<< Back to Shop Learn Knives

Best Butterfly Knives

There are a lot of butterfly knives out there.  At the time of writing this article, we have over 300 butterfly knives in stock at Blade HQ, and that number is only growing. Finding the right one for you can be a challenge, so we’ve compiled our list of the best butterfly knives for everyone. 

“Butterfly Knife” vs. “Balisong”

Photo Credit: Blade Magazine

Before we get into it, it’s worth mentioning that “butterfly knife” may not be the most accurate term. The more proper term is “Balisong,” which is a portmanteau of the Tagolog words baling, which means folding, and sungay, which means horn (the most common handle material in Filipino balisongs). Balisong is also the name of a barangay (like a village) in Taal, Philippines. My coworker Gian is from the Philippines, and he told me that Batangas, the province where Taal is located, is famous for creating these knives. Whether the barangay is named after the knife or vice versa is lost to history, but either way, the modern balisong was born in Taal. Therefore, it is more correct to call the knife a balisong, and I invite you to do so. This article (and most of the balisong content we create) uses the term “Butterfly Knife” because the numbers show that most of you reading this googled the term “Butterfly Knife.” But now you know better! 

However, there is some debate as to where the first balisong was actually made – either in the Philippines around 800 AD (so legend says) or in France in the late 1600s as a modification to the Pied du Roi, a ruler/protractor that shares its name with the unit it measures. Pied du roi literally translates to “Foot of the King,” so you can probably guess the unit is within a rounding error of the imperial foot.  

Photo Credit: Fine and Mint Collectables

Modern balisongs are a bit shorter than that, but you must admit they bear striking resemblance to the ruler/protractor. Historically, these devices could have ended up in the Philippines along with European explorers around the same time. It’s still unclear where the first balisong knife was made, but we do know the following: the term “balisong” is distinctly Tagolog, the balisong found its way to America via the Philippines, and balisong flipping has its roots in Filipino martial arts. So as far as I’m concerned, the Balisong is as Filipino as adobo!

Alright! Without further ado, let’s get into the best butterfly knives! 

Best All-Around Balisong – Kershaw Lucha 

No matter where you are on your flipping journey, the Lucha is a great option. It’s ready right out of the box for flipping, and it’s larger-than-average size makes figuring out weight distribution easy. The steel handles are easy to control when flipping fast or slow, and the 14C28N blade will retain its shape even after hard drops. If you drop it too hard on its tip, the tip may still break, but a chipped balisong is worn by hard-core flippers as a badge of honor. Welcome to the club! The Lucha comes in a ton of colors, trainer versions, and even an ultra-premium titanium and carbon fiber variant! 

If you already have a Lucha and want to try something new, you don’t necessarily have to buy a new knife. Thanks to the Lucha’s growing aftermarket, you can change your scales out for titanium, try channel aluminum, play with inlays, and more. The Lucha is the largest modding platform in the knife industry today (R.I.P. Benchmade 51), making it easy to build your dream knife. The combination of a flipping performance, infinite customizability, and effectiveness as a cutting tool makes the Lucha a force to be reckoned with!

Best Budget Balisong – Bear & Son 114 

Due to knife regulations, the vast majority of balisongs are USA-made, and that often commands a prohibitive price tag for people just testing the waters. Bear & Son is well aware of this, and they offer a solution. The 114 is their flagship balisong, and it comes in well this side of $50. And for that price, it’s packed with flipping-friendly features. Unlike many balisongs in its price bracket, this one has TORX hardware, allowing you to adjust your pivots to your liking. The handles have a nice epoxy coating and skeletonization, making for easy grip and smooth flipping. 

Of course, at this price point you have to make some concessions. It doesn’t have fancy bearings or bushings, just washers. Instead of a more premium blade steel, it sticks with 440C. Other than that, however, it’s a solid knife all around. It’s not going to win any competitions, but it’s a great way to find out if the balisong is the right skill toy for you! 

Best Channel Balisong – Flytanium Talisong Z 

One of the biggest names in custom balisongs is Eldon Talley. His Talisong design has dazzled flippers for years now thanks to its superb build quality and design, but it was always hand-made in his shop, and each knife would cost north of a grand. That was until Eldon teamed up with Flytanium to create the Talisong Z, an in-line production knife you can buy today. It’s crowning feature, the feature that makes it my favorite balisong, and the only balisong knife I own, is its channel aluminum handles. 

Instead of scales being bolted together, the Talisong Z has a channel milled into each of its handles that the blade sits in when closed. That means while flipping, you’ll never snag on a screw, spacer, or anything. The only surface you have for most of the handle is the beautifully knurled surfaces, making it easy to grab. One of the balisong community’s favorite features of the Talisong Z is that you can get it with either bearings or bushings. Some people prefer the speed of bearings, others the control of bushings—but either way, you can have a Talisong Z that fits your style! 

Best Sandwich Balisong – Hom Chimera 

I’ve heard it called “the Lamborghini of balisongs,” and I’m inclined to agree. The Chimera is an ultra-premium balisong, boasting titanium scales, carbon fiber liners, powder steel blades, bushing pivots, the whole nine yards. It’s hard to communicate with pictures or words, but when you pick it up, you feel like you’ve picked up a master knifemaker’s magnum opus. 

An interesting feature of the Chimera is its latch. Serious flippers have a dilemma – remove the latch for flipping performance or leave it there for safe carrying. HOM Design decided to fix the problem altogether by designing a latch that can collapse into the bite handle. That way, you can do all the super difficult tricks that a latch would get in the way of, and then tuck your balisong neatly in your pocket afterward. 

Best Competition Balisong – Squid Industries Krake Raken 

Each year at Blade Show in Atlanta, Blade HQ puts on BaliComp, the world championships of balisong flipping. BaliComp competitors do anything you can imagine, and many things you cannot, with their knives, and for that job they need the crème-de-la-crème of balisongs. There are many different knives used, but by far the most popular model is the Squid Industries Krake Raken

Squid Industries is a company run by hard-core flippers, and the knives they make are built to competition spec. The Krake Raken has some of the tightest tolerances on any channel balisong, making the flipping experience easy, fast, and controllable. To maximize flipping performance, the Krake Raken employs a latchless design and a slender overall profile to make fast, difficult, and compounding tricks easier for master flippers. If you want to compete with the best in the world, the Krake Raken is a great tool for the job. 

Best Balisong Trainer – Squid Industries Squidtrainer V4 

Sometimes we get so hung up on bushings, pins, construction, and latches that we forget what balisongs are – knives. Knives have edges, and edges cut people. What if you want to enjoy all the fun of balisong flipping without the risk of cutting (or losing) your fingers? That’s where a trainer comes in, and the Squidtrainer V4 is one of the best. It’s built to the same standards as the Krake Raken listed as the best competition balisong, but you can use it without fear of cutting yourself. 

Many balisong trainers, like the ones you can get at the mall, are often so poorly balanced and cheaply made that they ruin the flipping experience. Squid Industries is committed to making sure that doesn’t happen, so they pulled out all the stops for the Squidtrainer. It’s built, assembled, and weighted just like a competition-grade balisong, so when you’re ready to step into a live edge, it will be a breeze. 

Best High-End Balisong – Franken Forge Voltaic 

The vast majority of balisongs are built to be flipped. Scratched handles, dull edges, broken tips, and worn finishes are to be expected. Then there are some who treat the balisong as a canvas for art, that happens to be great for flipping too. One of those is Aaron Gudgel, the maker of the Franken Forge Voltaic

These balisongs command very high price tags, but they come with features, materials, and attention to detail to match. For example, most balisongs have a standard weight distribution they come with, and if a flipper doesn’t like it, they must get another knife. The Voltaic has an innovative handle with internally accessible pockets that house the included brass weights. That way, the flipper can move the center of balance up and down along the knife to his or her preference. This is but one of the many small features that make the Voltaic a truly premium balisong! If you want one, however, get it when you see it. There’s just one man making them, and he can’t keep up with the crazy demand! 

Honorable Mentions 

Nabilis Vulp

Designed in collaboration with balisong influencer Will Hirsch, the Vulp offers a few awesome features: a channel aluminum handle, a bushing pivot, and a bonkers price of only $65. It was a strong contender for Best Balisong Trainer! 

Bear Ops Bear Song VIII

This one combines milled steel handles, a spring-loaded latch, a bearing pivot, USA manufacturing, and a 154CM blade all in one affordable package. It’s not quite as affordable as its brother, the Bear & Son 114, but it’s a great bargain in its own right! 

Benchmade 85

Benchmade is often credited with popularizing the Balisong in America, and they make some great ones! However, Benchmade has discontinued many of its balisongs in recent years, and the mighty 85 is the last one still in production. It’s an incredible knife! 

REVO Nexus

REVO Knives are a subsidiary of Blade Runners Systems, known for making some of the best balisongs in existence. The problem is BRS struggles to keep up with the insane demand for their knives. But REVO makes the Nexus, and it has many of the same trimmings as its bigger brothers!


Whether flipping is your thing or not, any true knife lover ought to have a balisong in his or her collection. Not only are they extremely cool, but they’re an important part of knife history. And when you get one, don’t just stare at it! Pick it up and learn to flip it! It’s fun, and many tricks are surprisingly easy. In fact, we have video tutorials that teach you how to do some basic tricks. Get those down, and you’ll be expressing your individuality through the flash of a balisong in no time!