When you’re shopping around for folding knives, all the while trying to get the most bang for your buck possible, it can be pretty overwhelming considering the plethora of options available on the market. You don’t want something cheap – a box cutter is cheap – you want something that’s good value for your hard-earned cash. And that’s tricky to do. Why?
Well, when the vast majority of us look for a folding knife that’ll provide the very most for the money, we’re looking for value in terms of both performance and materials relative to price. That’s quite a lot to take into consideration, and each person will weigh different variables differently. As a result, it’s likely that no two people will have the same opinion of what the best folding knives bang-for-buck per price point really are.
That doesn’t stop us from trying, however. Each time we make a purchase, we’re essentially deeming a knife worthy in terms of value for the price we’re paying for it. Knives that no one thinks is worth the money just plain won’t sell. So if you’ve got a favourite folding knife in your pocket right know, chances are you think it’s pretty damn good value for what you paid for it.
I figured it’d be helpful to compile a list like this separate from my list of the best EDC knives on the market particularly because bang-for-buck, those knives aren’t always the most optimal. This list is for those who are looking for the best value, but with a particular price range in mind, not with unlimited funds or a specific purpose in mind.
We get asked to suggest some of the best knives based on price point often, and it’s in my opinion a good way to look at things anyway. There’s absolutely only good in trying to get the best for your money, and besides, I love browsing for knives and making elaborate wishlists anyway, so this was more than a little fun for me on my end (don’t deny it; I’m sure you love making wishlists too!).
Not going to lie, when I had this concept in mind, I thought coming up with a list was going to be much easier than it ended up being. A lot of knives fall awkwardly on the line in terms of price point, and with so many factors to consider and so many options on the market, it’s difficult to get your bearings when you’re trying to ascertain value. But I’m happy with this list and think I did a pretty good job. Feel free to disagree of course, as that’s what makes lists like this interesting! Love to know what you guys think are some of the most valuable for price / bank-for-buck folders you’ve ever bought – as I often feel those are the best knives to purchase and recommend!
And now, finally, for the list…
Best Folding EDC Knives Under $20
(Okay, I cheated a little for this one and included some knives that were a dollar or two above $20… but bare with me on this one ’cause those extra couple bucks make a huge difference!)
1. Spyderco Byrd Cara Cara II
Never owned a Byrd knife, mostly because no one has asked me to review them and I literally own an ungodly amount of Spydies, but bang for buck, it’s hard to compete with the Cara Cara. Kudos to Spyderco for introducing a more accessible line of folding knives for the masses!
2. Opinel #8
How can you make a list about the best folding knives by price point without mentioning the Opinel? You just can’t. Not without being completely off the mark. That’s how. Reviewed here.
3. CRKT Drifter
I recently picked this folder up. Aesthetically speaking, I wasn’t impressed and found it to be quite boring, but in terms of fit and finish and overall ergonomics, I was generally impressed. A solid option, especially for this price point. Reviewed here.
4. Kershaw Chill
I’ve spoken about it before – I absolutely love this knife, and the more I use it the more it grows on me. Lightweight with great lines and snappy action. Reviewed here.
5. Cold Steel Mini Tuff Lite
Again, this is one of those knives I actually don’t own, but I’ve handled it in a store before, and was qutie impressed. Very secure grip, and a super strong lock in a diminutive package.
Best Folding EDC Knives Under $30
1. Ontario RAT 1
The quintessential modern classic, everybody knows this knife and for good reason- great grinds with solid, neutral ergonomics. Reviewed here.
2. Kershaw/Emerson CQC-6K
I can’t say enough about how great this knife is. I bought it the week it came out and instantly fell in love with it. Months upon months later and I still feel the exact same way. Bang for buck, if I had to choose just one knife out of all of these, I would argue it’d have to be somewhere near the top of the list. Reviewed here.
3. Buck Vantage
I own this folder, and whilst I found the action disappointing (the flipper is sub par), the grinds on the blade are very clean with excellent slicing potential; all made in America for under 30 bucks. Not bad at all for the money. Reviewed here.
4. Cold Steel Voyager (Medium)
Incredible value at the price that it’s currently at. Obviously, this sale likely isn’t going to last, but while it’s up, I strong recommend taking advantage of it. Very nice EDC with that unique brutish Cold Steel signature look.
5. Kershaw Thermite
I snapped this up a few months ago; very well made with excellent ergonomics with above average fit and finish taking into account price point. Kershaw continues to impress me at the sub $30 mark. Reviewed here.
Best Folding EDC Knives Under $50
1. Spyderco Tenacious
I remember when the Tenacious first came out: the forums exploded in both frustration and anticipation of a China-made Spyderco. Fast forward a few years and I can’t imagine the Spydie line up with this knife. Needless to say, excellent deal for the money. Reviewed here.
2. Kershaw Leek
One of the most unique knives in my collection with the most acute needlepoint tip in a production knife I have ever seen. Incredible value for money both then and now. Reviewed here.
3. Cold Steel Talwar
4. Kershaw Link
One of my latest acquisitions. Shockingly good folder with a very lean utility blade. Can’t wait to write the review for this one.
5. CRKT Hissatsu
If this isn’t the first article of mine you’ve read – you probably know by now how much I love the CRKT Hissatsu. It’s not a perfect knife in terms of performance and its weight is less than desirable, but I wouldn’t change a thing about it. Reviewed here.
Best Folding EDC Knives Under $100
1. Spyderco Delica 4
Technically, the Delica 4 is at the low end of the $50-$100 price point, but its performance exceeds the vast majority of its peers. If you can stretch your dollar, you can pick up the Delica in a bunch of interesting steels, like ZDP-189 or one of the frequent sprint runs with exotic options like laminated 420J2 with a super blue blade. Worth the upgrade in my opinion, but the original is also quite excellent. Reviewed here.
2. CRKT G.S.D.
|Columbia River Knife & Tool 3710 G.S.D Folder Knife with Veef Flat Top Serrations, 3.32″, Silver
4 total customer reviews…
Haven’t handled it yet, but going by looks and initial reviews, I know this one will be a winner. Very high on my to buy list.
3. Cold Steel Ultimate Hunter
Cold Steel is really upping their game this year with a huge jump for quality in steel choice (Aus-8 to CTS-XHP), and a bunch of new, innovate designs. The Ultimate Hunter is the epitome of these improvements. It sits just as comfortably at home in your pocket for EDC tasks as does in the field. Excellent buy.
4. Benchmade Griptilian
|Benchmade 551 Griptillian Pardue Design; Plain Edge; Satin Drop Point Blade with Black Handle and AXIS technology, Made in USA
212 total customer reviews…
Despite my complaints regarding the poor feel of the scales (hollow and cheap) I still maintain that the execution of the Griptilian is superb as an EDC option. I can’t get enough of the AXIS lock and I wish it was available on more knives under a hundred bucks. Reviewed here.
5. SOG Vulcan
|SOG Specialty Knives & Tools VL-01 Vulcan Knife with Straight Edge Assisted Folding 3.5-Inch VG10 Steel Blade and GRN Handle, Satin Finish
49 total customer reviews…
The ARC lock operates smoothly and locks up with authority. Despite past criticisms of SOG folders, I think the Vulcan is a winner. Only real issue I have with it is the lack of a strong detent, rendering the flipper action mediocre at best. Reviewed here.
Best Folding EDC Knives Under $150
1. Spyderco Para-Military 2
Basically the best valued knife in the industry, as I have mentioned many times before. I strongly suggest the Para 2 as a solid contender for anyone who just wants one good knife. Reviewed here.
2. Hogue Extreme Series 3.5
|Hogue Extreme Series Knife Aluminum Frame 3.5-Inch Tanto Blade Tumble Finish, Matte Black
2 total customer reviews…
Never owned one but have been tempted many times. One of the few production knives on the market with a solid button lock. Really dig those clean industrial lines.
3. Zero Tolerance 0350
The most inexpensive introduction to the ZT overbuilt/beater range. I personally prefer my EDCs to be ground lean, but I can definitely appreciate the more overbuilt options for those times when you really need to use a knife for rougher tasks.
4. Benchmade Sequel
Always found Benchmades to be a touch too expensive based on materials offered and relative to price point, but then again, after holding the Benchamde Sequel, I don’t have much to complain about. It’s just an extremely well made folder with excellent fit and finish, and one of the most intuitive locks on the market.
5. Boker Solo
Jens Anso has such a unique sense of style and his knives reflect that perfectly. Boker has done a fantastic job with this production version of a custom classic.
Best Folding EDC Knives Under $200
1. Benchmade Adamas
|Benchmade 275BKSN Plain Edge Black Coated Blade/ Sand Color G10 Handle/ Sand MOLLE® Pouch
74 total customer reviews…
By far and large the most heavy duty knife I own in all sense of the word. Very tough.. everything. It’s like carrying around a boat anchor in your pocket, but then again, it’s definitely the most bad ass boat anchor around. Reviewed here.
2. Spyderco Sage II
Introduced as the poor man’s Sebenza, the Sage II does not disappoint. Pretty much perfect manufacturing from Taichung, Taiwan. Designed from the ground up to cater exclusively for performance. One of my favourite EDC’s of all time. Reviewed here.
3. Spyderco Vallotton
If you want your knife to make a statement, the Vallotton definitely has a lot to say! Very clean design with lots of unique aesthetic flourishes that scream tactical refinement. I can’t wait to get my hands on one.
4. Benchmade 940/Osborne
One of the most famous Benchmade designs along with the Benchmade 710. I always found it to be a fantastic option for a discreet carry that packs a lot of blade.
5. Viper Free
Been seeing these floating around recently. A very utilitarian blade shape and well received reviews has definitely peaked my interest. Hoping to be getting my hands on one of these soon!
Of course, now it’s your turn to let me know where I’ve gone astray – what folding knives have you purchased that you’d consider to be the best value in terms of bang for buck? Which knives do you think shouldn’t have made it to this list? Which do you not own but think would probably be good to throw up here somewhere?
Share your thoughts in the comments!