The 4 Different Types of Pocket Knives [Pocketknife Guide And Uses]

There are a thousand ways a pocketknife can make your life easier. From opening up boxes to peeling an apple, a pocket knife readies you to face the world. Their versatility is unmatched.

Pocket Knives have been a man’s companion for a long time. There is archaeological evidence of a pocketknife believed to be from 600 BC. The knife discovery happened in Austria. 

A pocket knife is fantastic for two reasons, portability and the ability to get the job done. Talking of portability, pocket knives come in sizes as small as an inch. That’s a knife the size of a nail cutter! And they sure open letters, cut threads, and tons more. So, what types of pocketknives are there to choose from? Read on.

What’s a Pocket Knife

Technically, a pocket knife should be big enough to get the job done and small enough to fit in a standard pocket perfectly. But how small should a pocket knife be?

Many knives’ enthusiasts agree the maximum length of a pocket knife is 3 inches. The reasoning is that the pocketknife should easily be foldable and unfolded with one hand, and easily concealable. Anything past 3″ is a real weapon and illegal in most states to carry around. Furthermore, how comfortable is a 6″ blade in your pocket?

Read also: Best Steel for Knives

Types of Pocketknives

When it comes to pocket knives, the types are numerous. Besides, they have been with humans for more than 2000 years. Below is a classification of knives based on commonly shared features:

1. The Number of Blades

  • Single-bladed pocket knives:

As the name suggests, these pocket knives have a single blade. The blades are large and robust. The single-bladed pocket knives have a locking mechanism to keep the blade in place while in use. They are great workhorses, performing best in force-intensive tasks.

  • Multi-bladed pocket knives:

They have more than one blade type, each capable of performing a variety of tasks. Multi-bladed pocket knives are convenient for traveling and camping, though they lack the strength and durability of single-bladed knives.

  • Multi-tooled blades:

These are pocket knives with several blades and other added tools. For example, the Swiss Army knife features different blade types, a can opener, a pair of scissors, a saw, tweezers, a toothpick, a corkscrew, and a magnifying glass.

Multi-tooled blades suffice camping better than single and multi-blade knives but are bulkier.

2. Type of Edge

  • Fully serrated edge:

Serrated knives are a later invention than plain-edged pocket knives. They offer saw-motion cutting and are stronger than plain edges. They are made thin to provide better cutting and hence the ideal knives for the hard stuff.

However, serrated knives are hard to sharpen and clumsier than plain-edged blades.

  • Plain edge

Plain-edged knives have straight edges without any serrations on them. They offer straight, clean cuts because they are more stable than serrated edges. Plain-edged blades are also easy to sharpen. They, however, can’t make sawing cuts.

  • Partially serrated edge

Partially serrated-edged knives combine the strengths of serrated and plain edges. They are top-rated pocket knives as they handle hard staff and still do clean, accurate cuts. The straight part takes the clumsiness of a serrated edge, but the serrated part-sharpening problem persists.

3. Locking Mechanisms

  • Liner:

The liner locking mechanism utilizes the inner liner of one side of the handle. The liner bends backward to have a spring effect. The bent liner springs back behind the tang to prevent the blade from closing while in use. The liner mechanism is simple and cheap but be careful while folding the knife because your fingers are in the way.

  • Frame:

In this locking mechanism, one side of the frame slides behind the blade to lock it in place when you unfold the knife. It’s a very secure lock mechanism but not workable with both hands.

  • Lock back:

The lock-back mechanism utilizes a locking bar that runs the length of the knife’s handle. The bar opens into a notch in the tang while the blade unfolds. To fold the knife, press the bar to pivot it out of the tang. This locking mechanism is easy to use with both hands but prone to quick wear.

  • Crossbar:

The crossbar locking mechanism has a steel bar running through the knife’s handle. When the blade is unfolded, the steel bar opens and slots into a notch in the tang. Crossbar locks are similar to liner locks but stronger. The crossbar lock is ambidextrous, but the many small parts wear quickly.

  • Collar:

Unfolding the blade twists the circular collar around its base to lock while folding causes the opposite action.  The collar locking mechanism is simple and effective, but the collar is susceptible to wear out over time.

Check Out: Types of Knives Weapons

4. Styles of Pocketknives 

  • Camper knife

A camper knife is a multi-tool pocket knife designed to handle a variety of tasks. This knife has incredible versatility. You can cut your nails, change a bike tire, peel fruit, and sharpen a tent-fastening stick, all with a single camper knife.

  • Canoe knife

A canoe knife gets its name from the shape formed when the blades are closed. It is a double-blade knife, with the two edges folding on the same side but opposite ends of the handle. A canoe knife features a clip point and a Spey blade.

  • Penknife

A penknife has a thin and narrow blade. This knife is single-bladed, suitable for small cutting tasks.

  • Trapper knife

Trapper knives feature two blades, a clip point, and a Spey blade, and derive their name from their intended user, trappers. The two blades fold to one side of the handle.

  • Congress knife

A congress knife has four blades; a pen, spear point, and two Sheepsfoot blades. There are two blades on opposite sides of the handle, which meet at the middle when folded.

  • Sheepsfoot knife

The name originates from the original use of this pocket knife to trim sheep hooves. The blade has a straight edge and folds towards the tip. This knife is great at slicing and cutting tasks.

  • Tactical folding knife

This knife’s design makes it easy to use on either hand. It features a thumbhole or stud for quick realization. The added clip gives options of attaching it to your belt.

  • Tanto knife

This knife features a chisel-shaped point blade that has a straight plain cutting edge and an angular point. The tanto knife originated from Japan and is strong enough for demanding cutting tasks.

  • Wharncliffe knife

The Wharncliffe blade resembles a Sheepsfoot blade, but its spine curves downwards as it goes towards the handle. This knife is excellent for all tasks but is not very common.


Either you are indoors or outdoors, a pocket knife comes in handy for all your cutting needs. They are portable and equal to the task. Furthermore, history shows they have been a man’s close companion for thousands of years.

Options are endless when it comes to pocket knife types. Go for the blade that fits your needs and matches your taste. Nonetheless, having a collection of different types sorts your different needs very well. For instance, while going out for heavy work, a tactical folding knife serves you best, while a camper knife extends your options when venturing into the jungle.

It’s time to let your nails rest, let a pocketknife take on the job.

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