Since about 2010, the term “EDC knife” has taken off, putting a name to a concept mankind has practiced for millenia. While laws and regulations have ebbed and flowed over the years, the tradition of carrying a compact, lightweight blade with you every moment of the day is one worthy of preservation. Whether you are a retired Ranger ready to roll at the first sign of trouble, an active duty aviator supplementing your survival kit, or a professional paramedic handling the traumas of civilian life, a quality EDC blade is an essential tool for your work and daily life. Sure, a Space Force guardian may never go down on a hostile planet, but a reliable knife sure could come in handy during the next family campout.
There are plenty of EDC knives on the market. Here’s how to choose yours.
Ontario Knife Company RAT II
Finding a quality blade for less than $50 can be quite a challenge, but when you take a look at the Ontario Knife Company RAT II, you will agree that the task is not an impossible one. The straight back blade comes with a straight, non-serrated edge and consists of easily-sharpened AUS-8 steel with a satin finish, an excellent choice for slicing and cutting chores. The 4.1-inch stainless steel frame features textured nylon scales for an inexpensive yet solid grip. The removable pocket clip may be positioned on either side of the knife and at either end for a total of four different orientations, while the dual thumb studs and liner lock make for easy and safe deployments. This folding knife comes with a three-inch blade which is legal to carry in most states, and unlike most folders, the RAT II has an offset blade, creating a unique aesthetic. [Buy]
Spyderco Delica4 Lightweight
Few blade makers have a reputation like Spyderco, which is one of the many reasons to take a close look at the Spyderco Delica4 Lightweight. This 7.15-inch knife comes with a 2.9-inch blade constructed of VG-10 steel which has an excellent balance of edge retention, ease of sharpening, and corrosion resistance. The spear-like, non-serrated drop point blade handles cutting and slicing tasks with ease while also making perforations a breeze. The four-position pocket clip and thumb hole allow for easy storage and deployment, while the back lock keeps the blade secure while the blade is in use. The stainless steel frame boasts skeletonized liners for decreased weight, and the ergonomic handle combines with jimping on the blade’s spine for maximum comfort and safety. To top things off, the Delica4 Lightweight offers a variety of handle colors, giving every user the perfect hue to match their taste. [Buy]
If you joined the Army because the Boy Scouts did not prepare you enough for life, then the Kershaw Barricade may just be the EDC knife for you. This knife comes with a 3.5-inch drop point blade made of 8Cr13MoV steel sporting a corrosion-resistant black-oxide finish, a seat belt cutter, and a carbide glass breaker on the butt. The pocket clip keeps the knife close at hand. The SpeedSafe Assisted Opening lever allows for incredibly swift, one-handed manual deployment without the use of springs, while the thumb studs offer a more traditional solution. Once deployed, the liner lock secures the blade, so you can keep your mind on the task at hand. The non-serrated blade is ideal for slicing, cutting, and perforating tasks, while the glass-filled nylon scales are bright orange for clear visibility in high-stress situations. [Buy]
Victorinox Swiss Army Classic SD
For some, a simple Swiss Army knife may be the only tool they ever need, or it may serve as an admin tool, preserving the blade on a self-defense EDC blade. Either way, this Victorinox Swiss Army Classic SD is a true winner. This keychain knife includes everything you would expect on a basic pocket knife while screaming ‘Murica to everyone around. The stainless steel drop point blade is accompanied by a nail file, a flat head screwdriver, miniature scissors, tweezers, a toothpick, and a keyring, all necessary tools for the most basic of EDC applications and then some. Even the most blade-shy individual will appreciate this knife, and with Old Glory proclaiming patriotism like Paul Revere on his midnight ride, how can you go wrong? [Buy]
If you need a simple, straightforward self-defense knife with a fixed blade that can also handle the occasional daily chore, then go with your gut and grab a SOG Instinct. This knife features a 2.3-inch blade and measures in overall at 5.9 inches. The tang and clip point blade consist of 5Cr15MoV steel with a polished satin finish, and the G-10 handle combines with the finger grooves and jimping to provide a solid grip. The steep clip point blade can handle slices, cuts, and perforations with ease. Weighing only 2.3 ounces, the Instinct works nicely as a neck knife, yet the sheath’s clip allows it to adapt to other carry locations as necessary, such as a boot or belt. When it comes to selecting a lightweight, affordable fixed blade knife, always trust your Instinct. [Buy]
Gerber GDC Money Clip
Anyone familiar with everyday carry knives understands the value of a versatile blade, but even in their wildest dreams, few would ever have imagined a knife like the Gerber GDC Money Clip. This tiny fixed blade knife combines two pieces of common EDC gear into a single unit. The 1.75-inch drop point blade is ideal for a ton of daily slicing and cutting chores, from opening boxes to slicing tomatoes. (Ok, so maybe cherry tomatoes. Don’t judge.) This knife’s tang includes a finger slot with an opposing jimped thumb rest to increase security while using the blade. The engraveable sheath doubles as a money clip, capable of hosting up to five credit cards or a number of bills, and its G-10 front plate makes removing it from your pocket easy as pie. The entire set consists of corrosion-resistant materials and finishes, including a titanium coating. [Buy]
KA-BAR Original TDI
Ever since Marines started storming beaches in the Pacific during World War II, the KA-BAR name has been forever associated with combat knives. The KA-BAR Original TDI builds on the reputation with its combat-ready design. The black powder-coated AUS-8A blade sits at an aggressive angle on this fixed blade knife which, when paired with the included sheath, sits in the perfect position for deployment in extremely close quarters struggles. This knife was designed for last-ditch use in self-defense situations, and the black Zytel scales solidify your grip, enhancing your control over the 2 15/16-inch blade. At only 5 5/8-inch inches long, this knife conceals well, particularly when mounted behind a belt. While the straight edge and drop point blade on this knife would usually make it an excellent tool for regular tasks, this guy may not be your best bet if you need something for breaking down boxes. [Buy]
Related: The 6 best pocket knives for your everyday carry
Types of EDC knives
- Folding knife: An EDC knife must be compact and lightweight, so you may find yourself looking at a folding knife. Unlike the Army’s M9 bayonet or the Marine Corps’ OKC-3S, a folding blade can easily disappear into most pockets yet still be at the ready. Except for the smallest designs, quality folding knives include a locking system designed to keep your fingers attached to your hand under even the most strenuous exertions.
- Fixed blade knife: While folding knives tend to be lighter and more compact than their fixed blade counterparts, there are times when a rigid fixed blade knife is the only tool for your EDC application. A stiff, single piece of steel lends itself particularly well to use for prying and other heavy-duty applications, and when it comes to self-defense, no option is better suited to the role. Of course, for personal safety reasons, make sure to find one with a quality sheath.
Key features of EDC knives
- Blade construction: When purchasing any knife, always learn about the blade’s construction material and finish. Avoid buying “stainless steel” or “carbon steel” for serious blades. Instead, do some research to learn the pros and cons of various steels and how each material applies to your intended use(s). These guides by Knife Informer and Blade HQ are great starting points, both outlining the hardness, edge retention, and corrosion resistance of most popular knife steels on today’s market.
- Blade edge and shape: An EDC knife can be an intensely personal tool, selected to accomplish specific tasks, and a blade’s edge and shape directly affect how well a particular knife can complete these objectives. Blade edges may be straight, serrated, and “half-and-half”, whereas blade shapes, such as the clip point, drop point, and tanto, specialize in a variety of tasks with differing pros and cons. (Knife Buzz’s blade shape guide outlines the pros and cons of each design.)
- Grip: A knife’s grip serves as the interface between man (or woman) and blade. Most knives feature scales that mount to either side of the tang, providing you with a solid grip on your knife. Commonly, knife scales are made with wood, nylon, G-10, or aluminum, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. A few knives skip the scales altogether, resulting in a “skeletonized” handle made of pure steel and occasionally wrapped in paracord.
- Carry and deployment: A good EDC knife is easy to both carry and deploy. Many folding knives rely on a pocket clip to secure them in place, and quality folding knives depend on extra features to facilitate the deployment. Manual deployment relies on a nail groove, thumb lugs, a thumb hole, or a flip lever. Spring-assisted blades are easier and faster to deploy, although their legality varies by state. In contrast, fixed blades reside in a simple sheath.
Benefits of EDC knives
Despite being perceived as a men’s tool, the EDC knife has got to be the best tool anyone could ever buy, regardless of their testosterone level. An EDC knife can accomplish the most mundane of daily tasks, from opening letters and boxes to removing loose thread. Even the least experienced knife user can find solid uses for a small Swiss Army knife. That said, larger EDC knives are plenty capable of much more serious applications. In emergency situations, they can (carefully) slice through seat belts following an auto accident, and blades purpose-built for first responders can break windows for quick extractions. Many people also rely on their EDC knife for self-defense, sometimes buying blades designed specifically for that role when a defensive firearm is difficult or impossible to access. Of course, the number one survival tool is a quality knife, making your EDC knife a must-have asset in a worst-case scenario.
EDC knife pricing
Due to their varying sizes and styles, EDC knives can span the gamut of pricing options, but that said, they tend to fall into one of three categories. Knives under $50 fall into the “affordable” category, making both folding and fixed blade options available to virtually anyone. That said, as a general rule of thumb, avoid buying anything with an MSRP below $15, as these blades usually lack quality and/or include blades that dull or rust very quickly. EDC knives between $50 and $100 combine quality steel with good engineering and a reasonable price tag, which means you almost cannot go wrong with any option in this price range. Of course, if you find a knife going for over $100, you can expect to walk away with a mass-produced (or custom) blade that will last for quite a long time.
Related: 9 of the best survival knives money can buy
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