For more than 130 years, Case has made knives at its plant in Bradford, Pennsylvania. This is a very traditional American style of knife that many would consider a classic. The Case Mako is their bestselling knife in their large lock back family. It's a workhorse that combines the strength of a fixed blade with the portability of a folder. It's also such a traditional and non-threatening design that no one will even raise an eyebrow when you take it out.

Case Mako - A true American classic.

The Case Mako has a 3.25" blade forged from Tru-Sharp which is Case's own special blend of stainless and high carbon steel. Case claims that this gives the blade an ability to hold an edge longer than more conventional steels. The blade is also engraved with the distinctive Mako shark emblem.

The Case Mako is housed brass and black "staminawood" which is a Case blend of dyed and laminated wood veneers. This gives it strength while still using a very traditional material. As a traditional lock back knife, the Case requires two hands to open. But once opened, the lock keeps the blade open and provides the strength required for heavy cutting.

The Case Mako sells for about $94, However, it is one of those classic knives that will last for generations. But the Case is not the only classic, lock back knife that deserves your consideration. Let's explore a few alternatives to this classic.

Blade 3.25"
Length closed 4.25"
Weight 7.5 oz.
Blade material Tru-Sharp
Handle material Wood Laminate
Locking ✔ Lock Back
Made in USA
Price $94
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Buck 110

Traveling east across the United States we arrive at Post Falls, Idaho, which is home to another classic American knife maker, Buck. Designed in 1963 by Al Buck, the Buck 110 features a 3 3/4" blade and like the Case Mako, requires two hands to open. The lock is similar to the Case and is designed to keep the blade open during hard use.

Buck 110 - The other American classic. Notice a trend?

The Buck 110 uses a clip point, 3.75" blade that is forged from 420HC stainless steel. This offers a half of an inch longer in useable blade length than the Case. You can get the Buck 110 in a variety of scale materials but the traditional version is brass mated to ebony wood. Overall, the Buck 110 is a great alternative to the Case Mako.

Buck 110 Folding Hunter
Blade 3.75"
Length closed 4 7/8"
Weight 7.2 oz.
Blade material 420HC stainless
Handle material Ebony / brass
Locking ✔ (Lock back)
Made in USA
Price $50
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Buck 110 Folding Hunter LT

Since we're talking about the Buck 110, a true American classic, there is one update that you might want to consider. The Buck 110 LT has much of the same components of a traditional Buck 110 except it ditches the brass and wood in favor of indestructible nylon. You still get the proven Buck 3.75" clip blade in 420HC stainless steel but at a significant weight savings of four ounces. The Buck 110 LT is ultralight and nearly indestructible.

Buck 110 LT - The 21st Century Buck.

So if you are one of those who appreciates the classics but prefers more modern materials, the Buck 110 LT is worthy of your consideration.

Buck 110 LT
Blade 3.75"
Length closed 4 7/8"
Weight 3.2 oz.
Blade material 420HC stainless
Handle material Nylon
Locking ✔ Lock back
Made in USA
Price $32
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Mercator K55 Black Cat

Moving away from the United States, we cross the Atlantic to find the Mercator K55 Black Cat which has been made in Solingen, Germany since 1867. If the Case Mako is classic American, then the Mercator K55 Black Cat is iconic German. The K55 is an all metal lock back knife that uses a folded and riveted single body construction. It is extremely thin and light. Like the Case, the K55 uses a very strong lock back designed blade lock that is very adept at keeping the blade open.

Mercator K55 - The German version of the Case Mako.

The 3.5" drop point blade comes in both high carbon and stainless steel versions. The traditional high carbon steel can be sharpened to an extremely sharp edge. While a utilitarian design, the gold etched cat logo is an elegant addition. The Mercator K55 Black Cat is also a very affordable knife.

Mercator K55 Black Cat
Blade 3.5"
Length closed 4.25"
Weight 7.75 oz.
Blade material Carbon steel or stainless
Handle material Stainless steel
Locking ✔ Lock Back
Made in Solingen, Germany
Price $30
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Opinel No. 8

Leave it to the French to come up with this elegant yet useful design. The Opinel No. 8 was created by Joseph Opinel in 1890 and while it has a very distinctive look, you can't argue with how comfortable the rounded beechwood handle feels in your hand. Combine that with a unique stainless steel Virobloc rotating safety ring that lets you positively secure the blade in the open position and you have a French classic.

Opinel No. 8 - A French icon.

The 3.28" stainless steel blade is actually forged from Sandvik 12C27, which is an excellent Swedish steel alloy that provides decent rust resistance with the ability to hold a razor sharp edge. The Opinel comes in a variety of sizes, but the Opinel No. 8 is the original, and many consider it the perfect iteration of this amazing French cutting tool.

Opinel No. 8
Blade 3.25"
Length closed 4.25"
Weight 1.6 oz.
Blade material Sandvik 12C27
Handle material Beechwood
Locking ✔ Lock ring
Made in France
Price $17
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Victorinox Swiss Army Sentinel

No review of classic field knives would be complete without a Victorinox Swiss Army knife. While there are dozens of versions of Swiss Army knives, the one we think is the best alternative to the Case is the Sentinel. While the Sentinel only contains a blade, Victorinox could not resist adding at least a few tools, and concealed within the handle is a toothpick and tweezers.

Victorinox Sentinel - The (mostly) blade only Swiss Army Knife.

The 3" stainless steel blade comes in both plain and serrated edges. To open the Sentinel uses a thumb hole which allows one handed opening. A liner lock is used to positively hold the blade open. And like the Case Mako, a Swiss Army knife never attracts the kind of unwanted attention that the more tactical looking pocketknives can do. If you want a blade only knife, the Victorinox Swiss Army Sentinel is a great alternative to the Case Mako.

Victorinox Sentinel
Blade 3.2"
Length closed 4.375"
Weight 2.6 oz.
Blade material Swiss stainless
Handle material Polymer
Locking ✔ Lock Back
Made in Switzerland
Price $35
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Cold Steel 54VPM Lucky One Gentleman's Knife

Our last two alternatives are not classic or even very traditional. However, they do stop short of being high speed tactical flippers. The first is the Cold Steel Luck One. It's called a Gentleman's knife and one looks tells you why. The Lucky One is an elegant design and the 2.6" blade is forged from premium CPM-S35VN. The scales are carbon fiber and this results in a knife that weighs less than a single ounce!

Cold Steel Luck One - An elegant, made in Italy knife.

This knife is smaller than the other alternatives and uses a slip joint lock which means it is not positively locked open. At the same time a slip joint knife is legal in nearly every country in the world. For daily use, a slip joint is a perfectly useable lock.

Cold Steel Lucky One
Blade 2.625"
Length closed 3.25"
Weight 0.9 oz.
Blade material CPM-S35VN
Handle material Carbon fiber
Locking ✘ Slipjoint
Made in Italy
Price $68
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SOG Traction EDC

The SOG Traction is the closest thing to a tactical folder that you'll find on this list. The SOG Traction uses a 3.5" long blade in either clip point or tanto and is forged from 5Cr13MoV stainless steel. The Traction uses a traditional lock back mechanism that keeps the blade open within its lightweight glass-reinforced nylon handle. Using the thumb studs, you can open this knife with one hand.

SOG Traction - The most tactical knife on this list.

The styling of the SOG Traction is totally modern and is definitely the most different from the traditional Case Mako.

SOG Traction
Blade 3.5"
Length closed 4.2"
Weight 2.3 oz.
Blade material 5Cr13MoV
Handle material GRN
Locking ✔ Lock Back
Made in China
Price $27
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It would not be an exaggeration to say that every American has at one time owned or used a knife like the Case Mako. But if you want an alternative to the Case Mako, then consider one of these solid, non-threatening classics.

What do you think? Did we miss a great alternative or one of your favorites? Please let us know by leaving a comment below.