Most Iconic Knives
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15 Most Iconic Knives of All Time: A Guide to Classic Blades

Whether you’re an outdoorsman or simply someone who appreciates a well-made tool, these 15 iconic knives will captivate your mind. Each of them has a unique story to tell. 

So, what are these 15 most iconic knives of all time? From the timeless elegance of the case trapper to the utilitarian simplicity of the swiss army knife, Spyderco military, Leatherman wave, CRKT m16, etc., these knives have captured people’s imaginations worldwide. 

Continue reading to learn about the fascinating stories surrounding these knives, how they were created and used, and why they have become such enduring symbols of quality and craftsmanship. 

1. Classic SD Swiss Army Knife

Classic SD Swiss Army Knife

Key Features

  • Brand: Victorinox
  • Price: $19.99
  • Special Features: a blade, nail file, screwdriver, scissors, keyring, tweezers, and a toothpick
  • Skill Level: Suitable for all skill levels
  • Blade Material: Stainless Steel
  • Blade Length: 1.25 inches
  • Handle Material: Aluminum
  • Item Weight: 1lbs
  • Age Range: Adult

Classic SD swiss army knife is one of the most iconic pocket knives ever. Victorinox created this knife in 1939. The original Swiss Army Knife was developed in response to a Swiss Army request for a compact and versatile tool that soldiers could use in the field.

It has undergone numerous changes and iterations to become the classic model we know today. Despite all the Classic SD knife’s tools, it only weighs 1lbs. It is helpful for a wide range of tasks, including opening boxes, cutting fruit, and repairing small electronics. 

The Classic SD Swiss Knife has become an enduring symbol of quality because it is a high-quality, long-lasting tool. Its construction materials are of the highest quality, and the design is functional and elegant.

2. Spyderco Military

Spyderco Military

Key Features

  • Brand: Spyderco 
  • Price: $217.00
  • Special Features: 4-inch blade with a thumb hole and a modified clip point
  • Skill Level: Intermediate
  • Blade Material: Stainless Steel
  • Blade Length: 4 Inches
  • Handle Material: Fiberglass
  • Item Weight: 0.45lbs
  • Age Range: Adult

The Spyderco Military knife was designed by Spyderco founder Sal Glesser and was first released in 1996. Glesser used his experience as a survival instructor and outdoor enthusiast to design a knife that would meet the needs of military and law enforcement personnel. 

The Military knife was designed to be lightweight, durable, and easy to carry, making it an ideal choice for soldiers and other professionals who require a dependable, high-performance knife.

It was one of the first knives to incorporate Spyderco’s Compression Lock, which has since become a signature feature of the company’s knives. 

The Spyderco Military features a full flat-ground blade made of CPM-S30V stainless steel. It also has Spyderco’s signature Round Hole, allowing for a one-handed opening. 

3. Leatherman Wave

Leatherman Wave

Key Features

  • Brand: Leatherman 
  • Price: $119.95
  • Special Features: comes with 18 tools
  • Skill Level: Intermediate
  • Blade Material: Stainless Steel
  • Blade Length: 2.9 inches
  • Handle Material: Stainless Steel
  • Item Weight: 0.53lbs
  • Age Range: Adult

Tim Leatherman was inspired to design the Leatherman Wave knife while traveling through Europe in the 1970s. He encountered many situations where he needed a tool but didn’t have one while traveling. He saw a need for a portable multi-tool that could be used for various tasks and set out to design one.

After several years of development and testing, the Leatherman Wave was introduced in 1998. It quickly gained popularity due to its versatility and durability, and it has since become one of the world’s most well-known multi-tools.

Its distinguishing features include 18 tools, including pliers, screwdrivers, knives, wire strippers, scissors, bottle openers, rulers, files, and saws. On top of that, the Leatherman Wave locks when closed, allowing it to fit comfortably in a pocket. 

The Leatherman Wave has also become a symbol of innovation and ingenuity. It was one of the first multi-tools of its kind and has inspired many other manufacturers to create similar products. 

The Leatherman has become a well-known word for a multi-purpose tool containing pliers. 

4. CRKT M16

CRKT M16

Key Features

  • Brand: CRKT  
  • Price: $74.24
  • Special Features: Automated liner safety
  • Skill Level: Intermediate
  • Blade Material: Stainless Steel
  • Blade Length: 3 inches
  • Handle Material: Fiberglass
  • Item Weight: 0.4lbs
  • Age Range: Adult

The history of the CRKT M16 knife dates back to the 1990s when the United States Military approached Kit Carson to create a versatile knife that soldiers could use in the field. Carson accepted the challenge and began to work on the design, which would later become known as the M16.

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Carson drew inspiration from his military experiences and combined them with his knife-making knowledge to create a practical and functional blade.

One of the critical features of the M16 is its innovative locking mechanism, which allows the blade to be securely locked in place when open. This mechanism, known as the “Carson Flipper,” enables the knife to be opened quickly and easily with one hand, making it an ideal tool for soldiers in the field.

The blade is made of AUS-8 stainless steel, known for its toughness and corrosion resistance. The patented AutoLAWKS safety system is also another added plus. This system automatically locks the blade open once it is fully extended, providing the user with extra safety and security. 

5. Fallkniven F1

Fallkniven F1

Key Features

  • Brand: Fallkniven AB
  • Price: $143.15
  • Special Features: Full tang construction
  • Skill Level: Intermediate
  • Blade Material: Stainless Steel
  • Blade Length: 3.99 inches
  • Handle Material: Thermorun elastomer
  • Item Weight: 0.4lbs
  • Age Range: Adult

The Fallkniven F1 knife was first introduced in 1995 by Peter Hjortberger, the founder of Fallkniven AB. This Swedish company produces high-quality knives for outdoor enthusiasts and professional users.

Hjortberger made this knife from high-quality materials, including a laminated VG10 steel blade and a durable Thermorun handle. The blade is 3.8 inches long and 0.18 inches thick, with a drop point design that provides versatility and strength. 

The handle is ergonomically designed for a comfortable grip and features a textured surface that provides excellent traction, even in wet conditions. The knife’s rugged construction and durable materials make it ideal for use in harsh environments, such as the Arctic tundra or the rainforests of South America.

This knife also had a lanyard hole and a black nylon sheath, making it convenient to carry and access when needed. 

6. Buck 110 Hunter

Buck 110 Hunter

Key Features

  • Brand: Buck
  • Price: $74.99
  • Special Features: Has finger grooves
  • Skill Level: Intermediate
  • Blade Material: Stainless Steel
  • Blade Length: 3.75 inches
  • Handle Material: Ebony
  • Item Weight: 0.4lbs
  • Age Range: Adult

The Buck 110 Hunter knife was first introduced in 1964 by the Buck Knife Company, founded by Hoyt Buck and his son Al Buck in 1902. The Buck family had been making knives for generations, and the Buck 110 resulted from years of refinement and experimentation.

The knife’s concept was to create a folding hunting knife that was strong and durable enough to handle any situation while remaining portable and easy to carry. The Buck 110 Hunter knife has become an icon due to its simple, elegant design and sturdy construction. 

It has also been featured in numerous movies and TV shows, cementing its status as a cultural icon. This is historic because it was one of the first folding hunting knives widely accepted and used by hunters and outdoor enthusiasts and is still in use today. 

7. Douk Douk

Douk Douk

Key Features

  • Brand: Douk
  • Price: $26.52
  • Special Features: Foldable
  • Skill Level: All
  • Blade Material: Carbon steel
  • Blade Length: 3.75 inches
  • Handle Material: Carbon steel 
  • Item Weight: 0.15lbs
  • Age Range: Adult

The Douk Douk knife is a traditional French design that has been in use for more than 90 years. Gaspard Cognet, a cutlery manufacturer from France, invented it in the early 1900s. 

The Douk Douk Hunter knife quickly gained popularity in France and other parts of Europe thanks to its quality and affordability. The knife was used by hunters, farmers, and tradespeople, who appreciated its versatility and durability. 

In the years following its creation, the knife became a cultural icon in France and was used as a currency in some parts of the country. It has a thin, curved blade made of high-quality carbon steel. The handle is made of folded sheet metal painted with a bearded man’s distinctive black and white design.

8. Benchmade Griptillian

Benchmade Griptillian

Key Features

  • Brand: Benchmade
  • Price: $200.00
  • Special Features: Reversible pocket clip
  • Skill Level: Intermediate 
  • Blade Material: Stainless steel
  • Blade Length: 3.45 inches
  • Handle Material: Valox
  • Item Weight: 0.11lbs
  • Age Range: Adult
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The Benchmade Griptillian was introduced in 2001 to replace the AFCK, Benchmade’s previous flagship model. Mel Pardue, a well-known knife maker, designed the knife. 

The knife features an ergonomic handle made from Valox, a tough, lightweight material known for its durability and resistance to wear and tear. The knife was designed for various tasks, from cutting rope and fabric to opening boxes and packages. 

The knife’s name, “Griptilian,” is a combination of “grip” and “utilitarian,” which perfectly describes its intended use. Pardue also included the patented AXIS locking mechanism to keep the blade securely in place when open.

9. Gerber MKII

Gerber MKII

Key Features

  • Brand: Gerber Gear
  • Price: $90.00
  • Special Features: Double-edged blade
  • Skill Level: Intermediate 
  • Blade Material: Stainless steel
  • Blade Length: 6.5 inches
  • Handle Material: Die-cast aluminum
  • Item Weight: 0.75bs
  • Age Range: Adult

One of the reasons the Gerber Mark II is considered a historic knife is its association with the Vietnam War. Gerber’s engineers and designers set out to create a knife that could do everything from cutting through dense vegetation to piercing body armor. 

Its unique double-edged blade is one of its distinguishing features. The 6.5-inch-long blade is made of high-quality stainless steel and features a serrated section near the handle for sawing through tough materials.  A serial number is etched into the blade, adding to the knife’s sense of uniqueness and history.

10. Emerson CQC-7

Emerson CQC-7

Key Features

  • Brand: Kershaw and Emerson
  • Price: $39.83
  • Special Features: Wave shape feature
  • Skill Level: Intermediate 
  • Blade Material: Stainless steel
  • Blade Length: 3.25 inches
  • Handle Material: G10 Front
  • Item Weight: 0.30lbs
  • Age Range: Adult

The Kershaw Emerson CQC-7 is a legendary knife designed by renowned knife maker Ernest Emerson and manufactured by Kershaw Knives. CQC stands for “Close Quarters Combat,” referring to the knife’s intended use in close-range situations.

The Kershaw Emerson CQC-7 was one of the first to feature a wave-shaped opening feature. The wave is a small hook on the blade’s spine that catches on the edge of the user’s pocket when the knife is withdrawn. 

This allowed the user to open the knife with one hand quickly and easily, even under stress or in low-light conditions. 

11. Case Trapper

Case Trapper

Key Features

  • Brand: Case
  • Price: $94.99
  • Special Features: Water-Resistant
  • Skill Level: All 
  • Blade Material: Stainless steel
  • Blade Length: 3.25 Inches
  • Handle Material: Oak wood
  • Item Weight: 0.3lbs
  • Age Range: Adult

W.R. Case & Sons Cutlery Company introduced the Case Trapper knife in 1920. The Trapper knife was initially designed as a hunting knife, with two blades ideal for skinning and preparing game. 

This knife has a clip blade and a spey blade, made of high-quality steel and approximately 3.25 inches long. The clip blade is concave and ideal for slicing and piercing, whereas the spey blade is straight and ideal for skinning and trimming.

The knife’s classic design and functionality have stood the test of time. The Case Trapper knife is still useful today as it was when it was first introduced nearly a century ago. 

The knife’s timeless appeal has made it a favorite among collectors and enthusiasts, and it has been featured in numerous movies, TV shows, and other media.

12. KA-BAR USMC Knife

KA-BAR USMC Knife

Key Features

  • Brand: KA-BAR
  • Price: $97.92
  • Special Features: Multi-purpose knife
  • Skill Level: Intermediate 
  • Blade Material: 1095 Cro-Van steel
  • Blade Length: 7 Inches
  • Handle Material: Leather
  • Item Weight: 0.7lbs
  • Age Range: Adult

The KA-BAR USMC Knife is an iconic fixed-blade knife used by US Marines since World War II. This knife has a rich history, having been created to meet the needs of soldiers in combat. It has become known for its exceptional quality and durability.

The origins of the KA-BAR USMC Knife can be traced back to the early 20th century when the Union Cutlery Company was founded in Olean, New York. The company produced a range of knives, including hunting and pocket knives, but the KA-BAR Fighting/Utility knife would become its most famous product.

During World War II, the US Marine Corps called for a new combat knife to replace the M1918 trench knife. The Marine Corps wanted a knife that was a strong, durable, and versatile knife, and the KA-BAR Fighting/Utility knife fits the bill. 

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The Marines adopted the knife in 1942, and it quickly became a favorite among soldiers due to its ruggedness and reliability. It features a 7-inch clip-point blade, a leather handle, and a black powder-coated finish. 

The blade is made of high-carbon steel and has a Rockwell hardness of 56-58, making it extremely tough and durable. 

13. Opinel #8

Opinel #8

Key Features

  • Brand: Opiniel
  • Price: $34.00
  • Special Features: Comes with a sharpening stone
  • Skill Level: All 
  • Blade Material: Stainless steel
  • Blade Length: 3.25 inch
  • Handle Material: Wood
  • Item Weight: 0.1lbs
  • Age Range: Adult

Joseph Opinel, a blacksmith from the Savoie region of France, created the Opinel #8 knife. In 1890, he invented a simple folding knife with a wooden handle and a unique locking mechanism. The knife was designed to be affordable, reliable, and easy to use, making it popular among farmers, shepherds, and other outdoor workers in the region.

Several features distinguish the Opinel #8 Knife; it has a simple design with only two parts: the blade and the handle. The handle is beechwood, which looks good and provides a comfortable grip. Another unique feature of the Opinel #8 Knife is the Virobloc safety ring. 

14. Higonokami

Higonokami

Key Features

  • Brand: Higo no Kami
  • Price: $26.00
  • Special Features: Foldable
  • Skill Level: All 
  • Blade Material: Alloy steel
  • Blade Length: 3 inch
  • Handle Material: Brass
  • Item Weight: 0.11 lbs
  • Age Range: Adult

The Higonokami knife is a traditional Japanese folding pocket knife that has been in use for over 160 years. The knife was first created in the late 19th century in Miki, Hyogo Prefecture, Japan. 

The name Higonokami is derived from the name of the blacksmith who first started making these knives, a man named Higo. During the 1800s, the Japanese government banned the carrying of swords in public, which led to a decline in demand for sword makers. 

As a result, many sword makers turned to produce knives and other metal tools. This knife played a significant role in the history of Japan as a symbol of honor and bravery, as kamikaze pilots often used it during World War II.

15. Kershaw Leek

Kershaw Leek

Key Features

  • Brand: Kershaw
  • Price: $26.00
  • Special Features: Water resistant
  • Skill Level: All 
  • Blade Material: Stainless steel
  • Blade Length: 3 inch
  • Handle Material: Steel
  • Item Weight: 0.11 lbs
  • Age Range: Adult

The Kershaw Leek knife debuted in 2002 and has undergone several iterations and improvements. Ken Onion, a well-known knife designer who has won numerous awards for his knife designs, developed it. 

Onion was inspired by the simple and elegant design of the traditional Japanese higonokami knife and wanted to incorporate it into a modern folding knife. 

The Kershaw Leek knife features a slim blade that measures 3 inches long and is made from high-quality Sandvik 14C28N steel. Its blade has a hollow grind, which makes it sharp and easy to sharpen.

FAQs

Here are other related questions you may find interesting. 

Q1. What makes a knife iconic?

An iconic knife has gained widespread recognition and admiration due to its design, performance, and historical significance. 

Q2. Are iconic knives expensive?

No, the price of iconic knives can vary widely depending on factors such as the materials used, the knife’s rarity, and the design’s historical significance. 

Q3. What should I look for when buying an iconic knife?

When buying an iconic knife, it’s essential to consider factors such as the design, materials, and intended use.

Conclusion 

The 15 iconic knives featured in this guide represent the pinnacle of design, craftsmanship, and performance. By understanding each knife’s unique features and characteristics, you can gain a deeper appreciation for the level of detail that goes into creating a truly exceptional knife.

This guide is a great place to start if you want to expand your collection or learn more about the world of knives. We’ve covered some of the world’s most iconic knives, including their history, materials, and intended use. And we hope this information has piqued your interest in these fascinating blades.

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