Things to consider:
Blade Steel: Think of AUS-8/ 8CR14MoV as the .380ACP of knife steels, some think it’s barely adequate, other inadequate. VG10 (Spyderco) or CPM154 (Benchmade) would be steps above AUS-8 in terms of keeping a good edge. ZDP-189, CPM S90v/S110V or M390 would be in the top tier of knife steels, currently being used. Generally as the edge retention goes up, so does the difficulty in sharpening, but the frequency that is required goes down. In a lot of cases these super steels can rust, compared to a more stainless, but often softer steel. There are some old steels like D2, which is a “machine steel” that have awesome edge retention at the expense of rusting if not cared for. (side note, if the Rat 2 comes out in D2, I’ll be first on line to purchase it)
Weight/Size: If it’s too heavy or big it’s likely to not be carried, but it should be big enough to handle your day to day tasks of cutting boxes and apples. Your pocket knife should be able to be pressed into harder service without a fear of failure. I put my requirement at nothing heavier then ¼ of a pound (4 oz), with 3 ounces even better.
Blade Length: I wanted about ~3 inches of blade, which I deemed as useful, but not scary to the sheeple. So some of the keychain knifes are just too small for general purpose.
Blade Shape: I wanted a blade with a bit of belly as they tend to be better slicers, something with a bit of a point that can pierce without being too delicate. I ruled out wharncliffe and tanto designs.
Locking mechanism: There are many types of blade locking mechanisms like liner, compression, back or other style of blade locking. Some types allow for easier one handed deployment, but all of them should be suitable for a medium duty EDC blade. I would stay away from a non-locking blade if it’s your only knife unless you have some legal restrictions. I happen to love my Swiss Army Tourist it has great utility, but it’s a light duty knife, and risk fingers on some types of tasks that have the potential to put pressure on the spine of the blade.
Scales: Scales can be made from metal, plastic or G10, but I think the shape (or ergonomics) of the handles are even more important. If possible you should put your hands on your future purchase, if you can.
Carry Options: Do you want to use a pocket clip? If so is it tip up or tip down. Is it important how deep it rides in your pocket, do you need to be more discrete or if an inch sticks out is it OK? Do you have the need for a lanyard hole, do you need to dummy cord it to yourself when you are out in the woods or over water?
Cost: Do you lose your EDC items often or are you one to keep track of your stuff? Losing a $20 knife is less painful than losing a $100 knife and only you know how much you can afford. Do you like to carry the same item every day or do you like to rotate what you carry, if so a couple of cheaper items might be better than a single expense item? There are a lot of nice knives in all the price ranges and we will look at a couple.
Here is a list of some of the knives that I looked at as possible options to become my next carry knife, after carrying the Benchmade Triage 915 which is a great knife, tough as nails, but it weight 5.1 ounces and the scales are so grippy that when you reach into your pocket for other items it just about rips up your hand.
|Make/Model||Blade Length (in)||Blade Steal||Weight (oz)||Price||Notes|
Not a fan of steel scales
|3||AUS-8A||2.3||$16.72||About the most minimum a knife can be|
|Ontario RAT II
|3||AUS-8||2.75||$26.21||Just a great budget knife|
|Benchmade – Mini Griptilian
|2.91||154Cm||2.68||$89.25||Lots of reports about bad heat treatment|
|Kershaw Leek||3||Sandvik 14C28N
|3||$42.76||Needle point is a bit too fine|
|Spyderco Delica 4
|One of the most popular EDC blades|
|Spyderco Delica 4 (ZDP)
|2.875||ZDP-189||2.5||$95.95||Great steel, bit spendy for an EDC knife that can be lost|
Not a fan of steel scales
I had some personal requirements and your milage might vary. I wanted super deep pocket carry, which no one really had, so there needed to aftermarket options, but that would only be available for the Benchmade or Syderco. Secondly, I really want to try a “super steel” and the Spydero has so many great reviews and such a long track record that I decided to go with the ZDP-189 edition.
I haven’t had it long enough to know, but so far it seems great, it doesn’t have the quickest or slicked one-hand opening, but the blade is the sharpest blade I have ever owned and the handle is very comfortable.