There are many different types of blade shapes, blade combination, blade types, handle shapes, different blade materials and knife models. The question is, what to buy? With our ultimate pocket knife buyer’s guide, we hope to assist you in your choice and help to show you the difference between a trapper and stockman. Even to extent of telling the difference from what a clip point is and to what a drop point blade is. What does handle made from G10 mean and what is a handle that is made from bone. After our guide we are confident that you will be able to decide on the perfect pocket knife for you.
Types of Pocket Knives
Single Blade: This type of knife is your standard folding knife. This knife only has a single blade, but do not be fooled, as these have the larger selection of blades in the single blade selection. These knives range from smaller sizes to even larger sizes. They vary from a Simplified collection to a more complex selection as well. Many older collector’s knives are singled blade knives; even the timeless classics are single blades as well such as the Buck 110BRS Knife.
Multi-Blade: The multi Blade knife, as the name suggests has more than one blade. These types of knifes sport 2 or even three blades. This seems to be a good collection of useful blades, which are used for a whole bunch of different needs. In some cases, you may need a larger blade, and in other cases, one may need a smaller blade. But it surely does make sense to have a few options.
Multi-Tool: It is particularly associated mostly with The Swiss Army Knife Series. These knives come loaded with a wide array of various folding tools. Other than a blade or two there is in most cases between 5 to 12 different types of tools, all housed in on the single pocket knife. To name a few things that you might find in a multi-tool pocket knife includes your basic blade, a bottle cap opener, a miniature saw, a steel toothpick, a set of pliers, scissors, a file and a hook. These types of knives are considered multi-tool pocket knives. If you are looking for these, we recommend you read our review of the Victorinox Swiss Army Climber II Pocket Knife and read our cool pocket knives guide.
Pocket Knife Models
Stockman: The stockman is a much lighter weighed three-bladed folding knives. It includes a clip, Spey and sheep foot blade types. This particular knife is a great choice for everyday carry. This type of knife is good for some daily adventures, and simply put, you won’t go wrong with a stockman folding knife. They are cool, we have mentioned plenty models on our cool pocket knives guide here.
Barlow: The Barlow pocket knives usually come fitted with 1 or 2 blades. This knife comes with a longer bolster, and also an elongated oval or even tear shaped handle. These types of blades are attached next to each other at the end of the handle for convenience purposes. These knives have been mentioned by Mark Twain, and this type of knife style has been around for a great number of years, not to mention that there are four different types of Barlow families. They all claim that they had invented this type of knife style. This knife can date its history back to the early 1700’s and 1800’s.
Congress: The congress knife series dates itself back to the early 19th century. It is said that it was created for the American pocket knife market. These Congress knives are usually curved in shape in the front and are either straighter or slightly concaved near the back for ease. These types of knives usually have 2 or 4 blades. The two blade version is a lot more popular than the four-bladed version. This is because these are much slimmer as compared to the four blade version and they have a sheep foot and pen blade.
Canoe: Canoe pocket knives look exactly how the name sounds. They resemble in looks and shape of a traditional Native American canoe. This particular type of knife sports a two drop point blades or a two spear pointed blades or even a pen blade. These knives make their history which can date back to the early 1900’s. But some can say that it dates back earlier.
Elephants Foot: The elephant’s foot pocketknife series are much larger than any usual knife. These knives are usually equipped with two wide spear and pen blades. This knife draws its design that resembles an elephant’s toe. That is how the knife gets its name.
Trapper: These trapper knives are also a larger sized type of knives. The trapper includes a clip and a Spey blade. These blades are usually hinged on the same edge of the handle. The longer Spey blade is a great tool for preparing food, if you’re in the outdoors camping and such. The long clip blade is also great for all the tasks you may need to use the camp site. This type of knife will come in for useful in your day to day activities and needs. We recommend you read out best-assisted opening knives guide on these.
Muskrat: This pocket knife is a two-bladed knife. The muskrat consists of a clip point and a Spey blade. But these models also come with a two clip point blade instead of the Spey blade alone. These also generally have a slighter curved S shape in the handle.
Camper: This knife lives up to its name, the camper Knife is used by the camper and outdoorsmen. This knife also has a multiple of other uses as well, apart from camping. It includes a large spear point blade; it also comes fitted with a drop point or clip point blade. Even a can and bottle opener are present. These tools also double up as a flathead screw driver and even an awl. With this multi-use tool, there are a wide array of variations of this knife. A well-known example is the Swiss Army Knife.
Hunter: The hunter pocket knife, Is a design that was produced with the hunter in mind, just like the name says. Anyone who hunts will require a very sharp blade. And of course, a stronger knife that can handle anything you throw at it. These types of knives are particularly used for skinning and gutting.These hunting knives were always fixture knives, without a folding mechanism. But then after the Buck 110 series came into production, it changed the way we use knives, making the hunter able to own a folding knife that had a strong locking mechanism, and an all-around portability for EDC. The Kershaw 1660 Ken Onion Leek Folding Knife is a great hunter knife compact and durable.
Tactical: If you were to ask pocket knife enthusiasts what a tactical knife is, you would probably get a wide range of answers and opinions. In our opinion, a tactical knife is a knife designed for self-defense and protection, emergency situations and hand to hand combat. People you would find using these knife are First Responder’s to an emergency situation, such as Military personal, Policemen, for various emergencies or even close combat situations. These types of knives are made from the toughest materials available out in the market. And also sport a vast amount of features that are built into them. These features range from, one-handed opening systems, to even seat belt cutters. This knife is great for anyone who may need a strong knife for self-defense and protection; we recommend the Spyderco Byrd Cara Cara2.
Pocket Knife Blade Shapes
Straight Back: The straight bock point blade lives directly up to its name. The blade’s shape has a sharpened edge that usually comes right off the base of the knife straight and curves upwards towards the tip. The design, in turn, creates a strong bade with a dull back end, which then enables the knife’s user to put more pressure on the back of the knife making it a great tool for chopping and slicing purposes.
Clip Point: Clip Point blades are the most common of blade styles and are what one will find mostly in the American market. The main uses of this knife are of course for everyday use, which ranges from hunting to fishing and camping. The back end of the knife of this blade is concaved nearest to the tip. The cutting edge of the blade is also curved towards the tip. Some of these clip point blades might have a longer curve, which then makes it fantastic for greater detailed work with a thinner knife blade. But the only down side of this is that the blade can be weaker due to it being thinner. Due to its sleek blade, it is employed in making several artifacts which require intricate detailing and design.
Drop Point: A drop point blade is also very common in the American market. This particular style of the blade has a convex curvature. This extends all the way to knife point. The cutting-edge also curves towards the front, and then a longer curve that others at the back. This, in turn, makes a tip which is wider than a clip point. This helps the blade to accomplish a lot heavier tasks. A lot of times these blades work well as a survival knife. Most survival knives and hunting knives have drop point blades. The clip point blade is sharper than the drop point, but the drop point sports a wider tip which provides it substantial cutting control. A drop point knife can be employed for several days to day purposes and is an extremely efficient tool in case of emergencies.
Spear Point: The spear point blade, have a back and front edge that both curve towards the tip. This then creates a symmetrical blade. These spear point blades either have one or even both edges sharpened. These obvious advantage would be, sharpening both the edges for maximum penetration. These types of blades have various thickness. The thicker blades won’t penetrate as well as the thinner blades but are much better for heavy knife usage. Check our best EDC knife 2015 guide for this kind of pocket knives.
Sheep’s Foot: The sheep’s Foot blade system is a much wider blade that has a straighter cutting edge, but the back is completely straight and the curves down towards the tip of the blade. These particular types of the blade are fantastic for slicing and cutting this is due to the wider blade. This blade is also a lot safer because of its duller point. The sheep’s foot blade is great for anyone who may be clumsy; this is done because they increase the risk that its user will stab themselves during use. Like the tactical knives, these are great for emergency response teams that may need to cut clothing off of victims or seatbelts that they are assisting. The dull point hick makes it a lot safer and less likely to stab a person they need to help when the time is of the essence. They are extremely useful in camping and hunting purposes and are utilized by several knife enthusiast every day.
Pen Blade: This smaller blade works well for a much smaller task where precision is key. You may find a time when a pen blade is in certain pocket knife that has more than a single blade. Swiss Army Knives have a pen blade hidden inside. This blade is specifically designed for sharpening quill pens. This is where the name derives from. The pen shape of the blade is quite similar to the spear point. This blade is not only known for it being very sharp but also comes in very useful for small everyday tasks. Its high portability and high tensile strength make it a coherent tool that should be owned by anyone and everyone.
Spey Blade: These blades have a blunter point which helps to make slicing and to skin a breeze. This Spey Blade was not designed for penetration purposes at all. These blades were designed for castration of animals when hunting. The spey blade has remained throughout history and have been used for several years. These are also great blades for skinning animals or for any user who does not want to have a sharp point. The Benchmade Griptilian is a good example of a Spey blade pocket knife.
Pocket Knife Blade Material
Stainless Steel: Stainless steel is no stranger to quality and strength and is extremely common in knife blades. However, the steel found in the blade creation is not always 100 percent stainless steel. There is always a degree of chromium added to the blade to help increase the overall hardness. It is a rule of thumb that blades with less than 12 percent chromium are more considered “Stainless”. These Stainless blades are great for the multitude of uses ranging from outdoor to survival or camping. This is because of their resistance to corrosion and water resistance, and it is easy to sharper these blades more than others. Stainless steel knives like the Benchmade 940 Osborne are one of the most tensile materials used to make different varieties of knives today.
Carbon Steel: This type of steel uses a high level of carbon in its production. Carbon steel knives are particularly great for heavier knife usage and hunting. The steel used in a lot harder than stainless steel. This helps it keep its edge longer and also able to keep its edge longer. A lot of the times hunting knives are made from this material.
High Carbon Stainless Steel: The material used in this, that is carbon helps to make the blade even harder than normal stainless steel and also helps it to keep its edge longer. The stainless steel that is used helps to keep the blade from rusting and in turn simplifies things by making it easier to sharpen. With this mixture of carbon and stainless steel, the user receives the best of both worlds. Thus, this type of steel has a much higher level or carbons used in its manufacturing process. This creates a blade that gets more benefits from both types of materials used in it.
Damascus: Damascus is a type of steel that is unique. Blades crafted from this material is made by a process called forging. Two different types of steel are forged together; then acid is used to create an etching. The acid process reacts in a way that is very different from the rest. The two sheets of steel merge and create a different color and depth. Damascus is well known for how beautiful it is and is quite loved by collectors of knives. These blades are crafted for aesthetics purposes or high performance in mind. The other major difference in the look of the blade, are the patterns that the materials make when welded together. These designs come into being in a random order, which can be anything from stars or lines and many other designs. This Damascus draws its name from a city in Syria. Further east in Japan Damascus was used to craft the blades of honorable Samurai swords. These blades were introduced into the American industry in the 1970’s
Pocket Knife Lock Types
Liner Lock: The Liner locking system is the most common of locking types in the pocket knife market today. The locking system works by having the one side of the liner on the handle, Curved towards the knife blade. When the blade is deployed fully the end of the lock clicks into place underneath the blade such that this then effectively locks the blade into place. The only way to safely close the blade is to manually push the liner lock in the away position which then releases the blade to be folded away.
Frame Lock: The frame lock system works very similar to the lining lock. The only difference is that it does not have a lining. What this means is that the handle frame does all the locking itself.
Back Lock: It’s not uncommon that you might have seen a locking system such as this on another pocket knife before. These types of locks have a small arm with a hook, which is situated on the back of the knife handle. When the blade is deployed or opened this hook us pulled into position underneath the pivot and locks the blade into an open position, being ready to use. This particular locking system is extremely reliable and will offer you ultimate safety during operation of the knife. A lot of famous brands, such as Buck knives like to use this locking system.
Mid Lock: The mid locking system is essentially the same working as the lock back. The only difference here is that the actual lock is in the middle of the handle, as opposed to it being near the end as in the case of the lock back. This shorter distance helps to create a stronger lock that will be able to take a lot more pressure. Cold Steel Knife company assisted in the creation of these locking systems, by creating a series of demo models, in which they showed a mid-lock, withstanding a mass amount of pressure. This is ideal for someone wanting a secure locking system for their pocket knives.
Ring Lock: The ring lock is quite different to other locking systems out there in the market. It accomplishes this by the user twisting the ring when he is opening the knife. There is also a small gap inside the ring, which allows the user to open the closed blade. To lock the blade in place, the user must then twist the ring, for the blade to be locked in the open position. When the user is complete with the knife, and they would like to close the knife, they will just have to twist the ring once, and then close the knife, and then twist it again, to make sure the knife is in a safe and locked position. These locks have been proven to be safer, and more durable, during operation.
Lever Lock: The lever locking system it also very different as compared to your average locks out there. The lever works with a pin system that gets pushed into a hole at the base of the pocket knives blade. The user can usually lock their knife into a locked open position or a locked close position. You would mostly find these types of locks on a switchblade. The advantage of this lock is that these knives instantly lock when the knife pops out. Why not read the best boot knife guide for help.
Pocket Knife Handle Materials
Bone: Bone materials are very common in the modern day pocket knife handles. These types of the handle are found in many different types of models and brands. The bones are taken from recently deceased animals that have died naturally.
Aluminium: Aluminium handles are extremely durable and light in weight. They aren’t exactly the best looking of handles but can be created artistically. It should be noted that for what they lack in the artistic sense they make up for in functionality.
Wood: This raw material is very common in pocket knives for over 100s of years. There are a wide array of woods which can be used in these handles. Some of them are softer than others, but they are not recommended for outdoor use.
G10: If you have never heard of G10, you are not alone. This material is a fiberglass that is compressed and hardened, which is proven to be very strong and light in weight.
Micarta: Micarta is quite similar to the G10 material. It uses a paper canvas along with cloth and other materials that are soaked in a resin, which is then pressurized under heat and forms a plastic type substance that is more appealing to the eye versus the G10.
Celluloid: This material can be turned into any color and texture. It can be used to imitate horn, wood, stag or a lot of other natural materials.
Rubber: These handles are particularly useful and are unbeatable in wet or slippery circumstances. The rubber sports a much better grip than any other handle. However, the only disadvantage is that this material may not be long-lasting in a certain survival situation or for any intense outdoor uses.
Moulded Plastic: This type of material is most likely the most inexpensive and generic type. Most times toy pocket knives are made from this, but there are certain cases where a molded plastic could be used to create a great handle for all kinds of pocket knives.
Leather: Certain leathers are used in the creation of pocket knife handles. This is done by using small circular pieces or washers to create a layer of leather that is wrapped around plastic or aluminum. This is however not recommended for use in the outdoors.
Stainless Steel: These stainless steel handles are extremely durable, they have been proven to be weatherproof and also tend to last a lot longer than some other handles. As we have said before rubber and leather are sometimes used alongside with the steel, to create an ultimate style of knife. Although there is a downside to this, they are slightly heavier than the other handles. But if you would like to have a knife handle that helps you get the job done, this should be a great solution for you. We recommend the Gerber LMF II Infantry Knife for this job.