What is the best small-medium pocket knife? There really is no way to determine the best knife for anyone as well all have different preferences and uses for a knife. Even if we could agree, there are too many good knives to determine the best (or even the ten best) small pocket knife, but here is my list of my favorite smaller pocket knives and folders. Opinions may vary on what size constitutes the line between small and large, but somewhere around a 3” blade or 4” closed knife is close to the line. The list is based on all criteria including size, cost, appearance, use, and any other criteria that I might come up with. It can change at any time if I get to try out new knives or find out other information. If you would like to see the list of the Top Ten Large Pocket Knives, go here.
The Mini-grip is the most expensive knife on this list, but at around the $70-80 range, still is not badly priced. If you like smaller tactical-style knives, this is the choice for you! You have good steel with the axis lock (the best in the industry in my opinion) in a very convenient size. A few people don’t like the handle material and I can sympathize, but I think that it works reasonably well, especially in a knife this size. You will not regret the choice to buy the mini-grip!
Case’s small trapper is close to the top of the line for regular factory production traditional knife. The trapper pattern is an awesome pattern with two very useful blades, and looks the best to me. Both the stainless steel and the Chrome Vanadium steel are good, but if you want to patina it or don’t mind taking care of it, the CV is probably the best option.
For a Swiss army knife, the best and most practical choice is probably the Victorinox Farmer. It has the almost indestructible alox handle with a practical yet limited tool selection – knife blade, wood saw, reamer, can opener, screw driver, and bottle opener. The steel is not the highest quality, but is easily sharpened and works for all but the biggest steel snob.
The Delica is probably the second best choice in the small tactical knife market and is a little cheaper than the Mini-Grip. The Delica uses a spidey hole to assist in opening the blade. It is a fairly small knife for a tactical-style folder. Some people love the appearance of Spyderco knives and some don’t, but no one doubts their capability and quality.
The Skyline is a tactical-style folder, but a little less tactical than the Mini-Griptilian and the Delica. The Syline is probably on the upper end of the size range for this list, but I consider it a fairly small knife. You can get a Skyline for a very reasonable price – it is the cheapest of the three tactical-style models on the list, and while it may not be quite as high-end a knife, it is an excellent choice.
If you like traditional knife patterns, but don’t want the normal trapper or stockman, the copperhead style is (in my opinion) the best option. Boker’s copperheads are a perfect size – big enough to be useful, but smaller than a full-size stockman. They have good carbon steel, and good quality workmanship. I like the two-bladed style of Boker copperheads better than most of the American models.
7. Buck Cadet
Buck Knives need no introduction – they are American knives to most people! Buck is known for reasonable prices, excellent customer service and quality, and good products. The Cadet is one of the smaller knives on the list, but it isn’t tiny. It is a smaller three-bladed traditional pocket knife, similar but not identical to a small stockman. You don’t get anything special with this type of Buck knife, but you do get a good knife that will not fail you!
See above for Buck quality. You can’t beat them! The stockman model is a medium-large model that was originally preferred by ranchers and stockmen. Each of the three blades – the clip, spey, and sheepsfoot – had a unique purpose and all were useful. The trapper style is a little more to my preference, but I have a Buck stockman that does an excellent job.
9. Kershaw Leek
The Leek is a very nice medium-size assisted-opening pocket knife. The selling points on the Leek are the assisted-opening mechanism and the practical blade shape. The Leek can be opened simply by pressing on a small “flipper” on the back, which flips the blade out. It is not a switch-blade or auto opening knife, so is perfectly legal in almost all jurisdictions. Because of the opening mechanism, though, the Leek is not a hard use knife. If you need a knife for hard work or outdoor use, it may not stand up to much abuse; but if you want a basic pocket knife, it is an excellent choice.
Queen is a very good traditional knife company that is not nearly as well known as Case or Buck. The knives are pricier, but if you like traditional knives, are well worth the extra cost. The Canoe is a medium pocket knife with a spear blade and a small pen blade. One advantage of a company like Queen is the better steels available. The canoe comes in D2, a top-level tool steel. D2 can be a little hard to sharpen, but will hold an edge almost forever, and although not stainless, is pretty rust-resistant.