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5 Reasons to Ditch Your Pocket Clip

Here’s a shocking fact for you youngins: The pocket clip is a relatively new invention in the history of knives.

Depending on how you define it, the pocket knife was invented more than 2,000 years ago. By comparison, the pocket clip on knives was introduced in the early 1980s. Sal Glesser of Spyderco created the “Clip-it” Worker, which was essentially the first tactical folder ever and the first to use a pocket clip. That knife went into production in 1981.

Although pocket clips are on pretty much every single folding knife these days, people went without clips for thousands of years. Here are five reasons you may want to ditch your pocket clip.

1. Some clips create hot spots

One of the most common complaints people levy against pocket clips is the fact that they create “hot spots.” No, that doesn’t mean you’ll get better WiFi. A hot spot on a pocket clip is when there’s unwanted tension or discomfort in a specific area of the grip.

sebenza-25

For example, a pocket clip may put some pressure right in your palm, causing pain during regular use. Some complain about the clip on the Chris Reeve Sebenza 25 because the tip bends up right where the middle finger grips the choil. Take a look at this complaint thread over at bladeforums with an image.

Some knife makers will really think through the shape and position of the pocket clip to minimize hot spots, but it’s hard to create a pocket clip that’s functional and comfortable. The best solution? Ditch it.

2. Pocket clips can ruin the aesthetics of a knife

A pocket clip is convenient. There’s no doubt about that. However, some knife makers add the clip as an afterthought, which can result in a design that looks rushed or clashes with the aesthetics of the knife. Or the clip may just look downright homely.

Take the poor discontinued Kershaw Needs Work, for example. The clip goes with the Ken Onion design, but it’s hideous and doesn’t really do its job well. Needs Work indeed.

kershaw-needs-work

Some of the most attractive knives don’t have any pocket clips. Look at nearly any Case slipjoint and you’ll forget all about that ugly old pocket clip.

Plus, if you’re a little OCD and need things to be symmetrical, you’ll finally have your wish.

3. Clips can enter hazy legal territory

I discussed this in a blog post earlier this year, but pocket clips can be considered both open carry and concealed carry, depending on where you’re at. Some police officers may see a clip in your pocket and consider it open carry and others may argue it’s concealed. Ambiguous knife laws often don’t discuss pocket clips, leaving it open to interpretation.

IMG_0190-768x591

So if you live in a city with stringent or confusing knife laws, it’s better to carry your knife in your pocket so people can’t see it. And since the knife is deep in your pocket, you might as well take off the clip.

4. Removing clips cut down on thickness

Knives are thinner and sleeker than ever, so why would you want to bog down your knife with a thick, bulky clip?

IMG_0659

Many people hate the rigid clip of the CRKT GSD, but I actually like it. In fact, it was my EDC for quite some time. The only issue is that it makes the knife nearly twice as thick. At that point, it’s almost easier to carry it on a belt sheath or with a lanyard.

Other knives like the Kershaw Leek have clips that are needlessly long. Both of these just make the knives larger and more unwieldy.

5. One-position clips are limiting

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Not all knives come with four-position clips. The CRKT Fossil is a fantastic knife with a unique look (and a former Badass Knife of the Week), but it only comes with a two-position clip.

Without a four-position clip, your ability to carry a knife the way you want, in the pocket you want is severely limited. If you have a knife with one of the standard tip-down, right-hand carry, you should take the pocket clip off.


Tim

Timothy Martinez Jr. is the community director for Knife Depot and the editor of The Cutting Edge. If you have any questions or ideas for The Cutting Edge, you can contact him at Tim@knife-depot.com.
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52 Comments

  1. If you use your knife everyday for work the clip can come in handy.
    You don’t have to dig in your pocket to find it especially if you slide other tools in that pocket as well and for me it’s more comfortable than a knife laying sideways in the bottom of my pocket.
    Now outside of work it’s a different story.

    • True enough, about having other things in your work pants. I have been using the Schrade Cliphanger for years. A clip attaches to your belt loop like a carabiner, with a nylon strap and a clip at the end one deploys single handed. The knife is deep in your pocket. I even have the little # 3 mini one–I guess I could carry that almost as EDC except it’s not big enough for me.
      I wanted to mention that my biggest problem carrying a knife clipped to my backor even at the side of my front jeans pocket is that it kept coming off, especially when driving. But I have also lost a couple somehow ghat way.

      • I forget sometimes that the people that write these articles are just that, writers. They’re not blue collar workers with pockets full of tools. Different worlds.

        • 100% agree. I’m a 50% white collar therapist that ALWAYS carries a knife, and 50% blue collar trucker (when I need a break from the confinement of the prison like office. I find the best prose can be attributed to the men and women from the field testifying to their real life experiences in everyday diction.

          • I use tools other than the big blade on my SAK so often at work (construction) that carrying any of the knives pictured is a laughable waste of time. SAKs don’t hold an edge well, sure, but that’s what razor knives are for (fixed blade, none of this weak retractable stuff – those don’t last a week). My cybertool 34 is worth its weight in gold for the time it’s saved at work.

            I came to this particular article seeking a good clip to let it dangle in my pocket, cause yeah, between keys and change, that thing can be impossible to find.

  2. Jeff Nicholson

    July 5, 2016 at 9:08 am

    You didn’t mention the destruction to the pocket caused by some knives. I love my Blurs, but they are hell on pockets.

    Most of us “old timers” who grew up carrying Bucks don’t think twice about just dropping the knife down in the pocket.

    • Tim

      July 5, 2016 at 10:54 am

      Ah, I knew I forgot a reason. I even wrote an article all about it a few months back. Maybe I’ll add it as a bonus reason. Thanks for the input.

      • My crkt fossil doesn’t have a 2 position clip. Just 1

      • Dan Schwemin Jr.

        April 6, 2017 at 12:27 pm

        Yeah, I was going to mention the whole “pocket destruction” thing too! Cold Steel folders are NOTORIOUS for wearing holes through people’s pockets because their folders generally have such aggressive tractioned handles (btw- exactly who are these people that need THAT much traction anyways!?), and they don’t create a smooth spot on the handle scales where the clip rests against the scale to cut down on pocket wear either….

        I’m also left handed, so frankly I was excited to come across this article! For some reason it’s 2017 and knife makers STILL HAVEN’T FIGURED OUT that there are LEFT HANDED users on this planet! In fact, recent studies are estimating between 20-30% of the population is left handed! Frankly, it’s just angering at this point! What’s more, is when knife makers produce folders with ambi thumb studs, but only the ability for right-handed clip orientations… It’s just a kick in the balls… I mean, they already went as far as to make the knife have ambi thumb studs, so why didn’t they finish the job and drill holes for left hand pocket carry too?! I just don’t get it…

        Point being, there are many great knives that hit the market that don’t allow for left hand carry, and so I’ve become accustomed to simply removing the clip all together and just carrying the knife in the pocket as I would a WR Case or SAK, otherwise I would be forced to miss out on many great knives simply because the designer/maker were too ignorant to allow for ambidextrous use/carry. I don’t really see any disadvantage to not having a pocket clip, and I use my knives CONSTANTLY! So I really don’t get some of these people commenting here complaining about having to go into their “crowded” pockets and spend a half second longer to access their knife…. Frankly, I’d love to know how they would have survived before 1981! LOL. **Head explodes!** Like you said, people have been carrying folders for hundreds of years without pocket clips.

        Oh, and another thing I don’t like about pocket clips is that they often bend and stick up off the knife. It’s ugly as hell and resembles a mangled pocket clip on a pen! Lol Also, sanitation is always a concern of mine when it comes to using knives, as I use them for everything. For me, pocket clips generally just get in the way when cleaning the knife, and usually snag and often rip the sponge. Not having a pocket clip on the knife makes the cleaning process go a whole lot easier, even if you’re simply rubbing down the knife with a rubbing alcohol-soaked paper towel.

        Lastly, since I’m left handed, the first thing I would always have to do when receiving a new knife is to switch the pocket clip over for left hand carry, and I’ll be the first to say that I have a strong hatred for those cheap ass, tiny Torx screws that they use. They seem to strip out if you even breath on them too hard! I remember reading an article once that said those Torx screws are usually make from cheap pot metal in China which is why they strip like nobody’s business! Either way, removing the pocket clip also does away with the need for dealing with those stupid screws…. at least a few of them anyways (there’s still the pivot and frame screws of course!).

        So yeah, there’s a few more reasons in favor of removing the pocket clip from a lefty’s perspective. Cheers man!

    • Then remove the clip. That’s all there is to it! If you want a clip on your knife and it has none, you can’t exactly to and tap it for screws. Well, you could. If you had the clip.

    • …and lost many of those Bucks as my Father and Grandfather did.

  3. Looking at that picture of the CRKT Fossil, it has screw holes for right-hand tip-up and tip-down carry, making it a two-position knife.

    • Tim

      July 5, 2016 at 10:52 am

      I thought that too, but the CRKT site says it’s a one-position clip. Could have just been a typo on their site.

      • My CRKT Fossil that I purchased in late 2016 does not have the 2 clip positions as pictured in this article. They must have changed the Fossil to one-position clip at some point.

  4. Number 2 is debatable, at least for me. I’ve never carried a knife for any other reason than to use it. I could care less how it looks, as long as it fits and uses well. Number 3….sheesh if an officer gave me grief over a pocket knife….I don’t want to live in this country anymore. Its unfortunate that it’s true though.

    • And if he pats you down and finds the clip-less (sorry, spell check wanted a stupid hyphen!) knife 100% concealed in your pocket…

      Unlike many of you, probably, I actually HAVE been stopped and frisked – on the fire escape that was the only entrance to my apartment.

    • They have gotten really touchy, depending on your age and look. Us old farts probably don’t have to worry. If the tip of the knife shows too, then I would call that open carry.

  5. I love my knives with pocket clips, especially my Benchmade Mini Griptillian. One problem I have found with the clips is when you have it clipped in your pocket and you brush past a counter or your own car and the clip makes contact with whatever you are walking past the clip could mar the paint or surface of whatever is you come in contact with. I have a nice blemish on the front fender of my truck because I was in a hurry and brushed the paint as I hurried by my truck to answer a phone.

    Would I remove the clip and carry it, no. I like the convenience of the clip.

    I have passed on knife purchases because the clips was to big or uncomfortable to hold. I see the clip as part of the whole package with a knife. The clip must work for me just as the knife would.

    • Tim

      July 5, 2016 at 12:44 pm

      Good point about the scratches. I’ve also given my car a little scratch (ironically from a Benchmade Mini Grip as well). I do understand the convenience of a clip argument. I actually traded my old Mini Grip clip for the new deep-carry one and I find it much better at not tearing up my pants and concealing better.

  6. I find my pocket clip on my knife very useful I don’t like my knife tumbling around and around in my pocket and as far as the police are concerned technically it is open carry because it’s visible concealed carry would be to me in your pocket sight unseen I’ll keep my pocket clip it does just fine for me…..

  7. Good article and valid points. I’m an old-timer and pocket clips might be good on some knives; generally speaking you really don’t need them. Some should never have a pocket clip. For example: the Cold Steel Voyager L and XL folders have a pocket clip that the Incredible Hulk could not move to pop over their pocket. If you can get the clip to actually move away from the rough face of the knife, the combination of the vice-like grip of the clip and the texture of the scales is enough to rip the toughest denim. Lose the clip and the XL Voyager is still an unattractive folder but one of the best, most reliable blades on the planet! Besides a pocket clip on a folder that big is just plain ridiculous. Swiss Army Knives don’t have them… I rest my case.

    • Hello my name is Chuck Rupe I carry a Ozark trail flipper pocket knife. It has a pocket clip. It’s made for right handed people. I am a left handed person. I love having a pocket clip on my pocket knife because it’s easy for me to carry. I’m not going to remove my pocket clip. My clip fits tight in my pocket. I don’t have any problems with mine.

  8. MATT EHRENBERG

    July 5, 2016 at 6:26 pm

    I CARRY A BUCK 110 EVERYDAY IT IS A 2012 PRODUCTION YEAR AND HAS HELD UP WELL TO ME I USE IT AT WORK AND CAMPING ON WEEKENDS ITS BEEN A GOOD KNIFE AND HAS NEVER CAUSED ME A ISSUE AT ALL. I NORMALLY CARRY MY 110 BUT SOMETIME I SWITCH TO MY BUCK 112 DUE TO ITS SMALLER AND LIGHTER WEIGHT. MY BUCK 112 IS A 2014 PRODUCTION YEAR. I OWN QUIT A FEW BUCK KNIVES MOST OF THEM BEING HUNTING KNIVES. IF YOU WANT A GOOD KNIFE GO WITH A BUCK KNIFE EITHER THE 303 CADET, THE BUCK 110 OR THE BUCK 112 . THE CASE FOLDING HUNTER IS ALSO A NICE KNIFE I OWN ONE OF THOSE AS WELL . IF YOU WANT A GOOD KNIFE GO WITH EITHER BUCK OR CASE BRAND. I ALSO OWN TWO OF THE NEWER SERIES OLD TIMER FIXED BLADES THE 152OTBC AND THE 158OT WITH THE GUTHOOK. I HAVE USED THE 152 OTBC A FEW TIMES AND IT WORKS WELL AND SHARPENS NICE CANT WAIT TO TRY THE GUT HOOK VERSION OUT.

  9. MR. A. B. JAMES

    July 5, 2016 at 6:39 pm

    i own both knives in #1 and#2. never thought about clips much, as i carry my knives in my right back pocket. never had a par of pants ruined by a clip. for me this is a non issue. love knives. carry a different one each day!

    • Tim

      July 5, 2016 at 6:49 pm

      To each his own! Just curious, do you clip them to your back pocket or do they go all the way in the pocket?

  10. I carry an Emerson Commander every day, and have for years. The “wave” feature does wear the pocket, if you deploy the blade that way, other than that, the clip has never bothered me (OK, I have scratched a few things by getting close to furniture, etc.). To hold the Commander, the clip does not feel awkward, and it keeps the knife right where I want it, easily at hand. When I go onto a school campus or some such, I often drop it down into my pocket.

  11. I like the clip on my kershaw 6054 model not a knife guy. It opens automatically as I pull it out. Its my more”defensive” knife. I also have a. Cheap Beretta swiss army knife knock off on my key chain with the usual tools screw drivers,saw,etc. Not worried about concealed weapons charge I live in West Virginia and we now have constitutional carry. So the custom Wilson Colt commander light weight 38super is what needs to be brought to law enforcements attention if the situation ever arrives,not a pocket knife. Witch the Kershaw is the most visable of the Pistol, Kershaw or pen knife on my key chain thst is completely in my pocket and had been sense I wad 12 and earned that “right” in boy scouts, when u get your Swiss Army knife certification. The knife was a real victorinox and had boy scout logo on it. Thats my rant on knives.

  12. Bit of a fussy article. None of the points, except with maybe #3 (the legal one, depending on the state), really carry much weight with me. Many of the criticisms are very subjective and based solely on the author’s taste. The benefits of the pocket clip vastly outweigh any of these points. Yes there are bad pocket clips (plastic/polymer, too short, too thin/flimsy), and I think most should be black. Offering more than one clip position should be more common. I think offering two positions is usually plenty, with four a nice luxury but only if the knife design, which is paramount, can properly accommodate them. I think the clip is the best thing since sliced bread. My 18 yr. old son was incredulous when he realized that not too long ago there were no pocket clips on knives. He gave me a look that basically said “were people more feeble minded back then?”

    • Some of us are indeed ‘fussy’ about knives. How they fit our needs, our hands, and our pockets. What works for you, or me, or the author, might be three totally different knives. I own a couple of clip-carry knives and I still edc a Schrade LB-5. Not worried about ‘rapid deployment. ‘

  13. It varies with me. I tend to favor a pocket clip knife when I’m out running or at the gym like my CRKT M-16 10KZ or my Esee Avispa. However when I’m out on the town or at work, I tend to favor something simple like my Boker + Trapper or my Buck 110. A simple trapper or stockman is perfect for any EDC tasks and even outdoor tasks you would require of a knife. My Buck110 I carry either as a trump card or for heavy use.

  14. Here’s one you haven’t mentioned: YOU CAN LOSE YOUR KNIFE! I have a large Sebenza that I love but it has fallen out of my pocket 3 or 4 times. The last time I would have lost it for sure if my friend hadn’t noticed it! Now I carry a Cold Steel Voyager-a very nice knife-and even though it is actually longer it has shown no tendency to come out. I have tried carrying it with a lanyard looped up & over my off shoulder like they used to do with military pistols but that’s kind of funky and a pouch is too slow on the draw. If anybody has any other ideas I’d be to hear them.

  15. I actually tend, like many military personnel, to think that ‘a folding knife is a broken knife’. As an old crock plus a resident of rural Ontario, Canada I have a fair amount of freedom with what I carry. About 10 years ago I was lucky enough to purchase a knife from Columbia River Knife& Tool that came with a paracord type shoulder rig. I carry an old Ed Halligan KISS fixed blade in a Kydex sheath. The blade used to be a tanto style chisel grind with serrations but is now a 3.5 inch plain kind of Scandi grind with a rounded tanto point. It is as sharp as a scalpel, I never even know it is there, and it is the fastest deploy I have ever had. It is obviously very discreet and although I have taken it out many times to assist people who need a sharp knife for a million reasons(yes, cutting a seatbelt was once one of them) I have never had to take it out defensively. I should note that when I was younger I had more than my share of confrontations but I only took out my knife one single time. Even a small knife if it is truly sharp can inflict a terrible wound. These days if I had to defend myself against someone I would probably just hit them with my cane!

  16. Timothy K. Toroian

    February 2, 2017 at 2:16 pm

    I agree with all 5, but you missed #6, I had one clip cause a knife to be lost. First and only time I used a clip.

  17. I carry the Spyderco PM3. I replaced the stock clip with a deep carry clip and it rides perfectly with no hot spots. I don’t like carrying any of my knives in my pocket because they always end up laying on the bottom of the pocket horizontally and I end up fiddling with them to try and get them to stand up straight. With the clip I forget its there until I need it. I accidentally carried it into my bank one time, which I’m sure landed me on a list somewhere. You could call that a disadvantage.

  18. I’m a traditional & a tactical knife carrier. I’ve read some great points on here for and against pocket clips on knives. Since I lean toward “traditional” knives, I have to say the Case Trapperlock w/the pocket clip is my favorite with the thumb stud one hand opening. Hard core traditional folks will say they ruined it with the pocket clip, not me.
    I’m 60, retired and 90% of the time my daily attire is jogging pants or cargo shorts. That pocket clip is my friend.
    To each his own. One thing we can all agree on is we love knives. The accessories, well, they are icing on the cake. You can design it the way you want.
    Tom

  19. Nathanael Rhodes

    January 18, 2019 at 3:01 am

    This article has made me realize something. Should we be able to bend a pocket clip by hand? My dad taught me not to use a cheap pocket knife because the lock can fail dangerously. Similarly, I feel you should be able to pull on a pocket clip with all your might and not bend it.

    • Interesting point. I do think the clip needs to have some bend to it to allow the knife to slide in and out of the pocket without much trouble (unless you’re talking about the sculpted clips). The Spyderco wire clip is probably the bendiest of the clips, but it has a lot of benefits. To me, it really just depends.

  20. I do spearfishing without a wetsuit. Those diving knives suck in this scenario because I don’t want to have a couple chunky plastic straps around my leg. Easiest just to clip a knife into my pocket.

  21. I hope this was intended to be satire.

  22. ‘At my job those knives wouldn’t last a week’ hahahaha bro you work construction get over yourself what you carving rocks? Every knife post has some idiot who thinks his meaningless job is super badass and makes a dumb comment because of it. Learn how to use a knife properly. If those blades wouldn’t last a week with you I’m guessing you misuse your tools. Cool story bud

  23. I think the pocket clip is the best invention since sliced bread. Amazing and a shame that it took as long as it did to come about.

  24. I fully agree, a clip doesn’t fit the hand, where the knife is needed. Manufacturers spend a lot of time on design to fit, then put a piece of uncomfortable metal in the way. They are unattractive and add weight. I have always looked for ones without, hard to find but they are out there.

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