Updated April 2017
With summer on its way, we've updated this review as of April 2017, including new information to help you select the pocket knife that's right for you. Our Editors' Choice winner is still the cream of the crop in 2017, and we've pointed out models that have additional designs available. We've also added charts and graphs to aid in your decision.
Best Overall Pocket Knife
Benchmade Mini-Barrage 585
Legendary blade construction
Blade-closed lock mechanism requires a learning curve
The Benchmade Mini-Barrage 585
is built for precision and its design helps it maintain its Editors' Choice status in this review update. With a blade that arrives razor-sharp and ready for the task at hand, Benchmade's LifeSharp sharpening service sweetens the deal. If you cover shipping costs, they will return the edge to factory specs throughout the length of your ownership. The handle fits in the palm well, while still sitting easily in a pant pocket. An assisted opening system, deployable by either hand, reliably pulls the blade to "ready" status. And for carrying in a pocket or purse, the blade can be safely locked in the closed position. Finally, our hunting-focused testers endorsed the knife's fine-edged prowess, carrying it as their primary blade for backcountry hunting missions.
Read full review: Benchmade Mini-Barrage 585
Top Pick for Keychain-Readiness and Compactness
Victorinox Classic SD Swiss Army
Tiny and portable
Not suitable for heavy usage
The Victorinox Classic SD Swiss Army Knife
earns our Top Pick award because of its keychain-readiness. More compact than your car's door remote, this Victorinox is unobtrusive and ready for action. When needed, the diminutive blade rises to most occasions. Our lead tester's first knife was a Victorinox Classic, 30 years ago. His childish whittling, prying, and poking never bent or broke the blade. Adults love the Classic for its grooming tools and compactness. The scissors appear toy-like but are easily pressed into duty, cutting things as rugged as rock climbing webbing. For more routine tasks, the scissors excel.
Read full review: Victorinox Classic SD Swiss Army Knife
Top Pick for Burly Construction in a Lightweight Package
SOG Trident Elite
Burly construction in a lightweight package
Bulkier than some options
We grant Top Pick awards to specialized gear excelling in a sub category. Among the tactical, rescue-oriented knives tested, the SOG Trident Elite
stands out. When compared to its closest competitor, the Neokut Black Kryptonite
, the SOG is lighter and has a blade made of better steel. SOG is well known for making its blades, even on their most budget friendly products, of strong AUS-8 steel. The Trident has this material, shaped into a burly blade and packaged in a handle that breaks glass, cuts cord, and engages and stows the blade quickly and securely. The whole package is a little heavier than our Editors' Choice product. It also comes in a serrated and straight edge version, so you can tailor your knife to fit your needs.
Read full review: SOG Trident Elite
Best Bang for the Buck
Constructed like a work of art
Handle doesn't allow significant application of pressure to blade
The Kershaw Leek
packages a pedigreed blade into a compact, assisted-opening tool at half the price of other high-end knives. The blade is made of high-grade steel and comes from the factory sharp. Like the assisted opening of the Editors' Choice-winning Mini-Barrage, the Leek can be opened with either thumb and locks closed. In addition, Kershaw has engineered a tab on the rear of the blade that allows blade deployment with the index finger. The Kershaw Leek's primary compromise, in our opinion, is the narrow handle profile. Compared to our Editors' Choice winner, the Leek is similar in most dimensions, but it is considerably thinner. Many will appreciate the lower profile for carrying, though edge thickness requires inherent tradeoffs.
Read full review: Kershaw Leek