10 Best Folding Knives 2021

OTF and fixed-blade knives certainly serve their purposes. But when most people hear the term “pocket knife,” they think of a folding knife. Essentially, the blade on a folding knife folds into the inside of the handle. When folded, the cutting edge is covered, and a locking mechanism keeps the knife closed so that you can safely carry it in your pocket.

Of all the various knife types and styles, the folding knife is arguably the most venerable. It’s simply a staple of everyday carry—a symbol of preparedness and practicality. A quality folding knife can be used for a variety of tasks—from first aid and self-defense to fire building and food preparation.

Unsurprisingly, there are countless folding pocket knives on the market, and choosing the best brand and model for your EDC regimen can be challenging. That’s why we’ve done the heavy lifting for you! Here are 10 of our favorite EDC folding knives:

Kershaw Launch

1. Benchmade Bugout  

When it comes to a knife you can count on, it’s tough to beat the Benchmade Bugout. This model lives up to its name; it marries modern technology with traditional characteristics that make it the perfect folding knife for when you need to bug out. Sure, it’s not going to fit in your hand like a fixed blade, but it’s surprisingly comfortable to hold and performs beautifully during most quick EDC tasks.

The Bugout is exceptionally lightweight. It has a slim profile, a thinly ground blade, and a small deep carry clip. The casual onlooker won’t be able to tell that you have a knife in your pocket. This is the model for you if you’re looking for a lightweight, capable folding knife that can deliver in everyday life and tough situations alike.

  • 3.24” CPM-S30V Drop Point Blade
  • Polymer Handle 
  • 7.46” Overall Length
  • 1.85 oz. Total Weight
  • Made in the USA
spyderco para3

2. Spyderco Paramilitary 3

The Spyderco Paramilitary 3 offers many of the same design fundamentals as the Paramilitary 2 (which we’ll cover later). That said, it’s a totally different knife that deserves to be recognized as such.

Perhaps the most impressive aspect of the Para 3 is its versatility—both in performance and carry. It manages to achieve something remarkable: it’s compact and lightweight, yet it doesn’t compromise any practicality. 

The name comes from its three-inch blade. In many areas of the country, it’s illegal to carry a pocket knife with a blade longer than three inches, so the Para 3 is the perfect EDC for such locations. It cuts with the best of them, and its size makes it ideal for detail-oriented tasks. Also, it features an oversized thumb hole opener and Spyderco’s signature compression lock for top-notch deployment and lockup. And the curvature of the G10 handle lends itself to a comfortable, secure grip. 


  • 3.00” Blade
  • G-10 Handle 
  • 7.27” Overall Length
  • 3.00 oz. Total Weight
  • Made in the USA
Benchmade Bailout Knife 537GY-1

3. American Blade Works Model 1

Top-of-the-line, small-batch creations—that’s what American Blade Works has become known for. And the Model 1 serves as the perfect example of what a superb folding knife looks, feels, and cuts like. The design is sleek and smooth. The blade is thicker than most pocket knives, which, combined with its ergonomic handle, helps this knife deliver a powerful punch that many other knives cannot provide. 

If there were a word to sum up the Model 1, it would be “natural.” The flipper-style knife offers a traditional look and feels like an extension of your body when in hand. It’s compact enough to provide a comfortable carry, and it makes an easy task of cutting cardboard, multi-layered duct tape, cords, and other everyday materials. All and all, the Model 1 is a no-nonsense folding knife that would make for a spectacular EDC staple for any knife enthusiast.

  • 3.25” CPM-S35VN Drop Point Blade
  • Canvas Micarta Handle
  • 7.86” Overall Length
  • 3.40 oz. Total Weight
  • Made in the USA
CRKT m16

4. QSP Pelican

The QSP Pelican is a lot of knife for the money. This folding knife’s overall look and function leave no doubt as to why QSP named it the Pelican. Its wide, scooped S35VN blade lends itself to a wide variety of cutting tasks, and you don’t have to worry about frequent corrosion buildup or sharpening maintenance. Thanks to ceramic ball bearings, the knife deploys quickly and easily via a flipper tab, and a stout inner lock keeps the blade securely in place. 

QSP is known for making good knives at a budget-friendly price. But the Pelican offers higher quality materials and makes for a better overall tool than other QSP models. It’s not the most compact knife on the market, but it doesn’t feel too large. If you want a great-cutting EDC knife with a distinct look and quality materials, the Pelican is an excellent candidate. 

  • 3.75” CPM-S35VN Wharncliffe Blade
  • Micarta Handle
  • 8.25” Overall Length
  • 4.74 oz. Total Weight
  • Made in China
Kershaw Leek for sale

5. Kershaw Leek

The Kershaw Leek is one of the best-selling knives of all time. Designed by Ken Onion, this model (and all the variants it comes in) appeals to a wide range of knife enthusiasts—from those who are looking for a staple EDC to those simply adding to their knife collection. 

Perhaps the most significant selling point for the Leek is that it hits a sweet spot in size. The blade is precisely three inches long, the overall length of the knife is seven inches, and the knife weighs three ounces. These measurements are about as ideal as you will find for an EDC. Plus, the knife sits so neatly in your pocket that you can forget it’s there!

The Leek has been criticized for a thin blade tip that breaks easily. But that same blade tip also makes it one of the best pocket knives for precision tasks. Moreover, the handle is known for being a little slippery. Still yet, considering the budget-friendly price, there’s no doubt the Leek is a tremendous value. 

  • 3.0” 14C28N Wharncliffe Blade
  • Stainless Steel Handle
  • 7.0” Overall Length
  • 3.0 oz. Total Weight
  • Made in the USA
Kershaw Leek for sale

6. Gerber Flatiron

It’s not the first pocket cleaver to hit the market, but it’s perhaps the first one to offer such an excellent design in the budget price bracket. The Gerber Flatiron serves as a good tool for precision carving, food prep, and chopping. But its charm lies in its ergonomics. The thin, deep handle fills your hand comfortably, and there’s an aggressive curve at the end of the handle to aid grip. Also, there’s a prominent finger choil that allows you to choke up on the blade (as opposed to many other finger choils that don’t really work). 

The Flatiron also feels great in the pocket. The curve at the end of the handle helps it ride comfortably and securely in the pocket—whether you’re climbing, hiking, jumping, or doing countless other activities. Need a good pocket cleaver? Look no further. 

  • 3.6” 7Cr17MoV Cleaver Blade
  • G10 or Aluminum Handle
  • 8.5” Overall Length
  • 5.1 oz. (G10) or 5.61 oz. (Aluminum) Total Weight
  • Made in China
Kershaw Leek for sale

7. Benchmade 940

The perfect EDC may not exist, but the Benchmade 940 comes about as close as it gets. The S30V premium stainless steel blade offers excellent edge retention. You can use this folding knife for a wide array of EDC jobs for months without sharpening it, and when you do have to sharpen it, it’s easy peasy. 

The 940 is an attractive knife that feels as comfortable in the hand as you’re going to find. It has a solid lock-up, it’s sturdy, and it’s durable. Sand, snow, mud, grime? No sweat. This may not be the cheapest folding knife on the list, but it’s hands down one of the best. 

  • 3.4” CPM-S30V Reverse Tanto Blade
  • Aluminum Handle
  • 7.87” Overall Length
  • 2.9 oz. Total Weight
  • Made in the USA
Kershaw Leek for sale

8. Benchmade Griptilian

It goes without saying that Benchmade makes some popular folding knives. And all things considered, this one may be the most popular. In short, the Griptilian delivers on its branding as an all-purpose knife. It comes in large or small variants, and each model is incredibly versatile. It will cut through just about anything (within EDC parameters) and stay sharp for months on end. 

Like the other Benchmade models on this list, the Griptilian comes with a top-notch locking mechanism. And it makes that all-satisfying “snap” when it opens. If you’re a Benchmade fan and are looking for a reliable EDC folding knife that’s closer to the budget price bracket, this is your knife. 

  • 3.45” CPM-20CV Sheepsfoot Blade
  • G-10 Handle
  • 8.07” Overall Length
  • 4.17 oz. Total Weight
  • Made in the USA
Kershaw Leek for sale

9. Spyderco Paramilitary 2 

We’ve come to expect high quality from Spyderco. The Colorado-based knifemaker is known for producing innovative folding knives that offer stellar performance and impressive practicality. And the Paramilitary 2 is no exception. In fact, many knife enthusiasts consider this model the gold standard of EDC folding knives. 

The Para 2 is stable in hand yet lightweight. It comes with Spyderco’s trademark hole in the blade, which is as functional as it is attractive. It will cut through all kinds of materials with ease and hold its edge with the best of them. The overall design of this knife is a step up from its predecessor—the Paramilitary—which is a world-class knife in its own right. The Para 2 is simply something to covet. 

  • 3.44” CPM-S30V Clip Point Blade
  • G-10 Handle
  • 8.28” Overall Length
  • 3.75 oz. Total Weight
  • Made in the USA
Kershaw Leek for sale

10. SOG Terminus

Similar to brands like Kershaw and Gerber, SOG is well-known to sporting goods enthusiasts. And for a significant period, SOG catered to big box stores by way of maximizing affordability and volume. Not surprisingly, this made a negative impact on the quality and desirability of their knives. 

That’s why many people were shocked when the Terminus was released. If there is a knife that could redeem SOG without exiting the budget price bracket, this is it. And, indeed, it may have done just that. 

The Terminus is a great EDC knife that looks, feels, and performs better than its price suggests. With exceptional lockup and deployment, versatile cutting capabilities, and a formidable blade steel that’s relatively new to the market (Carpenter Technology’s CTS-BDZ1), there’s nothing wrong with making this folding knife your go-to EDC. 

  • 3” CTS-BDZ1 Drop Point Blade
  • G-10 Handle
  • 7” Overall Length
  • 2.9 oz. Total Weight
  • Made in China

The Sum-Up 

Of all the items in your EDC collection, nothing is more vital than your go-to folding knife. So when it comes time to choose the EDC you’ll be carrying from day to day, you need to consider all of your options. 

Each model on this list is an excellent folding knife with its own qualities and perks. And any one of them would make for a legitimate addition to your EDC regimen. Think about the tasks you come across each day, assess your price point, and follow your gut!

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