It was another fantastic year of knives. So, with 2022 almost in the rearview mirror, we thought it was time to look at the best knives to come out this year.
Like all of our best-of lists, this selection of knives is biased and somewhat arbitrary. Here are a few qualifications. In order to qualify for this list, the knife had to have been available at Knife Depot. There are a ton of great knives out there, but we thought it would be somewhat odd to choose knives that we weren’t very familiar with.
We did take into account the reviews and opinions of others when selecting these knives, but they were pretty much selected by myself.
Let us know your favorite knives of the past year.
Let’s start with an easy one: the Kershaw Outlier.
The Outlier has been one of the top-selling knives of the year at Knife Depot, and the feedback has been positive all around. The design is nothing mind-blowing. It’s a tactical folding karambit, but it just works so well and the price is great. It reminds me of the great Fox Karambit, but at a much cheaper price price point.
It has a 2.6-inch hawkbill blade with a black glass-filled nylon handle. It can be opened with a flipper and assisted-opening mechanism or via thumb stud.
When I look back at 2022, I’ll think of the Outlier.
The Hogue Deka is not a new design, but 2022 saw the release of the definitive edition of the Deka.
The new Deka is one of the first production knives to receive the super steel MagnaCut on its blade. This steel is widely considered the best all-around steel ever made. For steel nerds, check out this highly in-depth article from Larrin over at Knife Steel Nerds.
Along with the MagnaCut steel, this version of the Deka has polymer handle scales which help cut down on the weight and price of the knife.
With its weight of 2.1 ounces and US-made design, the Deka was a huge success and another great creation from Hogue.
For CIVIVI, it was the year of the button lock. The Button Lock Elementum came out late last year, so CIVIVI spent much of this year releasing an array of button lock knives, including the Conspirator.
It’s no conspiracy that this knife is one of the best from CIVIVI this year.
It has a 3.48-inch Nitro-V blade that flips open reliably and locks with a button lock. With its drop-shut action and refined design, the Conspirator is easily one of the best of the year.
Am I cheating with the Claymore? Maybe a little.
The Benchmade Claymore came out in 2021 with a partially serrated blade. It might be the best hard-use automatic knife out there, but for those of us who aren’t fans of serrated blades, it wasn’t a must-have.
So, in 2022, Benchmade came back with the Claymore in a plain edge. It is the identical design with a minor change that makes all the difference. It comes in either black or foliage green.
I am not the only one who loves this knife either. Even though it was a late addition to our catalog, it was easily the top-selling new automatic knife this year.
CRKT Squid XM
Yet another iteration of the Squid? Well, yes and no.
The Squid XM isn’t just a new version of the ancient but beloved Squid with holes or an assisted-opening mechanism slapped on; it’s a revamped take on the little big knife.
This version elongates the original design to accommodate a 2.95-inch blade with a 4.11-inch handle. It has an all-black look with a BlaskWash D2 steel assisted blade.
The handle is G-10 on one side and steel on the other. This corrects one of the common complaints from people who said the original was a bit too slippery when wet.
Kizer Drop Bear
The Kizer Drop Bear is another late addition to Knife Depot with very limited supplies, but the hype is real.
There’s a reason the Drop Bear is on almost everyone’s best knives of the year list. It is a robust folder with Kizer’s new Clutch Lock. It’s essentially a take on the AXIS Lock, but the action is so smooth. There’s even an option to adjust the Omega spring to customize the tension of the lock.
The blade is just under 3 inches with 154CM steel blade. The handle is aluminum.
It comes in either an all-black version with purple thumb studs or in gray.
You might have some trouble getting your hands on one for a while.
Hogue Ballista I
While the Benchmade Claymore is the best hard-use automatic this year, the Hogue Ballista I is one of the best all-around automatics from this year (maybe ever?).
The Ballista I first made its appearance in May as an entirely new series from Hogue. According to Christine from Women Carry Knives, this was a hot seller at Blade Show 2022. And the second it went live on Knife Depot, it was a hot seller here too.
Interestingly, the Ballista I was designed with military users in mind, but it honestly feels like one of the best all-around autos.
It has a textured aluminum handle with a 3.5-inch drop-point blade made from 154CM stainless steel. It is a single action automatic with a manual safety mechanism to keep it opened or closed.
Even the knives from the Kershaw Launch series look more militaristic and tactical than the Ballista. It comes in blue or black and in drop point or tanto.
Old Timer Generational Series Sharpfinger
The Sharpfinger is a knife that’s as iconic as they come. The design is so famous, it essentially became a generic design like the Buck 110 Folding Hunter. However, when Schrade and the Old Timer knives were sold to a new company many years ago, manufacturing of those knives moved overseas.
This year, the Sharpfinger (and a few others) made its triumphant return to the United States in the new Old Timer Generational Series Sharpfinger.
It has the same overall design of the original with a few welcomed changes. The 3.5-inch upswept blade gets 1095 high carbon steel instead of the more generic high carbon steel of the regular. The saw cut handles are also upgraded to chestnut bone that makes each knife look a little different.
Of course, the main draw is that it’s once again made in the USA. For under $100, Old Timer was able to return the iconic fixed blade to its former glory.
I was torn between the Chevalier and Altus for this list because both are great knives, but since I already had one button lock flipper from CIVIVI, I thought the Altus offered something a little different.
The Altus is a button lock knife that opens with thumb studs and features a smaller overall design than the Chevalier and Conspirator. The blade is 2.97 inches and uses Nitro-V steel. It has a nice, slim profile and comes in a few different iterations.
One of our favorite versions if the Altus with Cuibourtia wood handles and a black blade.
CRKT Minimalist Katana
If you’ve been a reader of this blog, you know I’ve been a longtime fan of the Minimalist. It has graced many of our best-of lists, including the best CRKT, the best small fixed blades, and best Wharncliffe knives.
Others seem to love these Alan Folts designs too, which is why CRKT comes out with new versions every year. Most of them continue to bring something slightly new to the table like a cleaver or blackout version. But this year’s Minimalist is the largest yet.
Behold the Minimalist Katana.
The Minimalist Katana has a 3.56-inch blade that’s meant to look like a small sword. It uses the same three-finger handle with a lanyard on the back for a fourth finger.
It is still as lightweight and versatile at ever.
What in the world is this knife? you might be thinking. Yes, the Kershaw Debris is not the kind of knife you will write home about or the knife you will whip out at parties to show off. But this is one of the most underrated new knives of the year.
This is the knife you won’t see on anyone else’s list because it’s not splashy. However, the design is on par with some of the best Spyderco FRN models. Let’s dive in deeper.
The Debris is a mid lock folder with a 2.75-inch D2 drop point blade. It doesn’t flip open or use assisted opening, but oversized thumb studs will get this little beast open every time. The thumb studs have been the most controversial because they’re pretty big and occupy the cutting path, but I found them perfect when wearing gloves.
Its glass-filled nylon handle is highly textured but not uncomfortable. There is jimping along the spine and part of the mid lock. Its deep carry pocket clip is a bit too deep but not that big of an issue.
It’s a reliable EDC knife for a good price for anyone (which is part of the reason why I also recommended it as a great first knife for a kid).