How to Pick Knife Size & Weight

By Nathan Thomas
Updated on
Variety of the black folding knifes on black background.
Image credit: Nor Gal

One of the key features of proper EDC knives is their compactness. By definition, users need to be able to carry an EDC knife with them as they go about their day.

Thus, it is quite obvious that heavy-weight and large knives fall out of the picture. However, there is still a wide range of options available when talking about weight and size.

Does Size Matter?

EDC knives can be fixed-blade knives or folding knives; this already gives us quite a wide range. 

For a folding knife, the blade size can’t be longer than the handle, which further means that the handle size dictates the overall knife dimension. On the other hand, the fixed-blade knife can have a larger blade; it can even be twice the length of the folding option.

To answer the above question – Yes, the size of a knife does matter but larger doesn’t necessarily mean better.

An EDC knife is normally somewhere between 5 to 11 inches long (in an unfolded position in case it is a folding one).

Blades are typically between 2 – 5 inches, though some have blades as short as 1.2” with some exceptions on the upper end as well.

According to an average male (3.3 inches) and female (2.91 inches) palm width, the optimal handle size tends to be in the corresponding range. For folding knives, longer blades will come with longer handles.

How to Pick Knife Size?

There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to EDC knives. Thus, it is very important that a knife’s size matches the user’s needs and fits well in the user’s hand.

The 3 key size-related aspects to be considered include:

  • The intended use (fishing, rope cutting, combat, self-defense, hunting, package opener, etc.)
  • User’s palm size
  • Where/how does a user plan on carrying the knife?

To make the best size selection, determine the main use case of the knife. For instance, if the knife will only be used for opening packages or to cut fishing lines, nano blade sizes (below 2”) could serve you great. However, if a broader use case is to be covered, larger blades will be ideal.

Compact blades (with blades 2 – 3” long) tend to be best for users looking for maximum maneuverability. They are a great option for whittling, self-defense, pencil sharpening, and general repair. Generally, this size tends to serve a wide range of needs.

For the majority of EDC knife users, the sweet spot tends to be between 3 – 3.5 inches (blade length). So it is no surprise that knives in this length range represent the majority in the market. They offer longer cutting edge and deeper stabbing depth while retaining maneuverability. This size normally offers a very wide range of use-case options and also fits well in average-sized hands.

Blades between the length of 3.5 – 4 inches tend to create a blurry line between EDC knives and compact heavy-duty knives. They are bulkier and no longer suitable for every pocket (in case of folding option). They are more suited for soldiers, on-duty use, hunters, and similar users. This blade length is more common on fixed-blade knives.

Note: above 3.5-inch blade length, knives become regulated and may not be legal in some states/countries. Local knife regulations must be considered.

Blades above 4 inches are more often than not applied on non-foldable (fixed-blade) knives. These knives require a sheath for concealment, which makes them less practical for average users. However, those looking for a knife with a larger cutting surface may benefit from this size. Moreover, the handle on these knives makes them suitable for users with larger palms and for use with winter gloves or thicker protective gloves. 

What Determines the Weight of EDC Knife?

The weight of the blade and handle determines the weight of the EDC knife. Bur the size and the type of material type used further contribute to the overall mass.

All-metal model handles will be on a heavier side than the ones incorporating wood, plastic, carbon fiber, or other lightweight materials.

When it comes to blades, stainless steel is a go-to option for most knives. As such, the material of the blade will not play a major role in the weight; the shape of the blade and edge grind types make the most difference – the smaller the blade volume, the lighter the knife.

Additionally, blades may have holes (‘hollow blades’), which can cut down the weight noticeably.

Handles give more options when it comes to material type. In addition to materials used, the design of the handle also adds or reduces weight.

Advanced protective features or mechanisms (in case of folding knives) can all also contribute to the weight of an EDC knife.

Lightweight vs. Heavier Knives

EDC knives can weigh anywhere between 1-8 ounces, with an average weight of around 4 ounces.

Whether or not the weight of a knife affects the user depends on the user’s outfit (pocket strengths, belt firmness, etc.) and on the exact place of carrying (behind the belt, cargo pocket, chest pocket, bag, etc.).

With a heavy-duty outfit, a user can easily move up towards a heavier side without being significantly impacted by the additional weight. But for an EDC knife carried with everyday clothing, every additional ounce makes a huge difference.

Lightweight knives (usually folding models) typically weigh less than 3 or even 2 ounces, which makes them fit most pockets. Evidently, the lightweight models will be of a smaller size incorporating lightweight handles as well.

A super lightweight knife may actually feel a bit strange in the user’s hand. An average person may prefer a slightly heavier knife when it comes to the actual use.

At the end of the day, finding the best knife depends on how users sort out their priorities and match the weight of their EDC knives with their needs and uses.