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Best Folding Knives of 2017

By: Nick LeFort

Best Folding Knives of 2017

This year I spent more time than usual researching folding knives to test. There are so many folding knives in the market today that utilize the same materials, have similar functions, and are designed like one another that brand preference is often how consumers buy a knife these days. For a company that prides themselves on unbiased gear testing, the last way Gear Institute is going to pick out knives is by brand. With that being said, I spent a considerable amount of time researching emerging trends to make sure we’re giving you a broad enough assortment. That doesn’t mean you’re not going to see some past brands return, but you will see a couple new ones that are admirable. That said, in the end, I just couldn’t keep it to the usual “Top 5”. It actually ended up being a “Top 8”, so I ended up doing another round of testing – doing some even more insane stuff than I already do—and was able to whittle it down to six.

But before we dive in, I want to give you all a quick summary; A State of the Knife Industry. I think it’s important that you understand why you’re seeing the knives you’re seeing here.

2017 Folding Knife Group Shot-1

As we roll into 2017 we continue to see manufacturers bringing their prices down all while either bringing manufacturing stateside, incorporating premium materials at this lower retail price, or a combination of both. Their choice to focus on a handful of premium blade steels has driven steel costs down, which benefits everyone and anyone involved in knife manufacturing, but the real winner is you; the consumer. 

That said, 2017 isn’t only shaping up to be a great year to buy a new folder because there are so many to choose from, but for the first time there is a wide assortment of premium folders available that can be picked up for a great price. 

Another trend that has been growing steadily for a few years are flipper style folders. A few years ago there were only a handful of flippers on the market being made by a select group of knife-makers and manufacturers; all generally high-end. For 2017, almost everyone is putting a flipper folder out there, if not multiples of them. With their improved deployment during a period where assisted-knives are being restricted or all together banned, the flipper is a nice stand-in that is easy to produce, and therefore affordable. They function more fluidly than folders with thumb studs or a thumb hole, and are easier to work for people on all experience levels. All these facts combined, we ended up picked four flippers out of our Top 6. 

Hinderer XM-18 3.5” Flipper – Slicer Grind (Gen 4)

99

2017

Hinderer XM-18 3.5” Flipper – Slicer Grind (Gen 4)

This fourth generation XM-18 3.5” Flipper is the flagship hand-built midtech knife from Hinderer Knives with a titanium frame and hardware and premium stainless steel blade.

Spyderco Para 3

98

2017

Spyderco Para 3

The Para 3 is a compact, ergonomic, military-inspired folding knife suitable for every day carry.

Helle Bleja

97

2017

Helle Bleja

The Bleja, from the nearly century-old Helle Knives, is a mid-sized folder utility knife with a triple-laminated steel blade, stainless steel liners and curly birch wood handles.

Ontario Knife Company Carter Prime

95

2017

Ontario Knife Company Carter Prime

The Carter Prime from Ontario Knife Company is a robust, everyday carry utility flipper knife.

Benchmade 928 Proxy Flipper

94

2017

Benchmade 928 Proxy Flipper

The Benchmade 928 Proxy Flipper has a titanium frame, a glass-based epoxy resin laminate handle and features a steel alloy drop point blade.

CRKT Homefront Flipper

92

2017

CRKT Homefront Flipper

The CRKT Homefront Flipper is a folding knife designed for hard use that can be field-maintained without tools.

About the Author

Nick LeFort

Nick LeFort

Nick LeFort is a freelance writer and design engineer from Berlin, CT. Referred to as “Viking” by his cohorts in the outdoor industry. He is also a knife and tool maker and one part founder of Ragged Mountain Knife Works. Follow him at Google+.

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