The Best Friction Folding Knives 3 Inches and Under

These small, modern and traditional pocket knives are cool again

You can have at least one friction folder in an EDC rotation, regardless of whether you like the simplicity of a knife or are limited by laws due to your state and workplace.

Modern companies use them for legal purposes, but this is slowly changing due to the increasing popularity of traditional Japanese friction pockets (one which is included in this blog). While there are many people who live within the strict guidelines of knife laws, and can only carry knives that are non-locking or under 3 inches in length, others have a nostalgic pull to simpler times when knives were just sharpened pieces of steel between two slabs.

I don’t know if this is due to a natural evolution of knife culture or because many knife designers put effort into making friction pockets for legality’s sake and made interesting knives everyone loves because it feels new. We have choices, and we should be grateful for them.

Friction folders under $75

  • Stainless Steel
  • 8Cr13MoV Steel
  • Nagoa Higinokami Folder no. Blue Steel
  • High Carbon Steel
  • 440C Steel

Friction folders over $75

  • Bohler N690 Steel
  • Sandvik 12c27
  • S35VN Steel
  • 1095 Steel
  • XC75 Steel


A friction folder and a slip-joint is simply a difference in a spring. This distinction was not made before, as I had previously classified slip joints and friction files as non-locking knives. They are, however, very different mechanically.

  • Friction Folders use friction to keep the lid open or shut.
  • Slip joint knives are equipped with a spring mechanism to hold the spine in place.

Because it is what you use to open and hold the knife, the tang is more important than ever in a friction file’s design. Slip joints don’t require a tang. You’ll see them as a finger-nick with a half-stop mechanism to prevent your fingers from closing.

Although legally, this difference might not matter much but it can have an impact on the way people design knives. Although I don’t claim to know which one is better, I believe the relative simplicity of friction folding leaves more options for knife makers to create unique knives.


This pattern will mainly consist of flat grinds and nondescript high-carbon steel. Each knife in this section has the potential to be your most tough knife. This section is great for finding your next work knife, or a wallet-friendly gift.

Also Read : Boker Knives Brand Guide


Overall length: 6.75”
Blade Length 2.5”
Blade Style Drop point
Steel: Stainless steel
Grind: Flat
Handle Material Polypropylene
Carry System Pocket
Price range $10 – 20

This is the ideal model for those who love friction folders just for the fun of them (and not because of legal reasons). The best thing about the Peasant is its “Mod-friendly” feature. It is easy to change materials and maintain the Peasant’s ease of use with its simple screws and barebones weights.

The Mini is the smaller version, with a 2.5 inch blade. However, the regular Peasant measures just 3 inches and only costs $20. These are viable options to have fun with and create your own tools, but the Mini is better if you need the 3-inch mark legally. Although I have not measured the regular version, it is common for blades marked with “3 inches” to creep over the line and cause problems down the road.


Overall length: 4.5”
Blade Length 1.625”
Blade Style Sheepsfoot
Steel: 8Cr13MoV
Grind: Hollow
Material to Handle: Aluminium
Carry System Keychain or pocket
Price range $16 – 20

Sinkevich’s design is more like a keychain multitool rather than a knife. The Sinkevich design packs a flathead screwdriver and a bottle opener into a smaller than 5-inch body. It isn’t very impressive, but it is one of those small things that’s always useful and hidden 80 percent of time.

It also falls within the “where did I put that thing?” size range. That’s why the keychain attachment is included. The thing is about the price of a burger these days so you have to choose between greasing your teeth for the third week or opening beers and letters using the same tool.


Overall length: 6.75”
Blade Length 3.0” or close enough
Blade Style Reverse Tanto
Steel: Blue steel
Grind: Flat
Handle Material Brass
Carry System Pocket
Price range $30 – 40

This is the main reason friction folders are getting so much attention. You might get a Higinokami folder that is “real”, if you are willing to believe they exist. However, there will be variations in the length and quality of each Higinokami folder because they are all handmade. A 3-inch Higinokami is not meant to be a different length. It’s a knife about 3 inches.

There are many different reports on the quality of this knife. It’s more about having a nice knife to talk about rather than having a practical knife. It’s not that it isn’t useful. There are more useful and tougher knives within the same price range. It is considered knife masturbation to get a traditional Higinokami. While there is nothing wrong with it in moderation I think it’s important to be honest with one another here.


Overall length: 6.5”
Blade Length 2.9”
Blade Style Clip point
Steel: High carbon
Grind: Convex
Material to Handle: Traditional beechwood
Carry System Pocket
Price range $13 – 25

Opinel No. 6 was the only reason I chose it. 6. This is the largest version of the Opinel No. before it reaches over 3 inches. If this is not the right size, there are five other versions.

This is part of Opinel’s beauty. Opinel offers more options than any other company. They not only make the exact same design in ten sizes but also make them with different handles materials. The knife’s shape is unchanged. They simply change the color or mold of the knife that they have been making for over 100 years.

The convex grind is a difference that the majority of lower-end models have. It does provide a strong edge that is very important for the abuse you’ll likely put it through.

Another thing I should mention is that the ring lock would technically disqualify it from being a friction folder. The mechanism works the same. The ring doesn’t hold the blade in place as well as the handle, and has been part of the design only since the 1950s. Although I can’t speak for the legality of it, the design is still a friction folder. This is also true for Nontron, the lower part of this blog.


Overall length: 4.125”
Blade Length 1.375”
Blade Style Wharncliffe
Steel: 440C
Grind: Chisel
Material to Handle: G-10
Carry System Kydex sheath
Price range $60 – 65

Fred Perrin’s Le Shark can be used as a tactical neck knife and is far more useful than the everyday carry or farm work tool. He apparently saw the Shark with a fixed blade and thought, “This would make a great friction file.” He was right. It begs the question: Why?

It’s unlikely that you have a knife similar to this one, unless you are a Fred Perrin enthusiast. While there are many French-styled pocket dwellers and traditional folders and fancy box cutters on the market, a friction folder with finger holes and a Kydex sheath is quite out of my comfort zone. I find it annoying that I actually like it. The blade’s small size is what I find most surprising. The blade is only about an inch in length, so you don’t have much cutting edge. It’s tough, despite its size and 440C steel. It’s just hard to imagine many other uses than for ripping down boxes.

Anyway. You legal-minded tactical knife idiots all have this thing to carry around now. I hope you all enjoy yourself, you weirdos.

Also Read : Best Horizontal Carry Knives – Buying Guide


Although it may seem strange to see friction folders made with premium steel, they are. You will find nice leather pouches with hand-crafted wooden handles and hundred-dollar price tags. Get out of here.


Overall length: 7.25”
Blade Length 3.0”
Blade Style Wharncliffe
Steel: N690
Grind: Flat
Material to Handle: Ziricote
Carry System Leather pouch
Price range $90 – 110

Fox Knives excels at creating elegant knives, so having a friction folder in your hands is a sure thing. The Dragotac Piemontes comes with wood scales, a leather sheath and is a great tool for carrying around to show everyone you are better than them. This is even before you tell them that the steel is BohlerN690.

The name is typical of an Italian company. It comes from , a region near the French border that apparently has a lot wine and mountains. It’s unclear if the knife’s purpose is to match the land. Is the Wharncliffe knife good for skiing or cutting grape bunches from the vine?

It’s an excellent design, regardless of its purpose. It’s well-thought out and has a nice blade shape. The edge retention should also be excellent between hard steel and flat grind.


Overall length: 5.7”
Blade Length 2.3”
Blade Style Wharncliffe
Steel: S30V
Grind: Chisel
Handle Material Micarta
Carry System Pocket
Price range $120 – 130

Two facts are certain about The James Brand. They are obsessed with one thing. They make excellent knives. James Brand knives are known for their high quality craftsmanship, superior fit and finish, and elegant styling. Although the knife’s quality and style come at a high price, buyers are not likely to be remorseful.

The Pike is a traditional friction folder with a modern, sleek design. The handle made of canvas micarta is very grippy, even in wet conditions. The Sandvik 12c27 stainless steel blade maintains a good edge. The Pike has a length of 5.7 inches and is much larger than many of the folders mentioned in this article. It is small enough that it can be barely noticed unless you are wearing very tight pants. If this is the case, I don’t know how you got to this site.


Overall length: 5.6”
Blade Length 2.5”
Blade Style Sheepsfoot
Steel: S35VN
Grind: Flat
Material to Handle: Titanium
Carry System Tip-up pocket clip
Price range $140

Jared Price has a strong track record of designing sensible EDC knives. Although most of the knives are larger than this one, it seems like the Kizer Jared was designed for legality. It’s still a fun toy. It has the famous Kizer action and cuts well.

You might experience ergonomic problems. Titanium isn’t known for its grippy properties, and I haven’t seen any design where the metal has been textured. This is likely to be a minor annoyance if it’s paired with a sharp edge.

It is refreshing to see that the Jared knife doesn’t have any overwrought design or etching. You might want something flashy if you go over $100, but I find it refreshing to see a modern friction file that was made just to be a useful tool.


Overall length: 7.625”
Blade Length 3.25”
Blade Style Tanto
Steel: 1095
Grind: Hollow
Handle Material G-10
Carry System Sheath made of leather
Price range $80 – 90

This knife is too small to meet the blog’s size restrictions. This knife is also the only one on this site with a 1095 steel recurve and a tanto-style tips, making it a bit more dangerous than your standard friction folder. This thing would be a great bushcraft knife if it were a fixed-blade model. It seems that the leather sheath was designed to be used with a vertical carry system. This could indicate that this knife is intended for hard outdoor use.

It is still being sold as a “gentleman’s carry” though. The Tac-Raze is the knife you should use for getting dirty.


Overall length: 8.3”
Blade Length 3.5”
Blade Style Drop point
Steel: XC75
Grind: Flat
Handle Material Boxwood
Carry System Pocket
Price range $90 – 100

It is again testing the limit at 3 inches. Nontron is a company that is always mentioned in friction folder conversations. Although they do produce smaller knives than the “9 cm”, they are difficult to find on American markets.

It is simple to say that Nontron knives can be described as the most expensive Opinel knife. These knives are made from a tougher, more durable carbon steel and are often handmade to order. These might have more prestige than practicality. While the range of activities you can do with an Opinel and a Nontron are almost identical, you don’t get as much detail in your design.

Opinel is a good choice if you are looking for a simple knife that works. But Opinel is the best option if you want to give a surprise gift.

About the author

Hi, my name is Jaba Ray. I'm a knife expert and researcher. I am the creator of, your one-stop site for everything related to knives. I love people who need suitable steel or knife for their cook because I'm also a food lover. I work with a team of people who've always had a passion for knives and blades on this site.

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