Folding Pocket Knife Gift Guide

The best folding pocket knives for the knife nut on your gift list

Great Budget to High End Folder Options For The Knife Nut On Your Gift List

You could put yourself into debt getting the best folding knife for your friend or relative. You could refinance your house and come out the other end with a single Chris Reeve Sebenza. And if you want to get something nice but a little cheaper you can just refer to the Folding Holy Trinity: the Benchmade 940, the Spyderco Paramilitary 2, or the Zero Tolerance 0350. It doesn’t matter what a knife nut does with knives. Secretly we all want at least one of these, if for no other reason than to see what all the fuss is about. So if we’re being honest, those are the best folding knives to buy someone as a present.

But if your friend already has that, here are a few other options. We’ve got them in order from cheapest to the most ridiculous hoping to vaguely cover all our bases. If you’re looking for something your friend doesn’t have yet, you’ll find it here. Probably.

Folding Knives Under $50

If you’re on a tight budget or just looking for a stocking stuffer, these knives should give you plenty to work with. They’re nothing remarkable, but definitely fun and useful.

Cold Steel Tuff-Lite

Cold Steel Tuff Lite pocket folder

  • Overall Length: 6.0″
  • Blade Length: 2.5″
  • Blade Style: Wharncliffe
  • Handle Length: 3.5″
  • Blade Steel: Aus-8
  • Blade Grind: Hollow
  • Clip: Tip-down
  • Handle Material: Grivory
  • Lock Type: Lockback
  • Blade Finish: Satin
  • Weight: 2.5 oz
  • Manufacture Location: Taiwan

Cold Steel touts this as a hunting knife. And I can definitely see that. The Wharncliffe blade style should give you a clean cut with its hollow grind, and it’s true to its name, coming in at two and half ounces in Aus 8 stainless steel. Nothing fancy here, just an okay steel in a small, tough structure. I’ve seen this knife range in price between $20 and $30, and in that range the Tuff-Lite opens itself up to a lot of guiltless abuse. Maybe not a great coude grax present, but it will definitely be appreciated by your frequent outdoorsman.

 

Kershaw Link

Kershaw Link ambidextrous folding knife

  • Overall Length: 7.0″
  • Blade Length: 3.0″
  • Blade Style: Wharncliffe
  • Handle Length: 4.0″
  • Blade Steel: 420HC
  • Blade Grind: Hollow
  • Clip:Tip-down
  • Handle Material: Stainless steel
  • Lock Type: Liner
  • Blade Finish: Blackwashed
  • Weight: 3.0 oz
  • Manufacture Location: USA

For anyone who likes assisted open, the Kershaw Link is easily one of the best options in this price range. An aluminum handle with a liner lock provides a base for a solid structure, and the 420HC steel with a hollow grind should give you more cutting power than you’ll honestly need for this size and style. It would be a good buy for a leftie as well, since it’s pretty easy to move the pocket clip to the other side. When it comes to budget present knives, Kershaw makes quite a few good options. They’re just one of those companies that excels at making decent knives for the money. The Link is particularly good for someone with more utilitarian sensibilities. The Link usually rides pretty close to the $40 mark, but sometimes you can catch it on sale for around $30 – $35, especially if you have Amazon Prime.

 

Baladeo Laguiole Pocket Knife

Great looking Baladéo Laguiole

  • Overall Length: 8.5”
  • Blade Length: 3.75”
  • Blade Style: Clip point
  • Handle Length: 4.75”
  • Blade Steel: 440
  • Blade Grind: Flat
  • Clip: None
  • Handle Material: Horn  or olive wood w/ steel bolsters
  • Lock Type: Pick lock
  • Blade Finish: Bead blasted
  • Weight: 3.18 oz
  • Manufacture Location: China

Honestly, you could do better for function. Laguioles are at least as reliable as any other blade you’ll get at the price, but the real appeal of these is the look. Modern designs just don’t look like this. These aren’t rare, but they look classy and collectable. With a blade this size you won’t be doing heavy outdoor work like with the Tuff Lite, but it’s serviceable for minor slicing and whittling. And you’ll look classy as hell doing it. This wouldn’t be a showstopper of a present, but it’s definitely the kind of small curiosity that a lot of people end up using more than they think they will.

Folders Under $100

This is, to me, the reasonable section of our guide. Where normal people can go to think things like “yeah, I could probably swing that if I just don’t feed my kids for a couple days”, but you also don’t have to worry about anyone giving you that weird half smile thing that says they know you cheaped out on them but they don’t want to make a big thing about it in front of family. Anyone who doesn’t appreciate getting one of these knives can go to hell.

Buck Selkirk Folder

Buck Selkirk folding knife with flint and kydex sheath

  • Overall Length: 8.15”
  • Blade Length: 3.9”
  • Blade Style: Drop point
  • Handle Length: 5.0”
  • Blade Steel: 420HC
  • Blade Grind: Flat
  • Clip: Carried in molded nylon sheath
  • Handle Material: Micarta
  • Lock Type: Liner
  • Blade Finish: Satin
  • Weight: 7.5 oz
  • Manufacture Location: China

Traditionally, the Buck 110 reigns supreme as the gift folder, but that style has slowly grown out of vogue. The folder version of Selkirk offers a heftier blade and a liner lock, and a generally bigger and more rugged construction, but still has the classic wood-handled look. The handle is actually micarta, but that’s strong, respectable material in a quality knife. The Selkirk is unfortunately made in Buck’s China factory, but it seems to have gotten a little more attention that is typical from those groups. It comes out as a solid mid-range all around survival knife, usually landing around a $60 price tag. If you like this style enough, it was originally made as a fixed blade. If you’re curious about that option you can check out our review. It’s easily one of our personal favorite bushcraft fixed-blades, but we’re here to talk about folders. So moving on.

Cold Steel Voyager XL

  • Overall Length: 12.3″
  • Blade Length: 5.5″
  • Blade Style: Tanto, drop point, clip point, or vaquero
  • Handle Length: 6.8″
  • Blade Steel: Carpenter CTS BD1 Stainless Steel
  • Blade Grind: Hollow
  • Clip: Ambidextrous Clip
  • Handle Material: Criv-Ex
  • Blade Finish: Stone Washed
  • Lock Type: Lockback
  • Weight: 7.4 ounces
  • Manufacture Location: Taiwan

Prices on this style can fluctuate quite a bit. I think the MSRP is something like $120, but I’ve never actually seen anyone selling the Voyager for more than $80. And if you really want to cut costs I guess you could go with the reasonably sized option, but I’m not sure why you’d want to get just a 9-inch knife when you could get a 12-inch pocket knife. I’m not sure what kind of secret extra-dimensional magic Cold Steel hammered into this knife, but it actually fits in the pocket better than you’d think, so long as you have some decent pockets. It’s not winning any beauty contests, but it’s a fantastic chopper, and it’s actually been one of our go-to EDCs for a while. You can check out our review of the Voyager one if you’d like proof.

Boker Plus Damascus Gent

  • Overall Length: 7.75”
  • Blade Length: 3.2”
  • Blade Style: Drop point
  • Handle Length: 4.5”
  • Blade Steel: Damascus
  • Blade Grind: Flat
  • Clip: Tip-down
  • Handle Material: Ebony
  • Lock Type: Liner
  • Blade Finish: Damascus
  • Weight: 2.10 oz
  • Manufacture Location: China

Easily the fanciest looking knife in this price range. I don’t normally like to recommend Damascus steel blades because it just feels like a sales gimmick to me, but my personal experience with Boker Plus is that they do steel really well. You can trust the fit and finish on the Gent to be on point, and that edge will be a razor out of the box. You’re buying a knife for someone who can rock a suit, this might be the way to go. There are two versions of this knife, 1 and 2. The main difference seems to be size. I’ve put up the stats for the Gent 1 since that’s the bigger of the two.

Folders Under $250

Now we’re in the real meat of the suggestions. These are high-end, burn-holes-in-your-wallet knives that idiots like me stare at every day like they’re the pointiest Red Rider BB guns in the world. They’re the perfect mix of premium designing that’s just barely within an attainable reach for those fantasies to have a real taste to them.

Steel Will Gekko 1550 Mini

Great folding knife from Steel Will

  • Overall Length: 7.87”
  • Blade Length: 3.5”
  • Blade Style: Drop point
  • Handle Length: 4.37”
  • Blade Steel: Bohler N690
  • Blade Grind: Flat
  • Clip: Tip-down
  • Handle Material: Micarta
  • Lock Type: Lockback
  • Lock Type: Tip-up, ambidextrous
  • Blade Finish: Satin
  • Weight: 4.76 oz
  • Manufacture Location: Italy

There seem to be about a hundred different variation of the Gekko Mini, but that’s mainly because they slap a new number onto these things every time they decide to put a different handle material or color on it. These are made in Italy, after all, so fashion is a bigger deal for them (even though Steel Will is a distinctly American company). So much so, in fact, that I suspect the Gekkos were designed half for looks and half for function. The good news is that Steel Will did a good job designing in both those areas. These are thin, lightweight slicers with pretty robust and ergonomic handles. The 1550 model has a green micarta handle and you can usually find it in the $150 range. The Gekko Mini’s come in all sorts of colors, though, so if you have a preference be sure to look around, just be aware that they tend to fluctuate in price.

Spyderco Manix 2

  • Overall Length: 8.0”
  • Blade Length: 3.4”
  • Blade Style: Drop point
  • Handle Length: 4.6”
  • Blade Steel: CPM S30V
  • Blade Grind: Full flat
  • Clip: Tip-up, ambidextrous
  • Handle Material:G-10
  • Lock Type: Ball bearing lock
  • Blade Finish: Satin
  • Weight: 5.0 oz
  • Manufacture Location: USA

Another knife I’m recommending more for its universal usefulness rather than its looks. The Manix 2 is one of those gem blades that offers an enormous amount of bang for the buck, typically coming in around somewhere just about $100. You can usually find this in just black or blue. It’s easy enough to switch out the scales down the road, though, and the market for custom Spyderco scales is thriving these days. It’s hard to overstate the quality of this knife. I’d say if you’re not sure what kind of knife someone is into, this is a pretty safe direction to go in terms of gifting.

Gerber 39 Series Micarta

  • Overall Length: 7.6”
  • Blade Length: 3.3”
  • Blade Style: Drop point
  • Handle Length: 4.3”
  • Blade Steel: CPM S30V
  • Blade Grind: Flat
  • Clip: Tip-up, low ride
  • Handle Material: Micarta w/ polymer bolsters
  • Lock Type: Liner
  • Blade Finish: Bead blast
  • Weight: 3.8 oz
  • Manufacture Location: USA

This knife got a bad rep when it first came out. Gerber apparently had some quality control issues at first, but they’ve since ironed those out and now this is one of the best gentleman folders they make now. Not that Gerber makes many gentleman carry knives. The S30V steel and micarta scales alone are enough to make this knife worth looking into, but Gerber really hit it out of the park with the design overall. The 39 series manages to look different without looking weird, which is pretty hard to pull off these days. I think you can still find versions of this knife with some kind of nickel-plated zinc handles, which sound cool, but ultimately fall short in practice from what I’ve heard. In my opinion, the Micarta version is the only one worth owning.

We Knives Wisp

  • Overall Length: 7.4”
  • Blade Length: 3.2”
  • Blade Style: Drop point
  • Handle Length: 4.2”
  • Blade Steel: CPM S35VN
  • Blade Grind: Hollow
  • Clip: Tip-up, ambidextrous
  • Handle Material: Carbon fiber w/ titanium liners
  • Lock Type: Frame lock
  • Blade Finish: Satin
  • Weight: 2.78 oz
  • Manufacture Location: China

We Knives is one of the handful of Chinese companies who excel at high-end designs and quality control. The Wisp is an impressive design in that they set in to overbuild it, but manages to keep the look pretty slim and elegant. The profile is misleading in  a way that always makes it surprising to discover this knife is actually incredibly thick. It’s definitely got heft though, thanks to the carbon fiber scales and titanium liners. The Wisp is like an 8-cylinder truck folded into the body of a sports car. You’ll just be riding the $250 mark with this, but the Wisp takes the prize in both looks and function before you put yourself in the next price range.

Southern Grind Bad Monkey

Awesome folder from Southern Grind

  • Overall Length: 9.25”
  • Blade Length: 4.0”
  • Blade Style: Drop point
  • Handle Length: 5.25”
  • Blade Steel: 14C-28N
  • Blade Grind: Flat
  • Clip: Tip-up
  • Handle Material: Carbon Fiber
  • Lock Type: Liner
  • Blade Finish: Satin
  • Weight: 4.97 oz
  • Manufacture Location: USA

Southern Grind deserves more attention as a whole than it gets, not least of all because it was started by a country singer. I’m not saying that makes it good, but it definitely makes it interesting. Their Bad Monkey knife is a paragon of clean design and utility. It has a simple carbon fiber handle with a hard 14C-28N steel in a flat grind. The 4 inch length might make it a legally problematic carry in a few states, but barring that this thing is a clean-cutting beast with some good durability for an outdoor trip.

 

Benchmade Megumi

The Benchmade Megumi 482 is a perfect gift for pocket knife fans

  • Overall Length: 5.76”
  • Blade Length: 2.48”
  • Blade Style: Drop point
  • Handle Length: 3.26”
  • Blade Steel: CPM-S30V
  • Blade Grind: Flat
  • Clip: None
  • Handle Material: Carbon Fiber / Cocobolo
  • Lock Type: Nak-Lok
  • Blade Finish: Satin
  • Weight: 1.85 oz
  • Manufacture Location: USA

You don’t hear a whole lot about the Megumi in the Benchmade world, but it makes a great gift. A reasonably sized S30V steel blade makes it a good EDC for most areas, and the Cocobolo wood in the scales gives it a pretty unique look along side the carbon fiber. The major factor working against its usability is its size. At two and half inches you won’t be lopping branches with this thing, but this also makes it one of the nicest Benchmade knives under 3 inches that you can get. The only other good alternative is the Benchmade North Fork. But I won’t go into detail on that one because I promised myself I’d only include one Benchmade in this list.

Folders Under $500

I don’t know what kind of monster you are, looking this far down on the list, but I hope you are appropriately disgusted with how much money you’re about to consider spending on knives. Whoever the lucky knife enthusiast is better have something pretty sweet lined up for you too.

Boker Arctos Santos

Excellent wooden handle pocket knife from Boker

  • Overall Length: 6.75”
  • Blade Length: 2.86”
  • Blade Style: Drop point
  • Handle Length: 3.88”
  • Blade Steel: Bohler N690
  • Blade Grind: Hollow
  • Clip: Tip-up
  • Handle Material: Olive wood w/ steel bolsters
  • Lock Type: Liner
  • Blade Finish: Stone wash
  • Weight: 5.9 oz
  • Manufacture Location: Germany

Somewhere out there is a version of this knife that has a Cocobolo handle. My understanding is that it was limited release, but it looks great, so if you ever find one, jump on it.

As for the knife itself, Boker describes the Arctos Santos as multi-purpose, but it looks suspiciously like a skinning knife to me. That’s not to say it can’t be used for multiple purposes. Boker doesn’t skimp on steel in their Arbolito line and the hollow grind will give you some pretty clean cutting. All I mean is that the whole “multi-purpose” phrasing is probably a way of telling anyone who doesn’t hunt that it’s okay to use this knife. That being said, if you’re looking for a folding knife for a hunter, this wouldn’t be a bad option.

 

Chris Reeve Umnumzaan

Chris Reeve

  • Overall Length: 8.4”
  • Blade Length: 3.68”
  • Handle Length: 4.77”
  • Blade Steel: CPM S35V
  • Blade Grind: Hollow
  • Clip: Tip-up
  • Handle Material: Titanium
  • Lock Type: Liner
  • Blade Finish: Polish
  • Weight: 5.0 oz
  • Manufacture Location: USA

Full disclosure, this is not a real recommendation. If you can afford a knife in this range, absolutely go for it. I’ve put it here more for eye candy and comparison than anything else. Just remember, no matter how expensive you think a knife is, there’s almost certainly something pricier out there.

But of course we’re gonna lay down a Chris Reeve at the fancy knife level. That’s the first thing anybody thinks about when you say “fancy folding knife”. Assuming you would ever say that in the first place. Ironically this one was actually made to be a tough working knife. The Umnumzaan features a lot of creative mechanisms that make it incredibly solid flipped out. You’ll hear some stuff about a ceramic ball and a thumb lug to lock the knife up, and you can pretend to actually understand what all of that is doing, but the point of it all is that this was designed to be as solid as a fixed blade.

It’s not. No folder will ever be as solid as a fixed blade, but you can count on Chris reeve to get you closer than pretty much anyone else.

 

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2018-10-30T00:38:13+00:00

About the Author:

Picture taker and occasional blog writer who spends his time outdoors trying to break tactical, bushcraft and hunting knives and his time indoors trying to break kitchen knives.
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