Best Pocket Knife Gift Ideas For The Mechanic In Your Life

Choosing the best pocket knife for a gift is often more challenging than choosing one for yourself. This can be compounded when the intended recipient knows good tools from bad.

 

People that use hand tools everyday whether for work or pleasure are not the easiest to buy any sort of manual instrument for.

They know good from bad.

So why make a gift of a pocket knife to someone who understands quality?

A pocket knife is the type of gift people keep for years and is not easily forgotten who gave it to them.

They are often handed down from father to son, so the gift can be a life long item and then become a legacy.

 

Understanding what makes the best pocket knife and a clear idea of what the intended recipient would use the knife for makes the choosing of one easier.

In the next few minutes you will know enough about pocket knives (even if you just skim read) to be able to choose a knife and feel comfortable giving it as the right gift for the intended. This, without burning a hole in your pocket.

If you are not sure what to look for in a folding pocket knife the info-graph below is a super-quick overview of pocket knives, what they are commonly used for and the different variations of them.

what to look for in a pocket knife

How Will The Knife Be Used?

 

The intended use of a pocket knife plays a big part in the type of blade needed for the work.

 

A mechanics needs or anyone who uses hand tools for their work or hobby (Electricians, plumbers, engineers, builders) will differ to those of someone who works in an office or is in the emergency services.

 

Their knives are more than a cutting instrument they are a multipurpose tool that has to scratch, scrape, screw and stir. That’s not saying the knives are abused, they are just made to work hard and are expected to put in a good days work.

 

The image below shows some of the most common pocket knife blades and a quick description of what each blade is good for.

 

Clip point and Drop point blades are common on everyday carry knives because they are good for general purpose use.

Blade Types

best pocket knife blade types

Image source – Knife Depot

Simple Definitions of Blade Types

Clip Point

Clip point knives are good for everyday general use, though can be used for hunting.

Tanto Point

The tanto (also known as Chisel point) is one of the stronger blades. Not good as an all-purpose knife, generally suited to piercing and push cuts.

Trailing Point

The back of the blade curves upward forming a deep belly. Often used by hunters for skinning and slicing.

Straight Back

Traditional shape blade often found in kitchens where they are good for slicing and chopping.

 Wharncliffe Blade

Very similar to the sheepsfoot blade with minor differences. Makes a good all-round blade and well suited to carving wood and cutting.

Pen Blade

Similar looking to the spear point. Originally designed for sharpening quill pens. Often seen on Swiss Army knives and are good for small general tasks.

Drop Point

Drop points can make good all-purpose knives but are mostly found on hunting and survival knives.

Spear Point

Spear points can be single or double edged blades. Suited best for piecing but unlike the needle point they have small belly allowing them to slice.

Hawkbill Blade

Having a curved cutting edge this blade is well suited to cutting cords or stripping wires. Not a good contender for general purpose use.

Sheepsfoot Blade

Popular with emergency personnel because of the combination of safety and practicality. The blade cuts well but dull point makes it difficult to inflect injury. (cutting seat belts of crash victims)
Originally designed for trimming sheep hooves.

Needle Point

Designed for one purpose – piercing. Both edges are sharp and not commonly made as a folding knife. Best suited to self-defense.

Spey Point

Original use was for spaying livestock. Often found on knives with multiple blades. The shape is well suited for skinning.

Knife Features to Consider

Number of Blades

Swiss Army knives often have two blades and a selection of multi-tools. Great for those that always seem to be doing small repairs with no other tools on hand.

Multi-Blade knives like the Buck Stockman are perfect if you like to have different blades perform different tasks. Eg. One for slicing fruit, one for opening packages and one for everything else.

Single Blade knives are often designed to perform one or two tasks better than any other. They also often have better blade steel, though this can come at a higher cost.

Multi-tool and multi-blade knives generally have blades that are easy to sharpen and hold a good cutting edge. Single blades, depending on the blade steel and blade shape, can be difficult to sharpen and get a good edge on.

Blade Length

This is an important factor. You will need to find out the legal length that can be carried in your area.
Just Google “knife laws + your city/state”

As a guide:

Small Knives – less than 2.75″

Medium Knives – from 2.75″ – 4.00″
This is the most popular range for everyday carry and because most fall into legal blade length range.

Large Blades – over 4.00″
Good for when carrying a fixed blade knife is inconvenient.

Blade Lock

Keeping it simple, there is two choices, knives with blades that lock open and knives with no blade lock.
Those with blade locks tend to have the rigidity of a fixed blade when open.

If there is going to be a lot piecing and punching done with the knife then a blade lock is essential. On the flip side if the knife is only used for slicing a lock is not so necessary.

For more information on the different types of locks read 5 Common Types of Locking Knives Explained 

Closed Length

This is the length of the knife when it is folded in the closed position. It is also a good indication of size-in-hand.

Blade Steel

All the technical specifications and processes of making a blade steel are well outside the parameters here for choosing a pocket knife as a gift. But I won’t leave you without some idea of what steel is used for the knife blades featured here.

Again for simplicity there is description just below of the blade steels featured on the knives shown here.
High carbon and chromium steels are generally harder to sharpen.

Blade Edge

Plain Edge – ideally suited to slicing and push cuts. Think of slicing a tomato and whittling a stick. These blades are very well suited for general purpose use and in most cases easily sharpened.

Serrated Edge – ideally suited to pull cuts through tough materials, like cutting heavy rope. Often found on diving knives. Serrated blades also make good emergency knives – easily cut seat belts. Not easily sharpened because special tools are required.

Combination Edge – both plain and serrated. The serrated edge can be at the base or at the tip just depends on the knife model.

Blade Opening

There is three types, though I will only cover two because automatic opening knives (switch blade type) are illegal in most places.

Manual – the user has to manually pull the blade open, either using one or two hands.
Two handed openers are like the iconic Buck and Swiss Army knives of yester-year. They are still just as popular today.

One-hand – the user opens the blade with their thumb via a hole in the blade (syderco) or with a thumb stud. Often these fall into the next category – Assisted opening.
Assisted Open – are a mix of manual and automatic opening. They where designed to by-pass the laws of automatic knives. Be careful with these type of knives and read up on local laws. Many places (globally) do not see these as any different from automatic knives.
Most – I will say modern – parts of the world outside of the US, these are illegal.

Knife Handles

Giving a knife with aesthetically pleasing handles is ideal as a gift but sometimes they may not be ideal for the user.

Just a couple of things to consider:
Will the user wear gloves – a large handle maybe preferable.
Where would the knife be carried – front pocket, back pocket, back-pack. Comfort is the issue here.

Also think of the users trade. Do they work with solvents and oils. The handles may need to be chemical resistant.

Four Brands 12 Pocket Knives Under $70

buck 301 stockman best pocket knife

Buck Stockman 301

  • Blade Length – 2 3/4″ clip point, 2″ spey, 2″ sheepsfoot
  • Closed Length – 3 7/8″
  • Blade Steel – 420HC
  • Origin – USA
kershaw brawler best pocket knife

Kershaw Brawler

  • Blade Length – 3″
  • Closed Length – 4 1/10
  • Blade Steel – 8Cr13MoV
  • Origin – China
victorinox tinker best pocket knife

Victorinox Swiss Army Tinker

  • Blade Length – 2.45″
  • Closed Length – 3.58″
  • Blade Steel – X55CrMo14
  • Origin – Switzerland
best pocket knife syderco delica 4

Spyderco Delica4

  • Blade Length – 2.875″
  • Closed Length – 4.25″
  • Blade Steel – VG-10
  • Origin – Japan
Buck Vantage Pro best pocket knife

Buck Vantage Pro

  • Blade Length – 3 1/4″
  • Closed Length – 4 3/8″
  • Blade Steel – S30V
  • Origin – USA
gentleman's best pocket knife kershaw leek

Kershaw Leek

  • Blade Length – 3″
  • Closed Length – 4″
  • Blade Steel – 14C28N
  • Origin – USA
victorinox huntsman multitool

Victorinox Swiss Army Huntsman

  • Blade Length – 2.45″
  • Closed Length – 3.58″
  • Blade Steel – X55CrMo14
  • Origin – Switzerland
best pocket knife syderco manix 2

Spyderco Manix2

  • Blade Length – 3.37″
  • Closed Length – 4.66″
  • Blade Steel – CTS BD1
  • Origin – USA
classic best pocket knife buck 110 hunter

Buck Folding Hunter 110

  • Blade Length – 3 3/4″
  • Closed Length – 4 7/8″
  • Blade Steel – 420HC
  • Origin – USA
ken onion design kershaw blur

Kershaw Blur

  • Blade Length – 3.4″
  • Closed Length – 4.5″
  • Blade Steel – 14C28N with DLC (diamond-like carbon) coating
  • Origin – USA
victorinox trekker trailmaster in camo

Victorinox Swiss Army Trekker

  • Blade Length – 3.5″
  • Closed Length – 4.37″
  • Blade Steel – X55CrMo14
  • Origin – Switzerland
syderco endura 4 everyday carry best pocket knife

Spyderco Endura4

  • Blade Length – 3.75″
  • Closed Length – 5″
  • Blade Steel – VG-10
  • Origin – Japan

Knife Blade Steel Types – As Seen Above

S30V (CPM S30V) – is wear and corrosion resistant stainless steel. Knifemakers use CPM S30V because its composition makes it easier to grind. CPM S30V is considered a premium grade knife steel.

 

420HC – one of the most popular choices for knife makers because it is easy to sharpen and is resistant to corrosion. 420 has less carbon than 440, but has a higher toughness. Buck Knives and Gerber Knives use 420HC extensively.

 

8Cr13MoV – is a Chinese produced steel. 9Cr is the top end of the series and is quite good, as good or better than AUS-8 (Japanese steel). Type 8Cr, the more common formulation, is a little more corrosion-prone, and not quite as hard. When ground appropriately it can be a real winner from a value standpoint.

 

14C28N (Sandvik 14C28N) is the latest development in Sandvik’s range of knife steels. It is a top grade knife steel with a unique combination of excellent edge performance, high hardness and good corrosion resistance.

 

X55CrMo14 (1.41110) – A knife blade steel largely used by Victorinox. Easy to sharpen, holds a good edge and is corrosion resistant.

 

VG-10 is a cutlery grade stainless steel produced in Japan. Good wear and corrosion resistance. Almost all VG-10 steel knife blades are manufactured in Japan.

 

BD-1 (CTS-BD1) – American stainless steels produced by Carpenter Technology using vacuum melt technology. It is a high-carbon chromium steel that provides high hardness and excellent wear resistance.

A Closer Look at the Twelve

Specifications

The big draw card for this knife is the blade. It’s made from S30V at a price that doesn’t empty the bank.
As an everyday carry the Buck Vantage Pro is ideal. It offers one handed opening and locks in the open position with a stainless steel liner lock. The blade is of drop point shape which is well suited to general purpose use.

Blade Steel – S30V

Blade Shape – Drop Point

Blade Length – 3.25″

Closed Length – 4.375″

Weight – 4 oz

Handle – CNC contoured black G10

Carry System – Pocket clip (Removable, reversible, deep pocket, tip up carry)

Origin – USA

Specifications

The Buck Stockman 301 is the largest of the 3 blade knives made by Buck. It’s style is one that has been around for decades and has withstood the test of time. To this day it’s still the favored choice by many and is often handed down from one generation to the next. What’s not to like about a knife with 3 blades!

Blade Steel – 420HC

Blade Shape – Multiple shapes (see blade length)

Blade Length – 2.75″ clip point, 2″ spey, 2″ sheepsfoot

Closed Length – 3.875″

Weight – 2.9 oz

Handle – Rosewood with Brass ends

Carry System – Pocket

Origin – USA

Specifications

The Buck Folding Hunter 110 is the knife that set the standard for lock blade knives. First made in 1963 and by 1965 it was the worlds No.1 selling sports knife. 50+ years later and it’s still favored by hunters, outdoors-men and those that work with their hands. As one reviewer notes “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

Blade Steel – 420HC

Blade Shape – Clip Point

Blade Length – 3.75″

Closed Length – 4.875″

Weight – 7.2 oz

Handle – Dymondwood with Brass ends

Carry System – Genuine Leather Sheath, Black

Origin – USA

Specifications

The Kershaw Blur is lightweight, fast opening – Speadsafe Assisted -, general purpose knife that is loved by many. One-handed opening is also easy with SpeedSafe. The DLC (diamond-like carbon) coating on the blade gives it extra corrosion resistance and a look that mixes well with the anodized aluminum handle. Great knife for anyone who needs to cut or slice at a moments notice.

Blade Steel – Sandvik 14C28N, DLC coating

Blade Shape – Drop Point

Blade Length – 3.4″

Closed Length – 4.5″

Weight – 3.9 oz

Handle – 6061-T6 anodized aluminum, Trac-Tec inserts

Carry System – Reversible (tip-up/tip-down) pocketclip

Origin – USA

Specifications

Kershaw Leek could be described as a minimalistic gentleman’s pocket knife. With it’s modified 3″ drop point blade it’s very good for slicing and piercing. Ideally suited to opening packages, cutting cord, tape and zip ties. Don’t worry it has been tested well beyond these duties and still comes back for more. The Leek also has the Speedsafe assisted opening.

Blade Steel – Sandvik 14C28N

Blade Shape – Drop Point/Wharncliffe

Blade Length – 3″

Closed Length – 4″

Weight – 3 oz

Handle – 410 stainless steel, bead-blasted finish

Carry System – Reversible (tip-up/tip-down) pocketclip

Origin – USA

Specifications

Kershaw Brawler has become a popular everyday carry (EDC) knife for many people, though the blade shape is more often found on tactical and rescue knives. The tanto shape blade is great for performing piecing or punching tasks through tough materials. The blade is easy to sharpen and will hold a good edge. The Brawler has easy one-handed opening and is equipped with Speedsafe.

Blade Steel – 8Cr13MoV, black oxide coating

Blade Shape – Tanto Point

Blade Length – 3″

Closed Length – 4.1″

Weight – 3.9 oz

Handle – Glass-filled nylon (Zytel)

Carry System – 4-position pocketclip (tip-up/down, left/right)

Origin – China

Specifications

Victorinox Swiss Army Tinker knife comes equipped with 12 different tools – large blade, small blade, can opener, bottle opener, 3mm screwdriver, 5mm screwdriver, wire stripper, reamer-punch-sewing awl, Phillips srewdriver 1 – 2, toothpick, tweezers, key ring.
The Tinker is ideal for those whose situations change frequently – campers, hikers, travelers. It’s not only for those that wander as it performs well on everyday tasks around the home, office or garage.

Blade Steel – X55CrMo14

Blade Shape – Pen

Blade Length – 2.45″

Closed Length – 3.58″

Weight – 2.19 oz

Handle – ABS / Cellidor

Carry System – Pocket

Origin – Switzerland

Specifications

Victorinox Swiss Army Trekker has similar tooling to the Tinker with difference being the loss of the smaller blade for the addition of the saw. The main blade is also longer and comes in serrated and non serrated versions (NS signifies non-serrated). The blade on the Trekker opens with one hand and locks into place.

Blade Steel – X55CrMo14

Blade Shape – Pen

Blade Length – 3.5″

Closed Length – 4.38″

Weight – 4.5 oz

Handle – Polyamide

Carry System – Pocket

Origin – Switzerland

Specifications

Victorinox Swiss Army Huntsman comes equipped with 15 tools. The additional tools on the Huntsman are the scissors, corkscrew, hook. The corkscrew takes the place of the Phillips screwdriver. If the Phillips screwdriver is more use than the corkscrew, the Fieldmaster would be the choice of pocket knife.
These knives don’t seem to startle non-knife people like some of the other more tactical looking knives do.

Blade Steel – X55CrMo14

Blade Shape – Pen

Blade Length – 2.45″

Closed Length – 3.58″

Weight – 3.42 oz

Handle – ABS – Polished Black

Carry System – Pocket

Origin – Switzerland

Specifications

Syderco Delica®4 – the 4 on the end meaning fourth iteration of this model. The Delica is one of Spyderco’s top selling knives and with good reason. It’s lightweight and compact size make it perfect as an everyday carry (EDC) knife. The blade holds a good edge and is reasonable easy to sharpen. One-handed opening though not assisted. Range of color choices for the handle.

Blade Steel – VG-10

Blade Shape – Drop Point

Blade Length – 2.875″

Closed Length – 4.25″

Weight – 2.3 oz

Handle – FRN (fibreglass reinforced nylon)

Carry System – Tip-Up/Down – Left/Right

Origin – Japan

Specifications

Spyderco Endura®4 – like the Delica above it, is on it’s fourth iteration. The Endura is great knife for those that like a bigger blade pocket knife. This knife features a blade back lock mechanism, locking it securely open. Handles are available in a variety of colors. The 4-way clip allows for tip-up or down carrying and is ambidextrous.

Blade Steel – VG-10

Blade Shape – Drop Point

Blade Length – 3.75″

Closed Length – 5″

Weight – 3.4 oz

Handle – FRN (fibreglass reinforced nylon)

Carry System – Tip-Up/Down – Left/Right

Origin – Japan

Specifications

Spyderco Manix™2 goes a little above the $70 price but is worthy of note because it would be well suited to those that work or spend a lot of time outdoors. It features a ball-bearing securing the blade in the open position. The knife has no blade liners (not required) making it a very light weight folder. Bi-Directional texturing handle makes for good gripping in wet or uncertain conditions.

Blade Steel – CTS BD1

Blade Shape – Drop Point

Blade Length – 3.37″

Closed Length – 4.66″

Weight – 3 oz

Handle – FRCP (fiberglass reinforced co-polymer)

Carry System – Tip-Up – Left/Right

Origin – USA

In Summary

This was written with the idea to help you make a choice for the best pocket knife to give as a gift to the ‘mechanic’ (being a person that fixes things and knows the difference between a pipe wrench and a torque wrench) in your life. Hopefully, making the decision a little easier.

If you are looking for just one recommendation and taking into account a blade that will hold a good edge, is easy to sharpen, is easy to carry and won’t get you in trouble with the law and presents itself well if given as a gift.
Not forgetting reasonably priced.

With all those considerations the Spyderco Delica 4 is the best pocket knife of choice.

Looking for a way to really personalize the knife?

Consider having it custom engraved, on the blade or handle, with the name or a personal message.

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