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Slip-Joint Knives Buyer’s Guide

For some people, carrying a 4-inch tactical folding knife that swings open with a flick of a wrist or the press of a button is a fantasy. Thanks to fear-mongering of Hollywood in the ’50s, switchblades were banned. In places like New York City, one-handed opening knives can earn you an uncomfortable experience with NYC’s finest. And in restrictive European nations like Germany, the law dictates knives can’t lock. As a result, some manufacturers have returned to a classic design: the slip-joint folding knife, sometimes called a non-locking folder.

Choosing an everyday carry (EDC) knife for jurisdictions with strict knife laws comes with its challenges. Usually, the blade must be short. Short blades are often attached to short handles — not friendly for fullsized hands. Plus, a non-locking folder means there’s always the chance the blade could close on you while in use. And, of course, is the knife legal? This comes before the questions of price, fit and finish, and appearance.

Keep in mind that the knives we reviewed are just that — reviews. This doesn’t mean all these knives are A-OK to carry the world over. RECOIL, this author, and online forums aren’t lawyers. Always do your own research.

slip-joint-knives-spyderco-inc-roadie-001
Make
Spyderco Inc.
Model
Roadie
OAL
5.08 inches
Blade Length
2.09 inches
Blade Material
N690Co stainless steel
Weight
1 ounce
MSRP
$80
URL
www.spyderco.com

slip-joint-knives-cold-steel-lucky-001
Make
Cold Steel
Model
Lucky
OAL
5.88 inches
Blade Length
2.63 inches
Blade Material
S35VN
Weight
1.2 ounces
MSRP
$130
URL
www.coldsteel.com

slip-joint-knives-case-xx-knives-smooth-persimmon-orange-bone-seahorse-whittler-001
Make
Case XX Knives
Model
Smooth Persimmon Orange Bone Seahorse Whittler
OAL
6.13 inches
Blade Length
2.25 inches
Blade Material
420HC stainless steel
Weight
3.2 ounces
MSRP
$98
URL
www.wrcase.com

slip-joint-knives-columbia-river-knife-and-tool-inc-journeyer-001
Make
Columbia River Knife & Tool Inc.
Model
Journeyer
OAL
6.5 inches
Blade Length
2.75 inches
Blade Material
8CR13MoV stainless steel
Weight
2.9 ounces
MSRP
$45
URL
www.crkt.com

slip-joint-knives-boker-plus-tech-tool-carbon-1-001
Make
Boker Plus
Model
Tech-Tool Carbon 1
OAL
6.57 inches
Blade Length
2.8 inches
Blade Material
12C27 stainless steel
Weight
2.1 ounces
MSRP
$50
URL
www.boker.de/us

slip-joint-knives-sog-specialty-knives-and-tools-sliptron-001
Make
SOG Specialty Knives & Tools
Model
Sliptron
OAL
6.9 inches
Blade Length
3 inches
Blade Material
8Cr13Mov stainless steel
Weight
2.9 ounces
MSRP
$60
URL
www.sogknives.com

slip-joint-knives-lansky-sharpeners-world-legal-knife001
Make
Lansky Sharpeners
Model
World Legal Knife
OAL
7 inches
Blade Length
2.75 inches
Blade Material
440C stainless steel
Weight
5.4 ounces
MSRP
$25
URL
www.lansky.com

Interrogating the Suspects

Spyderco Roadie

slip-joint-knives-spyderco-inc-roadie-002

411: Spyderco started designing the Roadie after the TSA proposed a rule in 2013 allowing small knives back on commercial flights after banning them following 9/11 attacks. Political pressure killed the rule, but Spyderco moved forward with this 1-ounce knife, featuring a way of opening the blade it dubs a Double Dent. This little puppy is made in Italy and comes in five colors.

Pros:

  • The sheepsfoot blade makes the knife look innocuous.
  • The Double Dent dimples at the tip of the blade are a design improvement from nail nicks.
  • The finger coil extends the grip for us big-handed folks.

Cons:

  • With only a lanyard hole, carrying options for this little number are limited.
  • For its size, the blade width is thick. Cutting ease might be affected after repeated sharpening.
  • $80 for this much knife is steep.

Cold Steel Lucky

slip-joint-knives-cold-steel-lucky-002

411: Cold Steel’s Lucky is a modern reimagining of the gentleman’s upscale penknife. Instead of multiple blades, the handle — big enough to wrap three fingers around — houses one smooth-edged blade and another serrated for more aggressive cutting. The Italian-made knife sports a pocket clip. It keeps its weight at 1.2 ounces by attaching the blade straight to the carbon-fiber handles.

Pros:

  • Two blades give you double the cutting area and the ability to adapt the knife to almost any cutting job at hand.
  • Aesthetically, the knife has more curves than Kate Upton.

Cons:

  • The second closed blade interferes with your grip.
  • The serrations are ground best for a left-handed person to use.
  • An MSRP of $130 ensures only gentlemen buy the knife.
  • With no liner, the blade scrapes at the carbon-fiber handle, creating black dust that looks like dirty oil.

Case Seahorse Whittler

slip-joint-knives-case-xx-knives-smooth-persimmon-orange-bone-seahorse-whittler-002

411: The distinguishing feature of Case’s Seahorse Whittler is the 2.25-inch Wharncliffle blade, straining forward from the handle. A pen and a coping blade, each about 1.25 inches, back up the main edge. Added up, the ensemble totals to over 4.5 inches of knife, polished at Case’s factory in Bradford, Pennsylvania. Handle options also include G-10 and other shades of bone.

Pros:

  • The angle of the Wharncliffe blade provides some powerful cutting.
  • The traditional-looking knife is a style statement.
  • Three blades mean there could be one for food prep, one for sharpening pencils, one for minor surgery, etc.

Cons:

  • There’s no lanyard or pocket clip, limiting carrying options.
  • Even opening and closing the knife put scratches on the mirror-finished blade.
  • Bone, being a natural material, will not last as long as synthetic components.

CRKT Journeyer

slip-joint-knives-columbia-river-knife-and-tool-inc-journeyer-002

411: Designer Liong Mah, who works in New York City, wanted to design an EDC tool for regions with tough rules on locking mechanisms and blade lengths. The Journeyer features a 2.75-inch, hollow-ground blade that comes in the choice of half-serrated or straight edge. While it’s a slip-joint, there’s a pin in the pommel that users can insert to lock the blade. The pin doubles as a wrench.

Pros:

  • The stonewash finish invites hard use.
  • The T-6 torque wrench works on the knife’s pivot screw — a self-fixing tool!
  • Serrations allow this knife to take on bigger cutting tasks, like sawing rope.

Cons:

  • The pin has popped out of its place in the pommel.
  • For some locales, having a one-handed opening knife, like the Journeyer, can be a no-no.
  • Words to describe the clip: small, pointy, stiff.

Boker Plus Tech-Tool Carbon 1

slip-joint-knives-boker-plus-tech-tool-carbon-1-002

411: Boker, which has ground blades since 1869, updated the multitool concept with the Tech-Tool Line. With carbon-fiber scales, the Carbon 1 is the most recent evolution in a line that offers variations with G-10 handles and additional tools like saws and scissors. Each one, though, comes with a hollow-ground blade, clip, glass-breaker, and reasonable price point because they’re made in Taiwan and China.

Pros:

  • The mirror-finished blade opens with a decisive snap. That’s German engineering for ya.
  • Why aren’t more EDCs outfitted with glass-breakers?
  • The clip was smooth slipping in and out of pockets.

Cons:

  • With everything else fitted and polished to a crisp, it’s disappointing to see the blade loosening on the knife.
  • There’s nothing to prevent the hand from sliding onto the blade.

SOG Sliptron

slip-joint-knives-sog-specialty-knives-and-tools-sliptron-002

411: The SOG Sliptron is a no-frills EDC knife made in Taiwan. It’s made from stainless steel from tip to pommel and weighs 2.9 ounces. It may not have a lock, but the spring holding the blade in place falls into a grove when the blade is opened, securing the business end open. Of the knives featured here, this one’s the thinnest.

Pros:

  • It takes a good push to close the blade.
  • An acute point and shallow grind, makes a blade designed for one thing: cutting.
  • Tactical feel? Legal design? You can have the best of both worlds.

Cons:

  • Despite grooves on the side, metal handles don’t provide much grip.
  • Its thinness is ideal for pocket carry, but there’s no clip.
  • Branding much? SOG engraved its logo into the blade and cut it out in the handle.

Lansky World Legal Knife

slip-joint-knives-lansky-sharpeners-world-legal-knife-002

411: In creating the World Legal, designer Mikkel Willumsen attempted to marry tactical aesthetics with requirements to carry in 156 countries. The Chinese-made knife looks like a rhinoceros, what with a black nylon handle and the blade’s dynamic grinds. It weighs in at 6 ounces and can hang from a lanyard hole or the handle’s four places to reposition the clip.

Pros:

  • World Legal comes with a full handle, one you can really grip.
  • The edge’s S-curve maximizes the blade’s cutting ability.
  • Its price of $25 is just right for our wallets.

Cons:

  • Thanks to its massively powerful spring, ready the Band-Aids should the blade snap on your hand.
  • Wide blade and some delicate work don’t mix.
  • 440C steel is a deal-breaker for hard-core knife nuts.

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