Types Of Pocket Knives: Complete Guide

Whether you are doing research for the perfect pocket knife for hunting or camping or looking to begin your own pocket knife collection it can be overwhelming learning about all the different styles and blade types available in pocket knives.

Today you will learn the types of pocket knives available and no longer be left scratching your head when someone mentions the difference between a whittler and a scout knife.

Three Types Of Pocket Knives

While there are literally hundreds, if not thousands, of different pocket knife designs available, all of these knives can be categorized into one of three primary types.

  1. Jackknives
  2. Penknives
  3. Multi-Blades


Maybe the most popular type of pocket knife is the jackknife. Built for strength the stout jackknife offers usually one or two blades (occasionally you will find a three blade jack) that are generally set on the same end of the knife.

You will also see what is called a “double end jackknife” which refers to a two blade jack with a blade on each end of the knife.

Now let’s look at the subtypes of jackknives

Folding Hunters

The folding hunter is unquestionably the most popular style of pocket knife for both collectors and outdoor enthusiasts. The folding hunter is a large, strong jackknife perfect for many tasks the hunter or backpacker will need to perform.

They are usually around four and a half to five and a half inches long when closed. They tend to offer one or two large blades.

Older and collectable examples as well as modern folding hunters come in multiple different handle shapes including the “coke bottle” and trapper style along with numerous different curved handle types.

Almost all modern folding hunter style jackknives have taken their inspiration from the Buck 110 which is the most iconic of the hunter style knives ever produced.


Penknives are much smaller and more refined folding knives than the big jackknife. Penknives generally have two to four blades that are set in both ends of the knife. Many penknives you will see come with a nail file as well.

The original penknife was very small with a single blade and was used to sharpen a quill pen. Because of it’s origins, penknives are still called quill knives by some knife collectors today.

Just to keep things interesting, there are two subtypes of penknives you should be aware of.


The traditional whittler is a three blade penknife with two backsprings separated at one end. The largest blade is at the end of the knife where the backsprings come together.

At the other end of the knife the other two, smaller blades are mounted.


This type of penknife offers blades at both ends of the knife with the springs set within the center of the handle. These small knives were very popular during the WWII era and they are still prized by certain collectors today.


Multi blade knives refer to any knife with three or more blades where at least two of the blades are non blade like tools. Multi blades offer many different useful gadget like tools and some of the most popular are corkscrews, punches, spoons, forks, and hooks.

Multi blades tend to have at least one large blade and some have what are referred to as cattle blades or stock blades.

Here are the subtypes of multiblades available.

Scout or Soldier Knives

The most popular subtype of multiblades are the scout utility or soldier knife.

The scout usually has four blades and comes with multiple other gadget tools. These knives were incredibly popular with boy and girl scouts as well as military personal. Millions of scout and soldier knives have been produced and they are still functional and collectable today.

Sportsman Knife

These complex knives offer numerous specific tools to the owner. The most popular type of sportsman knife is the Swiss Army Knife. While the term Swiss Army Knife can refer to many different blade and tool configurations produced by many different makers, they all offer the user multiple special tools that are handy when camping or working on home projects.

Written by Fred

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