Non-locking Folding Knives?

I’m in the market for a solid EDC folding knife. I’ll state up-front that I won’t be using it as an EDC, more for when I go away camping with the wife and kids. My preference would be to buy in US while there on business. Prices of mid-range brands such as Kershaw are just crazy in UK.

Trouble is, in the UK carrying any locking knife in public is illegal. At home is no problem. Carrying one on a campsite could (likely wouldn’t but could) get me into trouble.

So, here’s the challenge. I need recommendations on a slip joint / friction folder with a blade length of 3" or less.
No Leathermans (I have a couple). I’m looking for a very solid folding knife.

I should just add, all my research is pointing to Spyderco’s small range of UK legal knives (the PITS is lovely but more than I hoped to spend).
Any other options out there?

Buck and Case have some nice folders. Boker made in Germany. There are many more but, these are the ones that come to mind.

I was going to suggest Spyderco, which sells 22 folding, non-locking knives. Go to their website, click on “Categories,” then “Non-locking folding.” The SPY-DK is about $80, with a blade of 2.67 inches (68 mm). The UK Penknife is slightly longer at 74 mm, at about the same price.

Or, you can look for old-fashioned penknives like the ones mveach suggests.

Victorinox also makes many Swiss Army knives with non-locking blades. The Patriot has a 2.25" blade, and a 1.4" blade for about $20.

I wonder if Opinel knives are legal in UK. They do lock, but not automatically. You need to lock them manually (by turning a ring.) They are cheap, non-threatening, and beloved.

Lastly, if a fixed blade is an option, then Mora probably offers the best value. Fixed blade (and scary looking) but nicely made, durable, for something like $13. The 4" blade will likely not be legal for street carry, but for camping, it may be okay.

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I’ve been happy with the Benchmade brand - but not sure if they make anything that would be legal in the UK

I did run across this link:

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Thankyou everyone. More options than I realised. I have a couple of cheap Wenger ‘Swiss Army’ style for veryvlight duties, so I’ll explore Spydercp, Lansky and Boker a little more before making a final choice. Intrigued by Opinel suggestion too.

(@KokoTheTalkingApe: I just picked up a couple of fixed Mora knives on special at $8 each. Home use only!)

EDIT: Through your leads, I’ve found this very comprehensive resource:

To be honest I’m not a knife aficionado but if you search for New York knifes you might come across more options, my only personal experience with non locking is Buck, Schrader and Old Timer. All I felt were good but not outstanding though they are available quite readily at many retailers.

Also for the DYI and tinkering crowd, I came across this site a few years ago when I was making a gun holster, they have some neat looking stuff.

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You are welcome!

I forgot to add that for camping, you typically don’t need a very heavy duty knife. Food prep and maybe starting fires is all I have ever used a knife for while camping, and for that, a Swiss Army knife was perfect. In fact, the best camping knives I have used were Victorinox paring knives, with flimsy molded handles and small sheaths. Something like $8 each, and featherweight.

For bushcraft or hunting, you might need a heavier knife, but then, a fixed blade would be far superior (and cheaper.) And a folding saw or hatchet may be better still, and will not cause legal problems.

And about that, you might check on exactly what the laws say. It might be okay to carry a largish knife in your pack while on the trail, that would not be okay carried in your pockets walking around in London.


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Ha! I forget camping in Europe is a little different from US. No hunting involved. And I’ve got wife and two little kids in tow.

So, in terms of cutting gear, I already pack a Leatherman Skeletool for light duties. I’m probably going to pack one my Mora Companions (obviously fixed blade but should be fine if I keep it at ‘basecamp’ and don’t wave it around!)
What I want now is an EDC that will sit between the two that I can keep on my person the whole time without a problem. And, if I’m honest, it’s a bit of a gift to myself too.

For 14 years as a scoutmaster I camped out every month except August with my Scout Troop - mostly in the Northeast of the US - but also Pennsylvania and New Mexico. Never got to Gilwell Park - but had the opportunity to host some scouts from England visiting the US.
We taught the boys the proper use and care of knives - and required that they get what we called a Totin’ Chit before they could carry a pocket knife.

Most of the scouts carried Scout knives:

The one I had from my youth is still with me - now about 60 years after having received it. Mine looks a bit like the modern version - minus the Stainless Steel :

Today - many scouts prefer to carry Swiss Army Style knives or more specialized whittling knives if they are into that hobby:'+jack


In the UK it is illegal to carry anything except a non-locking sub 3inch folding knife “without good reason”.

If you have a good reason for a knife that ordinary sane members of a jury are going to accept then you have no problem. If you’re going camping and need to prep food, take a kitchen knife, put it away in your pack when you’re not using it or in the car if you’re car camping.

The law isn’t intended to stop people using a suitable tool for a task, but sadly as the country is now so urban and most of the population too far from tradition and the rural life that some folk are alarmed by the sight of a working knife outside of limited contexts like cooking, workshop, tradesman’s tools etc.

A swiss army knife is a poor choice of tool for food prep. So is a hunting knife (as I assume you’re not butchering game). Take a 3 or 4" kitchen knife for cooking and be done. They weigh next to nothing. If you need to and are allowed to cut firewood, take a folding pruning saw like a bahco and get a gransfors hatchet as a present to yourself.

If you want a uk legal slipjoint that is good enough to be a universal,everyday carry, get a spyderco UK Penknife. Its a slipjoint version of the Calypso with a unique notch action, a truly superb knife with great ergonomics that gives very little away to its lockback sibling.

My knife of choice whatever country i’m in :slight_smile:

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Just to add, due to a piece of case law from a few years ago, UK courts are treating locking knives as equivalent to fixed blades. Perfectly acceptable if you have “good reason”.
Just be conscious that your version of good reason may not be shared by a jury so exercise good judgement.

Many leatherman tools have locking blades. So do the excellent cheap opinels that are found in gardens all over Europe. On the offchance that you were stopped and questioned about them you would need to provide a good reason for carrying either.

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Thanks for extremely comprehensive reply. I have now narrowed final choice to the Spyderco UKPK or it’s Lansky equivalent, essentially whichever I spot on special offer first!
It’s been fun researching as the options are actually pretty extensive. If I was in the market for a locking folder, the options would be mind-boggling! :grin:

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Good advice Having camped in the US extensively over about 20 years in all kinds of weather and venues (extended backpacking, weeks in base camps, cabin camping, weekend scout trips etc.) I can say that a pocket knife is handy - but hardly a do it all tool. As you imply a small bow-saw / fold-up bow saw or folding pruning saw is much better to deal with cutting firewood than any knife or axe (unless you have extensively honed your axemanship skills. A hatchet is OK for splitting (we taught the scouts the contact method) kindling with a hatchet

But I also taught the proper use off other tools like a maul, froe, splitting wedge/sledge hammer and engine-driven hydraulic splitter.

I’ve never found better “pruning” saws than the silky brand

With scouts - they sometimes made “fuzz sticks” as kindling using their pocket knives - but that was about it - other than whittling

For long-term camping - like Alick says - we did out food prep with a kitchen knife. With the scouts - we brought what’s called patrol boxes into the camp site. The box - a bit like a field kitchen - usually stored a short chef’s knife and a paring knife.

Adam, only too glad to help. Yes, blades can be fun :-). So many styles and ergonomics to suit different tasks and personal preferences. Only fitting in one of our oldest and most universal tools.

Fred, that Silky saw is a premium version of the folding pruning saws I was thinking of. Marvellous quality, and they make a tiny version too with a range of blades from keyhole, to woodcutting, to multipurpose ideal for cutting such as plastic waste pipe from a sink.

The bahco versions are plastic handled so very light and come with “jet” japanese style blades for green wood or a “laplander” variant that is reputed to be more durable in drier, tougher timber.

Thanks I did not know about the “Laplander” - and Silky pruning saws are meant more for pruning green wood with the occasional dead branch (my wife the arborist/gardener tells me).

I know inveterate campers who carry the Bruks hatchets:

which are superb quality

Silky makes a diminutive - hatchet that looks a bit like a cleaver - that I’ve seen in use - and the user was very enamored of it:

In the scouts - I know folks who use all sorts of different tools from carpenter’s half hatchets to double bit axes,
The Estwing short splitting mauls seems to be turning up in use a bit more:'

I would not be surprised if someone came to camp with a titanium hatchet - however impractical for camping - like this one:

“What I want now is an EDC that will sit between the [Skeletool and the Mora] that I can keep on my person the whole time without a problem.”

Between the two? Unless I wanted to scare off Bad Guys, I would go small.

I have carried many, many ECD knives, and I have finally settled on an Victorinox Classic, Alox. Why?

  • For EDC, I have never needed, not once, a knife larger than 2".
  • However, I have often regretted carrying around a larger knife. Too bulky, too heavy, too scary, too expensive, all for no purpose.
  • I have also forgotten to carry a knife when I needed one.
  • Also, I have often needed a pair of scissors, and didn’t have any.

The Classic goes on your keychain, so it is always with you. The blade steel is soft but easily sharpened. It has a tiny pair of scissors, which works when nothing else is handy. I have used mine to cut away clothing when a friend busted an ankle, to trim moleskin, etc. To my surprise, the nail file is essential; it fixes torn or chipped fingernails, preventing the tear from growing, bleeding, snagging on things, etc. It is also useful as a light-duty poker and prier. I have used it to dig up weeds when nothing else was handy.

The Alox (aluminum) version seems to be more durable than the red plastic, and is less bulky. You lose the tweezers and toothpick, but I at least have never needed those. Once or twice I could have used a bottle opener, but there are ways to open bottles with rocks, pieces of wood, etc.

I use the snot out of this tool. I have resharpened it so many times that the blade has become visibly shorter and narrower. When it becomes unusable, I can get another one for $25. How often have you used a tool to death?

Other people have gone off on the camping tools idea, but you haven’t actually said you need those. Cutting wood is handy for making fires, if cutting wood and making fires are allowed. They often are not, at least in the US.

hey what exactly did you meant by non-locking folding knives? aren’t folding knives get locked when folded?

A “lockback” aka locking or lock knife - is generally a term use to describe a folding knife that has a mechanism that locks the blade in the open position - but then the lock can be released when you want to fold the knife up…

I’m told that such knives may be illegal in some locales. I’ve seen it reported that they are illegal to carry in the UK

Yes, they are, one of my friends has a restaurant in London, he was carrying some resharpened knives for his restaurant in the rear deck of his car and Police caught him and he had to pay a lot of fine, according to law he had to keep them in a special box in his car to be allowed to carry them. Even if you use public transport you can not keep a Stanley knife in your pocket and as much as I know it has to be carried in a tool box or case.