Once you convert to carrying a pocket knife, you never go back. Whether you already use your pocket knife for everything from opening mail to whittling in the woods, or you’re new to the crew, a budget-friendly pocket knife should be in your collection.
In short, the CRKT Pilar has our vote for the best pocket knife under $50. It was designed by knife experts to be unique and practical, and it is easy to use.
We’ve found several other great pocket knives under $50, including many designed in collaboration with the top knife designers.
Check out our full review of pocket knives under $50 to find some of the best everyday carry (EDC) knives.
|Best Overall||CRKT Pilar||
|Budget Pick||OKC Rat 2||
|Gerber Ripstop I||
|Kershaw Cryo Blackwash||
Review of Pocket Knives Under $50
CRKT Pilar – Best Pocket Knife Under $50
- Ambidextrous: Thumb slot allows blade opening with either hand
- Classy Appearance: Satin finish blade has a modern look
- Minimizes Reflectivity: Bead blast finish reduces reflection
- Designed by Jesper Voxnaes in Loegstrup, Denmark
- Limited Lifetime Warranty covers any defects in materials or workmanship, see company site for details
We’ve selected Columbia River Knife & Tool’s (CRKT) Pilar as the best overall pocket knife under $50. The CRKT Pilar is a folding knife with a frame lock. Its sleek design and sturdy makeup make it an all-around great everyday carry (EDC) knife.
The Pilar is a Jesper Voxnaes design, made in Loegstrup, Denmark. Voxnaes has been designing knives for over 25 years. He specializes in designs that are sleek and minimalistic, yet highly functional. This is proven in the Pilar’s sleek angles and clean finish.
The blade profile is similar to that of a cleaver with a 20-degree beveled edge. Technically speaking, it is a sheepsfoot flat grind blade. Some would even argue it is a Wharncliffe/sheepsfoot hybrid. However you describe it, its purpose is to make long, even cuts and more precise cuts using the tip.
True to Jesper Voxnaes style, the stainless steel Pilar has a satin finish to achieve a modern look. In addition, the knife has a bead blast finish to prevent reflection and reflectivity. These features, in addition to the exaggerated angles, give this knife a premium aesthetic appearance.
The stainless steel handle feels relatively small and weighty in hand. It has a slight s curve to rest perfectly in the palm of your hand with your thumb rested atop the blade. The underside has a notch fit for two fingers and a smaller notch sits at the choil. The handle has a smooth design engineered to resist pocket snags.
This kife is a picture of practicality. It is suitable for right-handed and left-handed users. And it is extremely easy to use one-handed. The smooth hinge and cut-out thumb notch allow you to flick the blade out with your thumb and close it single-handedly. A reversible pocket clip and keychain connection point make it easy to carry how you want.
The blade measures 2.4 inches long and 0.15 inches thick. The overall length of the knife is 5.9 inches. And it weighs 4.2 ounces, which is admittedly on the heavier end of the spectrum for a knife of this size. However, you can’t deny its durability.
Marketed as a knife of minimal design with maximum utility, the Pilar is one of the best on the market. Even more, it retails for only $30.
- secure: the ambidextrous handle features textured black nylon 6 scales with an open-built steel linerlock frame
- comfortable: the rat-2 knife is a handheld size designed for comfort and performance making it ideal for everyday carry
- dependable: quick and easy access with dual thumb studs and a 4-way reversible pocket clip
- "durable: the rat-2 comes equipped with a 3" plain edge blade made of reliable aus-8 stainless steel as well as a textured nylon handle"
- "convenient size: the 4. 1" closed length handheld size is ideal for every day carry and fits in the hand and pocket comfortably"
Our runner-up for the best pocket knife under $50 is the Ontario Knife (OKC) Rat 2. OKC has been in operation for over 130 years producing quality knives and tools from kitchen cutlery to outdoor survival. They even manufacture medical tools. OKC is a trusted supplier for the US military. Their mission is to stay true to their heritage of “uncompromising craftsmanship.”
The Rat 2 was released as part of OKC’s Rat series, a collaboration with Randall’s Adventure and Training Team (Rat). Rat is a top outdoor training school based in the US that goes on expeditions across the world. Their collaborative design of the Rat 2 immediately became one of OKC’s best sellers.
The knife itself is an ambidextrous folding knife that ways 2.8 ounces. It has an AUS-8 stainless steel blade and liner lock frame. The liner lock is covered by a scale textured nylon 6 handle. The closed length handle size is 4.1 inches. In addition, the handle is equipped with a four-way reversible pocket clip.
The blade itself is a 3-inch plain edge, drop point blade with a full flat taper grind. 0.095 inches in thickness. It is silver in color with a satin finish that reduces reflectivity. Dual thumb studs sit on either side of the base of the blade with a thumb grip on top. This makes it easy to flick the knife open and roll it closed with one hand.
One unique feature of the Rat 2 is the offset blade. It is slightly off-center from the handle, which is rarely seen.
- With a super-lightweight frame lock design, this knife delivers surprising strength and functionality
- The streamlined handle adds no bulk to the slim profile, making it the perfect mate for your pocket
- Opening and closing are a cinch with dual thumbstuds
- Overall Length: 5.75"
- Weight: 2.0 oz
We’ve chosen the Gerber Ripstop I Knife as the best entry-level knife for under $50. Gerber is a company known as the master of knives and tools that designs knives for the nonconformist. The Gerber Ripstop I is a great entry-level knife because it is lightweight, easy to conceal, and has a good blade. Plus, it only costs about $15.
The Ripstop I is a folding knife with a frame lock. It features a Scandinavian grind blade. Additionally, it has been thoroughly tumbled and polished to ensure smooth edges on the handle. The overall look of this knife is very sharp.
Both blade and handle are made of stainless steel. However, Gerber has cut out notches in the unconcealed frame that give the knife a cool aesthetic appearance and significantly cut down its weight. In total, the knife only weighs 2 ounces.
The length of the clip point blade on this knife is 2.25 inches. When the knife is fully open it measures 5.75 inches. Fully closed it measures 3.5 inches. The Ripstop I is also equipped with a pocket clip for tip-down carry. The clip is extra long so that the knife is completely concealed in your pocket.
There are dual thumb studs and a thumb notch on the blade for single-hand use. However, customers repeatedly report that the frame lock is preferable to right-handers. Additionally, the knife is stiff when new and may need to be closed with two hands until the hinge wares a bit.
- Pre-drilled holes for 4-way pocket clip allow tip-up or tip-down carry on right and left side; handle also accommodates clip for deep pocket carry
- Handle features open construction aluminum tube spacers for lightness, easy maintenance and ageless good looks
- Closed length: 3. 75 inches; overall length: 6. 5 inches
- Speed Safe allows one-handed deployment for utility or in emergency when hunting, fishing, camping or working around home, office, barn or garage
- Unswervingly tough with vintage appeal, the Cryo in Blackwash makes an excellent gift for collectors, service personnel, outdoor enthusiasts or first responders
The most user-friendly knife under $50 is the Kershaw Cryo Blackwash. This knife has an extreme level of versatility in its carry options and functionality. Kershaw is a trusted company whose motto is, “A cut above the rest.” They use advanced technology and innovative design to produce top-quality, top-performing knives at an affordable price.
The Cryo series is a collaboration between Rick Hinderer and the Kershaw team. Hinderer takes his experience as a firefighter and EMT to make reliable, hard use tactical knives. The Cryo series was inspired by and specifically designed for the needs of first responders.
This folding knife with frame lock features a hollow grind blade. It has two options for one-handed opening. Both are designed with SpeedSafe assisted opening technology.
You can flick the knife open with the thumb stud, or you can press down on a flipper tab. When the blade is fully extended, the flipper tab tucks away into the frame.
When fully closed, the length of the Cryo Blackwash is 3.75 inches. When fully extended, it is 6.5 inches. This knife features pre-drilled holes for a four-way pocket clip with options for tip-up or tip-down carry on both right and left sides. The clip is long and placed strategically for deep-pocket carry. Plus, there is a hole for keychain attachment.
To say this knife is made of stainless steel would be an understatement. The blade is made with stainless steel that has been specially engineered with carbon and less nickel. This blend is hard and improves edge retention. The handle is made with stainless steel containing chromium to combat rust and corrosion.
The Cryo Blackwash already has the weathered look that you love about your most-used knives. However, the knife is coated in titanium carbo-nitride to improve wear resistance.
Good looks aren’t all this knife has to offer. Hindered designed a lock bar stabilizer after having a knife malfunction on him at the scene of an accident as a firefighter. His lock bar stabilizer prevents the blade from over-extending and breaking the locking mechanism. This means you can be hard on this knife, without worrying that it will collapse on you.
- Blades: Chrome Vanadium Steel Clip And Spey Blades
- Length Closed: 4 1/8 Inches
- Great everyday pocket knife for projects around the house, the outdoors, and hunting
- Made In Bradford, PA. USA
- Manufacture's Limited Lifetime Warranty
We’ve selected the Case Trapper Pocket Knife as the best multi-blade pocket knife for under $50. The case is a trusted company that has specialized in hunting knives for over 129 years. They make their knives right here in the USA from top-quality materials. The trapper itself was designed for hunting small games but has become a beloved pocket knife for even the simplest of tasks.
The Case Trapper features two flat grind blades: one long clip blade and one spey blade. Both are made of chrome vanadium. Chrome vanadium is different from stainless steel. It has superior edge-holding capabilities and is easy to sharpen. However, chrome vanadium requires more maintenance to avoid rusting and discoloration.
The handle on the trapper is a synthetic handle. When the knife is closed, it measures 4.3 inches. The length of the blades themselves is 3.25 inches.
Unlike the other knives in this review, this is a non-locking slip joint knife, and it requires two hands to open it. Additionally, there is no pocket clip on the Case Trapper.
With the purchase of this knife, Case promises that it is artistically handcrafted through a 160 step manufacturing process.
- Arguably the most prominent feature, the cleaver blade is bold and trend forward
- The sleek thumb-hole opening allows for smooth one-hand engagement while operating
- A large finger coil ensures solid hand placement for secure control when choking up
- The pocket clip is specifically designed for low profile carry that doesn't draw attention
- Textured G-10 handle provides a confident grip in any situation
Gerber brings us another noteworthy pocket knife. The Gerber Flatiron is our choice for the best cleaver pocket folding knife under $50. This folding cleaver pocket knife is good-looking, robust, and fairly priced, under $50.
The blade on the Flatiron is made of 7CR steel. It measures 3.6 inches long, about 1.15 inches wide, and 0.15 inches thick. Its hollow grind and plain edge, matched with a large finger notch at the choil, allow for a clean and controlled cut. Additionally, there is a thumb notch on the blade for one-hand use.
The Flatiron’s handle is made of textured G-10 Fiberglass. Paired with the stonewash finish on the blade, this knife has a rugged, aggressive look to it. The handle features a reverse curvature at the top along with finger molds on the underside to create a secure grip. The purpose of this design is also to keep your knuckles clear of the cutting zone.
When fully opened, the Gerber Flatiron pocket knife measures 8.5 inches long. Its weight is 5.6 ounces. Additionally, the Flatiron features a wide pocket clip that adds to its sturdy aesthetic and achieves a deep pocket carry.
Grind refers to the way the knife blade is cut or trimmed from a block of steel to a blade with a sharp edge. In layman’s terms, the precise angles and slope of the blade make up its grind. Let’s review the most common grinds that are found in this review.
Flat– The flat grind is the simplest grind. This blade type tapers down from the spine of the blade to the edge evenly and consistently on both sides. Just like a “V”.
The CRKT Pilar, OKC Rat 2, and Case Trapper all have flat ground blades.
Scandinavian– The Scandinavian grind blade is common on carving knives. It was designed with a high level on a thin blade. This knife is best used in survival situations such as woodworking and fire-making.
The Gerber Ripstop I has a blade with a Scandinavian grind.
Hollow– Hollow ground knives have a thin edge that is very sharp. This blade type has a high, concave bevel on either side.
The Kershaw Cryo Blackwash and Gerber Flatiron both have hollow ground blades.
Blade shape and usage go hand in hand. The shape of your blade can be of great service or hindrance to your purpose in using it. There are quite a few different blade shapes; we’ll go over the most common ones, which are found in this review of the best EDC knives under $50.
Sheepsfoot– This blade gets its name from its traditional purpose as a hoof trimmer. Today it is used by many first responders to cut close to a person without cutting their skin. This style of knife is designed to be held close to the blade for better control.
The CRKT Pilar is a sheepsfoot blade.
Drop Point– Drop point blades are very commonly found in EDC knives. It’s even safe to say that this is the most popular blade type for pocket knives. This blade style has a pointed tip that can make precise cuts with strength, and it is extremely versatile in purpose.
The OKC Rat 2 and Kershaw Cryo Blackwash both have drop point blades.
Clip Point– The clip point blade has an angle on the back of the blade that leads to a curvature or slope towards the point. This blade is great for general or outdoor use.
The Case Trapper has a clip point blade paired with a spey blade.
Cleaver– Cleavers are rising in popularity among pocket knives. The blade is rectangular and slightly angled. It has more surface area, which makes it great for chopping wood or cutting meat. On the downside, it is not as precise as other blade types.
The Gerber Flatiron is a cleaver pocket knife.
When it comes to knife edges, you have three options: plain, serrated, or a combination of the two.
Plain edges are advantageous for many reasons. They perform well on day-to-day tasks, and they are easy to sharpen and clean. A plain edge knife is even suitable for hunting and whittling. For these reasons, it is generally recommended that an EDC knife have a plain edge.
If you plan to use your knife to cut through hard materials, then a serrated edge would be better suited for you.
Many knives, like the Gerber Ripstop I, come with the option for a plain or serrated edge.
The blade material can tell you a lot about a pocket knife. Here are the most common steels used in EDC knives:
AUS-8 – Aus-8 is a common steel used in pocket knives all around the world. It is an all-around high-performing steel. It is hard, durable, and can hold a sharp edge.
7CR & 8CR – The CR series is a type of steel produced in China. 9CR is the highest in the series, which ranks evenly with AUS-8 steel. It is durable, stain-resistant, and holds an edge.
8CR steel is slightly inferior to AUS-8 steel in all areas. It is durable, stain-resistant, and holds an edge, just not as well as higher-ranking steels.
Many recommend against 7CR steels. This steel is often used to save money and create a budget-friendly knife. However, it performs much lower than its competitors.
Chrome Vanadium – Chrome vanadium is used in the Case Trapper blades. It is better at holding an edge than most steels and is easy to sharpen. However, chrome vanadium requires more maintenance to avoid rusting and discoloration.
What is the difference between a liner lock and a frame lock?
A liner locking knife consists of a liner covered by two scales, one on either side, that make up the handle. A portion of the liner (the tang) moves back and forth to lock the blade in place and free it for folding.
A-frame locking knife does not have a liner between the two scales that make up the handle. The tang is a portion of the actual frame that slides in and out to lock the knife.
What is the best manual opening mechanism for a pocket knife?
The knives in our review have a variety of manual opening mechanisms. It’s hard to say if any one is better than the other.
Many pocket knives use a thumb stud to open. This is a small stud on either side of the blade that you use to flick open the knife. It is easy to use and quick to find in a hurry.
Similar to the thumb stud is the thumb notch or thumbhole. A thumb notch is a hole cut out of the blade in which your thumb catches on to open the blade. It is just as easy to use as the thumb stud. Some prefer the thumb notch because it reduces the weight and aesthetic profile of the knife.
The Kershaw Cryo Blackwash has unique opening features. In addition to thumb studs, it has a flipper and assisted opening technology that you can use to flick the knife open quickly.
What are the Best Pocket Knives Under $50 in 2021?
In this pocket knives under 50 review, we’ve looked at a wide range of pocket knives for everyday carry.
The best option on the market right now is the CRKT Pilar. This knife is easy to use and very versatile. Most importantly, the blade is designed with a complementary shape and grind that makes it precise and durable.
Check out any of the six knives in our review to add to your collection today.