There are hundreds of manufacturers that produce and brand pocket knives, if not thousands. Moreover, there are thousands upon thousands of individual product lines, and a great deal of variance among them. Sometimes the same knife model is produced with a ton of customizable features, like scale material and blade steel.
Therefore, selecting one pocket knife as the single, best quality pocket knife, is a fool’s errand. It is literally impossible to highlight a single model of pocket knife that will satisfy every reader. On the contrary, declaring one the best would start an internet war. At least, it would have the potential to.
Rather than choosing one single knife to hail as the best quality pocket knife, instead, look for a series of features that result in quality and you will end up with a quality knife just the same.
Start with the blade. As a general rule of thumb, it is a good idea to shy away from vague category listings and inconclusive product specifications. If the product says nothing more than “stainless steel” or “high carbon steel” it’s possible that they’re trying to hide something.
Both AUS-8 and 420HC can both be marketed as “high carbon steels” and “stainless steels,” and they are fairly different when it comes to toughness and edge retention. Similarly, both 1095 and S90V can both be called “high carbon steels,” and these steels are extremely different – more so than either AUS-8 or 420HC. One is a super steel, the other is easier to work with, so you can keep the knife sharpened.
Another thing to look for is the quality of the pivot point. High end pocket knives will be made with ball bearings that support the opening mechanism and provide for smooth opening action. Also, look at the washers or spacers between the blade and the bearing. Cheap knives will have plastic spaces, higher end knives will have ceramic bearings or brass spacers that are extremely smooth and durable.
You can also look at the quality of the handle scale materials. Some lower end knives are made from cheap resin or molded plastics that feel grippy but will break or deform under stress. Generally speaking, you should avoid these in favor of tougher materials like solid metals, GFN, TPE, G10 or Micarta. Natural materials are acceptable too, provided they are high quality materials.
The quality of the lock is also important, although this is not a trait that can always be easily accessed or ascertained. Some can, however. If the knife in question has a liner lock, open and close it. There should be no play whatsoever in the blade when it is locked open and disengaging the lock should require a deliberate action.
Also, look for a liner lock that overreaches when it locks open, as this can cause lock failure. Be wary of thin liners that can – and will – deform if the knife is used aggressively. The quality of the lock is central to the quality of folding knives – especially since it’s a feature you don’t even need to investigate on a fixed knife.
In addition to the qualities of the lock mechanism, steel and scale materials, you can also assess the ergonomics and utility of the knife. Features like partial serrations, additional tools, mounting options and more can all be used to weigh in on the ultimate status of whatever you would like to call the “best quality pocket knife.”
Once you’ve gotten to the bottom of it, whether you’re looking for an EDC knife with a corrosion resistant blade or some other folding knife with a super steel that holds an edge forever, you can find some of the best examples in the industry online at WhiteMountainKnives.com.
White Mountain Knives not only carries highlights of the best knife brands, like Buck, Gerber, ESEE, OKC, Cold Steel, Victorinox, Spyderco and Benchmade, they also offer them at excellent prices and with free shipping in the U.S. Don’t wait, visit their website today.