Need a gift for the knife ‘knut’ on your list? Here are on-point suggestions — time tested designs, decent prices, and all readily available.
Spyderco Paramilitary ($164)
This is probably the best all around folder on the planet. It’s big enough to do hard-use tasks, small enough to ride your hip as an EDC. The standard version comes with S30V steel, a decent powder steel. It runs the Spyderco-exclusive compression lock. If the knife lover in your life has been extra good this year, you can track down upgraded steels in virtually every possible flavor — high toughness (Cru-Forge), high hardness (S110V), and everything in between.
Benchmade Mini Griptillian ($170, full review)
Rounded over like a river rock, the Mini Griptillian is a knife that has evolved for years, with tweaks to steel, the thumb hole, and the clip. This most recent version fixes everything people complained about (even when there wasn’t a whole lot to point to). You get G10 handles, a deep carry, over-the-top pocket clip, and 20CV, an American steel that does pretty much everything well. This version is pricier than the original, but the upgrades are worth it.
Case Texas Toothpick ($50-$100)
I was surprised at just how fun this knife was to carry. I inherited one and after a few days, I just liked picking it up and dropping in to my pocket. It lacks the cutting-edge steel of many knives, but the blade shape is very useful. The thin steel slices well, and the entire thing lives quite pleasantly in a pocket. The double bolsters and strongly curved handle all work very well when carrying the knife. If you want something different than yet another modern folder, try the Toothpick.
Zero Tolerance ZT0450 ($160, full review)
Many ZT blades are perfectly at home prying, chopping, and smashing. They aren’t so comfortable at doing the thing you have a knife for in the first place–cutting. Most are too big and too thick to do any real finesse work. Well, the ZT0450 is different. Thanks to a human-size handle and thinner than normal blade stock for ZT, this knife is actually quite deft slicing and dicing. The upgraded ZT0450 with the Japanese super steel ZDP-189 (awkwardly named ZT0450CFZDP) is even nicer. The flipping action is sterling on new models, and the stock S35VN blade steel is an excellent all-around performer.
Kershaw Chill ($30, full review)
What kind of knife can you get for $25-$30? You can get some rainbow-colored M-Tech nightmare from your local gas station/truck stop, or you can get the Chill. It’s a slim, snappy flipper designed by master custom-maker RJ Martin. It runs the just-under-par 8Cr13MoV steel, but besides that there is nothing to complain about here. The knife’s dimensions and weight yield a ton of blade for the size of the knife, allowing you to tackle more chores than you’d expect for knife that weighs under 2.0 ounces.
CRKT Swindle ($55, full review)
Ken Onion’s unique design language is applied to one of the oldest traditional knife patterns — the swayback — in this folder. The flipping action is superb thanks to an IKBS pivot. The upgraded Swindle runs 12C27, a very decent Sandvik steel, roughly equivalent (or marginally better) than AUS-8. The clip on the knife is a unique spine-mounted, spring-loaded clip giving it a very good look and feel in the hand and the ability to stay out of the way in the pocket. Finally, the Swindle, even in the upgraded version, is very reasonably priced.
SOG Aegis ($95, full review)
The SOG Flash I received an inordinate amount of attention on the Internet, thanks in part to being the ship that launched the YouTube knife-review sensation Nutnfancy Fleet. But for all of its features, the handle is pretty miserable. If you are looking for the knife that has all of the great things found in the Flash I with a better handle, look no further than the SOG Aegis. It runs the over-the-top, deep carry clip found on Nuntnfancy’s EDC of choice, as well as his preferred full flat-grind AUS-8 steel. Thanks to some restraint on the part of SOG designers, the handle is comfortable to use for a long time. The knife is also featherweight and assisted. The feature I enjoy the most, however, is the incredibly thin blade. The Aegis can slice for days.
Spyderco Dragonfly ($75, full review, ZDP-189 version)
For me, the knife that should have received all of the accolades isn’t the Flash I, but this knife. With better steel, better ergos, and a better clip, this is probably the best EDC knife out there in the production world. Its blade is very small, given the trends towards mega-knives. But you can do a ton of work with a very small blade, especially when the entire knife is as well designed as the Dragonfly. You’ll be hard pressed to find something more suited for daily carry, especially if you opt for one of the high-end steels. The Dragonfly comes in a variety of steels — H1 for those near the water, HAP40 and Super Blye for those that like high carbon, high performance steels, and ZDP-189 for those that like an edge that stays sharp for years with little maintenance.
All of these knives are readily available (noting that some of the upgraded versions will be hard to find) and all of them make great gifts. If you are looking for one, check out your local Cabela’s or hop online and visit their website.