Blades and Knives

Throwback Thursday: 10 Best Budget EDC Knives

many different budget edc knives on wooden table

Having a solid knife is a great addition to your everyday carry (EDC) loadout. Fortunately, you don’t have to pay a ton of money to get a quality blade for everyday carry. There are plenty of great inexpensive EDC knives out there that will serve you well for years to come. I’ve kept this list to pieces that are under $100. I’ll be listing MSRPs as prices, but most of these knives can be found for a much lower price, especially if you shop at Cheaper Than Dirt! Without further adieu, here are what I consider the 10 best budget EDC knives that are sure to get the job done.

Disclaimer: It is important to check state and local laws on blade length, lock style, and action.

CRKT M-16

I own both this larger version, as well as one of the smaller versions, and have used both extensively. These CRKT knives are durable and have a distinct, tactical flair that you don’t tend to find at this price level. The handles can be had in either a wood-looking glass-reinforced nylon material or G10. I have both, and while the GRN looks nice, the G10 offers improved traction. On versions like this one with the double finger guard, these knives can be waved open from the pocket as you retrieve the knife.

I prefer the larger version with the near four-inch blade, but I like larger knives. I also selected the version with a tanto blade, but they are available with different blade options. The spearpoint version may be more to your liking. These EDC knives are great for general cutting tasks, as well as self-defense.

Features/Specs

  • MSRP: $83
  • Grind Info: Hollow 
  • Blade Style: Tanto Partially Serrated (Other Options Available)
  • Blade Length/Overall Length/Weight: 3.99”/ 9.25” Open; 5.38” Closed / 6.3 oz
  • Steel Options/Handle Materials: AUS-8/Glass-Reinforced Nylon or G10
  • Locking Mechanism: Liner Lock with LAWKS Safety
  • Pros/Cons: Can Wave Open, GRN Handles Can Be Slick
  • Purposes: Self-Defense, EDC
CRKT M-16 FDE

Kershaw Emerson CQC-4KXL

This Kershaw/Emerson collaboration makes for a great blade. You get that great Emerson style and the wave opening feature at a much lower price point. I selected the spear-point version of the Kershaw CQC for this list because it does a great job for self-defense and general use, however, they have tons of other blade shapes and lengths for whatever you prefer.

It features a steel lock side with a frame lock so it is heavy, though I believe there are aluminum versions with a steel lock-bar insert that are much lighter. The other side of the handle utilizes textured G10 so there is no trouble getting a good grip on this blade in wet conditions.

Features/Specs

  • MSRP: $98
  • Grind Info: Hollow
  • Blade Style: Spear Point (Other Blade Shape Versions)
  • Blade Length/Overall Length/Weight: 3.9”/ 9” Open; 5.1” Closed / 6.1 oz
  • Steel Options/Handle Materials: D2 or 8Cr13MoV/G10 with Steel Lock Side
  • Locking Mechanism: Frame Lock
  • Pros/Cons: Wave Open Feature, Heavy
  • Purposes: Self-Defense, EDC
Kershaw CQC-4kxl

Spyderco Endura

Next up is the Spyderco Endura, but it could easily be replaced by the Delica if you prefer a smaller blade. These knives have a higher MSRP, but they can easily be found for under our price limit for standard versions.

The Endura is constructed with a fiberglass-reinforced nylon handle that comes in a number of different colors and has a VG-10 steel, which is great for this price range. The lockback mechanism is sturdy, but makes opening and closing a little more difficult and slower than some of the other types of locks. The main things these knives have going for them are the flat-ground blade that is an incredible slicer and the incredible light weight for the blade length.

If you like the design of these EDC knives but don’t like the price, Spyderco has the Byrd line that offers very similar models for around $30.

Features/Specs

  • MSRP: $137
  • Grind Info: Flat
  • Blade Style: Drop Point
  • Blade Length/Overall Length/Weight: 3.75”/ 8.75” Open; 5” Closed / 3.6 oz
  • Steel Options/Handle Materials: VG-10/Fiberglass-Reinforced Nylon
  • Locking Mechanism: Lockback 
  • Pros/Cons: Lightweight, Thin, Slow to Open
  • Purposes: EDC, Backpacking
Spyderco Endura
Source: Spyderco

Spyderco Tenacious 

This is a classic choice for everyday carry and provides a great value. The Spyderco Tenacious is an incredibly ergonomic knife that cuts well with its flat-ground, 3.4-inch blade. If you want something smaller, they offer the Persistence and Ambitious, and if you want something larger, they have the Resilience. They are all liner-lock knives with G10 handles and an 8Cr13MoV blade.

The only drawback I can think to the Tenacious is that it carries a little wide in the pocket, it doesn’t bother me, but may bother some. The Tenacious is a great choice for general use and EDC. 

Features/Specs

  • MSRP: $86
  • Grind Info: Flat
  • Blade Style: Drop Point
  • Blade Length/Overall Length/Weight: 3.4”/ 7.76” Open; 4.45” Closed / 3.8 oz
  • Steel Options/Handle Materials: 8Cr13MoV/G10
  • Locking Mechanism: Liner Lock
  • Pros/Cons: Ergonomic, Wide
  • Purposes: General EDC
Spyderco Tenacious Black

Cold Steel Finn Wolf

This is a knife that has flown under my radar for a while. The Cold Steel Finn Wolf features a 3.5” drop-point blade with a Scandinavian grind that is great for outdoors use and bushcraft. Andrew Demco’s Tri-Ad lock is incredibly durable and offers very secure lockup. This is also a lightweight knife that can excel at everyday carry, even if you’re not working outdoors. I’d say that the only drawback to this knife is that the AUS-8A steel isn’t the strongest, however, it was probably chosen because it would be easier to sharpen in the field.

If you like the idea of this blade but don’t like the design, Cold Steel has plenty of other designs with the Tri-Ad lock that you may want to take a look at. 

Features/Specs

  • MSRP: $65
  • Grind Info: Scandinavian
  • Blade Style: Drop Point
  • Blade Length/Overall Length/Weight: 3.5”/ 7.9” Open; 4.4” Closed / 3.4 oz
  • Steel Options/Handle Materials: AUS-8A/Griv-Ex
  • Locking Mechanism: Tri-Ad Lockback
  • Pros/Cons: Durable Lock, Weaker Steel  
  • Purposes: Outdoors, EDC
Cold Steel Finn Wolf Orange

Ka-Bar Dozier

This is the least expensive knife on the list with an MSRP of just $32. I don’t think it wins any points in style, but it sure does function. You can also get the KA-BAR Dozier in a number of different colors that make it feel kind of personalized.

The drop-point blade is hollow ground and cuts very well, and the knife is a good size for most uses. It utilizes a lockback mechanism so it isn’t the quickest to open or close, but it does its job well. This would make a great knife for those wanting something lightweight and slim, or anyone who has trouble with losing their EDC knives.

Features/Specs

  • MSRP: $35
  • Grind Info: Hollow
  • Blade Style: Drop Point
  • Blade Length/Overall Length/Weight: 3”/ 7.25” Open; 4.25” Closed / 2.4 oz
  • Steel Options/Handle Materials: AUS-8A/Zytel
  • Locking Mechanism: Lockback
  • Pros/Cons: Cost-Effective, Slow Opening
  • Purposes: EDC, Hunting
Ka-Bar Dozier Gray

Ontario Rat I

This is another popular option for budget EDC knives. The Ontario Rat I (or Rat II if you prefer something smaller) offers a great value for the price. It is a liner-lock knife with nylon scales that mimic G10. The drop-point blade can be had in the standard AUS-8 or D2 if you purchase the slightly more expensive upgraded version. AUS-8 will be slightly more rust-resistant and D2 will hold an edge for longer.

The only con for this knife is the weight for its size. An ounce per inch of blade length is typically the standard, so the Rat 1 is slightly portly. That said, I have no trouble carrying heavier EDC knives and some people like the sturdy feeling the weight provides. 

Features/Specs

  • MSRP: $35 (Standard AUS-8), $59 (D2 Upgrade)
  • Grind Info: Flat
  • Blade Style: Drop Point
  • Blade Length/Overall Length/Weight: 3.5”/ 8.6” Open; 5” Closed / 5 oz
  • Steel Options/Handle Materials: AUS-8 and D2 Versions/Nylon Scales
  • Locking Mechanism: Liner Lock
  • Pros/Cons: Great Value for Price, Heavy for Size
  • Purposes: Outdoors, EDC
Ontario Rat 1
Source: Ontario Knife Company

Boker Kalashnikov

If you like automatic EDC knives, take a look at the Boker Kalashnikov. There are tons of variants of this knife in both size and color options, so you’re sure to find one that suits your tastes. There are both drop-point and spear-point AUS-8 blade styles and the handle is constructed of aluminum.

This is a button-lock automatic, so you simply press the button and the blade springs open, then to close, you press the button and manually press the blade shut. This is great for self-defense, however, the slick handle is not ideal.

Features/Specs

  • MSRP: $70
  • Grind Info: Flat
  • Blade Style: Drop Point and Spear Point Versions
  • Blade Length/Overall Length/Weight: 3.25”/ 7.5” Open; 4.25” Closed / 3.7 oz
  • Steel Options/Handle Materials: AUS-8/Aluminum
  • Locking Mechanism: Button Lock Automatic
  • Pros/Cons: Automatic Opening, Slick Handle
  • Purposes: Self-Defense, EDC
Boker Kalashnikov
Source: Boker

CRKT Homefront EDC

The CRKT Homefront EDC is an incredibly unique knife due to its fieldstrip capability. Simply slide a lever and the knife can be disassembled in seconds. Reassembly is equally as easy. This is great if you get your EDC knives dirty and want to be able to clean them and perform maintenance without having to deal with dozens of small parts and screws. CRKT has a number of knives using this technology, as well as a few different Homefront models including one geared toward hunting.

I chose the EDC version for this list because it was designed for everyday carry. The main drawback to this knife is that it is running fairly weak blade steel. This should be fine for most uses, but if you do some serious cutting throughout your day, you may want to select something else.

Features/Specs

  • MSRP: $124
  • Grind Info: Hollow
  • Blade Style: Drop Point
  • Blade Length/Overall Length/Weight: 3.54”/ 8.25” Open; 4.72” Closed / 4.3 oz
  • Steel Options/Handle Materials: 1.4116 Stainless Steel/Glass-Reinforced Nylon
  • Locking Mechanism: Liner Lock
  • Pros/Cons: Field Strip Capability, Weaker Steel
  • Purposes: EDC, Hunting Model
CRKT Homefront EDC
Source: Columbia River Knife and Tool

Kershaw Al-Mar AM-4

This is a knife that has some style and would make an excellent gentleman’s (or lady’s) knife. The Kershaw/Al-Mar collaboration AM-4 (and AM-3 if you prefer something smaller) is an incredibly lightweight and slim knife that is assisted opening and utilizes a frame lock. The polished G10 handles can be had in black or OD green. The spear-point blade works well for cutting and looks good too. This would make an amazing light-use EDC knife for office workers or tuxedo wearers.

The AM-4 gives you a great taste of the Al-Mar design and function for a much cheaper price point, while still providing fairly comparable blade steel.  

Features/Specs

  • MSRP: $50
  • Grind Info: Hollow
  • Blade Style: Spear Point
  • Blade Length/Overall Length/Weight:3.5”/ 7.6” Open; 4.1” Closed / 3 oz
  • Steel Options/Handle Materials: 8Cr13MoV/G10
  • Locking Mechanism: Frame Lock
  • Pros/Cons: Assisted Opening, Thin, Slick Handle
  • Purposes: Light Use EDC
Kershaw AM-4
Source: Kershaw

Honorable Mention: CRKT Seismic

This next knife is a great choice if you want the ultimate in durability without the higher-end price. I love this EDC knife because of the locking mechanism. The CRKT Seismic utilizes the Deadbolt locking mechanism which is touted as extremely durable. The G10 grips provide an ample amount of traction and the drop-point, flat-ground blade is great for cutting. You can find this knife in both partially-serrated and non-serrated versions depending on your preference. I typically prefer plain blades, but the Veff serrations perform well and can be easily resharpened with a ceramic rod.

This is one of the best hard-use EDC knives in my opinion. One drawback to the durability is the added weight can be hard on the pocket, but if you don’t mind a few extra ounces, the Seismic is a great choice.

Features/Specs

  • MSRP: $113
  • Grind Info: Flat
  • Blade Style: Drop Point, Both Plain and Partially-Serrated Versions
  • Blade Length/Overall Length/Weight: 3.97”/ 9.44” Open; 5.46” Closed / 6.3 oz
  • Steel Options/Handle Materials: 1.4116 Stainless Steel/G10
  • Locking Mechanism: Deadbolt Lock
  • Pros/Cons: Durable, Heavy
  • Purposes: Hard Use EDC
CRKT Seismic
Source: Columbia River Knife and Tool

Conclusion: EDC Knives

Choosing the perfect knife for everyday carry can be a daunting task. With so many options, it can be hard to decide. It is important to remember, despite what some will tell you, EDC knives do not have to be expensive. There are plenty of great budget EDC knives that not only provide you with incredible service, but they also offer exceptional value as well.

What are some of your favorite budget EDC knives? Why? Let us know in the comment section.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in January of 2021. It has been completely revamped and updated for accuracy and clarity.

About the Author:

Alex Cole

Alex is a younger firearms enthusiast who’s been shooting since he was a kid. He loves consuming all information related to guns and is constantly trying to enhance his knowledge, understanding, and use of firearms. Not a day goes by where he doesn’t do something firearms-related and he tries to visit the range at least a couple of times a month to maintain and improve his shooting skills.

His primary focus is on handguns, but he loves all types of firearms. He enjoys disassembling and reassembling firearms to see how they work and installs most of the upgrades to his firearms himself, taking it as a chance to learn. He’s not only interested in modern handguns and rifles, he appreciates the classics for both historical value and real-world use.
The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (15)

  1. I started carrying an EDC knife back in the early 70’s while in the Army deployed overseas. The only thing that has changed in the last 50 plus years is what knife is my go to. And even then, it depends on the task when I make the selection. I carry several Swiss Army knives in my left front jeans pocket, (all are different models with different tools) and two short bladed knives in the right. I also have a Schrade Fanatic that is clipped to that pocket. These are all what I consider to be my daily tool knives, for opening boxes, the mail, cutting rope or cordage, things like that. In my back right pocket, next to my wallet is an Emerson CQC 7 made by Benchmade that I got back in the early 90’s. This is not to be deployed for any situation that does not involve hostilities, which has not happened since I got it.

    During my time in the Army, we were trained with edged weapons, and one instructor told us that any person who used any edged tool as a weapon and was not prepared to be cut (and badly) probably would not survive the event. Unprepared participants will seldom survive the experience when they are cut. Notice I said WHEN not IF.

    I have yet to talk to anyone who carries a knife as a defensive weapon who has had any formal training in its use as a weapon or has ever even practiced with a knife as a weapon and they seldom think about how much it hurts to be cut. I have been cut with both bayonets and knives. I can attest as to the pain involved in the event, as well as how much you can bleed after being cut..

    Wielding a knife as a weapon requires a completely different skillset than any other weapon. It requires more training and more practice than any firearm, and that, long before it is deployed as a defensive weapon. Using a weapon you have not tried out is like carrying an unloaded gun and the magazine in different places, thinking you will have the time to lock and load when the time comes, think Israeli Carry with one arm tied behind your back. If that doesn’t sound like a good idea, you might want to reconsider your options.

  2. boker ak74 good knife and have carried it for years.
    wore a couple of them out,,,but stand up well to hard
    use and easy to deploy in needed situations .

  3. Kershaw Analyst 2062ST. 3.25″ partially serrated tanto blade of 8Cr13MoV steel, Speed Wave opening and liner lock, only weighs 3.5 ounces. All this for less than $40.

  4. I. Carry a black stone washed Keyshawn 1776. I reall really like!
    Just an edc, nothing special.. just a great knife.

  5. One thing that was missed here for an EDC knife is that many of us work where the under 3″ inch rule is enforced. I carry an AG. Russell one hand opening at 2 7/8 inches.

  6. EDC varies if I wear pants with pockets it’s the 5-11 Karambit Folder inspired by Doug Marcaida. It has the Emerson feature that grips the pants pocket that deploys the blade. I use the Spyderco Tenacious if I use pants without pockets!!

  7. Boker Kalashnikov AK74, drop point blade, with slide lock. I don’t find the handles all that slick.
    Kershaw Black Gulch 3120, G10 scales.
    Schrade SP1, original manufacture.
    Victorinox Classic.

  8. My EDC is the Emerson designed Kershaw Launch 5, in my opinion the best of the “Launch” series, but for some reason discontinued by Kershaw. Sturdy and balanced, feels great in the hand, CPM-154 blade steel. I love this auto knife !

  9. My EDC carry knife is a Kershaw 1970. I’ve had it for years and it has served me well.

  10. All look like great knives personally I edc a Benchmade Adamas auto and love it had it for years and am not easy on it

  11. Assisted or auto knives are verboten[naturally]in Marxist New York State.If you’re cursed to be in NYC:maximum blade length is 4″ and no”flippable”opening,no wearing/clipping onto a pocket,no butterfly or gravity knives,no”blutgeons”-do the hammers that Antifa members carry count[or are they exempt??]

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