Best EDC Knives For Self Defense & Survival

A Guide To Find The Best EDC Knife That’s Right for YOU

Knives get their greatness from their versatility in accomplishing simple functions like cutting, chopping, slicing, stabbing, whittling, carving, etc.

But these functions are essential for all sorts of everyday uses, such as:

  • Self-Defense
  • Cooking Prep
  • Skinning Game
  • General Utility (opening boxes)
  • Shelter Building
  • Entertainment (knife throwing)

And that’s why it’s so important to keep an Everyday Carry (EDC) blade with you at all times.

That’s why today I’m going to share everything I know about EDC knives:

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Best EDC Knives On The Market Today

Here’s a list of the best and most acclaimed EDC knives.

These are very well-made blades you can rely on every single day.

1. Top Recommended EDC Knife

Benchmade 551 Griptilian Plain Drop-Point Knife

Benchmade knives are some of the best in the world. They are so renowned for their quality that the US military uses them as the standard-issue army EDC knife.

I always carry this exact blade in my pocket, and it’s the best knife I’ve ever owned.

The thick stainless steel blade folds nicely into a highly durable one. Plus, it has an extremely lightweight handle molded in the “griptilian” pattern.

The weight is perfect, and the balance of these knives is impeccable. You cannot go wrong with Benchmade, and this is one of their most popular blades.

The best part about Benchmade EDC knives is the lifetime warranty that they come with.

If your Benchmade blade fails or malfunctions, you can return the knife with no questions asked.

Benchmade will work with you to replace the item.

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Benchmade Griptilian: Field Test


Kershaw Leek Pocket Knife Great EDC

Kershaw makes this sleek little EDC knife has a 3” blade, a D2 steel edge, and a very low-profile, reversible pocket clip.

The blade features SpeedSafe open-assist. This flicks the blade open very quickly, with just the touch of a button.

The locking mechanism is located at the bottom of the handle and fixes the blade in place when engaged.

Perhaps the best part about this Kershaw blade is its slim design.

Even when folded into the handle, the knife is extremely slender, hiding easily in a pocket or on a belt.

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The Kershaw Leek Pocketknife Review


Spyderco Civilian Signature Folding Utility Knife

There are few EDC blades out there as wicked-looking as this knife. Its curved blade is serrated and developed for elite undercover law-enforcement agents.

Much like a handgun, this knife is designed for self-defense.

A mid-positioned back-lock prevents accidental closures/openings. Spyderco is a Colorado company that’s been making top-of-the-line knives for years.

Their products are some of the best in the blade business, and their price points reflect that. They are expensive.

But you’re paying for extremely high quality and a lifetime guarantee.

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Knife Review: Spyderco Civilian G-10


Gerber Gear Gator EDC Folding Knife

Gerber is one of the oldest and most reliable knife-making companies in America. Making the Gerber Gator a highly reliable survival tool.

It’s basic, it’s simple, it’s versatile, it’s durable, and it’s authentic.

The handle is covered in a ballistic nylon grip molded to resemble gator skin. And the thick, stainless steel blade is edged to perfection.

There are a few better options if you’re looking for an affordable, reliable EDC knife.

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Truly Outdoors Focused! Gerber Gator Premium Knives


CRKT EDC Folding Pocket Knife

CRKT makes some of the most affordable knives of the best quality. They are the perfect balance between affordability and excellence.

This knife is a perfect example of that.

The handle is made from high-durability textured glass-filled nylon scales. The stainless steel blade features a seatbelt cutter on the Carson Flipper.

It also includes a tungsten window smasher on the butt.

The flipper can be pressed for an automatic single-hand opening of the tanto-shaped blade.

This knife is made for function, not for fashion, but that does not mean it doesn’t look good.

There are several different handle color options available to choose from.

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CRKT M16 Series Redesigned: CRKT Nailed It!


Cold Steel Air Lite Folding Knife

Over the decades, Cold Steel has introduced pioneering new materials and designs that have helped to shape the world of modern knives. 

The Cold Steel Air Lite is a lightweight, versatile pocket knife designed for everyday carry. It features a Japanese 10A steel blade, which is known for its sharpness, durability, and resistance to corrosion.

The blade is 3.5 inches long and has a plain edge, making it suitable for most cutting tasks.

The knife handle is made of Griv-Ex, a high-performance polymer with a secure and comfortable grip.

And it comes with a Tri-Ad Locking mechanism, proven repeatedly to be the strongest, safest locking mechanism available.

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EDC Greatness: Cold Steel Air Light

7. Top Budget Friendly Option

Gerber Gear Zilch Folding Pocket Knife

The Gerber Zilch is a compact, lightweight folding knife perfect for everyday carry.

The blade is under 2 inches and is made of 7Cr17MoV stainless steel, which is a steel that’s easy to sharpen. And the blade includes a thumb stud for easy opening and a liner lock to keep it securely in place.

The handle is made of aluminum and has a textured pattern for a secure grip. And includes a lanyard hole and a pocket clip that can be positioned for left or right-handed carry.

The Gerber Zilch is incredibly lightweight, weighing in at just 0.7 ounces. When closed, it measures just 2.7 inches long and 0.6 inches wide, making it one of the smallest folding knives on the market.

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Gerber Zilch Wrecks Budget EDC Norms

Why You Should Carry An EDC Knife 

When you’ve got a pocket knife, neck knife, boot knife, tactical knife, or belt knife, you’ve got one of the most ancient survival tools at your side.

But these days, EDC knives are more compact and lighter and maintain their edges better than knives from the past.

Better than the fixed blade hunks of iron our ancestors had to lug around.

Many knife companies are making EDC knives today. Trying to find the best one quickly becomes an overwhelming endeavor.

And buyers, beware! Not all EDC knives are created equal. Some are designed and built to higher standards of quality than others.

Some EDC knives make incredible survival resources, while others are barely a flimsy excuse for a letter opener.

You do not want to waste your money on a product that will fail you when you need it most.

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Boot Knife

Different Types Of EDC Knives

Many EDC knives are designed specifically for survival purposes, while others are made for general application.

But no matter the specific design you prefer, they’re all extremely useful tools.

Folding EDC Knives

Nowadays, the most popular type of EDC knife is a folder. When tucked away, this kind of knife folds in half to reduce its overall length and size.

I’m sure you can see the appeal here.

The only major downside to carrying a folding knife is it cannot take as much abuse as a full tang fixed blade survival knife.

If you try chopping or batoning with a folder, you’ll quickly destroy the knife at its weakest point – the folding joint.

So for most everyday carry uses, a folder is hard to beat, but don’t mistake a folder for a true survival knife.

Fixed Blade EDC Knives

Unlike a folder, where you retrieve the knife and flip it open, with a fixed blade knife, the blade is fixed. There are no joints or hinges, no unfolding or flipping it open.

So a fixed blade full, tang knife can handle more abuse. Think of it as a mini survival knife.

Now there are different ways to carry a smaller fixed-bladed EDC knife. So let’s cover each of those options next.

Neck Knife Carry

A neck knife is typically a shorter fixed-blade knife that fits in a slim sheath with a cord, and the cord goes around your neck.

The better ones have a thin profile when in their sheath. It also should be lightweight, so it doesn’t become annoying or uncomfortable to carry every day.

Unlike a folder, where you retrieve the knife from a pocket and flip it open, with a neck knife,  you grab the knife’s handle and pull it down to release it from its sheath.

If you prefer a neck knife for EDC, check out this article: 11 Best Neck Knives That Will Make You Sneaky Prepared.

Boot Knife Carry

A boot knife is a small fixed-blade knife worn in a sheath that wraps around your ankle or calf. Hence, the term “boot knife.”

You don’t necessarily have to be wearing boots tho.

Long pants also keep the knife concealed, even if you are wearing shoes. However, you probably don’t want to carry a boot knife around town in a pair of shorts.

If you want a boot knife for EDC, check out this article: Best Boot Knives & The Best Way To Wear Them

pocket knife on split tree branch 1

Best EDC Knife Features

As with any tool, there are a few basic components and characteristics you’ll want to look for.

But everyone’s exact needs and preferences are going to be different for every person. And personal preference plays a big part in picking out the best EDC knife that will work well for you.

You have many factors to think about, from:

  • the weight
  • the shape of the handle
  • the size of the blade
  • the carry location
  • the blade design
  • the handle material

One specific knife might feel great for you and awkward as heck to the next guy. That’s normal. With this in mind, here’s a list of essential features good reliable EDC knives have in common:


Folding knives are exceptional in this regard.

For millennia knives were made with fixed blades that required sheathes for safety. These had to be strapped to a belt or pack. But in the 1900s, when folding knives hit the scene, it changed the game.

Suddenly, you could put your EDC knife in your pocket, discretely tucked away but at the ready.

Some of the best EDC knives are folders. Not all great EDC knives are folders, but many are. They’ve become popular for everyday carry for a reason.

But short fixed blade EDC knives are compact as well.

Ergonomic Handle

The handle is a critical part of the knife. It’s part of the knife you’ll be most intimate with, so make sure it feels great in your hand.

It should sit comfortably, and it should be easy to grip. Try another size if it feels too small or too large.

Don’t compromise here.

A knife that fits perfectly in your hand will help build a bond between you and your survival tool. It should feel like it was made for you.

Locking mechanism (folders only)

A button or a sliding clip should be on the handle to lock your blade in place.

I’ve seen people maimed by stray blades accidentally opening in their pockets. For your safety, you must lock the blade in place when it’s folded and extended.

Fixed-blade knives don’t have or need locking mechanisms.

Low-Riding Pocket Clip (folders only)

I would argue that the knife clip is every bit as important as the folding mechanism or the blade lock. The clip makes it insanely easy to fasten a knife to the outside of a pack or into a pocket.

Clips are essential when it comes to EDC knives, but some of them can be a pain.

Some clips are large and bulky and mostly get in the way. Finding a knife with a nice, low-profile clip is a huge step toward finding the perfect survival EDC knife.

Good Sheath (mainly fixed blade knives)

With neck, boot, and belt knife carry options; you need to spend as much time researching the sheath as you do the knife. The sheath in these carries locations will make all the difference.

You want a compact sheath with a small profile. It needs to have enough material and size to do its job but no more.

It also should feel snug when the blade is seated.

Lightweight and Durable

There are some incredibly cool-looking folding blade knives.

For example, I’ve seen some made out of hardwood and inlaid with turquoise. Or made out of mammoth bone, with their blades forged from Toledo steel.

While these tools look cool, they are also way more cumbersome than your EDC knife should be.

A knife made out of durable, lightweight materials will serve you far better. Plus, it’ll weigh on you less throughout your day-to-day activities.

There’s a reason they don’t make bejeweled screwdrivers and golden-plated hammers. Tools are meant to be used, beaten up, and worn down, not bedazzled.

If they’re made from precious materials, it compromises the instrument’s utility.

Legal Blade Length

The laws on “how long a knife blade can be” change from state to state and place to place. Some areas only allow knives of specific lengths to be carried on your person legally. While in other places, they might not allow people to carry knives at all.

Researching your state’s knife laws is important before buying an EDC knife.

It might get confiscated if you don’t pay attention and buy an illegal knife for open carry. Or worse, you might get a ticket for carrying it.

If your knife is illegal in your state, consider carrying a different self-defense weapon instead.

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Knife Sharpening

How To Care For Your New EDC Knife

Just like any knife, EDC knives need a little TLC from time to time. Maintenance and upkeep are necessary if you want them to continue to perform at their best.

But it’s nothing complicated. All it takes is the occasional sharpening and regular cleaning. Doing so will make a quality EDC knife last several lifetimes (or longer).

How to Clean and Maintain Your EDC Knife


Most EDC knives are made of stainless steel. This makes cleaning them extremely easy.

First, scrape off any crud or grime from the blade (use a surface cleaner to remove stubborn stains).

With a damp rag, you can wipe down the blade and handle. And with a q-tip, you can clean out all the nooks and crannies a typical folding EDC knife has.

It’s also a good idea to oil your knife occasionally. To keep the hinge swinging like it is brand new.

Gun oil works best for this, applied to a q-tip and gently rubbed on the hinge point (but you can also use WD-40).

Don’t go overboard, though! A little oil goes a long way. Be sure to wipe off any excess oil afterward.


Many knifemakers will sharpen your knife for you.

If your Kershaw, Spyderco, or Benchmade blade is getting dull, send it back to the manufacturer. Let them use their specialized equipment to sharpen it correctly.

This also ensures that the blade is sharpened correctly and evenly.

Of course, this means parting ways with your EDC knife for several weeks.

You can also sharpen an EDC knife yourself, using a multitude of knife sharpeners.

Sharpen your blade every once in a while. Ensure you stay on top of it; a dull knife is more dangerous than a sharp one!

The Final Word

Buying an EDC knife is an important step toward becoming a prepared survivalist.

It’s a tool that serves many purposes, and it fits comfortably inside pants pockets, under a shirt, in a boot, or on a belt.

EDC knives are an essential tool for anyone who considers themselves a survivalist. But finding the right one can be difficult.

Do your research, shop around, and find the best EDC knife for you.

It makes all the difference in the world carrying an EDC knife. Find one that feels like the perfect fit for your body, your preferences, and your survival needs.

Will Brendza

P.s. Are you ready for the tough times ahead?

Find out now by taking my short Readiness Score Quiz – it’s absolutely free.
Once complete, you’ll know exactly where you stand on the “fragile” vs.” resilient” spectrum.

The post Best EDC Knives For Self Defense & Survival appeared first on Skilled Survival.

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