Most of us have things we carry with us everyday of our lives, whether it be a handgun for self-defense or a flashlight. A whole industry seems to have sprung up around “everyday carry” or EDC. One of those things that a lot of people carry with them everyday is a knife. Different people will have different needs for carrying a knife, such as maybe as a self-defense weapon, however for us an EDC knife is more of a tool than necessarily a weapon (although it can certainly be both). There are a lot of knives out there that are great (and some not so great) EDC knives. So today we want to look at some of the popular knives to try and figure out which knife we think is the best EDC knife for our needs.
What we look for in a EDC knife
Let us just also start off by saying that we here at Smoking Barrel USA are not knife experts. We love a good knife, but in terms of the science and details of what makes a knife truly great there are some real experts out there that really know what goes into a really good knife. For that reason we refer you to some of their expert reviews on Youtube in the sections below.
However, there are some key factors that we think about when we want to buy the best EDC knife for our needs.
The blade of a knife is what will largely determine the success of the knife. There are a few factors that need to be considered when it comes to blades, such as the style of blade (tanto vs drop point vs clip point, etc) and the material from which the blade is made. There are a lot of different types of materials from which knife blades can be made, so for the purpose of this article we won’t go into that much detail. But you can check out this useful page from KnifeCenter.com that describes the various blade materials out there – here. When it comes to the best EDC knife options, most of the top knives will have a stainless-steel blade that is hard and corrosion resistant.
Made to last
An EDC knife is a tool that will have to work hard on a daily basis. So it needs to be built to be able to withstand whatever work you through at it. Besides the blade quality, we also like to look at the overall build quality of the knife. Is the handle made from flimsy plastic that will scratch easily? How is the knife held together? Will the blade locking mechanism stop working after a few uses? How easy is it to maintain the knife?
Size and Weight
The best EDC knife for your needs will likely be one that you won’t even realise is there if it is in your pocket. So when it comes to an EDC knife we want something that is not too large and definitely not too heavy. With modern materials, EDC knives are being made from very light-weight, yet strong, materials. The ideal size and weight of a knife will differ from person to person. Some bigger guys want a nice hefty knife that will fit their bigger hands well, while some folks want a really slim knife that won’t leave much of an imprint when it is in their pockets. It really depends on your personal preferences.
Knives can be expensive…really expensive! But an EDC knife is supposed to be an everyday tool that can take a beating. For us, the best EDC knife is not necessarily the most expensive knife. We would rather go for a reasonably priced knife that has adequate quality to get the job done. We generally aim for knives that fall in the $20 to $40 range. At that range, we won’t feel too bad if the knife gets a scuff or even a bit damaged during daily use.
5 EDC choices to consider
Below we list and discuss our picks for the 5 best EDC knife options out there. For each knife we considered the overall quality of the knife’s construction, the blade, grip, funcationality, etc.
Kershaw 1555TI Cryo SpeedSafe Folding Knife
This knife is designated to be a Rick Hinderer designed knife. From the official Rick Hinderer website it is clear that as a former fire fighter and EMT, Rick designs knives with every day carry in mind.
The blade is a non-serrated modified drop point with a beautiful profile. It is made from 8Cr13MoV stainless steel and is coated with Titanium carbo-nitrade, which enhances the hardness and corrosion resistance of the blade. For secure blade lock up, the Cryo offers a tough frame lock with lockbar stabilization. The Cryo also features Kershaw’s SpeedSafe assisted opening for fast and easy one-handed opening. Access it with either the built-in flipper or the thumbstud. One thing about the blade that some folks would have liked to have is a bit of a serration to help with cutting stubborn materials.
The knife is a little on the heavy side at 4.1 oz, however the thin handle ensures that it is not too bulky to carry it comfortably and inconspicuously in your pocket.
Similar to the blade, the handle is made from 8Cr13MoV stainless steel and is coated with Titanium carbo-nitrade. While the handle is on the thin side, it does have ridges for extra grip. However we wouldn’t be very confident of good grip in wet conditions with this knife. However the Kershaw 1555G10 Cryo G10 is the same design, but has a G-10 grip.
An added bonus for lefties is that you can switch clip to make it left-hand carry. You can also adjust it to be either tip-up or tip-down carry.
For a full review of the Kershaw Cryo 1555TI knife, check out the video below:
Spyderco Tenacious Plain Edge Knife
The Spyderco Tenacious is probably one of the knives you will find on most “The best EDC knife is…” lists on the net. And rightfully so. It is a hugely popular knife that has served many people faithfully.
Similar to the Kershaw, the Spyderco’s blade is made from 8Cr13MoV stainless steel. However different to the Kershaw, the Spyderco does not have a Titanium carbo-nitrade coating to enhances the hardness and corrosion resistance of the blade. The blade is leaf-shaped and ground flat from spine to cutting edge for cutting performance. The blade’s shape coupled with an oversized Spyderco Round Hole and textured spine jimping allow you to open the blade and position your thumb on the spine in slip-proof confidence ready for work.
The grip is made from G-10, which is a fiberglass based laminate that is very hard, lightweight, and strong. Surface texture is added in the form of checkering. G-10 is an ideal material for knife grips because of its ruggedness and lightweight.
The Spyderco also lets you adjust how you carry your knife (left-hand/right-hand and tip-up/tip-down).
For a full review of the Spyderco Tenacious knife, check out the video below:
Columbia River Knife and Tool M16-10KZ
If you want a more tactical type of knife, then this knife from Columbia River Knife and Tool (CRKT) might be the best EDC knife option for your needs.
The blade is a Tanto style blade that is made from black coated AUS-4 high-carbon stainless-steel. Different to the Kershaw and Spyderco, the CRKT has a serrated edge on the blade which can come in handy for really tough cutting jobs (example to cut through cord, webbing, etc). The blade is opened using the CRKT Carson Flipper. When the blade is deployed it locks into place with the AutoLAWKS™ safety. AutoLAWKS™ automatically sets a pin between the locking liner and the frame. This pin acts as an additional layer of safety, so the locking liner is less likely to disengage during use.
The handle of the knife is made from glass filled nylon. It is not the most textured grip ever, but it should get the job done for every day carry purposes. As far as weight goes, at 2.3 oz it is much lighter than the Kershaw and Spyderco options.
The clip on this knife cannot be altered and adjusted like the Kershaw and Spyderco knives’ clips can.
For a full review of the CRKT M16-10KZ knife, check out the video below:
Buck Knives Vantage Select
This is the only knife on our list of the best EDC knife options that is made in the US (the other knives are made in China).
The blade is a drop point blade and is made from 420C steel. It has a blade hole to assist with one handed opening (similar to the Spyderco, but not as big a hole), but has not jimping.
We really like the handle of the Vantage. It is a black nylon handle that has grooves in for good grip. It is also ergonomical, so should feel pretty good in your hands. The clip cannot do a four way adjustment like some of the other knives can, but it is a really solid clip that feels good and look good when you clip your knife into your pocket.
One thing that has been noted for the Buck Vantage Select seems to be the quality control. A few users have complained about the out-of-box quality of the knife and you will see in the video below there has been some concerns around the centring of the blade. Of course Buck does have a life time warranty on this knife, so if you do decide to get this knife and it is a dud….send it back and have them fix it!
For a full review of the Buck Vantage Select knife, check out the video below:
Ontario 8848 RAT Folding Knife
The RAT 1 from Ontario is the heaviest knife on our list, weighing in at 5 oz. But don’t let the weight put you off just yet, because this is a great EDC knife.
The blade is a clip point blade and is made from AUS-8 steel, which will be a bit of a problem if you have to use your knife in wet conditions. AUS-8 is a good type of steel, however it is not the most corrosion resistant steel out there. The blade is pretty sharp out the box. You can get the blade in the Satin finish (as shown in the pic above) or in the more tacticool looking black option
As with the other knives, it has a thumbstud for easy one-handed opening and employs a liner-lock to secure the blade in place when it is deployed. Similar to a few of the other knives, the clip on the handle is four way adjustable (tip-up/tip-down, left-handed/right-handed).
The grip is ergonomical and textured plastic. It is not as good as perhaps something with G-10 grips on it, but for an everyday workhorse at this price it is too be expected.
Build quality on this knife is pretty solid (which is why the knife is a bit heavier than others) with little to no blade play.
For a full review of the Ontario RAT 1 knife, check out the video below:
Which Knife Would We Choose As the Best EDC knife?
Let’s recap the knives discussed above to compare them to each other and try to figure out which one of them will be the best EDC knife for our needs.
The Kershaw Cryo knife is a nice looking knife at a very reasonable price. The knife is not too big, while still having an adequate blade to serve as the tool that you need it for. The blade is made from coated stainless steel, which should serve you well and keep a decent edge. However we would like a better grip on the handle for our choice EDC knife. If you want a solid knife for a good price, the is probably one of the best budget EDC knife options out there.
The Spyderco Tenacious is a popular knife that you will find on most people’s list of “the best EDC knife options”. The Sypderco’s blade is made from the same type of steel as the Kershaw, however it does not have the added coating that the Kershaw has. What we like about the Spyderco more than the Kershaw is the grippy handle that the Spyderco has thanks to the G-10 material. Overall, the Spyderco is an excellent knife that is really well made and has a solid blade. You cannot go wrong if you were to go the Spyderco route.
The CRKT M16-10KZ is a light-weight tactical style folding knife. It is made from similar steel as the Kershaw and Syderco, but is a Tanto styled blade, which is very sturdy and sharp. If you want a tactical style knife for EDC, then this is a good choice to go with.
The Buck Vantage is a nice looking knife with a handle that we really like. It is very similarly priced to the other knives, however this knife is made in the US and also has a life time warranty on it. There have been some concerns about quality control on these knives, but hopefully Buck has sorted that out by now.
The Ontario RAT 1 is a hefty workhorse type knife. The blade is really sharp right out of the box, however as it is made from AUS-8 steel it might get rusty if you tend to use it in wet conditions often. Overall build and quality of this knife is excellent.
So which knife would we choose?
There really are some awesome knives out there. The 5 knives we discuss above each have their unique selling point that make them contenders to be called the best EDC knife in our eyes. To recap, when we are looking to buy a EDC knife, we want something that has a good blade, is constructed well, fits well in our pocket for comfortable carry and is not too expensive. If we take those points into consideration, we would pick the Kershaw 1555TI. It is really well priced, we like the blade style and the fact that it has Titanium carbo-nitrade coating on it. While we would like a grippier handle, the thin handle does make for a low profile knife that will sit well in your pocket.
What do you think – what is the best EDC knife?
The knives we discussed above are some of the knives that we really like as EDC knives. However we know there are A LOT of great EDC knives out there and different folks will have different opinions on what they think the best EDC knife is. So if you have some thoughts on the matter, please share your thoughts on what you think the best EDC knife is in the comments section below.