How to cut through all the options to choose the right knife for you.
With its simple design, relatively small size and indelible connection to American boyhood, it’s easy to underestimate the pocket knife. And, yet, pocket knives have been one of man’s most trusted tools for millennia—dating back to the Iron Age some 3,000 years ago.
So what is it about pocket knives that they remain so indispensable, even after sweeping technological advances made over thousands of years?
“They’re still one of our most valuable tools because they’re versatile, durable and easily accessible,” says Knifeworks owner and founder Roger Claunch. “It’s that simple.”
Simple as that is, buying a pocket knife can be anything but. The humble pocket knife of yore has evolved through time to encompass countless features, alone and in combination. Buyers now have thousands of models to choose from—making for a potentially confusing, if not downright overwhelming, thought.
To help you cut through all the choices, we’ve put together this Pocket Knife Buying Guide. We walk through the main things to consider so you get the right knife for you.
The most important part of any knife is its blade, and pocket knives offer a range to choose from. There are single-blade, dual-blade, multi-blade and multi-tool (aka Swiss Army) models. Which you choose will depend on how you expect to use your pocket knife most often—or if your goal is having the greatest versatility available in one tool. Once you’ve selected your model check out the manufacturer’s specs. Cheaply made blades won’t maintain an edge, requiring frequent sharpening, and can be dangerous. A well-made pocket knife will stand up to the most demanding task without running the risk of the blade bending or breaking.
For safety, no knife should slip in your hand during use. A well-made pocket knife offers a handle that is substantial and sturdy, with a grip that won’t wear on your skin or cause blisters. Common handle materials include bone, wood, metal and synthetics—all of which are durable and long-lasting. Which you choose will depend on preference, whether your tastes trend toward rustic, classic or the more modern. When choosing a handle, regardless of material, the single most important consideration is that it be comfortable and fit your hand.
Weight & Balance:
Weight and balance are crucial when selecting a pocket knife. Too heavy a knife can cause fatigue during use—and would be a total drag to carry around. If it’s too light or slight, though, you may experience discomfort or cramping by overcompensating in your grip.
A quality pocket knife feels weighty without being heavy and, for safety, is well-balanced between handle and blade when fully extended. A misbalanced pocket knife is more likely to slip out of your hand, which means you’re not only more apt to drop it, increasing the potential for loss, but that also puts you at greater risk for injury should the blade come into contact with your skin on the way down.
Trust & Confidence:
Pocket knives are available just about everywhere you look: from discount retailers to high-end specialty shops. Choosing a trusted retailer can help you sort through all the options.
“Knives are knives when they first come out of the box, meaning they’re all sharp at that point,” Claunch says. “Once you take a knife into your hand and use it? That’s when you know whether what you bought is a finely crafted tool or a paperweight.”
Quality pocket knives are built to last a lifetime, so once you find yours you may want to customize it with laser engraving. An additional advantage: Customization is an effective theft-deterrent.
Knifeworks offers custom laser engraving, produced in-house to pass along savings to customers. Personalized engravings are available on such things as pocket knives, flashlights, flasks, money clips and tools.
Engineering and re-engineering have brought us to the point where one of man’s earliest tools remains one of our most useful. That said, there is no one perfect model that this Pocket Knife Buying Guide, or any other, can point to and say, “Buy This!”
A reputable dealer with specialists on hand can provide knowledgeable customer service to help you find the right knife for you.
Knifeworks was launched in 1998 by Roger Claunch with the mission to meet customer demand by having what they need on hand. As a result, Knifeworks now is one of the largest online knife retailers in the world, with a large in-stock inventory ready to ship.