Stay Small, Stay Sharp
10 Great Compact Everyday Carry Knives
“Stay sharp” applies to both your wits and your gear. And when you need to open boxes, slice and dice food, or — worst case scenario — engage in a bit of self-defense, it’s good to have a trusty tool. But size doesn’t equal practicality. Keeping the knife at a manageable size and weight is important — in order to keep it in an EDC rotation, a knife should be light (three ounces or less), easy to deploy and ideally have a blade under three inches in size. This makes your daily blade simple to use, and it keeps you unburdened.
Each of the below knives falls into the EDC category, and any one will prove to be an effective workhorse for daily tasks that don’t involve building a shelter or batoning a log. And, thankfully, none of them will rip the seams off the pockets of your nice pants.
SOG Access Card 2.0
Best Compact Black-Ops Knife: The Access Card 2.0 doesn’t grant you CIA HQ entry, but it does keep your EDC slim and secretive with a low profile and stealthy black aesthetic. The super-sharp Japanese steel blade folds into a high-tech, lightweight titanium nitride handle, and SOG’s Arc-Lock lets you deploy quickly with either hand. And with a clip point, it makes easy work of any piercing tasks that may stand in your way.
Blade Length: 2.75 inches
Blade Material: VG-10 stainless steel
Blade Type: plain edge, clip point, hollow grind
Handle Material: titanium nitride
Weight: 1.8 ounces
Cold Steel Micro Recon
Best Compact Keychain Knife: The Micro Recon looks like a badass tactical knife thrown in the dryer. The blade is coated in Tuff-Ex, which ups the blade’s corrosion resistance, diminishes glare and decreases resistance, allowing the knife to glide through cuts. The G10 scaled handles are grippy, and the ergonomic shape helps you make both tough and precise cuts. It foregoes a pocket clip for a convenient keyring, making EDC blade carry even easier.
Blade Length: 2 inches
Blade Material: AUS-8A stainless steel with Tuff-Ex coating
Blade Type: plain edge, spear point, flat grind
Handle Material: G10 laminate
Weight: 1.1 ounces
CRKT Ed Halligan KISS
Best Ultra-Thin Compact Knife: This is about as stealthy and minimalist as knives get. The KISS (Keep it Super Simple) blade’s flat side closes completely against the handle, eliminating the need for a two-scale handle. There are just two pieces, blade and handle, with single-handed deployment via thumb stud and secure frame lock. There’s a pocket clip that doubles as a money clip and a hole for a keyring or lanyard. Thin and stealthy is the name of its game.
Blade Length: 2.25 inches
Blade Material: 420J2 stainless steel
Blade Type: combo edge, tanto point, chisel grind (single side)
Handle Material: 420J2 stainless steel
Weight: 2.3 ounces
Al Mar Osprey Ultralight
Best Gentleman’s Compact Knife: The Osprey Ultralight is a superb gentleman’s knife that looks as good cutting rope as it does delivering wafer-thin artisanal cheese slices. The thin profile blade makes quick work of small tasks, and the weight is under half an ounce, making daily carry seamless. The razor sharp AUS-8 blade keeps it simple with a plain edge and flat grind, but the Osprey’s look is pure class. It’s so featherweight and compact, you’ll need a reminder to check your pockets before you head to the airport.
Blade Length: 1.65 inches
Blade Material: AUS-8 stainless steel
Blade Type: plain edge, drop point, flat grind
Handle Material: brown canvas micarta
Weight: 0.37 ounces
Buck Nano Bantam
Best Bargain Compact Knife: The Nano Bantam is no-nonsense, tough and a ridiculous bargain. For less than $15, you get a razor-sharp blade that holds its edge and resists corrosion, a grippy black thermoplastic handle and a lock-back mechanism to secure the blade. Toss it in your pocket thanks to its incredibly light sub-ounce weight or attach it to your keyring. It’s just the kind of compact everyday knife you can buy in multiples and never worry about losing. And, Buck makes it right here in the USA, too.
Blade Length: 1.87 inches
Blade Material: 420J2 stainless steel
Blade Type: plain edge, drop point,
Handle Material: textured black thermoplastic
Weight: 0.6 ounces