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submitted by Jonathan Tayag

Your EDC knife is only as good as the steel in its blade. A knife made of good steel will be sharp, stay sharp, and won’t break on you. On the other hand, knives made of dubious steel are unreliable and downright unsafe. They tend to dull easily and end up chipping and breaking when you need them most. There’s a lot of blade steels to pick from, and each has its own set of advantages to consider for your EDC. In this guide, we’ll go over what to look out for in a steel before buying your next blade. To make things even easier, we’ll give a few examples of our favorite knives made of each type of steel.

What to Look for in a Good Everyday Carry Blade Steel

  • Hardness and durability: You want a durable knife that won’t bend because its steel is too soft. You don’t want a steel that’s so hard that it becomes brittle and chips over time either. A good mixture of these two qualities is best.

  • Sharpness and edge retention: You want a knife that can get real sharp and stay sharp through repeated use. A knife that is easy to sharpen and maintain is also good. How hard a blade steel is also affects how sharp it can get. That’s determined by the amount of carbon in the steel. Other elements can affect how well a blade can hold that edge through repeated tough use too.

  • Corrosion resistance: This determines whether your knife is stainless or not. Non-stainless steel knives need oil and maintenance to keep rust away. Stainless steel knives are more forgiving, but they can still end up rusting if neglected. The amount of elements such as chrome and vanadium present in the steel alloy help this out.

Knife manufacturers have a wide set of names for each kind of blade steel. The specific alloy used in making a knife is usually disclosed, letting you judge the quality. Generally beware of dubious knives that do not advertise their blade steel. Unknown steel should raise a red flag in your mind when you’re trying to buy a knife.

Now that you have a general understanding of blade steels, let’s look at specific examples of 10 good steels.

1095 Carbon Steel

1095 is a non-stainless carbon steel, with approximately 0.95% carbon in the blade. This makes for a tough knife that holds an excellent edge, but it’s prone to rusting if you don’t take care of it. Frequent lubrication and proper storage will keep things in good order. 1095 blades also tend to be thicker because a thin knife made of hard 1095 can be too brittle.

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Example: TOPS Bartender Defender

The hardness of 1095 steel is great for making fixed blades, and the Bartender Defender is an excellent example. It’s a sharp and compact EDC knife that’s also pretty handy because it packs a bottle opener as well.

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D2 Tool Steel

D2 is a steel normally used to create large industrial tools needed to cut and stamp softer forms of steel. Because of that it’s incredibly tough and wear resistant. It’s a bit more resistant to corrosion than carbon steel but it’s not truly stainless. And while it makes for a very hard, yet durable knife, it can be difficult to sharpen without the right equipment.

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Example: Schrade SCH601TI

The blade on the Schrade SCH601TI features both a drop point and recurve design that makes it very versatile and suitable for your everyday cutting tasks. It also sports a solid frame lock construction as well as a gorgeous textured ergonomic titanium handle.

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420HC is an old-school high-carbon stainless steel that you’ll mostly find in classy gent’s knives and outdoors hunter designs. It’s not as hard as some of the steels on this list, but it’s great for knives that go through constant hard use. It’s extremely easy to sharpen; in a pinch, even the unpolished bottom of a ceramic plate will do.

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Example: Buck 110

Few things are as timeless as a Buck knife, and the 110 folding hunter knife is one of the classiest gent’s knives you can carry. The brass and wood grain features make it more than just a tool in your hands. It also features a traditional clip point hunter’s blade that locks into place with a solid lockback mechanism in the handle.

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Sandvik 12C27 / Sandvik 14C18N 

Sandvik 12C27 is a medium carbon (0.6%) blade steel that features a large amount of chromium in the mix. Blades made of this steel exhibit strong durability and wear resistance. It’s very resistant to rust as well. Despite the lower carbon content compared with other blade steels in this guide, Sandvick 12C27 can become very sharp if heat treated well.

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Example: Opinel No. 8 Stainless (Sandvick 12C27)

The venerable Opinel usually comes with a non-stainless blade, but they use Sandvick 12C27 for their stainless options. These knives cut at a level that’s comparable to their non-stainless brethren while being easier to maintain as well.

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Example: Kershaw Leek (Sandvick 14C18N)

If you’re looking for something with a bit more carbon but still in the same family as this blade steel, take a look at knives made of the 14C18N variant. The best knife made of this steel is by far the Kershaw Leek, a small EDC folding blade with flipper assisted opening and a modified wharncliffe shape. It’s extremely popular in the EDC community, and it’s affordable too.

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This is one of the more ubiquitous on the market today because it delivers solid performance at a cost that is very budget friendly. The name denotes the actual content of the steel, with the main points being 0.80% carbon and 13% chrome. It’s a good all-around knife for affordable everyday carry with solid sharpness, edge retention, and durability. There are variations of this steel, but knives below 8Cr tend to not hold an sharp edge as well because of the lower carbon content.

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Example: CRKT Vizzle

The Vizzle has an attractive Voxnaes design that features a 3.35” 8Cr13MoV blade with an upswept tip. With its flipper opening and IKBS ball bearing assist, it’s ready to go as soon as you need it.

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AUS-8 has similar properties to 440C stainless steel, but it features a large amount of vanadium in its creation. It’s an excellent blade steel when made properly, but its quality is very dependent on how well it is forged and heat treated. If you’re looking at an AUS-8 knife, make sure you’re buying from a maker who’s up to snuff. While it gets sharp, AUS-8 also tends to dull quickly, so make sure to sharpen it regularly to get the best results.

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Example: Ontario Knife Company RAT II

Ontario Knife Company is well-regarded for making sharp knives that stand up to hard use. Their RAT folding knife series is one of the most popular folders carried by the EDC community as well. Their latest iteration features a sharp 3” satin finished AUS-8 drop point blade and grippy G-10 scales on the handle.

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440C is a stainless steel with a durable crystallite structure and a high chromium content. It generally has a higher amount of carbon than 1095, but the chromium content makes it far more resistant to corrosion. As one of the alloy steels, it’s also far less brittle and more wear-resistant than 1095. Unlike 1095, it’s more suited for folding knives that are far less hefty than fixed blades.

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Example: Spyderco Chicago

In this example, the Spyderco Chicago is a compact folding knife made in the classic Spyderco style with a sub-2”, 440C flat ground, plain edge blade. Its ergonomic handle also sports grippy G-10 scales, giving you precise control.

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154CM is a further development of 440C stainless steel. With the addition of molybdenum, the durable alloy in 154CM exhibits superior sharpness and edge retention than standard stainless steels. 154CM is great for knives that will be used often, making it perfect for EDC. While still being tough and durable, it’s fairly easy to sharpen 154CM on your own.

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Example: Benchmade Mini Griptillian

The Mini Griptillian is a venerable knife that’s extremely popular in the EDC community. Its razor-sharp 2.91” drop point 154CM blade makes short work of your everyday cutting tasks. The ambidextrous AXIS lock and excellent grip afforded by the handle makes it a joy to use everyday.

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This is a premium high-carbon stainless steel that gets so sharp that you usually find it in some of the best kitchen knives your money can buy. Combine that with its excellent rust resistance and its ability to be forged into the waved patterns of Damascus steel and you have something that brings your EDC to a higher level.

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Example: Boker Plus Kwaiken Mini Titan

The Mini Kwaiken pairs an ultra-sharp 3” VG-10 alloyed blade with a gorgeous titanium handle. The blade deploys with a flipper assisted by IKBS ball bearings and a liner lock keeps it in place during use.

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S30V is a blade steel designed for extremely high quality knives. It’s a result of a collaboration between Crucible and Chris Reeve, of whose knives represent the grail for many in the EDC community. S30V uses vanadium carbides instead of chromium to achieve stellar toughness and sharpness. Because of the work it takes to make this steel, you generally only find it in high-end and custom knives.

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Example: Zero Tolerance 0350 (CPM-S30V)

The 0350 represents everything I look for in a knife, and it is my personal EDC daily driver. It has a beautiful organic modified drop point blade that has a huge belly, increasing its cutting surface. The 3.25” blade’s S30V steel gets sharp and stays sharp. SpeedSafe assisted opening ensures it’s out quick, and the ergonomics make it a joy to hold.

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Example: Chris Reeve Small Inkosi (CPM-S35VN)

With the addition of niobium and a few more tweaks to the formula, S35VN makes for an even sharper version of S30V. The greatest example of this blade steel in current production is of course Chris Reeve’s Small Inkosi. It features a sub 2” hollow ground blade that’s sharp enough to cut through most anything you throw at it. The handles are 6Al4V titanium and feature the signature Reeve integral lock. It’s absolutely stunning, and it’s definitely worthy to sit alongside the Sebenza line as a grail knife for everyday carry.

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You’re bound to encounter more kinds of blade steels on your hunt for the perfect EDC knife, but by now you should be familiar with the most popular of the EDC-worthy options out there. What’s your favorite steel and why? Let us know in a comment below.

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submitted by Jonathan Tayag

From the handle to the blade, the Crossbones is a marvel of slim, minimalist design. So much so that it went on to win the Best Imported Knife of 2017 at this past Blade Show. It’s a feat made even more impressive given it’s up-and-coming knifemaker Jeff Park’s first production blade from CRKT. The Crossbones has an understated sleekness to it that makes it a perfect choice for a classy modern gent’s knife. And its ergonomics and versatility make it a great choice for general everyday carry use, too.

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The Crossbones sports a thin, 6061 aluminum handle with a two-tone “cross” pattern that gives it its signature look. A darker, diamond-textured section gives excellent grip to its otherwise slender frame and contrasts the rest of the brushed aluminum on the handle. An IKBS-assisted flipper tab keeps the knife’s trim silhouette when closed while quickly deploying its 3.5” AUS-8 blade into a solid liner lock. The Crossbones is an excellent slicer thanks to the full flat grind on its blade, making short work of your everyday cutting tasks. And at a mere 4.5" closed and 2.4oz in weight, it’s neither too big nor too heavy for your pockets.

If you’re looking for a knife that cuts as sharp as it looks, the Crossbones is a great low-profile option for you. Give this modern EDC gent’s knife a try and pick one up at the link below.

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Rounding out your EDC doesn’t always have to cost and arm and a leg. In the first installment of 15 Under $15, we showed that a complete and effective carry requires very little investment. If you’ve been feeling the pinch lately but still feeling the itch for new gear, here are some more of our affordable picks to keep both your carry and your wallet happy.


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Nitecore Tube

The Nitecore Tube with its 45 lumen variable output with 48 hours of runtime is more than an ample light for your keychain. It’s in for the long haul with a tough polycarbonate exterior and built-in micro USB charger.

BUY ($10)

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Maglite Solitaire LED

This isn’t your old man’s Maglite. The new Solitaire takes one of the most popular AAA light designs of all time and updates it for the next generation with 37 lumens in watertight anodized aluminum.

BUY ($14)


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SOG Micron 2.0

The SOG Micron 2.0 is a high-performance folding tanto knife at home right on your keychain. With a 2.25" blade and a lockback for safety, it’s minimum in stature but fully-featured for everyday tasks.

BUY ($16)

(Editor’s Note: Since the time of writing, the price of the Micron 2.0 has jumped to $16.17 but with free shipping. A similar, more compact alternative still under $15 is the original Micron, here.)

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Kershaw Crown

Classy design, great materials, and capable steel make up the Kershaw Crown, making it perfect for a dressier carry. There’s a lot of value to be had with its 8Cr13MoV steel and micarta handles, and usage is easy with its thumbstud opener and liner lock.

BUY ($15)

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Schrade Imperial Penknife

Schrade is a brand known for their time-tested gentleman folders, and the IMP16S Imperial is no different. With three blade shapes to suit all your cutting tasks and weighing only 1.9 ounces, the Imperial is ideal for an everyday pocket knife.

BUY ($10)


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Leatherman Brewzer

The Brewzer is Leatherman’s keychain multitool and keeps things nice and simple with its prybar and bottle opener. With two solid tools for a solid price, it deserves a spot on any keychain.

BUY ($11)


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Saddleback Leather Card Sleeve

With a 100-year warranty, Saddleback Leather products are serious about their quality. This card sleeve is made of 100% full-grain leather, slimly cut for front-pocket carry, and has a bottom hole for ease of retrieval for your cards and cash.

BUY ($14)


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Exotac FREEKey System

Stop breaking your nails on your keychain split ring with the Exotac FREEKey System. Designed to allow easy entry and exit with a press of its strategically-placed bump that acts as a pivot, the FREEKey ensures quick and painless keychain operation.

BUY ($8)

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Victorinox Clippers

The Victorinox Clippers bring Swiss quality and sharpness to nail maintenance on the go. The stainless steel clippers also include a file, keychain loop, and an intuitive closing mechanism which make for a compact everyday hygiene tool.

BUY ($13)

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Silicon Power 16GB USB 3.0 Flash Drive

USB 2.0 speeds just don’t cut it anymore with today’s large files. Upgrade your old keychain flash drive with the Silicon Power Jewel J80, powered by USB 3.0, made from durable zinc alloy, and designed to perfectly fit on your keychain.

BUY ($13)


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The Friendly Swede Survival “Grenade”

The Friendly Swede Grenade is a handy survival pack that fits right in the palm of your hand. It comes with useful complement of tools from a knife to fishing hooks to tinder and an included carabiner lets you easily attach it to your pack.

BUY ($9)

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CRKT Eat N’ Tool XL

CRKT’s Eat N’ Tool XL makes dining outdoors a snap. Combining a spork, bottle opener, and three hex wrenches on one tool lets you conveniently tackle any food or beverage packaging that presents itself on your excursion.

BUY ($11)


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Parker Metropolitan Fountain Pen

Upgrade your daily jotter to this stylish Pilot fountain pen without paying a handsome price. The Metropolitan collection comes with a medium nib, two refill methods, and three colors to suit your use.

BUY ($13)

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Sharpie Stainless Steel Pen

Stainless steel Sharpies are an EDC favorite with their consistent writing action and durable exterior. This Fine Point model takes on a smaller pen form factor, giving you Sharpie reliability without the bulkier marker size.

BUY ($5)


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Anker Astro Mini 2nd Gen

With our reliance on our phones and tablets for everyday tasks, it’s a nightmare to get caught without power while away from an outlet. The lipstick-sized 3200mAh Anker is the perfect portable companion for a quick boost of power for most modern gadgets.

BUY ($13)

We hope you liked our picks for an inexpensive additions to your EDC. Did we miss a great piece of gear on our list? Tell us about your own inexpensive finds in the comments below!

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submitted by Sean Caldwell

This formal EDC has the smallest footprint of all my carry combinations. I use it either with business/dress clothing outside of work, or when I want to go really light and discreet. Dark, black, and silver tones with a red touch for the car security tool. Stylish, slim, elegant primary knife and multi-tool with nothing looking tactical or too aggressive. I also removed the key chain and the light lanyard that I don’t really need here. Every tool looks socially “acceptable”, and can be used comfortably in public (I always use my multi-tool as my “social” knife in my other EDCs). The EDC caddy is pricey but allows me to flatten everything in my pocket and make the tools barely visible (I carry my wallet and light in the other pocket). I don’t carry this EDC often and it’s not designed to be deployed fast or for any aggressive or hard applications. Although not a necessity, I believe that the pleasure derived from having some cool tools and EDC combinations increases your motivation and your commitment to carry your more rugged, versatile and heavier Work/Everyday Carry.

Submitted by Everyday Carry
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If you’ve ever shopped around for a pocket knife for everyday carry, you’d know there’s a staggering amount of options to choose from. Trying to make sense of the many types of knives and their subtle differences can get overwhelming. Of the many factors to consider when choosing something as personal as a knife, its locking mechanism is one of the most important. You should know what type of lock, if any, you should have depending on your needs and preferences before investing in a quality knife.

In this guide, we’ll show you some of the most common types of locking mechanisms you’d find in a desirable EDC knife. You’ll discover the advantages of having a knife that locks, which type is best suited for your EDC, how they work, and knives to consider if the locking type isn’t an option where you live.

Why EDC a locking blade?

Portability should be a major focus when looking for a tool to keep on your person in your pockets or bag. In the case of pocket knives for EDC, folding knives offer an ideal balance of pocketability and functionality.

When folded closed, they become more compact and easier to carry as there’s no exposed sharp edge to worry about. When fully opened, you get the balance, ergonomics, and utility of a non-folding (fixed) blade. Fixed blades are inherently stronger as there’s no moving parts to fail under stress in extreme cases or after repeated hard use.

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What about folding knives lets you enjoy the best of both worlds?

It’s all in the lock.

The locking mechanism adds extra safety to using your EDC blade. It lets you blow through tougher tasks over a longer lifetime on a knife you can actually carry everyday. It’s something you’d be using often, so it’s best to get acquainted with what your options are.

Let’s take a look at some of the top types of locking mechanisms for EDC, and a few options for those in areas where locking blades are restricted.


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A lock back mechanism is what you see on many classic American folding knives. It’s essentially made of a “spine” on a spring. When the knife is opened, the spine locks into a notch on the back of the blade. To close the knife, push down on the exposed part of the spine (usually found in the middle or rear of the handle) to pop up the part of the spine in contact with the blade. This frees the blade from making contact with the spine to disengage the lock, allowing you to swing the blade to a closed position.

The benefits of a lockback include reliable strength and safety. The unlock “button” is out of the way of your grip when using the knife, meaning you’re unlikely to accidentally disengage the lock and have it close on you. It also keeps your hands clear of the blade’s path when closing, minimizing the risk of cutting yourself.

One disadvantage is that while using both hands to close a lockback is safer, it can be inconvenient when you need to keep one hand on whatever you’re cutting. While it’s possible to close a lockback with one hand, it isn’t easy. You’d likely need to switch grips and take extra care when closing the blade.

Lockback example: Spyderco Chaparral Ti ($173)

Liner Lock

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Liner locks are one of the more common mechanisms seen on folding knives. This mechanism’s characteristic component is a side spring bar located on the same side as sharp edge of the blade, “lining” the inside of the handle. When the knife is closed, the spring bar is held under tension. When fully opened, that tension slips the bar inward to make contact with the butt of the blade, keeping it firmly in place and preventing it from closing.

Liner locks are beneficial in that they allow a knife to have two true handle sides, unlike a framelock (you’ll see what we mean later in the guide). You can close the knife with one hand without switching grip, ideal for when you need both hands on the job. You’ll find liner locks in both entry-level and high-end knives. It’s a lock type that appeals to both knife newbies and enthusiasts alike.

If you’ll be using your knife for heavy-duty tasks, you should know liner locks typically aren’t as robust as other locking systems. They’re still plenty strong, but because they’re typically made from a thinner piece of metal, they’re more prone to wearing out compared to a beefy frame lock, for example.

Liner lock example: Spyderco Tenacious ($37)

Frame Lock

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Think of the frame lock as a beefed up version of the liner lock. They’re very similar to liner lock mechanisms, except instead of an internal spring bar moving into place, it’s part of the handle itself. Frame lock knives tend to be stronger than liner locks, as the piece of metal that slips into place is more substantial than that in a liner.

This type of locking system puts a large portion of metal against the blade, ensuring a strong lockup for piercing, cutting, slicing, and other heavy-duty tasks. Frame locks are seen in lots of mid to upper range knives, typically crafted from titanium. Not only do they add a unique look to the knife, but they’re also easily operated with one hand.

Frame lock example: Spyderco Dice ($162)


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The AXIS lock is a proprietary mechanism you’d only find on Benchmade knives, but due to its ingenuity and popularity among EDCers, it’s definitely worth knowing about. It’s easy to use with one hand, but also important, it’s completely ambidextrous.

Here’s how it works: The lock is made up of a spring-tensioned bar that slides back and forth on a track cut into the handles of the knife. The butt of each blade featuring an AXIS lock (hidden by the handle) has a flat spot that allows a spring-tensioned bar to lock into place when the knife is opened. To close the knife, you pull the bar towards the back of the knife, using the thumb studs, and fold the blade shut.

Right handers and southpaws alike can appreciate how easy it is to use this lock, because the bar is accessible from both sides of the knife handle. Because this mechanism has plenty of moving parts involved it can be difficult to disassemble for cleaning and maintenance. On smaller models especially, the downsized studs can be difficult to operate as well. But as far as ambidextrous knives go, Benchmade knives featuring AXIS locks are among the best.

AXIS Lock example: Benchmade Mini-Griptilian ($102)

Slip Joint & Friction Folder

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Just to be clear, these types of blades don’t have a true “lock” as far as laws are concerned, but they’re still viable options for EDC.

Slipjoints are most commonly seen in Swiss Army Knives. Typically these knives require two hands to open and close safely. They’re made up of a spring bar and a specially shaped blade. To open the knife, you pull on the blade to overcome the pressure from the spring, snapping the blade into place. To close it, make sure your fingers are out of the way of the sharp edge, and push back down.

Friction folders are similar, except they don’t have a spring bar. Instead, the knife’s blade is held in place simply by friction between the blade steel and the knife scales.

One of the main advantages of these types of knives is their legality. They’re also nice to carry because they’re simple and easy to use. But its worth repeating that these knives don’t have a true lockup, so they’re not the best for heavier duty tasks.

Slipjoint example: Victorinox Swiss Army EvoWood 17 ($55)

By now, you should be more familiar with your options to better choose the a knife worthy of your pocket.

Do you have a favorite type of lock to recommend? Leave a comment with your EDC knife of choice and tell us why you like its lockup to help your fellow EDCers and prospective knife buyers carry smarter.

Words and images by Ed Jelley and Bernard Capulong

submitted by Jonathan Tayag
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The Boker Plus Pelican just might be the perfect realization of what a solid minimalist EDC knife should be. At only 2.6" when closed and 1.1 ounces in weight, it’s the right size for your everyday use.

Its size, combined with its deep-carry clip, also allows it to remain discreet in your pockets or hold your cash, if desired. The composition of the blade is VG-10 high carbon stainless steel: versatile, sharp, and strong. Despite only having a sub 2" blade length, you’ll make quick work with it due to its efficient tanto shape.

Unlike other knives in the space, the Pelican one-ups liner locks by providing a solid frame lock. And because the frame is made out of titanium, you can rest assured of its light weight, strength and resistance to corrosion. If you are looking for a solid minimal lightweight knife for your EDC, your search ends here.

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Witness what “long-wear makeup” really means over the course of a day with Kat Von D.