Sunday, June 11, 2017

Guest Post: Lightweight EDC Pocket Knives by Matt Keyes

Note: The following is a comparison of lightweight folding EDC knives by Matt Keyes, The Pocket Knife Guy. There are lots of good options in this category of blades, depending on your primary use and price range.

When the SHTF and we need to bug out fast, we can't have EDC items weighing us down. It's important to streamline the gear you decide to carry with you.

One important aspect to consider is weight. Every ounce you can cut adds up and reduces the total weight you have to carry in your pocket, or even a gear bag.

Is a lightweight EDC pocket knife durable?

Durability in a lightweight pocket knife is always going to be a concern. We're trained to think that if a product is lightweight then it's going to be cheap or even unsafe.

I'm here to tell you this isn't the case. Like everything else knife manufacturers have made great advancements over the years. Not only in design elements and features but also with the materials used in constructing knives.

There are many ways to reduce weight on knives without sacrificing durability. Handle materials like Titanium, Carbon fiber and G10 are known for their lightweight qualities. These materials are light, but still very durable and give the knife a good solid feel.

To find a good lightweight EDC knife you need to consider the blade length to weight ratio. From my experiences, a blade length of 3 to 4 inches, and a weight under 4 ounces is the perfect blend for a quality EDC pocket knife.

Top 5 Lightweight EDC Pocket Knives

With the above parameters set there are still way too many choices, let's see if we can narrow this down a bit.

The knives listed below have many great features, and being lightweight is just one of them!

Ontario RAT Model 2

The Ontario RAT model 2 only weighs in at only 2.75 ounces. And for what you get with the RAT 2, I suspect this will be one of your favorite EDC pocket knives.

The RAT 2 has a 3" AUS-8 blade that you can get with either a black finish or a satin finish. The black is a cool option, but over time it will begin to show wear and can chip.

The handle is Zytel, which is cheap to make and explains the low price tag on the RAT 2. But this material is tough and can resist impacts so it's a popular handle material. It's light, durable, and comes is many color choices.

The RAT 2 is ambidextrous, with a 4 position pocket clip and dual thumb studs you can carry this knife how you prefer.

If you're familiar with the Paramilitary 2, then you've no doubt heard the Paramilitary 3 is now available.

Quick comparisons of the two models:
  • PM2 Blade - 3.44"
  • PM2 Overall - 8.28"
  • PM2 Weight - 3.75 oz.

  • PM3 Blade - 3.0"
  • PM3 Overall - 7.27"
  • PM3 Weight - 3.00 oz.

Now with that out of the way, the PM3 is a condensed version of the PM2. Over an inch shorter and 3/4" oz. lighter.

Everything else about the knife remains the same. The premium S30V blade steel is a popular choice for many reasons. The edge retention on this steel is exceptional and it's easy to sharpen.

The compression lock is super strong, I would be so bold to say fail proof in conventional EDC tasks. This video dissects the compression lock and shows you exactly how it works.

If you’re in the market for a lightweight pocket knife and were already a fan of the PM2, then I have no doubts you’ll love the Spyderco Paramilitary 3.

Benchmade Pardue 530

The Benchmade Pardue 530 is the ultimate lightweight pocket knife. This knife only weighs 1.8 ounces!

To put that in perspective, 5 US quarters weigh 1 ounce. Add a few more and you can match the weight of this knife for less than $2 in quarters. That would be sweet if that was the actual price tag of this knife.

How is it so light? The answer lies in the handle material, it's a polymer called Noryl GTX. To be honest I can't tell a difference between it and other handles like Zytel and FRN. They look and feel the same to me. But they all perform well and provide a safe and secure grip.

The handle is also very thin, if you put a premium on pocket real estate, the 530 could be the knife for you.

The blade steel is 154CM, which is a harder steel. It'll measure 60-61 on the Rockwell scale. Harder steels are generally a little more difficult to get razor sharp. But, if you can get it sharp, the edge retention is much better on this steel than say the cheaper AUS-8 steel.

Benchmade 940-2 Osborne

Sticking with Benchmade, the 940-2 is not only a lightweight knife, but it's a classic Benchmade design by the late Warren Osborne.

The 940-2 is an updated version to the original 940, which had an anodized green aluminum handle. The 940-2 has G10 scales on stainless steel liners with barrel spacers.

The blade style is reverse tanto and the steel is CPM-S30V. As mentioned earlier on the PM3 this steel is has great edge retention and is easy to sharpen.

The locking mechanism is Benchmade's AXIS lock.  To unlock the blade you pull back on the lock stud and release the tension against the tang of the blade. It's a simple locking system, yet it’s highly effective.

The weight of this knife is only 2.65 ounces, and it's very slim in the pocket. The pocket clip allows right or left hand carry with the tip up. It's a perfect choice for a lightweight EDC pocket knife.

Spyderco Delica 4

The Spyderco Delica 4 is one of the best-selling knives that Spyderco makes. It’s the perfect size for an EDC knife and its super light. The Delica only weighs 2.5 ounces, so it’s easy to carry in your pocket tucked out of the way until needed.

The blade steel used for the Delica is VG-10, one of my preferred blade steels. I like the VG-10 for its versatility, it has a good mix of qualities. It easy to sharpen, has good edge retention and resists corrosion well.

The handle on the Delica is made from FRN, a lightweight material that is offered in many colors. FRN is a popular choice for knife handles because it so light, and it can easily be molded to the desired shape.

To top it off the Delica 4 has a quad mount pocket clip, allowing you to carry left or right handed with tip up or down.

Closing Thoughts

Due to the many available options, it can be difficult to make a confident decision on which lightweight pocket knife to buy. Not only are the knives listed above super light, they are also super popular.

They are popular for many reasons, because all 5 are solid pocket knives. They are well crafted works of art and you absolutely can’t go wrong with any one of them.

Matt Keyes is a writer, blogger, and an avid outdoorsman. In his spare time, he loves to spend time in the woods with his family and friends camping and hunting. Matt has collected knives for many years and blogs about them over at The Pocket Knife Guy. If you're looking for a certain pocket knife, there is a good chance you'll find a review for it at his site.


  1. Very nice review - I had no idea so many lightweight folders were available.

    My suggestion was to look at the Opinel twist lock folders, those are pretty lightweight too and have very good carbon steel blades that take quite an edge. Inexpensive enough to carve down the handles if you like.

  2. Well, purchased the 530 described above and was pretty amazed how small and light this blade is. One bad point though - when I drew it at a lunch table, my coworkers 'drew back' - thought it was a switchblade. Nope, but did note how its appearance sort of alarmed them.


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