Are Folding Karambits Considered Pocket Knives?

Knives are a very nuanced subject. From blade shape and edge style to the overall design itself, there is a lot of discussion of what some knives are.

Today we’re going to look at folding karambits. Are they pocket knives? Or are they entirely different?

Is A Folding Karambit A Pocket Knife?

Yes, folding karambits are considered pocket knives, since their design makes them easily carried in a pocket.

But what makes a folding karambit different enough for people to wonder if it is a pocket knife? Let’s look at the differences between a standard pocket knife and a folding karambit.

Folding Karambits and Other Pocket Knives

Starting off we need to know what a pocket knife is. Pocket knives are generally folding knives with one or more blades.

These blades can be anywhere from 1 inch to 5 inches long and there can be additional non-blade tools stored in the knife itself.

Many of these types of pocket knives exist. They are commonly called things like trappers, swiss army knives, or just pocket knives.

Their purpose was to provide you with an easily carried cutting tool with additional abilities. Similar to modern multi-tools, these knives were extremely common for most of the 1900s.

Eventually, they transitioned into the types of folding knives we encounter today. More often than not, modern folding knives will feature one blade. This is because many people carry knives with one blade style as their preference.

Older designs with multiple blades provided variety, especially when it was likely that you would only have one pocket knife available to you.

Both classic and modern knife users could have multiple knives on their person, a more specialized folding knife and a general use fixed blade being a standard combination.

But where do folding karambits fall in this equation?

Folding karambits are more of a hybrid of this two-knife practice. They roll the uses of a fixed blade and a general folding knife into one implement. Let’s look at this in a little more detail

Folding Karambits

Karambits are traditional Asiatic blades. They are mostly associated with Filipino Martial Arts (FMA) and because FMA has become more popular over the years for self-defense, karambits have become more prevalent.

However, some locations do not allow for the carry of fixed blade knives. This meant that a karambit had to be designed in order to fit with those local laws while still providing a tool for self-defense.

This is where folding karambits come in. A number of changes had to go into the karambit to make it suitable for carrying as a self-defense tool.

Many traditional karambits featured a double-edged blade while others featured a single edge. But due to legal reasons and the fact that it must be safely carried in a pocket, most folding or non-fixed karambits have a single edge.

Many of these designs tried to integrate things like seat-belt cutters and similar utility features. These expanded the role of the folding karambit from just a defensive tool to a potential rescue tool.

Differences between Folding Karambits and “Normal” Pocket Knives

The biggest differences between traditional pocket knives and folding karambits  are the blade and the handle design.

The blade of a folding karambit is usually a hawk-bill blade style or some sort of Wharncliffe blade. These mimic more traditional karambit blades and offer similar utility.

The handle is where things get very interesting. This is because the handle functions as the sheath of the blade in a folding knife. There are a number of ways that this is achieved.

The more traditional way is that the blade somehow goes into the handle. For more unique Out-the-front karambits, the blade will slide easily into the handle. For more traditional folding karambits, the blade will fold into the handle like any normal folding knife.

Then we have CRKT’s solution.

CRKT’s karambit, the Provoke Morphing Karambit, instead of folding into the handle, retracts almost like a finger to keep the blade protected.

While this closing design is an outlier it still features a common aspect of karambits. Most folding karambits will include the karambit ring. This ring makes it easier to draw the karambit from your pocket and retain it in your grip.

Because of this, the ring will sit higher than your belt/pocket clip. This comes down to a preference of where the knife sits in your pocket. Some like it to ride higher, like with these karambits, while some prefer them to sit lower in the pocket.


Folding Karambits fit the basic definitions of a pocket knife. They have been modified to fit that distinction due to legal restrictions and the needs of the end-user.

Beyond a handful of outlying designs and normal karambit features, they are effectively no different than any other folding knife out there.

Folding knives like pruning knives or similar harvesting knives could even be referred to as “ringless karambits.” This might matter to some, but overall it does not matter to the functions of the knife.

There are a wide variety of different takes on the folding karambit, find the one that suits your tastes the best and carry it with confidence.


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Trent Gander

Trent Gander has been in the firearms sphere for almost a decade, learning and growing with the changing times. He has been writing professionally on the subject for almost six years.

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