Looking for the best quality pocket knife in your price range will have you looking at lock mechanism type and steel chemistry, to be sure.
But don’t overlook the scale material when you’re looking for a good pocket knife, either. Here are the most common materials and the bottom line of what they offer.
Natural Handle Materials
Stainless steel is a common scale material. Knives made with stainless steel scales are very strong, but steel can be corrosion-prone and the material is also very heavy. It’s about as tough as they come, though.
Aluminum is just about as strong as steel but it is far more lightweight. However, aluminum is much softer and prone to scratching. With that said, if you get a knife with anodized aluminum scales, it will be much more resistant to corrosion and scratches.
Titanium pairs some of the best attributes of both steel and aluminum. It is lighter than steel but very strong, and much harder and corrosion resistant than aluminum, making it a good compromise.
Bone is a beautiful material and it is hard and strong, but not nearly as strong as most metals. Bone can also dry out with time, which can cause cracking. It can also be damaged by sunlight. That said, bone is very resistant to microbial attack.
Horn, like bone, is resistant to microbial attack. However, it can also crack and be damaged by sunlight, and despite its beautiful appearance, it is very lightweight and fairly fragile.
Antler is very similar to bone in that it is dense, strong, and scratch resistant. It can dry out and become damaged or crack, though.
Stacked leather is beautiful and offers a superb, comfortable grip, but leather can be damaged by water and sunlight. Stacked leather handles also need to be conditioned periodically.
Most wood scales are very strong and wood scales can be very beautiful, but wood can also be very fragile. If you have a knife with wood scales, you will need to protect the wood from water, light, blood, and grease, as these can stain it and cause it to rot.
Synthetic Scale Materials
Micarta is made by impregnating fibrous material with a synthetic resin. While it lacks some of the appeal of most natural handle scales and is fairly heavy, it is impervious to moisture, weather, and all forms of rot.
G10, like Micarta, is very heavy, but it is also non-absorbent and won’t be damaged by water, rot, corrosion, or other similar factors.
Carbon fiber scales are very light and very strong, and like Micarta and G10 are pretty resistant to moisture and other factors. They can however crack if stressed.
Fiberglass Laminate/FRN (Fiberglass-Reinforced Nylon)
FRN is extremely durable and offers pretty much all of the advantages of Micarta and G10, except that it is substantially lighter. It is also softer, so it can be gouged or deformed if stressed.
Acrylic is often used to make knife scales because it can be poured or extruded to make unique, colorful patterns. Is it lightweight and fairly resistant to wear and corrosion, but it is much softer and lighter than Micarta and G10 and can crack or warp if stressed or struck. Get acrylic if you like the aesthetic, otherwise, there are better options.
Find the Best Quality Pocket Knife for Your Purposes at White Mountain Knives
Keep this in mind the next time you’re looking for a fixed or folding knife for EDC. Whether you need a small knife with a short blade length and cutting edge for opening packages or a new camping knife with a softer stainless steel blade that’s easy to sharpen but will hold an edge for a decent amount of time, these are some things you need to look out for.