CAMPING & HIKING

Best Survival Knife: Getting a Rugged Knife for Those Tough Survivalist Jobs

Survival knife
Mark Foster
Written by Mark Foster

When it comes to choosing the best survival knife, one knife may be the perfect selection for you, while a different knife might prove fantastic for another. In other words, there is a knife sure to suit every taste. There are considerable benefits from an investment in a survival knife of high quality as the knives that are well-made tend to serve as diverse tools for myriad practical uses.

The best knives on the market can ensure the weapon serves you for many years to come, whether you use it in survival situations, or for alternative purposes like hunting, camping, camping, fishing, prying, carving, self-defense, and more.

Our Top Picks

Product NameBlade LengthBlade MaterialHandleSheath MaterialPrice
Ka-Bar Becker BK2 Companion Fixed Blade Knife5.25 inchesSteelZytel handle, durableHard shell black nylon sheathCheck price on Amazon
Fallkniven A16.3 inchesVG-10 SteelOffers a good gripZytelCheck price on Amazon
ESEE-6 Plain Black Blade6.5 inches1095 steelGrey Micarta ScaleBlack molded polymerCheck price on Amazon
Gurkha Kukri11 inchesCarbon steelRosewood handleRefine buffalo leatherCheck price on Amazon
Schrade SCHF2 Chris Reeve-inspired7.5 inchesCarbon steelHigh carbon steel. Has a multi-tool insideNylon sheathCheck price on Amazon
Gerber Bear Grylls Ultimate Pro4.8 inchesSteelProvides a good gripPull through sharpener and fire-starter present with sheathCheck price on Amazon
Gerber Silver Trident Knife, Double Serration6.18 inchesDouble serrate bladeMade of Hytrel. Butt cap made of stainless steelNot mentionedCheck price on Amazon
Gerber LMF II12.2 inches total length of knifePlexiglassGlass filled nylon with TPV overmoldBallistic nylon with fire retardant coatingCheck price on Amazon
Cold Steel bushman Bowie 95BBusk7 inchesStainless steelNot mentionedNot mentionedCheck price on Amazon
Buck Knives 0119 Special Fixed Blade6 inchesStainless steelBlack Phenolic Handle with Aluminum Pommel/GuardLeatherCheck price on Amazon

Defining Your Needs

Finding the right knife involves making the right choices in terms of knife specifications. There’s a lot to consider when buying a new knife for survival use. You will have to consider all of the features listed below to get a knife that will serve your needs and preferences.

General design

Blade design considerations include deciding to select a straight edge blade over one that has a serrated edge and vice versa. With a straight blade, you can sharpen the knife with a sharpening stone and the edge of the knife will work for wood chopping when necessary.

survival knife design

Keep in mind if you bring a serrated edge with you on survival situations, you will also find you need a special sharpener for the moments it is time to sharpen your blade once more.

Blade Geometry And Style

The shaping of the blade is another factor that plays into the type of survival knife you will want to buy. You have to become familiar with different style blades. For instance, the tanto style and spear point knives with a double edge are excellent in a fighting situation but not so hot in a survival situation, where a drop point or clip point blade, with the ability to pierce, puncture, and cut, will serve you better.

Survival Knife Rambo Style

For survival situations it is not recommended that you use a knife that features serrated edging, unless of course you want to lug around the appropriate sharpener to keep the blade sharp. Bear in mind that even with a super sharp serrated edge, this type of edge on a blade is not something that works well when out in the wild.

In fact, experts suggest you use a survival weapon with a smooth straight spine as well, as this will allow you to hit on the back of the blade smoothly if needed for the purposes of cutting wood or other thick materials.

Handle Structure

Expert survivalists often use survival knives that have a full tang- meaning the blade runs clean into the handle and the handle and knife are made of all one piece of metal. This strengthens the weapon and increases the amount of pressure it can handle. There are knives with hollow handles but these should be avoided when possible – the hollow knife cannot present a full tang and the strength that comes with such a design.

Survival blade

What’s more, when you are dealing with a knife that does not feature a full tang, the metal portion of the blade stops at the handle – this makes it a weak point where it can break off while in use. The risk is obvious: Potential self-injury or not having the weapon fully intact when you need it the most.

Metal Used In The Blade

The type of metal you will find in survival knives is one of two typical types either Carbon or Stainless Steel. Both types of metal have their advantages. Carbon Steel knives promise the user a really nice sharp edge with every use as it retains the sharpened edge longer than stainless steel blades.

However, one can anticipate the blade wearing down sooner due to the carbon steel’s susceptibility to corrosive elements. Meanwhile, stainless steel is durable, lasting, and non-corrosive. The stainless steel offerings tend to lose their edge faster than their carbon counterparts. Both metals are easy to care for and clean.

Blade Thickness

It’s funny but few people ask this question when looking for a survival knife and it really is a factor that must be taken into consideration. If you want a heavy duty, all duty survival knife,  you will want a blade that measures between 3/16 inches and 4/16 inches to ensure blade strength.

Survival Knife Blade Thickness

The latter thicknesses make a blade suitable for tasks like prying, chopping, and cutting. The thicker blade will not flex as much as a thinner blade either, thereby making striking, slicing, cutting, chopping, chipping and prying action.

Knife Coverings

Many of the survival knives are sold with a sheath to cover the knife when it is not in use.

There are three features you might want to consider when getting a sheath including the strap, lanyard attachment, and lower attachment. If you want fast access to the weapon for example, how the weapon straps into the sheath really makes all the difference in how fast you can draw it out.

Knife Covering

The sheath strap that works the best is one directed across the handle of the weapon where the sheath and handle come into contact. If there is an attachment piece or hole you can attach the sheath to your leg, or you can wear it on a belt or carry it via a lanyard.

Top Products That Should Catch Your Attention

We took a quick look at the available products and we made a short list of the best knives one should consider. Take a look and let us know your opinion.

Ka-Bar Becker BK2 Companion Fixed Blade

Price: Approx. $78.69Ka-Bar Becker BK2 Campanion Fixed Blade Knife

Weight: 16 ounces

Dimensions: 18 x 5 x 5 inches; blade is 5.25 inches; overall length is 10 5/8 inches

Specific features: Zytel handle, steel blade, heavy-duty, full tang design, comes with a protective sheath

Best use: Camping tasks, hiking, hunting and smaller, mundane tasks

The Ka-Bar Becker BK2 Companion Fixed Blade knife is a KA-Bar model and is a coveted survivalist blade – The knife maker – a company that has earned a good representation in the industry for their masterfully designed knives. The knife’s design consists of a drop point blade and the steel blade features a special 20-degree angle for cutting.

The accompanying sheath is fashioned out of glass filled, black nylon. The sheath is waterproof, scratch resistant, and low friction, and the Zytel handle is a light material as well as remarkably durable. The material allows for excellent grip of the knife.

PROS:

  • Nylon sheath included
  • Tough
  • Sharp blade
  • Good grip

CONS:

  • Heavy
  • Removing the knife from the sheath is difficult
  • Handle is big

Related: Ka-Bar Becker BK9 Combat Bowie Knife is another great knife. It has a steel blade which is quite sharp. The blade is 9 inches long and the knife has a total weight of 1.05 pounds.

Check the price on Amazon

Fallkniven A1

Price: Approx. $185.90Fallkniven A1 Survival Knife Fixed Blade Knife

Weight: 10.76 ounces

Dimensions: Overall length 11.02 inches; blade length 6.30 inches; blade thickness 0.24 inches

Specific features:  Drop point, plain edged blade; zytel sheath; blade made of VG-10 materials

Best use: Mundane chores, hiking, camping, survival

The Fallkniven A1 is an exceptional knife with a blade crafted out of Japanese V-G10 materials. The knife is light, portable, and well-designed.

Its durability and corrosion resistant properties make it a suitable blade for a wide range of uses spanning from everyday chores to survivalist experiences. The knife features a broad and protruding tang. The weapon is manufactured by a knife maker with over 30 years in the industry.

PROS:

  • Drop point
  • Corrosion resistant
  • Can be used for many purposes
  • Plain edged

CONS:

  • Expensive
  • Edge is not extremely sharp so you may need to sharpen it before use

Related: Fallkniven 2 F1 Swedish Military Knife is another great knife with a blade made of VG-10 steel. It has a drop point. Its sheath is made of leather and will keep the blade safe when you are not using the knife.

Check the price on Amazon

ESEE-6 Plain Black Blade

Price: Approx. $120ESEE-6 Plain Black Blade

Weight: 12 Ounces

Dimensions: Blade 6.5 inches; overall 11.75 inches; octting edge 5.75 inches; blade width 1.56 inches

Specific features: Grey colored Micarta handle

Best use: Survival, camping, hunting, regularly cutlery tasks

The ESEE-6 Plain Black Blade has a drop point blade which is made of high carbon 1095 steel. Grey Micarta scale materials are used for the handle. The knife comes with a sheath made of black molded polymer.

The knife’s blade features an attractive, black-colored powder coating to help in the prevention of scratching up the blade. A lanyard hole is fitted in the pommel for ease of transport.

The blade is quite sharp while also being rather durable. The knife is lightweight which makes it easy to use.

PROS:

  • Long blade
  • Scratch-resistant
  • Sharp
  • Light

CONS:

  • Handle is difficult to grip
  • If the sheath gets wet, it takes a long time to dry out.

Related: ESEE Junglas Blade has a long, sharp blade and comes with a durable sheath. It has good handle ergonomics and thus it is easy to grip this knife tightly while using it.

Check the price on Amazon

Gurkha Kukri

Gurkha KukriPrice: Approx. $64.51

Weight: 37.6 ounces

Dimensions: 3.8 inches x 3.8 inches x 18.3 inches

Specific features: Handmade by Bishwakarmas; rosewood handle; thick spine, full tang design, sharp, unpolished edge on the blade. You get a free Karda and Chakmak smaller blades as well with your purchase.

Best use: Self defense, camping, survival, used during the war and out in the field

The Gurkha Kukri features a handle measuring around 5 inches. The entire blade is over 16 inches in length, and the knife has a spine that is about 10mm. The blade is as sharp as a razor and incredibly easy to sharpen as well. It is hand forged and will last a long time.

The blade comes crafted out of high-grade carbon steel metal, after all comes complete with a sheath made of the finest Buffalo leather. The blade is made of High Grade carbon materials.

PROS:

  • Hand forged blade is very strong and durable
  • Blade is easy to sharpen
  • Sharp edge
  • Affordable

CONS:

  • Getting the blade in and out of the sheath may be difficult
  • As these are hand-made, the quality may vary and some knives are not as sharp as the others
  • There might be inconsistency in the width

Related: Cold Steel Gurkha Kukri is another knife made by this manufacturer. It has a five-inch long handle which is easy to grip. The blade is made of high-carbon steel and is very tough.

Another knife you might consider buying is the 10.5” Gurkha Kukri. It is another hand-made knife with a 5-inch long blade. The blade is quite sharp and is made of carbon steel.

Check the price on Amazon

Schrade SCHF2 Chris Reeve-inspiredSchrade SCHF2 Chris Reeve-inspired Survival Knife

Price: Approx. $61.73

Weight: 17.8 ounces

Dimensions: Blade 7.5 inches; handle 5.2 inches ; 5.6 inches x 4.7 inches x 10.3 inches

Specific Features: High carbon steel blade; steel handle, waterproof hollow handle end cap, multi-tool inside the handle exposing screwdriver, and it comes with a nylon sheath to store and carry the weapon safely

Best Use: Survival, camping, hiking, and heavy duty use

The Schrade SCHF2 is a Special Forces knife hosting a blade that is fixed. The blade is made of 1070 High Carbon steel just like the handle. The weapon comes with a combo edge blade thereby diversifying the knife’s utility. A sleek design and durable construction make this blade a coveted choice for survivalists and campers.

The interior multi-tool inside the knife’s handle makes this weapon even more practical. The Schrader SCHF2 comes with a lifetime warranty against manufacturing defects.

PROS:

  • Has a partially serrated clip point
  • Multi-tool inside the handle
  • Sleek design
  • Fixed, sharp blade

CONS:

  • A little heavy

Related: Shrade SCHF1SM Extreme Survival Knife is another knife which holds a multi-tool in its waterproof handle. The knife weighs 0.81 pounds. It has a very sharp blade which can be covered with a sheath.

Check the price on Amazon

Gerber Bear Grylls Ultimate Pro

Price: Approximately $51.33Gerber Bear Grylls Ultimate Pro Knife

Weight: 13.8 ounces

Dimensions: Blade 4.8 inches; Overall 10 inches

Specific features: Firestarter, sharpener, full tang, high-quality blade, lanyard whistle

Best use: Emergency/survival, camping, hiking, outdoors

The Gerber Bear Grylls Ultimate Pro features an ultra-fine edge and a price tag of about $62.00. The knife comes with an emergency lanyard whistle, a sheath featuring a fire starter that is mounted onto the knife vertically, and a sharper with sheath integration. The blade is made of premium steel and the weapon features a full tang blade with a superior edge.

The sharpener is a full carbide, pull through the tool. The ferrocerium fire starting tool gives you a spark when you are in need of an easy to start a fire in the wilderness, and the safety whistle is great in emergency rescue search and recovery situations.

PROS:

  • The sheath has a sharpener attached to it
  • Whistle attached
  • Firestarter mounted into the sheath. Thus this is perfect as a survival knife
  • Blade has a sharp edge

CONS:

  • Blade becomes dull easily and you have to sharpen it often
  • Heavy

Related: Gerber LMF II Survival Knife is extremely tough. There is a break between the tang and the butt cap, which gives you protection and insulation in case you want to use the knife to cut stray wires.

You may also consider the Gerber Gator Premium Fixed Blade Knife which has a fixed steel blade. The handle is easy to grip while the blade is corrosion resistant.

Check the price on Amazon

Gerber Silver Trident Knife, Double Serration

Price: Approx. $217Gerber Silver Trident Knife, Double Serration

Weight: 22.4 ounces

Dimensions: 15.2 x 4.2 x 2.2 inches

Specific features: Clip point blade, double edge, lightweight design, limited lifetime warranty

Best use: Survival – the weapon is also excellent for use in industrial, tactical, survival, hunting, and military applications

The Gerber Silver Trident Knife comes with a highly durable design, thereby making it rugged enough to deal with harsh survival and outdoor tasks. The handle features a hybrid grip structure to ensure the strongest handling of the knife and the black coating on the weapon is a non-reflective, semi-protective material.

The weapon is field-tested to ensure its integrity. This weapon is created by Chief Watson and William Harsey Jr and features what is called the “Most advanced” knife handle ever created. The weapon is made resistant to chemicals, UV light, and heat – it is made of Hytrel, a co-mold. The weapon has a stainless steel butt cap you can use as a hammer as well.

PROS:

  • Very durable handle which is resistant to heat, UV radiation and chemicals
  • Easy to grip
  • Butt cap can be used as a hammer
  • Double-serrated

CONS:

  • Pricey
  • Heavy
  • Sheath is not very high quality

Related: Gerber Prodigy Survival Knife has a stainless steel blade with a black oxide finish. The blade has one serrated edge. There is a leg strap as well as two other straps, so you can carry the knife with you safely.

Check the price on Amazon

Gerber LMF II

Price: Approx. $76.81Gerber LMF II Survival Knife

Weight: 11.7 ounces

Dimensions: 12.2 inches x 4.7 inches x 2.8 inches

Specific features: Over-molded grip; embedded sharpener in the sheath; lashing holes, a pointed butt cap, and a 10-inch serrated weapon. Glass piercing buttcap, sheath has an integrated knife sharpener, sheath sold with the weapon. Comes with a warranty offer from the product manufacturer.

Best use: Extreme survivalist conditions

The Gerber LMF II Survival Knife costs about $63.99. The infantry knife is available in Coyote, Green, and Black. The Gerber LMF II is imported and it is a weapon designed to take on rugged tasks.

The blade is partially serrated and the punch is made of a plexiglass material. This weapon has been field tested by troops to assess its integrity in the worst of survival conditions and has been deemed a high-performance offering. The blade is good for shelter building, woodcutting. The butt cap on this knife is not directly connected to the tang: This improves the shock absorbency of the weapon in question.

PROS:

  • Break between tang and butt cap provides insulation
  • Sheath is very durable
  • Blade is very tough

CONS:

  • A little too snug in the sheath
  • Heavy

Related: Gerber Fullback Knife has a blade which is coated with titanium nitride. This makes the blade tough and durable. The handle offers a good grip.

Check the price on Amazon

Cold Steel Bushman Bowie 95BBUSK

Price: Approx. $21.18Cold Steel Bushman Bowie 95BBUSK

Weight: 10.1 ounces

Dimensions:  13 x 3.5 x 1.5 inches

Specific features:  5.25 inches hollow handle, SK5 high carbon 7-inch stainless steel blade, 2.5-inch blade thickness

Best use: Survival

The Cold Steel Bushman Bowie is definitely among the affordable knives on the market when you want a durable survival knife. The body of this knife is all one piece of metal that has been heat-treated to ensure its strength and durability.

The knife lacks a seam or joint where the handle would meet the blade, so the area is fortified and it can handle up to two tons of pressure. The edge of the blade is made extra sharp for ease of cutting and slicing. You can get the knife with a standard or Bowie point.

PROS:

  • Lightweight
  • Affordable
  • Fortified area between handle and blade

CONS:

  • Blade is thin and might dent if you try to baton with it
  • Not extremely durable

Related: Cold Steel Survival Edge Orange Knife has a 2.5mm thick, drop point blade. It is very sharp and also quite durable.

Check the price on Amazon

Buck Knives 0119 Special Fixed Blade

Price: Approx. $56.97Buck Knives 0119 Special Fixed Blade Knife

Weight: 10.6 ounces

Dimensions:  11.2 x 2.8 x 2.2 inches

Specific features: Comes with a sheath made of quality leather materials. Warranty, two styles, brass pommel, and stainless steel materials.

Best use:  Outdoors, cutting in places where the room is tight, and detailed cutting

The Buck Knives 0119  is available in two styles including wood and brass and Black and Silver. This made in the USA blade features a six-inch long blade made of 420 high carbon stainless steel material.

The weapon has a brass pommel guard and a handle made of Cocobolo Dymondwood. The unit comes with the Buck Forever product warranty as well.

PROS:

  • Sheath is durable
  • Tough, sharp blade
  • Affordable

CONS:

  • Handle is too light
  • Handle is not high quality

Related: Buck 192 BR Vanguard has a drop point steel blade which is very tough. The fixed blade is perfect for every kind of cutting. Leather fitted sheath is included.

Check the price on Amazon

A Survival Knife Perfect for Every Survivalist

Ultimately, the buyer plays a huge role in describing and defining the leading survival knives on the market. Each knife purchase is a customized action with the future knife owner giving consideration to a series of questions that, once answered, will clearly give an indication to what survival knife will serve one’s needs the best.

Taking the time to consider the blade geometry, size, and thickness; the intended use of the weapon; the edge and spine design, and thinking of potential accessories: The answer to the later questions will get you the best knife you can buy.

Best survival knife

Do you have anything you want to add, or tell us about another specific knife? Let us know in the comments!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mark Foster
Mark Foster

Mark Foster loves to push his limits when it comes to survival in the wilderness. He might go for a 30-days adventure without any food or equipment except for a survival kit and a knife. We should mention that his survival kit has 122 items in it, so he know what he is doing. Mark is working on his book to share with the world all his experience gained during those brave adventures.

  • Andrew Richardson

    If you want a dependable, rugged, all purpose knife you just found the ESEE-6. I have used this knife to build blinds and set camp, and in the same trip completely skinned and quartered my game. Bear, buffalo, moose, dear, and caribou in the field are no problem, and it holds an edge even when boning. Please don’t get me wrong though, THIS IS AN ALL PURPOSE KNIFE, not a skinning or a boning knife and forget about filleting. That said, if I have to rely on one blade in any situation, especially a survival situation, I choose this one.

  • Mark Foster

    The blade is built to last- with the high carbon 1095 steel that this knife has, it can do almost anything. Most may balk at the steep price but once they have this within grasp, they can understand why. And yes, it can even clean a fresh catch of fish with ease. 🙂

  • Marcus Brown

    I have been using Mora knife for about 4 months now. It is not that beautiful and fancy but it is really inexpensive (I got mine for $15 US). Mora knives have a scandi grind on them. The tapered part of the blade that comes together to form the edge is very long and narrow. It gives the blade unprecedented cutting ability. I have tried cutting wood and fish and it really did an outstanding job. Has anyone ever tried it before too? Though I really like this knife, I am still planning on purchasing a less maintenance stainless steel knife like Cold Steel Outdoorsman. It is not cheap though (for a single knife, I found one on a local online store for about $350 US), but the design is awesome!

  • Mark Foster

    Most expensive knives are known for their awesome workmanship and the material used for the blade. Although most of the survival knives in this list are moderately priced. You can still choose some quality-made ones for a fraction of a price. Just choose one that suits your needs.

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