We’re continuing our trek through the best knives from each brand. This time we take on the formidable butterfly brand.
What’s interesting about Benchmade is that this list is populated by a lot of newer models, which is somewhat surprising from such a storied brand. That’s partly due to the fact that Benchmade has been going on quite a tear recently with some excellent new knives.
As always, these lists are highly subjective, so let us know which models you think are the best in the comments.
We’ll start with a no-brainer: the Griptilian. Despite being around for such a long time, the Grip family remains one of Benchmade’s best offerings — both because it’s an excellent design and because it’s almost become a budget option from the brand.
At this point, the Griptilian has undergone a lot of changes and you can get the knife in different blade steels, blade profiles, handle colors, and handle materials. The standard is now S30V steel and nylon scales.
Because we want to keep this list somewhat clean, we’re including Mini Grips here too. I still carry my Mini Grip frequently.
If I had to pick the best Grip, it would be the 555-1.
The Freek was talked about as a Griptilian killer when it was introduced a few years ago. While the Freek did not kick the Grip to the curb, it did prove itself to be one of Benchmade’s best. In 2019, Benchmade released a premium version of the Freek with M4 steel and G-10 handles.
Over the past year or so, I’ve been going over the best knives from each brand. Some have been really easy to narrow down such as Spyderco and Kershaw.
However, few brands have been harder to pin down than Ontario Knife Company. Ontario, sometimes known more simply as OKC, has a surprisingly robust and diverse selection of knives that all serve a purpose and do it well. There are some obvious choices — ahem, the RAT folders — but there are so many other serviceable knives that could have been on this list.
These lists always carry some level of bias and subjectivity, but I feel like this list may contain more whimsy and randomness than others.
If I’m alive and kicking and still have this job, I’ll redo this next year and may swap out some others, but this is the list for 2019. Let me know which ones I missed in the comments.
Ontario RAT Folder
Let’s start with the easiest addition to this list: the RAT Folders. I’m cheating a bit because this includes the RAT 1 and RAT 2 folders. They are essentially the same knife but in different sizes.
The RAT folders are a perennial favorite among knife people because they are relatively cheap, reliable, and solid knives. The fact that they are now available in D2 at a low cost means they may be the best budget knife on the market.
Along with D2, you can get an assisted version, an AUS 8 version, and some with different blade finishes and handle colors.
Ontario Black Bird SK-5
The next no-brainer is the Ontario Black Bird SK-5. The series is designed by Paul Scheiter. The survival knife was named the best of the best by Field and Stream Magazine in 2011. It’s a pretty simple bushcrafting knife with a 5-inch 154CM stainless steel blade and G-10 handle scales.
Condor Tool & Knife — sometimes known as Condor TK or simply Condor — has only been around in its current form since 2004. However, it has roots that date back to 1787 when Gebr Weyersberg Company was founded in Germany. That company created Imacasa in El Salvador in 1964. That Central American operation was sold in the 1980s to local investors and Condor TK was born.
If you want an inexpensive but reliable outdoor tool, it’s hard to ignore Condor. The brand has quickly become a darling among bush crafters looking for a solid knife. Except for one folder, Condor only makes fixed blades.
So, we decided to take a look at the best knives Condor has to offer.
Condor Hudson Bay Camp Knife
The Hudson Bay Camp Knife is probably one of people’s favorite Condor knives. Its design is based on a classic fixed blade used in the Hudson Bay area in the 1800s. It has an 8.5-inch blade made from 1075 carbon steel with an unusual “rustic” finish.
Here is a good and honest review from Cedric & Ada Gear and Outdoors:
Accompanied by hardwood handles, the knife has a ton of personality and character. This, like many of the knives on this list, is designed by Joe Flowers.
While the Hudson Bay Camp Knife has the character, the Bushlore is likely the most popular Condor. This knife is simplicity at its finest and is often talked about among bushcrafters as a solid outdoor fixed blade option.
If you don’t have a tactical folder that can hold the weight of a car, do you really have a functional knife?
Yes! The truth is for countless years people have successfully used nonlocking folders for all kinds of jobs. In fact, in more recent years, companies have started making slipjoint knives you can carry as an EDC folder.
While these knives aren’t something you’d want to baton with (get a fixed blade for that unless you’re Advanced Knife Bro), nonlocking folders are a great option for an EDC. You don’t have to settle for an old Case knife either (not that there’s anything wrong with that). You can now get a modern-looking slipjoint that uses higher end materials.
Here are some of the best modern EDC slipjoints currently available.
Unfortunately, Spyderco recently did away with many of its best slipjoint models — such as the Pingo and the PITS. OK, so the PITS isn’t really a slipjoint, but it’s still a nonlocking folder. However, the sub brand of Spyderco called Byrd Knives has an inexpensive slipjoint called the Tern that features a modern look.
The knife is essentially a cheaper version of the UK Penknife.
A few years back, SOG took on the slipjoint with a couple of new models. One of its best was the Terminus (not to be confused with the newer Terminus XR with a lock). Although the tactical slipjoint seems like an oxymoron, the knife works surprisingly well as an EDC. It has a 3-inch BD1 blade with G10 handle scales.
In 2014, Spartan Knives won the Most Innovative American Design of the Year award at Blade Show for an interesting new design — an integral slipjoint. It has a frame that works as a spring and pulls the blade open or closed. On top of that, it uses quality materials like S35VN steel and titanium handles.
KA-BAR is a legendary brand that’s been making knives under different names for a century. While the KA-BAR knife is the most well-known model from the company, the Olean-based company makes a diverse group of knife designs.
Teaming up with some of the best knife-making minds out there, such as Ethan Becker, Rick Hinderer, and Bob Dozier, shows this brand is committed to quality designs.
Here are the 10 best KA-BAR knives right now.
KA-BAR USMC Fighting Knife
Let’s start with the icon — the original KA-BAR. I won’t go too deep into the history of KA-BAR (because I’ve already done that) but a few companies actually made the KA-BAR knife. However, the knives that were made by what is now KA-BAR were always considered the best. Even all these years later, the fighting knife remains a favorite among civilians and military personnel alike.
I could have easily made this list nothing but KA-BAR utility knives, but I thought the classic USMC could also stand in for the dozens of other iterations, such as the Kraton models, tanto models, and smaller versions.
You can pretty much find the perfect KA-BAR for you.
KA-BAR BK2 Becker Campanion
Just as I could have made list of only the fighting knives, I could also make this list nothing but models from the KA-BAR Becker line. Ethan Becker is a knife-designing savant and his line of Beckers at KA-BAR proves it. Few are as great and versatile as the BK2 Becker Campanion.
We’re continuing our trek through the best knives for each brand. It’s time for Victorinox to step up to the plate. After Wenger closed down for good and was acquired by Victorinox, the Swiss knife company is the definitive maker of the Swiss Army Knife.
Boasting more than 13 decades of existence, the knife company has continued to evolve and bring hundreds of different SAK designs. Narrowing down the 10 best is kind of a fool’s errand simply because there are so many options that you can get the exact model you like.
Still, there are a few standout models that showcase the best Victorinox has to offer.
Let’s get to it.
We’ll start with the company’s flagship model — the SwissChamp. In terms of actual carrying, the SwissChamp is far from the best. But it allows Victorinox to showoff its knife-making prowess. It has eight layers with 33 functions that range from a magnifying glass and saw to fish scaler and pliers.
Even though it’s not meant for EDC, this is a knife you can conceivably carry in your pocket or on your person without feeling insane.
The Pioneer is the civilian version of the Soldier, which is considered the “true Swiss Army Knife.” The only difference is that it adds a keyring. Unlike many of the other SAKs on this list, the Pioneer features handsome Alox scales that give it a different look and feel. The tools are pretty pared down with only eight functions, such as a large blade and reamer.
While all knives are meant to cut, there are only a few knives you’d really want to put through the ringer on a busy job site. So I did my best to pick out a few folding knives you can bet your fingers on at work after getting some recommendations from blue-collar workers (not some blog boy like myself).
The pocket knives on this list are a mix of “overbuilt” knives that you can pretty much pry with and less expensive but very serviceable blades you could happily carry onto a construction site.
I tried to take price into consideration, which is why you won’t see a Cold Steel 4-MAX, Medford Praetorian, Hinderer XM-18, or a few others that are around $500. Also, if you’re serious about a true work knife, you might want to consider a more reliable and easier to maintain fixed blade. With those caveats out of the way, let’s get to the list.
Benchmade 275 Adamas
The Benchmade Adamas is one of the most common models you’ll see on lists about work knives. The reason? It’s large, reliable, and strong. The blade is 3.82 inches and uses functional D2 steel on a no nonsense drop point blade. Not only is the blade stock thick but so are the liners and G-10 scales.
Formally known as Columbia River Knife & Tool, CRKT is a relatively new company in terms of big knife brands, having only been established in 1994.
However, over the two decades the company has been around, it’s put out hundreds of different knives. There’s a lot to love about CRKT, from its truly innovative designs to its collaborations with some of the top knifemakers. Unfortunately, the use of inexpensive materials leave a lot to be desired by the knife community.
Picking the 10 best CRKT knives was easy at first, until I realized all the knives I was forgetting. The company puts out dozens of new knives every year and discontinues a ton. Unlike many of the other brands, this list is a mixture of new and old.
Let us know if you think we missed any.
We’ll start with the flagship series from CRKT: the M16. The late great Kit Carson, who pioneered the flipper tab, helped propel CRKT to where it is today, thanks to his M16 series. His knife was named one of the 10 best tactical knives of the decade by Blade Magazine, and the CRKT interpretation is nothing to scoff at.
These days, there are dozens of variations on the M16, so much so that it’s hard to sort out all the models available and the confusing numbering system. The M16-14SFG is a crowd favorite.
The Drifter is an unlikely addition to this list. In many ways, the Drifter is an unspectacular folding knife, but it is exactly the knife that anyone can use and enjoy. In fact, the knife was named the best folding knife for the masses by The Wirecutter. It’s dirt cheap, features a reasonable sub 3-inch blade length, and uses a no-nonsense liner lock.
When Sal and Gail Glesser started a company in the 1970s based around a device called The Portable Hand — which could assist jewelers and other professionals who work with small parts — they likely never imagined it would become one of the premier knife brands in the world.
But, more than 40 years later, the company known as Spyderco is a top-tier brand with some of the best and most revolutionary knife designs ever made.
So, as we’ve been doing, we decided to go through the 10 best Spyderco knives currently in production. You’ll notice this list is heavily populated with classics, but that’s partially thanks to Spyderco’s CQI (constant quality improvement) program that improves upon existing designs. That’s how you get perfection.
Here are the 10 best Spyderco knives you can get right now.
Spyderco Para Military 2
Let’s get the Spyderco Para Military 2 out of the way. The PM2 is almost universally known as not just the best Spyderco model but the best pocket knife available.
So how does a knife like the PM2 capture the hearts and minds of people everywhere? It has a nearly 3.5-inch blade with a functional design and quality S30V steel. On top of that, it stays engaged with the easy-to-use and reliable Compression Lock. The G-10 handle had been improved from the first generation for better ergonomics.
This knife has pretty much everything you can ask for in a larger folder.
Spyderco Dragonfly 2
What the Para Military 2 is to larger folders, the Dragonfly 2 is to smaller folders. Pound for pound, the DF2 is one of the best small folders you can buy.
Although the Dragonfly isn’t widely accepted as the best small folder, some of the most trustworthy names in the knife community swear by this knife and for good reason. The leaf-shaped blade is only 2.25 inches, but the whole design and ability to choke up on the blade make it feel larger than it is. It locks into place with a backlock mechanism while the bi-drectional textured FRN handle scales are grippy and reliable.
We’re continuing our run-through of the best knives from each brand. Narrowing down the 10 best currently in production is no easy task, but I did the best I could using personal experience, consensus around the internet, reviews, and more.
Let’s start with a gimme: the Cold Steel Recon 1. The Recon series helped usher in a new era for Cold Steel, one that is currently dominated by tough knives with a tactical bent that use Andrew Demko’s famous Tri-Ad locking mechanism.
The Recon 1 uses high quality material with a 4-inch blade made from S35VN steel (recently changed from CTS-XHP). The handle is a grippy G-10.
One of the great things about this flagship model is that it comes in tons of sizes and blade shapes, so you can get exactly what you want.
Cold Steel Ti-Lite
Reminiscent of the switchblades of the 1950s, the Cold Steel Ti-Lite is a thin yet lengthy folder with an eye on self-defense. There’s a 4-inch or 6-inch version — both come in either budget or premium builds.