Styles of Pocket Knives You Should Know About



Pocket knives are designed to handle a wide range of tasks. They have varying shapes and features, each suited for different purposes. One misconception among many beginners is that any pocket knife will do the job. But seasoned carriers know the importance of using the right pocket knife for a given task. Here is a breakdown of the different styles of pocket knives about which you should know.


best multitool pocket knife

Pictured: Gerber Gear Suspension Needle Nose Pliers Multitool (22-01471N)

Also known as the camper’s knife, the multitool name tells you everything about the knife. It comes with almost all essential survival tools you may need, including a bottle and can opener, pliers, scissors, nail file, tweezers, screwdrivers, and different blades.

The versatility of this tool makes it a favorite among many pocket knife enthusiasts. However, it may seem bulky if you don’t see yourself using most of the other items included in the multitool.


best canoe pocket knife

Pictured: Old Timer 1011OT Small Canoe Traditional Folding Knife

The Canoe pocket knife looks like a canoe when the blades are put back inside. Canoes usually have two different types of blades on either end of the handle but the same side of the handle.


styles of pocket knives - penknife pocket knife

Pictured: Old Timer 194OT Gunstock Traditional Folding Pen Knife

Pen knives came into existence around the time people started using quills for writing. Users would use the knife to pierce the end of the quill before writing. This explains the blade’s distinctive shape – thin with a pointy tip.

Most pen knives have simple designs. And while some have fixed blades, most collapse into the handle for safety. You’d then use the nail mark on the blade spine to remove it from the handle.


styles of pocket knives - trapper

Pictured: Case XX WR Pocket Knife Natural Smooth Bone Trapper

This pocket knife is commonly used by trappers and has two blades: a clip point and a Spey. But unlike the canoe knife, the blades on a trapper knife are on the same end of the handle.

The different shapes of the two blades allow you to use the nail mark on each to remove the blade you want to use from the handle with much ease.


congress style of pocket knives

Pictured: Old Timer 44OT Workmate Congress Pocket Knife

The distinguishing feature of a Congress pocket knife is its four blades: pen, spear point, and two sheepsfoot blades. There are two blades on each end of the handle, each measuring about half the length of the handle.

When the blades close into the handle, they all kind of meet in the middle. This style of closure inspired the knife’s name.

Read Next: 8 Best pocket Knife Brands This Year


sheepsfoot style of pocket knives

Pictured: Old Timer 735OT Mariner Pocket Knife

The name of this style of pocket knives defines its type of blade. The knife was originally designed specifically for trimming sheep hooves. The blade has a straight back that curves at the tip toward its straight edge.

The sturdiness of the blade and the comfortable handles expanded the usability of the knife to more than trimming sheep hooves.


tanto pocket knives

Pictured: CRKT Helical EDC Folding Pocket Knife

Tanto style of pocket knives have origins in Japan. They feature the standard sword shape – straight spine and edge – but with a pointy and aggressive tip. A common quality of these pocket knives is razor-sharp edges and elegant designs.


tactical pocket knives

Pictured: Smith & Wesson Extreme Ops SWA24S Pocket Knife

A clip and efficient quick release are the two main features that set the tactical pocket knife aside from the rest on this list. But that’s not all. Tactical knives also come with additional features to make them ideal for their purpose, including a compass and a hardened, projecting tip for breaking glass.

Other features include a comfortable handle, ergonomically designed for a firm and non-slip grip. Some tactical knives also have serrated blades sharpened on either side.


stockman style of pocket knives

Pictured: Stockman Pocket Knife with Personalized Laser

The stockman knife has three blades: sheep’s foot, clip point, and spey. The knife was originally designed for herdsmen and cowboys – an American classic.

Two of the three blades are on one end of the handle, while the other is on the other. The different shapes of the blades also allow easy extraction from the handle using the individual nail marks.


The right choice of the best styles of pocket knives to have comes down to personal preferences and the task at hand. For instance, a tactical knife would make the best choice if you need a blade that extracts quickly. Also, a camper’s knife comes with almost all the essential tools you might need outdoors.

Besides, you can have a collection of different types of pocket knives for your everyday carry. Because who wants to have only one type of pocket knife?


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