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The Best Small Pocket Knives for Every Day Carry

These tiny tools prove that sometimes, less is more.

small pocket knives
Gear Patrol Staff

There's no denying the usefulness of a pocket knife; usefulness is the identifying feature of the tool, after all. But sometimes, a tinier version of an item is even more satisfying than the standard-sized version of it. (Fun size Snickers, for example.) If you're looking for a pocket knife that can perform how you need it to without weighing you down, we've got you covered.

Although there's no hard and fast definition of a "small" pocket knife versus a standard sized one, there are a few characteristics to look out for as you're researching your next tiny tool.

Blade Length, Explained

The standard length of most traditional pocket knife blades is about 3.0–4.0 inches; most folding and fixed blade models made for every day carry don't exceed that. Small pocket knives, by contrast typically have a blade length of around 2.0 inches — enough length to get the job done, without any extra.

Why a Small Pocket Knife Is Useful to Carry

A small pocket knife is great for small jobs. Makes sense, right? We use our pint-sized tools for gutting small fish, opening tricky packages and taking off tags, preparing tinder for fires and slicing through campfire charcuterie boards. Small pocket knives fit easily into pants pockets, and some models can even hang off keychains, leaving one less thing to remember as you're walking out the door...but by that same token, they can also be easy to forget hanging with your keys, and TSA doesn't take kindly to sharp blades going through security.

Researching Your State's Carry Laws

There are specific rules around which types of knives, and the length of their blades, you can carry in public. This can vary state by state, but for the most part, knives with blades under 2.5 inches are permitted in public areas other than schools, government buildings, courts or military bases. (You also cannot carry on a pocket knife or multi-tool while boarding your flight — you'll have to check it, regardless of blade length.)

Multi-tools and Swiss Army Knives are generally allowed most public places, as well. Still, it's worth reading up on what your state and municipality does and doesn't allow, as well as familiarizing yourself with federal laws.

These Are Best Small Pocket Knives That You Can Buy:

Wesn Allman

Best Overall Small Pocket Knife

Wesn Goods Allman

$145.00 (12% off)

  • Great handfeel and action

  • Pocket clip is a little shallow
  • Blade material: CPM S35VN steel
  • Handle material: Grade 5 Titanium Scales or G10 Scales
  • Blade length: 2.8 inches
  • Weight: Titanium: 3.65 ounces; G10: 3.6 ounces

    One of our favorite knives overall, the Allman is also our top pick for an every day blade that is slim enough to carry most days, in most situations. Holistically, the Allman makes other knives seem unappealing: sure, it uses many of the same materials as its Gerber and Benchmade counterparts, but what really sets it apart is the handfeel and action — something you'll have to experience for yourself.


    Chris Reeve Small Inkosi

    Best Luxury Small Pocket Knife

    Chris Reeve Small Inkosi


    • Luxury, simplicity and performance in a discrete package

    • Currently backordered
    • Blade material: CPM S35VN Blade at 59-60 RC
    • Handle material: 6AL4V titanium
    • Blade length: 2.8 inches
    • Weight: 3.0 ounces

      Considered by many to be the pinnacle of pocket knives, Chris Reeve's creations tend to impress, and the small version of the Inkosi is no exception. The 2.8-inch blade is compliant with most knife laws, and the titanium handle is built with grooves that make it easier to get a good grip — one of the tenants of safe knife handling. Dual thumb studs on either side of the handle make one-handed opening a breeze, and for those of you that like options, this pick fits the bill: the Inkosi comes in a drop point, insingo or tanto style blade.

      The Inkosi is currently back ordered, but you can fill out the brand's online order form to get in line for your very own.

      Gerber Mini Paraframe Serrated Knife


      Gerber Paraframe Mini

      $12.75 (25% off)

      • Affordable, decent quality

      • Handle can feel a little too minimal for those used to a more sizable handle
      • Blade material: 440 stainless steel
      • Handle material: 314-grade stainless steel
      • Blade length: 2.25 inches
      • Weight: 1.4 ounces

        A serrated knife is great for cutting through soft, pliable materials like fabric, rope or leather — which makes it a great option to have on hand at any campsite or backpacking trip. Gerber's mini version of the highly utilitarian style weighs in at just over an ounce, and with its partially serrated blade, can pull double-duty cutting both soft and hard materials. The open-air construction of the blade cuts down on weight while maintaining excellent stress under pressure. The cherry on top of this stainless steel pie? The Mini Paraframe is less than $20 — a real steal.

        The James Brand The Abbey

        Best For The Home Office

        The James Brand The Abbey


        • Its niche is its charm: specifically designed for opening vinyl records

        • An expensive, and very specific, tool
        • Blade material: AR-RPM9 stainless steel
        • Handle material: Rosewood inlays, recycled vinyl records (Mystery Vinyl and Black + Black colorway)
        • Length: 3 inches
        • Weight: 0.6 ounces

          TJB crafted The Abbey specifically for opening records — niche, we know, but that's part of its charm. (You can also use it for opening letters or other slim packages, if you'd like a little more variety.) The James Brand describes this little number as a desk knife, and it's the brand's smallest fixed blade to date. Constructed with a stainless steel blade and rosewood inlays in the handle, this is a tool you'll want to display.

          Spyderco Bug

          Best Small Pocket Knife for Keychains

          Spyderco Bug Stainless SS Mini Folding Keychain Knife

          $21.00 (14% off)

          • Thumb hole opener and slip-joint construction make this easy (and fun) to use

          • Lacks any bells or whistles

          • Blade material: 3Cr13MoV steel
          • Handle material: Stainless steel
          • Blade length: 1.31 inches
          • Weight: 0.40 ounces

            If you want to dip your toes into the world of Spyderco but don't want to shell out a couple hundred bucks (though we assure, you it's worth it), start out with the Bug: what the brand calls "the miniest of mini knives" measures in at an overall length of just under three inches, but packs plenty of performance into its minuscule frame. Featuring a drop point 3Cr13MoV steel blade and stainless steel handle with lanyard hole, this is a solid choice for a keychain knife that doesn't sacrifice quality for size.

                Benchmade 533-3 Mini Bugout

                Best Mini Version of a Popular Knife

                Benchmade Mini Bugout

                Benchmade bladehq.com

                • Premium materials and simple design speak for themselves

                • An expensive addition to your EDC kit if you've already got the bigger version
                • Blade material: CPM S90V
                • Handle material: Carbon fiber
                • Blade length: 2.82 inches
                • Weight: 1.48 ounces

                  As one of the most popular models in the knife brand world, it only makes sense that Benchmade would release a shrunken version of the Bugout: it features the same premium materials and uncomplicated design as its bigger brother, but is better suited to smaller hands and shallow pockets. Its 2.82-inch blade is teetering right on the edge of full-size, but at just 1.48 ounces, it's still incredibly lightweight.

                  Buck Budgie Knife

                  Best Small Made in U.S.A. Knife

                  Buck 417 Budgie Knife


                  • Frame lock mechanism feels almost as strong as a fixed blade

                  • Some reviewers don't appreciate the knife's aesthetics
                  • Blade material: S35VN steel, satin finish
                  • Handle material: Black G10
                  • Blade length: 2.0 inches
                  • Weight: 2.1 ounces

                    If you factor in U.S. manufacturing as a priority in your purchases, odds are good you'll find what you're looking for at Buck Knives. The 110 Folding Hunter is the blade that everyone and their grandpa carries, but if you're looking for something smaller and lighter, you can't go wrong with the Budgie. Made with S35VN steel and a black G10 resin laminate handle, this little guy will do what you need, when you need it. At just over 2.0 ounces, it's slim enough that you won't notice it in your pocket, but thanks to its Paul Bros. heat treatment, it's tough as anything else you'll carry on a daily basis — or maybe more so.

                    New and Upcoming Releases

                    Our recommendations are based on real-world testing. Here's a snapshot of new and just released small pocket knives our testers are considering for future updates to this guide.

                    The James Brand The Ellis Slim: The James Brand says its just-released pocket knife is slimmer than a pack of gum, which bodes well for EDC enthusiasts who are looking to lighten their load. Built with the same design language as the original Ellis, this new slip-joint pocket knife features Sandvik 12C27 steel, either G10 or aluminum scales and is available in both straight and serrated options.

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