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Best knives under $20?

Oct 3, 1998
There are a lot of really good knives out there for over $100. There are a lot of really bad knives out there for under $10. Sometimes this is an orderly universe.

There are, however, some bargains out there.

What are your favorites, among knives that you can buy, at "retail-list," and get change back from a US$20 bill?

(before taxes, at least, for comparison's sake for folks in Europe, et al.)

Some items that stand out for me are the Frosts of Sweden (not to be confused with Frost Cutlery) line of plastic-handled and plastic sheathed 4" fixed-blade utility knives in stainless or carbon steel, which will do a lot of work for $10 - $14. Models 740 and 760 (Craftsman - hard molded plastic with integral guard), 840 and 860 (Clipper - soft grip). Kellam imports a $16 "all purpose" knife in industrial-finish forged carbon steel and a molded red plastic handle, with a light-duty plastic sheath.

Opinel, ye olde French pocket knife in carbon steel (and now also stainless), with two-handed opening and a separate two-handed motion to lock) is another bargain in a pure cutting tool for folks who are not in a hurry.


The CRKT wrangler, and it's friends, are a great deal in a lockback at about $18. Not Ats34, but it got me through 4 years of teaching kids how to sharpen a knife
I have a couple of 3"blade kitchen utility knives that I bought at the local knife store about 10 years ago. They have plastic handles and a plastic blade cover w/drain holes. I say blade cover as there is no way to attach these to a belt or anything. They are stamped "Suncraft" on the handle, "Damco No Stain" on the blade. These cost about $10 each, are easy to sharpen and we use them at work to cut food up for lunch. The blade style is the chef/utility style and works well for almost everything. The blade cover keeps the blade edge from getting beat up in the desk drawer and travels well too. These are made in Japan, I've also seen them with wooden handles and blade covers for about $15. Real good inexpensive tool.

[This message has been edited by Brian Lavin (edited 10-23-98).]
One of my favorite knives is a CQC7 knockoff from Hi-Tech. Actually it is a knife by the manufacturer Master, but they don't sell anything directly. I got mine for $15 from SMKW. It's the fastest knife I own, and I can open it with a twitch of my wrist. It's the one I keep next to me on my nightstand.
Right now my daily utility blade is a Tomahawk brand XL312 linerlock. It's got a black aluminum handle, brass thumb stud, and an almost three-inch drop point blade. It was under twenty bucks and is a very sturdy little knife, though I removed the badly engineered pocket clip and carry it in a horizontal nylon pouch on my belt.


The above mentioned, expecially JKM's are great tough knives for under $20.

My vote goes under the "really handy knife under $20" catagory. It is the Wedge neck knife. What a handy little dropped edge knife! The Wedge has a good sheath system and costs only pocket change. It presents well to cutting surfaces and has a natural guard. Now if it were only made of 440V or heck, even AUS-8.

I am looking forward to trying out the illustrious Wedge 2. Could either of these be a weapon if needed? Well, the person brandishing it makes it a weapon, and I think I could make do with it if I had to defend myself as a last resort, especially with the natural guard and secure grip. I wonder how far the tang goes (strength)?.

I think the best bang-for-buck in a fighter is the Newt Livesay Woo. OK, it's $25, we're barely past James' limit...but what the heck, honest steel, custom made, kydex sheath yet?

Heck ya. Five of these, one up each sleeve, one per ankle, one behind neck, you couldn't ask for better armament for the money.

Jim March
The Gerber LST lockback. Indestrucible Zytel handle, good lock, same super high quality 400 series stainless cutlery steel as their premium models

I beat the heck out of one for about four years and never did manage to break it. Held an edge OK, took an OK edge, and was just generally good at everything, but at less than the cost of a large pizza!

Great little knives.

How about a Spyderco Ladybug. Also the Stiff K.I.S.S. Both of these should be under $20.00 and are both good little knives.
I agree on the Stiff KISS. Its really a neat knife to play around with. I cant complain about getting a decent little knife with a multi-carry system for 19.95. Good gift for the upcoming holidays.
I'm very partial to my Opinel. It takes a great edge, has a reliable lock, and has more
charm than any plastic handled knife that I've owned. I wouldn't wamt to hack my way through a car door with one, but as a cutting tool, you get a lot of value for the money.
I love to use and abuse my little Schrade Sharpfinger OT152.
Really really usefull and easy to resharp.

A couple of nominees...

Schrade op158 Sharpfinger w/guthook.
My first gut hook, love it! 19.95

I bought my son his first knife 2 weeks ago.
He got a buck 444, which is a solid lockback,
no play, locks well. $14.95. He's 5 years old, BTW.

This is kind of on this topic.
I'm looking for a less than $20 fixed blade to put in my earthquake/emergency grab-and-go kit. I normally have a decent folder with me, so I'm looking for a larger field/utility knife. The kit is usually under my desk at work so I really don't want to leave a $100 knife there.

Anybody have any experience with the Cold Steel Bushman? Any other suggestions?


[This message has been edited by quandw (edited 10-25-98).]
I haven`t tried one out yet myself but the Buck Mentor seems like it might be a decent knife for the money. More of a "real knife" than the Bushman and only $19.99. I`ve been meaning to pick up the mini Mentor just cuz it`s cute and I could use a decent little utility fixed blade I don`t have to worry about beating up. Give em a look. Marcus
The Swedish Mora is my favorite when I want a good, sharp fixed blade. And the cheapest of them that I have seen cost only about 2 dollars. Mine cost 3. I also have 2 extras (got them from my aunt who didn't need them), but they don't have a fingerguard, so I bought one with it.
Their handles are tough plastic (I haven't really tried to break one, but I guess they could take quite a bit of punishment before breaking). The blades are carbon steel, REALLY sharp, so you don't have to spend time with sharpening them before putting them into some serious use.
Some more expensive models of them are also available (like Mora 2000) but they seem to be a bit hard to find, because the basic-models are everywhere.
Coming from an Eagle Scouts point of view being 30 now (lol). Best bang for the Buck is a Buck 110, easily found on sale before tax 20$. Timeless design and comfortable to the grip. Not a high-tech design, but a beautiful and functional design. Also the Shrade old timer folder same dimensions as the Buck. Been around for years. Hell of a first time blade for the beginner. Hade mine for almost 20 years now (Buck 110).
I abused a bushman this summer, hacked through trees for the heck of it, and tossed it at trees(dead) quite a but. The blade stayed reletifly sharp, although the grind is very strange, parts are double bevel, others are single. Pretty rust resistant also(left one weekend with mud on the blade by accident, no ill effects.