The Best Folding Knives

The folding knife is the largest category of knife to be confiscated from people of all walks of life in the United States, and all around the world. This is most likely due to the fact that they have been adopted as an everyday carry tool – more so than a fixed blade knife. And though the fixed blade knife is still the most popular style of knife, the folding knife has been incorporated into everyday, modern life, because it’s inconspicuous able to slide into or hook onto a pocket unnoticed.

Though some folks claim that the folding knife is as old as the Greeks and Romans, the reality is that they were specialized knives for the longest time; carving knives, Swiss Army knives, and knives used in gardening, boating, harvesting, etc. It wasn’t until a few decades ago where innovation started changing the category of folding knife – drastically. It’s as if when Spyderco invented the pocket clip for easier carry and thumb hole for easier opening that other knife companies have started doing anything they could to find the next best thing in terms of carry, deployment and use. Besides the everlasting journey to find the best steel and handle materials out there, the current trend is in flipper-style deployment. Within the past five years alone, this easy-to-deploy action has gone from being found primarily on custom and mid-tech knives to being featured by every major knife manufacturer out there.

Another trend that has become more of a “must have” in the folding knife world, is the advancement of locking mechanisms which make the blade safer to use and can expand its uses. It’s these advancements that, when coupled with a modern world weary of someone carrying a belt knife, have allowed folding knives to scoop a market share from fixed blades – which has, in turn, caused an increase in what’s available out there on the market today.

That said, folding knives are the most exciting category for me to work with – as there’s always something new and wild for me to try and wrap my head around in testing them and in everyday life. Fixed blades are purpose-driven for more strenuous tasks like hunting and survival. So what happens when someone like DPx makes a knife like the H.E.S.T. that has a locking mechanism that can transform that folder into a fixed blade? Well, things get more interesting – as well as more confusing for the common customer looking for a pocket knife to go out and live with.

Review Year
Best in Class
Overall Rating
Price
Name Overall Rating Ratings The Good The Bad Price
Benchmade 300 Axis Flipper
100
Best in Class
2016
Overall Construction 10
Needlenose Pliers & ... 10
Knife Blades 10
Saw 10
Locking 10

The Flipper

Axis Lock

154CM

G10 Scales

Someone forgot to smooth the G10 Scales!

No lanyard hole (personal pet peeve)

MSRP
$175.00
BEST DEAL
$152.88
Spyderco Manix 2 Black Lightweight Folder C101BK2
99
Best in Class
2015
Construction & Mater... 10
Ease of Use 9
Steel Quality & Edge... 10
Durability 10

Super lightweight

Patented ball bearing lock mechanism

Ergonomic when opened and closed

Ambidextrous operation

Cannot be taken apart for maintenance

Lock mechanism is susceptible to debris

MSRP
$135.95
BEST DEAL
N/A
Hinderer XM 18 3.5” Flipper – Slicer Grind (Gen 4)
99
Best in Class
2017
Construction & Mater... 10
Ease of Use 9
Steel Quality & Edge... 10
Durability 10

Heavy duty construction

Ergonomic shape

“Slicer” blade grind

Quick & fluid flipper action

Requires a specialty tool to tighten pivot

Sought after and hard to find

Pricy

MSRP
$425.00
BEST DEAL
N/A
Benchmade North Fork
98
Construction & Mater... 10
Ease of Use 8
Steel Quality & Edge... 10
Durability 10

Good value

Well made

Dymondwood handle scales

Works well as back-up or secondary hunting knife

Blade is too small to be a primary hunting tool

Feels a bit small in hand

MSRP
BEST DEAL
$140.25
Spyderco Rubicon C187CF Flipper
98
Construction & Mater... 10
Ease of Use 9
Steel Quality & Edge... 10
Durability 9

Super lightweight

CPM S30V blade steel

Hollow ground blade

Carbon fiber handle scales

Titanium frame

Deep pocket clip

Pocket clip is very tight, making it hard to put in your pocket

Liner-lock can be difficult to use with one hand

No lanyard hole

Not made in the USA

MSRP
$499.95
BEST DEAL
N/A
Spyderco Southard Folder
98
Construction & Mater... 10
Ease of Use 8
Steel Quality & Edge... 10
Durability 10

Durable utilitarian steel

Corrosion resistant

Curved shape

Various opening options

Not for piercing

Pricy

Right hand, tip up carry only

MSRP
$419.95
BEST DEAL
N/A
Spyderco Para 3
98
Construction & Mater... 10
Ease of Use 9
Steel Quality & Edge... 9
Durability 10

Compact size

Handle shape

CPM S30V blade steel

Lightweight

Compression lock

Sits high in the pocket

MSRP
$199.95
BEST DEAL
$125.97
Kershaw Thermite
97
Construction & Mater... 10
Ease of Use 9
Steel Quality & Edge... 8
Durability 10
Value 10

G10 Handle Scales

Hinderer Lock Bar Stabilizer

Deep Carry (rides low in the pocket)

Spanto Tipped Blade

A bit long

MSRP
$55.00
BEST DEAL
N/A
Helle Bleja
97
Construction & Mater... 10
Ease of Use 7
Steel Quality & Edge... 10
Durability 10

Triple laminate steel

Scandi grind

Strong lock back

Requires two hands to open

Big for pocket carry

No clip or sheath

Heavy

MSRP
$229.00
BEST DEAL
$214.00
Spyderco Sage 1
96
Construction & Mater... 8
Ease of Use 9
Edge Retention 10
Durability 9

Lightweight

Oversized thumbhole

CPM S30V blade steel

Some folks have trouble with liner-locks

Somewhat expensive

MSRP
$199.00
BEST DEAL
$142.97
Kilimanjaro Gear Firma Folder 910016
95
Construction & Mater... 9
Ease of Use 8
Steel Quality & Edge... 9
Durability 9

Ergonomic Design

Textured Handles

Great edge retention for the price

Inexpensive

Pocket clip is stationary and only allows for one direction of carry

Scalloping for thumb studs could be larger to allow for easier opening

MSRP
$42.99
BEST DEAL
N/A
Zero Tolerance 0450
95
Construction & Mater... 10
Ease of Use 5
Steel Quality & Edge... 10
Durability 10

CPM-S35VN

Flipper action

Lightweight

Stonewash finish

Too small

Rarely in stock!

MSRP
$200.00
BEST DEAL
$159.00
Chris Reeve Large Sebenza 21 w/ Insingo Blade
95
Construction & Mater... 10
Ease of Use 5
Steel Quality & Edge... 10
Durability 10

Premium blade steel

Incredible balance & blade shape

Handmade

Undersized thumb stud

Pricy

MSRP
$495.00
BEST DEAL
N/A
Ontario Knife Company Carter Prime
95
Construction & Mater... 9
Ease of Use 7
Steel Quality & Edge... 9
Durability 10

Thick cut D2 tool steel

Modified Wharncliffe blade

Stonewashed finish

Robust build

Arced design

Stubborn pocket clip

Uneven blade edge

Undersized pivot

Made in Taiwan

MSRP
$144.95
BEST DEAL
N/A
Boker Plus Impetus Flipper
94
Construction & Mater... 7
Ease of Use 10
Steel Quality & Edge... 8
Durability 9

Sheepsfoot blade is good general utility design

Smooth flipper action

Ease to use and maintain

Production quality is lack

Blade steel is susceptible to chipping

MSRP
BEST DEAL
N/A
Helle Dokka Knife
94
Construction & Mater... 10
Ease of Use 6
Steel Quality & Edge... 10
Durability 8

Scandi ground blade

Drop point style blade

Natural curly birch handle

Comes with care instructions

Lanyard hole sits at the bottom of the sheath

No thumb stud or hole for single-hand opening

MSRP
$164.00
BEST DEAL
$149.00
Kilimanjaro Gear Morsa Flipper 910028
94
Construction & Mater... 9
Ease of Use 7
Steel Quality & Edge... 9
Durability 9

Stylized handles for both form and function

Smooth operation out of the box

Great edge retention for the price

Inexpensive

Pocket clip is stationary and only allows for one direction of carry

Flipper mechanism isn't smooth

Handles are slick out of the box, but this goes away with use

MSRP
$44.99
BEST DEAL
N/A
Benchmade Crooked River
94
Construction & Mater... 8
Ease of Use 8
Steel Quality & Edge... 9
Durability 9

High end blade steel

Smooth deployment

Traditional design with modern materials

Too big for every day carry

MSRP
$210.00
BEST DEAL
$199.75
Benchmade 928 Proxy Flipper
94
Construction & Mater... 8
Ease of Use 6
Steel Quality & Edge... 10
Durability 10

Monolock lock mechanism

Thrust bearing washers

Drop point blade

Intense flipper action

Fire notch in blade

Lock is sticky out of the box

Titanium frame scratches

Knife may feel oversized for pocket carry

MSRP
$295.00
BEST DEAL
N/A
CRKT Carajas
93
Construction & Mater... 7
Ease of Use 9
Steel Quality & Edge... 8
Durability 9
Value 10

Weight

G10 Handle Scales

IKBS Pivot System

One position pocket clip

MSRP
$90.00
BEST DEAL
$49.95
Boker Plus S2 by Sniper Bladeworks
92
Construction & Mater... 7
Ease of Use 10
Steel Quality & Edge... 7
Durability 8

Unique, utilitarian blade shape

Balanced size and weight

Corrosion resistant (tumbled)

Big for daily pocket carry

Wasn’t cleaned up after tumbling

Flipper is stiff out of the box

MSRP
$88.95
BEST DEAL
N/A
Victorinox Swiss Army Hunter Pro
92
Overall Construction 8
Needlenose Pliers & ... 10
Knife Blades 10
Saw 7
Value 7

Modified drop point/Spear Point blade

SUPER grip handles!

Lock Back lock

Satin finish on blade

MSRP
$80.00
BEST DEAL
$63.15
CRKT Homefront Flipper
92
Construction & Mater... 8
Ease of Use 10
Steel Quality & Edge... 6
Durability 8

“Field Strip” technology

Drop Point blade

Rugged liner lock

Deep Pocket Clip

Slight blade wobble

AUS 8 steel

Never in stock

MSRP
$59.95
BEST DEAL
N/A
Lasky Pteryx L2
91
Construction & Mater... 8
Ease of Use 6
Steel Quality & Edge... 9
Durability 8

Hand-Built

Quality blade steel

Jimping for improved grip

Size to weight balance

Massive

Less known in the United States

Right hand only to fully function

Sheath is for storage only

MSRP
$340.50
BEST DEAL
N/A
CRKT Drifter
91
Construction & Mater... 8
Ease of Use 8
Steel Quality & Edge... 6
Durability 9
Value 10

Weight

G10 Handle Scales

Hollow Ground Drop-Point Blade

One position pocket clip

MSRP
$40.00
BEST DEAL
$22.30
Kershaw Link Flipper Knife
90
Construction & Mater... 8
Ease of Use 8
Steel Quality & Edge... 8
Durability 6

Drop point style blade

Ease of opening

Ergonomic design

Less than $100

Made in the USA

Anything sticky or sappy sticks to the blade and doesn’t easily wash off

One-handed closure is difficult

MSRP
$69.99
BEST DEAL
N/A
CRKT Hootenanny Flipper Knife
87
Construction & Mater... 6
Ease of Use 6
Steel Quality & Edge... 8
Durability 7

KBS flipper action

Hollow ground, drop point blade

Slim and stylized profile

Multiple sets of jimping for better grip and functionality

Single position pocket clip

Slippery when wet

No lanyard hole

MSRP
$69.99
BEST DEAL
$46.59
Opinel No. 8 Folding Knife
86
Construction & Mater... 7
Ease of Use 5
Steel Quality & Edge... 7
Durability 7

Classic Design

Virobloc Locking Ring

Compact Size

Price

For light duty only

Lock jams with sand, grit, etc.

MSRP
$18.49
BEST DEAL
$39.99
Gerber Gator Premium Folder – Clip Point Blade
83
Construction & Mater... 5
Ease of Use 4
Steel Quality & Edge... 9
Durability 5

Corrosion resistant blade steel

Durable

Slippery in wet hands

Flimsy leather sheath

Difficult field maintenance

MSRP
$121.00
BEST DEAL
N/A
Kershaw Rake
81
Construction & Mater... 10
Ease of Use 10
Steel Quality & Edge... 3
Durability 2

Made in the USA

Blend of two very high quality steels

Grippy G10 handle scales

Flip opening

Assisted opening

Knife broke during testing

Price is substantial, but not unfair

MSRP
$150.00
BEST DEAL
N/A
Hinderer XM 18 3.5” Flipper – Slicer Grind (Gen 4)

Being considered one step below a custom knife in terms of quality and build, the fourth-generation Hinderer XM-18 3.5” flipper with Slicer grind is perfect for the dedicated, everyday user willing to spend a good chunk of change for a reliable workhorse of a knife that requires little maintenance to provide years of dependable performance. 

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Spyderco Southard Folder

Knives with this many divergent curves usually require a bit of a break in period for even some of the most experienced users. But that is not the case with the Spyderco Southard Folder. This knife blew me away in both form and function. It’s a durable workhorse of a knife that costs a bit more than the others in the test.

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Benchmade 300 Axis Flipper

A perfect 100 is hard to come by. I can usually find something wrong with a knife if I use it long enough, but that’s not the case with the Axis Flipper. This is the first production knife that I have tested that bridges the gap between custom and production. You’ll find this knife to be an incredibly reliable, long-lasting treat (as long as you can get past the brown and tan handle scales!)

Read the Full Review Shop Now at Amazon.com

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