Different Types of Pocket Knives [How to Choose The Best One]

A certain kind of romance surrounded a pocket knife in years gone by; kids were thrilled when their parents finally decided to give them one. It was a right of passage, a mark of being grown up, well, at least being told you were old enough to carry one. Being old enough for anything was a very sought-after position!

Children knew they had to be a certain kind of “sensible” to be in charge of a knife, as knives can be helpful, but they can also be dangerous.

There are many types of pocket knives specially made for children. Their design is slightly more clever than the regular pocket knife to rule out the danger quotient. It seems, therefore, that the pocket knife still holds the same draw and pull as it did years ago!

The Real Selling Point of a Pocket Knife

The charm and pull of a pocket knife have always been a bit of a mystery. Is it because these knives are like a toolbox neatly squished up into one streamlined item?

Is it the look and feel of each pocket knife that can be so different yet alluring? Adults will feel a certain nostalgia when they talk about pocket knives in their childhood. They seem to pull up memories of camping, long walks in nature, and the promise of something special, like an adventure, for example. This feeling never really goes away; we can replace it with more sensible ideas; not that adventures are silly, but a person with a pocket knife can undoubtedly deal with a few curved balls.

What is the allure of a pocket knife?

Aside from the desire to become an everyday Indiana Jones, they are probably one of the most underrated utilities ever made, and they go back so far in history that it shows they have stood the test of time. Even amongst today’s technical advances and fancy kitchen machinery, the pocket knife holds its own as timeless. If you are a lover of pocket knives, you already know this; and if you are a new fan, you will delight in all they have to offer. You will probably wonder how you got along without one in the first place.

Their uses are impossibly wide, ranging from picking your teeth to opening clamshells and saving people from burning cars by cutting their seat belts. It is harder not to be able to slot a penknife into most daily tasks.

It seems pertinent and responsible to slip in here that you will need to know your state rules regarding carrying knives before purchasing your first pocket knife.

You don’t want to walk into a public building with an illegal knife in your pocket. Sometimes blades are best left in the car if they are out with the legal length limit.

There are many types of pocket knives available, in different shapes, and structures, so to keep it simple, we are looking at commonalities in the blade to get you started.

Swiss Army produces different types of pocket knives

Blades

  1. Serrated
  2. Smooth
  3. A mix of both

There are two types of blades on a pocket knife, Serrated and smooth. Serrated edges are suitable for hack cutting. That means cutting through hardy rope, rigid surfaces like cans, and other unyielding materials. This facet becomes obvious since a sawing motion on more challenging surfaces is required. The serrated edges are like teeth, and these blades get the job done.

If kept sharp and well maintained, smooth blades can do any job. They slice through apples, can but cords and rope, and do more delicate jobs like shaving wood for fire kindle. Some knives have a mix of both on one blade. This mix seems nifty, and it is, but you have to keep in mind that your knife has to be sharp and serrated edges have to be sharpened professionally. The mixed blade also gives you half of this and half of that. The problem is that you might feel a bit frustrated depending on the length of the blade.

Blade Material Types

  • Obsidian
  • Surgical Steel
  • Stainless Steel
  • Carbon Steel

Obsidian

This knife is often marketed as the diamond of cutting blades, but it is not practical. Obsidian is made from volcanic gas and can create a knife that is super sharp and super thin, but the issue here is that these knives can break more quickly because they are light and brittle, so if you see a pocket knife toting obsidian as it’s selling feature you should give it a miss. Obsidian is found in surgical instruments, and they are better suited to this task than the hardiness required of a pocket knife.

Surgical Steel

Don’t bother with a knife made of surgical steel. The blade will arrive looking shiny, but that is about it. It won’t last and is unsuitable for the life-saving tasks that pocket knives can carry out.

Also, pocket knives made from surgical steel tend to be relatively rare. You certainly will not find them in most stores that you will be looking at.

Stainless Steel

Knives made from stainless steel are a sure bet. Most knives are manufactured from stainless steel, but it depends on the type of steel they use and the processes involved. Stainless steel is pretty much rust-resistant, so it lasts longer. Look for mixes like VG10 and AUS8 used in the blade. You can get a decent pocket knife made with stainless steel, and the price ranges can vary a lot.

This is undoubtedly the easiest material to purchase and one of the best knife steels for pocket knives.

Carbon Steel

Carbon steel is excellent for a pocket knife, and sometimes the price point can be high, but they need a lot of maintenance and care. If you are stuck out in the bush somewhere, you might find your carbon steel blade wanting as they tend to start well and then blunt quicker.

Along with blade types and styles, which can vary immensely, variations in blade shapes and tools can form part of your knife.

Types of Pocket Knives You Can Purchase

As said, there are many types of pocket knives, so here are some suggestions:

The Camper Knife

This knife is a nifty super-tool that could help you in many daily situations. The multi-tasking knife includes a screwdriver, tweezers (to pluck out various splinters or pluck your eyebrows), bottle openers, can openers, scissors, and toothpick you heard about earlier, nail files and skewers, as well as a few other items depending on the knife.

Your first thought might be camping, but this trusty tool will be around to help you with most tasks you come about daily. It’s truly one of the best EDC pocket knives! The other method is to carry a bag packed with all of these things, and then it hits home how handy they are.

There is even a pair of pliers in the mix!

The PenKnife

The penknife is more simplistic in design, with a sturdy blade or three. The edge is sharp and can be used to shave down pencils and many other tasks like wood whittling. In the old days, People used penknives to sharpen quills for writing. That will give you an idea of how sharp and simplistic they are. They are still used a lot today and for various cutting tasks, and their sharpness and durability will depend on the material of the blade.

Folding pocket knife, one of the many types of pocket knives

The Congress Knife

This handy four-bladed knife gets its name from congressman Abraham Lincoln, as he liked to carry one around. The four blades fold down into the pocket knife when closed, so there are more choices of blades with this knife.

The Trapper Knife

Trappers and livestock owners historically used this knife. They also used them for castrating animals and skinning hides. That does not single out a use for trappers only. This sturdy, sharp-bladed knife is just as useful for people who are nowhere near any animals. The trapper knife usually sports two blades, one curved at the end and the other round for various task options.

The Sheepsfoot Knife

Historically, it might be evident that this knife was to tend to sheep hooves; the blade is slightly pointed down and chunky in appearance. That lends itself typically to hardiness. Again, this type of knife is used today by many different people, not just sheep owners.

The Canoe Knife

This knife is not a knife for canoes, but if you are camping and out on a canoe, it will help you out with various other tasks. It is called the canoe because of its gently curved shape, which houses two blades.

Choosing Your Pocket Knife

With so many different types of pocket knives, and we have not even covered all eventualities, we need to quickly address how you even go about choosing the best pocket knife for you.

Of course, you will know how you plan on using your pocket knife. But we can immediately rule out those made from surgical steel as you just wouldn’t find yourself looking at most pocket knife stores for that.

Consider If You Need Just a Knife

One of the first things is to think if you simply need a knife. That will eliminate the need to consider those pocket knives that come with an assortment of additional tools.

Consider How it Should Be Stored

Another thing is to think about how the blade part is stored away in the knife. Do you want a button lock that holds it into place? Would you prefer a latch to be brought down and hold the blade in place?

You have several options available to you when it comes to this part, and the last thing you want is for the blade to be capable of springing open when not in use.

How to Open it?

Along with thinking about how the blade is stored, you should also consider how you take the blade out of the handle when you wish to use the knife.

Here, you have a couple of options to think about. You can, of course, remove the blade manually. These pocket knives typically have small notches on the spine to help you grip the blade between your fingers and remove it from its housing.

Alternatively, you can opt for the button method or other versions on the market, where pressing a lever or button results in the blade opening up. Check our review of: Best OTF Knives.

This is often the preferred version. It makes life so much easier when it comes to using the pocket knife. It means you can open it with one hand, whereas the manual effort generally requires both hands. It means it may prove more effective in certain situations, which could prove important for some individuals.

Looks are Less Important

Finally, here is one thing that’s not worth spending too much time on, and that’s the actual visual aesthetics associated with a pocket knife.

Your primary concern should always be its functionality rather than how it looks. Sure, you may want to own a pocket knife with a cool handle or some etching on the blade, but that will not change its effectiveness when called into action.

We strongly suggest focusing on how well the knife performs rather than how it looks. That should be the last thing on your list of priorities.

A Summary

These are just a few of the most popular pen knives today; there are hundreds of pocket knife types with different shaped blades, and the only way to find out which are the most popular is to do a bit of reading and decide which one would suit your needs the most.

A pocket knife is invaluable if you are an outdoor person and embrace your inner wild. The pocket knife’s uses cannot be underestimated, from gutting fish to cutting rope and twigs.

They are handy tools, and with the extra add-ons, they become indispensable. In a fun way, you could become a modern-day MacGywer, as in, being ready for most situations! Even if you don’t venture out much.

The list is endless.

You could cut off clothes in an emergency, give someone a tracheotomy, open bottles of wine, and do other things that we cannot even imagine. However, the real value of penknives is the ability to transform and serve each purpose required of them.

They are also gorgeous knives, and some people collect them for this reason alone. Some even secure vintage knives just for their ornate outer appearance. With so many options out there, we just suggest taking some time to delve into the world of pocket knives and thoroughly exploring different types of pocket knives before you make a purchase.

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