Do you have too much money in your pockets, but not nearly enough knives? If so, I envy your problems, but that won’t stop me from helping you. Here are four (or five) of the best premium pocket knives out there.
Whether you’re a collector, or you just want to splash some cash on the only knife you’ll ever need, you might think you want a high-end knife. Unfortunately, giant Bowie knives went out with the 19th century, so for this list, our focus is on folding pocket knives.
Why Go Premium?
It’s a fair question. A super pricey knife from a renowned creator is quite different from something you grab on sale at the bait shop. However, they’re both sharp bits of metal, and they both cut open an Amazon Prime box just fine.
So, why go premium? Allow me to answer this question with another question: why buy a Rolex? Actually, I’m not sure why, but people do. The point is, the Rolex doesn’t give you more or better time. A cheap digital watch probably keeps time more reliably. Sometimes, a person just wants something special or rare, instead of something cheap and mass-produced.
If that sounds like you, then you probably see the value in a $500 pocketknife. If it doesn’t, I threw in a couple of great ones that cost significantly less, but they’re still what I’d call “high-end.” They’re kind of like a nice Swiss Army watch—good manufacturer, solid construction, reliable, but not much of a status symbol.
Best Overall: Emerson Sheep Dog
This is my personal favorite, and not just because I love dogs. The Emerson Sheep Dog blends a lot of really nice features shared by other knives on this list. It has a 3.5-inch blade and an 8.4-inch overall length when opened. It’s a good size for everyday carry. Unless you work at an airport pretzel shop, in which case do not carry the knife every day.
Much like a real sheepdog, the Sheep Dog is robust. However, this knife has an easy-open flipper and ambidextrous thumb studs (features I can’t shoehorn into another knife/dog analogy).
This knife also comes with a ball-bearing deployment system, which means you can open it smoothly. In theory, you could bust this knife open and harvest the ball bearings to make your skateboard faster. But since it typically costs over $200, that’d be a silly thing to do—even if you were strong enough to do it.
One of my favorite things about the Sheep Dog is the groove/bolster for your index finger and thumb. This is great for indexing the blade, and it prevents your hand from sliding up the handle and onto the edge. It gives the knife a “combat-ready” quality that’s also handy for practical use. If you want to stab a can of lima beans without cutting yourself, the Sheep Dog is probably your safest option on this list.
Emerson Sheep Dog - Spear Point Blade - Folding Knife with Wave SF
The Emerson Sheep Dog is beefy and somehow marries tactical with practical, all at a relatively mid-range price.
Best Premium: CRK Sebenza 31
Astrophysicists refer to the CRK Sebenza 31 as the “God Knife.” Well, they should, because it’s knife-maker Chris Reeve’s masterpiece line. Remember the Rolex analogy from earlier? The CRK Sebenza is the Rolex of pocket knives, and it’s considered the ultimate everyday carry knife.
But aside from uploading pictures of the Sebenza to “r/knives/” to make other knife nerds jealous, what can you do with it that you can’t do with other, cheaper knives?
Well, I don’t know, but consider this: sometimes, the purpose of great art is to raise questions, not answer them. And knife aficionados consider the CRK Sebenza knives works of art.
And what do these cost? Heh. My friend, if you have to ask, perhaps the next option on this list is the knife for you. But feel free to check out the Sebenza anyway at the link below.
Best Budget: Kershaw Blur
The Kershaw Blur is the cheapest knife on our list (unless you find a free CRK Sebenza 31 in the trash). It’s so cheap, I tried to buy it for my dad as a birthday gift. This knife has assisted-open deployment, which means you start to open it yourself, and then the knife helps you open it the rest of the way.
Unfortunately, this also means you can’t order this knife from Amazon and have it shipped to Massachusetts or New York. The Northeastern work ethic demands the owner of a knife must perform in full all necessary labor to open the blade. Or, rather, the legislative language on assisted-open knives is fuzzy enough that Amazon won’t ship these knives to either of those states.
The assisted open thing is a pretty cool feature. Knives that are tricky to open are more dangerous, and fixed-blade knives are always open, so—anyway, I digress.
The Blur earns its Best Budget spot on this list because Kershaw is a solid brand, and this is not a low-end knife. It generally costs the better half of $100, so the Blur is a premium knife anyone can afford. And it comes in fun colors and finishes, like stonewashed and tiger-striped blades.
Kershaw Blur, Olive/Black Pocket Knife (1670OLBLK); 3.4” Black DLC-Coated 14C28N Steel Blade, Olive Anodized Aluminum Handle, Black Trac-Tec Inserts, SpeedSafe Opening, Reversible Pocketclip; 3.9 OZ
Kershaw makes a good, quality knife, and the Blur won't cost you hundreds.
Best EDC: Benchmade 940
Depending on your local laws, any of the knives on our list are appropriate for everyday carry (EDC), but the Benchmade 940 is optimized for it. Reversible pocket clip: check. Aluminum handle for weight reduction: you bet. Slim design: yeah.
Basically, the Benchmade 940 keeps itself light and tight. It also sports a reverse-tanto blade profile, which is unusual these days but is similar to the seax, a knife that was very popular in the Dark Ages. Those knives didn’t fold, though.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t give an honorable mention to the Spyderco Endura 4, as she’s a fine little everyday carry pocketknife, too. Spyderco had to appear somewhere on this list (even if it is tucked away inside another knife’s rundown). Also slim and light, the Spyderco has a fiberglass-reinforced nylon handle. The knife is flat ground straight from the spine to the edge. This means it’s optimized for sharpness and has less blade mass, which drops its overall weight. It also costs a fair bit less.
Benchmade - 940 EDC Manual Open Folding Knife Made in USA, Reverse Tanto Blade, Plain Edge, Satin Finish, Green Handle
The Benchmade 940 is a great, lightweight knife with a relatively unique blade profile, perfect for non-burdensome everyday carry.