BLADE Magazine

8 Affordable, Cool, And Compact Keychain Knives [2022]

The Gerber Key Note Knife

Updated 5/25/2022

Keychain Knives Provide Utility And Protection In A Compact Package. There Are Many Quality Keychain Knives At An Affordable Price.

From a conversation piece to the handiest blade available, nothing adds to the everyday carry equation better than the right keychain knife. With little notice until needed, a keychain cutter is ready for action but doesn’t weigh down the pocket or take up too much space in a purse.

Coming in different sizes and blade types, keychain knives are as varied as any other type of everyday carry knife but is smaller and more nimble.

8 Best Affordable Keychain Knives

Outdoor Edge MiniGrip

At Outdoor Edge, the MiniGrip, MiniBlaze, and MiniBabe are the same knife differentiated only by color in black, blaze—an orange shade—and pink, respectively. “They’re designed to meet the needs of anyone who needs a small lightweight blade that is always within reach,” Outdoor Edge marketing director William Morgan said. “We designed these knives in three colors to cater to all knife enthusiasts. When we developed this series of knives, we noticed a gap in the market for an affordable and mostly practical small knife that can be easily attached to a keychain or carried in one’s pocket.

The Outdoor Edge MiniGrip, MiniBlaze, and MiniBabe are the same keychain knife differentiated only by color in black, blaze—an orange shade—and pink, respectively. “They’re designed to meet the needs of anyone who needs a small lightweight blade that is always within reach,” related Outdoor Edge marketing director William Morgan. 

“We opted to make three colors to accommodate a larger audience,” William continued. “Obviously, the orange is great for high visibility, reducing the chance of losing the knife, while the black is a little more inconspicuous, and the pink seems to be a hit with the female audience.”

Designed in Colorado and sporting a low MSRP, each knife in the Outdoor Edge series includes a 2.2-inch 8Cr13MoV stainless steel blade, rubber TPR handle, 1.4-ounce weight, and 2.9-inch closed length. Each model comes complete with a lanyard that makes attaching it to a keychain easy. Each has an ambidextrous thumb stud for easy one-hand opening as well.

“The razor-sharp blade is up to any task, from opening the latest round of Amazon Prime boxes to cutting rope or even performing field-dressing tasks,” Morgan said. “The rubberized TPR handle serves a few functions. First, this is a small knife, and we were concerned about creating a secure, non-slip grip to avoid accidents. Second, the handle does not jingle against the keys on your keychain, making it a perfect silent addition to anyone’s keys.”

MSRP: $23.95

The Bear Edge 71523

The Bear Edge 71523 from Bear & Son Cutlery complements a substantial line of knives, and company spokesperson Jacob Eaton says it’s a hit. “It’s affordable, compact and a functional tool,” he said. “Customers really like it because it’s lightweight, sharp and just the right size. Plus, you will always know where a knife is when it’s attached to your keys. We find both genders purchasing the Bear Edge 71523, and it fits everyone’s lifestyle.”

The Bear Edge 71523 is a framelock-folding keychain knife with a 2-inch blade of 440 stainless steel and a stainless handle. Weight: 2.3 ounces. Closed length:2.875 inches. The imported knife has an MSRP of $17.99.

The imported 71523 is complete with a two-inch blade of 440 stainless steel, stainless handle, and closed length of 2.875 inches. It’s almost lighter than air at just 2.3 ounces. According to Eaton, the blade length is ideal for typical cutting tasks encountered on a daily basis. “Cutting boxes open, adjusting cordage length and other similar chores are easy with the sturdy framelock design,” he said. “And one can cut confidently.” Another utilitarian feature is the built-in bottle opener.

The company chose the stainless components for durability, and the knife is sized for maximum versatility. “Stainless steel is a timeless design element and proven to stand against wear and tear,” Eaton said. “The finish looks natural on a keychain and doesn’t call attention. The frame pattern was developed to fit comfortably into both large and small hands. The blade is a drop point shape, allowing it to complete most tasks, and the 71523 attaches with a standard split key ring.”

MSRP: $21.49

Al Mar Knives Stinger

The Al Mar Knives (AMK) approach to keychain knives involves easy access and long-term performance, and the Stinger was developed to deliver classic AMK design and function.

Above: The Stinger fixed-blade keychain knife from Al Mar Knives features a 1.3-inch D-2 tool steel blade in a flat grind, a synthetic PP+TPR rubber handle, and dual-injected sheath of the same material. It weighs just .7 of an ounce. Overall length: 3.1 inches.

“This knife is designed to be great at slicing and fast cuts.” — Justin Rabon

“Our Stinger keychain knife is designed for anyone looking for a durable blade they can keep concealed and on hand, with or without pockets,” AMK representative Justin Rabon said. “Our users find creative ways to incorporate these on their bags, gear and keys. We feel this versatility can help reach a wide range of users across many different lifestyles. We want our keychain knives to be practical for the majority of our users. We want to find the needs in the industry and have our knives be the solution to those needs.”

The fixed-blade Stinger comes complete with a snug-fitting sheath and deploys with a push of a button. It features a 1.3-inch D-2 tool steel blade in a flat grind, a PP+TPR rubber handle, and dual-injected sheath of the same material. It weighs just .7 of an ounce. Overall length: 3.1 inches.

“This knife is designed to be great at slicing and fast cuts,” Rabon said. “It can be used for anything where a short, sharp knife is needed. To accomplish these tasks easily and repeatedly, we gave the knife a D-2 blade. D-2 is known for retaining a sharp edge after repeated use. We also designed the Stinger to have Al Mar’s Wedge-style blade. This provides a superior dagger point where needed.”

The AMK Stinger comes complete with a snug-fitting sheath and deploys with an easy push of a button. It comes in red, blue, black and green—and the green really stands out in a crowd.

The Stinger’s finer points add flair and good looks as well. “The four colors that were chosen for the four Stinger knives—red, blue, black and green—were picked to provide variety while staying true to the traditional red and black of Al Mar Knives. The plastics in the handle were chosen to add extra grip and durability.”

Integral to the Stinger design is an eyelet built into the sheath, and sturdy construction prevents failures. “This makes sure the sheath doesn’t detach from the eyelet,” Rabon said, “and also allows you to replace the smaller key loop with a smaller diameter cord if desired. The Al Mar Wedge provides a superior point if needed, and the finger groove at the base of the blade allows the Stinger to sit comfortably in most hands. This improves the fit, feel, and functionality of the knife.”

MSRP: $12-23

Gerber Key Note

Gerber spokesperson Josh Headley said the focus on the company’s Key Note keychain knife is compactness. “We also wanted to add some chisel/scraping capabilities for additional functionality,” he said. “Gender wasn’t a big consideration. We just wanted to make a tool that was worthy of a place in your pocket or purse.”

Also available in black as shown, the Gerber Key Note linerlock keychain knife has a 1-inch blade of satin-finished 5Cr stainless steel that is designed to scrape as well as cut. Handle: aluminum. Weight: 3.98 ounces. Closed length: 2 inches.

Features inherent in the Key Note design brought that idea from the drawing board to reality. “We added the wide clip so that you can also hang keys on your belt,” Headley said. “The knife was designed to not draw too much attention when worn on the clip, but still have a pleasing and almost symmetrical shape. We took a lot of inspiration from the history of Gerber. The overall profile is inspired by the shield logo, as well as Gerber’s past logos and heraldic-naming conventions with a modern twist.”

The Key Note combines function with a tip of the cap to Gerber tradition. With a 1-inch blade of satin-finished 5Cr stainless steel, the knife weighs just 3.98 ounces, and its aluminum handle scales are built to last.

“The primary function of the Key Note is to open packages,” Headley said. “The thought was you get home, grab a package off your porch and open your door. You have the tool set to open your door and open your package in hand.”

The Key Note’s tanto-style blade allows for scraping & chiseling along with cutting.

Available colors add to the Key Note’s appeal for those who look for discretion or want a bit of flash. “We set out to have a modern option and an old-school option for the EDC community,” Headley commented. “The matte-black anodize with the bright contrast from the orange is meant to look at home next to your key fob. The coyote and sage is designed to camouflage among a set of brass keys. We made the scales out of aluminum to increase the strength of the lockup, and so that the weight of the keys won’t knock the blade off balance. To improve longevity, the blade runs on brass washers and operates on a classic linerlock.”

The blade is in a compact tanto style to provide two flat edges that are easy to sharpen. A flat key ring gives an appropriate amount of flexibility between the ring and scales. Several different diameters of rings were tested to determine the best component. A kick-out tab is incorporated to assist in deploying the blade and allow easier opening rather than solely depending on the nail nick.

“The Key Note should be suited to light and medium opening and cutting tasks,” Josh said. “The flat edge on the front can be used to scrape everything from a label to that last bit of errant head gasket. In addition, the front of the scale can be leveraged so that the midpoint of the blade will puncture tape without damaging the contents of a box.”

MSRP: $21.60

Kershaw Cinder

Kershaw Cinder keychain knife.

If there was a knife out there that could be called adorable it’s the Kershaw Cinder, but don’t judge a book by its cover. This knife comes with a blade of 3Cr13 blade steel, and you know with the Kershaw name that it will be a quality knife from blade to handle. An excellent box cutter and utility knife or a protection piece for your keychain or purse, the Cinder plays far bigger than its size. Also, it has an integrated bottle opener and we could always use another of those.

MSRP: $13.99

Spyderco Bug Micro-Size Folding Knife 1-5/16″ Blade

Spyderco Bug Micro-Size Folding Knife 1-5/16″ Blade

Sypderco has made a nimble keychain knife that feels like it should cost more than it does. At less than three inches in total length, the Bug easily slides onto a keychain and works as an excellent low-profile EDC for protection and whatever else life throws at you.

A flat-ground blade made of 3Cr13MoV stainless steel, the Bug also features a flat, stainless steel handle great for engraving or personalizing for yourself or a friend as a gift. The smallest folding knife made by Spyderco, the Bug delivers in nearly every way.

MSRP: $24.50

SOG Centi II Knife

SOG Centi II Knife

Featuring a lockback design, and a blade coming in at 2.1 inches, the Centi II is a versatile knife fit for your pocket, keychain, or even on a necklace. Strong yet thin, it’s even thinner than your car key, the Centi II is robust enough to tackle any day-to-day tasks you’d expect from any other EDC. The hardcased black finish is gorgeous and adds a sleek design touch to the knife.

Victorinox Classic Swiss Army Knife

Victorinox Classic Swiss Army Knife

When it comes to keychain knives it’s impossible to make a list without the famous Swiss Army Knife. With seven tools and functions built into a body just 2.3 inches in length, the Swiss Army Knife is famous for its versatility and is still one of the gold standards of keychain knives.

With tools made of stainless steel that include a small blade, scissors, and a nail file with a screwdriver, the Swiss Army Knife can handle pretty much any situation life can throw at you where you’d need a quick tool. The classics become classics for a reason, and you can’t go wrong with a Swiss Army Knife on your keychain or in your pocket.

MSRP: $19.99

Mike Abelson contributed to this piece.

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