The number of pocket knife brands in the market today is way too many to keep track of, and if you are a new entrant into the knife world, finding the right brand can be a little tricky if you lack guidance. To help you cut down the options if you are on the lookout for a pocket knife, we will look at 10 of the best folding knife brands and all the classic styles associated with them.
We will look at the designs that make these brands very popular, the history behind them and how they started, and how they have come to carve out a niche in the ever-competitive pocket knife world. So sit back and relax, and by the end of this, you will have al;l the information you need to get the best pocket knife that fits your needs.
1. Buck Knives
Buck knives are best known as field knives as they are designed to deal with any kind of outdoor setting without failing. It has a solid construction that ensures the knife can be used for all kinds of outdoor tasks that most folding knives cannot handle.
Buck Knives were invented in 1902 by Hoyt Buck, a young blacksmith at the time who, through his experience, had stumbled on a unique way of improving edge retention in blades. The brand slowly grew from a small knife-making company to become one of the best-known pocket knife brands in the world. With its headquarters still in Idaho, Bucks knives are now sold all over the globe, with a good number of knife enthusiasts who prefer the reliability of the blades over other brands.
Over the years, the company has expanded its catalog to include all types of knives from tactical knives, fishing and hunting knives, and even cutlery. However, Buck knives don’t come cheaply. This is due to the high-quality materials used and the skill it takes to forge them, but they are very durable and the type of pocket knives you would want to have with you every time you undertake outdoor activities.
Kershaw is another household name in the knife world and has been around since 1974. Kershaw knives were the brainchild of Pete Kershaw, a knife salesman who decided to take a chance with manufacturing knives rather than sell for other brands.
The most standout features of Kershaw knives are the slender blades and very reliable opening and closing mechanisms that make these folding knives one of the fastest in the game right now. The company behind the Kershaw knives is based in Oregon and has expanded over the years to include other types of knives, even going as far as making surgical blades, which is all the proof you need to know how reliable the brand is.
Emerson knives are some of the most tactical knives you will ever come across, and they are heavily used by the military around the globe. The company behind this brand was established in 1979 by Ernest Emerson, a combat instructor who used his experience to develop a knife that was well balanced and suited for close combat. Some of the best-known military forces that have been known to use Emerson knives include the US Navy Seals, the British SAS, the Delta Force, the Army Rangers, among many others.
Some standout features that should be of interest to you regarding these knives are their great balance, high-quality blades, longevity, and the ability to be used for a number of outdoor tasks besides defensive needs.
Benchmade Knives is a brand headquartered in California founded in 1979 by Les De Asis, who started out making balisong knives. The name of the company was actually Bali-Song before it changed to Benchmade in 1988 after another brief name change in 1986 to Pacific Cutlery Company.
Today, the company is based in Oregon City and is credited to being the very first knife manufacturer to use laser cutting technology to make blades. This catapulted the company to the very top due to the fact that they could now make blades using steel that until then had been considered too hard to forge.
There’s no knife owner around who has never heard of the name Spyderco because it is one of the most beautiful pocket knives around. These knives are highly versatile, and they can be used for all kinds of outdoor activities that you can think of, all thanks to the eligible construction that makes use of high-quality materials that ensure the knife lasts longer with very minimal maintenance needs.
Spyderco was established in 1976 by Gail and Sal Glesser in Colorado, where it had begun as a humble knife sharpener. It was not until 1981 that the company created its first knife. Over the years, it has embraced technology, which is why it has become a top brand in the world today.
6. Gerber Gear
Gerber is another great brand that was established in 1939, making it among the oldest brands around. The brand started out as a manufacturer of axes, scissors, and multi-tools before it started to focus on outdoor knives as they started becoming popular. The reason why the brand has been able to survive for this long is its ability to adapt when times change and its use of high-quality materials that give the blades great durability.
Most of the Gerber knives are tactical in nature, and they are heavily used by the United States Army. It has been one of the primary suppliers of military blades, with an annual supply of about 686,000 tons. The addition of automated manufacturing has further increased the manufacturing capacity of this company.
7. DPx Gear
DPx Gear is a more recent brand of pocket knives that was established in 2008 by Robert Young Pelton. Prior to this, Robert had worked as a war correspondent and an adventurer and this played a huge role in inspiring his switch to making knives. Knives made under this brand are best known for their high quality and strong blades that make them one of the best defensive pocket knives that have ever been made.
However, being a new entrant in the game, DPx Gear doesn’t have an extensive catalog compared to most other brands, but it is bound to achieve this in the near future. But the few types that exist are not that cheap either, and even running into them in your local knife shop can be a little hard.
Cold Steel Knife is another knife distributor with a slightly longer history, having been established in 1980 and is best known for making a range of sharp and strong blades. In fact, the company does claim to make the sharpest blades in the world, but that’s up for debate for those who have yet to experience the knife first hand.
One standout feature of this highly capable knife is the use of Griv-Ex reinforced plastic, which adds extra strength and durability to the entire knife, making it a very reliable tactical knife that can be used for other tasks when out in the wild hunting or camping. On the flip side, they are very affordable and have amazing appearances; the only drawback is that finding them can be a little hard, and not many knife enthusiasts know about it.
If you have ever come across a pocket knife with a tree symbol etched into the blade, then you are aware of what Boker Manufactory knives are. It is easy to mistake these knives with multitools as they are diminutive, and most come with more than one blade attached. Another interesting fact of the Boker knives is that they are the oldest known pocket knife brand as it has been around since the 17th century.
They still produce their customary and traditional knives with bone handles, but they have expanded their catalog to include modern knives that can be used for all kinds of outdoor activities. Finding these awesome pocket knives in the market is not as hard as some of the other brands, but they are not your average knife pieces that you often run into in your local knife shop.
If this name is too mouthful to register anything in your memory, then you must have come across a knife branded as CRKT. These are among the largest pocket knives you will come across in the market today, and they are quite adept at outdoor activities.
CRKT is the brainchild of Rod Bremer and Paul Gillespi, who broke away from working for Kershaw in 1994 to set up their own knife-making company. This was a bold move at the time considering how big Kershaw had already grown by then and the competition from other upcoming brands.
The most standout feature of these knives is their ambidextrous nature which means the brand makes knives suitable for left-handed people, something that is very rare in the knife world. They also come with a thumb-slot opening and closing mechanism, and this makes them quite fast and convenient, the kind of knife you want when you are being ambushed. The handles are mostly made of stainless steel,fast-rising, and this can be a little challenging if you have sweaty hands or if you use them in a very cold climate.
11. Shieldon Knives
Established in 1998, Shieldon is a fast rising player in the pocket knife arena and one of the best pocket knife brands; despite being around for a much shorter time than most of the other brands in this list, it is steadily making big moves, all thanks to their high-quality products. The company is headquartered in Guangdong, China but distributes its knives to all parts of the world as the demand keeps on arguing every day.
On top of making pocket knives, Shieldon also specializes in making fixed knives and multi-tools, which can be used for different situations at a fraction of the price that higher brands are offering, a good bargain for any new entrant. A good number of knives made by Shieldon can be used for both outdoor and indoor activities, and considering how long-lasting they can be, you get the freedom to use them however you want without worrying about too much knife maintenance.
The company also offers OEM knife options for people who want unique knives that will make them stand out from the rest of the crowd. Over the years, Shieldon has grown from its humble beginnings in 1998 to starting taking part in exhibitions in 2000, to winning their first award for their exemplary products in 2004 to finally landing the prestigious ISO certification a year later. The growth trajectory has been on an upward movement ever since, and the future does look bright.
It is hard to put a number to the knife brands that are in active production today. The ten that we have mentioned here are just the tip of the iceberg. That is not to say that anything missing from this list is inferior. When it comes to choosing the ideal pocket knife, it all comes down to personal preferences and a combination of other factors. For more information on pocket knives, the right way to handle them, and where to get them at affordable prices, be sure to pay us a visit and contact us at your earliest convenience.
Shieldon Knife is a professional custom pocket knife manufacturer that owns a factory and designers. Check out our blogs for tips and tricks around outdoor knives and multi-tools! Or contact us if you need help with sourcing hinges.