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Best Folding Knife Under $50 Dollars

best cheap pocket knives

There are many things to consider when deciding to purchase a new folding knife, but for most of us, ultimately it comes down to the price.

If you’re like me (on a budget), buying an expensive name brand pocket knife can take some saving and planning, and many times it’s just not in the budget to spend that much on a knife.​

Thankfully, with the growing number of knife manufacturers, like Spyderco and Kershaw to name a few, many have made and continue to make some excellent pocket knives that fit into most anyone’s budget. Not only are these folding knives highly affordable, but they are also quality made knives.

Budget (under $50)

MAKE / MODELBLADESTEELREVIEW
Spyderco Tenacious3.39"8Cr13MoVFull Review
Kershaw Skyline3.1"14C28NFull Review
SOG Flash II3.5"AUS-8Full Review
Ontario RAT II3"AUS-8Full Review
Kershaw Link3.25"420HCBrand Review

So while they may be cheap on price, they still have many of the great features of the more expensive ​folding knives.

When I started writing all this down I thought this would be an easy list to put together, but after doing a little research I quickly realized that finding a good quality knife for under $50 was a little more difficult than I had anticipated, for the simple fact that there are just so many.​

So what did I look at to decide which knives made the list? Obviously my main focus was the price of the knife, I decided to keep it under the $50 mark. There are a few knives in the list that are bumping up against that ceiling, but all these folding knives are under that set mark.​

Also I looked at blade and handle materials, I didn’t include every knife I could find for under $50, that would be too easy and defeat the purpose of this write up. I wanted the best folding knives I could find at the agreed upon price range, meaning it had to have been made from decent quality materials.​

Our Top 10 Best Folding Knives

I looked at each knife individually and compared the blades, handles, and even the ergonomics of each to comprise the best 10 I could find for under $50. Eventually this list may change, but for now this is what I came up with.

Spyderco Tenacious

Spyderco Tenacious

I choose the Spyderco Tenacious as my top budget pocket knife, Why?

​It's a simple answer really, because it is. The Tenacious is extremely affordable, has nice G-10 handles and the blade material is more than adequate being 8Cr13MoV.

Out of the box of course the Tenacious is razor sharp, ​the blade is a little soft so you may find you need to sharpen it a little more often. However, the 8Cr13MoV touches up very easy.

The G-10 scales feel nice, they have good texture to prevent slips and can withstand heavy use. If you would like additional information on the Spyderco Tenacious I would encourage you to check out my full review.​

So while this knife may be produced in China, its value is off the charts. I love this knife and its my go to EDC knife.


Kershaw Cryo

The Kershaw Cryo is number 2 on my list for a few reasons, first of all this folder is very affordable. You can pick up the original Cryo for well under $50. Believe me, for what you get in this knife that is a heck of a deal.

The blade and handle are 8Cr13MoV, with Titanium carbo-nitrade coating, I’m not going to get into the science of it here. But I can tell you 8Cr13MoV material is a high end stainless steel, so for the simple reason this knife is made almost entirely out of it gives me no reason to doubt its quality, or durability.​

Optionally, if you would rather have a different handle material, the Cryo is also offered with G10 handles. I personally think G-10 is one of the best handle materials out there, so this makes the Cryo and even better value.

SpeedSafe with the flipper make this pocket knife a smoking deal at under $50!


Cold Steel Recon 1

UPDATE:  Price has recently increased on this particular knife​

Cold Steel Recon 1

When I first saw the Cold Steel Recon 1 something about it just fit my eye, I really liked the looks of this knife. Its a tactical style knife and I just really like everything about the way it looks and feels.

The AUS-8 steel blade is really solid and more than capable to handle tough jobs. Or course if comes razor sharp from the factory, but its also easy to touch up if need be. AUS-8 is a excellent value priced steel.​

The G-10 handles are very well textured and provide good traction when using this knife. The ergonimics of the handle were well thought out, the finger grooves are a nice touch and provide a comfortable grip.​

The Tri-Ad lock is a proprietary Cold Steel  system and is  very strong, its a bit stiff at first use but loosens up as the knife breaks in. The clip is small, but strong and lets the knife carry deeper than expected. The only real complaint I’ve got with this knife is the texture is a bit rough, and could cause some wear to your pants. I’d recommend a slight sanding under the clip to preserve the wear and tear on your jeans.​

Overall though, for the price of this pocket knife, you absolutely cannot beat the the Recon 1 in terms of value.​


Kershaw Leek

Kershaw Leek Review

No budget knife list would be complete without the inclusion of the Kershaw Leek.​ This knife has quite a few features I personally like, and a few I don’t. But for its cheap price tag, it's not going to be perfect.

The Leek has a Sandvik 14C28N steel blade,​ which is a top grade knife steel. It’s edge retention is really good and its very easy to re-sharpen when needed.

The handle is bead-blasted stainless steel, and can get a bit slippery in wet conditions. Nothing a little grip tape can’t solve. Some people would say they shouldn’t have to modify a knife to make it work, but like I say, we are talking budget knives here, so none will be the ultimate edc.​

What I really like about this knife is the Speedsafe deployment with your index finger, its lighting fast. If you haven’t tried a Kershaw with the Speedsafe I would highly recommend you do so.

The Leek is also equipped with thumbstuds and the deployment is also very quick, I prefer the index finger, but both are equally good.

Overall the Leek is very well built, its sharp, thin and light. For an EDC, it the perfect size, you can’t really notice it in your pocket. It’s the perfect combination of size, weight & length.

The best reason to love the Kershaw Leek…Made right here in the USA.​


Spyderco Ambitious

Spyderco Ambitious

The Spyderco Ambitious is the very definition of a buget pocket knife. Even advertised as such by Spyderco themselves in their line of value-priced folding knives.

If you like a small EDC pocket knife, the Ambitious is perfect. Just a little over 5 inches opened with a compact 2.25 inch blade, it will fit nicely in your pocket and you will not be weighed down.​

Much like the Tenacious, the Ambitious has G-10 scales and sports the 8Cr13MoV steel blade with liner lock. If you can tell from other knives listed here I personally like the feel of the G-10 and the blade steel is more than capable for these budget knives.​

For reference the Spyderco Ambitious is an inch shorter that the Delica 4, ​but a little fatter. As with most of Spyderco’s offerings, the ergonomics are great and the knife fits great in the hand.

The Ambitious would be a perfect EDC knife to carry in cities that restrict blade lengths, ie Boston or Chicago.​

Overall the Ambitious is a good little pocket knife with a great price tag for the budget conscious collector.


Kershaw Brawler

Kershaw Brawler

Next up on the list, the Kershaw Brawler. What I really like about this knife if the speedsafe function with flipper, makes for super fast one hand blade deployment.

​What else do I like about the Brawler you might ask, the price tag of course. It's cheap and packed with some awesome features.

The blade steel is 8Cr13MoV with a black oxide coating, it looks pretty cool for sure, however the black coating can scratch. But in my experience with this knife it can take a beating, so I'm not concerned about a few scratches.​

The 8Cr13MoV is very easy to sharpen and can hold a nice edge for quite a while, if you're looking to go 4 or 5 months in between sharpening with heavy use, then maybe this one isn’t the knife for you, but a touch up every couple months is pretty respectable for normal use.​

The thumb studs, or blade stops depending on who you ask, protrude on both sides of the blade. For me they are not really functional for opening, I find they are to close to the handle and awkward to use. The flipper is much more convenient for me.​

The glass filled nylon handle is nice and strong, with a nice texturing to prevent slips and accidents when wet. It’s matte black finish is pretty scratch resistant and should hold up to most jobs.​

Another nice feature to this knife is the pocket clip, the handle is drilled for quad carry, tip-up or tip-down and left or right handed. So however you prefer to EDC, the Brawler is made to please.​

For the guy looking to save a few bucks, I’d say the Kershaw Brawler would make a perfect budget pocket knife.​


Sog Flash II

SOG Flash II Review

The Sog Flash II folding knife is nice inclusion to my top 10 list. Both versions of the Flash 2, plain edge and partially serrated edge can both be bought for less than $50 each.

So for me the popularity of the SOG brand ​and the adequate materials used on this pocket knife make it a top 10 choice easy.

The Flash 2 has a 3.5″ AUS-8 Japanese steel blade.​ SOG knives are pretty well known for using the AUS-8 steel in a lot of their knives. If I were to put in on scale of 1-10 for taking and edge, I would give it a 10 for sure. As for retaining that edge, it be a 6 probably. The ease of sharpening makes up for the shorter retention if you ask me.

The handle is constructed from glass reinforced nylon (GRN) and is pretty strong, also with a nice texturing to prevent slips. The clip is mounted on the very end of the handle and carries very low in your pocket.​

Additionally when the blade is closed, the safety lock​ prevents the blade from being opened at all. This would be helpful in a house with small kids if you accidentally leave it sitting on the coffee table or something like that.

The Flash 2 is a bigger knife, so if you prefer a smaller EDC knife, the original Flash 1 would be a good option. It’s blade is an inch shorter at 2.5 inches and weighs only 1.30 ounces.

I think the SOG Flash II would make a nice complement to any person's pocket.


CRKT M16-14ZSF

CRKT M16-14ZSF

To start off with, the M16 is a big knife, not one I would recommend for EDC. So if that is your purpose for reading this article you may want to skip this one.

With that being said, the CRKT M16 is a very nice folding knife. It looks awesome and is very comfortable to hold and use.​

The blade is made from AUS-8 steel, which I’ve talked about previously and can really perform well. Its a softer steel so the edge retention isn’t great, but it’s not bad either. Also it can be touched up easily so this for me isn’t a deal breaker.

​Opening this knife is simple, it has the dual flippers so a quick swipe with your index finger and the blade is deployed quickly.

The handle is made from glass-filled nylon with a desert camo color, its looks really cool. Unfortunately though there isn’t much texturing on the handle at all, but the dual flipper system really makes this a none issue, its almost impossible to slip into the blade with the flippers there.​

The M16 comes equipped with the AutoLAWKS system​, which prevents the liner lock from releasing with the knife opened. You have to disengage the lock to release the liner and close the blade. It can be difficult for 1 hand closing, but as you get used to it it becomes easier.

As I said, it is a big knife, 9.25 inches open length and 6.3 ounces big. Not something I would want to carry in my pocket, but for a gear bag and hunting pack it would make a nice addition.


Ontario RAT 1

Ontario Knives Rat 1

It’s rare that you find a knife of this quality selling for as low as this one does. Compared with other more expensive folding knives the Rat 1 will hold it’s own without question.

For an EDC, the Rat 1 is right on the cusp of being to big at 8.5 inches long. However, being only 5 ounces it could easily be carried as such.​

The fit and finish of this knife is awesome, there is zero blade play and its just an overall solid knife.

The plain edge blade is constructed from AUS-8 steel and has a nice satin finish to it. It’s super sharp out of the box, easily re-sharpened and its edge retention is very respectable.​

While its not an assisted opening blade, it is deployed with thumb studs and is very fast and smooth, no complaints here on that front.​

The black nylon handle is not as grippy as say a g-10 handle, but is plenty grippy enough to prevent slips. Ergonomically speaking the Rat 1 handle is very comfortable. No sharp edges to dig into you hand, it just feels really good in your hand.​

The pocket clip is drilled for your choice of tip up, tip down, left or right hand carry.

Seriously, you are going to be hard pressed to find a better folding knife than the Ontario Rat I. This knife is just an awesome!

Buck Knives 279BKS Folding Alpha Hunter

Buck Knife Alpha Hunter

The Alpha Hunter from Buck Knives I just really like. Couple reasons I like this folding knife, for one it’s a Buck Knife, so their forever warranty applies. It’s Made in the USA, anytime I can support American made products I will do it.

But just because it is made in the USA doesn’t mean I automatically love it, the Alpha Hunter is a solid folding knife on its own merits. It’s heavy duty construction speaks for itself.​

The 420HC satin finished blade is 3.5 inches long with a drop point. The 420HC is Buck’s standard blade material, it has good wear and corrosion resistance while remaining easy to sharpen.​

The handle has a stainless steel frame with black rubberized scales, they are very durable and offer a secure feel. No pocket clip option here though, its intended to be sheath carried.​

The all steel construction just makes this knife a bit on the heavy side for pocket carry anyway, coming in at a hefty 8 ounces (1/2 pound) it would be a noticeable addition to your pocket.​

Another issue I found with trying to pocket carry this knife, the rubberized scales make it hard to get the knife in and out of your pocket. And pocket lint likes the rubber crevices.​

The included Nylon sheath is how I carry and store the Alpha, its a mainstay in my hunting pack and has field dressed many game animals for me.​

The Alpha Hunter is a little more expensive than the knives above, but I like it and it's a solid knife. ​


Best Folding Knives under $50

So there you have it, my final list of the best folding knives for under $50. If you have any to add to the list, or just disagree with some of my choices I’d like to hear from you.

Being a knife enthusiast its hard to narrow the list down to just 10, because there are many more awesome knives​ out there that easily could have made this list. I could have comprised this list of just Kershaw and Spyderco knives under $50 just because they have so many to offer, but that would have left out many other great knives from other manufacturers and I couldn’t just ignore them.

But....​

When it's all said and done, I love the Spyderco Tenacious and I'll take that knife all day if I have to choose one for under $50!!!

10 comments
Best Pocket Knife Selection - last year

Nice informative post!

I agree with you that you could have created just a list of Spyderco and Kershaw knives, but you made other good selections, like the CRKT M16.

Thanks for the post! 🙂

Reply
Aaron - last year

The Ontario rat 1 outperforms the tenacious in practically everything except perhaps looks.

Reply
    Matt - last year

    I can’t argue with that, its a great knife for sure.

    Reply
Heffeb - last year

Are you kidding me or what? The Spyderco Tenacious beats the Ontario Rat 1 in every single category in my book except for price. Don’t get me wrong, I love both knives, but if I could only have one, give me my Spyderco Tenacious any day of the week and twice on Sunday!

Reply
Trey - 11 months ago

I personally own a Benchmark HK Ascender drop point with G10 scales and I love it. Slim profile makes it easy to retrieve or reinsert into the pocket. Only allows left or right hand point down carry, but it doesn’t both me much. 9Crt13 steel is easy to keep a decent edge on. Best thing? It’s only $31 online.

Reply
Dan - 10 months ago

I have personally used nearly every knife on this list with the exception of 2 and I wouldn’t recommend any of them. They all have flat 2-D handle designs and horrible ergonomics. Just try using any of these knives for a few hours of heavy cutting chores and you’ll know what I’m talking about. I look for better ergos in a knife than any of these folders! I’d only recommend these knives if you either don’t use your knives, or like getting blisters/bruises on your hand.

Reply
Yogi - 8 months ago

It is easy for Dan to say no to these choices, but fails to offer an alternative under $50 knife with better ergos.

Personally, I prefer 3″ and under thus my top pick in this price range would be the Ontario Rat2 instead of Rat1. Could also consider the equal Esee Zancudo.

Reply
ryder - 7 months ago

Anyone know of a pocket knife company that put three holes in the blade that graduate in size, I’m trying to find this one knife i used to have that had those holes and the blade was almost a shiny copper/bronze color, thanks for any help

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Daddyrobles - a few months ago

Well stated @yogi I own all with the exception of the buck. The tenacious over the rat. But I do love my rat. In addition If your looking for a great deal try (GANZO G726M-GR Folding Knife 440c Blade Green G10 Handle Axis lock) g10 + axis if you want benchmade griptillian but don’t want to put out the $.. only down fall is its 440 but if you take care or ur knifes and know how to properly sharpen a blade well worth it. @14 to 15$ “That’s a sore d*ck. Can’t beat it..”

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dosumthin - a couple of months ago

CRKT Drifter for me. Over any of these actually. Plane jane knife, no frills, no hassles. The steel as good as the best of these. And you can cop it for just $20-$25. crazy!
great blade profile, perfect edc length, G10 handles (the stainless are too slick), thin width but solid grip, and light but tough. if the clip was reversible I would dare to say its perfect.
also i have admiration for the Kershaw scallion with plastic handles. And none of the dumb blade holes. Great flipper/assisted opening with the short blade. Uninspiring steel and a banana of a clip are slight detractors though.

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