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Unusual Suspects: Lightweight Folding Knives

A folding knife isn’t particularly heavy in and of itself. But when you consider your daily loadout of keys, wallet, smartphone, concealed pistol, holster, extra magazine, and — well, you get the picture.

So, we’re balancing the pros and cons of lightweight folding knives which, for the sake of argument, we’ll call anything 3 ounces or lighter.

A lighter folder won’t bog you down as much as a hefty one. Plus, it tends to be made of fewer components to keep the weight down, so it takes up less pocket real estate.

On the flip side, a tool that weighs next to nothing doesn’t provide sufficient leverage for heavy-duty chores. And there’s something to be said about accidental droppings. No, we’re not talking about “sharting.” We mean letting it slip from our hands. Don’t believe you’ll drop something so precious regardless of its weight? Ask yourself this: Have you ever dropped your 6-ounce iPhone while relaxing at home? Compare that to the number of times you’ve dropped a 3-pound hammer while working on a project.

Of course, you should always pick the right tool for the job. There’s no shame in leaving a beefy knife at home should your task call for something more petite. Perhaps one of these low-carb options here will fit a specific need you might soon have.


Make: Coast Products
Model: FX200
OAL: 5.4 inches
Blade Length: 2 inches
Blade Material: 3Cr13 stainless steel
Weight: 1.4 ounces
MSRP: $15

The flyweight in this battle royale is also the shortest and slimmest. It makes total sense that the FX200 can also play double duty as a money clip, since it weighs 1.4 ounces and stands 3.4 inches when closed. Plus, it has an integrated bottle opener on the butt end to increase its utility. Not meant to be a primary knife when SHTF, this frame-lock folder is an affordable option if you want to wring out more functionality from a money clip.

> Hard to beat the $15 MSRP
> Works as a money clip and a bottle opener
> The Chinese 3Cr13 blade steel was shockingly effective at slicing (though we had to resharpen it after our testing).

> Its small size doesn’t give our medium-sized hands much to grab onto, making for a slow and cautious draw — not ideal for deployment in self-defense situations.
> Sorry, lefties, the pocket clip is fixed in one position.


Make: SOG Specialty Knives & Tools
Model: Twitch II
OAL: 6.2 inches
Blade Length: 2.65 inches
Blade Material: AUS-8 stainless steel
Weight: 2.6 ounces
MSRP: $71

This handsome devil is the next step in the lockback knife’s evolutionary chain. The Twitch II is the only lockback folder we know of that has a flipper tab and assisted opening, thanks to SOG’s patented Pass-Through Lock Bar. While all other lockbacks feature a solid metal bar in its lock mechanism, this one has a cutout in its rocker bar that allows the flipper tab to pass through when the knife closes. Innovation meets sleekness.

> Outside-the-box design
> AUS-8 blade steel
> Simple yet elegant aesthetics, from the stout pocket clip to the graphite-colored aluminum handle
> Pass-through lock bar provides secure lockup once the blade’s out.

> Pushing up on the thumb-stud or pulling down on the flipper tab isn’t enough kick for the assisted opening to fully deploy the blade. You’ll need to add a little wrist flick to get the blade all the way around.


RECP-180300-KNIVES-KERSHAW-LINEUP-02.JPGMake: Kershaw Knives
Model: Fraxion
OAL: 6.75 inches
Blade Length: 2.75 inches
Blade Material: 8Cr13MoV stainless steel
Weight: 1.9 ounces
MSRP: $50

We have friends who buy and carry cheapo knives. Their mentality is they’ll just buy another one if it dulls, breaks, or gets lost. Well, the Fraxion is one budget knife you don’t want to break or lose. It’s a manual folder with a flipper tab to open it and a liner lock to close it. Kershaw trims the fat by having G-10 handle scales with carbon-fiber overlay. This is both an inexpensive and reliable everyday-carry (EDC) knife.

> Non-obtrusive flipper tab
> Pocket clip is reversible, left or right.
> Kershaw’s KVT manual opening is faster than some of the assisted-opening knives in this buyer’s guide
> Decent price tag

> When closing the blade, there’s not much resistance. We can picture our clumsy selves accidentally letting the cutting edge fall on our fingers if we’re not paying attention or doing it too quickly.


Make: Cold Steel Knives
Model: Khan
OAL: 7 inches
Blade Length: 3.5 inches
Blade Material: AUS-8A stainless steel
Weight: 2.4 ounces
MSRP: $70

Is this more of the modern Benedict Cumberbatch or the old-school Ricardo Montalban? Neither, as we can’t see any connection between this knife and Captain Kirk’s nemesis — nor to any other meaning related to the word “Khan.” Still, it’s a formidable folder to be respected by humans and enhanced humans alike. It’s made of quality materials, built to withstand a beating, and has all the prerequisites to be a daily carry knife.

> Slightly textured G-10 handle provides excellent traction
> Ambidextrous and ergonomic HTR thumb-discs
> Reversible pocket clip for right- and “wrong-handed” users.
> Blade stabs and cuts with ferocity.

> Tanto blade profile doesn’t offer as much slicing versatility as other shapes.
> Deep forefinger groove and slight curve to the handle forces you to have a slightly canted pistol grip; not ideal if you prefer a hammer or Filipino grip.


Make: Outdoor Edge
Model: Conquer
OAL: 7.2 inches
Blade Length: 3 inches
Blade Material: 8Cr13MoV stainless steel
Weight: 2.9 ounces
MSRP: $55

With its generous belly, this knife is ideal for detailed slicing — such as skinning — but its versatile enough to be a daily carry tool. Plus, it keeps the ounces off with its slim design: a frame-lock folder doesn’t need extra metal for liner locks or a lockback bar because the frame is the lock. The Conquer is available with a plain edge or semi-serrated, or with a 3.5-inch blade.

> Though Chinese made, the 8Cr13MoV blade cuts and pierces effectively.
> Flipper tab opens the blade smoothly and swiftly.
> In a world of $500 folding knives, the Conquer is a good deal at $55.

> An innate flaw of frame-locks: To close the blade, your thumb pushes the frame-lock to the left. But to have a solid grip, your middle and ring fingers squeeze on the opposite side you’re pushing. It can sometimes feel like you’re arm wrestling yourself.


Make: Ruger Knives
Model: LCK
OAL: 7.5 inches
Blade Length: 3.33 inches
Blade Material: 8Cr13MoV stainless steel
Weight: 2.6 ounces
MSRP: $40

Ruger’s collaboration with Columbia River Knife & Tool has been a mixed bag. Some of their models are quality blades, others just ho-hum knives with a Ruger logo. Fortunately, the LCK (Lightweight Compact Knife) is among the former. It borrows design cues from its brother from another mother, the Ruger LCP II .380, and serves as a slim EDC tool in its own right. Its weight savings is in its glass-reinforced nylon handle.

> Clean aesthetics that genuinely harkens back to the LCP II
> A sizeable blade in a lightweight package
> Flipper opening is quick and easy.

> Great for thrusting, but it did poorly in our test cutting.
> Unfortunately, the stout pocket clip isn’t reversible for left-handers.
> Glass-reinforced nylon handle can get slippery when wet.


Make: Spyderco
Model: Manix 2 Lightweight Gray Maxamet
OAL: 8.03 inches
Blade Length: 3.37 inches
Blade Material: Maxamet tool steel
Weight: 3 ounces
MSRP: $280

Who says your lightweight knife has to be tiny? The Manix 2 has the build of a heavyweight, but barely tips the scales like a bantamweight. This is due mostly to its injection-molded handle made from fiberglass-reinforced co-polymer and Spyderco’s patented Ball Bearing Lock, which uses very little metal. It’s made in the USA and available in an assortment of blade steels, handle materials, and colors.

> Ambidextrous locking mechanism
> Ambidextrous thumb hole to deploy the blade
> Made of Maxamet alloy, the blade is a lightsaber.
> Pocket clip can be set up for righties or lefties.

> Like most Spyderco folders with leaf-shaped blades, the Manix 2 takes up a lot of pocket space when closed.
> With such a light handle, the knife feels a bit blade-heavy.

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