Try this: whip out your phone and text the biggest outdoor and survival knife enthusiast you know and ask them this – “who makes the best survival knives in the business?” Chances are, they’re going to tell you that ESEE ranks pretty high (if not the highest). Since 1997, Jeff Randall and Mike Perrin have been changing the game when it comes to the wilderness industry. Their goal is to offer realistic tools that are designed for people that are going to use and abuse them, which is why their brand has been so successful. Their ‘no questions asked’ warranty doesn’t hurt, either – you’re essentially covered for everything but rust. If you break it, they will replace it.
Even in the company’s philosophy, it clearly states that one of the most important aspects of the business is that ESEE won’t provide a piece of gear that hasn’t been tested in the real world. How seriously do they take that mission? Considering that ESEE’s founders also run an adventure and training company that regularly does jungle survival courses in the Peruvian Amazon, we’d say – very. Anyone who regularly handles outdoor knives knows the power of 1095 carbon, and ESEE is able to get more out of that steel than any other production knife company thanks to their famous heat treatment.
You know the drill by now – as the leading cutlery retailer, we’re overqualified to cherry-pick the best ESEE knives for you. Let’s begin with the knife that started it all…
General purpose field and utility knife that’s perfect for bug-out bags or survival kits
Why We Love It
What the ESEE 3 lacks in size, it more than makes up for in strength. It’s the very first knife that Jeff and Mike debuted at ESEE, essentially making it their flagship knife. The National Tactical Officers Association gave it a 4.77 out of 5, cementing its reputation as a favorite with law enforcement and military teams.
Why You’ll Love It
Like we said before, you’re going to get more out of that 1095 carbon steel than you will from any other knife company. This knife is comfortable and easy to carry thanks to its size and versatile sheath. Because this is such a popular knife model, we have over 40 iterations of the ESEE 3. From combo blades to Venom Green finishes to highly visible orange scales, we can pretty much guarantee there’s a model out there for even the most eccentric knife user.
D2 tool steel is widely considered to be one of the best steels for utility knives because of its affordability and edge retention, which is why so many great EDC knives rock a D2 steel blade with pride. This quality steel rides the line between a carbon steel and a stainless steel, a perk that makes it a popular choice for everyday carry knives that you’ll actually put to work on the regular.
There are two schools of thought when it comes to everyday pocket knives: any knife that you carry every day can be an EDC (no matter the cost) or it’s better to have an EDC that’s less expensive that you can abuse daily without guilt. For those out there that want to shill out less than fifty bucks for a pocket knife, but you want good performance steel – you’re in luck. KnifeCenter has pulled together the five best sub-$50 pocket knives with D2 blades.
The knife import game is changing. Imported knives are steadily improving in quality, and their affordable price points make these great designs more accessible to knife enthusiasts everywhere. Why not celebrate the fact that people of all backgrounds can enjoy the utility that comes with carrying a razor sharp knife?
The scaled-down version of Ontario’s popular Rat 1 is an EDC folder that can withstand some serious abuse. The hunters and survivalists out there should pay extra attention to this knife – it is made for you. Jeff Randall’s knife design combines heavy-duty cutting power with a lightweight, slim build that rests comfortably in your pocket. The drop point blade profile is perfect for utility tasks, and the liner lock offers rock-solid lockup and slick deployment. While it is nylon and materials obviously play a role in the low cost, the light weight, great grip, and corrosion-resistance are perks that makes this knife worth every penny.
Cold Steel is one of the most popular knife brands for tough, durable steel and heavy-duty cutting tools. Over the last three decades, Cold Steel’s innovations have put them at the forefront of the knife industry. From the introduction of their unique San Mai steel to the debut of the ultra-secure Tri-Ad lock, Cold Steel has mastered the art of creating some of the best combat and tactical weaponry in the knife business. Cold Steel’s employees aren’t just knife fanatics, they’re also weapons experts and martial artists with years of experience. What sets them apart from many other knife and tool brands is that they see the value in redefining an EDC. Cold Steel is the type of company who will try to make a pocketknife out of a machete – that’s just how they roll.
That being said, there are eight Cold Steel products that we put on a pedestal above the rest. We’ve chosen the best Cold Steel knives so that you can skip the research and get straight to performance. We can only watch Cold Steel’s Instagram for so long before we’re itching to demo their knives ourselves!
Cold Steel’s 20LT Tuff Lite is one of our favorite small utility knives on the market. This folding knife offers the strength and dependability that you’ll always find in a Cold Steel knife in a package that is compact and comfortable to carry. This American knife company knows that the best tactical EDCs have to offer an ergonomic grip for piercing cuts, so the integrated finger choil ensures a full grip that makes this knife feel like an extension of your hand. Not only is this folder the perfect size for everyday utility tasks, it’s also a great concealed carry self-defense knife. The Wharncliffe point is going to allow for deeper, more penetrating cuts without appearing overly tactical, so you’re not going to draw any attention to yourself when you have it on hand.
We took some time to bust out Liong Mah’s new mid-tech knives, the Eraser, the Warrior One, and the Get S*** Done (GSD). We’re partial to the GSD Tuxedo variant, but we’ll leave it up to you to pick a favorite.
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