Let’s start with a no-brainer: the Elementum. The Elementum is no longer simply one of CIVIVI’s best knives but may be the very best EDC knife for its price.
Almost everything about the knife is perfect. It’s a good size with a 2.96-inch blade that flips open effortlessly and reliably. It has a simple yet ergonomic handle. It’s not adorned with a bunch of logos and numbers. Instead, it’s just a simple knife that works.
And because the knife has become so darn popular, CIVIVI has created this knife in more than a dozen different styles. You can the knife in your choice of handle material and color. There are higher-end versions and larger versions and versions with button locks and Damascus versions. The list goes on and on.
This post was first published in 2020 and updated in 2022.
When you think of Smith & Wesson, high-quality knives might not be the first thing that comes to mind.
No, you probably think of great firearms… and Dirty Harry. But the truth is, Smith & Wesson also manufactures quality knives. They’re the type that appeals to law enforcement personnel and those interested in self-defense. These aren’t your average kitchen knives.
Smith & Wesson knives are versatile and rugged. They’re designed for the field, with sturdy blades that hold their cutting edges, and good grips for ease of use.
Over the years, Smith & Wesson has expanded its lineup of knives to include more than just search and rescue and first response knives. Still, those remain the bread and butter of the lineup.
So let’s cut to the chase. See which are the best Smith & Wesson knives.
Smith & Wesson Extreme Ops
We’re starting with one of the top-selling S&W knives at Knife Depot: the Smith & Wesson SWFR2S Extreme Ops.
This is a tactical folding knife that rivals any other rescue knife in this price range.
As a heavy-duty rescue knife, the SWFR2S feels great in the hands, thanks to its rubberized handle. Its partially serrated tanto blade is 3.3 inches long.
If you keep one knife in your car for emergency situations, this one should be it. It’s also available with engraving! It’s no wonder it was a Knife of the Week a few years ago.
Smith & Wesson 1st Response
The 1st Response is the companion knife of the first knife on this list. While it has a lot of the same features and blade length, it looks very different.
This post was originally published in August 2018 and was updated in October 2022.
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.
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 post was originally posted in August 2018 and is updated every year.
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 nearly three decades the company has been around, it’s put out hundreds of different models. 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 leaves a lot to be desired by the knife community. In the last few years, CRKT has tried to remedy these failings.
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 models 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.
This article was originally published in July 2018 before being updated with newer models.
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. Here are the 10 best Cold Steel knives.
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.
The larger one is a legend with a long 6-inch blade made from S35VN steel and an aluminum handle. You can pull the knife out of your pocket while engaging it thanks to a protruding quillon that catches the edge of your pants. The reach on this thing is insane, which is why some people opt for the smaller Ti-Lite. We also really like this budget version with AUS 8A steel.
This post was first published in June 2018 and updated in August 2022.
When I think about the best knives for each brand, a small number of truly outstanding knives always pop into my head… and SOG Specialty Knives is one of them.
This post was first created in 2018 when SOG was going through a transition year. Almost all of the knives from that original list have gone through a transformation or are no longer available.
These past few years, SOG has been trying its best to recapture some of the magic that made SOG such a powerhouse in its earlier years. So, we thought it would be important to give this list an overhaul and redo the best SOG knives you can buy.
As always, this is a subjective list (that only includes current knives) taking into account personal experience as well as reviews/commentary from across the knife community. Let me know if I missed any in the comments.
SOG Tech Bowie
It seems blasphemous to leave the original SOG Bowie (well it’s now the Bowie 2.0) off this list, but that knife has lost some luster and is priced way too high.
That’s why the SOG Tech Bowie now occupies this spot. The Tech Bowie is a reworking of this classic knife design with a 6.4-inch black TiNi blade and a more comfortable Kraton handle.
The fit and finish and overall design of the Tech Bowie have been praised from users everywhere. The knife is darn sexy and still carries a little bit of history with it.
SOG Flash AT
The original Flash I became a sort of a cult classic thanks to unbridled praise from Nutnfancy and other early knife YouTubers. However, the Flash I and II have been discontinued and reworked into the new Flash AT.
Aside from the name, the Flash AT is almost completely different than the original. It still has an assisted-opening mechanism and the Flash II’s 3.5-inch blade. However, it’s now upgraded with D2 steel and uses SOG’s AT-XR locking mechanism.
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.
There have been a number of great new models over the years, but none have been quite strong enough to topple these classics.
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.
There was one point a few years back when CRKT discontinued most of its modern EDC slip joints. However, they’ve made a comeback. The CRKT is a relatively new slipjoint designed by Richard Rogers.
Boker Plus Wasabi
Boker is probably the brand with the most modern EDC slipjoints, as you’ll see farther down the list. One of the best and newest is the Wasabi, an interesting design from Kansei Matsuno.
This post was originally published in 2019 but was updated in 2022 with newer models.
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. The series is designed by Paul Scheiter. The survival knife was named the best of the best by Field and Stream Magazine in 2011, and it’s evolved over the years. It’s a pretty simple bushcrafting knife with a 5-inch 420HC stainless steel blade and multicolor Micarta handle scales.