Buying a pocket knife can be a daunting task. There are near-infinite options to choose from, from the number of blades to the style of blade, and even in the materials used. It can also be tough to find the balance between quality and affordability.

Beyond the cost is also the knowledge that a pocket knife is a tool that can last a lifetime or more. Knowing that you are picking out a tool that you ideally will want to hang onto for life can add a little pressure to the shopping process.

This guide will hopefully answer any questions you may have and address any of your concerns.

row of black pocket knives

Where to Buy a Pocket Knife

It may be a standard in today’s world to consider buying just about anything you need online, but when shopping for a pocket knife, you should resist this urge. One of the most important things to consider when shopping for a pocket knife is the size, weight, and general feel of it in your hand. If you buy something online, you are essentially taking a shot in the dark in terms of your comfort.

Where the internet can come in handy, however, is in finding a store with a good selection and knowledgeable staff. Read some reviews for your local sporting goods stores, check out store hours, and do some research on the type of knife you are looking for.

Once you have a store or two that you plan to check out, you will need to consider what you are searching for based on their posted selection.

Number of Blades

While not something you actively think about while purchasing a pocket knife, you will probably already have a number of blades in mind when you walk into the store.

Single Blade

When hunting for a simple everyday carry (EDC), a single blade is a classic option for doing little things around the house or working outdoors. That said, a pocket knife with only one blade is a bit less versatile in use than the alternatives.

Multiple Blades

Some knives come with up to four separate blades, though two is the more common number. One such classic option is a pen knife, which comes with one long blade on one end, and a shorter blade on the other. Knives with two or more blades give you a few more options when it comes to using them, but they do feel a bit less durable than most single blade knives.


Multi-tools such as Swiss Army knives are a famous option for the traveler and jack-of-all-trade. These will usually come with multiple knives, some with serrated edges. They also include a wide variety of tools which can range from standards like bottle openers and gut points, to small scissors and a corkscrew.

If you are an overall handy person who constantly seems to be reaching for their toolbelt, multi-tools may be more your speed.

Type of Blade Edge

If you are searching for a standard and reliable knife, but have a particular blade in mind, you probably want a knife with a plain edge. That said, it may be worth considering your options.


Most standard pocket knives come with a plain or partially plain edge, which provide particular advantages. The longer, flatter edge makes a plain blade easier to control when cutting and chopping. In addition to making carving a little easier than a serrated edge, plain blades are far easier to sharpen at home, whereas serrated blades might take a professional to maintain.


When it comes to sawing and cutting hard materials, a serrated edge is what you are looking for. If you are trying to cut through some rope or slice some bread, you should definitely not choose the plain edge.

If you do not have any real preference, you can easily find a knife with a partially plain and serrated blade to have a bit of both worlds.

Blade Types

There are many different kinds of pocket knives for you to consider while shopping. Consider the work you intend to do with your knife, and try and buy one that has the right style of blade or blades to suit those needs. There is a wide variety of blade types to choose from, but the following are among the most common.

Clip Point Blade

The clip point is one of the more popular blades you can find on a pocket knife. It is easy to control and has a tip that is well suited for piercing, though it is a little on the weaker end due to how narrow the blade is.

Drop Point Blade 

One of the most versatile blade types, the drop point is very useful for controlled cuts and piercing. They are incredibly similar to clip point blades, but stronger due to their broader tip.

Tanto blades

Similar to the Katana, the Tanto shape comes from Japan. Known for being very sharp, Tanto blades are perfect for piercing and cutting.

Sheepsfoot Blades

This straight blade was intended to provide a large cutting area for shepherds to be able to trim the hooves of their flock. While electric trimmers and files have largely filled that need, the sheepsfoot blade is still an incredibly popular blade for whittling wood.

Spey Blade

The spey blade is a style with an almost flat edge to the top and then a sharp curve to the tip. Its origins date back to the castration of cattle with the purpose of causing as little damage as was necessary, probably inspiring the name. This has become a common shape in many of the utility knives that we use today.

Gut Hook

Just what it sounds like, the gut hook is usually a feature you will find on the end of another blade, not on its own. The hook has a sharpened edge at the center of its curve, used to help skin wild fish and game without damaging anything under the skin.

Spear Point

Spear points are another old standard, often seen in daggers and throwing knives. Spear point blades often have two sharp edges as opposed to the standard one, though that is not always the case. While they have many uses, spear points are ideal for jabbing and spearing.

Steel Types

Choosing the right steel type is also very important when trying to find the perfect pocket knife for your needs. The thickness of the blade is crucial depending on what your intended uses are, as well as corrosion resistance. Stainless steel and some carbon alloys are excellent options in their endurance.

Some standard reliable steel grades are 420HC, 440C, 8Cr13MoV, and 8Cr17 among others. If you are looking for higher quality steel, ZDP-189, M390, K390, K294, Aogami, and Shirogami are considered high end.

Opening and Locking Mechanisms

As has been discussed in previous William Henry pocket knife guides, there is also a fair range of opening and locking mechanisms for your pocket knife.


Depending on your preference, you can choose from knives that you open with one hand, two hands, or even the push of a button. Manual knives are the standard, and can sometimes be opened with one hand using a nail nick or a round hole such as the one used by Spyderco knives.

Another option is an automatic blade, often called a switchblade. These tend to fall in a legal gray area, so be sure that they are permitted wherever you live. These knives can be opened automatically by hitting a switch.

There is also a sort of middle-ground, called an assisted-opening knife. These are similar to switchblades, except they require more force to open, and are less likely to pop open by mistake.


Accomplishing the same task of keeping the blade from closing on the users’ fingers, there are several kinds of popular locking mechanism.

Most common are likely the frame lock and liner lock, both of which allow the user to fold away the blade by physically pressing the lock out of the way.

If you want a little extra security, lockback, midlock, and ring locking mechanisms involve more powerful braces holding the blade open. Most of these need two hands to close, so there is definitely an element of convenience that needs to be sacrificed in exchange for that safety.


The materials used in making your pocket knife make up a large part of the design and forging of your personal connection to the blade. Whatever steel you go with, even if you opt for a fancy and intense copper-waved Damascus steel blade, the handle will be what you see most often.

If you are looking for an economic and enduring knife, aluminum, G10 (a kind of fiberglass), wood, micarta (like G10 but not as strong), stainless steel, and titanium are all excellent options. They are lightweight, durable, and can still look stylish.

There are also, of course, more elegant and exotic materials that you can choose from if you prefer. Stag handles carved from antlers are a classic, along with other kinds of horn and bone, including preserved mammoth tusk handle.

Other common choices for luxury handles include mother of pearl and other gemstones of all kinds.

William Henry has an incredible selection of luxury knives, artisanal crafted with rare and exquisite materials that you can choose from. See some of the stunning offerings for yourself here.