At a Glance: The Best Everyday Carry Knife
Comparison of The Best Everyday Carry Knife
Our Top Pick
|Editors Pick: SOG – Slimjim||
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Our Top Pick
|Mossy Oak Survival Knife||
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Our Top Pick
|Wilson Combat – Extreme Light Carry||
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Whether you are making a quick trip to the grocery store or are hitting the trails on a hunt, there are a handful of must-haves that should be included as part of your everyday carry gear. Other than a quality handgun, a good hunting or pocketknife should be with you wherever you go.
Our Guide to the 8 Best Knives for Everyday Carry
Retired Navy SEAL commander Richard Marcinko summed up my thoughts on the importance of knives for everyday carry in his famous quote “Knives are like credit cards; don’t leave home without ’em and always carry several”. With that said, it is important that you choose the right knife for your intended application. Here are the 8 best EDC pocket knives.
Editors Pick: SOG – Slimjim
We will get our review started with the SOG – Slimjim. Chances are, you have probably walked by a SOG product in the outdoor section of your favorite store, but you may not know much about them otherwise. SOG means “Studies and Observations Group” and is named after a Vietnam era U.S. Spec Ops unit that utilized a unique tactical knife as part of their kit.
With such a storied history, I couldn’t help but include the SOG Slimjim in the number five spot on our list. The Slimjim didn’t just make this list based on merit though. I personally own a number of SOG products, including knives, a machete, and even a tomahawk. On a side note, clearing a path through the woods with a tomahawk is definitely as fun as it sounds.
But enough about my other ventures, let’s turn our attention back to the Slimjim. This assisted open folding knife is constructed from a single piece of steel and lays claim to the title of the “slimmest assisted knife in the world”. It is sharp enough for any task and holds its edge as good as any knife I’ve used, making it a sound choice for EDC.
The Slimjim has a blade length of 3.18″ and a blade width of 0.08″. It measures in at 7.4″ while open and 4.2″ when closed. The SOG Slimjim is not only the thinnest knife on our review, but the lightest, with a weight of only 2.4 ounces.
- Extremely thin, making it comfortable for rear pocket carry
- Holds its edge well
- Assisted open
- No serrated option
Mossy Oak Survival Knife
Second on our list is a true multi purpose survival knife made by Mossy Oak. This full-sized fixed blade knife includes a sheath and has both a straight-edged and serrated side for use on a variety of applications. It even includes a sharpening rod and a fire starter.
This knife is a great choice for hunting and camping applications due to its size and utility. The blade is durable enough to survive just about torture test you can come up with, whether it be field dressing an animal or using the serrated side to cut through branches to clear a path for your tent. However, you will have to sharpen it right out of the box because the factory edge is less than ideal, which is pretty common with many all-purpose survival knives.
The Mossy Oak Survival Knife features a rubber non-slip handle and has an overall length of 15″. The fixed blade is 10″ long and the knife weighs in at just over 1 pound. The sheath is made of nylon and includes a belt loop for easy carry.
- Includes sharpener
- Has a serrated edge
- Relatively lightweight
- Poor factory edge
- Nylon sheath is not as durable as leather
Wilson Combat – Extreme Light Carry
If you have ever purchased a Wilson Combat product, then you know that they don’t cut any corners when it comes to quality and performance. Our third entry, the Extreme Lite Carry folding knife, maintains that tradition. This sleek looking knife has a “starburst” pattern to allow for a firm grip in all weather conditions and also has studs on both sides of the blade for easy opening.
Wilson Combat incorporated N690C steel for the blade of their knife, which is an alloy that includes several other metals integrated into the stainless steel. This steel is often used for surgical tools because of its ability to hold an edge and wear resistance. The blade quality of the Extreme Lite Carry is apparent right out of the box, as it passes all of the normal sharpness tests with ease.
If you are looking for a professional-grade knife, the ELC is an excellent choice. It can meet the demands of professional applications or serve as a go-to EDC knife and will serve you reliably for years to come. I would’ve liked to see a small, serrated portion near the hilt, but otherwise, the ELC is a home run.
The ELC has a 3.25″ blade and an open length of 7.5″. The closed length of the ELC is just over 4″, making it easy to stow in your pants or shorts pocket. It has a non-serrated drop-point blade and weighs only 3.8 ounces.
- Top-quality steel
- Ideal blade length
- Looks and feels great
- No spring-assist opening
- No serrations
Outdoor Edge 3.5″ RazorLite EDC
Our fourth entry will appeal to you if you tend to be a little rougher on your knives like I am. The Outdoor Edge RazorLite EDC folding knife is a simple and user-friendly option that has a replaceable blade. Outdoor Edge includes 6 blades with the knife and gives you the option to order more down the line if you need to.
The nylon handle and stainless-steel blade holder of this knife are extremely durable and are built to last. The handle is available in orange, blue, or black and has a rubberized non-slip grip. It is easy to open but does not have a spring-assisted opener.
The replaceable blades are a nice feature that eliminates the need to sharpen your knife. Each blade is razor-sharp and holds an edge nicely, but they will not last nearly as long as higher-end blades like the Wilson Combat featured above. The RazorLite is the type of knife that I wouldn’t mind having to use as a prying tool or screwdriver in a pinch because I could just toss in another blade if I chip or dull it. I’ve broken more knives than I’d care to admit like this.
The RazorLite EDC is available in a 3″ and 3.5″ blade option. The 3″ has a closed length of 3.9″ and an open total length of 6.9″. The 3.5″ blade option has a closed length of 4.5″ and is 8″ in total when open. The larger knife weighs in at 4 ounces and the smaller RazorLite is about an ounce lighter.
- Replaceable Blades
- Three color choices
- Two blade length options
- No serrated edge
- No storage case for blade replacements is included
Smith & Wesson M&P M.A.G.I.C. Assisted Opening Tanto Knife
Next up is an assisted open knife from Smith & Wesson’s pro line, the Military and Police Series. This Tanto knife features a sturdy aluminum handle and a spring-assisted opening device located on the backside of the handle, allowing you to easily deploy the razor-sharp blade with the tap of a finger. The handle includes a glass breaker on the bottom side for added utility.
This knife is available with either a blue or “sand” colored handle, the latter of which is similar to a flat dark earth coloration. It gives you the option between a straight edge or partially serrated blade, depending on preference. I personally prefer having the serration, which is handy for cutting through more flexible objects like rope because the teeth will grip the material better than a straight edge.
S&W has an entire line of these knives with different handle designs and blade styles, but I find that the crisp, broad-angle on the Tanto blade looks great and is suitable for many applications. Plus, it is easier to sharpen than some blades with pronounced curves towards the end of the blade, which is a nice perk if you are new to knife sharpening.
This knife has a 2.8″ blade length and an overall length of 7.1″ when open. It is 4.3″ long when closed and weighs just a hair over 4 ounces. The aluminum handle features a rubber inlay to allow you to maintain a firm grip.
- Assisted Open feature
- Multiple options, including serrated option
- Rubber inlay makes gripping easy
- Glass breaker
- Sub 3″ blade
KA-BAR Knives – Combat Kukri
For our seventh entry, we will transition from the lightest knife on our list to one of the largest. The Combat Kukri made by KA-BAR Knives Inc. features a unique curved blade and it serves as a durable and perfectly weighted “chopper”. If KA-BAR sounds familiar, that is because they make the world-famous KA-BAR combat knife that has been in use by the United States Marine Corps since 1942.
The Combat Kukri, while distinctly different from that classic combat knife, is a great carry knife for hunting, hiking, or camping. It is a scaled down version of the Kukri machete and is much easier to carry than its full-sized counterpart. Despite being more compact, it still offers sufficient length for chopping through thick brush or fending off an aggressive animal.
The Combat Kukri includes a polyester sheath that easily attaches to your belt. It has an easy-to-use snap-on retention strap to keep your knife securely in place when not in use. While the Combat Kukri would draw some concerned looks if carried to the grocery store, it is tough to beat as a trail knife. It has a good factory edge and is large and thick enough to be resharpened many times, even with years of rough use.
The Combat Kukri has an overall length of just over 13″ and a blade length of 8″. It weighs in at just under a pound and has a non-slip polymer handle. It has a fixed, non-serrated blade with a 20-degree edge angle.
- Dense weighted blade makes chopping easy
- Supreme durability
- Good blade length for defense or clearing brush
- Light enough to comfortably carry while hunting or hiking
- No serrations
- Limited EDC applications
KA-BAR Knives Hunter
Last up on our entry into our list is another quality knife from KA-BAR. The KA-BAR Hunter is a more traditional field knife that has a classic look. It has an ergonomic stacked leather handle with rounded finger grooves for a secure grip. It has a matching tanned leather sheath with a plastic liner.
This knife is smaller than the Combat Kukri, making it practical for both field use and open carry if your state allows. It is great for field dressing animals and skinning small and large game. It comes with a good factory edge, but it will need to be honed a little bit if you intend to use it on a hunt.
The Hunter has a fixed, stainless steel blade that is just over 4″ in length. The overall length of the knife is 8.125″, making it comfortable to carry. The leather sheath is made to be attached to your belt and includes a snap-on retaining strap that fits around the butt cap.
- Looks great
- Durable knife and sheath
- Good for hunting and hiking
- Well-known manufacturer with a great warranty
- No serrations
- Good, not great EDC dimensions
CRKT M16-14SFG Folding Pocket Knife
Our eighth and final entry is the CRKT M16-14SFG folding knife. While the name leaves much to be desired, the knife itself is great in terms of both blade quality and features. This knife has a Tanto blade design with unique serrations halfway down the blade. It also features a spring-assisted lever on the backside for rapid deployment.
The CRKT has an adjustable pocket clip, just in case you like carrying your knife at a canted angle. It is reversible so that you can choose between a blade up or blade down positioning. The clip is easily adjusted by removing and repositioning the retaining screws.
In addition, there are several color and handle options available. You can opt for a black or desert tan knife with a steel handle or a black blade with an aluminum handle, depending on preference. I would personally go with the steel handle because the weight savings of the
aluminum is negligible. All other features such as blade length and serrations are the same with all three configuration options.
The CRKT has a blade length of just under 4″ and an overall length of 9.25″, making it the longest folding knife on our roundup. It is roughly 5.25″ in length when closed and weighs 5.9 ounces. It even has a limited lifetime warranty.
- Serrated and straight edge
- Assisted open
- Three color/material options
- Holds its edge well
- Tanto angle is extremely durable and user-friendly
- A little long for some users
- Name looks like alphabet soup
Why Should a Knife Be A Part of My EDC
A good knife is not simply a nice to have item. It is and always will be considered part of my essential EDC gear. A knife is such a versatile tool that is just as important to me as my wallet and firearm.
They have dozens of uses and are so easy to carry, which leaves excuses about not carrying a knife in short supply. Whether you need to open a package, cut a rope, loosen a screw, defend yourself, skin a deer, or render aid to someone that is trapped in a locked belt or harness, you can use a knife.
I have used a knife for most of these reasons before and believe me, I was grateful that I had a good quality blade when I did. With most knives weighing in at only a few ounces, you should be asking yourself if you can afford not to carry one.
Should I Buy a Hunting Knife or EDC Knife?
As you noticed from our review, knives can be incredibly unique in their features, dimensions, and blade styles (straight or serrated), and the cutting surface’s angle.
The easy solution to the problem created by having a wealth of options is to buy more knives. Something my wife will likely disagree with. However, I do own a knife for every day of the week and then some. It is nice to have a versatile jack-of-all-trades blade at arm’s reach.
With that said, choosing the best knife for you starts with deciding if you will primarily be using it as a pocket carry knife or as a field knife. We will look at the qualities of a great hunting knife and the best pocket knives for EDC. They each have a few common traits, like a good blade, but the other features are generally more distinct from one another.
What Makes a Great Hunting Knife
A great hunting or hiking knife needs to be rugged, hold a good edge, and easy to carry. By rugged, I mean onewiths a solid handle and s strong and thick blade that it will not easily break. A broken knife can ruin your trip in a hurry or worse, leave you without the tools you need when far from civilization.
On top of this, it needs to hold an edge. Lower quality blades are not as hard or wear-resistant, meaning that they need to be sharpened more frequently. While sharpening a knife is a normal part of its upkeep, you shouldn’t need to tighten up the edge in the middle of your average hunting or camping trip.
The last must for a great hunting knife is that it is easy to carry. This quality is more a matter of having a good sheath rather than the knife itself. However, an extremely long knife will be cumbersome and even downright impractical for some. The sheath needs to be well made, have a means of attaching it to a belt, and have some sort of retention device to keep your knife from falling out when navigating difficult terrain or climbing a tree stand.
What Makes a Great EDC Knife
Other than having a quality blade, a great EDC knife should be easy and comfortable to carry. It is for this reason that I much prefer a folding knife as opposed to a fixed blade knife for my day-to-day use. While a mid-length fixed blade knife like the KA-BAR Hunter will work well as an EDC with many clothing choices, it probably won’t pair well with khaki shorts and flip flops, and it definitely doesn’t mesh with gym shorts.
Folding pocket knives are available in tons of different blade styles and lengths, but I find that certain lengths and designs are far more practical than others. The blade should be long enough for cutting or as a last-ditch self-defense tool in dire situations. These concerns are why I don’t carry anything with a sub-2″ blade and usually stick with knives right around 3″ in blade length.
Features to Look for In a Knife
Even after you have narrowed down your search to either a field knife or an EDC knife, there are still a ton of features to consider when making your choice. Some decisions, like whether you want a fixed or folding knife, may be an easy decision.
Deciding what style of blade you want is probably a little more difficult and leaves you with questions like “What Is a Drop Point blade?”
These questions are more common than you might think and are an important part of your knife buying process. Unlike some other EDC items that you will only use in a life-or-death situation, you will probably use your knife all the time. It should be able to survive daily tasks while still being ready to go in an emergency.
Fixed vs. Folding
Making your pick between a fixed or folding blade is usually pretty easy once you have decided what you will be using the knife for most often.
Fixed blades are almost always used for hunting and outdoor applications because they provide superior strength. The larger, heavier blades found on most survival or outdoor knives would place a high amount of stress on a hinge, making them much more likely to fail if designed with a folding blade.
In addition, fixed blade knives are easy to deploy quickly because they simply need to be removed from the sheath, whereas folding knives have to be taken out of your pocket and then deployed. The primary downside of fixed blade knives is that they are not as easy to carry and must include a sheath.
Folding knives are geared towards ease of carrying while sacrificing overall blade length.
Folding knives will have finer, thinner blades that are not suitable for chopping. However, a good folding knife will excel at slicing or puncturing, which is necessary for a variety of emergency applications such as defending yourself or cutting through a seatbelt in a traumatic vehicle crash.
The shape of your blade is one of the most overlooked features for most knife purchases.
A typical thought process among those new to the product category is that the knife simply needs to be sharp and of proper length. While these are a vital aspect of purchasing a good knife, the blade shape plays an important role in both its durability, ease of maintenance, and how well it cuts.
There are virtually endless blade shape variations available, so we will stick to the primary ones featured on our list. These blade styles were chosen because they are easy to care for and perform well.
Drop Point Blade
The KA-BAR Hunter also features a drop-point. Technically the Mossy Oak Survival knife has a drop point, but it has serrations along the spine. The drop-point provides good strength and stability to the blade’s point and front end of the cutting surface, which is important for hunting purposes.
The pronounced high point and flat grind on the bottom side make the Tanto the superior choice for piercing but are effective for cutting as well, especially if you opt for one with a partially serrated blade. It is loosely modeled after the traditional Japanese short and long swords used in combat.
The last blade design featured in our review is the Kukri. The traditional Kukri blade was essentially a full-sized machete that has its roots in India and Nepal.
The scaled-down Kukri Combat maintains all the best qualities of the full-sized variant while providing the ease of carrying found in a fixed blade knife. It is great for chopping through the brush, cutting meat, and can even be used for things like opening metal cans.
Blade Edge: Serrated Vs. Straight
When discussing guns and gear, I try to avoid phrases like “always” and “never” because different tools are best suited for unique situations. However, if you told me that I had to choose between a straight or serrated blade, I would opt for a straight edge 10 out of 10 times.
This is because a straight-edged blade is best for personal protection and cleaning an animal. I can overcome the lack of serrations when trying to saw through a rope or cord, but I may only have one shot at the other tasks.
I typically opt for a drop point or tanto knife with a partially serrated cutting surface for most of my knife purchases. This choice gives me the benefits of both blade styles, but the serrations are more of a nice to have rather than a must.
All of the knives featured in our review incorporate a steel blade. This was not by accident. While you can find a few other blade materials for EDC applications that are great in terms of sharpness, such as ceramic or carbon fiber, they do not offer the same durability as a good old steel blade.
With that in mind, not all steel is created equal.
There are large variations in the quality of steel used in knives, which will affect how well it can hold an edge and how easy it is to sharpen. All of the knives on our countdown use good quality steel that is durable. However, the knives that incorporate alloy blades, such as the Wilson Combat knife offer top-level edge retention.
Handle Design and Material
When it comes to handle design, you should pay close attention to the hilt and ergonomics.
The hilt is the portion of the knife that separates the handle from the cutting edge of the blade and is very important when it comes to protecting your hand. Some of the knives on our list have a minimal hilt but make up for this with an inward curving design where your index finger will rest, which serves to protect your hand from sliding up onto the blade.
The larger hunting-style knives tend to have better insulation and padding on their handles. This is because you will be applying more force to the knife, which will in turn strain your grip. The Kukri Combat has one of the most protective handle designs because the violent chopping motion that it is intended for would wear at your hand otherwise.
The folding knives tend to incorporate a rougher, high-friction design pattern to aid your grip. This technique is highly effective with these smaller, more compact knives. The designs, such as the curve of the S&W or the “Starburst” on the Wilson Combat look pretty slick too, which doesn’t hurt their appeal.
Our Top Pick for A True Everyday Carry
I know you probably thought that I was going to pick a Tanto blade since it is my favorite style, but the hands-down winner of our roundup is the SOG Slimjim. The Slimjim features what I consider to be an ideal blade length, coming in at just over 3″. This blade length and its ability to hold and edge make it versatile enough for field use, general tasks, and self-defense. If you are looking for a dependable EDC knife, you will not be disappointed in the SOG Slimjim.