Let’s check our affinity for tradition at the door. We all love ESEE, Ontario Knife Company, Buck Knives, Gerber, Benchmade, A Swiss Army Knife from Victorinox, Spyderco, Case, Kershaw Knives, and CRKT. Who doesn’t? These are great knife brands by any yardstick, and in some cases (no pun intended) they are excellent pocket knife brands as well.
But where can you go if you don’t want to shell out $100 or more for Case, Benchmade, or Spyderco level quality?
“Alternative” Quality in Pocket Knife Brands
In this article, we’re going to offer a brief, very high-level view of some pocket knife brands you should know if you’re a fan of the big names mentioned at the top of this article.
The following 5 pocket knife brands are excellent alternatives to some of these listed above (as you will see below) and all of them are exceptionally well known for the innovative designs of the knives they make, as well as for the quality of materials used.
Byrd – A Poor Man’s Spyderco
If you’re not familiar with Byrd Knives, you would actually probably look at one and think you were looking at a Spyderco.
These knives actually are produced by Spyderco, but they use a different name to differentiate the two of them. That means, for you, you can expect Spyderco-level quality in a Byrd, as well as very similar aesthetics and construction.
Also, full disclosure, they are made in China to keep costs down – but quality remains very high.
Rough Ryder – A Poor Man’s Case
Often the only distinguishing factor between a Rough Ryder and a Case is the Case shield on one and the “R” bolster on the other.
Like Case, Rough Ryder uses exceptional quality materials in the construction of its pocket knives, such as mother-of-pearl, pure copper, genuine horn, bone, antler, and so much more.
Also, unlike Case, at least Rough Ryder has the decency to tell us what type of steel it uses. Many of their knives use premium steel, like VG-10, or T10 high carbon (the very same steel used in the production of many high-end swords) unlike Case’s “Tru-Sharp Surgical,” whatever that means.
Again, they’re made in China, but you will not believe the price and quality of a Rough Ryder, and for less than $20, you can make that gamble, trust us.
Cold Steel – A Poor Man’s Buck
Truth be told, Buck makes a lot of affordable knives, and Cold Steel makes a lot of very expensive knives.
However, if you’ve never experienced models like their Canadian Belt Knife or Pendleton Lite, both of which you can typically get for under $20, then you need to see what sort of value Cold Steel can offer.
CJRB – A Poor Man’s CRKT
Don’t let the name fool you. CJRB is not a cheap knockoff. It might sound like CRKT, but it’s no copycat.
Like CRKT, CJRB knives are designed by some of the industry’s greats, like Savannah Swaggerty, Dylan Mallery, and Joe Flowers, and CJRB uses high-end materials and steels in the production of their knives, such as carbon fiber and G10 scales and AR-RPM9 and D2 steel blades.
In this case as in a few of the others on this list, though, you should be aware that CJRB knives are made in China whereas CRKT knives (most of them, at least) are made in the U.S. in Oregon.
Schrade – A Poor Man’s OKC
If you love the down-to-earth appeal of OKC but not the sticker price, Schrade is for you. Once an American-only company, now Schrade makes most if not all of its knives in China – but who’s counting, since OKC makes many of its knives in Taiwan.
So on that front, it’s a draw. What Schrade and OKC have in common is their use of very tough (but typically affordable) steels like AUS-8, AUS-10, and 1095. Also, Schrade and OKC both just love black G10, FRN, and Micarta, so in many instances, the aesthetics are basically the same.
Except, for an OKC RAT you’ll pay between $40 and $100, whereas for a Schrade (which you can often get on sale) the sticker price will probably be closer to $30 or $50 – sometimes far less.
Where Can You Get These Pocket Knife Brands?
Looking for high-quality multi-tool or knife designs from any of the pocket knife brands featured here, and many others? Visit White Mountain Knives at WhiteMountainKnives.com for the largest selection of fixed and folding knives you’ve ever seen.
They offer a huge range of products from an immense assortment of brands. If you need a new fixed or folding knife – it hardly matters whether you’re looking for thumb studs or holds, pocket clips or a sheath, liner locks or frame locks, assisted opening or automatic – they have what you need.
Visit their website via the link above for more information or get in touch with them at WhiteMountainKnives@gmail.com.