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When you need the very best EDC knife, these 8 knives make the cut – The James Brand, 5.11 Tactical, and more

From slicing open Amazon packages to processing firewood, the right EDC blade can do it all

Man holding knife in woods
Markus Spiske / Unsplash

Everyday carry, or EDC, is a concept that is intended to keep you prepared for any eventuality. As far as tools that you need in your everyday carry kit, nothing is more important than getting the best EDC knife you can find. Of course, there are hundreds of options, some better than others. Like we always do, we have compiled a list to narrow down your options so you can pick up the best knife you can to keep you safe and prepared no matter where life takes you.

You aren’t a ninja, so you don’t need a sword. What you are looking for is something that finds the balance between a tool and a weapon. You will likely not need a weapon in your life, but if you are one of the unfortunate few who do, you’ll be happy you grabbed the right one. Lucky for you, we have put together this buying guide to help you figure out what you are looking for before you start looking for the right one.

Unfolded knife
Kenny Eliason / Unsplash

What makes a good EDC knife?

You can find knives everywhere. From trade shows to retail stores, there are always dozens of options to choose from depending on what your lifestyle requires. You can pick up a Swiss Army Knife if you are doing your best MacGyver work, but if you want to grab a basic EDC knife, there are three things to consider: the blade, the handle, and the mechanics.


The blade is the most important part of the knife. Some would say it is the knife, the one part that needs to work more than anything. Without the blade, it won’t even work as a tabletop utensil. There are four primary blade types to consider when picking the best EDC knife: sheep’s foot, spearpoint, tanto, and drop point tanto.

  • The sheep’s foot provides a long cutting surface when compared to other knife shapes and is best for heavy-duty slicing and chopping.
  • Spearpoint blades are similar to needlepoint as they make for precise cuts or piercings with two sharp edges like a dagger.
  • The tanto blade harkens back to the Samurai with an angled tip that resembles a chisel or ice pick. The angle of the point can vary between steep and less steep, which impacts its strength.
  • The drop point is one of the more common, as it balances a lot of different styles and is great for slicing. Lastly, the length of the blade should be between 3 and 5 inches.


Many EDC knives come with handles of wood, aluminum, and synthetic materials. While it may feel mostly like an aesthetic preference when choosing the right handle material, there are some benefits. Wood handles may look the most elegant and sophisticated, but they also are less durable. When you are looking for alternatives to these materials, consider G10, titanium, carbon fiber, mokuti, and micarta. If possible, try to take the time to hold them in your hand to see what feels the best and is the most comfortable.


There are two different aspects to the mechanics that you want to consider. The opening mechanism and the locking mechanism. Some knives have a spring-assisted feature, which makes it easier to open with one hand. This is going to come in handy when you’re in a situation where you need to be quick with the knife.

The locking mechanism is often a tab that slips under the blade in the handle to keep the blade in place during use. Then when you are ready to close the knife, you’ll need to slide it out of the way to do so. Play with the mechanisms (safely, of course) when you are in the store to see if you can get used to the mechanics and movements so you can make your life a lot easier when the need to use the knife comes up.

Now that you have all that out of the way, it is time for the fun part. Here are the eith best choices for your next EDC knife.

James Brand The Duval
The James Brand

The James Brand The Duval

The James Brand makes some of the swankiest EDC blades, which is why we love everything in its catalog. Touted as its “most advanced everyday-carry knife,” The Duval is one of the best choices if you are having a hard time choosing between styles. If you want a pocket knife, this option is small and sleek, opens at the front, and is easy to handle. If you want a tactical knife, the Duval locks in place and has a tanto blade. The best of both worlds.

Benchmade Bugout 535 EDC Drop-Point Pocket Knife

Benchmade is another brand that gets lots of love from the EDC enthusiast crowd, and it deserves this applause. The company has a reputation for outstanding quality, durability, and attention to detail that’s won it a place in thousands of pockets, toolboxes, and backpacks around the world.

The Bugout 535 remains arguably the brand’s most popular model, and it sports a premium CPM-S30V steel blade, featherlight G10 handle, and Benchmade’s trademark axis locking mechanism for smooth opening and safe operation. Every Bugout is backed by Benchmade’s “Lifesharp” guarantee, which means anytime your knife needs to be repaired, cleaned, or resharpened, the folks at Benchmade will handle it for you free of charge. Did we mention it weighs just 1.85 ounces?

Cold Steel Recon 1 Series Tactical Folding Knife isolated on a white background.
Cold Steel

Cold Steel Recon 1 Spear Point

If you’re ready to step up to high-grade steel but aren’t looking to go too much over the $100 mark, the Cold Steel Recon 1 is one of the best EDC knives at this price point. For your money, you get 4 inches of DLC-coated S35VN steel, which holds an edge with the best of them while also being highly tough and corrosion-resistant.

S35VN is also easier to sharpen than many premium types of steel, which makes it an ideal entry-level EDC for enthusiasts and beginners alike. Safety comes courtesy of an ultra-reliable TriAd locking system, which is an important detail for anyone who enjoys using their fingers to count to 10.

Microtech Combat Troodon

Microtech Combat Troodon

Life comes at you fast, and if you aren’t prepared for the worst, the worst will take care of you. Microtech showed up in 1996 with its legendary folding knife that eventually became the number one choice for law enforcement and the military. If you are a 24 fan, then you more than likely will recognize this bad boy as the choice knife for none other than Jack Bauer himself.

5.11 Tactical CFK7 Peacemaker
5.11 Tactical

5.11 Tactical CFK 7 Peacemaker

Made by a warrior and intended for warriors, the CFK 7 Peacemaker is designed by Special Forces veteran and tactical knife pioneer Justin Gingrich. Holes in the blade reduce the weight but not the durability, as this knife is tough enough to make short work of any job you face.

CRKT M16 - Deadbolt

CRKT M16 – Deadbolt

After one of the innovators of the flipping knives, Kit Carson, passed away in 2014, CRKT decided to make a knife that combined all of his trailblazing ideas into one knife. The deadbolt-locking system assisted opening and the IKBS pivot system open the knife smoothly. When looking for the best knife to defend yourself, you can’t go wrong with one created using the ideas of one of the greatest knifemakers of the last generation.

Emerson TKF-1

Emerson TKF-1

Few people alive today understand what it’s like to live prepared, as well as Tim Kennedy. As a former U.S. Army Ranger and Special Forces Operator (Green Beret), an MMA fighter, and a trainer of combatives and tactical operations, he has lived his entire adult life needing to know what comes next. This makes him the perfect person for Emerson to collaborate with to make the perfect EDC knife. Kennedy only had two requirements: It needed to be as much a tool as a weapon, and it needed to be comfortable to carry.

This may be one of the most perfect knives on the market, which makes it hard to get a hold of at times. The company makes short runs that go quickly, but if it is out of stock, be patient and sign up for the waitlist, they will be back.

Spyderco Amalgam

Spyderco Amalgam

This knife is the brainchild of a knife enthusiast who also happens to be a mechanical engineer. The result is a near-perfect mechanical movement unrivaled by any flipper. The ergonomic design makes it comfortable and easy to use, fitting perfectly into your EDC kit.

You likely will never be in a law enforcement or military situation that Tim Kennedy and Justin Gingrich spent years navigating. You are definitely not Jack Bauer. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be prepared for those unexpected times when you need a great knife. Pick up one of these EDC knives so you can be prepared for life instead of life being prepared for you.

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Mark McKee
Mark is a full-time freelance writer and men's coach. He spent time as a style consultant and bespoke suit salesman before…
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