How to Pick an EDC Knife
Whether it’s for carving wood, opening boxes, cutting string, opening cans, using as a makeshift screwdriver and, yes, self defense and personal protection, EDC knives have a place in the pocket of every person.
And while you may go days without using it, knives are able to perform a variety of tasks to help make every day situations easier and more convenient to manage. In fact, once you start carrying an everyday carry, or EDC, knife, we bet you’ll never leave home without it again.
But this all begs the question: How do you pick the right EDC knife? It has as much to do with personal preference as it does with intended end uses. In fact, we bet if you asked 25 different everyday knife carriers, you’d probably get 25 different answers on knives.
See Our List Of The Best Budget EDC Knives Here
However, one thing that we can’t stress enough when it comes to selecting an EDC knife is that you need to choose one that you’re willing and ready to use to solve the tasks that you’re presented with. The old saying about the best knife is the one you have when it’s needed is so very true. Before we get down to it, I will be the to say that even though all knives aren’t created equal, you don’t need to buy the most expensive blade out there. My personal collection of pocket knives is well over 200, I usually still only grab 2 or 3 of the same ones all the time…a Spyderco Delica and a Spyderco Sage5.
If you’re not willing to use it, it’ll be nothing more than pocket decor. EDC knives should also “hide,” which is why we prefer those that fold rather than straight blades. You can absolutely EDC a fixed blade knife, but in this article I am really talking about folding knives. They are just more practical in many situations. people are crazy enough these days, can you imagine pulling out a small fixed blade in an office to open a box…
When I actually had to go to an office everyday, I used to carry a Gerber EAB utility blade just so co-workers didn’t think I was a nut job. Honestly though, I live for the time people say, “Does anybody have a knife on them?”!
That leads to to the next thing, get used to always carrying your knife. You want to get to the point where you leave your knife at home you have the same feeling as if you left your wallet. Make your EDC knife a regular addition to your pocket.
Make sure to read our guide on The Best Budget EDC Knives, we have a list of 24 awesome EDC knives under $30
Noting all of this, we’ve broken down some of the more important factors that you need to consider when selecting an EDC knife, from price to ergonomics. Here’s a closer look:
Factors to Consider When Choosing an EDC Knife
Here’s a closer look at what you need to be considering when selecting an EDC knife:
How Much Should You Spend On An EDC Knife?
When it comes to spending money on gear, I am a realist. I fully understand you get what you pay for most of the time. I have also learned the you don’t need to spend a lot of money to get a great EDC knife. If you are buying your first good knife or one that will be the at the center of your EDC kit, I think you should budget between $40 to $80. In this range you will get a solid knife that will perform well and something you will enjoy using.
While it’s true that you get what you pay for, keep in mind that the EDC knife you select should be one that you’re willing to use. If you purchase one that’s too high-end, you may be more apt to refrain from using it on a daily basis for various tasks. The opposite is true, spend too little and the knife may fail you at a crucial moment.
For most EDC carriers, a mid-range knife is the ideal selection. These knives are quality enough where they won’t easily get damaged, but not too high-end where you won’t be shy about using it. Price can vary widely on similar looking knives and this can happen for a variety of reasons. Mainly, the price of a EDC knife is based on two major factors, one the materials used and blade steel. Two, the name brand. Let’s face it, you definitely pay more for more mainstream brand name knives like Spyderco, Benchmade, and Essee. This is always a bad thing, especially in the case of a Spyderco, you really can see the craftsmanship, details and the evolution of the design in the final product.
How do you plan to use the knife? Do you work in a warehouse setting where you’re regularly breaking down boxes or opening up mail? Do you work in an office where you need the knife to be more compact and concealed? Are you working in construction or in a field where you’re regularly outdoors?
How you intend to use the knife is going to help influence the type that you’ll want to purchase. Smaller models are good for tasks like box cutting and basic cutting tasks, while larger ones may be necessary for more complex or demanding ones. Make sure to also consider local laws pertaining to what type of knife you’re able to open carry.
Here again the materials used in the knife come into play. If you foresee hard use for your knife, then some of the new “super steels” might be perfect for you. While they are more expensive, the blade may be able to hold a sharper edge longer under constant use. Same goes for environment as we mentioned above. If you are outdoors in wet weather or harsh elements, the design and build of the knife is important.
The big deciding factor when picking out a EDC knife is to think about the normal tasks you will be using for the knife. if you are cutting lots of tough materials and will be putting more stress and tension on the blade, you will want a more robust folder. If you a just slicing an apple and the occasional piece of cord, then you can get away with a much lighter duty folding knife.
Size and Weight
The size and weight of your EDC knife will depend a lot on what you use it for and the local laws in your area. However, some things to keep in mind is that bigger isn’t always better and a knife that’s too small may not be able to accomplish all everyday tasks.
It’s why we usually suggest purchasing an EDC knife with a blade in the range of 2.5 to 3 inches in length. These knives are lightweight enough to comfortably carry, adequate enough to perform everyday tasks and usually within local regulations. Always check you local knife laws when ever you travel with a EDC blade. Some municipalities have local laws that differ from the State.
For general all around EDC tasks, a 3″ – 4″ blade will be plenty long enough. The other length to consider is that of the handle. You want to make sure you can get enough purchase or grip on the knife to wield it effectively. A long blade on a short handle is tougher to use than the revers.
I like to have all my fingers on the handle even for smaller knives. You may be a little different and don’t mind your last two fingers hanging off or curling around the end a little. It really is all preference. The more you carry a knife, the more you will use it. Then, you will start using it for bigger and tougher tasks and your tastes will change. So, if possible, handle the knife a little before purchasing it.
Blade Steel, Shape and Style
The higher the price of your knife, the better the blade is likely to be. And the better the blade, the longer if will go without dulling and requiring sharpening. Blade steel and quality all plays into how often you plan to use it. Usually, a modest blade will more than suffice for typical everyday purposes. Here too, spending more money isn’t always getting you a better experience. Sometimes you can buy high-end blade steel only to be disappointed that its finicky to sharpen or actually may be prone to slight chipping.
Blade shape is an important consideration too, and you’ll have various types to choose from. This includes clip point, drop point, tanto, spear point and standard. Blade shape largely ties into end uses. If you’re looking for a knife that will pierce more than cut, for example, than tanto and drop point blades are ideal.
Knives used more for detail work are often clip point. All blade shapes have their pros and cons. As we continue to stress throughout this piece, your intended end use should dictate the blade type and shape that you select. I recommend a good middle of the road blade steal like VG-10 or CTS BD1, both steels come on my two favorite EDC knives, a Spyderco Delica and Spyderco Manix2 (I mention these all the time, great bang for the buck).
A nice upgrade in blade steel that I find easy to sharpen is S30V, this blade steel holds a wicked edge for a long time and has great wear resistance. Again, I am not a steel nut and have a bunch of different pocketknives, but speaking from personal experience, the average guy can’t tell the difference on most steels.
In addition to blade types and shapes, styles are another important consideration. Blades come in serrated, full and partial styles. I used to buy all my pocketknives with serrated blades…..until I learned how to sharpen a knife properly and realized sharpening a serrated blade is a royal pain. Now, I am mostly a straight edge blade guy, but I do appreciate the serrations in a few cases.
While it may seem like a minor detail, the pocket clip that attaches to your EDC knife is more important than you may think. This clip is designed to attach to your pants pocket so your knife is within easy access, but not obvious to anyone you come across in public. To me, your pocket clip and how the knife wears will dictate how much you carry it.
I carry a knife all the time, everyday, in fact I never leave the house without a pocketknife so I can talk forever about pocket clips. I am fond of deep carry clips. These are clips that do just what it sounds like, they allow you pocket knife to slide far into your pants and only show a small portion of the handle and in some cases almost none. You just see the clip on the outside of your pants.
Another consideration here is handle / scale material. G10 is common for knife handles, but it will tear up your pants pockets over time and constantly sliding your knife in and out. That is one reason I perfect smooth scales. Call me weal, but I can’t stand tearing up my pockets and fraying the materials. I wear khakis a lot and G10 and the like will destroy your pockets in no time.
One thing you can do is sand down the handle where it meats the clip and smooth it out. This will really reduce the wear and tear on the fabric. if you look at a lot of my Instagram pics, you will see many of my Spyderco PM2’s or PM3’s with a deep carry clip and sanded G10 scales.
We are talking about EDC knives, not survival knives. In most daily situations having a EDC knife with aluminium scales of smooth carbon fiber or something similar isn’t going to really hinder it’s use. I get it if we are talking about being in the jungle under constant rain. In that case you would want something with more grip.
Remember, your EDC knife should be used… every day. Noting this, you’ll want to select a model that’s comfortable to hold and that you can expect to stay comfortable in your hand for long periods of time.
Make sure the knife you’re selecting fits your hand well and that the handle isn’t too short. A finger coil can also be a nice addition to stable use. Stay away from sharp angles or slab-style handles. Like I mentioned a few paragraphs ago, having all you fingers on the handle during use is something else to think about.
Almost any EDC knife feels great in your hand…until you try to cut heavy plastic or a huge stack of cardboard. You quickly realize many knives have what is called a hot spot, a place on the handle where it digs into your hand uncomfortable, sometimes to the point making the knife almost unusable for long periods.
What will happen when you buy your first serious EDC knife is you will be buying another! Just like different size sockets and wrenches, different situations call for different knives. I find one huge impact on which EDC knife I grab has to do with what I am wearing. If I have a pair of shorts on I need something a little lighter than if I have on jeans and a belt…then I can almost get away with a folding sword!!
Similar to watches, pocket knives can lead you down a deep rabbit hole… You will quickly find that there are so many knives of all possible materials and styles, that you just need another. I will offer one key point of advice…don’t always buy cheap knives! It’s so easy to walk into Wal-Mart and see a inexpensive Kershaw for $1.99 and think nothing of picking it up. However, like everything else in life, you get what you pat for. Those cheaper knives are fun for a minute, but don’t have the lasting power of some higher quality blades. Once you are in the $40-$50 range, you can get a really solid knife that will serve you well for a very long time.
Same goes for super expensive knives, they are nice to have but still cut just like a mid-range blade. Look for out best EDC knife guide soon.
Blair Witkowski is an avid watch nut, loves pocket knives and flashlights and when he is not trying to be a good dad to his nine kids, you will find him running or posting pics on Instagram. Besides writing articles for Tech Writer EDC he is also the founder of Lowcountry Style & Living. In addition to writing, he is focused on improving his clients websites for his other passion, Search Engine Optimization. His wife Jennifer and he live in coastal South Carolina.