On the quest for the best small pocket knife, you will encounter an endless amount of options. Tactical, practical, and oh-so-versatile, a small pocket knife is wise to keep on hand. I can’t tell you how much use I’ve gotten out of my own – it’s something I never leave the house without and reach for far more often than you’d think. From slicing and dicing to emergency use, a small pocket knife is a worthy investment for the modern gentleman and the perfect gateway into the world of tactical EDC gear.
If you’re ready to fast-track your hunt for the ideal mini blade, I’ve rounded up the seven best small pocket knives based on personal experience and lots of trial and error. Keep reading to discover options for every price point, purpose, and aesthetic.
Out of all the small blades on the market, and believe me, I’m pretty sure I scoured the internet long enough to know, the Opinel No. 6 Pocket Knife reigns supreme. Outfitted with a carbon steel blade and a beechwood handle, it’s as practical as it is pretty, showcasing more than 130 years of stellar French craftsmanship.
Not to mention, it’s under $20 and comes in ten sizes if you prefer a different blade length. Seeking something slightly more tactical? The Gerber Gear Paraframe Mini Pocket Knife features a super lightweight all metal construction with a pocket clip to keep it in place.
See the rest of my picks for the best small pocket knife below.
Our Top Picks
Why It’s Great: As far as the best overall small pocket knife goes, the Opinel No. 6 is the perfect option for most people. I have one myself and often give them as gifts for dads or small gifts for men due to their versatility, gorgeous construction, and unbeatable price. Fusing French craftsmanship with a timeless design, Opinel picnic knives come in a range of sizes, with the No. 6 being the top pick for a smaller option.
How to Use It: Unlock the knife by turning the ring where the blade and the handle meet. Then, use the nail knick to remove the blade from the handle. When you’ve finished using it, fold the blade back in and turn the ring lock to secure it again.
Flaws But Not Dealbreakers: The blade on the No. 6 is 2 ¾ inches, making it slightly longer than some of the best small pocket knives, but it’s a ferociously practical option to keep on hand for when the moment calls. If you prefer something even smaller, the Opinel No. 4 has the same iconic Beechwood handle with a 2 inch blade.
Weight: 1.5 oz | Blade Length: 2.87 in | Closed Length: 3.63 in | Blade Material: Carbon steel | Locking Mechanism: Ring | Pocket Clip: No
Why It’s Great: This highly tactical pocket knife is small but mighty, with an impossibly lightweight construction and a 2.2 inch blade. It easily fits in the palm of the hand, but when it’s not in use, it sits securely on your person with the built-in pocket clip.
How to Use It: It’s simple but one of the best small pocket knives, especially if you’re shopping on a budget (it makes a great Yankee swap gift). The plain edge blade is stellar for just about any light function, and the nail nick ensures you can always pry it open. Whether you use it for EDC or a more tactical purpose, this small knife can do big things.
Flaws But Not Dealbreakers: As far as small pocket knives go, this one is really little. It can slice open boxes and cut up fruit but may be a bit limited in functionality beyond this due to its size.
Weight: 1.6 oz | Blade Length: 2.2 in | Full Length: 5.25 in | Blade Material: Stainless steel | Locking Mechanism: Frame lock | Pocket Clip: Yes
Why It’s Great: If price is no object, a Benchmade knife is the cream of the crop, though it’ll run you more than $100. However, because it’s designed to last a lifetime, it’s certainly a worthy investment. Decked out with a corrosion-resistant, drop-point steel blade, you’ll never have to worry about this small pocket knife wimping out on you. The blade is also a decent length of 2.8 inches: little enough to be discrete but ample enough to get any job done.
My favorite feature of this small pocket knife is the textured handle that ensures you have a good grip while working with the blade. Some other pocket knives, especially smaller ones, can be tricky to get a solid grasp on. No need to worry about that here. This bad boy is smaller than the best EDC pens, ensuring you can always keep it on your person without any added bulk.
How to Use It: The blade on this knife is secured with an Axis lock. Use your thumb to toggle the lock on the handle and the blade will slide out smoothly.
Flaws But Not Dealbreakers: This is definitely on the higher end of the price spectrum when it comes to pocket knives, but is worth the splurge if you’re looking for a quality piece of gear.
Weight: 3.5 oz | Blade Length: 2.82 in | Closed Length: 3.7 in | Blade Material: Premium stainless steel | Locking Mechanism: AXIS lock | Pocket Clip: Yes
Why It’s Great: What can I say? I’m a sucker for a good looking knife. This little blade packs a huge punch despite the blade being under three inches in length. The elongated handle more than makes up for it, crafted from dark ebony with brass detailing, providing an elegantly balanced feel. Buck Knives has a stellar reputation for quality gear, and this is the best small pocket knife the brand has to offer. Modeled on their very successful 110 Folding Hunter, this miniature version is ideal to tote along daily or pack for adventures.
How to Use It: The thin, sharp blade tip makes this knife a wonderful choice for precision, even though it isn’t as strong as drop point knives. Release the lock back at the end of the handle and then use the nail nick to pry the blade out.
Flaws But Not Dealbreakers: At over $50, this knife is certainly a bit pricey, but offers unbeatable value when you factor in the ebony and brass handle. There’s also no pocket clip, which can be a huge flaw to some guys.
Weight: 1.9 oz | Blade Length: 2.3 in | Closed Length: 3.4 in | Blade Material: 420HC stainless steel | Locking Mechanism: Lock back | Pocket Clip: No
Why It’s Great: With a blade measuring almost three inches, this is a longer rendition of the best pocket knife, making it a stand-out choice for everyday use. While small pocket knives are super handy, sometimes it takes a bit more to get the job done. The Mini Praxis is a solid option if you’re looking for something slightly larger than a knife you can carry on your carabiner for keys but smaller than a full blown switchblade.
How to Use It: Astonishingly lightweight, this pocket knife breaks away from the pack with a textured handle and a flipper design. Rather than a nail nick, the blade is ball bearing, which allows for a smooth, one hand opening, similar to a spring assisted knife.
Flaws But Not Dealbreakers: According to some reviewers, the liner lock on this knife can be a bit finicky, making the blade hard to close on occasion.
Weight: 2.77 oz | Blade Length: 2.98 in | Closed Length: 3.81 in | Blade Material: D2 steel | Locking Mechanism: Liner lock | Pocket Clip: Yes
Why It’s Great: If you have no nails or simply want an easy-to-open blade, this Kershaw option is a top pick for the best small pocket knife. It’s one of the smallest on the list – the blade is only 1.9 inches – and has a hole at the base of the handle to add it to a keychain or lanyard. There’s also a pocket clip if you prefer to keep it on your person.
How to Use It: Rather than high shine, the high carbon steel blade has a matte finish that’s easy to access with an assisted opening. Instead of fiddling with nubby nails, there’s a one handed release that ensures the knife is ready to slice and dice when you are.
Flaws But Not Dealbreakers: Well revered as the best pocket knife for any situation, it’s hard to find flaws in such an incredible piece of gear.
Weight: 1.7 oz | Blade Length: 1.9 in | Closed Length: 2.9 in | Blade Material: 420HC steel | Locking Mechanism: Frame lock | Pocket Clip: Yes
Why It’s Great: And if all else fails, there’s always the trusty Swiss Army knife. Practically the epitome of the best small pocket knife, there is nothing, and I mean nothing, that this accessory can’t do. Brimming with multiple functions, ranging from a classic blade to mini scissors and tweezers, this multitool is still yet to be outshone. To keep it in a petite package, this Swiss Army pick has a mere seven functions – though it’s made up for with the sixteen color options. If you’re looking for the whole nine yards, this version has a whopping fifteen tools to make use of.
How to Use It: You can use a Swiss Army knife for just about anything. Pry the blade loose from the handle, or opt for another one of the multiple tools depending on the situation.
Flaws But Not Dealbreakers: Yeah, yeah, I know. A Swiss Army knife isn’t technically a pocket knife, but that’s only if you’re talking to purists… right?
Weight: 0.7 oz | Closed Length: 2.3 in | Blade Material: Stainless steel | Locking Mechanism: No | Pocket Clip: Key chain
Buying Considerations Small Pocket Knives
In general, pocket knives are considered “small” when they have blade lengths of around 2 inches or shorter, although this isn’t a hard rule. Some of the best small knives, like the Opinel No. 6, have blades that are slightly longer, in this case, by ¾ of an inch.
If you want a miniature sized pocket knife – one of the things every man should own – choose a blade under 2 inches that will sit discreetly on your key organizer or your hip. This blade size is practical for a quick fruit slice or box open. However, if you’re seeking something with slightly more utility, blades between 2 and 3 inches are a more versatile option in the world of small pocket knives.
The size of your pocket knife often impacts the weight, and if you’re seeking a blade to carry with you daily, you won’t want anything too heavy. Pocket knives made with tactical metals or high quality plastics tend to be much lighter than options with wooden handles or fancy detailing.
Typically, the best small pocket knife will weigh under 2 ounces, however, like each of these considerations, this figure is never set in stone. It simply boils down to personal preferences and priorities.
Finally, you want to ensure the small pocket knife you pick is designed to work with you. This means considering the additional features that make the knife a dependable piece of gear like the opening mechanism, the locking component, and any attachment points.
Here’s a quick breakdown of what to look for in terms of these three features:
Opening Mechanism: Most small pocket knives either include a nail nick or flipper design to access the blade. A nail nick is a small notch on the blade that allows you to manually unfold it from the handle, while a flipper releases the blade with the click of a tab. The nail nick opening tends to be more secure, but the flipper means you can access the blade with a single hand. It’s worth remembering that a nail nick design requires you to grip the handle and pry the blade out instead of a quick release offered by a flipper opening.
Locking System: Choosing a small pocket knife with a dependable locking system is extremely important to ensure the blade doesn’t come loose at inopportune moments. Most blades latch with a frame lock, but you’ll often see liner locks embedded into flipper designs. Less commonly, you’ll find a ring lock, which is featured in the Opinel designs.
Attachment Points: How do you plan on carrying your small pocket knife? On your keychain? In your pocket? On your waist? It’s worth choosing a blade with some sort of attachment point, whether it’s a pocket clip or a small hole on the handle for a lanyard. This will keep your knife close at hand and is especially practical for smaller blades that tend to get lost or bogged down in deep pockets.
Why You Should Trust Us
Aside from the fact that I carry a small pocket knife myself, I’ve spent an extensive amount of time researching the ideal EDC gear, including all types of blades. Small pocket knives remain my personal preference, and I have tried out dozens of choices after researching hundreds of options. Fusing my own experience with thousands of user reviews, I’ve compiled this list of the seven best small pocket knives to ensure you find exactly what you’re looking for.
While there are seemingly endless options in the world of small pocket knives, the best overall choice is the Opinel No. 6 Pocket Knife. This versatile blade can handle anything you throw its way, and the beechwood handle makes it the most attractive knife on the list. It’s the perfect blend of quality and aesthetics (with a competitive budget price point), making it a true pleasure to use whenever the situation calls for something sharp.
The best way to sharpen a small pocket knife is with a sharpening stone. Depending on the type of sharpening stone you use, you’ll likely need to lubricate it with product or water. Once the stone is set up, hold the blade at an angle and sweep it downwards towards the end of the stone. Repeat this sweeping motion ten to twelve times or until the blade is sharp. Flip the blade over and repeat the process on the other side.
No, you cannot bring a small pocket knife on a plane, but you can pack it in your checked luggage. I know this because, as a kid, every time I flew with my parents, my dad always, without fail, forgot to leave his Swiss Army knife at home. Luckily, Boston Logan Airport had a mailbox at the security line that allowed you to post your precious, non-flyable items back home, including dozens of my dad’s small pocket knives throughout the years.