacious, Resilience

Spyderco was initially founded by Sal and Gail Glesser in 1976. Their business began to bloom when the first Spyderco folding knife took shape, featuring the pioneered concept of rounded holes in the blade. Spyderco has since grown and spread worldwide collaborations and distributions. Read more here.

Spyderco offers both locking folding and non-locking folding knives. Several of their folding knives have lightweight shapes and sizes, along with different variants of edge serration. If you’d like a safe and compact pocket knife with lots of color and serration options, check out Spyderco.


United Cutlery

Headquarters: Variable

Top Picks: 50 Caliber Bullet Pocket Knife, Savage Mini

As the name suggests, United Cutlery is the collective union of various brands and designers of unique, fantasy-inspired products. Learn more about United Cutlery and the kinds of nontraditional blade products they make here.

The products you find with United Cutlery are distinguished by innovative and whimsical or novelty designs. United Cutlery makes swords, daggers and combat-style folding knives that not only look sleek and interesting but are also backed by performance. If you’re a collector or in search of a sharp and nontraditional blade, look at United Cutlery.


Victorinox Knives

Headquarters: Ibach, Switzerland

Top Picks: Swiss Army Classic SD, Swiss Army Tinker

The founders of Victorinox, which was established in 1884, were the original makers of the famous Swiss Army Knife. The multi-functional tool has since been utilized by outdoorsmen, survivalists and outdoor enthusiasts for over 100 years. Learn more about the history of Victorinox and the development of the Swiss Army Knife here.

Victorinox follows a strict high standard for product manufacturing, creating products that are meant for household as well as professional use. Victorinox offers very small, lightweight pocket knives with multiple functions, including scissors and tweezers. If you love the idea of having a small pocket knife with additional functions, look into Victorinox.


WE Knife

Headquarters: Guangdong, China

Top Picks (See Website): Models will vary

Although WE Knife was only founded in 2000, they have made a name for themselves as one of the biggest professional knife manufacturers in China. WE Knife uses the versatile skills of professional artists and crafters to continuously improve and innovate knife designs to create the highest quality products. Learn more about their brand here.

WE Knife pocket knives have sleek bodies and beautifully constructed handles to deliver satisfaction to the general public. If you’re interested in checking out limited edition, customized pocket knives, take a look at WE Knife.


Zero Tolerance Knives

Headquarters: Oregon, USA

Top Picks: G10 with Speed Safe, Sinkevich Titanium

Zero Tolerance (ZT) Knives first developed in 2006 from the Kai USA Ltd. brand, sharing a parent company with Kershaw Knives. The ZT goal was to create knives that could be used by both professionals and civilians in a variety of situations. Learn more about ZT here.

Zero Tolerance Knives are sometimes referred to as “overbuilt”, meaning they’re made with premium materials with a reputation for being ideal for heavy duty use. ZT Knives are considered to be on the higher end (and higher priced) of the knife blade spectrum with a focus on ultra-strength. Consider Zero Tolerance pocket knives if you’re looking for something modern and resilient.


Photo attribution: Flickr creative commons: James Case


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