The year is drawing to a close, and it’s been a good one for the blade world. If you’re a fan of sharp and pointy things, you’re probably aware of the coolest knives introduced in 2017—but there were also a few oldies that continued to dominate despite all the hype surrounding new releases. Whether you’re looking for the best pocket knife to add to your collection or you’re just curious to see which blades made the cut, look no further than Blade HQ’s list of this year’s best selling knives.
Best Folding Knives
Folding knives are the quintessential everyday carry (EDC) knife. From whittling sticks to opening packages, folding knives are designed to tackle simple everyday tasks. The folding blade keeps the knife compact and easy to carry in your pocket, ensuring that you’ll have a convenient tool at your fingertips wherever you go. Learn more about folding knives.
Announced in December of 2016, we were chomping at the bit to get our hands on Spyderco’s newest offering, and it shaped up to be one of the most popular knives of the year. Fans of the Paramilitary 2 will love the Para 3, since it takes all the features and functionality of its big bro and shrinks them down into a 3-inch blade. Improved contouring of the Para 3 handle makes for better ergonomics, although deep-carriers may be disappointed with the pocket clip placement below the lanyard hole. Still, this knife’s smooth action and effortless, one-handed compression lock release make it worth the investment. Check out our Best Pocket Knives Guide to see where the Para 3 ranks.
This knife hit the scene in February and won everyone over with its sleek, stainless steel design. The attractive $24.95 price tag didn’t hurt, either. With its wide blade and hefty spine, the Pilar packs the guts of a big knife into a little package, but the unique blade profile still allows for more detailed tasks. This 2.40-inch blade is a good option for those with smaller hands—but the large choil makes it a decent fit for beefier paws as well. If you want something minimalist and beautiful with ultra-smooth action, add the CRKT Pilar to your must-have list. The Pilar is also featured in our Knife Handle Materials Guide.
The Bugout showed up fashionably late in July and made a speedy climb up the popularity charts. This knife is uber slim and an ultralight 1.85 ounces, making it the perfect addition to your backpacking gear. The Bugout is a no-frills blade made even more user-friendly by its ambidextrous thumb studs and AXIS lock. Whichever hand you choose, you’ll only need one to use this knife. With its strong S30V blade, utilitarian design, and one-handed function, the Bugout is a knife you’ll go back to again and again.
Best Automatic Knives
Automatic knives take the convenience of folders and add spring-loaded action to open the blade with the push of a button. This makes them ideal for tasks that keep your hands full, since you only need one hand to get your knife ready for use. In situations where time is of the essence, an automatic knife is the only way to go. Learn more about automatic knives.
An oldie but a goody, this series swept the field of automatic knives again this year. From drop point to bowie, original size to mini, knife enthusiasts ate the Kalashnikov up. At $39.95—and even at some higher price points—it’s difficult to find an automatic to equal it. Blade action? Snappy. Edge? Sharp right out of the box. Aesthetic? The Desert Warrior color combo gives us all the feels. If you need a solid auto with overall good fit and finish that won’t break the bank, look no further than Boker’s Kalashnikov.
Part of the popular Kershaw Launch series, the aptly named Kershaw Launch 4 has been around for almost two years, but it remained one of the top competitors of 2017. Featuring a blade length of 1.90 inches and weighing less than 2 ounces, the Launch 4 is the smallest knife on this list. Along with its tiny proportions, the flat black color and deep-carry pocket clip will make you forget you’re carrying it—but don’t let that fool you. This little guy packs a punch. The fiercely tapered drop point blade flies open at the push of a button. If for no other reason, you need this knife because it’s freaking cool.
A new arrival from April of this year, the Buck 110 may not be as tactical as some of the others on this list, but it’s hard to beat the nostalgia of that polished wood and shiny brass. This upgraded 110 is the perfect answer for those who appreciate the classic sophistication of an old Buck but want the convenience of an automatic. Purists will be pleased that the 110 is otherwise unaltered from the timeless design they know and love—no pocket clip, no doodads. If you’re looking for an automatic knife but can’t get excited about the tactical trend, an old school Buck 110 automatic is where it’s at. The 110 Auto is also featured in our Knife Blade Shapes Guide and our in-depth Buck 110 Review.
Best Out the Front Knives
Out the front (OTF) knives are automatic knives whose blades deploy forward through the front of the handle. One of the advantages of OTF knives is their true automatic open and close ability. If you often wear gloves for work or hobbies, an OTF removes the frustration of fiddling with a manual folder or side-opening automatic. Learn more about OTF knives.
The most popular knife in this category, the Smith & Wesson OTF Assist Finger Actuator has a commanding presence in both size, weight, and design. The scrolled pattern on the handle is a unique touch, but it was the overall tactical look, fast blade deployment, and wallet-friendly $39.95 price that garnered it so much attention. Some might consider the blade release method a bit cumbersome, but it’s a good choice for those who want a heavy duty OTF and don’t have the budget for a Microtech Ultratech or Benchmade Infidel.
This January arrival is as wicked as its name. An upgrade on the older, best-selling Ultratech model, the Hellhound sports a mean-looking tanto blade with a unique, perforated design. Aggressive bevels, jimping, and a glass breaker complete the action-ready look. More compact and lighter than the Smith & Wesson, and with an out-of-the-way thumb slide, the Hellhound makes a good OTF candidate for EDC. Check out our Best Microtech Knives Guide for more amazing fit and finish.
The Benchmade Infidel is another carryover from previous years that continues to keep pace with the newcomers. A hefty knife with an attractive color combo, great ergonomics, and eye-catching geometric design, the Infidel checks all the boxes. The construction is rugged, the blade action is fast and smooth, and the overall fit and finish are solid. Once you pick this one up, you won’t be able to put it down.
We now interrupt this list to suggest that you watch a couple dudes geek out over the top 7 knives of 2017. Pop some popcorn.
Best Fixed Blade Knives
When many people think of fixed blade knives, they picture heavy duty hunting knives or machetes. While it is true that many fixed blade knives are designed for tough, survival-oriented jobs, there are a wide range of sizes, styles, and uses for these tools. From bushcraft to throwing to self defense, fixed blades are the ultimate multipurpose knife. Learn more about fixed blade knives.
The Small TDI Law Enforcement is the ultimate self defense knife. Designed for critical moments when a law enforcement officer cannot reach his or her firearm, this blade is also a good choice for military members—or everyday knife lovers who have their personal protection in mind. Small and easily concealed, its dark, monochromatic design will not draw attention. The curved, ergonomic handle ensures a firm grip, and the sheath’s wide, sturdy clip provides secure attachment to the hip or leg. When seconds count, this easily accessible, solid fixed blade is a good bet.
Introduced in May, Schrade’s push dagger is another excellent personal defense knife. This blade shares some of the perks of the Ka-Bar while bringing some additional features of its own to the table. Small and easy to stash, it has a rubberized handle for more secure handling and—get this—it can also be worn as a neck knife, making it easy to access from multiple carrying locations. Not to mention that the double edge ensures protection from any angle. Those who prefer being prepared for anything will appreciate the versatility offered by this push dagger.
A summer ’16 baby, the Extreme Survival SCHF10 is a workhorse. One of the biggest on the list, this knife was designed for hard use. The black-coated, full-tang, chunky drop point blade will stand up to your toughest tasks and look mighty fine while doing so. Forged from 8Cr14MoV steel, the edge will need some occasional attention, but you’ll get a solid knife—and at $26.99, your wallet will be fat and happy. A well-designed handle with great ergonomics and tough Micarta scales make for a reliable, multi-purpose fixed blade knife every outdoorsman will appreciate.
Best Butterfly & Balisong Knives
Butterfly, or Balisong, knives are a type of folding knife that houses the blade between two swiveling handles. While these knives function just like any other, they are designed mainly for flipping, a recreational knife sport that involves a series of complicated—and ridiculously cool—spins, twirls, and other tricks. If you’ve never seen mad bali skills before, check out this video. You’re welcome. Learn more about butterfly knives.
This flippers’ favorite has been around for years. As the heaviest—and at $34.95, the least expensive—butterfly on the list, the 114 is ideal for beginning flippers. The construction and finish of this budget knife are not as polished as butterflies in the $200 range, but it is an awesome value for the price and will stand up to a lot of bali newbie abuse. If you’re looking to break into the balisong scene, this is the best butterfly to start with.
The Barebones 2.0 arrived in August of last year, and it’s a big step up from beginner balisongs like the Bear & Son 114. Like its predecessor pictured above, this knife features a smooth, 154CM stainless steel finish, signature skeletonized handle design, and impressive tanto blade. With butter-smooth action and spot-on balancing, this one is a dream to flip—a definite must-have if you’re ready to up your bali game.
Another persistent favorite, the 51 Morpho is a good choice for the experienced flipper. The lighter weight makes for trickier handling, but lets you show off your skills at lightning speed. On top of the excellent action, this knife will set you apart from the competition with its razor sharp D2 blade and gorgeous blue titanium liners peeking out of the black G10 handles. This is also the only bali on the list with a removable pocket clip—a small detail that offers some convenience for those who carry their butterflies with them everywhere.
That sums up our best selling knives of 2017. Despite some drool-worthy newcomers, like the Spyderco Para 3 and Benchmade Bugout, there were some perennial favorites that you guys just couldn’t leave alone (we’re looking at you, Kalashnikov). 2017 also had some surprising winners, like the Ka-Bar Small TDI and Schrade Push Dagger. All in all, a pretty stellar year for knife enthusiasts.
Now that your wish list has grown 15 blades longer, give us your two cents. Any favorites that you think belong on this list?