When I returned to the UK in May of last year, I found the transition to be quite jarring in terms of legally permissible EDC knives. In Canada I quite happily carried anything I damn well pleased, as the legislation is so vague (knives are legal, weapons are not – the cop gets to decide which is which) that I didn’t feel constrained in any tangible fashion.
The UK however, is a different kettle of fish. The laws here are quite defined with what is considered legal to carry in pragmatic terms (folding, no lock, and sub 3-inch blade). Even though the law technically allows you to carry most knives as long as you have a “valid reason,” the reality is that no reason will ever be valid enough for the police to give you a free pass, so we Brits tend to ere on the side of caution and stick to the 100% legal EDC options.
Before I get into the nitty gritty, I would like to point out that this is concerning knives you can carry in public.
On private land or property you can carry anything you damn well please, excluding banned weapons like automatic knives and push daggers amongst others, so bare that in mind.
A Bit About UK Legal Knives
The British legal system has historically been full of populist rhetoric and thus our laws are as clear as soup. We even have legislation against so called “zombie knives” which is to say; knives that are offensive in nature as per their imagery. Which is as ridiculous as it sounds.
With such a broken system, companies like Spyderco, Boker, and Lanksy amongst many others have seized on the opportunity to produce something exclusively for this restrictive market, and whilst I personally find the laws utterly stupid, I have come to appreciate a nice sub 3 inch slipjoint.
With the huge range of options available to us these days, it’s honestly fine to be a knife aficionado and still be within the letter of the law (although some companies like Lanksy reallllly push the boundaries as you can see in this review of their World Legal knife).
But enough talk. You can learn more about UK knife laws right here. The point of this one is to get down to the recommendations, so here we go.
Best UK Friendly Folders: Quality Knives You Can Legally Carry in the UK
I know, I know. It’s such a standard, default suggestion, but realistically, this is truly a incredible EDC regardless of where you live. This knife was designed to fit within the parameters of the law (and it does), but Spyderco did much, much more than that. They took a simple set of requirements and created a lightweight, dependable folding light saber. This is a tool that will cut, cut, and cut. If you are lucky enough to own the titanium version – do not let it go, as in my opinion, it’s a straight up classic.
Read our review of the Spyderco UKPK
One of my favourite knives, period. The feel, performance, and comfort of this pattern is remarkable. If I could own only one knife for a year, I think this would be my choice. It can go everywhere without drawing any negative attention. I think this is a must-have future classic.
Read our review of the Case Sway Back Gent
Inexpensive, steeped in history, and a great, thin EDC with a superbly strong spring. Probably one of my favourite knives regardless of where I live. I am always impressed by its simple design which results in one of the most dependable folders you can buy.
Read our review of the Douk-Douk
I personally love the Higonokami despite is questionable ergonomics and safety. The handles, much like the handles on the Douk-Douk, are stamped into shape. Unlike the Douk-Douk, however, it doesn’t feel quite as sturdy, and the teensy rat tail makes it an inferior friction folder compared to the Svord Peasant (#9 on this list) as far as safety is concerned.
I bought the Roadie soon after buying the Spyderco Pingo and being thoroughly unimpressed. The Roadie is probably one of the most discreet knives I own without getting into the ridiculous keychain options. In a lot of ways, it’s the sort of knife that looks like it can’t do much, but after carrying it for a couple of months, you realize how much it can really handle. Believe it or not, I can actually get a full 4 finger grip on the scales. Crazy.
Read our review of the Spyderco Roadie
If you want a folding EDC that looks like a “normal” knife with zero gimmicks, and yet is still within the legal parameters, I think this is one of the best options. Fantastic fit and finish with great materials (those scales are lovely) with the only exception being the stereotypically weak Boker clip screws. I stripped mine on the first day. Besides that, the Boker Tech Tool is basically the perfect utilitarian slip joint folder in my opinion. As a sidenote, I only own the bare-bone model – the one without all the tools attached to it.
Read our review of the Boker Tech Tool
7. Enzo PK70
The Enzo PK70 is a UK-legal folding bushcrafter. Gotta love having a sub 3 inch folder with a scandi grind and no lock. Taking into account premium materials, I think the price is pretty affordable, and its wood processing performance is fantastic when you take into account that yes, it still is a small folding knife. Gotta give credit where credit is due; not many companies would gamble and create something for such a small niche demographic, but I am very happy they did.
Can’t really talk about UK legal knives without giving a nod to the Victorinox Swiss Army knives. I recommend them all (generally speaking) as the quality relative to price is out of this world. I personally love the Victorinox Alox Pioneer, but your mileage (and taste) may vary. Elise absolutely hates the way all Victorinox Swiss Army Knives look, so whilst they are undoubtedly the world’s most popular knives, it’s fair to say they have detractors, too. With that said, I have yet to hear someone complain about the build or performance of them, and after over a hundred years of mass manufacturing, that’s an impressive feat.
Probably the ugliest knife in my collection by a significant margin. Aesthetics aside, I think the Svord Peasant is a superb performer. The friction folder is very safe due to the elongated tang, and the scales are ridiculously comfortable. I own the plastic version, and I suggest you get that one too. It’s cheaper and more comfortable in my opinion. The blade itself is made of carbon steel that is a joy to sharpen, and despite its rustic appearance, I think its performance, especially on wood, is incredible.
Read our review of the Svord Peasant
10. Fox Dragotac Slim Friction Folder FRN
Hasn’t landed in my mailbox yet, but I am throwing it on here because I instinctively know that it’s a winner. Bastinelli is one of the most interesting designers of this generation, and this collaboration with Fox Knives is a match made in heaven. That blade looks like it could cut atoms. The sterile FRN scales help keep costs down. Its a winner, I’m calling it.
11. CRKT Journeyer
A controversial suggestion, but in my opinion it’s a great knife as long as you understand that as far as slip joints go, it’s not particularly rigid in terms of lockup. No backspring, but rather a sharp detent ball. In practice, this makes the Journeyer trivial to open and close, but you do lose that “safe” feeling you get from the Spyderco UKPK or the Douk-Douk. A lot of people seem to have a problem with this as per their reviews, but I don’t particularly see the issue. Obviously, you have to know what you’re getting when you are buying it, and objectively, if you are going to use this for rough work, you should use the optional torx key locking mechanism.
Other Options: Not-Quite-Recommended UK Friendly Folders to Look Into
If you want to own a UK friendly knife that is legal based purely on technical merit, then this is it. It’s the sort of design that is created to really push the boundaries of what is permissible, and while it fits the definition of a UK legal EDC, I do imagine that the police may want to have a word with you should you ever use it in public. Its aggressive styling is so extreme that it makes a regular oversized knife like the Benchmade Adamas seem submissive by comparison. I do like owning it, as it’s an interesting concept, but I honestly didn’t EDC it after I reviewed it.
Read our review of the Lansky World Legal
2. Quartermaster Barney McGrew Flagged Friction Folder
Yeah, it’s an oddball design and availability is limited, but if you want a friction folder with premium materials “just because,” as well as a seriously unique design, then this is it. I have mixed feelings about this one, as the pivot features ball bearings, which I don’t think is particularly good for a friction folder. I found myself having to really crank down on the pivot. The blade and grip design is also very “tactical” in nature, and whilst it performs just fine for regular EDC tasks, it is a bit weird to handle.
Read our review of the Quartermaster Barney McGrew Flagged
This is a brand I have never heard of and I bought the Daburu “just to see.” Never been so happy with a gamble. The dual blade set up is unconventional, but in my mind is well implemented with a very pointy needle-like option for detail work, as well as a sturdier Wharncliffe blade. The interesting thing is both the steel used (1070 carbon steel), and the fact that the handles are legit bone. In a lot of ways, if someone told me this was an artisan knife from Japan, I would believe them. It certainly doesn’t feel nor perform like an inexpensive Chinese blade.
More UK Legal Knives?
On the hunt for other UK-legal knives? Check out all our reviews of UK-friendly folders on this site. We’ll be adding a lot more to this section of the blog in the years to come since we’re now officially on British soil and are here to stay. Obviously, we’ll also be adding non-UK legal knives as well (they can’t stop us from carrying what we want on private property!), but definitely will be buffing up the UK-legal section.
Want to figure out if some of the knives you already have are UK-friendly? Check out my write up on UK knife law here for the specifics of what make knives UK-legal EDCs.
What are your favourite UK Friendly Folders?
Are there any other knives you would put on this list as excellent UK-legal EDC folders?
If you live in the UK yourself, what do you find yourself carrying most often? Do you have different knives that you carry at home versus out and about?
Drop a comment down below!