We get it, nobody wants to be the one asking everyone else for a knife. It feels like announcing to the room that you’re unprepared and in need of rescue, and that doesn’t feel great. The tricky part is when you’re in a situation that doesn’t lend itself to whipping out a KA-BAR and hacking away at whatever is in front of you. For those times, you’ll need something a little more sophisticated.
These knives are perfect for the person who wants to keep a blade close by regardless of dress code. Play your cards right, and a knife can actually be a tasteful accessory just like a discerning timepiece. Whether you’re going out on the town, doing some social pheasant hunting, or preparing a meal for houseguests, there’s something on this list for you.
Case XX is one of the most enduring brands in the pocket knife business. Ask any farmer, rancher, or oil baron in the United States to lend you their knife and there’s a good chance they’ll pull one of these out of their pocket before politely suggesting you should have one of your own. The honey-stained bone handle and polished stainless steel are timeless, and the blades are renowned for their incredible sharpness and durablity. The Folding Hunter measures 5.25 inches closed and has a 4.1-inch blade. This American classic is stylish enough for most occasions and strong enough to work when you need it most. It costs a little bit more than many pocket knives, but it just might be your new favorite and go-to EDC.
Of course you’re familiar with Gerber, but have you seen the Quadrant? This folding knife is about the size of what was known in the 1900s as a USB drive. It’s easy to toss in your pocket or bag and won’t weigh you down. We love the barber-inspired styling and the sheep-foot shape of the blade results in a sharp point that’s perfect for precise tasks. This knife definitely has its own style and we dig it. The 2.7-inch blade is great for everyday jobs, not so much for bushwhacking through the wilderness. It’s a great way to fill that compact spot in your collection with a quality blade you don’t see everyday.
We’ve gushed over Helle knives before, and we’re about to do it again. These Norwegian craftsmen forge Sandvik 12C27 steel into sharp, hard blades that can easily last a lifetime. As you’d expect from the country that gave us so many Viking warriors throughout history, this blade is also corrosion-resistant and worthy of seafaring duties. The 5.1-inch blade is more than capable without being bulky. The curly-grained birch handle is a thing of beauty. This level of hand-made excellence doesn’t come cheap, but you won’t hear us complaining about it. Can we legitimately claim this is what Thor would use? No. But is it? You know the answer to that.
If you’re looking for a folding knife that fits in with formalwear, go with the appropriately-named CEO from CRKT. This is the most modern-looking knife on our list and would look equally at home in a corner office or spy thriller movie. The understated handle is slim and understated with a 3.1-inch blade inside. A thumb stud makes for quick opening and the low-profile clip holds the knife right where you left it. Because of the minimalist shape, we wouldn’t recommend this for any kind of heavy-duty work. It’s most at home in more formal environments, and the price leaves enough money in your pocket to tip the valet.
Get ready to take your cooking game to new heights with this Zwilling JA Henckels chef’s knife. The same manufacturer that builds some of the best kitchen knife sets in the business brings you this premium chef’s knife to help you achieve all your culinary aspirations. If you’re lucky enough to have earned your freedom from the barracks, ask yourself; would you rather microwave yet another frozen dinner or slice up fresh meat and vegetables with Damascus steel? Is that even a question? Don’t let the sticker shock sway you–some things are worth saving for. This high-end Japanese steel deserves proper upkeep. Be prepared to wash it by hand and treat it with respect. Do that, and it will make you (and your stomach) glad you did.
Why should you trust us
I’m a big fan of tools that do one job and commit to doing it well. I like simplicity and, despite what people might think after meeting me, appreciate a little bit of class (just not too much). I’ve written gear guides for Task & Purpose on everything from watches to humidors to one especially badass fire pit. I always look out for my readers’ best interests and take pride in recommending gear that you can show off with a smile.
Types of gentleman knives
There is a knife for every job, and this subset is no different. Don’t strap on a hunting knife under your suit, and don’t try to cut a steak with a folding knife. We represented the following categories on this list to make sure you’re set up for success in a wide range of scenarios.
Even distinguished gentlemen need to cut something every now and then, and summoning help from someone who actually prepared isn’t a great look. Folding knives afford the practicality you get from any pocket knife without the typical camouflage handles and tactical blades. Instead of features like serrated blades and heavy construction designed to function around deer camp, the knives in this gear guide offer contemporary style and an understated appearance.
These folding knives would fit right in at a whisky tasting or cigar night. They look great without drawing attention and being flashy. Make one of these part of your big-night-out EDC and we’re sure you’ll be glad you did.
As a category, hunting knives are characterized by fixed blades, robust steel, and usually a length greater than what you’d get from a pocket knife. In spite of the name, they’re remarkably capable in a wide range of situations from wilderness survival to cutting into a block of cheese for campfire burgers.
Lest you think gentlemen aren’t interested in such things, some of the best knives we found for this list are fixed-blade hunting knives designed for life in the field. Don’t bother babying these, because they’re seriously tough and built to work. Odds are, you won’t let go until it’s time to pass your knife on as a family heirloom.
If you don’t know how to cook, you’re missing out. Everyone deserves a quality meal, and it’s a lot easier to make that happen when you can prepare delicious meals from scratch, all by yourself. Being a good cook is also one of the best party tricks there is. Pick up a new hobby and welcome guests into your home with a freshly-prepared meal.
When you do, it helps with the ambiance if you aren’t hacking away with some plastic-handled knife you got at the grocery store. Invest in a premium chef’s knife to see what the fuss is all about. These are pricey items, but if you’re a cooking enthusiast, you’ll get your money’s worth.
What to consider when buying a gentleman’s knife
The obvious distinction between knives that are and are not appropriate for, say, the gentleman spy, is design. If you can’t picture 007 using one to get himself out of a bind or cut a cigar, it’s probably not very gentlemanly. That isn’t to say other knives are bad, it just means you won’t see antler handles and serrated Bowie knives on this list. You will see sleek shapes, subtle design cues, and modern materials.
Speaking of materials, gentlemen don’t carry cheap knives. Everything on this list uses quality materials and true craftsmanship. In some cases, that elevates the price beyond what you might normally spend, but it takes money to look like a million bucks.
Do you need a gentleman’s knife?
Let’s be honest for a second: if we only bought the knives we need, we’d each have one survival knife and call it good. That would be very economical, but also pretty impractical and might get the cops called on you. So maybe you are better off investing in a knife for every occasion, after all.
The knives we selected for this gear guide are totally functional, but with enough class to look normal being taken out of a suit pocket or preparing a meal for your guests at a house party (the kind without red Solo cups). Take into consideration not only the design of each knife, but its intended use and the materials used to build it. To earn a spot on this list, each knife had to look the part and be a genuine quality item. We’d go so far as to say these might even add a touch of class. They’re–dare we say–dapper.
- Class-up your EDC
- Diversify your collection
- Great excuse to buy another knife
Pricing ranges for a gentleman’s knife
- Less than $50: Don’t get too carried away with the penny pinching, because there are some low-grade knives out there. Still, there are plenty of great options for less than $50.
- Between $50 and $150: Right in the middle of the price range, you’ll find popular knives from established manufacturers. You don’t have to spend more than this in most cases.
- More than $150: At the top of the food chain are elegant knives from premium builders. These options are purpose-built using the finest materials.
How we chose our top picks
There are plenty of knife collectors around here, but not even we can hand-test everything on the market. Luckily, we have thousands of reviews to guide us to the best knives from the brands we already know and trust. By consulting owner reviews, we’re able to narrow down what’s available so only the best make it to our gear guides and loyal readers.
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