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Year over year the knife industry experiences many changes in trend; mostly influenced by design, material, the occasional fad and of course, use case!
Granted, depending on your style, you may not feel the trend shift - I’ve sometimes been this person. Personally, this limits what I shop for, but only because I subject my knives to sometimes unnecessary roughness and treat them like a cordless drill rather than a piece of art.
Yes, knife snobs, eat your heart out - I obsess over hard-use folders.
With that said, I always look for the same type of EDC knife, the aforementioned hard-use, every day carry folder. And regardless of my occasional trend-ignorance, this year certainly seemed like the year of folders built for abuse.
Taking a look back at the top 5 folders of the year in this use category can prove for some tempting purchase decisions in the year ahead.
Though this may actually be my personal favorite of the bunch, the Benchmade Turret comes in at spot number 5 to begin our list.
For anyone who spends time in the elements as much as they’re fumbling around their garage, the Turret is tough enough for hard-use tasks, but also remains well suited for every day carry due to it’s relative light weight, shape, and deep carry clip.
Though the Turret definitely isn’t for everyone since it’s mostly marketed as more of a “tactical” folder, you can look no further if you need a pocketknife that can roll with the punches.
Blade Length: 3.7”
Closed Length: 4.9”
Open Length: 8.6”
Blade Steel: CPM-S30V
Price (est): $230 USD
Spyderco is well known for releasing a slew of new EDC designs every year, so it’s always hard to find a sure favorite. For me, this year proved much simpler!
With the release of the Para 3 LW, we’re seeing a classic Spyderco design, paired with a carefully thought out pocketknife concept, suited for true every day carry. Making the whole package light weight, with quality steel, and a slim profile is a fantastic deal for around a hundred dollars. I
Blade Length: 2.92”
Closed Length: 4.29”
Open Length: 7.21”
Blade Steel: CTS BD1N
Price (est): $140 USD
Other than having an awesome name, the CRKT Seismic is well equipped to live in almost anyone’s collection, regardless of taste. Most notably, the Deadbolt locking design by Flavio Ikoma is reason enough alone to warrant this model as a hard-use pocketknife.
The design incorporates steel bolts in series that lock the blade into place after deployment - robust, eh?
Aside from the ancillary macho-tones, the Seismic also appears refined, sleek, and stylish for those who enjoy eye-candy as much as they have a penchant for slicing.
Blade Length: 3.96”
Closed Length: 5.45”
Open Length: 9.43”
Blade Steel: 1.411 (anti-corrosion stainless)
Materials: G10, Steel
Price (est): $150 (USD)
Truth be told, a pocketknife with a Sheepsfoot blade might not be the most appealing to carry around all day, but the Kizer Vanguard Sheepdog XL might just prove those thoughts as unsubstantiated.
Though this beast is literally 3 times the weight of the Spyderco Para 3 LW at just over 9oz, the Sheepdog is purpose built for doing things that dainty knives wouldn’t dare. Surprisingly, the Sheepdog boasts a very ergonomic handle (almost slim compared to the rest of the package), and a fairly thin profile.
Weight aside, the Sheepdog is pretty much the total package for a hard-use folder, assuming you enjoy a Sheepsfoot blade.
Blade Length: 3.9”
Closed Length: 5.31”
Open Length: 9.25”
Blade Steel: 154CM
Materials: G10, Steel
Price (est): $95 (USD)
Balk all you’d like, but ZT has done it again - and with Rick Hinderer at the helm of the design! Glow in the dark scales and all, the knife speaks for itself.
If you had to combine hard-use, light weight, build quality, and function all into one package, you’ve essentially concocted the ZT 0393GLCF.
By utilizing carbon-fiber for the scales, CPM-20CV steel for the blade, and titanium for the frame, Zero Tolerance and Rick Hinderer effectively made one of the most high performing hard-use pocketknives on the market.
With that note - it’s worthy to also boast that this package comes at a lower premium than most competitors higher up in the price line.
Blade Length: 3.5”
Closed Length: 4.75”
Open Length: 8.25”
Blade Steel: CPM-20CV
Materials: Carbon Fiber, Titanium
Price (est): $280 (USD)
In conclusion, if you're in the market for a hard-use pocketknife with a reasonable price point, 2019 exited us with some great releases.
For a bargain shopper like me, it's also important to point out that looking back at the designs of the past year will bring sometimes surprising price adjustments as new models hit retailers in 2020.
Expect that some of the above models will certainly fall into this category, and be on alert to move fast toward a quality pocketknife that has the ability to stand up to nearly any task.
One can only hope that the innovations and trends of 2019 carry on as the industry keeps up with the demand of end users.
*all photo credit belongs to the below manufacturers*