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Best Budget Pocket Knives

Anyone can find a cheap knife.  

Stop by the local gas station on your way home from work today, and you’ll see what I mean. Some pocket knives, however, may be easy on the pocketbook but lack the construction and material quality to last a long time.  

You can buy a blade for ten bucks if you’re looking, but a knife going for that cheap is …. well, cheap.  As in, break-off-in-your-hand-at-the-worst-possible-moment cheap. Or the lock fails, and you get a bad cut cheap. Or the edge will dull immediately. You deserve better, and we’ve got just the knife for you. In fact, we have a whole bunch for you to choose from. 

For this list, we’ve gathered together the best knives in the business that come in at jaw-dropping prices but are also made well with high-quality materials. (Keep in mind this is a budget knife list… you’re not going to see super-steel or crazy workmanship here. But they’re all a solid steal.) Each has character, something unique to offer the user, and most importantly won’t deplete your savings.  

We took all these knives and spread them out on a table and talked over our favorite features and why we chose them. Most of us own one or more of these blades, so this list is also backed up by our accumulated experience.  

We fanboyed over the CRKT Squid XM with its durable blade and its killer swedge—that beast won’t chip easily—and appreciated the perfect functionality of the CJRB Pyrite. The Elementum II? It’s one of the top choices for Blade HQ employees. We love the smooth button lock that makes one-handed operation so easy, which has been a lifesaver on more than one occasion. Really, they all have something special that gets our seal of approval. 

Read on to see our Top 10 Budget Pocket Knives.  

Kershaw Iridium

This sleek blade is a must-have, if you’re looking for a crossbar lock knife that also has an excellent value. Kershaw’s DuraLock gives you a rock-solid lockup that’s easily released with the slide, and the aluminum handle keeps your carry comfortably light. The contrasting colored backspacer extends into a convenient lanyard hole, and the thumb stud openers are perfectly placed for easy blade deployment. This impressively rugged folder has a touch of elegant simplicity. In fact, customers have commented that the knife looks and feels much pricier than its price tag.

Owners also rave about the clean look and how great it feels in the hand. After trying one out, I have to agree. The Kershaw Iridium is a pleasure to use, and it also slips smoothly into your pocket where it rides easy until you need a knife again. 

  • 3.50″ long, D2 steel spear point blade  
  • Strong and light aluminum handle with steel liners 
  • Kershaw DuraLock cross bar lock with a button slide release
  • Reversible deep-carry pocket clip 


The CRKT Squid XM Assisted Opening makes our list for a number of reasons, but mostly due to its blade quality and incredible assisted opener. Centered perfectly, the Squid XM’s D2 steel blade comes out of the box razor-sharp; and since it’s D2, you know it will stay that way for a while. The spear point blade style takes the versatility of a drop point blade, maximizes piercing ability, and maintains an attractive symmetry. Running on ball bearings, the pivot is smooth and snappy, with enough momentum from the killer spring-assisted mechanism to rival a full automatic.

The blade isn’t the only place where this CRKT folder shines—the no-frills design of the knife as a whole just works, and rightly so. (The Squid was designed by award-winning Lucas Burnley, so, of course, it works beautifully!) The handle is simple and comfortable for a three-to-four-finger grip and the frame lock reliably keeps your blade open even during the toughest tasks.

  • Designed by Lucas Burnley
  • Black G-10 and steel scales available
  • Smooth flipper knife opener
  • Spring-assisted action

Spyderco Tenacious Lightweight

The Spyderco name is synonymous with quality EDC knives. With collectible designs in a huge variety of materials and price ranges, Spyderco accommodates top-shelf shoppers and those of us who opt for the best quality without breaking the bank. The Tenacious Lightweight is proof that you can have it all. This full-size folder is built to conquer everyday tasks, and it’s available for under $50. The blade of the Tenacious is made from 8Cr13MoV, a knife steel popular among budget makers. But where the Tenacious departs from the regular budget path is in the famous Spyderco heat treatment the steel receives, leaving you with a blade that is easy to sharpen, holds a great edge, and glides through materials like cardboard and paper with ease. The pronounced thumb ramp at the base of the blade allows you to have full control over the Tenacious for delicate work, too, like slicing zip ties. To top this design off as the EDC workhorse it is, the Tenacious features the patented Spydie thumb hole for ambidextrous fidgeting and a four-way reversible pocket clip for every possible carry option. If you’re looking for more compact but still affordable options from Spyderco, take a look at the Ambitious and Persistence!

  • Slip-proof volcano-textured FRN scales
  • Fully ambidextrous opening
  • Solid liner lock
  • Four-way pocket clip

CIVIVI Elementum II

We would be remiss if we skipped over the CIVIVI Elementum in the discussion of budget EDCs. In this case, we’re looking at the Elementum II with its excellent button lock and Nitro-V steel. 

Nitro-V is tougher than higher-end steels like ELMAX and M390, and the steel is also resistant to staining and corrosion—so that’s a huge plus. The metal’s durability has earned it its fair share of fans in the knife world.  

And then there’s the dream come true for Elementum enthusiasts—a standard-sized Elementum with a super-solid button lock. Yes, please! Take that and add the lightweight handle, tough blade with incredibly smooth, bearing-driven opening action, and the lightning-fast flipper opener—the fidget factor is through the roof! 

Made with the same manufacturing prowess as WE Knife Company knives but with more budget-friendly materials, the Elementum is as reliable as it is affordable. We love that the Elementum is a knife you can put in your pocket and forget about until you need it. And as far as what the Elementum can take on, we have yet to find an everyday task this knife can’t handle—from slicing open packages to cutting up your work snack. One of our employees even used hers to clean a few rainbow trout with no problems (though that’s not under the usual scope of EDC chores). For the price, you get a whole lot of knife with this CIVIVI design. 

  • Deep-carry pocket clip
  • Just over 3 ounces in weight
  • Handle scales available in G-10, micarta, carbon fiber, copper, and more
  • Flipper, thumb stud, button lock, and fixed blade options

Buck 110 Slim Select

If you’ve ever wished your Buck 110 folder was about a third of the weight, then do we have the knife for you. The Buck 110 Slim Select is the ultralight cousin to the American-made icon, the Buck 110, and a member of the Buck Slim series. This folder has the full-size functionality, versatile clip point blade, and vault-tight lockback system you love, but at around 2.8 ounces in weight. The Slim Select’s blade is made from 420 stainless steel with Buck and Paul Bos’s legendary heat treat. This means the affordable 420 blade steel has the highest hardness, edge retention, and toughness as it possibly can. To sweeten the pot, the Slim Select is made in the USA and comes in at just under $30!

As a performer, the Buck 110 Slim Select does everything you need it to. Featherweight FRN scales can withstand all conditions, including a trip through the washing machine (which we are all guilty of with our EDCs at one time or another). The neutral handle profile accommodates all grips so you can carve into pumpkin as easily as an apple and slice open envelopes as easily as a refrigerator box. This is a lightweight, American-made wonder that you can’t miss.

  • Deep-carry pocket clip
  • Textured, glass-reinforced nylon scales
  • Heat-treated 420 stainless blade steel
  • Made in the USA

CJRB Pyrite

The first thing you notice when you pick up a Pyrite is just how good it feels in your hand. Seriously, it seems to melt into your grip and fit snug as if it were custom designed just for you. We also appreciate the jimping on the blade spine that is far from just decorative, supplying superior purchase for your thumb during delicate cutting tasks. 

The blade steel isn’t classified as a super steel, but AR-RPM stainless holds its own. This powder-form stainless steel boasts high hardness, and decent toughness and corrosion resistance. Knife fans claim it’s easy to sharpen but holds an edge longer than similarly priced steels. 

The Pyrite is slender, but not too small. It’s the perfect medium-sized knife with a full four-finger grip. The button lock is solid, and the combo of the lock and thumb studs or thumb hole makes for easy one-handed opening. CJRB’s folder certainly lives up to the hype. Many customers have mentioned they have pricier knives, but for their EDC rotation, the Pyrite makes it into their pockets more often than not. 

  • Deep carry pocket clip.
  • G-10, carbon fiber, and steel handles available
  • AR-RPM9 powder steel blade
  • Superior ergonomic handle

RAT Model 2

For a company that’s been making knives for over 100 years, Ontario Knife Company (OKC for those in the know) is making EDC favorites for the knife community at large and adapting to changing needs of knife users. The RAT Model 2 (or RAT II) is the perfect example of this. It’s the younger sibling of the full-size RAT Model 1, and features a blade that’s been sized down from 3.6 inches to 3 inches. The blade is available in your choice of D2 or AUS-8, both tough options with excellent corrosion resistance. The RAT Model 2 maximizes its EDC size with incredible ergonomics, a thumb ramp for control so you can choke up on the blade with confidence, and textured all-weather nylon scales. The RAT II is an outdoor workhorse in addition to an everyday tank, taking down rope and popping bottles by the campfire (for legal reasons, we don’t suggest you pry stuff with your knife) as easily as it demolishes packages and mail. To top this design off, the RAT Model 2 is available in a huge variety of colors and several blade finishes, because affordable knives don’t have to be eyesores.

  • Lightweight nylon scales in OD green, tan, and more
  • Tough D2 blade steel
  • Four-way reversible pocket clip
  • Ambidextrous thumb studs

Boker Kalashnikov

The Boker Kalashnikov is a formidable automatic knife, and if the idea of EDC-ing an auto turns you off of this recommendation, hear us out. The Kalashnikov hits all the EDC essentials: It’s lightweight, reliable, tough, easy to carry and deploy, and looks good all the while. Plus, what’s worse than needing your knife for a time-sensitive task and having to fiddle with thumb studs when you could just push a button? While many automatics at this price point (and even more expensive) have a finite number of automatic deployments in them, the Kalashnikov doesn’t. It just keeps going. Plus, the materials are some of the best in the affordable knife business, with our old favorite, D2 tools steel, and cast aluminum scales. When closed, the blade is perfectly centered. When opened, the blade has virtually zero play. At around $50, this is a serious amount of power perfect for your pocket. Plus, the Kalashnikov is available in a variety of colors and the aftermarket is thriving. The original deep-carry pocket clip of these Boker automatic knives is excellent but check out the replacement clips from Flytanium for more customization.

  • D2 or AUS-8 dagger blade in a variety of finishes
  • Textured aluminum handle scales
  • Explosive automatic action
  • Just over 4 ounces in weight

Bestech Bestechman Ronan 

The Bestechman line was launched to meet market demand for a solid EDC knife that comes in at an affordable price point, but with all of Bestech’s skill and knowledge of knifemaking behind their knives. We’re happy to say, we’re impressed. Bestech’s budget line has what it takes to make us sit up and take notice.  

The Ronan is beefier, but not chunky, and with a comfortably ergonomic handle. More than comfortable—it feels great! The 14C28N steel is a non-particle stainless that’s tough and takes a great edge and keeps it for a while, too. So, if you’re looking for a meaty knife that can handle some hardcore jobs, this one is heavier and more durable. The solid crossbar lock is accessible and safe, the blade is sharp and strong, and the steel is great—and all at a budget price that keeps your wallet full and happy. 

  • 14C28N steel drop point blade
  • Lightly textured G-10 handle
  • Heavy-duty cross bar lock with tough slide opener
  • Deep carry, tip-up pocket clip for right-handed users

QSP Penguin

We will sing the praises of the QSP Penguin for as long as we live—and once you feel this knife in hand, you’ll see this is no overreaction. The QSP Penguin is a simple folding knife, with a solid liner lock, a neutral handle shape, and smooth opening via thumb studs. The stars of the Penguin are its blade and the variety in which it’s available. The Penguin features a sheepsfoot blade most frequently made from D2 steel. The combination of the ultra-tough, cleaver-like sheepsfoot shape and the tough tool steel make the Penguin an everyday worker; from the indoors as your go-to box cutter and clam pack wrecker, to the outdoors as your gardening companion or even camp chef knife. The Penguin is also available with every handle material under the sun, with stunning picks like jade G-10, denim micarta, shred carbon fiber, and brass. As an EDC knife, this QSP folder carries medium to heavy in weight depending on the handle material you choose—but when you want copper scales, you want copper scales. You will be stunned that this knife only set you back around $35.

  • D2 sheepsfoot blade
  • Scales available in micarta, carbon fiber, G-10, and more
  • Lanyard hole and reversible pocket clip
  • Burly construction


Buying and enjoying knives shouldn’t have to break your bank. There are tons of great knives for any budget and taste. Though this list isn’t comprehensive, it’s a great place to get some ideas and something to refer to when you have a few extra bucks burning a hole in your pocket. Whether you’re into automatics, flippers, or manual folding knives, there’s bound to be something affordable and enjoyable.

If these budget pocket knives don’t catch your eye or meet your needs, browse a wider selection of pocket knives in our Best Pocket Knives article. Or check out our Best Pocket Knife Brands article for more info!

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