View on Amazon:Steel:Our Rating:Price: Akbar Becker BK2 Fixed Blade 1095 Croghan $$ Gerber IMF II SurvivalKnife 420 High Carbon $$ Gerber Strong Arm 420 High Carbon $$ Akbar Full Sized Fighting Knife 1095 Croghan $$ Fallkniven A1 SurvivalKnife Laminated VG$10$$ Buck 119BKS 6 Inch Blade 420 High Carbon $$ Akbar BK7 Combat Utility Knife 1095 Croghan $$ Schrader SCHF9N Fixed Blade Knife 1095 Croghan $$ SEE 6P-B Plain Edge 1095 Steel $$$ SEE Laser Strike 1095 Carbon Steel $$$ SE Outdoor Tango 440 Stainless Steel $ TOPS Knives BOB Field craft 1095 HC Steel $$$1. However, many exceptional survival knives are included at every price range and from a wide variety of quality makers.
All the survival knives included are fixed blades which many feels is an essential criterion for choosing a proper survival knife. There are a few folding knives that will make good backup options, but your primary choice for a survival knife should always be a fixed blade.
Feel free to use the quick jump menu below to make it easier to find the details that apply to you. A survival knife is the essential tool that can be used in the event you get lost in the wilderness or involved in some other extreme outdoor environment.
In general, a full-tang, fixed blade is going to be more reliable and less likely to break than a folding knife or partial tang. In order for a survival knife to perform all the myriad tasks that is likely to asked of it, it must incorporate several key features that we dive into more detail in the sections below.
For instance, when faced with a wilderness survival situation, the user often employs the full length of the cutting edge from the choir to the belly for different purposes and sometimes, even the tip is needed for piercing. A camp knife is defined as a medium-sized knife with less robust construction and a blade that ranges from 5 inches to 8 in length with a balance point near the hilt and a flat grind or a hollow grind.
Schrader does a good job with the video below giving more detail on the types of blade design. This is critical when you think about the different uses you may need to use your knife in when you are in a tough survival situation.
The last thing you need is a broken knife when you are trying to set up a shelter or start skinning a recent game kill. You need to have a knife that is ready to stand up to extreme abuse and last a long time doing it.
Then, there are recurred edges which feature a straight section extending from the Picasso but which then changes to a positive angle at it approaches the center of the blade and curves upward to the tip as it reaches the belly of the edge which places the balance of the blade well forward of the hilt. Therefore, the purpose of the recurred edge is to create the blade that is good for both cutting and carving near the bolster but which is also tip heavy for better chopping performance.
For instance, blade lengths ranging from 8 to 10 inches are usually long enough and have enough weight to be well suited for chopping and splitting with a baton but, they tend to make it difficult to control the tip of the blade when trying to perform small, precision, cutting tasks. Survival knives with blade lengths ranging from 3.5 inches to 5 inches are much better suited for more delicate tasks such cutting notches in stakes and staves to build traps and snares, skinning small game animals and gutting fish, slicing up root and tubers, ECT.
However, having said that, the relative toughness and edge holding ability of any blade steel is also dependent on its Rockwell Hardness (designated HRC). Handle Material: Understanding Grips Another important factor to consider when choosing a survival knife is the material from which the handle is made because it must be both tough in order to prevent cracking and breaking, and it must be impervious to the absorption of moisture to prevent rot.
The single most popular handle material for survival knives is either canvas or linen Marta which is a resin impregnated fabric that has been heated to liquefy the resin and then pressed under tremendous pressure to form into a solid material. However, neither of these materials provide the user’s hand with any sort of cushion to lessen the shock generated when chopping with the knife.
Textured rubber handles such as those made from Clayton or Halon are good choices for heavy-duty choppers. Most of the survival knives mentioned above are excellent options, but there are a few that we just need to point out as our favorites.
Not only does it have a drop point blade design that is well suited for survival use, it features a heavy-duty construction with a 5.25 inch blade made from 1095 Croghan (adds both Chromium and Vanadium to Carbon and Manganese) non-stainless, high carbon, tool steel with a Rockwell Hardness of 56 to 58 and a deep saber grind that allows it to be honed to a fine edge. With the quality design, craftsmanship, size, and durability, you would expect something on the higher end.
The IMF II Infantry has a 4.84” drop point blade design made from 420HC stainless steel with a deep saber grind and a serrated cutting edge. The serrations and the glass breaker on the pommel are indicative of its military mindset since the serrations on the cutting edge are not particularly well suited for sharpening stakes and staves nor for carving notches but, they are rather useful when cutting a seat belt to exit a downed aircraft or for sawing your way out of an aircraft fuselage or a helicopter canopy.
In addition, it features a very well-designed 5.75” handle made from glass filled nylon with a textured rubber coating that is nearly indestructible and is impervious to the absorption of moisture, and it has an integral double finger guard with jumping on the inside edges to improve the grip. Furthermore, the designers of this knife had the forethought to include two lanyard holes in the finger guard so that the knife can be lashed to a staff or pole to create a makeshift spear to protect the user from attack by predatory animals or for use as a makeshift hunting tool.
The Gerber IMF II Infantry knife is well suited for a myriad of small utility jobs in a survival situation. Gerber Strong Arm Military Knife : Another one of Gerber’s line of fixed blade, military, survival knives, the Strong Arm is designed to serve as a small utility survival knife.
In fact, it features a 4.8” drop point blade almost identical to the IMF II Infantry model listed above. Like the IMF II, the Strong Arm is also made from 420HC stainless steel with a hard, black, ceramic coating to further enhance the steel’s corrosion resistance and to provide a stealthy appearance when used in tactical situations.
However, unlike the IMF II Infantry model, the Strong Arm is available either with or without serrations. Of course, aiding in that control is the ergonomic and well-designed 5” handle made from glass filled nylon with a textured rubber coating that is nearly indestructible and is impervious to the absorption of moisture.
Also, it has an integral double finger guard with jumping on the inside edges to improve the grip. The Gerber Strong Arm knife is a well-designed utility survival knife for small jobs with its 420HC stainless steel blade and its nearly indestructible, rubber coated, handle and modular nylon sheath system.
Akbar Becker U.S. Marine Corp Fighting Utility Knife : Recognized worldwide as a true icon among combat knives, the AKBAR U.S.M.C. Featuring a heavy duty, 7”, clip point blade with a saber grind made from 1095 Croghan (adds both Chromium and Vanadium to Carbon and Manganese) high carbon tool steel with a black, corrosion resistant, coating and a Rockwell Hardness of 56-58.
In addition, for those of you who like a bit of nostalgia, the handle of this knife is made from thick, leather discs stacked on a stick tang with a double finger guard at one end and secured with a steel pommel cap on the other to help balance the knife near the hilt. Plus, the leather discs have been sealed to make them impervious to the absorption of moisture while still providing a positive grip.
In addition, it features hidden tang construction with a very ergonomic, diamond textured, Keaton rubber, handle with an integral finger guard, for a non-slip grip. Although the blade is a bit too short to make an effective chopping tool, it is an excellent example of what a camp knife should be.
Due to its general purpose blade design, it is one of the best possible choices for a wildernesssurvivalknife for performing nearly every task you might need to do from slicing to cutting to skinning. In fact, because it features a 6” Clip Point blade with a hollow grind made from 420 HC stainless steel with a Rockwell Hardness of 58 HRC, it is an excellent design for a multitude of survival tasks such as trimming branches and carving notches for traps and snares as well as skinning game and other general purpose jobs.
It’s not well suited for chopping because of its relatively light blade and balance point near the hilt. Plus it’s complimented by a double finger guard up front and a polished aluminum butt cap in the rear which really sets off the pitch black handle.
Anyone who knows knives can spot a Buck knife at a glance just by noting the distinctive handle design. In fact, this knife is so well-designed that it has been in continuous production for 70 years which is not only a testament to both its functionality and its popularity, but a strong argument that this could be one of the best survival knives in the world ever made.
Last, it comes with a heavy-duty, black, pouch type, leather sheath with fold-over flap and snap closure which is a nice touch. Featuring a 7” clip point blade with a deep saber grind made from 1095 Croghan (adds both Chromium and Vanadium to Carbon and Manganese) high carbon tool steel with a black, corrosion resistant, coating and a Rockwell Hardness of 56-58 HRC, the BK7 is a good choice for a truly tough survival knife that will stand up to almost any job including light chopping, splitting, and digging.
Plus, this full tang survival knife has a very ergonomic handle design with handle slabs made from “Ult amid” (aka Hotel) which is a custom-made polyamide that is extremely tough and impervious the absorption of moisture. Do its medium size, the Becker BK7 Combat/Utility Knife is very well suited for use as a general purpose camp knife since it will perform almost any job you might need of it in a survival situation from building survival shelters to building traps and snares to preparing the evening meal.
Schrader Extreme SurvivalKnife (SCHF9): A fine offering from Schrader, the Extreme Survival model SCHF9 is an excellent choice for those people who prefer non-stainless tool steels over stainless steels due to their superior toughness and ease of sharpening. Featuring a 6.4 inch drop point blade with a recurred cutting edge and a hollow grind made from 1095 non-stainless, high carbon, tool steel, the Schrader Extreme model SCHF9 is a well-thought-out design.
For instance, the straight section of the cutting edge is great for sharpening stakes and cutting notches while the deeply curved section near the tip places the knife’s balance point well forward to make it a more effective chopping tool. The 1095 high carbon tool steel is the perfect choice for a heavy-duty knife that can expect to see hard use.
Schrader rounds it out with a heavy-duty nylon sheath with a single, buckle closure, pocket on the front. ESEE-6 Plain Black Blade with Grey Removable Marta Handles: The Randall Adventure & Training Company entered the knife market with their own ELSE brand of knives in 1997 and since then, ELSE Knives have become well known for their quality of design and workmanship.
In fact, the ELSE 6 with plain edge is one of the top-rated survival knives on the market today. So, if you are looking for a tough, medium-sized, high quality, wildernesssurvivalknife, you can’t go wrong with the ELSE 6.
With 6.5” drop point blade made from 1095 high carbon tool steel with a flat grind, a black, corrosion resistant coating, and a Rockwell Hardness of 55-57 HRC, this survival knife is easily on par with the AKBAR knives listed above but, it has a very different blade design. Not only is the handle of this best outdoor knife very comfortable, it also provides the user with a nearly indestructible, non-slip, grip that is impervious to the absorption of moisture.
SEE wraps it all up in a nice package with a molded Index sheath which is not only extremely tough, it is also completely waterproof. SEE Laser Strike Fixed Blade Knife : The ELSE Laser Strike knife is somewhat unusual among survival knives in that it features a spear point blade as opposed to ELSE’s standard drop point design.
Featuring a 4.75” spear point blade made from 1095 high carbon tool steel and a Rockwell Hardness of 55-57 HRC with a flat grind and a black, corrosion resistant, coating, this knife is the perfect companion to the ELSE Jun glass. The high carbon tool steel makes it a tough little survival knife while the mid-range Rockwell Hardness enables it to hold an edge well without being excessively difficult to sharpen.
Not only is the handle very comfortable just like the SEE 6, it also provides the user with the same nearly indestructible, non-slip, grip that is impervious to the absorption of moisture. SEE finishes it off with a molded Index sheath which is not only extremely tough, it is also completely waterproof.
It lacks all the bells and whistles of more expensive survival knives, but for the insanely low price it does its job with flying colors. The blade is made of 440 stainless steel and is harder to sharpen than other survival knives on our list but once you get the hang of it resharpening is easy as pie.
The military green cord-wrapped handle is a handy detail as the heavy-duty cordage can be easily unwrapped when an emergency situation demands it. Yes, this full tang survival knife comes with a magnesium alloy fire starter for an extra fire source in your bug-out bag or survival kit.
The thick nylon sheath comes with a belt loop if you want to keep this knife and the fire starter close to your body. We do not recommend the SE Outdoor Tango to be used as a primary survival knife, but it makes a great backup option for when things start to look really dire.
This knife, which is handcrafted in the good ‘of USA (Idaho), will withstand some rough use and abuse with its Scandinavian grind with a convex edge and full tang construction. The quality index sheath holds the knife beautifully, and no detail is left to chance.
If we could only choose from a few survival knives, these four would be our top choices as they are economical and will last a very long time if cared for properly. A good heavy chopping tool is characterized by an extra heavy blade 10” to 14” in length with a weight forward design made from a high carbon tool steel such as 1095, 5160, O1, or A2 as opposed to a stainless steel, and it should feature a shallow saber grind combined with a non-slip handle design made from a tough material.
A utility/bush craft knife can be either a fixed blade or a folding knife and is characterized by a much shorter blade ranging from 3 to 5 inches in length with either a flat grind or a hollow grind for superior sharpness and made from a high quality stainless steel designed for the purpose such as AUS-8 or 440C. By thinking of survival knives as a system rather than a single, all-purpose, tool, you can combine a compact heavy chopper with a small survival knife or a large survival knife with utility knife to form a complete system that will ensure that you always have the correct knife for the job at hand.
My articles appear in Marketing Edge Magazine, on Gizmo grind, and with various Medium publications. A man needs nothing more than a good flannel shirt, a well-worn pair of jeans, and comfortable hiking boots.