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So you're a knife nut! If you are like me, that means you are buying a new knife every few months, weeks, or days! If you want to keep that habit up long-term, high quality budget pocketknives are your friend!
Finding high quality, functional, and inexpensive knives has become a lot easier these days. Tons of great options can be picked up during a quick Amazon shopping session. Even better, shop with a dedicated knife seller or local knife shop - you get to inspect your knife before purchase and can try multiple options before you make a decision!
The knives we'll discuss today don't offer super fancy mill work, or powder metallurgy steels, but they are still 100% solid and offer very capable steels that will serve you well!
Remember: All folding knives perform better when well lubricated with Knife Pivot Lube!
Of the entire list, I’d argue that the Ontario Rat is probably my favorite “beater” of the group. Even if you're a knife collector, it's always beneficial to have something like the RAT in your collection, since it's designed for hard-use EDC. It's a robust design, so if going super lightweight is your mission, one of the other picks might be a little more pocket friendly.
I’m quite partial to Ontario Knife Company due to their more than robust fixed blade knives that just so happen to be built like tanks. Most commonly made from AUS-8, but also featured in D2, the RAT features tough nylon scales and an overall nicely finished package. Coming in with a range from $30-60 depending on steel, this may very well be the toughest sub $50 knife you can get. Give this thing a try, and you definitely will not be disappointed.
One may balk at this pick since the Bugout comes in at around $105 on average, but to be honest, it’s the most value priced pocket knife that also fits into the premium category. This means, you’ll find a higher quality finish, hardware, and general build quality compared to others on the list. You are certainly paying some for the brand name, but Benchmade truly brings a lot to the table in this deep cary, super-EDCable offering.
The Kershaw Cryo is single-handedly responsible for getting exactly 3 of my friends addicted to collecting pocket knives (you know who you are). This to me is proof that you can get someone started on this very expensive and interesting journey for roughly $25. The Cryo is an inexpensive knife that does everything you need it to at an extremely fair price. As an all around EDC, the Cryo is probably the most well rounded knife in this lineup. Will it take as much abuse as the RAT? Questionable. Is it as light as the Bugout? No. Does it have G10 scales like the Tenacious? No. However, everything that it does, it does well making it a killer all-around option.
With a 2.75in 8cr13MoV blade, it gets the job done, and done just fine. The patented Speedsafe assisted opening helps too with one handed operation, in addition to the Hinderer lock bar (the design may look a little familiar too!). The former 2012 Best Buy of the year from Blade Show is sure to impress, and continues to be a reliable EDC of folks who on other days, might pack a couple hundred dollar blade.
Lubricate your knife with KPL for better performance and a longer life.
It's hard not to love the Tenacious - it’s a great blade (especially for roughly $35). There aren’t a whole lot of other sub-$50 folding knives that match the quality of the Tenacious. The 3.3" plain edge blade is big enough for almost any EDC tasks, and G10 scales definitely help the equation ensuring a good purchase even when slippery and wet. The blade steel, being 8cr13Mov is right in line with it’s largest competitor, the Cryo, and does just fine in practical applications.
A bit on the moderate size, the Tenacious comes from a long line of top quality blades by Spyderco, the knife giant out of Golden, Colorado. You're getting awesome Spyderco quality, ergonomics, and the opening hole (Spydie Hole) for less than $40.
My #1 favorite on this list! This classic Spyderco design has been around for decades! It's lightweight, super slicey, low profile, and the most ergonomic knife I know! Spyderco equips these knives with FRN (Fiber-Reinforced Nylon) in an array of colorful plastics. Very tiny chopped glass fibers mixed into the handle scales make them remarkably tough, and give them a hard, grippy surface that feels great in the hand.
You'll pay around $75 for a simple Delica in fabulous VG-10 steel. Special edition Delica's with unique scales, DLC coatings, or upgraded powdered steel blades pop up on knife seller websites regularly and sell for a bit more.
The Delica is super controllable, co-worker friendly option that deserves a spot in every knife collection.
Other than the bugout, I’ve understood that I may catch hell for this selection. However, I have a strong defense; this is the lightest, and least expensive blade out of the five picks. For less than $15, you’ll get a quality, attractive, compact and light folder with stainless construction.
Coming with a 2.74” drop-point blade in 8cr13MoV (the same as our Kershaw Cryo). This knife is equipped with a thumb stud and open's suprisingly smoothly. The clip is deep carry and reversible. The handle is made from roughened stainless steel scales that'll hold up to anything you can throw at them.
For budget minded knife newbies, the 710 is always one of my first recommendations - best of all, these are always available quickly via Amazon Prime!