The Cutting Edge

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Top 10 First Knives to Give to a Kid

Getting your first knife is a step into adulthood. You’re given the knife with the implicit agreement that you’re responsible and old enough to be trusted with a tool that’s often misused by those who are reckless, untrustworthy, and immature.

Whether you’re giving someone their first knife or receiving it, there are some knives that are more appropriate for the occasion than others.

I first wrote this post way back in April 2012, so I decided to take a fresher look at some of the best first knives to give someone. Not only do I have two kids now but I’ve also learned a lot more about knives in the ensuing years.

Keep in mind that the knife is dependent on the age and maturity of the person  (for example, you wouldn’t want to give a Smith & Wesson MAGIC assisted opening knife to an immature 7-year-old).

The knives range in prices, designs, and styles. Check them out. For more recommendations, check out our first knives for kids and teens collections page.

Let us know your first knife in the comments!

Victorinox Swiss Army Knife Tinker

Swiss army knife classic

The Swiss Army Knife is the quintessential first knife for anyone. It was my first knife and probably yours. There are many reasons why you wouldn’t want to get an SAK for a first-timer but the opposite is true as well.

Since the Tinker is a bit smaller and still has a variety of tools, it could potentially come in handy more often and further empower the knife’s owner.

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Spyderco Ambitious

Spyderco makes an array of excellent knives that could work well for younger audiences. For example, there’s the Delica or Dragonfly (the latter of which you could get a wooden version as a trainer), but those tend to be a little more expensive. That’s why I argue the Spyderco Ambitious is the top choice from Spyderco.

The Ambitious is the smallest brother of the famous Tenacious. It has the general Tenacious qualities but in a smaller package. The blade is 2.25 inches, the scales are G-10, and it locks open with a liner.

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CRKT Drifter

The Wirecutter argues that the CRKT Drifter is the best pocket knife for the average person. While I disagree with that, the Drifter’s simple design that’s easy to use and handle makes this an excellent first knife.

The Drifter comes in either a steel handle or G-10 handle version. To minimize any slippage when using, I recommend the G-10 version for kids.

The blade is a standard drop point profile at 2.875 inches, making it a good size for most kids.

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Kershaw Debris

I was tempted to put the Kershaw Leek on this list, but I would be very wary about giving someone an assisted-opener as their first knife. Some knives that shoot open still catch me off guard sometimes.

Luckily, Kershaw just came out with the Debris. This manual opener eschews many of the modern conveniences like a flipper and assisted-opening mechanisms. Instead, it opens with a oversized thumb studs and locks with a back lock.

The handle is designed in a way that helps keep the hand from slipping onto the blade, even during rigorous use.

Cold Steel Mini Tuff Lite

You probably skip over Cold Steel when looking for a first knife because of their reputation. However, the Mini Tuff Lite is the perfect knife for kids. If you get a folder, you want a lock you never have to worry about. Few are as strong as the Tri-Ad lock.

You also want a smaller blade with ergonomics that will prevent accidental slippage. The grip on this is impeccable. The Wharncliffe blade is also less aggressive than other profiles but is still highly utilitarian.

For a good price, this little folder would be a great first knife you can trust your kid with.

It’s also available in a slightly larger version for older kids.

Cold Steel Pendleton Mini Hunter

Cold Steel Pendleton Mini Hunter

Wait a minute, a small hunting knife for a child? Yes! The Pendleton Mini Hunter is a small fixed blade that may very well be safer than the folders out there. This knife has good steel on its 3-inch blade and a very grippy Kray-Ex handle, so it will stay in a kids dirty hands.

You won’t have to worry about the knife folding onto any fingers or slipping out of a hand, which is why Anthony Sculimbrene of Gear Junkie recommends it as a good first knife.

Buck Deuce

The Buck Deuce is one of those great knives with a timeless design. While nonlocking folders can be a little tricky for first knives, this small slip joint is extremely inexpensive and carries the Buck name, so you know it’s dependable.

It has two blades: a clip point blade and a coping blade. The largest of the blades is just 2 inches and the whole thing weighs less than an ounce.

Gerber Paraframe Mini

The Gerber Paraframe has been a mainstay of the folding knife world for years and chances are if you’ve owned a knife, you’ve owned a Paraframe at some point.

These knives are simply designed, strong as nails, and look interesting. That’s why this mini variant of the Paraframe makes a great first knife.

It has a smaller 2.22-inch blade that still locks into place with a frame lock. Despite being an all stainless steel design, it only weighs 1.4 ounces. It comes with a pocket clip for easy carrying.

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Spyderco UpTern

When we first made this list, the Byrd Tern occupied this spot because it was a well-designed nonlocking folder with a smaller blade.

Fortunately, Spyderco ended up adapting the Tern into a fully fledged Spyderco knife called the UpTern.

It has the same overall design with a 2.82-inch blade, but it makes things even safer for a first-timer by adding in a backlock mechanism.

Even though it now has the Round Hole and Spyderco name, it’s still on the more affordable side of things. It’s even available with laser engraving.

Nathan’s Knife Kit

Nathan's Knife Kit

Sometimes a kid just isn’t ready or responsible enough to have a real folding knife. If that’s the case, you might want to grab Nathan’s Knife Kit as a precursor to the real deal.

The kit was created by Glenn Klecker’s son Nathan as a way to get into woodworking as well as understanding knife safety and responsibility. It’s a working knife that folds and opens and you can customize it with colors and designs.

Here’s a young Nathan talking about the kit:


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  1. Swiss Army knife was my first knife. It comes in handy well camping.

  2. Имам 10 бр.различни,, Opinel” (за колекцията ми). Леки,дървената дръжка е удобна и ,,топла”,добре балансирани,елементарно заключване(но сигурно),добър ,,ряз”.Полезен нож(ножка).

  3. I do not agree that duller can be better when first starting out, as it says on the Swiss Army knife. “A Sharp tool is a Safe tool” as the saying goes, which is especially true when you have minimal skill. If you have a dull knife you are more likely to slip and cut yourself.

  4. love knifes i just got a benchmade mini griptilian is about $100 made in U.S.A. it will last your a life time

  5. I carried a pocket knife for 20 years before I got my Swiss Army Tinker. Now it’s the knife I carry every day. When I pull it out, people see a tool not a weapon.

  6. Hey Tim, Knifes are a much helpful tool. You mentioned almost all the types of knifes. I think Victorinox knife is much helpful in almost all the cases. Thanks for sharing the information…:)

  7. My first knife was a Cub Scout knife. After I became a Boy Scout, I bought a Boy Scout Knife. The CS knife is loooooooooooooooooooooong gone, but the BSKnife I still have. And a bunch of other knives I’ve picked up over the years.

  8. I am heavy into Zero Tolerance Knives and own 4 of them. I am dying to get a Swiss army knife as Uncle Alex Stated = people see a tool not a knife.
    I have spent $200 & $400 on individual knifes its about time I got me a dependable Swiss army knife. I believe no knife collection is complete without one.
    It’ll be my Christmas present for myself , I just have to find the perfect one now lol.

  9. i need some knife to carve with

  10. Just got my first knife at 14, it’s an opinel beechwood number 8. Great, use it for whittling and general cutting.

  11. I got my first knife I think when I was 6 swiss army victorinox original.

  12. My first was a Buck 110. My school didn’t care for my carrying it. But it was the 70’s, so I just kept it “on the down low”.

  13. I want to see ( Old Timer- Large Lock Blade , with a Leather belt case )

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