Folding Knife Guide & Top 10 Best Folding Pocket Knives

Folding knives guide cover

It’s common to see a hunter with a blade sheathed at his belt. However, folding pocket knives are way more practical to use for hunting.

Folding pocket knives are easy to carry and possess the quality of simplicity and handiness.

Fixed blades can get in the way when you are pushing through undergrowth or approaching the game with stealth. They can also slow you down where you’re on the move and can even be noticed by the animal you’re tracking down.

It’s for these and other reasons that folding hunting knives hold a special place in the hearts of many hunters. The sheer convenience and the fact that they are highly portable can be huge advantages.

If you are looking to get yourself a great folder, or even a couple of them, the following guide will help you in making the best choice.

Top 10 Folding Pocket Knives Review

First, which pocket knife is best for you? One of the biggest stumbling blocks you’ll encounter when looking for a folding hunting knife is the sheer size and range of brands and models on offer.

There is a heck of a lot of good pocket knives out there. But just as many duds, too.

A folding pocket knife may be small in size, but it can do wonders on the hunting field. Therefore, you need to find the knife that adds maximum value to your hunting experience.

I’ve assembled for your pleasure here a list of the top 10 folding pocket knives, which I consider the best. Take a look at my following reviews to make your purchase decision a tad easier.

Smith & Wesson SWA24S Folding Knife

Smith&Wesson SWA24s folding pocket knife

This modern-looking Smith & Wesson folding pocket knife has a cool design and the right features to get the job done. Besides all the awesome features, the next best thing is that it’s really cheap.

It is incredibly compact, measuring 7.1 inches overall, including a 3.1 inches blade length. Moreover, it weighs just 3.5 ounces, allowing you to carry it around with ease.

It is a masterpiece of durability thanks to the Black Oxide high-carbon stainless steel build. In fact, it features a clip-point blade design that is partially serrated.

The handle offers a solid grip made of aluminum that has a pocket clip and jumping. The pocket clip allows for fast and easy access. Additionally, the finger flipper and the thumb knobs that are usable for both hands make it even easier to open.

The pocket knife is incredibly convenient to use and ideal for everyday carry. In addition, it has a security liner lock that keeps the blade in place while in use.

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Buck Knives 556 Open Season Folding Pocket Knife

model #556 open season folding knife by Buck Knives

This classic piece by Buck Knives comes with a combination of rosewood handle and silver blade. It is highly portable, measuring just 4.75 inches when closed with a blade length of 3.75 inches.

Weighing just 6.2 ounces, it is easy to carry around and gets you through everyday tasks quite effortlessly.

The drop point blade is made out of 420HC stainless steel that features corrosion resistance and edge retention for durability and strength, with a thick point for heavier tasks. In addition, it features a mid-lock to keep the blade in position when in use.

The knife also features a Dumalux red wooden handle that offers a solid grip and makes it look aesthetically pleasing. Buck Knives has also provided a heavy-duty black polyester sheath to tuck it in for secure and safe storage.

The belt loop allows you to attach it to your belt easily. The folding knife has also passed through the superior heat treatment to give it strength and durability.

For me, this knife is easily one of the best pocket knives on the market. And like all Buck Knives, it is made in the USA and comes with a lifetime warranty.

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Spyderco Tenacious Plain Edge Pocket Knife

Spyderco Tenacious plain-edge folding knife

The Tenacious by Spyderco is praised as one of the best pocket knives for its cool yet minimal design. It is both tough and functional, allowing you to achieve your best performance on the field.

The stainless steel blade length measures 3.39 inches with an overall length of 7.77 inches. This folding pocket knife’s small and convenient size at just 6.4 ounces makes it lightweight and easy to carry around.

The clip point blade shape is even more functional with the firm grip provided by the fiberglass-reinforced nylon handle. Also, according to Spyderco, it reduces the knife’s total weight by 12%.

It is also effortless to access and use thanks to the huge round hole and the built-in spine jimping. The folding pocket knife is also pocket-friendly and safe with a LinerLock to keep the blade in place when in use.

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Benchmade Mini Griptilian 556-S30V Folding Pocket Knife

Benchmade Mini Griptilian model #556-S30V folding pocket knife

The design of this folding pocket knife reflects simplicity and high functionality. It proves to be practical in almost every situation.

The blade length measures 2.91 inches with an overall length of 6 inches. The lightweight of 2.6 ounces makes it the perfect portable companion for hunters.

The knife features a drop point blade shape. It’s made of stainless steel with first-rate edge retention and corrosion resistance giving it strength and versatility.

In addition, it comes with a Grivory handle that is fully ambidextrous, molded from glass-filled nylon, and has a textured grip for durability and stability.

It features an axis locking mechanism that adds to the safety allowing it to open and close smoothly.

Moreover, the reversible clip and lanyard hole make for versatile carry options. All its features make it a perfect addition to your survival kit without adding much weight.

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Gerber Paraframe Folding Pocket Knife

Gerber Paraframe model #22-48485 folding pocket knife

The Gerber Paraframe model #22-48485 is a great choice for a folding pocket knife and the smallest of all knives in the Paraframe series.

It is one of the most portable folding knives out there, with a blade length of 2.22 inches and an overall length of 5.25 inches. In addition, it weighs just 1.4 ounces, allowing you to carry it around easily.

The knife’s lightweight is due to the open frame design that makes it perfect for everyday carry. Moreover, the blade is made of stainless steel with a plain edge and a clip point shape.

The handle is also made from stainless steel. It comes in a unique and coherent silver color that expands to the frame and handles all the way to the blade.

The frame also features a lock to keep the blade open when in use and safely closed when not. The sturdy pocket clip allows you to carry it around securely as well.

Finally, I have to mention that the knife is incredibly cheap, so it’s totally worth having it!

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Kershaw Blur S30V Folding Pocket Knife

Kershaw Blue S30V folding pocket knife

The next in line is an extremely slim and minimally designed folding pocket knife. The thinness is one of the contributing factors to its high portability. The blade length is 3.5 inches, with an overall knife length of 6 inches.

It weighs a bit on the heavier side, measuring 8 ounces; however, the thinness at 1×1 inches makes up for the weight. Also, the weight and the thin design allow for greater functionality and performance.

The blade is made from premium S30V powdered steel and features a locking recurve drop point blade with a fine plain edge, perfect for all environments.

What provides its rugged appearance is the incredibly-looking black aluminum handle. Also, it’s one reason that increases the knife’s functionality, security, and gripping power.

The knife comes equipped with SpeedSafe that assists the opening in making it smooth and fast. It is extremely easy to use with just one hand as well, thanks to the blade’s thumb stud and a secure liner lock ensuring the blade stays in position.

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Benchmade North Fork 15031 Folding Knife

Benchmade North Fork #15031 folding pocket knife

This folding pocket knife is rocking a simplistic classic design. The brown handle with a silver blade gives a nostalgic and original look.

It takes portability to another level with a blade length of 2.97 inches and an overall length of 6.87 inches. The extremely lightweight design of just 0.34 ounces makes it the perfect pocket companion to carry around on the field.

The blade features a clip point shape crafted of CPM-S30V stainless steel. It’s also rust-resistant and has a nice cutting edge.

The G10 wooden handle not only looks good, but is also durable, offers a firm grip, and is repellent to moisture.

The axis lock makes it strong and stable by keeping the blade in a fixed position for accurate use. Convenience is further enhanced by single-handed access to the blade.

Moreover, the North Fork models have a lanyard hole intended for securing against loss and a standard clip type with a reversible tip-up carry position.

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Buck Knives 110 Folding Hunter Pocket Knife

Buck Knives #0110BRS folding pocket knife

This folding pocket knife has a classic design and look, which reminds me of the old days. It offers a lot of practicality and functionality for hunters on the field due to its compact measurements.

The blade length is 3-3/4 inches with an overall length of 4-7/8 inches when closed. It weighs 7.2 ounces which makes it great for everyday carry and capable of various hunting tasks.

The clip point blade is 420HC stainless steel, making it strong and tough. Additionally, the design is complemented by a good cutting edge. The sharp point at the end of the blade allows for detailed and precise work as well.

Together with Taylor Guitars, Buck Knives have produced the perfect ebony handle that reflects good looks, excellence, and stability. It comes with a genuine, high-quality leather sheath that also has a snap fastener for secure and easy storage.

You can attach it to the belt as it comes with the belt loop. It’s also USA-made and comes with a lifetime warranty.

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Schrade SCHA5b Folding Pocket Knife

Schrade #scha5b folding pocket knife

The Schrade folding pocket knife brings together a very sleek and modern design with an abundance of features.

The pocket knife has an overall length of 7.6 inches with a blade length of 3.3 inches, making it easy to carry and use. The 4.9 ounces weight allows for even better portability, making it ideal for everyday carry.

The clip point-shaped blade is made from reliable AUS-8 stainless steel. The folding pocket knife offers a premium feel and look, with sharp edges and an aluminum handle.

It is extremely convenient to use thanks to the quick and easy access with the pocket clip, M.A.G.I.C. assists opening, and the finger flipper feature.

The blade is kept in place when in use with the security of the liner lock and the safety lock. For easier access and use, the knife also has dual thumb knobs and a lanyard hole.

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Grand Way GW6681 Pocket Folding Knife

Grand Way GW6681 folding pocket knife

As the name suggests, the Grand Way pocket knife is a tactical knife for everything. It gets you through routine tasks quite easily, with a total length of 7.75 inches and a blade length of 3.42 inches.

The 4.4 ounces weight makes it a convenient carry in your pocket or a survival kit.

The black-coated 440C stainless steel blade allows for razor-sharp cutting and an excellent balance of hardness and corrosion resistance.

The clip point blade coated in black goes well with the three-color options for the aluminum handle: black, green camo, and the United States flag.

From a usability point of view, it features a spring-assisted opening. Moreover, the liner lock makes it safe when the blade is in use. Finally, you can use it with your right and left hands as it has thumb studs for both.

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Types of Folding Pocket Knives

Although folding knives are separated into many categories, one of the most common ones is the number of blades.

Single Blade Folding Knives

Single-blade folding knife

Single blade folding pocket knives come in a variety of shapes, styles, and sizes. They are ideal if you’re looking for a compact tool for everyday carry that is both lightweight and simple to use.

The focus here is on the design of the single blade. They will usually come with a locking mechanism that holds the blade in place. Some will have a spring-loaded component so that they can be opened quickly and easily.

A good quality single blade pocket knife can be a strong and reliable multi-purpose tool but are generally unsuitable for heavier tasks.

Multi-Blade Folding Knives

Multi-blade folding pocket knife

Multiple blade folding pocket knives are incredibly versatile. The number of blades can vary from two to as many as four blades, and sometimes more.

Two-bladed knives usually consist of a drop point blade and a blade of a different shape, such as a sheepsfoot or a spey.

Models with three or four different blades mean they’re good for everyday carry and useful for many tasks, from skinning games to carving wood.

Despite being so versatile, multi-bladed folding knives will never be as strong as the single blade variety. Again, it’s up to you to weigh up the pros and cons according to the intended purpose of your knife.

Folding Knife Blade Material

There are heaps of reasons why stainless steel blades are a favorite among many hunters. One is because they are impervious to rust.

Stainless steel contains about 10% chromium, which makes the blade durable. It helps maintain high levels of hygiene as well.

Stainless steel vs. carbon steel folding pocket knives

Some hunters indeed prefer carbon steel above stainless, which is equally as good. But if you want an easy-to-maintain blade that will serve you for a long time, stainless steel is, in my opinion, always going to be the best option.

Folding Pocket Knife Edges

The serration process includes the blade’s appearance, whether it is plain or saw-alike, which defines the blade’s edges. Most of the folding pocket knives come in: plain, fully serrated, or partially serrated option.

Plain

Plain edge folding knife

Plain-edged folding knives are widely considered better for making push cuts, like you would when skinning game, for example. The single sharp edge provides better control and makes cleaner cuts.

Plain-edged knives are also much easier to sharpen. On the other hand, they cannot be used as a saw, so they are not up to tasks such as cutting wood or thick rope.

Serrated

Serrated edge folding knife

Serrated edge blades are much more efficient at slicing through tough materials. The individual serrations tend to be thinner than a straight blade, allowing the blade to slice better and faster.

One disadvantage is that a serrated blade makes clumsy, jagged cuts, so they are not suitable for slicing meat. Another problem is that they are difficult to sharpen, and you’d probably need a professional for the job.

That said, if your main tasks involve sawing and cutting through tough materials, by all means, go for a serrated edge. Its range is limited but can still be the best choice in specific circumstances.

Partial / Combo Edge

Combo edge folding knife

Combo edges are a mixture of straight and serrated edges on the same blade. You can use the straight section of the blade for certain applications and the serrated part for sawing.

These blades still have the problem of being difficult to sharpen.

Folding Pocket Knife Blade Design

Consideration should be given to the shape of the blade too. You want the best shape for the job you have planned. Many knife blades are made for specific tasks, but some can be done with any half-decent hunting knife.

It’s no coincidence that the best folding knives are also utility knives and capable of various functions.

It’s important to know all the blade types and designs, but here we will stick only with the most used ones when it comes to folding knives.

Clip Point Folding Knife

Clip point blade design

The clip point is one of the most used folding blade designs. They actually look like the blade’s front part has been clipped off in either a straight or a curved shape.

Some of the best pocket knives have this blade shape. That’s because it’s good for stabbing, but it’s also a good all-around knife.

The blade can puncture deeper and faster than most of the other blade types. Also, it’s usually lightweight and good for everyday carry, providing very good balance and control.

Drop Point Folding Knife

Drop point blade design

It’s made so that the tip of the blade is made lower, or in other words, “dropped”. Although one of the most familiar blade designs, they are not found in every pocket knife model.

A drop point blade is one of the most recognizable shapes and some of the best pocket knives have drop point designs.

It’s generally an all-around knife, especially in the world of hunting. These knives are ideal for skinning, piercing, or any other jobs that require precision and control.

Straight-Back Folding Knife

Straight-back blade design

This blade has a long and straight spine. It’s also referred to as the normal blade since it’s the most basic blade shape for a knife.

They are best for chopping and slicing. Also, since they are heavy, they can be quite useful for many other hunting purposes.

Spear Point Folding Knife

Spear point blade design

These blade types have a long, curved top and bottom edges. This gives them a symmetrical design along the centerline.

The sharp point makes them good for piercing and stabbing. Moreover, if they are well-made, they can be quite strong and durable.

Pen Blade Folding Knife

Pen blade design

One of the most common blade designs found in the Swiss Army knife. Very similar to the spear point, except for the asymmetry between both sides. Good for small tasks that are part of the hunting life in the wilderness.

Gut Hook Folding Knife

Gut hooks are exceptionally useful for gutting and dressing meat after a kill. They reduce the chances of piercing an organ or causing other damage when dressing the animal, so they are especially good for beginners.

Gut Hook Folding Knife

The hook is handy and eases your job, but I hesitate to recommend a folding pocket knife with this feature. When the blade folds into the handle, the hook is left protruding, and it can be dangerous to carry around with you.

If you want a knife with a hook, my advice is to purchase a fixed blade that you can store in a sheath or a pouch, just to be safe.

Opening Mechanisms for Pocket Knives

There are three main opening mechanism categories for knives: automatic (switchblade), assisted, or manual opening. All three have their own purpose, advantages, and disadvantages.

Spring-Assisted vs. Automatic Blades

The difference between spring-assisted and switchblade pocket knives is often a source of confusion among new knife enthusiasts. Even people who are familiar with pocket knives or fixed blade knives often don’t understand the difference.

In both, the blade can appear to emerge from the handle of its own volition. A closer look at the release systems will make the difference quickly clear.

The switchblade (also called an automatic knife) comes with a slide, some kind of lever, or a button to launch the blade. This releases the tension in the spring inside the handle. When the lever or button is operated, the blade is launched from inside the handle and into a locked position.

Switchblade folding knife animation

Some switchblades release out the front of the handle. Others, similar to spring-assisted folding pocket knives, release the blade from the side of the handle. Checking to see if the knife has a button or a lever is the easiest way to tell the difference.

An assisted opening knife will have neither of the two. Instead, it will have some kind of initializing action that requires some effort. You’ll need to push on a disc, a flipper, a thumb stud, or there will be a thumb hole to start the blade moving.

Assisted opening folding knfie animation

There are strict laws concerning the ownership and carry of automatic knives, and you should check local regulations before you buy one. If you’re still unsure, always consult your local law enforcement.

Manual Opening Blades

Manual opening blades can be opened via a variety of mechanisms. It may be a thumb stud, which is a small raised cylinder on the knife blade. To open the knife, you press on the stud with your thumb.

The disadvantage here is that pressure must be kept on the stud until the blade is completely open.

Manual opening folding knife animation

Other blades open with a thumb hole in the blade. These are easier to use than a thumb stud. However, there’s an even easier and more convenient option – flipper knives.

Flipper knives open by pressing on a small tab. The tab releases a bearing sitting on the blade. Flippers are quick and easy to open, and a lot of fun to use.

As with all folding knives, the manual opening designs clip the blade into a firm, locked position. As a result, they require lower maintenance and are cheaper to produce than assisted opening knives.

Manual openers generally need two hands to open, but it can be done with one with practice.

The Best Handle for a Folding Pocket Knife

The pocket knife handle is much more than what you use to hold the blade. It houses the actual edge. Consequently, it is prone to dirt and mess that can negatively impact its function.

If you hunt for fun, you may like the idea of a fancy handle of intricately carved wood. Sure, the aesthetics are great.

But if you’re a working hunter and you’re concerned about hygiene, then you’re better off with a handle manufactured from synthetic materials.

Folding knife with a metal handle

The problem with natural materials, such as leather and wood, is they end up retaining a lot of bacteria from the blood and cadaver of your kill. Over time, all that organic matter starts to rot, and you could end up contaminating your new prey.

As nice as they feel in the hand, wood and leather are not best here. A metallic or plastic handle doesn’t retain dirt and is much easier to clean. Plus, synthetic handles don’t rust, either.

Let’s check each of these handle materials one by one:

Aluminum Handle

Aluminium handle folding pocket knife

In my opinion, aluminum is a little flimsy for a knife handle, and it scratches easily. But the alloy does have the advantage of being lightweight and rust-resistant, perfect for everyday carry. That’s why some of the best pocket knives feature an aluminum handle.

Wooden Handle

Wooden handle folding pocket knife

Wooden handles can be surprisingly durable, particularly when they are made from hardwood varieties. They have a strong aesthetic appeal and are popular with traditionalists. Wood is fairly inexpensive too.

Rubber Handle

Rubber handle folding pocket knife

Rubber is comfortable to hold, non-slip, and inexpensive. But it’s not all that durable. Rubber is also often used by manufacturers for handles on cheaper knives.

Titanium Handle

Titanium handle folding pocket knife

While expensive, titanium is extremely corrosion resistant and is a lot lighter than stainless steel, which makes it more suitable for everyday carry. Also it’s strangely warm to the touch.

The best pocket knives have a titanium handle. So if you want a metal handle you can use in extremely cold conditions, titanium is a great option.

Zytel Handle

Zytel handle folding pocket knife

Zytel is a thermoplastic material made of fiberglass reinforced nylon. It is strong and virtually indestructible. This is because, unlike other synthetics, Zytel fibers are laid haphazardly so that they won’t crack down a single plane under the impact. Amazingly, Zytel is also very cheap.

Stainless Steel

Stainless steel handle folding pocket knife

Stainless steel is highly durable and corrosion-resistant. But it is relatively heavy. It can be slippery too, which is why most stainless steel handles have ridges or some kind of etching to improve the grip.

Alternatively, the handle comes with rubber or plastic components. Another minus is that stainless steel blades can become very cold in extreme conditions.

Synthetic Handles

There is a whole load of synthetic materials being used for the manufacture of knife handles. Here’s my list of the most common:

  • Carbon fiberCarbon fiber consists of strands of carbon running in one direction and set in resin. This makes for a robust but lightweight knife handle. On the downside, carbon fiber doesn’t come cheap.
  • Micarta handle folding knifeMicarta is made from strands of cloth set in resin. It’s one of the very best plastics for knife handles but does need to be texturized for grip. It’s strong and light but tends to be expensive.
  • G10 handle folding knifeG-10 is another synthetic often used for knife handles. A laminate composed of fiberglass, G-10 is lighter and stronger than Micarta.

Overall, synthetics are probably your best bet when choosing a material for your folding blade handle.

Remember that with a folding pocket knife, the handle isn’t just there for grip, but it also functions as a sheath. It’s easy for dirt and blood to get trapped inside, so it will require frequent cleaning, which is why it needs to be made of a material that won’t rust or rot.

A metallic or plastic handles are the best as they don’t retain dirt and are easy to clean. They also dry immediately, unlike natural materials, which absorb moisture.

Wrapping It Up

Like all knives, even the best pocket knives have both pros and cons. The portability is, of course, their greatest asset.

Still, you might find that a folder won’t be up to some of the heavy-duty tasks you encounter on your hunt. Plus, you must keep it as clean as possible to ensure the folding mechanism works the way it should.

Be aware that safety is an issue too, and there’s a danger of the blade closing back on your fingers.

However, when used correctly and in the right circumstances, a quality folding pocket knife is a great tool to have in your outdoor toolbox.

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