Can a real knife that’s really sturdy, really useful, really safe and really durable fit in your wallet? These little guys from SOG, Boker and Zootility promise to do just that. Let’s put them to the test.
What’s A Real Knife?
There’s a number of “knives” out there that will fit in your wallet. The vast majority of them don’t provide you with a secure grip, a quality blade and anything approaching actual function as a result.
The Cardsharp’s handle is made from flimsy plastic and its thin utility knife blade is just as wobbly. It feels unsafe to use.
One-piece “survival” credit cards like this one don’t give you a real knife blade or the ability to hold it comfortably.
The blade in the old Tool Logic thingie gives you absolutely nothing to hold on to, is as thick as the SOG tested here and the whole shebang is just incredibly poor quality.
The DPx Gear Danger Tag is the only thingamabob here that stands a snowball’s chance in hell of making it onto an airplane and is incredibly thin, but its snap-off blade gives you no carry options once it’s snapped off and is also incredibly small with no handle.
All the above may actually be capable of slicing something a few times in an emergency, but the knives we’re going to test here are actually capable of performing substantial work over a long period of time while giving you something secure to hold onto. In short, they have most of the utility of larger blades, just in a wallet-friendly package.
SOG (left), Boker, Wildcard. The clips on the Boker and SOG are both removable. Note that the Boker doesn’t close completely flush, as the Wildcard impressively manages.
At just 2mm thick, the Zootility Wildcard ($25) is the clear winner. And the only tool here that doesn’t give you a case of Costanza wallet if so-carried. It achieves those incredibly slim proportions with the use of an innovative pivot system that lies flush with the blade. There’s no other pins or rivots.
At 3mm, the Boker Plus Credit Card Knife ($21) is just thick enough to feel awkward inside your wallet, if you’re carrying a normal amount of IDs, credit cards, cash and whatnot.
At 4.8mm, the SOG Access Card 2.0 ($53, also available in wharncliffe) can slide into some larger wallet pockets. But man, it feels way too big once it’s there. The knife is much more comfortably carried clipped inside a coin pocket on your jeans.
Blade Shape, Quality And Grind
The SOG wins easily this time. VG-10 is my absolute favorite steel for pocket knives, proving both easy to sharpen and durable. The blade is an impressively sturdy 3/16” thick, is 2.75 inches long and uses a drop point and a saber grind on both sides.
The Boker uses halfway decent 440C stainless, but is chisel ground (one side only) and fairly dull out of the box. The 2.25” long blade is about 1.5mm thick — enough to be reasonably sturdy at such short a length.
The Wildcard’s blade is only 1mm thick, but is as long as the SOG’s. It’s chisel ground and dull out of the box, which is disappointing (Update: The knife’s designer, Nate, tells us in comments the tested knife is a prototype, made of lower quality steel and not finished to the same standard the final product will be). Half its length is serrated. Typically, I don’t like serrations on my knives, but on a small backup utility knife like this one, they actually make sense and will make cutting cord, tape and other manmade materials with such a small blade and odd handle much easier.
About as thick as two credit cards, the Wildcard is totally happy in a wallet’s card slot.
Impressively on such a thin blade, SOG has managed to squeeze in the same Arc-lock you’ll find on its other, larger folding knives. It’s fast and smooth, enabling you to flick the blade open and closed while locking strongly. The only retention while closed is against the cam on the back of the blade. It’s never opened accidentally while in my pocket, but that’d be possible.
As a probably-not-interesting aside, this SOG was the knife plain clothes NYPD officers spotted clipped in my pocket and tackled me to confiscate. Luckily, New York City cops ain’t too smart and they were unable to make the blade open with a flick, thereby proving it a “gravity knife” and me a criminal. Well, that or they realized that law is intended to target minorities.
Both the Boker and the Wildcard use little frame locks that actually work really well too. The Wildcard’s locks the knife closed as well as open by pressing a tab into a hole in the blade, while the Boker achieves excellent closed retention by pressing a small ball on the end of the lock into a hole on the blade as well; it’s not locked, but it’s not going to fall open either.
Reading Amazon reviews of the Boker, users complain that the blade can push backwards while under pressure from cutting. I’ve experienced nothing like that with this knife, it’s fitted with a little Torx stud at the back of the blade to securely prevent it from moving. Perhaps this was updated at some point in the knife’s lifespan.
The quality of the locks on all three of these knives is impressive and a big part of what makes them genuinely useful.
The SOG’s is the only handle that approaches the purchase or comfort of a larger folding knife; it’s just long enough to press into the meat of your palm, pairing with the finger cutouts and sharp blade jumping to give you a surprisingly secure grip. If one of these knives had to be pressed into self-defense duty, this is the only one you could actually expect to use in that role.
The Boker’s handle is similar to the SOG’s, but is only two finger cutouts long and the blade lacks jimping, so you get nothing like as secure a hold on it. Still, it’s enough to really use the knife for slicing and cutting duties in safety.
Looking at the Wildcard, you’d assume it’d be awful in your hand. But, it’s surprisingly not overly terrible, at least for light use. You wouldn’t want to apply pressure to it repeatedly or for more than a few seconds at a time, but it does get the job done in a pinch, which is sorta this knife’s whole point.
Male model: Bret Bassi. He calls this pose, “cold steel.”
All three knives fit in a standard coin pocket on a pair of jeans. But, the Wildcard lacks a clip, so it’s just sitting in there and will fall slide out without too much trying. The clips on both the Boker and SOG are surprisingly excellent, securing the knives to your pocket with confidence. The SOG’s does leave about a centimeter of handle visibly exposed, which is probably how those cops spotted it. The Boker’s isn’t a deep carry clip, but it does leave the top of the handle flush with the top of your pocket. Neither clips is reversible; they carry the knives tip-up, right handed.
The Boker ships with a neck chain (pictured above) and actually works well carried thusly. It’s light and its edges are rounded, so it doesn’t get in the way or become annoying. And, its closed blade retention is strong enough to make neck carry safe.
SOG says you can carry the Access Card on your neck, but the cutout at the base of the handle leaves the chain exposed to the knife’s tip, potentially severing it over time. I also wouldn’t trust its blade retention if it was pressed against my sternum.
You can fit a chain through the pivot of the Wildcard and it locks its blade closed, so it’d be safe to carry. But, the relatively large proportions of the handle paired with its sharp edges makes it uncomfortable and running the chain through the pivot mean it gets in the way when it’s time to cut.
Why Carry A Wallet Knife?
“I wanted something I wouldn’t forget, something I wouldn’t lose, and something that would take up as little space as possible,” explains Nate Barr, the Wildcard’s designer. There’s certainly merit in those attributes, but I’d argue they’re adequately achieved by a regular folding pocket knife with a good pocket clip.
The SOG actually works good as that and, as you can see from its significant wear, has been my go-to knife of choice when I need to wear a suit or other clothes that make a knife as slim and small as this a necessity. With it, you get what you pay for.
The Boker is a neat little knife that will get the job done if you have a need for something even smaller and slimmer in your life. Or if you really do want to put a knife in your wallet.
I’m impressed by the Wildcard’s intelligent problem solving and surprising quality for such a cheap tool. I choose to carry a more substantial tool, but if you like the look of this thing, it can serve as a real knife in a pinch.
IndefinitelyWild is a new publication about adventure travel in the outdoors, the vehicles and gear that get us there and the people we meet along the way. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.