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What is an EDC Knife? A Guide to Everyday Carry Knives

What is an EDC Knife? A Guide to Everyday Carry Knives

Aug 14th 2023

Definition of EDC Knife

An EDC knife refers to an everyday carry knife used and carried daily. This is not usually a large sized knife, but most often a folding pocketknife, a smaller fixed blade design or multi-tool that has a knife blade on board. We are talking about knives that go almost everywhere that you go.

Importance of EDC Knives in Daily Life

There are four things most people normally do not leave the house without: cell phone, knife, pen and flashlight. These are the four pillars of EDC and the knife may be the most important or have most thought put into it, It can cut things open, slice and prepare food, baton firewood, skin a deer or even be used for rescue or self-defense. It won’t be outdated in a few years like a smart phone if you maintain it properly.

Understanding Everyday Carry (EDC)

Defining the Concept of EDC

EDC refers to the items you carry with you every day. This is different for everybody but most of the basics are the same. For many people, EDC includes a holstered firearm and spare magazines. Other people limit their EDC to everything except a firearm and includes the basic tools to get through life. These are most often a quality knife, a flashlight, first aid kit, a pen, a phone, a watch and other gadgets and tools.

Why People Choose to Carry EDC Items

Some people may follow trends and try to keep up with what their friends are doing, but most people into EDC are into it because they are self-sufficient and know that there are things they need to use on a daily or weekly basis. You may have quit smoking, for example or never have smoked, but may find a lighter in your pocket to be efective and something you use often.

Role of a Knife in an EDC Setup

A knife is an essential part of EDC. Afterall it is mankind’s oldest tool and has been with us from the dawn of time. You may normally use it for the most innocuous reasons such as slicing an apple, opening boxes, cutting cord or pinch hitting in a restaurant where you’re eating a steak and the best “steak knife” they can offer is as dull as a butter knife.

Yet, the knife can transcend these humble tasks when you need it most. You may need it to baton wood in an outdoor setting if you need to build a fire. At the scene of an accident where someone’s seat belt is locked it can be used to cut the victim free. These may seem like extreme examples, but they happen on a nearly daily basis to people.

The Versatility of EDC Knives

You will always want an EDC knife to excel at your most typical cutting chores. A 12-inch fixed blade Bowie knife may be excellent in the woods or out in the desert for a survival or camping situation, but they do not fly at most offices on the belt of an IT guy, for example.

Various Types of EDC Knives (Folding Knife, Fixed Blade, Multi-Tool)

There are many different types of EDC knives available based on your needs. The most common of these is the folding knife. Folding knives have been around since the days of the Roman Empire, and they have improved massively over the past 20-30 years and continue to evolve.

At one time folding knives were considered weak and unreliable and only suited to the most mundane cutting tasks such as opening cardboard boxes or letters. Modern materials and lock systems have now made folders nearly as strong as a trusted fixed blade knife in many cases.

Opening types have gone beyond the nail nick of the buck 110 or the Swiss Army Knife (SAK). You can have a thumb stud on a Zero Tolerance knife, an opening hole on a Spyderco Delica or even a button to automatically deploy the blade to an open position.

Most folding knives have pocket clips to give you easy access to a blade in any circumstance.

Some people still swear by the fixed blade for accomplishing daily tasks. The problem with most fixed blades is they are designed for vertical carry on the belt and make it a little obvious that the person is carrying a knife. Small fixed blades with horizontal and even in pocket style sheaths are becoming more common.

Then there is the multi tool which gives you a variety of different options. Aside from the classic SAK, you now have multiple options with folding pliers as strong as any in a mechanic’s toolbox with multiple blades, drivers, files, etc.

Common Blade Shapes and Their Uses

When it comes to choosing a blade shape for your EDC knife the sky is the limit. It’s hard to beat a classic drop point for most daily tasks. Yet, if you are more outdoorsy and you engage in hunting, a clip point such as that found on a Bowie knife might make more sense as a skinning or caping blade.

If you have a rescue type knife in mind or something without a point there are the classic sheep’s foot and Wharncliffe styles but the razor or cleaver profile is making a comeback, too. Knives such as this excel at chopping and slicing over the more traditional blade styles and there is less chance of a stab or puncture wound while using the knife.

You can go the exotic route with a tanto or reverse tanto and several makers are rolling out miniaturized Kukri and Kris blades. Tantos are great for specialized cutting and slicing, particularly if you go the chisel grind or zero grind route.

For more information read our introduction to blade styles.

Handle Materials and Their Durability

Since the 1950s knife handles have become much more durable than the wood, plastic, Bakelite or other materials in the past. Micarta and G10 are stabilized forms of fiberglass that are virtually indestructible. For the uber high-tech connoisseur, carbon fiber is being used with more frequency because it is light and incredibly strong.

Factors to Consider When Choosing an EDC Knife

Blade Size and Shape for Specific Tasks

The size of your EDC knife is important for many reasons. A knife that is too big, heavy or awkward to carry or use will end up spending most of its life in a safe. Likewise, a knife that is too small may not be capable of performing the task at hand. Always ensure you have enough knife for the job.

Blade shapes are something to be aware of, unless you need the knife for a specific purpose most blade profiles can perform at 90% for any task that comes your way. Sometimes the choice is based solely on looks or in some cases your background may play a role. Fans of bushido may be drawn to a tanto blade or a fan of the old west may prefer a clip point blade.

The second most important issue with size and shape may be based on legality. Some states and cities in the US have restrictions on blade lengths or profiles.

Blade Material and Edge Retention

At one time, all serious knives were made from carbon steel because it was a relatively cheap steel, it was strong and retained a good edge. Stainless steels inhibited rust but were considered low grade because the steel used was an alloy with chromium which kept the knife from rusting but did not hold an edge well.

Steel manufacturers are now producing stainless steel alloys that not only take a sharp edge but retain it longer without the need for resharpening on a regular basis. Carbon and tool steel knives are still very popular with some folks, but the stainless-steel blade has proven itself to be the top contender for EDC knives.

Handle Design and Ergonomics

Knife handles continue to improve regarding shape and ergonomics. Sometimes you need to pick one up and hold it in your hand to see how it feels. You always want to watch for sharp edges where they’re not supposed to be and potential hot spots that can cause injury under heavy use.

Locking Mechanisms for Safety

While slip joint type knives without a lock are popular for children and older people who simply open envelopes or shipping boxes once in a while, most EDC knives make use of a locking mechanism. The lock back has been around for close to 80 years and is still one of the strongest when made properly. The Walker liner lock, Benchmade Axis lock and Spyderco compression locks offer different degrees of strength to a folding knife.

Carry Options (Pocket clip, Sheath, Lanyard)

Your father or grandfather might have carried a slip joint in his pocket, but today’s modern EDC knives most often have a pocket slip for ease of carry. Vertically hanging sheaths are being replaced with designs that have a moveable belt clip to carry horizontally, inside the waistband or in the pocket.

Maintenance and Care

Importance of Proper Knife Maintenance

Like any piece of gear that is used on a regular basis, knives need to be maintained and kept free of dirt or rust. The edge needs to be maintained if it starts getting dull to avoid injury.

Cleaning and Lubricating the Blade

It is important to clean a knife and lubricate it after use in order to promote corrosion resistance. A non-toxic lube such as vegetable, olive or mineral oil is all that is really needed and is preferred if you slice or cut food with it.

Sharpening Techniques for EDC Knives

If you are new to knife sharpening you may want to see how the manufacturer recommends sharpening it, specifically with regard to the angle of the blade. Some manufacturers offer compact sharpening kits or stones that can be carried in the pocket or in a pouch on the sheath.

Safe Handling and Storage

Always handle knives carefully and store them properly when not in use.

EDC Knives for Specific Activities

EDC Knives for Outdoor Enthusiasts (Camping, Hiking, Survival)

If you’re a hiker, hunter, backpacker, survivalist who spends a lot of time in the outdoors, you will probably need a larger EDC knife for those activities. Remember that ounces lead to pounds and pounds lead to pain before you stock up on machetes, axes and Bowie blades. Try to find a knife that combines a number of these function, so you don’t need to rely on too much gear.

EDC Knives for Urban Everyday Carry

Living the urban or suburban lifestyle means your EDC knife needs can be met with a smaller more compact blade. You won’t be butchering a wild hog, fashioning willow branches for shelter or batoning firewood, so your needs will be simpler.

EDC Knives for Self-Defense

The majority of people who carry a knife daily may never even think of using one for self-defense. They can be effective in this role if you take a training class with someone proficient in training such as Ernest Emerson, Bram Frank or Steve Tarani. Although you may not think of your daily carry knife as a weapon, be advised that most government agencies will see it as a weapon, first and a tool second.

Popular EDC Knife Brands and Models

Highlighting Reputable Knife Manufacturers

The price of knives can run the gamut from 11 cents to over a million dollars depending on what you are looking for. If a price seems to good to be true, see who the manufacturer is. The most popular reputable manufacturers are companies like Benchmade, CRKT, Microtech, Spyderco and TOPS. These companies offer great knives with outstanding customer service and warranties.

Reviews of Top EDC Knife Models

Knife reviews can be tricky because some reviewers do not see the intent of the knife,. A fighting knife will not always perform the task of slicing tomatoes and a filet knife will simply not baton firewood.

When looking for an EDC knife, try to read as many different reviews as possible to see if you are getting a perfect knife or if everyone thinks it’s a dud.

Budget-Friendly Options for Beginners

You don’t need to mortgage your home or take out a loan for a decent EDC knife nowadays. While inflation is hitting everyone, a good EDC knife can be had for under a $50 price point if you make good choices. Buck, Schrade, Boker and Cold Steel offer great knives in this category for about a C-note

Personalizing Your EDC Knife

Customization and Aftermarket Upgrades

A number of talented individuals and some companies offer aftermarket upgrades to many EDC knives. It is possible to purchase carbon fiber scales for many models or titanium scales for the lowly Swiss Army Knife to really change its appearance and add an extra degree of strength.

Adding Paracord Wraps or Decorative Elements

Another custom modification people perform on their knives is the addition of paracord elements. This started with fixed blades where users would wrap excess paracord on their sheathe or handles of fixed blade knives in case they needed paracord in an emergency. Fixed blade knives most often have a lanyard hole in the handle to aid with retention by making a large loop into which the user would place their wrist so to not worry about losing the knife.

This tradition has made its way to the pocket knife so a small braided lanyard, many times decorated with beads, could be used to quickly retrieve the knife from the pocket.

Engraving or Personal Markings

To truly make an everyday carry knife, personalized, you can have your name engraved on the blade or have decorative engraving or file work performed on the knife to make it more visually appealing. This is a point of personal preference for some people.


Recap of the Importance of EDC Knives

A good EDC knife can make or break your day. Whether you just open boxes with your knife or use it heavily in the outdoors, you will want a quality tool that cuts what it is supposed to and does not hurt to use or carry.

Encouraging Responsible EDC Knife Ownership

Always adhere to local laws regarding blade length, style, locking mechanism and opening mechanism when you carry one in your local area as well as those to where you travel. Knife ordinances can often be found on the Attorney General’s website of where you are traveling.

If you do not like your local knife laws or want to repeal a ban on automatic knives contact and participate in legislative hearings by leaving positive comments if you can.

Emphasizing the Practicality and Versatility of EDC Knives in Everyday Life

After posting a link to a knife article on social media, a long-time friend who lives in another part of the country posted, “Why does anybody need to carry a knife? Are you going off to war?” The answer given to them was, “I use a knife every day for opening boxes, cutting food, and working outdoors. I couldn’t imagine not having one o two quality blades in my pocket.”.

A good EDC knife may seem like a mundane tool for the most part, but it can be worth its weight in gold when you need it the most.