Best Pocket Knife Sharpener

Top Recommendations for Portable Pocket Knife Sharpeners 2018

In an every day carry situation you almost always want to have a knife on you.

Of course your knife isn’t going to be very effective if it’s dull. In fact, it may actually be more dangerous to you because it’s not fully sharpened.

Since it’s not very useful to cart around a full-fledged knife sharpening kit with you all the time I’ve taken to reviewing the best pocket knife sharpeners for everyday carry and bug out bag storage.

What is a pocket knife sharpener?

Pocket knife sharpeners are compact tools, sometimes with multiple functions, that have carbide or ceramic sharpening elements built into them.

When to use a pocket knife sharpener

It’s usually a good idea to sharpen your knife after it’s been through significant use. Whether you have an old pocket knife laying around that could use a few passes or you just put your everyday carry knife through an intense wood carving session it’s easy to gauge if it needs some love.

Be sure to remember that the compact portable knife sharpeners are designed for instances where you need a sharp knife quickly and easily. In general, these small sharpeners, although effective, can tend to harm your knife. The carbide (coarse) pull throughs remove a lot of metal from your blade and create a jagged sharp edge as opposed to a smooth one. The ceramic side does even it out a bit, but for hardcore knife sharpeners the carbide is equivalent to a hack job.

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Because of that try to only sharpen your knives with pocket sharpeners when you’re in outdoor situations where you don’t have access to a proper sharpening stone or enough time to properly sharpen your knife.

What to look for in a pocket knife sharpener

  1. Size/Portability
  2. Material
  3. Knife Blade Type

Size/Portability

When buying a portable knife sharpener the number one feature is going to be it’s size. Obviously getting stuff sharp is also a priority, but most sharpening tools are going to do that to some varying degree of success. Since we’re reviewing POCKET knife sharpeners it’s most important to consider size.

In addition to the physical width and height it’s good to consider the weight. Just because it fits in your pocket or on your keychain doesn’t mean it’ll be comfortable to leave there all day. The lighter the weight the better.

Since we’re trying to get the most bang for our buck something that includes a keychain attachment is ideal for those that don’t have room in their pocket or would prefer to leave the sharpener attached to a lanyard or carabiner.

Material

The best pocket knife sharpeners give you choices. When it comes to sharpening you usually want a coarse option and a fine option; just like sandpaper. If you can find a sharpener that has both carbide (for the first few passes) and ceramic (for refining the finished edge) you’ll get the sharpest edge possible in the least amount of time.

Knife Blade Type

It’s also important to consider whether you have a straight blade or serrated blade when choosing your portable sharpener. For the most part the manufacturers have built in capabilities for both, but it’s important to know how to apply the sharpener to each type. Typically the pocket sharpeners come with V-shaped plates to run your straight edge over and straight elements to work on the serrated blade. You’ll also see diamond rods in some instances to work on (and refine) the grooves in the serrated knife.

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How to test a blade’s edge

Cut Paper

If you have paper nearby try cutting at an angle with your knife while holding the paper in the other hand. If it can’t break the edge without tearing you definitely need to think about sharpening it. A good sharp knife will be able to cleanly slice multiple strips of paper in just a few seconds without catching or tearing.

Cut Arm Hair

If paper is in short supply consider running the edge of the blade over the back of your hand and see if it will clip the hair near your wrist. (Disclaimer : not advised for inexperienced knife handlers)

Best Pocket Knife Sharpeners 2018

1. Smith’s Pocket Pal

This extremely popular model of pocket sharpeners didn’t just get lucky. Smith’s has been delivering sharpened blades for well over a century now.

The Pocket Pal comes with compact ceramic and carbide sharpening elements for fine and coarse applications.

It also comes with a diamond coated rod that is great for getting into the notches of your serrated blade where straight blade sharpening doesn’t go.

This model comes in at only .3 ounces. The lightest of the bunch.

2. Lansky BladeMedic

Quite a bit more heavy than the Smith’s sharpener, Lansky’s Blademedic comes in at 4 ounces.

Though the weight may be an issue for some, others would argue that it feels more solid. I tend to agree.

Featuring a carbide and ceramic blade sharpener and the diamond tapered rod like it’s predecessor, this model adds a serrated ceramic element as well.

3. Sharpal 101N

Sure it looks just like the previous two, but Sharpal’s 101N pocket sharpener has an ace (or two) up it’s sleeve. Not only does it deliver the same fine and coarse sharpening features along with a keyring hook and diamond tapered rod, but it has an added firestarter and emergency whistle for a true survival punch.

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The diamond rod also has a groove that sharpens gut hooks and fishhooks which makes it near essential to keep in your tacklebox as well.

4. Spyderco Double Stuff

A different look at a portable knife sharpener is the Spyderco Double Stuff. This double-sided stone comes with medium and fine coarseness in a 5-inch by 1-inch bar.

What’s nice about the Spyderco product is that it doesn’t have the same harsh affect on your knife that the carbide pull throughs from the other sharpeners do. This is a more traditional whet stone look at sharpening your blade and though it may take slightly longer will leave you with an edge that is more refined.

If you look at this tutorial video as compared to the others the time to get a knife sharp is actually pretty close to equivalent.

The difference is that although the Spyderco is light enough and small enough to carry in a backpack during treks, it isn’t accessible as the keychain options to get to quickly or set up for that matter.

5. Kershaw Ultra-Tek

Which one is not like the others? That would be the Kershaw Ultra-Tek.

This oval-shafted 600-grit blade sharpener is 9 inches in length when fully assembled and only 5 when stored. Sure it’ll take up most of your pocket the same a small flashlight would, but it also works well as a weapon in tactical situations.

For knife sharpening enthusiasts this tool hits the right mix between a traditional stone sharpening system and the pocket pull-through sharpeners discussed above.

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