Small Pocket Knives Under 3″ and Less Than $25

Small pocket knives. A mini knife. Some call them ultralight knives. They are very popular everyday carry knives. Why? Well, they are easy to carry, non-obtrusive, and get the job done…most jobs anyway.

One that’s sharp enough to do the basic things one requires of a knife, but is small enough and light enough that you forget it’s there till you need to use it. 

They’re a great little trusty tool for a multitude of convenient uses. Bigger isn’t always better!

You probably carry that one particular (favorite) special little knife because…it’s small, and it’s not unwieldy to use and carry. And, you just simply like it!

It fits easily in your pocket, or clips to your pocket without being a nuisance, while still getting most cutting jobs done!

So, what is the best small pocket knife to carry?

Here are some more thoughts on this practical little tool. And lets find out which one is YOUR favorite in the category of small pocket knives too…

We all might have a slightly different opinion of “small” when it comes to pocket knives. They make some REALLY SMALL knives.

Most pocket knives have a 3.25″ to 3.75″ blade length. There are lots available in that blade length range nowadays. Why? There’s a wide range of laws and legality issues when knife blades reach longer than a certain length.

But there are some very nice small knives under 3″ too.

 
First,

Common Uses For Small Pocket Knives

THE most common use for my own small knife is opening cardboard boxes. Can you say, “Amazon Prime” – Free Shipping? (haha).

Other uses might include:

– Slicing through the foil that caps the cork on a bottle of wine
– Opening boxes or various mail packages
– Opening a bag of feed
– While fishing, cutting line
– While camping, cutting cordage, string
– Fire making, shaving tinder
– Scraping gum off your shoe (gross)
– While eating, cutting, peeling
– Splinter
– Hangnail
– Building a shelter

The many uses for a pocket knife are seemingly limitless as well as personal.

Plain Edge, Serrated, or Both

I very much like the plain edge blade as opposed to a serrated edge.

I do have both types. And some that are plain edge near the tip portion and serrated near the handle.

For me, my primary tasks do not require a sawing motion (with serrated). A plain edge works best for most tasks, at least for me…

What’s your opinion on that?

Small Pocket Knives [What to Look For]

Largely it’s a matter of opinion. There are lots of little details and specifications to consider. But let’s keep it simple. There are a few key considerations.

1. Blade Edge: Like I mentioned above, plain edge or serrated.

2. The Handle Ergonomics: The nice thing is they’re making small knives with large enough handles ergonomically designed to fit well with your grip. Your own opinion and ‘hand’ will vary.

3. Blade Length: This will depend on your uses and comfort level for EDC.

4. Overall Size: How big is it, how long is it when the blade is closed?

5. Pocket Clip: The placement and orientation of the pocket clip will determine how it ‘rides’ on your pants. Different preferences for different people…

6. Blade Shape: I happen to like the Drop Point design (Wikipedia). The Clip Point and Tanto are also popular.

There are plenty of durable good brand pocket knives. Some of them can get fairly expensive. However, which small pocket knives are popular under $25? Lets have a look at some that are under 3″ length.

I’m going to show you two Gerber knives, One Kershaw, and one CRKT. All great little small pocket knives.

Gerber Small Pocket Knives

I purchased the following Gerber – many, many years ago. Eventually I lost it. But I bought another. Love this knife… It’s an ultralight, but is fine for most everyday tasks. Made in the USA (Portland).

GERBER LST Ultralight
(view on amzn)

Gerber small pocket knives
Gerber LST Ultralight pocket knife

This was the knife that put Pete Gerber on the map, and it’s easy to see why. This was the original Gerber knife with its blade designed by Blackie Collins. It’s been around for years and when you get one it’s easy to see why. 

The Gerber shown above does not have a pocket clip. That’s fine with me, given its small size. I just drop it in my pocket. However, the most popular Gerber brand small pocket knife with a clip (under 3″ and under $25) is this one…

Gerber Paraframe
(amzn)

Kershaw

Kershaw, another respectable brand, has a nice little small pocket knife. The Spoke.

Kershaw Spoke
(amzn)

Those of you familiar with Kershaw’s assisted open “flip” knives know what to expect here. One of the things I appreciated about this knife right out of the gate is the attention they took to make the toggle into a finger guard when the blade is open. It does have a pocket clip.

CRKT

The CRKT Squid. If you are looking for a small, tough, affordable and comfortable EDC knife, this is another great choice.

CRKT Squid
(amzn)

All heavy steel (aluminum back spacer/lanyard hole) build makes for a solid knife. The rounded edges and streamline folding blade makes for a comfortable knife in the hand or your pocket as well.

[ Read: The Secret To Sharpening A Knife ]

[ Read: The Best Knife for Batoning Wood ]

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25 Comments

  1. Those little Gerber paraframe knives are kinda nice, and cheap! I think im going to get a few to keep around, might come in handy.

    1. And it’s not so bad if you lose one, given how inexpensive. On the other hand, it’s not fun to lose an expensive pocket knife!

    2. Kulafarmer,

      I carry that exact same knife, except it has no “Gerber” markings. Don’t recall where I bought it, but gave about the same money…always with me.

  2. I have the gerber paraframe. My grandson gave it to me several years ago for Christmas and I still carry it. It has an incredibly sharp edge and is reserved for fine cutting instead of rough treatment.

    1. Blade on paraframe is terrible for sharpness retention. Gerber has an excellent warranty. The lockup went bad on mine. They replaced it no charge.

      1. The paraframe is incredibly inexpensive, though exceedingly popular (probably because it doesn’t cost much at only about 8 bucks at the time of this post). As they say, you get what you pay for. I don’t have the paraframe, but I do have the other Gerber shown above (about 20 bucks).

  3. i have dozens of knives but my EDC is a Bear & Son 4th Generation Pocket Knife. 3 blades, carbon steel 3 1/2 blade. i can’t remember a time when i did not have one just like it. all of us boys in school had one. it was just understood, like having clothes on, i feel nekid without it.
    the old case, old timers and barlows were the best. like everything else, they don’t make em like they use to.
    i have some SS knives and their OK but they don’t get as sharp as good carbon steel.
    a buck horn handle and a barlow blade, best durn knife ever was made.

  4. Still love my Case Canoe, but i have laid it down in the shop and haven’t found it yet. Bought a Camillus Chunk at Tractor Supply for $14. Nice feature, opening tab lever, 3″ cutting surface. Gotta love all these small knives. Lot of secure govt locations will allow you to carry a knife, but only if the blade is 2-3/4″ or under. Once found myself having to field dress a deer after work, and only had a small 1-1/2″ blade Gerber “mini”. Yeah, only took me maybe another minute to dress that deer, if that. Like a firearm, carrying any blade is always better than none. With these small knives easy to slip into a pocket, you will always have that advantage. Keep it sharp and oiled, it will serve you well.

  5. the Gerber LST use to have a belt clip which you could use like a pocket clip. It has a screw to retain it, and they stayed around a lot longer than the one they sell now without it. The clip itself was plastic but it was tough like the material used on the knife. It fit right into my issued LBE belt were the buckle and the belt met, and nobody really could tell you had it.

  6. I have a paraframe I used for fine detail. It sharpens easily and keeps a good edge. Always helpful with splinters and hang nails. :) I have found the small knives put together with screws do much better if you loosen the screws and put a drop of thread locker on them and then tighten them down tight. Good little knives just need a little help in spots.

  7. – The only knife I have that meets those criteria is a little Chinese “Hand” brand folder, about 2″ with a sheepsfoot type blade. It is a bit less than 1/8″ thick and 1/2″ wide, and is almost virtually a razor blade. The thing rides in my billfold, tucked behind my driver’s license as a last-ditch cutting tool. A friend of mine calls it my ‘Chinese box-cutter’.

    – Papa S.

    1. – It occurs to me that I lied. I have a Victorinox Classic, which I carry when I must dress up (I don’t have to dress up much anymore, and hadn’t thought about it). It’s a very good little knife, and I wouldn’t take for it, just didn’t think of it.

      – Papa

  8. CRKT Drifter with the resin handles. Cleaned animals with it. Cut hundreds of feed sacks and it’s made it through the washing machine at least a dozen times.

  9. I currently have a CRKT Drifter on my person at present time. It was an inexpensive purchase at Bimart almost 10 years ago. I also have a Kershaw Leek in my drawer that I will carry at times before I purchased the Drifter. The best testimonial is the fact I carry it darn near all the time and have used it so much that the blade is being worn down from repeat sharpening. Both knives are liner lock knives which I love for their ease of use and slim profile. My wife with arthritis found she likes a small Buck lockblade which has the lock release on the back of the handle. It works better for her and she is most comfortable with it so she has adopted the Buck folder for her personal use. Just like personal carry handguns, you have to stand back and let the lady make her own choices. All 3 are small blades with pocket clips. (I have really grown to like that feature).

  10. I have carried a Victorinox (Switz army knife) my entire life. As a multi tool it is used daily and has gotten us out of many situations. It also has a locking blade, that I learned the hard way I need!

  11. A Swiss Army keychain kind of knife, some 2 1/4″ closed. Knife blade – nail file – scissors – toothpick & tweezers.

    A Case medium stockman. One of the nice features of this knife is that when closed, the sheepfoot (go to) blade sits proud. As a left hander I don’t have to deal with the nail nick. Just pinch the blade between thumb and forefinger to open it. Rounded bolsters are nice too…

    When I need something more “heavy duty”, or when I only have one free hand to open it, a Benchmade with exactly a 3″ blade is clipped in my pocket waiting.

    The more I think about it, buying a cheap knife “in case you loose it” Are you pre-programing your mind to loose it? So that when you DO loose it, you are fulfilling your prophesy? …something like that.

  12. Response to Far North: In regards to : “Buying a cheap knife in case you lose it”. there are those people that ask to borrow things and think nothing of abusing them and breaking things. I have a brother like that so when I go on a job or task with him, I bring along a cheaper but good quality blade along with me for him to “borrow”. knowing that odds are good that I will not get the tool back in good condition. My CRKT Drifter is just such a knife that I bought for that very purpose. The Kershaw Leek is a bit more expensive and is hard to find so it spends more time in the sock drawer these days. Some people tend to trash fine tools.

    I do not loan him any of my scoped rifles unless he is willing to place an $800 deposit on the rifle. He has never borrowed my truck.

    1. Calirefugee
      Good perspective on tools and others using them! We actually have a company up here that sells 5 packs of small single bladed steel knives with a file and scissors. They call them Chestnut forgettable knives and sell for $20 or less for the box of 5. Sadly they’re made in China but at that price and for the intended usage you can’t beat them. They used to be even cheaper and at the price you had something handy that you could lend or give away or not cry if it was in your pocket and got taken from you going through airport or other security.

    2. Calirefugee
      Good point about lending tools. Once lent a Buck stockman to someone at work. I heard him say a faint “opps!” and then quickly returned it to me… Checking it, found one of the blades now had a wobble.
      Now if someone needs a knife I ask what do you need cut and I’ll cut it for him. Same with a company production bandsaw. Easier to cut what they need than replacing the blade…

  13. Hi all,
    I just found my Daddy’s pocket knife. It has been in a shed for the past 15years since his passing. No idea how it got there.
    It has rusted pretty good and has some pitting rust in the blades.
    Is there any way to remove the rust and use again or is it just over.
    Would like to give to my grandboy for his Bar Mitzvah next year.
    Any suggestions and help appreciated.
    Peace,
    MadFab

    1. MadFab
      Vinegar, soak the unit then clean with a soft tooth brush to remove the rust. When clean use a good oil to stop the rust. Not sure how bad it is, but you can do the same thing for garden tools, work tools. Soft dental picks with the brush covers like a pipe cleaner brush, so you can get down into areas that a tooth brush will not reach. You might try a pipe brush also. jic
      Take your time cleaning it.

  14. Just in WalMart yesterday after reading your article, and picked up a 2 1/2 inch blade Camillus.
    Flip-blade opener, just like a switch-blade, and razor sharp.
    $20.

  15. The only really cheap small folder I have is a Kershaw Amplitude flipper. 2 1/2″ blade and handy to have around. But I also carried a small SAK my wife bought for me at their factory in Switzerland many years ago. I used it once to put a piano back together that fell out of the back of my truck and ended up in half a dozen pieces in the highway. The Sunday school class we were carrying it to never knew the difference and said it was always in tune and sounded great! :-)

  16. My choice is a Stanley Pocket Knife with rotating blade – Stanley 10-049. Sells on Amazon for $10.18. Utility replacement blades (3 pack) for $12.12. This little bugger is so useful in day to day tasks and if you snap or dull the blade…..just pop in another if you don’t have the time to sharpen it. This is my go to when I don’t want to dull my Leatherman Wave blades. Blade locks in open position…..cutting edge is 1 3/4″. Went through the washer more times than I can count as I forget it is in my jeans watch pocket.

  17. NHM
    I haven’t forgotten about ya. So I’ll get that canning recipe for ya this weekend.
    Ma’s got kitchen duties for me early tomorrow morning. I guess my morning hunting plans are caput.

    Anywho, just want to wish everyone here, a blessed Thanksgiving.
    Which in turn, should be renamed Giving thanks.
    Hope you all are upping your immune systems, as being out in public.

    Now I’m not that old, but signs of the times are really heartbreaking..

    As a kid, we would await the Christmas catalogs from Sears and JC Penny’s. As catalogs became a thing of the past,, the local paper would give a free subscription, on the day before . News, sports, weather and packed with Black Friday sales. (Fun to look at, but no real cause to participate in the weekend madness.)
    It also shows a history of the many closed businesses that have occurred within the last few years.

    Be safe. Eat well. Make memories this coming day of Givingthanks

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