Let’s talk about the clip-on pocket knife. We all have our preference–from deep carry, high carry, specially made custom knife pocket clips, to the old-school no pocket clips at all. But overall, since Spyderco introduced their first folder in 1981, and it had a clip—preference leans towards the pocket knife with a clip.
First, What Are the Benefits of None?
If you’re traditional, perhaps you like the idea of your knife swimming around at the bottom of your pockets or swaddled like a baby in the depths of the denim of your jeans–and I can’t blame you. The argument for no-added clip is the sleekness of the design should exist in a state that’s undisrupted by a random piece of metal. And yes, sometimes it does seem like the clip was not included in the designer’s original plan but placed there as an afterthought. And sometimes the clip seems to just get in the way. Grip can be ruined by a badly placed clip. However…
Benefits Of Pocket Clips
When you’ve got a killer knife, the last thing you want is a chaos of coins and keys banging up your scales. It’s hard to have a pocket set aside just for your favorite folding knives. There’s too much stuff we’re supposed to keep track of. A clip holds your knife still and away from destructive oddments.
Holding that folder in a confined position means less chance of it accidentally opening and stabbing you in the thigh or suddenly adding unwanted ventilation in your pants.
Ease of Access:
Recently, my son was followed and then about to be cornered in the city by a couple of guys with something unpleasant planned, probably theft, but they took off when he casually pulled out his trusty pocket knife. When you’re driven to self-defense, the last thing you want is to be caught digging around in your pockets saying, “Hang on, there, Mr. Burglar! I have a knife here somewhere …” A knife may not be the best self-defense plan ever devised, but just having one can be a deterrent to criminals. But not if you can’t get to it. The same is true when you’re fishing and need to cut line fast. A knife is only as good as it is accessible.
Regular Versus Deep Carry:
If you tend to wear work gloves on a regular basis, you may find the deep-carry clip harder to pull off. Same, if you’re worried about unfolding that beauty with the lightning speed needed for self-defense or live somewhere where a concealed knife is an illegal knife–and with a reasonable amount of handle poking out, you can argue you’re not hiding anything.
But the deep carry has the benefits of discretion and the extra benefit of worry-free security because the deeper your knife is, the less likely it is to get lost. Your knife loves you. It doesn’t want to be Home Aloned or find its way to a new owner through the finders/keepers’ rules of life.
Many Pocket Knives Come Equipped with a Pocket Clip
Because preference leans towards having a clip, it’s difficult to pick THE best pocket knife with a clip. There are so many to choose from. Here’s a few, though, that might solve your pocket clip dilemma (if you happen to have one).
Spyderco has the famous 4-way reversible clip for tip-up and tip-down carry–so you can stick that clip on wherever you want it except the blade. (And if you said you want it on the blade, we’re not speaking to you. You’re just being contrary.) You can also remove the clip from this and most pocket knives if you’d rather go without. The Spyderco Ambitious is an example of the historic pocket clip in motion, and you can wear it on your left side or right side, tip-up or tip-down.
If you’re torn because you don’t want a clip getting in the way of your grip, but you’d still like the option of having a pocket knife with a clip when you want one, take a look at Lionsteel my good sir (or madame). It might seem impossible to have both, but this is one of those rare times in life you can. The Lionsteel Thrill and the Lionsteel ROK have clips that disappear into the handle when you’re not using them. Push the button in the far corner of the handle, and the clip glides out to attach to the inside of your pocket.
When it comes to integrating design with the knife, milled clips are a standout. Milled are sturdy, generally low profile, and don’t bend as easily. The wicked cool Chaves skull design, like in the Chaves Redencion 229, is perfection in a clip and an all-around favorite. If you want your skull screaming, or perhaps singing a jaunty tune, then Daggerr is the way to go. Okay, he’s definitely screaming. Probably at the guy that just cut you off on the freeway. (Channel your road rage to your pocket clip–you’ll feel better.)
Another example of a milled pocket clip is the Microtech Hera. The sturdy clip also has a smooth round sphere for extra-smooth access that glides in and out of your pocket without getting caught up in seams.
If You Don’t Have a Clip But Want One
If you fell in love with a knife that’s clipless and you’re regretting it, why not consider a small sheath that you can fix into your pocket or onto a belt? This MKM Pocket Sheath fits most pocket knives. Perfect for Grandpa’ s favorite folder that he passed onto you, but you’re afraid you’re going to bang up if you use it. Also, If you’re fishing or hunting, you can clip this sheath or something similar to your belt so you don’t have to get into your pocket for access but have your knife closer to your fingertips. This seems particularly beneficial for sporting activities where easy access is key.
We have lots of knife sheath options to help you fit your favorite tool.
Replacing a Pocket Clip
Eventually your pocket clip is going to need some help. A loose or bent pocket knife clip is simply a sign its seen a lot of use. If you reach for your blade often, of course the clip will eventually show wear. Sometimes you can just tighten the screws, sometimes (but be careful!) you can bend the clip back into position, and sometimes you need to look at replacing your clip.
Some companies, like Benchmade, have excellent customer service and will send you a new one. Contact your knife company and find out about their policy.
To repair a bent pocket clip, check out this advice in our Pocket Knife Clip Learn article. As we mention, if you’ve bent a clip it’s likely you’ll bend it again and you might want to replace it. However, you can give it a shot and see how sturdy the clip feels when you’re done. But this is entirely up to your discretion. Use caution.
In the end, it’s all about you. Your preference is the number one consideration, but you’ll also want to decide which method helps you take the best care of your knife. If you’re a minimalist, then maybe a no clip works great for you. If your pockets tend to fill, maybe a clip or an outer sheath would be your best bet. Whatever you choose, we hope you love you knife and that it serves you well.
Happy carry, friends!