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Small pocket knives are compact, durable, handy in a variety of situations, and impressively versatile. But one quick web search reveals that there are more options than you can shake a stick at. So how do you know which one is the best? Whether you’re a camper, fisher, outdoorsman, or just someone who wants to open a letter, a compact knife has a lot of practical, daily potential. So today we’re taking a look at the best small pocket knife in 2021.
The best small pocket knife can feel like a trusted friend. It helps you get through your day just a bit safer, smarter, and more efficiently. Below, we review the best small pocket knife in 2021.
- Quick Overview (comparison)
- The Ten Best Small Pocket Knife In 2021
- 1 – Kershaw Leek Pocket Knife (Best Pick 🥇)
- 2 – Ontario Knife OKC Rat ii
- 3 – Spyderco Lil’ Native Signature Folding Knife
- 4 – Zero Tolerance 0223 Pocketknife Designed by Tim Galyean
- 5 – Bestech Knives Reticulan Framelock Blue BTKT1810F
- 6 – CRKT Sketch EDG Folding Pocket Knife
- 7 – Opinel Carbon Steel Folding Pocket Knife
- 8 – CRKT Piet EDC Folding Pocket Knife
- 9 – Morakniv Eldris Fixed-Blade Pocket-Sized Knife
- 10 – Victorinox Swiss Army Multi-Tool Fieldmaster Pocket Knife
- A Simple Buying Guide To Determine The Best Small Pocket Knife:
- Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s)
- Final Verdict
Quick Overview (comparison)
The Ten Best Small Pocket Knife In 2021
We teamed up with several specialists to test 10 different small pocket knives to see which one comes out on top. So it back and relax and find out which is the best of 2021!
1 – Kershaw Leek Pocket Knife (Best Pick 🥇)
One of the best selling knives on the market today, the Kershaw Leek was designed by knife legend Ken Onion. Aside from being sleek and attractive, it’s a lightweight, durable knife that will last you through the years. And it’s capable of a wide variety of tasks, which is what we expect from any EDC pocket knife worth its salt.
With a blade of 3”, this knife reminds us a little of Goldilocks. It’s not too big, not too small… it’s just right. Moreover, it’s nicely compact and easily slips in the pocket. The Swedish steel is called Sandvik and its well known for having solid edge performance and high hardness. Plus, the blade has good corrosion-resistance to keep it looking like new.
Another thing that makes the Kershaw Leek pocket knife a standout is that it’s easy to sharpen. As far as blade shape goes, the Leek has a flat edge with no curve and the point is extremely fine and sharp.
When looking at the handle, you’ll notice it’s made of stainless steel, something you don’t see in a majority of the knives on this list. Although this can make it slippery on occasion, many prefer a stainless steel handle for durability and strength. Overall, the Kershaw Leek is our pick for best small pocket knife in 2021.
- 3” steel blade
- BlackWash finish
- 410 comfortable handle
- Folding knife
- Made in the USA
- Holds an edge well
- Durable Sandvik steel blade
- Good for a wide variety of tasks
- Grip texture isn’t great when knife is wet
- This knife is incredibly sharp so you really have to be careful
2 – Ontario Knife OKC Rat ii
The total length of the Ontario Knife OKC Rat ii is 7”, with a 3” blade. This is a popular length for an EDC as its small enough to be easily concealable but big enough to perform a variety of tasks. The Ontario OKC Rat ii is, of course, the sequel to the OKC Rat i. It’s essentially a less bulky version that makes a better daily companion, in our opinion.
The design of the blade is modified drop point. Although it’s not flashy or fancy, if you’re looking for function over fashion, this might be a good knife for you. Not that there’s anything wrong with its simple, sleek style. The Ontario Knife OKC Rat ii has a glossy satin finish and a comfortable handle that’s designed for optimal performance. We especially like the index finger groove and thumb studs.
Most good pocket knives come with a pocket clip and the Ontario OKC Rat ii is no exception. For versatility, you can attach the clip to any corner of the knife. Also, it’s sturdier than a lot of the other pocket clips out there. This isn’t an expensive knife, but you don’t have to sacrifice quality simply because you set out to be frugal. In fact, we’d gladly pay more for this knife. Just don’t tell Ontario Knife!
Lastly, The Ontario Knife OKC Rat ii is nicely centered and comes with a high-quality liner lock. Overall, it has great functionality and durability, especially for an inexpensive knife.
- Made in the USA
- Satin blade finish
- Textured nylon handle
- Folding knife
- 3” blade
- Comfortable handle
- Handle is a little slick
- Doesn’t have assisted open
3 – Spyderco Lil’ Native Signature Folding Knife
Though it’s a little on the pricey side, the Spyderco Lil’ Native Signature Folder is a small knife with really big benefits. We think it’s worth every penny, so let’s take a look at why this might be a great option if you don’t mind shelling out a little more dough.
Firstly, Spyderco Lil’ Native is a folding knife at a convenient, easily-concealable size. Its blade is 2.5” but it’s as sturdy and strong enough to be adequate. The blade is constructed from CPM-S30V stainless steel and it comes with a full-flat grind and shiny satin finish.
One of the best features of this knife is its G-10 handle that ensures a solid, comfortable grip. For safety and ease of use, the Lil’ Native comes with a Compression Lock mechanism and a reversible pocket clip.
Because it’s a smaller version of the classic Spyderco Native, this knife has a lot to live up to. We think it delivers on all fronts and view it as a more compact, but equally ergonomic, option. Conveniently, you can choose between left or right-side tip-up thanks to the deep-pocket clip for low-profile carry.
- Folding knife
- 2.42” blade
- G-10 handle
- Compression lock
- Four-finger grip
- Index finger choil
- Durable CPM S30V stainless steel blade
- Comes with reversible deep-pocket wire clip
- Small handle may not be good for big hands
- Pricey compared to the others in this list
4 – Zero Tolerance 0223 Pocketknife Designed by Tim Galyean
The 0223 designed by Tim Galyean is the smallest knife ever made by Zero Tolerance. With a blade of just 1.8”, this is a compact, easily pocketed knife that’s ideal for EDC. The blade is made of CPM 20CV stainless steel and the blue anodized pivot ring is a striking, attractive feature.
Made from premium materials, the Zero Tolerance 0223 isn’t exactly cheap. But you get what you pay for. And if you’re willing to invest a little more, this knife might be a great choice for you. One of the best features of this knife is how effortlessly it opens. And once open, the blade locks into place with the titanium frame lock.
The Zero Tolerance 0223 was designed by Tim Galyean, a high-end tactical knife maker. It’s a smart looking knife that’s as functional as it is fashionable. Although it’s in a smaller package, the 0223 is made with all of the same durable, high-quality materials as all Zero Tolerance knives. And like other ZT knives, the 0223 comes with a durable pocket clip to keep it hidden, ready, and secure.
- 1.8” blade
- Pocket clip
- Made in USA
- Carbon fiber front of handle
- Stonewashed titanium black of handle
- Blue-anodized pivot ring
- Sturdy CPM 20CV stainless steel blade
- Very compact
- May actually be too small for some people’s hands
- Can be difficult to flip open if you’re not used to such a small knife
5 – Bestech Knives Reticulan Framelock Blue BTKT1810F
Firstly, the blue and gold anodized titanium handle on this knife really catches the eye. It’s a unique, stylish pocketknife that’s foldable and compact. The Bestech Knives Reticulan Framelock is a collaboration with knife enthusiast and designer Elijah Isham and its artistic quality and craftsmanship are immediately apparent.
The Reticulan has a 3” CPM S35VN blade that’s satin finished and stonewashed. It comes boxed and includes a black Kydex neck sheath for easy wearability. If you prefer pocket-carry, the Framelock comes with a deep pocket clip for maximum discretion.
At 3”, this knife is the most popular size average EDC pocketknife. It occupies the sweet spot where it’s lightweight enough to go unnoticed but substantial enough to actually get the job done. The Bestech Knives Reticulan Framelock makes a great collector’s knife and a thoughtful gift because of its striking design and impressive functionality.
- Anodized titanium handle
- 3” blade
- Black Kydex neck sheath
- Ceramic ball bearings
- Stainless steel blade
- Pocket clip
- Has thumb pull
- Beautiful design
6 – CRKT Sketch EDG Folding Pocket Knife
Another highly-functional, durable, pocketknife is the CRKT Sketch EDC. It’s a heavy-duty folding knife with a k-tip blade style that’s great for outdoorsmen or anyone who is looking for a reliable tool for their pocket. And for discreet carry, there’s a low profile pocket clip.
With the CRKT Sketch EDG, you get a 8Cr13MoV steel blade and stainless steel handle, for durability and superior balance. Undeniably sturdy, this compact little knife is lightweight enough to be your EDC pocketknife but sturdy enough to be of some real assistance.
Also, it’s easily accessible with a quick-deploy thumb-slot. Overall, the CRTK Sketch EDG is a sturdy, tough knife at a very reasonable price. And while the 8Cr13MoV admittedly is not the highest quality steel, this knife is comparable to the Ontario Rat ii. They’re both durable knives that are impressive for the price point.
- Folding knife
- Satin sheepsfoot blade
- Thumb slot open
- Stainless steel handle
- Pocket clip
- Pivot collar
- Discreet carry
- 8Cr13MoV is not the best quality steel
- Not ideal for left-handed users
7 – Opinel Carbon Steel Folding Pocket Knife
if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it! Since 1890, Opinel has been making this classic Carbon Steel folding pocketknife with durable beachwood handle. It’s tough to beat for the price and Opinel’s reputation basically speaks for itself.
The Opinel folding knife has a stainless steel safety ring and characteristic Opinel carbon steel blade. With a distinctive look, this knife can be put to great use in the garden, in the woods, or at home in the kitchen. Invented in the French Alps, the Opinel Carbon Steel knife was the first knife ever designed by this manufacturer.
Although this knife was created with train conductors and farmers in mind, it’s more than capable at a wide variety of tasks. Opinel are known for being sharp, long-lasting, and versatile. You can use it for everything from gardening to grafting trees to prepping food – you name it, the Opinel can probably do it.
Because it’s been around a long time, The Opinel is many a knife-enthusiast’s “first knife.” The design is appealing and the grip is satisfying. Overall, it’s a fun knife to work with thanks to its sturdy nature, comfy grip, and classic, beautiful design.
- Folding knife
- Beachwood handle
- Opinel carbon steel
- Stainless steel safety ring
- Yatagan shape
- Very inexpensive
- Classic, durable design since 1890
- Difficult to clean it thoroughly
- Handle can swell
8 – CRKT Piet EDC Folding Pocket Knife
The CRKT Piet is a lightweight knife that makes a great EDC. First and foremost, it’s a folding knife that’s convenient to carry and easy to access, thanks to its oversized thumb hole. It’s great for deep-pocket carry and very discreet.
There’s a satin finish on the drop point blade and the ergonomic glass reinforced nylon handle feels good in the hand and has a respectable grip. In addition to the pocket clip, there’s a lanyard hole in case you want to wear your CRKT Piet.
For ambidextrous deployment, the CRKT Piet includes a Voxnaes thumb hole. The blade is made from 8Cr13MoV stainless steel for durability, strength and corrosion-resistance. Also, the CRKT Piet comes with a limited lifetimes warranty on defects in workmanship or materials.
- Folding knife
- Drop point blade
- Satin finish
- Glass reinforced fiber handle
- Liner Lock
- Thumb hole
- Handle is lightweight and has great grip
- Comes with a limited lifetime warranty
- Not ideal for lefties
- Doesn’t have steel liners
9 – Morakniv Eldris Fixed-Blade Pocket-Sized Knife
At first glance, this knife might strike you as too tiny to be good for much. It’s truly a stout little bugger. But looks can be deceiving, and we’re glad we didn’t dismiss this knife based solely on appearances.
First of all, you can choose from five different colors. But we know what you really want to hear about is the functionality of a knife so incredibly compact. Surprisingly, the Morakniv Eldris is a tough, strong, blade with a really good handle.
Once you pick it up, you understand why the Eldris is special. The blade may be short, but you can get a really good grip with the double-polymer handle. It has a 2.2” blade with a continuous curve and a protective plastic sheath.
As for discretion, the Morakniv Eldris is incredibly lightweight and easy to conceal. Even people with larger hands can get on board with this knife, because while the blade is small, the handle is impressively sturdy. Overall, the award for most surprising best small pocket knife definitely goes to the Morakniv Eldris.
- 2.2” blade
- Plastic sheath
- Fixed blade
- Built in click-lock
- Square-edged ground spine blade
- Sandvik 12C27 stainless steel blade
- Can be used as a striker
- Razor sharp and corrosion resistant
- Short blade might not be good for some tasks
- Rusts in saltwater
10 – Victorinox Swiss Army Multi-Tool Fieldmaster Pocket Knife
Admittedly, the Swiss Army Fieldmaster is a little more bulky and slightly heavier than many of the knives on this list. But it’s easy to see why, and if you see yourself needing any of these tools on a regular basis, the Fieldmaster might be an excellent choice for you. It’s still compact and light enough to carry and conceal in your pocket with relative ease.
Your Swiss Army comes with a lifetime guarantee against any defects in workmanship or material. Because we like a company that stands by their product, this earns Victorinox some extra points. And if you think you’re going to pay a pretty penny for that huge assortment of features, think again. The Victorinox lands on our list at a very decent price.
- 2.45” blade
- Phillips screwdriver
- Wood saw
- Weighs 3.5 ounces
- Capable of performing many tasks
- Great price for functionality
- Slightly heavier/bulkier than the average pocket knife
- The positioning of the Phillips can make it awkward to use
A Simple Buying Guide To Determine The Best Small Pocket Knife:
There are a lot of small pocket knives competing for your attention in 2021. As such, you might feel overwhelmed as you try to select an EDC knife. While all of the options on our list will make for a superb daily companion, there are a few more things to consider before choosing “the one”.
Once you’ve narrowed down your preferences, finding your ideal EDC will be a walk in the park. Make sure you study up a little on size, handle, legality, how you’ll carry your knife, etc. Remember – a knife is only a good investment if you use it regularly and enjoy doing so!
Below, we take a look at what to pay close attention to as you select the best small pocket knife.
What To Pay Attention To When Buying This Product
This can be a little tricky. Each state has its own requirements and legalities around knives and blade lengths/types. However, you should be able to find a sturdy, legal pocketknife regardless of where you live.
Just be sure to do some research into what kinds of knives are legal in your state and how you should be carrying them. Pay attention to small details. For example, some place will not allow the carry of locking knives. And other places, unfortunately, won’t allow concealed carry knives at all. However, that’s rare.
In a lot of places, switchblades are illegal. In other areas, folded pocket knives are against the law. Blade length may also factor in, so check specifics and make sure you’re abiding by all the proper regulations. Having your small pocket knife confiscated is not something you want to experience, regardless of how much you spent!
most common complaints from people who are disappointed in their knife has to do with the feel and fit of the handle. If you can, you might want to hold your knife before purchasing it, or hold a very similar knife.
Some people want an incredibly small knife and later find that it’s simply too small for their hand. Comfort is also an issue. If you’re using your knife to fish or taking it with you into the great outdoors, you want to pay close attention to the grip and comfort. A slippery handle is not going to be your ally in the water.
Specifically, look for no-slip grip, G-10, and smartly-placed finger notches or jimping. If you don’t like the way your knife feels in your hand, or if you can’t maneuver and grip it well, the whole thing is a bust.
People are very particular about size. Even though this is a list covering best small pocket knife, you’ll notice there’s still quite a bit of variety in blade length. While some swear by the compact novelty of a very small knife, others will complain they can’t even get their hand around it.
Just know that if your hands are on the larger size, you’re not going to be a good match for the smallest knife ever made. Opt for something more midway, with a 3” blade, and save yourself the trouble of feeling like a giant with an useless tool.
Having a good pocket clip is going to save you a lot of grief. You don’t want a knife free-floating in your pocket and you also want it to be discreet. A good, durable pocket clip gives you easy access and positions your knife for a quick-draw.
Clips come in all different colors, sizes, shapes and materials. What matters most is functionality. You want a clip that’s high-quality and durable, not some flimsy afterthought the manufacture threw in as a bonus. A good clip keeps your knife slightly higher in your pocket and keeps your EDC secure.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s)
It depends on your every day. Some people swear by the Swiss Army knife for their every day because they love the sheer versatility the multi-tool offers. Other people carry a Swiss Army and a folding knife. All of the knives on this list were chosen because of their potential to be great EDC knives. So once again, we’ll have to go with the Kershaw Leek as our first-place EDC.
The number one knife on our list is made in the USA. The Kershaw Leek ranks so high because of its universally-loved size and its strong reputation. You can get the Leek in a ton of different colors, which is always fun. But mostly, the Leek is tops because it’s got a strong, sharp Sandvik blade, sturdy pocket clip, and high quality bead-blasted stainless steel handle.
It’s a dependable knife that you can carry daily with confidence. You can use it for a wide variety of purposes and depend on its sturdy, heavy duty materials for the long haul.
Even though you probably aren’t going to ever cause any damage with your knife, you might be surprised how much legislation there is around the possession and concealment of pocket knives. As we’ve mentioned before, the laws and regulations vary by state. A quick Google search of your state of residence should put you in a good frame of mind to proceed legally.
Some of the rules can get a little tricky, but most of the time it is legal to carry a pocket knife while camping. And while it may seem like you should keep your knife securely tucked away, some states will allow you to carry a knife, but not conceal it. Just study up on the rules where you live, or wherever you’re going camping, and you should be fine.
Are you planning to go backpacking? We’ve also reviewed the 10 Best Backpacking Knives to give you the best advice!
Yes. In fact a pocket knife is sometimes a much better option than anything you’ve got lying around the kitchen. All of the small pocket knives on this list are incredibly sharp. You can use them when you go hunting, camping, fishing, or even around the kitchen.
Just be sure to clean your knife thoroughly when using it for food. If you plan on using your knife for food, choose a knife that’s easy to clean in all its nooks and crannies.
EDC knives can come in really handy for food prep, peeling, spreading, slicing, and more. Further assisting with your dinner prep, a Swiss Army knife can open cans and bottles, as well as cut just about anything with its regular blade.
Many of the knives on our list are from reputable, highly-popular brands. Names like Swiss Army, Kershaw, and Spyderco are practically synonymous with EDC knives. But there are some other great brands that we love, even if they didn’t make it on this particular list.
Other brands you can trust include Benchmade, Gerber, Buck, and SOG.
Of course it’s possible that no other knife is more universally recognized and respected than the Swiss Army knife. It’s a highlighted entry on many of our top-ten lists and for good reason. Some other specific knives that are gaining a lot of notoriety are the SOG Flash 2, Ontario Rat i, and the Spyderco Paramilitary 2.
Technically, yes. Which is strange, because there are a hundred uses for a knife. And injuring people is probably last on anyone’s list. But because it’s super-sharp and, yes, potentially lethal, your EDC is considered a weapon.
But most people understand that a knife’s primary purpose is never injury to another human. In fact, knives are essential tools for hunters, fishermen, outdoorsmen, survivalists, campers, climbers, and the list goes on and on. Unlike a gun, a knife has every day, practical applications that can keep you, and other people, alive and well.
Most states realize this and have reasonable laws around knife possession and carry. Just look into your local laws before you make your purchase to make sure you don’t end up with a confiscated knife.
Remember, shopping for a pocket knife should be fun! Your small pocket knife is likely going to be your EDC and a dependable partner to help you get through daily life with a little more savvy, efficiency, and ease. Even if you think you’ll only use a knife occasionally, you might be surprised how often it comes in handy once you’ve got it!
There’s some great variety on this list because we wanted to ensure there was a little something for everyone. Whether you’re looking to open packages, prepare fish, do some wood working, or a little bit of everything, the best small pocket knife in 2021 is a multi-tasking personal assistant you don’t want to go without.
David Clarke is one of the most active authors for KnivesExpert. He has been working as a professional chef for 8 years now. In his spare time he is always looking for new tastes which he can use in his restaurant. David is also a real knife enthousiast and he only wants to use the best of the best. The search for the best knife resulted in the start of Knivesexpert!