Best Gentleman Knife: Top Lookers And Doers (2023)

Best Gentleman Knife: Top Lookers And Doers (2023)
The Case Tear Drop Black Sea Dichrolam spear-point blade is designed with a strong tip for piercing, which comes in handy for such gent’s knife jobs as opening mail, packages and the like.

Today’s gent’s knives are what they are instead of what they used to be. 

In years past, there was a genre of knife small, fancy and unobtrusive. It went by gent’s knife or Sunday-go-to-meeting knife, the latter where the hard-working sodbuster was laid down on the day of rest for something to better match the formal Sunday duds. Loosely defined, that knife consisted of fancier materials and a blade less than 3 inches long

However, the argument can be made that today’s gent’s knives are exclusively gent’s knives no more. According to officials of the knife companies that make them, all kinds of people spring for the knives popularly known as gent’s knives. There are sub genres, and their popularity is growing.

Take, for instance, A.G. Russell Knives, whose customers tend to gravitate not toward EDCs or tactical knives but smaller gent’s-type knives.

“In the past year or so, we are seeing an increase in interest in these smaller knives that can be carried unobtrusively, both with pocket clips and without,” the team at A.G. Russell wrote in an e-mail. The knives worn with the Sunday best tend to be more traditional, according to the company’s spokespeople. It’s a subcategory of small knives that sport a sharp appearance that includes premium handle materials. Added the Russell team, “A great gent’s knife is not too large, has an elegance about it, but still performs well.”

A.G. Russell Knives Vest Pocket Semi-Skinner

Bob Loveless introduced A.G. Russell to the semi-skinner blade shape and Russell fell in love with it, pairing it with a sparkling carbon-fiber handle in the Vest Pocket Semi-Skinner.

For an example of a piece that represents the new generation of gent’s knife, look no further than the A.G. Russell Vest PocketSemi-Skinner. Designed by the late company founder and BLADE Magazine Cutlery Hall-Of-Fame member® A.G. Russell, the knife is a mix between classic design and contemporary materials—the latter being a carbon-fiber handle and premium CPM S35VN stainless blade steel.

The heart of the knife is the bigger-than-it-should-be semi-skinner blade. As the company website noted, A.G. loved the semi-skinner blade, a pattern he credited Cutlery Hall-Of-Famer Bob Loveless for introducing to him. “A.G. saw the need for a small, lightweight pocket knife that would sit comfortable in any pocket, especially vest pockets, and the opportunity to create one with the blade he liked so much,” the site explains.

It is a blade shape that excels with work done at the tip, which is critical for a smaller knife.

“A good gent’s knife is really good at detail work,” the site notes,“in which blade and tip control are very important.” As a result, the Vest Pocket’s blade is at ground and boasts a thin edge geometry ideal for slicing cuts.

The stainless steel bolster is also critical to the design, as it covers the squared-off heel of the blade that connects with the lockbar. Unprotected, the heel could wear away at the fine fabrics of a vest pocket, for instance.

A.G.’s sketch of the knife (pictured below) was scanned into a CAD program in March 2018. Un-fortunately, he didn’t get to see the knife in production, as the iconic knife entrepreneur passed away in October of the same year before the design could be fully realized.

A.G. Russell Knives Vest Pocket Semi-Skinner Specs:
Designer: A.G. Russell
Blade Length: 2.53”
Blade Steel: CPM S35VN stainless
Blade Grind: Flat
Handle Material: Carbon fiber
Pocket Clip: None
Bolsters: Stainless steel
Lock: Lockback
Weight: 2.5 ozs.
Closed Length: 3.125”
Country Of Origin: China
MSRP: $100

Maserin Knives Turtle

Some of the more notable features of the Turtle by Maserin Knives are the pivot pin with its concentric lines and the skeletonized titanium clip anodized blue. 

No discussion of gent’s knives would be complete without mentioning the classic designs that hail from all over the globe. Take for example the Turtle, a timeless design Maserin injected with traditional materials and refinement throughout.

In 2006, Italian knifemaker Claudio Volpato designed a small knife with a blade under 2 inches and sent the prototype to Maserin. “We industrialized it,” recalled Claudia Maserin, along with her two brothers owner of Maserin, and the Turtle was born. “ The knife is still popular considering we first showed it long ago. The best handles are ebony and briarwood, and the damascus blade version is still very appreciated.”

Some of the small knife’s more notable features are the pivot pin with its concentric lines, and the skeletonized titanium clip anodized blue. Part of the goal was to take classic materials and transform them “We looked for elegant and traditional materials,” Claudia explained, “wooden handles like ebony and olive.” 

Realizing that some women were gravitating to the Turtle because of its small size, Maserin officials handled the knife in pink giraffe bone several years ago. “We don’t design a knife  thinking of final users in terms of gender but in projecting elegant knives,” Claudia stated. “We know they can be perfect both for women and men.”

Early versions of the blade were at ground of 440C stainless steel. Now, they are N690 stainless. The result is a knifes mall enough to slip into the small pocket of a pair of jeans and that opens easily one-handed.

“Our gent’s knife is good for everyday carry,” Claudia maintained. “You can open an envelope, a parcel, cut a fruit. It is the knife you need when you find yourself saying ‘If I had a knife …’

Maserin Knives Turtle Specs:
Designer: Claudio Volpato
Blade Length: 1.56”
Blade Steel: N690 stainless or stainless damascus
Blade Grind: Flat
Handle Material: Woods of bocote, briar, ebony, olive or walnut
Pocket Clip: Skeletonized titanium anodized blue
Lock: Linerlock
Weight: 2.05 ozs.
Closed Length: 2.5”
Country Of Origin: Italy
MSRP: Depending on options, from about $77 to $19

Spyderco Pochi

Like many small Spyderco knives, the Pochi is designed to offer large cutting power in a small package. “The dog tail rotates out to create a pinky shelf,” Joyce Laituri noted of the extension on the butt, “adding length to the handle for a better grip.”

Rigid definitions of a gent’s knife don’t quite cut it in Joyce Laituri’s book. The Spyderco spokesperson met a knife enthusiast at a knife show out to acquire some knives. The man towered well over 6 feet and was “built like an NFL linebacker, with paws like a bear,” she recounted. Though he appeared gentle-manly, a blade under 3 inches would be too small for him.

“In today’s industry,” Laituri began,“there is a broader view of what constitutes a dress knife. Is it its size, cost, function, materials, appearance? That definition is unique to each knife carrier.”

For some, a gent’s knife may be a small, elegant knife. Others, Laituri points out, decide that the most gentlemanly knife they can carry on their wedding day is a 5-inch folder or even a Spyderco Military model. The company eschews the term gent’s knives for prestige knives, Laituri said, in order to better describe the breadth of people who carry such edged tools. Meanwhile, a Spyderco knife that has attracted knife carriers for a whole slew of reasons is the Pochi, a flipper-folder collaboration with Japanese custom knifemaker Kazuyuki Sakurai.

“There is a market for anyone look-ing for the non-traditional,” Laituri said,“and the Pochi has been well received—surprisingly so—because it is so different from traditional pocketknives.

Some Pochi users, she added, like the design because they find it both charming and functional. Others are attracted to its upswept blade hollow ground from high-end CPM S45VN stainless steel. Some, attracted to the zoomorphism of the design, carry it because they like dogs, Laituri said.

Pochi, which roughly translates to the most common name for a dog in Japanese, has all the essential canine elements, resembling something like a pug on the go. Like many small Spyderco knives, Laituri said the Pochi is designed to bring large cutting power in a small package. “ The dog tail rotates out to create a pinky shelf,” Laituri noted, “adding length to the handle for a better grip.”

Spyderco Pochi Specs:
Designer: Kazuyuki Sakurai
Blade Length: 1.58”
Blade Steel: CPM S45VN stainless
Blade Grind: Hollow
Handle Material: Titanium
Pocket Clip: Titanium anodized blue;closed knife carries blade tip up
Lock: R.I.L. (Reeve Integral Lock)WEIGHT:1.7 ozs.
Closed Length: 2.6”
Country Of Origin: Taiwan
MSRP: $270

Bear & Son’s Bold Action

The Bear OPS Bold Action 14 comes in a wealth of different colors thanks to the anodization of its aluminum handle.

According to Matt Griffey of Bear &Son Cutlery, the world of gent’s knives has been changing and part of that has been due to the evolving nature of the workplace.

“We see less manufacturing professionals and more office setting careers,” he said. “Gentleman’s knives t the workforce movement and the lifestyles that come with it—accounting, computer techs, engineers and so on—with the knife having a small or slim physique and constructed from higher quality materials.”

At the same time, Griffey notes some of the slim knives are growing in size, and in the forefront of that change has been the increase in autos.

“Automatic knives have always intrigued both the traditional and modern knife enthusiast,” Griffey wrote, “and to-day more states are approving the daily carry and ownership of these types of knives.”

Trying to comply with many of the new auto laws, Bear & Son introduced the BearOPS Bold Action 14. The result is a knife available in a selection of color choices with its anodized aluminum handles and also the Sandvik 14C28N stainless steel blade, all made at Bear’s plant in Alabama.

Aluminum is a lightweight, low-maintenance material and 14C28 has a reputation of being corrosion resistant, durable and “an awesome performance steel”—essential features on a knife with a smaller blade and plenty of tasks to do.

“The Bold Action 14’s typical use would be common cutting chores around the office/home like opening small packages, cutting cordage and opening envelopes,”Griffey said, noting the knife can handle bigger tasks, too.

Meanwhile, expect more gent’s knives—or whatever you want to call the small fancy folders—in the future

“There is a market space for gentleman’s knives,” Griffey said. “Today, there are a lot of different choices and we’re lucky to and so many knife designers pushing the limits with materials, sizes and overall de-sign in the category.

Bear & Son’s Bold Action Specs:
Designer: N/A
Blade Length: 1.75″
Blade Steel: 14C28N Sandvik
Blade Grind: Hollow
Handle Material: Stainless Steel
Pocket Clip: Reversable
Bolsters: N/A
Lock: Auto
Weight: .14 oz
Closed Length: 2.50″
Country Of Origin: USA
MSRP: $140

CRKT Pilar

CRKT-Pilar Gent Knife

Designed by Danish knifemaker Jesper Voxnaes of Vox Knives, the size and blade shape of the CRKT Pilar are well matched for heavy cutting jobs. The handle is very comfortable and secure in the hand.

How could CRKT and Voxnaes make the knife even better? The answer is to offer a new larger version for 2019. The Pilar II offers the same performance and ergonomic advantages as the original, including robust framelock construction with an all-steel handle. The 2.6-inch blade is 8Cr13MoV stainless steel and offers a great balance of edge holding and maintenance ease. It is the Chinese equivalent of the Japanese-made AUS- 8. Due to the increase in size and blade mass, the Pilar II features a flipper, something the Pilar lacks.

Voxnaes is known internationally for his straightforward designs with a nod to utility and outdoor applications. Originally he made prototypes of the Pilar in two versions: one with a flipper tab and one without. “With lots of people asking for a flipper version, it was an easy fix,” Jesper notes. The blade rides on Teflon washers and flips open nicely without the use of pivot bearings. It also sports an oblong hole for ambidextrous opening.

The stainless steel handle supplies heft and a solid backbone. The grip’s edges are chamfered, offering comfort and eliminating hot spots or general discomfort. A solid steel spacer adds handle strength. A steel pocket clip carries the knife tip up or down for right-hand carry only. If you prefer half-and-half-type handle construction with your framelock folder—that is, each handle side comes in a different material, in this case stainless steel and lightweight G-10—the Pilar II is so equipped. The G-10 offers a bit more weight savings plus a nice grippy texture. The all-steel-handle version has weight-saving pocket reliefs milled into the inside of the scale.

“At first it may seem we simply upscaled the original Pilar design, but the knife was actually redesigned from scratch to make the ergonomics feel perfect,” Jesper concludes.
Don’t let the gent’s knife label for the large Pilar fool you. It’s a knife that isn’t afraid to get down and dirty with its rugged build and utility-friendly blade shape. Like its little brother, the large Pilar is easy to carry and rides securely in a pocket. The choil indexes your grip and the rest of your fingers fall naturally around the handle. Due to the handle shape and size, those with larger hands may find the knife too small.

However, for those whose hands are filled nicely by the grip, the large Pilar is very comfortable to hold.

CRKT Pilar Specs:
Designer: Jesper Voxnaes
Blade Length: 2.40″
Blade Steel: 8Cr13MoV
Blade Grind: Plain
Handle Material: Stainless Steel
Pocket Clip: Stainless Steel
Bolsters: N/A
Lock: Frame Lock
Weight: 4.20 oz.
Closed Length: 3.53″
Country Of Origin: China
MSRP: $39

Fallkniven FH9 MOP

Fallkniven Gent Knife

The Fallkniven FH9MOP is dressed to the nines with a mother-of-pearl handle accented by abalone and a mirror-polished blade. This is the knife you want to carry to dressy social functions, as the handle treatment sets the tone for an upscale outing or maybe even church on Sundays. According to Peter Hjortberger, Fallkniven president, the design is based on a folding hunter and a traditional lockback system.

Employing Fallkniven’s best blade material, a laminated 3G powder steel with a Super Gold steel core with a Rockwell hardness of 62 HRC, the FH9MOP is built for use. The 2.5-inch drop-point blade is neither too small nor too large. The knife is by far the best looking of the test bunch. The pearl handle and abalone accents create a stunning visual effect.

Structurally, the FH9MOP is built quite solid with dual stainless steel liners, steel bolsters and a steel handle spacer. Inlaid Fallkniven logo shields in the handle cap things off, and the blade sports a nail nick on each side for easy ambidextrous opening. A nice suede slip sheath protects the knife from rubbing up against keys, coins, etc., in your pocket.

The blade came out of the box razor sharp. I had no problem using it to open mail, cut stray threads, or any other similar gent’s knife duty. It is too beautiful a knife for the same jobs as a tactical folder, so use would be limited.

It sure is an eye-catcher, though. For a model more suited for general utility needs, step down to the standard FH9, which gives you the same blade steel but with the more work-friendly Micarta® handle material. Either way, the knives are sharpened pocket jewelry at its best.

Fallkniven FH9 MOP Specs:
Designer: N/A
Blade Length: 2.6″
Blade Steel: 3G
Blade Grind: Plain
Handle Material: Mother Of Pearl
Pocket Clip: None
Bolsters: Steel
Lock: Lockback
Weight: 3.35 oz.
Closed Length: 3.625″
Country Of Origin: Sweden
MSRP: $540

GiantMouse ACE Nibbler

GiantMouse Gent Knife
Designed by custom knifemakers Jesper Vox and Jens Anso, the Nibbler holds fast via a reversible wire clip.

“A great gent’s knife is a fully functioning tool that stands strong in the ‘looks and class’ department,” explained Jim Wirth of GiantMouse. “It’s a knife that is capable of cutting tasks but also for social events, Sunday church or a Thursday evening cocktail.”

GiantMouse makes a bold statement among gent’s knives with the Nibbler, a compact, efficient folder that Wirth says works as a great EDC in areas and situations where size matters. “Although the Nibbler is small, it packs a serious punch,” he pointed out. “Our definition of a gentleman’s knife is a knife that you can EDC in almost any environment, from the church to the office so to speak, a knife that does not raise eyebrows but will be welcomed when put to use. This could very well be the modern definition of this type of knife.”

The Nibbler is bound to fill the bill for that light-cutting job and to exude a positive image. “It’s inspired by the fictional character Nibbles ‘Tuffy’ Mouse from the hit cartoon series Tom and Jerry,” Jim explained. “Nibbles may be small but he sure is mighty, just like our new ACE Nibbler, a petite folder that packs a serious punch and doesn’t lack in the fun department, either.”

Wirth concludes that both men and women will find the Nibbler a great choice for EDC. “We don’t think that making a pink handle on a knife will make it more suitable for women,” he reasoned. “We don’t believe in designing specifically for a gender; all our knives are equally suited for men or women.”

GiantMouse ACE Nibbler Specs:
Designer: Jens Anso, Jesper Voxnaes
Blade Length: 2″
Blade Steel: N690
Blade Grind: Plain
Handle Material: Alunimum
Pocket Clip: Wire
Bolsters: N/A
Lock: Liner Lock
Weight: 2 oz.
Closed Length: 2.76″
Country Of Origin: China
MSRP: $95

Pro-Tech Newport

ProTech Gent Knife
The thoughtfully designed deep carry clip and the thin, lightweight nature of the Pro-Tech Newport 3405 make it a good choice for wearing dress slacks, as it won’t tear up the pocket or be heavy enough to make it sag.

At Pro-Tech, Dave Wattenberg takes pride in the Newport, a gent’s knife that exudes personality. “It’s our thinnest and lightest full-size auto,” he commented. “It packs three inches of S35VN steel for all your EDC tasks into a precision-machined aircraft-aluminum frame that is only .38 inch thick.

The thoughtfully designed deep carry clip and the thin, light carry of the Newport make it a great choice for someone wearing a nice trouser or dress slacks, as it won’t tear up the pocket or be heavy enough to make it sag.”

Dave is excited about the versatility of the Newport, its swift deployment, unobtrusive profile, and variety when it comes to materials while running the gamut from EDC to investor/collector-grade presentations.

“From solid aluminum handle/stonewash base models all the way to investor customs, there’s a Newport model to suit just about any taste and budget,” he remarked. “Pro-Tech is well known, of course, for superior coil-spring-action auto knives, and while the Newport is no exception to this, users will find the action controlled, smooth and satisfying—not the huge snap of one of the tactical response series, but a more gentlemanly switchblade action.”

Pro-Tech Newport Specs:
Designer: N/A
Blade Length: 3″
Blade Steel: S35-VN
Blade Grind: Plain
Handle Material: Aluminum
Pocket Clip: Tip-Up
Bolsters: N/A
Lock: Auto
Weight: 2 oz.
Closed Length: 4.125″
Country Of Origin: USA
MSRP: $240

Sandrin Torino

Sandrin Gent Knife
The polyhedral tungsten carbide blade of the Sandrin Torino is designed to retain its razor-sharp edge far beyond that of steel blades in Sandrin’s “StaySharp Technology.”

The Sandrin Torino exemplifies the ideals of the gent’s knife, and Sandrin’s Rob Bianchin says he knows why. “The Torino is exceptionally lightweight at only 2.29 ounces,” he remarked. “It’s pretty easy to forget that you have it in your pocket. The lightweight characteristics are deceiving as the blade performance exceeds that of a steel knife for edge retention. For anyone who can appreciate metallurgy, the polyhedral tungsten carbide blade is a state-of-the-art super metal and was not thought possible just a few years ago.”

According to Rob, the entire Sandrin knife experience is centered around the blade material. Polyhedral tungsten carbide is not steel. Instead, according to Sandrin, it is an engineered “super metal” invented and patented for blades by Sandrin director Alessandro Colombatto. “Tungsten carbide can be used for cutting steel or for wear parts that undergo extraordinary stress and corrosion,” Bianchin added. “Polyhedral tungsten carbide has advantages over steel, such as consistent molecular structure. It cannot rust and typically is in the 71 [HRC] Rockwell hardness range* or higher.”

The polyhedral tungsten carbide blade lends itself nicely to the Torino gent’s knife presentation, and Rob sees a natural fit. “In my view, the definition of a gent’s knife has evolved with the times and includes knives of quality that are also effective cutting instruments and not just for show. The Torino can be carried and used daily but is also a point of conversation as it is still exceedingly rare to own a knife made from new metal.”

The appeal of the Torino once again embraces the spectrum of potential users—both men and women, factory or office workers. “Gender is not a design consideration,” Rob said. “The Torino is suited for men or women. Men are the predominant consumers of pocketknives, but I suppose in today’s world the industry should call such knives a ladies’ or gentlemen’s folder.”

Sandrin Torino Specs:
Designer: N/A
Blade Length: 2.95″
Blade Steel: HRC71
Blade Grind: Plain
Handle Material: G-10
Pocket Clip: Titanium
Bolsters: N/A
Lock: Recoil
Weight: 2.29 oz
Closed Length: 4″
Country Of Origin: Italy
MSRP: $260

Case Black Sea Dichrolam Tear Drop

Case Gent Knife
The Case Tear Drop Black Sea Dichrolam spear-point blade is designed with a strong tip for piercing, which comes in handy for such gent’s knife jobs as opening mail, packages and the like.

Case has long been a star performer in the manufacture and presentation of gent’s knives, and the company continues the tradition with the Black Sea Dichrolam Tear Drop, a beauty with a composite handle material that mimics the luster of an opal gemstone. Fitting nicely within the spectrum of gent’s knives, the Black Sea Dichrolam Tear Drop brings excitement to the Case fan base.

“Based on our interactions with knife enthusiasts at consumer events, our Classic Case folding patterns like the tear drop are considered by many as a ‘Sunday-go-to-meeting knife,’” commented Fred Feightner, Case director of marketing communications. “But more modern knives are more and more often carried and considered to be a ‘gentleman’s knife.’ The definition lies in the eye of the beholder.”

With the new tear drop entry, Case has bridged any perceived gap between men and women as far as carrying a dressy, functional knife. “We’ve definitely seen an uptick in people carrying Case pocketknives over recent years,” Fred continued, “and they realize that a good, sharp knife is handy to have on your person for all kinds of reasons, from hiking and camping to doing detail work that’s done by hand. Whether kept in a pocket, purse or hanging on a carabiner, a pocketknife is a must have for most any person.”

For occasions when an unobtrusive EDC knife is in the mix, Case fashioned the Black Sea Dichrolam Tear Drop. “Our tear drop pattern has a single spear-shaped blade,” Fred related. “The long, sharp edge can cover everything from cutting threads on clothing to gathering fruit or nuts outdoors. The tip adds functionality for tasks like piercing through a clam shell package or scoring leather to fashion a sheath.”

Case’s tear drops, particularly the Black Sea Dichrolam, perform as excellent light-duty tools, according to Fred. The slim design and small “form factor” make them great for close-up and close-in work, handy little EDC knives that are not only up to the tasks a gent’s knife is meant to perform, but easy on the eyes as well.

Case Black Sea Dichrolam Tear Drop Specs:
Designer: John Blazy
Blade Length: 2.44″
Blade Steel: Trusharp Surgical Steel
Blade Grind: Plain
Handle Material: Dichrolam Composite Laminate
Pocket Clip: None
Bolsters: N/A
Lock: Slip Joint
Weight: 1.4 oz.
Closed Length: 3.63″
Country Of Origin: USA
MSRP: $106

Editor’s Note: Dainel Jackson, Dexture and Mike Haskew contributed to this post.

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