If you love hiking, hunting, fishing, swimming, or camping, there’s a good chance that you’re looking for the best survival knife to have at your disposal. They are useful for emergency situations, and many of them have a variety of functions that can be incredibly useful in a pinch!
There are many survival knives available in the market at many different price points. As such, it is important that you are able to choose one that suits your needs and offers who great quality.
We have compiled a list of what to look out for when choosing a survival knife to help you in that decision, and we have also put together some of our personal recommendations.
How To Choose The Best Survival Knife
The most important part of a knife is undoubtedly its blade. You will need something that can deal with anything from paper and food wrappings, to cutting up fruit or meat, to chopping branches and string. As such, a sharp and durable blade is vital in any survival knife – but that goes without saying, and we will touch on that in a little bit!
Knives often come in one of three forms – straight, serrated, or a combination of both. Straight blades are plain and simple, so they cut through things easily with a single motion through a strong, steady pressure. They don’t snag on most materials and are pretty traditional. On the other hand, serrated knives have little teeth, making them act like a saw. They are excellent for cutting through textured materials or soft and malleable ones. However, serrated blades dull more quickly and are much more difficult to sharpen, and they can cause unclean cuts in many materials.
You will also have to choose between a blade that opens and closes into its handle or one that simply goes into a sheath when not in use. This is up to personal preference. Many who opt for opening and closing blades may prefer to use one that has a quick spring-assisted opening and a blade-locking function to keep it from slipping.
There’s not much point to a survival knife if it snaps or breaks halfway through your expedition. That is why you need to buy one that is going to last, regardless of what you use it for. You will likely want to opt for a knife with a stainless-steel blade to avoid rusting, and the blade should be of a reasonable thickness so that you know it can stand up to harder materials.
In addition, a good blade doesn’t dull down too easily, and can be used multiple times before it needs to be sharpened. A durable blade will have some weight to it, but not be too heavy to carry around. The handle of the knife should also be made of a durable material such as aluminum.
A blade should also not be known to break, crack, or get nicks in it. Some knives come with warranties that last up to a lifetime to ensure that you get the best out of your money – but from reputable companies known for good customer support that offer a reasonable guarantee.
As it’s a survival knife you are buying, it would be great if it came with some extra functions and could serve as a multi-purpose tool. This reduces the number of items that you will have to carry along with you on your adventure, and it makes the knife a great object to have in an emergency kit that you have lying around.
Some of the common and simple add-ons that may come with a knife are a clip on the handle so you can fasten it to your belt or pocket, a lanyard to hold the knife by, or a pouch to carry it in. Some knives come with a knife sharpener, which is great, as you will need one anyway. Some may even have fire starters which can help you to get a flame going quickly in a pinch, and some may have a glass breaker, a screwdriver, a LED light, or an emergency whistle.
All these functions aren’t necessary for a great survival knife, but they definitely help make one more usable and add to its value. Choosing a knife that has the extra uses that you need can help you get great bang for your buck.
1. Survivor HK-106320 Fixed Blade Outdoor Knife with Fire Starter
This full tang tanto knife is designed for outdoor adventures, such as hunting or camping. The partially-serrated blade measures 3” and has a thickness of 4mm, with the overall length of the knife at 7”.
- The blade of this knife is made from black 440 stainless steel for durability.
- The knife comes with a magnesium-alloy fire starter which can be used to effortlessly get a fire going in record time.
- This knife’s handle is wrapped with a thick green nylon cord to provide you with both a firm and non-slip grip, as well as some cording that you can use if needed.
- A heavy duty nylon sheath is provided for this product, and it has a fitted pocket so you can fit the fire starter into it too. This allows you to carry the knife safely and easily. This sheath also has a hook and loop fastener to ensure that the blade is kept secure at all times.
- A thumb grip adds to the comfortability of holding and using this knife.
- This product comes with lanyards for both the knife and the fire starter, and the knife itself has a hole specifically for a lanyard at the end of its handle.
- This knife is budget-friendly and inexpensive.
- The cord wrapping around the handle is not paracord and leaves much to be desires, so you may have to rewrap the knife with a stronger cord.
- The sheath for this knife is highly susceptible to wear and tear if you are planning to hang it from your belt, as the tip of the knife will likely damage it. As such, you may need to upgrade the sheath altogether or make some changes so it works for you.
- The blade is not very sharp, so you will have to sharpen it on your own.
- Essentially, with this knife, you get what you pay for – it’s a good budget option if you can perform refurbishments on it, but its quality leaves something to be desired. It is more of a project knife than one that comes equipped for survival fresh out of the box.
2. Gerber Bear Grylls Ultimate Serrated Knife
This fixed-point, fine-edge knife may be of special interest to fans of Bear Grylls, who collaborated with the Gerber company to produce this survival knife based off of his own adventurous experiences. It measures 10” in total.
- The saw ground back blade is designed for durability for all outdoor activities, even under extreme conditions.
- Its grip is made from molded rubber and has a butt cap that functions as a knurled striking surface; it is durable enough to be used for hammering nails.
- The knife is heavy and also extremely sharp, and this is a testament to its quality.
- It comes with an integrated fire starter that can be useful in a pinch.
- An integrated diamond sharpener is included in the knife’s sheath, so that you have something to sharpen the blade on the go if needed.
- A micro lanyard at the end of the knife’s handle has an emergency whistle on it as an added safety feature.
- The product comes with a key ground-air communication patch.
- This knife was built with ergonomics in mind, so it is well-balanced and easy to use.
- With your purchase, you will also receive a handy booklet with outdoor survival tips, making it great if you are a beginner.
- Gerber’s customer service is excellent, and you will receive good support from them should you have any issues with your purchase.
- The plastic handle of the knife is not highly durable and may crack or break due to wear-and-tear if the knife is frequently used for heavy or more rugged usage.
- The product has hook-and-loop retention fasteners that are on the sheath, but they wear out over time and may no longer be usable after you have had the knife for a certain period.
- The steel that this knife is made from is soft, meaning that it dulls quickly – but it will also sharpen quickly. However, this may reflect poorly on durability.
- Although it is only an add-on feature, it is worth noting that this emergency whistle that comes with the knife is not particularly loud.
3. TAC Force TF-705 Series Assisted Opening Tactical Folding Knife
This half-serrated knife has a 3¼” blade with a 3mm thickness, with its overall closed length resting at 4½”. It comes in a wide variety of colors and patterns: grey, black, red, pink, rainbow, grey camo, fall camo, red camo, and pink camo. So, there’s something for everyone!
- The black stainless steel blade is designed for durability, and it is of a good, well-balanced weight.
- Although it is very solid, it is lightweight enough to be easy to use.
- An aluminum handle is designed with a bottle opener and a glass breaker that can be useful in a pinch. The glass breaker can also be used as a flat-head screwdriver, which is an added bonus.
- This product is manufactured as a spring assist folding knife that allows for rapid deployment with just one hand, while a liner lock allows it to click into place securely for safe use. It opens very quickly and safely.
- The knife comes with a pocket clip on the back of its handle so you can bring it along easily and safely.
- It is inexpensive and budget-friendly, and it offers a high value for money as the quality doesn’t seem to be compromised by the low price.
- This knife is produced and sold by TAC Force, whose knives have been used by EMTs, Fire/Rescue departments, and first responders. In addition, the company is well-known as it is part of Master Cutlery, a family-owned business that began back in 1982 and is currently the largest wholesale knife manufacturer in the United States. This means that you can rest easy as you purchase from a reputable company.
- The screws on the side of the knife may loosen after several months of use, so you will need to regularly tighten them to prevent damage to the knife.
- The bottle opener function on the knife can’t be used unless the blade is open, which may pose a safety risk.
- It can take a while to get used to opening the knife due to its spring assist mechanism.
- The blade’s handle is sleek and therefore does not provide the sturdiest hold.
- The knife comes very sharp, but may grow dull quite quickly, so you will need to purchase a sharpener for it.
4. BlizeTec Survival Knife: Best 5-in-1 Tactical Pocket Folding Knife
This knife was designed for complete functionality. Its blade measures 3.5” long, and the entire knife is 8.5” open and 5” closed. The LED function on the knife requires four button style battery cells.
- The drop-point blade with a serrated saw on this knife are made from a durable 420 stainless steel, so it is sharp and strong.
- The anodized aluminum handle is durable and easy to grip.
- This 5-in-1 multipurpose knife is equipped with multiple extra features that make it a great emergency and outdoor tool. These features include a bright LED flashlight, a magnesium alloy fire starter, a window breaker, and a seatbelt cutter.
- The LED light can work for up to 12 hours with new batteries.
- This knife is designed to be the perfect size, fitting well into your palm and maintaining a light weight of only 5.46oz, so it’s easy to carry and use.
- The knife has a blade lock option for extra safety.
- A clip on the back of the knife make it easy to attach to a belt or pocket for easy transport.
- A nylon pouch is included with your purchase as an alternative carrying option.
- The product also comes with a gift box, so it’s good to give it someone as well.
- This product has a lifetime warranty.
- Customer service as BlizeTec is excellent and professional, so if you have any problems with your purchase, you will receive the support you need.
- The LED light on this product has a textured head, which makes it easy to pull on. During certain tasks, you may accidentally tug the light out of the knife. It can be put back on easily, but it’s a hassle. This also means that there is a chance of the light coming loose and falling, thus becoming lost.
- The serrated area on the blade is quite small and its teeth are very closely spaced, so if you have larger hands, you may find it difficult to use.
- If the knife is used often, then the finish on it will become worn over time and fairly quickly, leading to a knife that doesn’t look all that great.
- Some of the knife’s components are tight and require some force to open, although they do loosen over time.
5. Morakniv Companion Fixed Blade Outdoor Knife with Sandvik Stainless Steel Blade
This knife’s blade measures 104mm, with the total length of the entire knife resting at 224mm. Meanwhile, the blade’s thickness is 2.5mm. This review is for the black blade knife. However, you can purchase the knife in other colors with slightly more limited functions at almost half the price of this one. The other color options are: black, military green, green, cyan, orange, and magenta.
- This knife’s fixed blade is made of hardened Sandvik 12C27 stainless steel with a three-quarter tang that is durable and sharp, as well as resistant to dirt and moisture.
- A patterned handle with a high-friction grip helps you hold on more easily and comfortably when using the knife.
- The knife comes with a plastic sheath that has a belt clip attached for easy transport. The clip is very strong and will not move unless you pull it out yourself.
- This sheath works well, and the knife clicks into place securely inside it and does not rattle or move about when sheathed.
- Corrosion resistance is solidified with a black powder coat finish for non-reflective applications.
- The knife and its sheath are very easy to clean.
- If you purchase the knife in its cheaper forms, you will have yourself a rather inexpensive and budget-friendly product.
- The product comes with a limited lifetime manufacturer’s warranty.
- The knife is made by a well-known Swedish company, so you can feel confident in its quality.
- The knife doesn’t fold or close, so it has to be sheathed in order to be put away.
- Some quality control issues have resulted in a couple of defective knives here and there, so although the chance of receiving one is pretty low, you may be sent a knife that isn’t up to standard. These quality control issues mean you may receive one of the following:
- A knife that has nicks or cuts in the blade.
- A weak knife that falls apart after a few uses.
- A blade that rusts easily.
- A knife with a dull blade that has not been sharpened before sending.
- This knife isn’t the best option for extremely heavy duty chopping, and the blade my suffer wear and tear or simply be difficult to use for these more extreme tasks.
A survival knife is an essential part of any lover of the outdoors, and a good one can be more than just useful when you are out and about, while also being a great item to have at home or in your car in case you ever need it. All these survival knives are excellent choices due to their quality, prices, and functions.
With that being said, we simply must tip our hats off to the TAC Force TF-705 Series Assisted Opening Tactical Folding Knife. Its durability and lightweight material are great for any adventurer, and the spring assist folding blade system is definitely a handy one for quick but safe unsheathing. The built-in bottle opener and glass breaker / screwdriver are great additions to this knife, and the fact that it’s so inexpensive but of such a good quality makes it quite a value buy! It doesn’t hurt that it’s also produced by a very renowned company! My personal opinion is that this is the best survival knife.
Now that you are informed on how to choose the best survival knife for your needs, you can make a purchase that gives you great value for a price you are more than willing to pay. Hopefully, your knife will go on to serve you well in both outdoor activities, everyday occasions, and emergency situations for a long time to come! If you want to learn more about knifes there’s a magazine dedicated to this subject.