How to Pick a Cheap Pocket Knife Under $20: A Simple Guide

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Whether you’re buying a pocket knife for the first time, updating your collection, or buying a knife as a gift for someone, you’re might not be looking forward to spending a ton of money on a knife. However, you don’t need to spend $100+ on a pocket knife in order to have one that will perform really well. 

So, how do you pick a cheap pocket knife? When picking a cheap pocket knife, focus on the overall build quality. Try to pick a knife with an aluminum handle. A cheaper knife is going to come with softer steel, but that’s totally fine, a softer steel makes it easier to sharpen.

Today we’re going to look at:

  1. A Cheap Pocket Knife vs An Expensive Pocket Knife
  2. What to Look for in a Cheap Pocket Knife
    1. Handle Quality
    2. Blade Quality
  3. The Benefits of Purchasing a Cheap Pocket Knife
  4. The Benefits of an Expensive Knife
  5. A List of Cheap Knives Under $20

A Cheap Pocket Knife vs An Expensive Pocket Knife

If you ever shopped for a pocket knife, you may have wondered what separates a cheap pocket knife from an expensive one.

Take a cheap knife such as the TAC Force TF-719BK with a price of around $9 and compare that to the Gerber Propel Downrange with a price of almost $230! There is definitely a big difference here, so what makes these two knives so different in price? While there are a lot of factors that play into the answer, one big factor is the materials the knife is made out of.

Take the Gerber Propel Downrange knife above, for example. The handle is made out of textured G-10 material. Here is the Wikipedia explanation of what G-10 material is and what it’s made out of.

G-10 is a high-pressure fiberglass laminate, a type of composite material.[ It is created by stacking multiple layers of glass cloth, soaking in epoxy resin, and compressing the resulting material under heat until the epoxy cures. It is manufactured in flat sheets, most often a few millimeters thick.
G-10 is very similar to Micarta and carbon fiber laminates, because they are all resin-based laminates, except that the base material used is glass cloth. G-10 is the toughest of the glass fiber resin laminates and therefore the most commonly used.


Did you know that G-10 is far more durable than steel?! The process of making G-10 material is a very labor intensive task, this is why you’re most likely only going to find G-10 on a higher end knife.

The TAC Force TF-719BK knife’s handle is made out of aluminum. Although aluminum is a lightweight durable material, it can be more susceptible to dings and, if out in the cold, the handle will get really cold to the touch.

However, even though the TAC Force TF-719BK knife above is very, very cheap. It’s actually a very satisfying knife for the money. As a former owner of the TAC Force TF-719BK, I can honestly say it’s a great knife for the average knife enthusiast! It is surprisingly durable, and it looks amazing.

What to Look for in a Cheap Pocket Knife

So we already established what separates a cheap pocket knife from a more expensive one, but not all cheap pocket knives are created equal either. For example, I was really impressed with the quality of the TAC Force TF-719BK pocket knife, and it only cost around $9. However, there have been other cheap knives I have used in the past and they were absolutely terrible!

Handle Quality 

First, we’re going to start with handle quality. The handle is one of the most important parts of a pocket knife because it’s where your hand comes in contact with the knife itself. Try to pick a pocket knife that has an aluminum or steel handle. Although aluminum is easy to nick, and the paint will eventually wear off, the handle will be way more durable than cheap plastic handles. The downside to a steel handle is the added weight. Steel is not the lightest material, so your knife will be heavier than other pocket knives it’s size.

Blade Quality 

In a cheap pocket knife, it’s going to be the blade quality that will suffer first. I’m not going to go into the differences between all of the different steel types in pocket knife blades, but I can assure you that when purchasing a pocket knife under $20, it’s most likely going to come with softer steel than more expensive knives. However, there is a benefit to this. If you’re new to pocket knives, it’ll help you out when it comes to sharpening your knife. The reason behind this is softer steel is easier to sharpen than harder steel. Although you’ll have to sharpen your knife more often, it’s a small price to pay if you’re trying to shy away from paying a lot of money for a pocket knife.

If you’re looking for a pocket knife sharpener, check out my blog post where I list the 13 best pocket knife sharpeners on Amazon.

The Benefits of Purchasing a Cheap Pocket Knife

Although we went over this briefly in the beginning, there are a few benefits to buying a cheap pocket knife over an expensive one. The first one would be if you don’t have a ton of money to sink into a knife. There are a ton of cheap pocket knives out there that will work absolutely perfect for your needs. If you’re someone who is looking for a knife to get the job done, then a cheap knife is great for you.

The second reason is if you’re buying your kid a first-ever pocket knife, then you might want to start off with a cheaper one. A kid doesn’t necessarily need a pocket knife that costs $100+. If you decided to get your kid a pocket knife, a cheap one is a great option. If you pick the right knife, it’ll be durable enough for your kid to not break right away, while at the same time not breaking your bank.

The Benefits of an Expensive Knife

However, depending on the situation, an expensive knife is the best choice. If you’re a hunter or an avid outdoorsman, you’ll want to invest in a pocket knife that will outlast heavy use. An expensive pocket knife will give you a high-quality handle, such as carbon fiber or G-10. And the blade will most likely have a harder grade of steel, thus making it’s sharpness last longer.

RELATED POST: Why You Should Never Buy a Gerber Survival Knife

Cheap Knives Under $20

If you have decided that you want a cheap pocket knife over an expensive one right now, then check out the 3 pocket knives that are under $20 hand selected by the Rogue Survival team!

QUICK DISCLAIMER: Always check your state’s knife laws before purchasing a knife.

Grand Way Spring Assisted Knife

The Grand Way Spring Assisted Knife is a great choice. This knife has 769 reviews averaging at 4 stars. For a cheap knife with that many reviews, that’s a pretty good rating. This knife has a lightweight aluminum handle and a 440C stainless steel blade. It also has a belt clip and its spring assisted when opening. In other words, you can open the knife with one hand easily.

View the price on Amazon.

Elk Ridge Pocket Knife

If you want a pocket knife with a more traditional look, then you might find this knife fitting to your style. This knife has 117 reviews, averaging at 5 stars. The cool thing about this knife is it’s under $20 and you can customize the engraving on the handle for free!

View the price on Amazon.

MTech USA Ballistic MT-A705 Series

This knife is currently offered in 8 different colors. Like the first knife on the list, the blade is spring assisted, allowing you to open the knife one-handed with ease. This knife has 1,761 reviews on Amazon and averages at 4.5 stars. This knife offers a silver titanium-coated aluminum handle and a stainless steel blade.

View the price on Amazon.

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