Today we’re taking a look at the best small ECD knife you can get for less than $100.
Now, of course, you can daily carry just about anything, so let me lay out a few guidelines for what we’re talking about when we say “EDC friendly”.
We’re talking about something that’s modest and unassuming, but with characteristics that will make it a lifelong friend, just like your dad or granddad who always had that one pocket knife on him; a knife that he could use for literally any random need that popped up in daily life.
What we’re looking at here are the modern equivalents of those EDC knives.
Now, those old-school jack knives and Swiss Army Knives may have been their EDC, but for our purposes here, we’re considering blades that have one-hand opening functionality, pocket clips for easy carrying, and feature locking mechanisms to keep the blades from folding closed.
Not necessarily a hard-use bruiser or a fast-action tactical knife, but something for folks who just need a pocket knife. It needs to look good in khakis or blue jeans,and make a trip from the country to the suburbs to the city with ease.
Below are the Top 7 Small EDC Knives in order of price from low to high.
1. Kershaw Leek
First up is a favorite around the Knife Corner, the Kershaw Leek.
Part of the appeal, first off, is how classy the base model is, and how forward-thinking it still appears today, but also due to the sheer number of variants that have been available with upgraded handle and/or blade materials over the years.
I myself have had several rotate through my collection, and honestly, I’ve lost count at this point. It’s a fantastic knife.
Part of the appeal, too, has to be the fact that this is a very affordable American-made design.
The standard model is a fantastic executive gentleman’s knife, and it is an assisted opener, meaning that a spring takes over after you’ve manually rotated the blade past a certain point. This wharncliffe-style blade cuts aggressively,and it’s just as good at breaking down cardboard as it is opening a letter.
Now, just to get ahead of some of you in the comment section, oftentimes the Dividend gets mentioned as a new and improved Leek, but at the budget end of the line, I like the steel selection better on the Leek.
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2. Ontario Rat II
For the budget-conscious, it’s hard to beat the Ontario RAT II: a downsized version of their popular RAT I.
The blade is a versatile drop point with a full flat grind held open by a secure liner lock.
You can get them in D2 steel, or if you want something a little more stainless, they’re also available with AUS-8.
There are several different synthetic handle colors available, as well as different blade finishes, but we especially love the satin blade paired with the tan handles for EDC. The light color overall makes it unobtrusive and, dare I say it, more socially acceptable in certain situations. Thanks to that low price, these are good disposable knives, too. You’re not gonna be afraid to lose it in a situation where you wouldn’t want to risk a more expensive knife. But you’re not giving up any quality at the same time.
It’s a well-built knife that’s gonna last for years.
3. SOG Terminus XR
Next is a newcomer, the SOG Terminus XR, which is available with a few different handle materials and blade steels.
The Terminus XR is currently the cheapest way to get a quality-made knife equipped with a crossbar-style lock.
SOG calls this their XR lock, and this is a great option for ambidextrous use that lets you close the knife just as fast as you can flick it open.
This makes the Terminus XR ideal for quick cuts.
You can get out of your pocket, do what needs to be done, and have it back in place in a flash. And thanks to a deep-carry pocket clip, which is reversible, it can really stay out of the way until you need it.
As far as the options go, this version comes with green G10 and a stonewashed D2 blade, although you can also get this same version with red G10, but there’s also a carbon fiber handled version with BDZ-1 steel.
4. Kizer Vanguard Gemini
Now for another flipper, the Kizer Vanguard Gemini. The frame lock version of the Kizer Gemini really kicked the door down in the United States for a new influx of high-quality Chinese imported knife companies, and this G10 liner lock version, the Vanguard Gemini, benefits from their precise engineering brought down into our price range.
The flipping action is as crisp as anything out there, with ball bearings and a good decent tune. It makes it effortless and addicting to pop the blade open over and over again.
The blade is high-quality N690 stainless with a stonewashed finish. It’s nice and broad, and a bit over three inches, and it’s about as big a blade as we’re considering for this list, and it kind of bridges the gap between the smaller blades here, and the bigger, more heavy duty designs out there.
You can still get a lot of work done with this knife, but it’s still a fantastic size for easy pocket carry.
5. Buck Knives 112 Slim Ranger
So the last few small EDC knives have been imports,but why should they have all the fun? Here are a few American-made models to round out our list, and few brands are as famously American as Buck Knives.
Their 112 Slim Ranger models that were released last year are the modernized smaller brother to the classic 110 Folding Hunter.
This knife has been updated from its traditional form into a way that most of us like to use and carry our knives today. We’ve got dual thumb studs for easy opening with either hand, a reversible deep-carry pocket clip for discreet carry, and it still maintains their signature lock back implementation for security.
The 3 inch straight clip point blade is just enough, and there are a few variants to be had. This S30V version that you see here comes either with black G10, or green or natural micarta.
These models take care of the high end, but they’re also available in Select versions for the budget-conscious. These feature their famously heat-treated 420HC stainless, and various bright nylon handles in addition to the standard black option.
6. Benchmade Mini Griptilian
The first is the Benchmade Mini Griptilian, recently upgraded with S30V steel, these are more competitive than ever.
The handle on these EDC knives is a little on the smaller side. In my hands it’s about a three and a halffinger-length grip, but the benefit is very pocket-friendly dimensions.
And to be honest, having previously owned mini versions of the Griptilian myself for a number of years, I never felt like I was wanting for more grip.
This length can handle just about anything you would tackle with a blade this size just fine.
Speaking of blades, there are three standard shapes available: the drop point you see here, as well as a sheeps foot and a tanto profile,and you can get them with or without serrations, coated or uncoated, and there’s even a number of different handle colors to choose from.
But at its heart is Benchmade’s signature Axis Lock.
Now, SOG’s XR lock may be the new kid on the block, but the Axis is the one that got the crossbar lock as a genre off the ground,and Benchmade’s execution is still the standard by which all others are compared, because they get it right.
With smooth flipping action and easy operation,these are some of the best EDC knives and, dare I say, they are just the right size.
7. Spyderco Native 5 Lightweight
Plenty of great options in the price range we’re looking at today, including the Tenacious, and the ever popular Endura and Delica models,although I’d argue the new in-between size, the Endela is the model to get there.
I almost gave it to the Chapparal Lightweight,which is a great model that I think might be overlooked a bit, but in the end I had to give it to the Native 5 Lightweight with S30V steel.
Regulars of our channel already know that I think this is one of Spyderco’s best small EDC knives of all time, regardless of the price,and that’s because it adds one key feature over the Delica family that elevates it.
That being the full-sized finger choil herethat allows you to choke up on the blade, effectively giving you a bigger handle thanits folded size would suggest.
It also sports that signature Spyderco leaf-shaped blade with a full flat grind, and Spyderco really gets their edge geometries right. The Native 5 is a phenomenal slicer.
This model gives you more grip length than the Benchmade Mini Grip, but not quite as much sharpened edge, and there’s something to this method, as it allows you to tackle some slightly bigger jobs with a more secure hold, but that tradeoff is that little bit less of a sharpened edge.
Neither method is right or wrong, it just depends what you value more in your EDC knife and what type of work you anticipate doing.
One of my favorite parts of the Native 5 is something it does share with the Delica family: it’s a great recommendation for anyone.
It has a four-position pocket clip, an easily accessible lock back, and ambidextrous hole for one-handed opening, anyone can carry this in any pocket in any position and open it with any hand with no trouble whatsoever.
So what do you guys think of our list of EDC knives for under $100? Did we leave anything out that you think deserves to be here? Be sure to let us know in the comments, and in the meantime, to get your hands on any of them, click the images or links in the above reviews.