Benchmade and Spyderco are the leaders in the folding knives industry, but at the end of the day you aren’t always going to choose both. Eventually, you’ll have to whittle down your options and make a final decision, but with such great choices it can be a challenge. Instead of stressing about which knife to get, let us help you find out why each has its own merits to consider.
Both of these manufacturers are well-known for producing a variety of pocketknives made from high-quality materials and designed to be effective for everyday carrying (EDC) as much as they are for tactical jobs. Spyderco has been in business since the 1970s, making some of the best folding knives that you’ll find within a budget-friendly realm. What sets them apart, though, is that they also have a selection of higher quality knives that are a bit more expensive, but still worth every penny.
Benchmade has plenty of history, too, but their focus right now is on the future. They have invested heavily in manufacturing and use some of the most durable, high-quality steels that are available today.
The Popularity of the Everyday Carry Knife
No matter how much technology evolves and how many gadgets come out on the market, there is always going to be a high demand for the EDC folding knife. Across the entire globe, this is one of the most sought-after tools and knives date all the way back to the Stone Age, when they were simple, crudely sharpened rocks or stones. Their versatility and usefulness are seemingly endless, and the selection of fixed and folding knives prove just how popular they really are.
Whether you’re looking for a knife for everyday use around the house, garage, or shop, or if you need a tactical knife that will take care of anything out in the field, Benchmade and Spyderco have the perfect knife in their collection. The EDC knife can help prepare meals, chop kindling, and can even act as a self-defense tool when you’re out camping. It can even be used to help with dressing a wound or cutting the seatbelt in a vehicle during an emergency.
With so many different uses available, the list of what these knives can’t do is far shorter. For those who prefer to buy American-made knives, companies like these two are the ones to beat when it comes to the everyday carry pocketknife or folding knife. Of course, they also have their own place and uses to consider, so it’s really important to explore both options. This guide will help you learn more about each manufacturer, what they are known for, and which EDC knives from each truly deliver the best performance and function.
Benchmade is a company that was founded in 1979 under the Bali-Song name, as it was originally created for the manufacturing of Bali Song (butterfly-style) knives. Upon releasing the Benchmade model, the company decided to expand its offerings because of its popularity and in no time, the company was growing faster than they could keep up. They are notorious for winning the Knife of the Year award from Blade Magazine in 1979 for the original design of the Bali-Song knife.
Since the beginning, Benchmade has been doing things differently. The company is no longer known for the butterfly blades that started their success, but they are still very well known among knife enthusiasts, outdoorsmen, hunters, and others. These knives are known for things like blade quality, handle materials, and their mechanisms and uses.
Every single knife includes a lifetime warranty when you make your purchase directly or from an authorized retailer. Blade materials are all different types of steel, with materials chosen based on the intended use of the knives. All the steel grades and types used, however, are corrosion-resistant stainless steel.
Since 1976, Spyderco has been working out of Colorado to deliver some of the best knives available. Although the company was founded on the concept of high-quality knives, the first tool they designed was the Portable Hand, which was shaped like a spider and featured angles, alligator clips, and ball joints. The ideal goal was for use with small parts, such as in jewelry or crafting. This was popular for a couple of years, but eventually they started producing knives.
In 1981, they produced the first folding knife that featured a round hole so that it could be opened with either hand—or opened with only one hand. It was also the first knife that they ever produced as a manufacturer. This became the company’s trademark and today many still consider it among the best of the best in basic pocketknives.
While Spyderco produces a number of folding knives, they also have a growing selection of fixed blade knives for those who want something different. Either way you go, you’ll be able to rely on knives made from various premium grades of stainless steel that feature impressive edge retention and two different locking mechanisms for safety.
The Knives: The Best of the Best from Both Brands
Now that you know a little more about each brand and what their knives deliver, here’s a glimpse at a few of the most popular EDC and tactical knives from each, including their best features and what makes people keep coming back for them time and time again. Below, you’ll find two of the bestselling knives from Benchmade and two of Spyderco’s hottest items, just to give you a glimpse of how they stack up.
The Griptilian is a great tactical and EDC knife because of its namesake handle. The injection-molded handle provides an impressive grip in a host of messy conditions and it can be by your side for just about any occasion. It’s not one of those great tactical knives that won’t also double as a handy day-to-day tool—it truly does it all.
This blade features superior edge retention and the design of the knife makes it a great choice for beginners and pros alike. It can be opened from the left or right and carried on either side, as well, making it easy to handle for just about anyone. The only real drawback is, of course, also the biggest selling point—that super-grip handle can be rough on the hands when you’re using it for intensive work.
- Impeccable grip for any conditions
- Industry-leading edge retention
- Ambidextrous use
The Infidel is another top-rated EDC knife from Benchmade, offering something slightly different than the standard flip-open pocketknife design. More for tactical use, this knife is one of the most famous produced by the company to date. It offers stable, durable, rugged construction and can be useful in several different situations.
This knife is popular among outdoor enthusiasts as much as military personnel, and everyone in between. The slide feature allows for easy storage and quick deployment, while the strong D2 steel blade keeps its edge impressively over time, even with rugged use. The handle is made from anodized aluminum and there is also the option between fixed and folding models for those who want something different.
- Black or satin finish available for blade
- Ergonomic design makes it easy to work with in either hand
- Solid lock ensures safety when not in use
The Spyderco Bradley is the first flipper-style folding knife from Gayle Bradley, and one of the most famous knives ever manufactured by the brand. This knife is distinguished by its unique precision blade that is machined from CPM M4 tool-quality steel, which offers extreme retention of the blade edge, even with the most rigorous uses and repeated tasks. It can go anywhere and do anything, and it offers a plain edge and a flat grind, along with a solid titanium handle.
The knife’s textured detail and orange peel finish provides the perfect comfortable grip that’s also strong enough to handle any job. This knife is one of the most expensive from the brand, but you can’t put a price on this kind of quality. No matter where you go or how often you use your EDC knife, the Advocate will be the perfect companion for everything that you need.
- Round hole design for use with both hands
- Index finger flipper makes opening a breeze
- Clip for easy carrying in any pocket or bag
Spyderco Karahawk G10
If you are looking for a unique knife, the Karahawk G10 delivers. This model was inspired by the karambit that comes from Asia, featuring a curved hawkbill blade that is crafted from VG-10 stainless steel using precision machining methods. Unlike the other three tactical knives discussed here, we wanted to offer you a glimpse of something truly different in the world of EDC knives. Granted, the Karahawk might not be as handy for jobs that require a longer blade, but the ergonomics and uses are impressive.
This knifes offers an Emerson opening and the trademark round hole design, along with a back lock that can hold up to the roughest use. The textured G-10 steel scales on the handle ensure that you never lose your grip, and the compact design makes it great for anyone to take along, no matter how much room they have to spare.
- Unique curved design
- Smaller size offers a more compact, portable EDC
- Emerson Opening offers additional grip support
How to Buy the Best EDC Knives
You’ve heard about the two leading manufacturers of everyday carry and tactical knives. You’ve read the reviews of their bestselling products. Now, hopefully, you have a little more insight about your options and what knives are going to do best. Once again, knives come in all styles and types, designed for any number of uses. Fortunately, when you’re in the everyday carry market, you’re generally going to find a little bit of everything, from clever designs like the Karahawk to the reliable appeal of the Griptilian from Benchmade.
How, then, are you supposed to choose the best knives if you have so much selection? It starts by taking the time to get an idea of what you want. Fortunately, we’re here to help. You’ll want to look at the type of knife, it’s intended uses, the blade material and size, and other details to ensure that you get the ideal knife. No matter what you buy from Benchmade or Spyderco, you’re sure to love it. Still, though, it makes sense to get the right knife for your needs.
Does Price Matter?
Let’s get the big question that everyone wants to avoid out of the way first: where do these brands fall on price? Although we’ve reviewed some of the higher-end models, both offer their own selection of more affordably priced knives. Spyderco does have a slightly better selection of budget-friendly options, while Benchmade may have a few but their primary focus is actually on premium EDC knives.
Price is what you make it, really. You shouldn’t base your entire decision on the cost of the knife, but you do need to make sure that it’s within your budget. If you’re looking to buy an affordable folding knife, for example, that should be your priority. If, however, you want to find the best knife regardless of the cost, focus on the features and look more toward Benchmade for premium and unique designs.
Folding vs. Fixed Blade
The biggest difference between folding and fixed blade knives, when all other considerations are comparable, is the size. After all, a folding knife can easily collapse into half its size, while a fixed-blade knife will remain the same size and be more difficult to carry around in some cases. Of course, this eliminates the entire purpose of an “everyday carry” knife when you can’t really carry it around every day.
Folding knives do get a little bit of bad publicity because they’re known to be difficult to clean and often more likely to fail. Of course, when you’re looking at brand like Spyderco and Benchmade, failure of the folding mechanism or other breakage seems like it wouldn’t be likely. The future is changing but historically, these were the two biggest complaints about folding knives.
Usually, this will end up being a matter of portability or personal preference. Beyond that, it doesn’t necessarily matter whether you choose folding or fixed blade knives for your next everyday carrier.
On a pocketknife, a lock mechanism is just an everyday requirement. It keeps everyone safe and ensures that no one is going to get injured unnecessarily. With a fixed blade, you may not have the option for a safety beyond the sheath in which the knife is stored. Folding blades, however, typically include an axle lock or a thumb lock that keeps the knife in its closed position when it isn’t in use.
If you really want to get into the nitty-gritty details, there are also liner locks, frame locks, back locks, mid locks, ring locks, and lever locks available on a variety of brands and styles of folding pocketknives. As long as the mechanism is designed well and isn’t part of any reviews that cite damage or difficulty using the locking feature, it’s likely going to serve you well regardless of how it actually works.
Ergonomics and Handle Construction
One thing that people don’t realize about pocketknives like those made by Benchmade and Spyderco is that their ergonomics are all about giving you a tool that you can use comfortably. Much like the locking system, which needs to be effective and still something that you can operate, your new knife should have a sturdy, well-designed handle and an ergonomic finish. That way, when you’re out working in the field or just performing everyday tasks, your hands won’t get as fatigued and you will be able to keep a better grip.
Handles on EDC knives should always have some kind of texture or rubberization in order to provide the maximum grip and improve safety. Handles are best when they are forged out of durable metal materials, but even composite and plastic handles will do the job as long as they provide some kind of grip or texture to ensure that the knife is still easy to use.
A pocketknife might not be something that’s on the top of your list for ergonomic features, but just realizing that you can find styles that are easy on the hands could make your outdoor adventures that much more enjoyable.
Mode of Action
For folding knives, you’ll have your choice of four modes of action that are responsible for deploying the blade. A lot of premium knives are manual action, meaning that you can get a longer blade, but you’ll have to do all the work of opening the knife on your own. Thumb-assisted knives are pretty common, offering either a thumb hole that you can use to release the blade or a set of thumb screws that will help you. For those looking for a knife that doesn’t require urgency, these two options are a good way to go.
Spring-assisted and non-spring assisted knives will also have to be considered in your purchase. Spring-assisted knives include an integrated spring that will allow the blade to “pop” open and be ready in no time, saving you the manual effort of pulling the blade yourself all the while. There are also non-spring assisted knives, which engage through a different mechanism to fold completely into their shell. These will often be the most difficult to engage, but they provide durable, long-lasting use once they are opened.
The Benefits of Having an EDC Folding Knife
While there’s a time and a place for fixed blades, we’re going to stick by the fact that they just aren’t usually well-suited for everyday use and carrying. They’re often bulky, and while they can be a quite bit more effective than many folding models, they don’t really serve the convenience and compact size that is expected of everyday knives. Therefore, let’s talk for a minute about some of the benefits of choosing a high-quality EDC knife from these two manufacturers or anyone else that makes reputable tactical gear and knives.
When you have a proper folding knife that you carry around daily, you’ll always be prepared for tasks that require cutting, slicing, or other related knife skills. You can trust that whether you’re working in the garage or out off the grid enjoying nature, you’ll have a tool that will do so many things and provide you with a great tactical and practical investment.
Folding knives can be used for safety when you are out in the world, whether it’s camping, a dangerous area, or anything else. As mentioned above, you can even use these knives to cut seatbelts in case of an emergency and handle other serious safety tasks like assisting with wound dressing, and more.
Plenty of Uses
There is truly no limit to what you can use your pocketknife for, which is part of the reason they were given their name in the first place. An everyday knife is going to be just as good at handling simple tasks around the house as it would be helping to trim kindling or for protection on your next camping trip. That’s why it is important for you to do the research and find the pocketknife that will offer you the maximum potential.
Who’s the Winner?
Now that you’ve got a little more information about the best two brands of everyday knives, you’ll be better prepared to decide which model is best for your needs. The clear winner here is you, the consumer—thanks to brands like these two, you now have access to more stylish, effective, and useful everyday carry knives that will stay sharp and provide many years of use. If you’re on more of a budget, Spyderco is the place to start. If, however, you just want the best knife for daily use, you could fare well from the budget-friendly selection available from Benchmade.