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Best Traditional Pocket Knives

Best Traditional Pocket Knives

Many people don’t realize pocket knives go all the way back to the Iron Age, where the human need to make work easier led to the creation of our favorite portable tool. Then came the slip joint, invented in 1660 and originally used by thieves and assassins before it morphed into the knife that gentlemen and workers alike carried.

Nowadays, the ubiquitous pocket knife is a tool everyone should have for chores and emergencies. In fact, rather than to be feared, the ultimate convenience tool now is a lifesaver. From a sailor deflating his life vest so he can swim out of a capsized boat to a bystander slicing the seatbelt of a trapped driver, there are times people have been truly grateful there was a knife on the scene.

Let’s take a look at a few popular classics inspired by the knives of yesteryear.


1. Benchmade Weekender

Benchmade Weekender Knife

If you appreciate the quality and workmanship of a Benchmade Knife, then the Weekender might be your new favorite pocketknife. The appeal of the user-friendly vintage design is demonstrated in every carefully crafted detail. The blades are made from CPM S30V steel which has exceptional edge retention and corrosion resistance. The clip point is perfect for a variety of chores with the sharp tip taking on even the most delicate tasks, and the rounded belly of the drop point is wonderful for slicing and slashing—such as during food prep. All that and a bottle opener, too? This knife is a dream of high-quality usefulness. With a steel liner and durable materials such as G-10 or Micarta, the Weekender is the knife of a lifetime.

  • 3.00” and 2.00″ stainless CPM S30V steel blades.
  • Available with G-10 or micarta handle options.
  • 3.5 oz. weight.
  • Made in USA.

Shop the Weekender


2. Buck 110

Buck 110

Ah, the Buck 110—the survival knife you can stow away in your pocket. Designed as a manual hunting knife in 1963, the new lock back design blew people’s minds. The Buck 110 quickly became the first manual considered tough enough to do the work of a fixed blade. Beloved of outdoorsmen from ranchers to hunters to fisherman, if you grew up in the country you saw the knife carried by just about everyone. And for good reason. The lock back keeps the blade stable and tight while in use, the handsome clip point is perfect for small, delicate tasks, and the overall design is made for durability. The heat treatment Buck uses keeps the 420 steel surprisingly corrosion resistant. And did we mention Buck gives their customers a lifetime warranty? They’ll also sharpen your knife for you if you’ll spring for the shipping.

  • 3.75″ 420 clip point blade.
  • Ebony handle with brass bolsters.
  • 7.50 oz. weight.
  • Made in USA.

Shop the 110


3. Peña Knives Barlow

Pena Knives Barlow Exclusive

One look at an Enrique Peña folder and you’ll fall in love with traditional pocket knives all over again. Some might think the Barlow is looking a little tired; honestly, it has been around forever. (George Washington had one, and so did Abraham Lincoln.) But one look at Peña’s, and you’ll want your own Barlow. The black clip point blade is the epitome of class, style, and function. Crafted from Bohler M390 steel, your new knife will seem to slice endlessly because the reason this steel is so insanely popular is its stellar edge retention. With tough titanium bolsters and jade G-10 scales, this premium take on the classic Barlow is as rugged as it is beautiful.

  • 3.00″ Bohler M390 clip point blade.
  • Tough titanium and G-10 handle.
  • 2.39 oz. weight.

Shop the Peña Barlow


4. Case Cutlery Trapper

Case Cutlery Trapper

If seeing a Trapper makes you think fondly of your grandfather, you are not alone. Originally designed for and popular among fur trappers, this folder has such a useful blade combination that everyone who appreciated a good tool started carrying them. Generally, the Trapper is a jack knife (a slip folder with two blades that open on the same side), and the blades are about the same length. The clip blade is useful for a variety of small tasks, and the rounded tip of the spey blade is perfect for slicing safely without accidentally puncturing nearby items. In other words, you can slice open that letter or package without damaging anything inside. In addition, Case is probably the most widely collected knife and one should have a spot in your collection, especially if you appreciate owning the iconic American-made blade. With the Trapper, you’re getting a classic that is surprisingly useful.

  • 3.25″ 420 Tru-Sharp blades in clip point and spey styles.
  • Huge variety of handle materials, colors, and jig patterns.
  • 3.81 oz. average weight.
  • Made in USA.

Shop the Case Trapper


5. LionSteel BestMan

LionSteel BestMan

Another traditional knife with a modern take and premium materials, the Lionsteel BestMan’s slim design is a stylish addition to any wardrobe. The toughness of the Bohler M390 steel and titanium materials mean this pocket knife is a rugged workhorse tool, too—although its attractive appearance makes it seem like its sole purpose was to slip inside a gentleman’s suit pocket. We can’t help wondering if the BestMan pocketknife evolved from ancient times when groomsmen were in attendance to fight off anyone who might want to kidnap the bride! Handsomeness notwithstanding, a pocket knife like this is perfect for camping, fishing, hiking, and all everyday chores. Strong but lightweight, the Lionsteel BestMan is a versatile blade that’s a whatever-you-need-it-to-be knife.

  • 2.80″ super steel blades.
  • Handle made from your choice of micarta, wood, G-10, or carbon fiber.
  • 2.24 oz. average weight.
  • Made in Italy.

Shop the BestMan


6. Boker Barlow

Boker Barlow

Here’s another classic Barlow that gets a redo from one of the best knifemaking companies in the world. With a history going back to Germany in the 1600s, Boker is the perfect bladesmith to take a traditional folder and give it a boost in quality and workmanship. The design elements vary, but each detail is finely executed to create an everyday carry that you’ll love to have in your pocket. When it comes to the Barlow, Boker does a range of materials, styles, and price ranges; you’re sure to find one that fits your personality and budget.

  • Stainless steel blades in a wide selection of types and finishes.
  • Classic handles made from micarta, wood, and even ancient castle timbers.
  • User-friendly, traditional slip joint mechanism.

Shop the Boker Barlow


7. GiantMouse Farley

GiantMouse Farley

If you’re looking for a slick slip joint knife, this modern take on a classic style is sharp, striking, and exceptionally well-made. The quality is evident from the moment you get your hands on one, or when you hear that satisfying snick of this snappy knife. With Bohler M390 blade steel, steel liners, and high-quality scales, GiantMouse has created a knife that will last for generations. The blade has an elegant, clean design with a full flat grind in a classic drop point. The lanyard eyelet is a natural extension of the knife, and the handle has slight curves for an ergonomic grip that’s comfortable. The Farley has beautiful lines that show off the best of what a slip joint can be—and somehow GiantMouse made it into something even better.

  • 2.80″ Bohler drop point M390 blade.
  • Micarta, brass, and G-10 handle options.
  • 3.50 oz. weight.

Shop the GiantMouse Farley


8. Victorinox Classic SD

Victorinox Classic SD

When a brand name becomes a metaphor for usefulness and adaptability, you know it’s got to be good. Victorinox received its first contract for military pocketknives in 1891, and it’s been going strong ever since. Fun fact: the name Swiss Army Knife came from American serviceman who couldn’t—or who would rather not—pronounce Schweizer Offiziersmesse (Swiss Officer’s Knife). Designed mainly to make life a thousand times easier rather than for use as a tactical knife—although intended to be used for self-defense in a pinch—the Victorinox folder is carried by every age knife user all over the world. Most have a blade, nail file with screwdriver tip, a toothpick, and tweezers. Think about it: How many times have you wished you had a pair of tweezers? Plus, there’s every style under the sun, including several collaborations with your favorite knife influencers!

  • 1.50″ stainless blade.
  • Wide selection of handle colors and designs.
  • 0.80 oz. typical weight.
  • Made in Switzerland.

Shop the Classic SD


9. Kershaw Iredale

Kershaw Iredale

Kershaw is known for their affordable, high-quality knives. This pocket knife is named after the Peter Iredale shipwreck in Astoria, Oregon, and is based on the traditional Stockman—but with a reimagined design, such as satin steel bolsters, brass liners, and a polished micarta handle. The brass and steel combined with the sleek dark handle make a handsome, sturdy folder that is faintly reminiscent of a good-looking ship. With clip point, sheepsfoot, and spear point stainless steel blades, this compact pocketknife can take on a variety of tasks that come up in daily life.

  • 2.60,” 2.20,” 1.60,” corrosion-resistant 7Cr1MoV blades.
  • Polished black micarta handle.
  • 2.20 oz. average weight.

Shop the Iredale


10. Old Timer Minuteman

Old Timer Minuteman

Go truly old-school with the Old Timer Minuteman. This knife is a descendent of Schrade’s 708 gentleman’s knife, and the compact design means you can head off for a hike in the woods without this piece taking up any space in your pack. It even fits easily in that generally useless small pocket on your jeans that is too short to hold anything else. (Useless no more! This pocket was originally designed for watches, and it’s a holdover from the old days.) The stockman-shaped handle is made from polymer composite scales, polished nickel silver bolsters—which are rounded so they won’t cause as much wear and tear on your pockets, and brass rivet construction. There are two brass liners on the mark side, so the main blade has room to take up the space it needs but can still slope down to make room for the pen blade to fit snug beside it. The blades are a high carbon stainless steel clip point and pen, with classic nail nick openers.

  • 2.00,” 1.38” high carbon stainless steel.
  • Brown polymer composite handle.
  • 0.99 oz. weight.

Shop the Minuteman


Fur trappers and stockmen had their designated tools, but a pocket knife of the past can handle a lot of life’s little emergencies today. From opening packages, slicing fruit, cleaning a fish, removing a splinter, cutting a seatbelt in a crash—the list is endless. If anything, modern users wield them for a wider variety of tasks than those that came before us. With the world bigger than it used to be, there is more out there that we need our everyday carry tools for.

These are just a few of our favorite traditional pocket knives that Blade HQ carries, but there are so many more we’d love to show you! There is a perfect pocket knife out for everyone—ones that cater to your hobbies, sense of style, and different environments. Pick the one that seems like it was made just for you and leave a review so we can hear about it! Follow us on Instagram, Facebook, and
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