I originally started out looking for the 5 best folders for every day carry under $30. Honestly, this section of the market has so many great options that it’s impossible to say these 5 are the best out there. What I can say is they are inexpensive and designed well. When you look at knives in this market segment the only place you’ll really be sacrificing anything is in the steel. These knives will lose an edge much faster than other more expensive knives, but they still do the exact same thing that knives that cost $300 or more do! There isn’t a single knife here that I wouldn’t carry myself. They’re all that good.
Now, in no particular order…
Kershaw Cryo 1555TBW Tanto
One of my favorite inexpensive blades of all times now comes in a tanto! Everything that makes the original Cryo an excellent EDC folder still holds true for this model. The tanto blade is deployable with either hand due to its dual thumb studs and the signature flipper. The flipper originally took me awhile to get used to but after carrying it for a few days it feels much more natural to open it with the flipper than the thumb studs. It comes with what Kershaw calls their BlackWash finish. It’s adequate and I don’t have anything bad to say about it. It will more come down to your personal preference than anything else.
The clip is strong and the design is excellent, allowing for a super deep carry in the pocket. In fact I wish some of my knives that cost 10x what this one does would copy this design for their clips. The frame lock is strong and holds the blade in place securely with almost no wiggle to be found. The blade length is only 2.75″ which may turn some people off. I prefer a larger blade but never found myself wanting a longer blade while I was carrying it.
If you’re not a tanto fan, the original can be found here.
Ontario RAT I
The Ontario RAT I is another great inexpensive blade. It was a toss up between this and the RAT II when I was reviewing these. Ultimately, I decided on the RAT I because it’s a couple dollars cheaper and packs a 3.75″ blade. I definitely like the feel of the larger blade. This version of the RAT has a black finish which looked good initially, but didn’t seem like it would hold up for very long with any kind of extended use. That being said, the blade opened smoothly, was razor sharp right out of the box and the liner lock held it firmly in place. The nylon handle felt good in the hand and it came with a 4 position clip. The clip leaves a little bit more of the blade exposed than I really like but for under $30 I can see why these knives have such a strong following.
Columbia River Knife and Tool (CRKT) Squid
The CRKT Squid is a little guy that feels great in the hand and the pocket. All of its edges are smooth and it rides low in the pocket due to the clip design. I did find the clip to be a little tight on the pocket but not anything to complain about. The blade is only 2.25″ but the real selling point for this little guy is the fact that even though it is so small, it still manages to feel large enough for day to day tasks. The charcoal colored finish seemed strong enough to last for a while with normal tasks. I’m sure if you used it for some heavy cutting you’d notice some wear, but that can be said about most finishes.
The clip can only be used in one position, so if you prefer a different ride in the pocket it may not be for you. I never use lanyard loops but I didn’t find the loop on the Squid to be to obtrusive. If you’re looking for a small blade that rides well, then you can’t do much better than the Squid considering its less than $20 price point.
Cold Steel Micro Recon 1 Tanto
Cold Steel has a reputation for making good budget minded knives and the Micro Recon 1 Tanto lives up to that reputation. This little tanto is small. There’s no pocket clip, instead it sports a keyring in what would be a lanyard hole in a normal sized blade. The handle is G10 material and the overall construction is very solid. The 2″ blade deploys easily and locks firmly in place. I don’t really recommend the Micro Recon as your primary blade. It’s just too small to do some tasks easily. Rather I recommend putting it on your key ring and having it there as a back-up. It really excels in that role. If you already have a knife that you EDC, this would make a great companion for a larger blade.
If you don’t like the tanto blade, the spearpoint model has exactly the same features and can be found here.
Victorinox Swiss Huntsman II
The Huntsman II is my wildcard in the line-up. I actually got this as a gift a while ago and never even opened it. After breaking it out for this article, I have to say I’m really impressed! I have a tendency to want any knife I carry to be able to be used in a defensive manner. That has always kept me away from carrying a Swiss Army knife. Having carried this Victorinox around for awhile, I’m starting to think I may have been missing out all these years! It claims it has 15 functions but only about half of those are really of any use. Luckily for the Huntsman II that’s still plenty. The number of times that all of these extra tools become useful throughout the day is crazy. I pulled this out of my pocket way more than any of the other knives in this review, both for myself and people around me. In today’s age of tacticool everything, you get some funny looks when you pull out an old school Victorinox. That is until the cool guy with the Benchmade stiletto realizes that he can barely use his knife to open a box, let alone for anything else.
What’s your favorite EDC blade under $30? Comment below and let us know! We love to hear from our readers.
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