Choosing an Everyday Carry Knife or EDC Knife is no easy task. There are thousands of EDC knives available in the market. When you are starting out, it becomes extremely difficult to choose one for yourself. I have compiled a list for best edc knife with buyer’s guide so that you can choose one easily.
Best EDC Knife
In this detailed guide, we would see:
- The Price Factor
- What’s the Purpose
- Fixed vs Folding Knife
- Blade Size
- Straight Blade vs Serrated Blade
- Opening & Locking Mechanisms
- State Legality
- Blade Selection
- Handle Style Types
- Backpack vs Pocket
I remember buying my first EDC knife for $15. It’s not much, but it was enough for me. Nowadays, you can find EDC knife for as low as $10 and a premium EDC knife for $100+. There are so many options, which one is the best edc knife?
To clear out the confusion, I’m writing this detailed post. There are several things one must consider before going out and buying everyday carry knife for oneself.
As the name gives away, everyday knife should be something you can carry every day. Maybe, for self-defense or any other purpose. An EDC knife could be used for carrying out everyday tasks. Such as opening packages, tin cans, protecting oneself or even protecting others in need.
There are different sizes and for that, there are different state laws. You have to be very careful with your state laws before buying an EDC knife. You might end up violating a state law without even knowing it.
So, what to do?
Where to begin?
I expect that you would read this post in great detail. It’s lengthy yes. Time-consuming? Yes, that too.
But once you are done spending your five minutes. You would know everything there is to know about the EDC knife.
Best EDC Knife – Buyer’s Guide
Let’s being. Shall we?
As mentioned earlier, I will be discussing the parameters that you must use before choosing an EDC knife. Below are some of the most important factors you should take into consideration before buying and Everyday Carry Knife.
The Price Factor
The number one and the most basic factor is the price. When I first went out to buy an EDC knife, I remember, I was confused. There were so many of them. One was for $10 and the other was for $100. But my budget was just $20.
Then again, there were many knives for under $20. I had filtered out the knives on the basis of their price and now I was left with fewer options and choices than I had before.
Whenever my friends or family members ask about my suggestions on knives, I ask them to figure out their budget first.
If you are just starting out, there is no need to spend $100 on an EDC knife. A simple, small EDC knife under $50 would do your everyday task. Compromising on the price would definitely impact the quality of everyday carry knife.
A $30 knife has a lot less reliable blade than a $300 knife. The more you spend, the better the material you will get. For beginners, I would suggest you to keep your budget under $50 since you would probably need it for your everyday tasks. If not, read the complete post and you will figure out the budget yourself.
EDC knives are usually divided into three tiers of manufacturing:
- Production Tier: This is the most basic tier. A machine, mass produces the everyday carry knives. They are cheaper than the other tiers and are the most common ones. Since they are mass-produced and a machine does all the finishing and packaging, they are a piece of fine work once completed. I carry one myself and I’m completely satisfied with it.
- Mid-Tech Tier: It’s the second tier in manufacturing. Their prices are expensive than production tier knives but a little less than the custom tier knives. It involves not just machines but humans too. This includes assembling of hand made parts and not just parts cut and sharpened by machine. Due to the involvement of hand made parts and thus human labor, mid-tech tier knives are expensive than the usual knives.
- Custom made tier: This is the most expensive tier of all. Knives are not produced for masses but for specific individuals or groups. Due to limited manufacturing, custom made tier is the most expensive of all. I have seen a custom-made EDC knife that was priced at $1200. If you think the price stops here, then you are wrong. Custom-made knives could cost up to $3000 or more.
Now, you have some basic understanding of the pricing factor. Our next factor is finding the purpose of buying an EDC knife.
What’s the Purpose
Ask yourself, why would you want to buy an EDC knife. Is it for self-protection? Or for routine tasks. Maybe, you often go to hunting or frequently travel and want a small everyday carry knife for hunting purposes or cutting down the bushes?
Whatever the reason is, clearly defining a purpose is as important as the price factor.
More expensive EDC knives can carry out almost any routine task such as opening packages, cutting ropes (God knows why would you need to cut a rope), cutting strings, leaving a big hole in someone’s body maybe?
EDC knives come with straight edge blade, serrated blade or both. The one I have, comes with both. It has a straight blade from the center to the tip and a serrated blade from the center to the handle.
Ask this simple question, would you use an EDC knife more indoor or outdoor? How would your normal day would look like with an EDC knife and what would you do with it every single day?
If you end up answering these questions, consider it a success. You are another step closer to finding the right EDC knife for yourself.
Fixed vs Folding
This is one of the early stage decisions in buying everyday carry knife. What kind of knife do you want? The one with a fixed blade or the one with a folding blade. Of course, the folding blade EDC knife can be carried easily everywhere. You can put it in your pocket and it is protected by some locking mechanism (discussed below).
On the other hand, a fixed blade knife can’t be carried in a pocket. You don’t want to die? Right? Fixed blade knives are more common in rural areas and in households but for roaming around in your city, you shouldn’t be carrying a fixed knife in my opinion.
The most common opted option between the two is the folding knife.
EDC knives have different ranges when it comes to their blade sizes.
Some pocket knives start at around 2’’ and go up to 5’’ in blade size. For me, a 5’’ blade size is quite big for an everyday carry knife. It’s not comfortable for me to roam around with a knife in my pocket having a 5’’ long blade.
Currently, the EDC knife that I have in my possession has a blade length of 3’’.
Depending upon where you are living, a blade size can cause trouble for you. In different US states, there are different laws on the blade size of EDC knives. You cannot carry an EDC knife with a blade size of more than 3 inches in some states since it’s a crime and you would be jailed for that.
Before buying one, check your state laws.
The little the blade size the easier it would be for you to carry the knife. But you would be compromising on reach. More blade length means more reach but here you are compromising on comfort.
It’s not necessary that you have to carry an EDC knife in your pocket. People carry them in their backpacks which is perfectly fine. It varies from person to person.
If you are buying an EDC knife for your protection then you cannot carry it in your backpack. You would have to use your pocket for that. Here, the blade size matters. These three things would determine that blade size for you:
- Check state laws
- See if you would be carrying the knife in your backpack or in your pocket.
- Do you want more reach or more comfort?
Straight Blade vs Serrated Blade
Another tricky thing is what kind of blade you want? A straighter one or a serrated one? Or maybe both?
There are advantages and disadvantages of both. For your information, I carry an EDC knife that has a straight blade as well as a serrated one. You can get one that suits you best.
A straight blade is mostly used for cutting and ripping things apart while serrated knives are more helpful in cutting fibrous materials such as ropes etc.
It doesn’t matter much if you would be carrying an EDC knife for routine work, but if you don’t know what kind of thing you would have to cut down, going for a hybrid EDC knife is the best option.
Opening & Locking Mechanisms
Another important element of an EDC knife is the opening mechanism. There are three types of opening mechanisms:
In the Manual system, you would have to open the blade yourself. You can use a cutout, thumb stud or some other mechanism to open the blade. A little force is required to open the blade in the manual system.
In the Assisted system, you have to give a little push to the blade and the rest of it will open itself. There is some confusion between assisted and automatic knives.
Let me clear it for you. Assisted knives are not automated knives. There is no button, no trigger, no nothing. It’s legal in all states (considering the blade length doesn’t exceed the legal limit).
Last but not the least, we have the much talked about Automatic system. Unfortunately, it is illegal to carry an automated knife in all 50 states. You have to be either military or some other law enforcement to carry one.
If you still carry one, you would land yourself in trouble. I’m not going to go in detail on this one since most of us cannot own it.
We have discussed about opening mechanism, let’s discuss what qualities one opening mechanism should have:
- Solid Opening: You are in an emergency situation. You pull out your knife, try to open up the blade but it is not opening. It is jammed. You cannot take your blade out. You don’t want that? Right?. Therefore, before you buy an EDC knife, make sure you take a good look at their opening mechanisms and how reliable are they. Read the reviews on Google or on Amazon.
- One-Hand Opening: One of your hands is tied to something and now you only have one hand to open your EDC knife? Can you do that with one hand? If yes, that’s a good quality knife. A good opening mechanism. If not, put down the knife and try searching for another one. I personally prefer EDC knives that can be opened with one hand. There is no hard and fast rule. It’s just a personal preference.
- Manual vs Assisted Opening: By now, you know about the manual and assisted opening mechanism. The choice is yours now. Do you want a manual opening knife or the one with the assisted opening? The price is going to be different based on the opening mechanism. It’s worth going for an assisted opening mechanism if you are buying an EDC knife for self-defense.
The next thing, you might want to consider is a locking mechanism. You don’t want a knife with weak locking material that might break in your pocket, causing the blade to move freely and even scratch your body.
This is the reason, why many EDC knife owners carefully choose the locking mechanism. They know how important it could be in desperate times.
Following are the common types of locking systems that you would find in most of the everyday carry knives:
Lock back or Lockback
Lock back is more than our next locking system. During the cutting session, the lock would be out of the way which wouldn’t cause any trouble during knife use. The only downside is, it’s harder to close. It would be hard to lock the knife with one hand. This video shows how lock-back works.
Example of Lockback: Buck 110 Slim Lockback Knife
I am not going to go into the technical details of the liner lock as it would confuse many of you. This lock is located on the same side as the sharp side of the blade. When the blade is pushed inside the handle, the spring bar, used in this mechanism, is held under tension and locks the knife.
Example of Liner Lock: Eafengrow 0456 Tactical Everyday Carry Knife
Frame locks are more secure than liner locks. The spring bar is located in the handle. The working of frame lock is the same as of that liner lock.
Personally, I would buy a knife with a lock back or frame lock. It’s not that the liner lock knives are less secure, well technically they are a little less secure than both lock back and framework. This doesn’t mean that the mechanism would fail and the blade would pop out and hurt you.
Example of Frame Lock: Eafengrow EF905 EDC Knife
As we discussed, there are different state laws for everyday carry knives. Before buying one, you must check the legal status of that knife in your state. Under 2.5’’ blade length wouldn’t cause any trouble in almost every state but after that, you might have to check your state law.
We would soon be adding resources related state laws on EDC knives, till then you can read about your state law here.
The next important factor and one the most is the blade selection. Different brands provide different blades depending upon the prices. There are certain things you need to keep in mind before selecting the type of blade. These are:
The most important part of the blade is steel. The material of which blade is made up of. Steel determines many things – knife’s cutting power, the toughness of blade, durability and much more.
The key thing in the quality of steel is the cost. The higher the cost, the better the steel would be.
Cheaper quality knives have not so good steel. It might break into two pieces during cutting or while sharpening a knife. There are generally two types of steel used in a knife i.e. stainless and carbon steel.
For now, just remember that carbon steel is easier to sharpen while stainless steel is corrosion resistant. Following are the things; you should look for in good blade steel:
- Hardness: There is a common misconception that the harder the blade the better it is. This is absolutely wrong. You do not want a blade that is so hard that it can’t be sharpened and it would end up becoming brittle. On the other side, if the hardness isn’t up to mark, the steel would break in pieces. You want a blade that is neither too hard nor too soft.
- Sharpness: What’s the use of a knife if it’s not sharp enough. You do not need a knife that loses its sharpness over repetitive use easily. Surely, knives would become dull overtime – some slowly, some quickly. Make sure you look for steel, that is easy to sharpen and does not loses its sharpness quickly. The sharpness is determined by the amount of carbon in the steel.
- Rust Resistance: You would have observed by now, that there are some knives which are not rust-resistant but there are some which do not get rusty easily. One of them consists of stainless steel, and the other one consists of carbon steel. Non-stainless-steel knives need special attention to keep the rust away while stainless-steel knives do not need much maintenance.
There are several blade shapes available for EDC knives. I will discuss the most common ones in the simplest words I can:
Tanto blade is one of the strongest blades out there. It is great at piercing and has a stronger tip. Below is an image of a knife with a Tanto blade:
Example of Tanto Blade: Smith & Wesson Border Guard SWBG10S
Trailing Point Blade
Processing fish? Looking for more precision? The trailing point blade is the kind of blade you would have to look for. Below is how a trailing point blade looks like:
Example: KUBEY KU150 EDC Folding Pocket Knife
One of my most favorite blades of all time. It cuts down to the target with amazing precision. Below is an image of a knife with a Wharncliffe blade:
Example: Spyderco C11FPWCBK Delica 4
Interested in carving things? Looking for a safer blade that won’t poke you up if a knife slips from your hand? Look no further. Sheepsfoot blade is great at carving staff. In fact, it’s one of the safest ones.
Example: Old Timer 8OT Senior
Clip Point Blade
Another great blade for piercing. Though, I am no fan of clip point blade but it’s worth the price. Below is a picture of clip point blade:
Example: Smith & Wesson Extreme Ops SWA24S
Drop Point Blade
Drop Point and Clip Point blade are somewhat similar in shape. Though, many would not be able to differentiate between the two. This is how a drop point blade looks like:
There is no specific thing that this blade is linked to. It’s a multi-purpose blade and can proved to be handy in many cases.
Example: Schrade SCHF57 Drop Point Knife
Spear Point Blade
Probably, you would have guessed the shape of the blade by its name. The shape is exactly like a spear. The tip of the blade is extremely strong due to its shape. It can be used to make holes in strong materials.
This is an image of a Spear point blade:
Example: Cold Steel 27TDS Micro Recon 1
Edge of the Blade
There are different types of edges. The most common ones are straight or flat, serrated and a combination of both. Depending upon your day to day usage, you can either buy a straight or serrated edged knife or the one that comes with both. Currently, I’m using the combination edge knife. Here’s the image:
Let me put it in simple words. Finishing is an additional layer of protection of your blade. The better the finishing is, the higher the protection would be. Many wouldn’t consider finishing a factor in choosing a good knife but we do. Every single penny counts so do finishing.
Remember, good finishing comes with additional costs. Low-end knives would not have good finishing due to their low prices.
A good finishing prevents protection against rusting. Stainless steel knives come with amazing finishing. So, if you are buying a stainless-steel knife, don’t bother thinking about finishing. Just pick it up and pay the price.
Handle Style Type
It doesn’t matter much, but handles and grips can be a make or break thing for some people. If you are not comfortable with holding the knife, it doesn’t matter how good the blade is, how cost-effective the knife is, you shouldn’t buy one.
It’s a matter of personal preference, buy a knife with a grip that is most comfortable for you. Simple as that. Don’t overthink.
Backpack vs Pocket
Some people prefer to put their everyday carry knife in their backpack. Not sure why, but they do. I always say, if it can’t fit in a pocket, it ain’t an EDC knife. I know many of you would disagree with me on it and that’s OK.
Before you buy an EDC knife, make sure you realize how you would be carrying the knife. If you want to put it in your pocket, buy a small size pocket knife preferably with a clip.
If you would be traveling around, with a backup and an everyday carry knife inside it, you would want to buy a bigger size knife. An EDC knife with a blade size of bigger than 3.5’’.
The next thing, you might want to consider is the weight of the knife. It is not easy to walk around with a heavy knife in your pocket. You would feel uncomfortable. Although, for backpackers, it won’t matter much and you can simply ignore the weight.
Let us answer some of the most frequently asked questions.
This is a very broad question. There are tons of brands out there. My most favorite ones are Spyderco, Cold Steel, CRKT, Benchmade and Ontario
Pocket knives are not illegal. There are different state laws. Before buying an everyday carry knife, make sure to read your state laws.
Some of the common uses include: opening packages, cutting fruits, whittling, cutting ropes, etc.
This was our detailed guide on buying an EDC knife. If you have any suggestions, or if you think I have left out anything, please feel free to comment below with your valuable suggestion.