Originally Posted by Dillinger
Yeah. Spyderco is one company that does serrated RIGHT. Those blades are sharp enough to snag bone and make an incision....
They do make some good serrated blades. I prefer plain edges for 99% of my use (they are just better precision tools for what I do with knives), but some serrated blades make excellent SD choices. From informal tests I ran with a couple of guys I train with, serrated edges are great when things like jacket zippers get in the way.
Still I only own two or three serrated blade knives out of several hundred.
Jess, do you have a knife store close by where you can play with them in person? Handle ergonomics are a very personal thing, and what works for me might not work for you.
Besides the Mini-Griptilian I suggested earlier, here are some knives I think would work for you. I've tried to select models that could tackle both SD and utility work and that are under $100 from reputable makers. Most of them are available in plain, serrated or combo edges; some with coated blades or different colour handles (all of which is personal preference).
I'll only list six so as not too make it too long and boring.
-Spyderco Delica 4. This knife has been in Spyderco's lineup for years, with slight modifications. The latest version offers excellent blade steel (VG-10), a solid lock (good old lockback, with a Boye dent), the clip can be installed in four different positions. It's slim and lightweight. Costs around $50 and it's probably one of the best modern working knives out there. Spyderco Delica 4, FRN Handle, Plain Edge
-Spyderco Persistence. It's one of Spyderco's new Chinese made knives, simple but well made. The full flat grind makes the blade very efficient, it comes with nice grippy G-10 handle slabs. I got some of these to sell and ended up keeping one. It just works. Costs $30 or so. Spyderco Persistence, Black G-10 Handle, Plain Edge, Buy 2 or More For $29.95 Each
-Keshaw Mini Cyclone (it's barely over 3"). Fantastic blade shape, assisted opening (which you can turn off), very well built and made in the US! 13C26 is a decent steel for an EDC knife, not quite up to the nicer premium steels but still good. The edge retention/ease of sharpening ratio is good. You can get it for under $30. Kershaw Mini Cyclone, Black Aluminum Handle, Plain, Speed Assisted
-Benchmade Mini Presidio. The blade is just a hair under 3", made out of 440C which used to be the standard for custom knife makers and is still a great choice for an EDC folder. It uses Benchmade's AXIS lock (one of my favourite). Costs around $58 Benchmade Mini Presidio Ultra, Axis Lock, Plain Edge
-Benchmade Mini Pika II. It's part of their Red Class (entry line imported knives), the design is great. I have an older model and still carry it from time to time despite having lots of more expensive knives. Something I love about it is the low profile clip, it looks almost like a pen clip. I carry this one clipped to my shirt pocket. It's a lot of knife for $23. Benchmade Mini-Pika II, Plain Edge
-Cold Steel Medium Voyager. I've slowly learned to love CS products. I must admit that their advertising techniques kept me from buying their knives for a few years, but I've shed that stupid prejudice and I'm really enjoying some of their products. The Voyager line has just been discontinued, but they are still readily available. The Medium Voyager has a 3" VG-1 blade (it comes in different shapes, I like the clip point) and the handle is sized for small hands. It's up there with the Delica at the top of my list of lightweight folders. $47 Cold Steel Medium Voyager, Zytel Handle, Clip Point, Plain Edge
I'm not affiliated with knifeworks.com in any way, but they are a good retailer that I wholeheartedly recommend. They've got fair prices and good customer service.
I selected knives that could be used for both SD and utility tasks because I believe that unless you're getting some intensive knife fighting practice on a regular basis, you're better off with a knife that you'll use several times a day for random cutting chores. At least that will build some muscle memory and familiarity with it.
Let me know if you've got questions about any model or brands not mentioned so far but that might appeal to you. I don't claim to be any sort of expert, but between my hobby and my little business I've played with lots of sharp toys.