A survival knife is a special tool that is used in wilderness environments and in emergency situations. A survival knife can be used by hunters, hikers or any other outdoor lover and it’s a must for your adventure kit.
When searching for the best survival knife, you need to be aware of a few things and in this guide, I will tell you the most important aspects you need to consider when purchasing a survival knife.
I will also show you 5 of the best survival knives available today.
Related: Best Pac Boots For Hunting
A survival knife usually has a heavy and thick blade. The back of the blade is usually flat and this makes a survival knife suitable for heavy-duty activities such as skinning or wood cutting.
This is an important aspect because you should choose a knife that has the appropriate size for the tasks you’re going to perform with it.
A big knife will be more helpful if you intend to use it as a multi-purpose tool. Its size will be more convenient when facing heavy-duty activities: you can use it while preparing food, when you start a fire or even for self-defense.
- The ideal overall length will be 9-11″.
Related: 5 Best Leather Boots For Hunting
Now that we clarified the right overall knife length, it’s also necessary to pick a survival knife that has an appropriate blade size.
If you want to use your knife for detailed tasks such as dressing small game, you won’t be able to successfully do that with a big blade knife.
On the other hand, a knife with a blade too small won’t be that useful for tasks that require power and strength, such as chopping.
- After some research, I came to the conclusion that the ideal blade length will be 4-6″.
Fixed blade vs Folding blade
Both fixed and folding blades have their own advantages and disadvantages:
- Fixed blade knives guarantee more durability and reliability. They are easy to clean and to take care of. On the other hand, fixed blade knives cost more than folding knives and you need to carry them in a sheath.
- Folding knives are just not that strong and they’re not reliable for demanding tasks. They do have their advantages. Compared to fixed blade knives, they are easy to carry and they’re perfect for everyday simple tasks.
While I do recommend you pick a fixed blade survival knife, you will notice in this article that I review some interesting options for folding knives as well.
What does full tang mean? The tang is that part of the blade that extends down to the base of the handle. A full tang knife means that the blade and the handle are made from one continuous piece of metal.
The main benefit of a full tank knife is the fact that it’s stronger and more prepared for heavy activities. Most hunting and survival knives experts consider that the full tang construction is the perfect way to build such a tool, so keep this in mind when looking for the best survival knife.
The most common types of steel you will encounter when searching for the best survival knife are the stainless steel and the carbon steel.
- The stainless steel blade provides additional protection against rust, but on the other hand, it’s more difficult to sharpen.
- The main advantage of the carbon steel is the fact that it’s sharp. It’s a strong blade type but it’s more prone to rust compared to the stainless steel blade.
The most common blade shapes you will notice are: clip point, drop point and spear point.
For the best survival knife, you can choose either a clip point or a drop point blade.
Straight Edge vs Serrated Edge
Another choice you will need to take is regarding the blade edge. Here you have two options: either a straight blade or a serrated blade.
Most people who purchase a survival knife choose a straight edge with the main being a straight edge is more durable and much easier to sharpen and maintain. On the other hand, a serrated edge is really difficult to sharpen, you can’t do it using a whetstone and it requires a special sharpener. So a straight edge blade will get the job done without any worries.
Most survival knives feature a handle that’s made of rubber. You will also see that some handles can be made of polymer or micarta.
The best advice that I can give you regarding the handle is to pick one that’s made of a non-slip material.
It’s also important to choose a knife with a handle that guarantees a solid and comfortable grip. The best materials I would choose are polymer and rubber.
You will also notice that some survival knives feature a hollow handle. I wouldn’t recommend it since this type of handle can cause a loss of strength.
1. BlizeTec Survival Knife: Best 5-in-1 Tactical Pocket Folding Knife
You will love this BlizeTec knife! This 5-in-1 tactical pocket knife was designed for you to enjoy all the advantages of what a bigger and more imposing tool can offer.
This is a multi-purpose knife, so you can use it while hunting, camping, hiking or any other outdoor activity.
The BlizeTec tactical pocket knife offers 5 benefits into 1:
- a sharp knife with a serrated saw blade;
- LED flashlight;
- window breaker;
- magnesium fire starter;
- seat belt cutter.
If we take a look at these 5 features, we notice that they are really important for a survivor to have a successful outdoor experience.
One of the main benefits of this knife is the fact that it’s really lightweight (5.46oz ) and it’s easy to carry. The entire knife length is 8.5″ and when closed is 5″.
This BlizeTec knife features a drop point blade with a serrated saw. The drop point blade which has a length of 3.5″ is extremely common when designing survival knives since it’s strong, sharp and versatile.
The blade is made of sharp 420 stainless steel and the serrated saw makes it even easier to cut through difficult surfaces or materials.
The fire starter is located on the back of the top and at the base of the handle you can find the window breaker. On the base of the knife, you will notice the seat belt cutter.
The handle is made of anodized aluminum. It feels comfortable and fits perfectly in the hand. You can easily open the knife with the help of the knot that’s located at the end of the handle. Simply push the knot and the knife will fold.
This BlizeTec knife also features a reliable locking mechanism that will guarantee your knife will remain closed unless you open it; this is really important for safety reasons.
You have two carrying options: either you carry the knife with the belt clip or you use the nylon pouch that you receive after you purchase the tool. Of course, you can carry it in your pocket too.
The LED flashlight is located on the back of the knife. The batteries for this LED can last for 12 hours. This flashlight is useful if you’re in a low light environment and you need to see what you’re doing.
If you feel like you don’t need the LED flashlight, you can remove it from the knife because it’s attached to it with a magnet.
This knife comes sharp right from the factory and you also receive a Lifetime Warranty.
- It’s not recommended to use this knife for meat cutting or kitchen usage.
- When doing outdoor activities for a long time, the LED flashlight can fall off.
The BlizeTec 5-in-1 tactical pocket knife is a great choice for you if you’re looking for a multi-purpose tool that’s easy to carry and to maintain.
It’s good for you if want a beautiful knife that’s made of advanced materials. This knife is useful for any emergency or unexpected situation you might encounter in your outdoor adventures.
2. Ka-Bar 1220 US Army Straight Edge
The KA-BAR 1220 US Army is an established knife that has been used by military members and it’s a great addition to your survival kit.
When you see this knife for the first time, you can notice that it’s a well-built knife right off the bat.
This knife is made in the USA and the blade length is 7″ and the overall knife length is 11.875″. It features a clip point blade made of 1095 Chrome Vanadium (Cro-Van). The clip point blade is thick, sharp, reliable, it has a needle-sharp point and it’s great for a multi-purpose knife.
The 1095 Cro-Van blade has a hardness rating of 56-58 and it’s powder coated to offer protection against corrosion. The blade is resistant and should work just fine even if you use it on a daily basis.
The handle is made of leather and it guarantees a comfortable grip. This knife is strong and inspires confidence and one reason for its strength is the fact that the tang of the blade comes all the way through the handle.
- You should sharpen the knife before you use it for heavy-duty tasks. This is a hefty survival knife that comes sharp right out of the box, but you should take this aspect into consideration.
- Some people can find the blade length too long and they will need some time to get used with it. The KA-BAR 1220 has a blade length that’s around 3″ longer than most utility knives.
The KA-BAR 1220 Us Army Straight Edge is a great choice for you if you’re looking for a knife that has been tested to guarantee the best quality and durability.
After all, this knife was used in the U.S. military, so it’s definitely a competent tool. It’s a great all-purpose knife that comes with an affordable price.
3. Schrade SCHF3N Extreme Survival Fixed Blade Knife
The Schrade SCHF3N Extreme Survival Fixed Blade knife is a strong full-tang tool that was specially designed for outdoor activities. This knife inspires quality and since it’s full-tang, you can use it for heavy duty work without any worries, you can even use it for wood splitting or rope cutting.
The blade length is 6.4″ and the overall knife length is 11.8″. The black coated drop point blade is made of 8Cr13MoV high carbon stainless steel.
The handle has a length of 5.6″ and it’s made of Micarta. It offers a comfortable grip and good balance especially if you have big hands.
On the other hand, some users can say that the handle is too big to assure a comfortable grip, especially when used on a regular basis.
When you purchase the knife, you also receive a black nylon sheath, which offers multiple carry options and a large pocket on the front where you can place whatever you need in your activity, such as a fire starter.
- The quality of the sheath is not that good.
- It’s not that suitable for backpacking because it’s too heavy.
When looking for the best survival knife, you can consider this knife as well. You’ll love this versatile knife and you will be satisfied with the things you can do with it. This knife will last for decades if you take proper care of it!
4. Columbia River Knife and Tool K220KKP
The Columbia River Knife is a folding tactical knife that won a Knife of the Year award.
It features a modified drop point AUS 8 stainless steel blade that has a length of 3.5″. The blade is coated with a Black Titanium Nitride in order to provide strength and resistance. This blade is pretty versatile and has a nice curve and a hardness rating of 58-59.
The spine of the blade is thick, but this gives the impression that the knife won’t fail to perform heavy duty tasks.
This knife has a Ball Bearing Pivot opening system which works smoothly when you open and close the tool.
The handle is made of Cold Forged Aluminum and it features some stylish Finger Grooves for a comfortable grip. The finger grooves are on both sides of the handle and your fingers will just curl around the knife.
You receive this knife with Limited Lifetime Warranty.
This is a solid knife and some people might find it too big.
The Columbia River Knife is a great choice for you if you’re looking for a tool with solid construction that feels comfortable at the same time.
This knife is beautifully designed. It opens like a dream and you can be confident that it will do a good job even when used for difficult tasks.
5. Gerber Bear Grylls Ultimate Pro Knife
I think this is one of the most reviewed survival knives and it’s undoubtedly an impressive tool that deserves all the popularity.
The Gerber Bear Grylls Ultimate Pro Knife is the result of the collaboration between Gerber (an established company that produces high-quality knives) and the famous Bear Grylls (he is popular for his survival shows on Discovery).
Judging by this fact, I can easily describe this knife in one word: experience. Experience in designing knives and experience in survival activities; a beautiful combination that inspires confidence.
This knife is a multi-purpose tool. It works great for basic knife tasks such as slicing or filleting, but it can be a great companion for your hunting and survival activities as well.
The Gerber Bear Grylls features a drop point blade that has a length of 4.8″ and the overall knife length is 10″.
It’s a full tang knife and the blade is made of 9CR19MoV premium steel. This blade material is strong and it’s well known for keeping good edge retention. The full tang construction guarantees durability when used for harder tasks.
What’s interesting about this knife is its pull-through carbide sharpener. This is a really useful feature if your blade gets dull during your activities.
This pull sharpener is used to sharpen the entire edge of the knife and it doesn’t require any prior experience.
The handle is made of TPE Overmold and it guarantees a non-slip rubber grip. You can use this knife under any weather condition and it feels secure and comfortable in the hand.
This knife is not MOLLE compatible, but you can use the sheath to attach it to your belt.
The Gerber Bear Grylls Ultimate Pro Knife is a great choice for you if you’re looking for a popular tool that you can use while backpacking, hiking, camping, and emergency/survival situations.
If you want a tool that will always be sharp when you need it, the Gerber got you covered.