If you are a habitual camper, adventurer, woodworker, or a survivalist, you know that your gear is incomplete without a survival knife.
It is a priceless possession, which has your back in many situations, and serves you for years.
It makes sense then to really put thought into which survival knife you want to buy; after all, it is an investment that might someday even save your life.
A good quality survival knife might be a bit pricey, but the number of years it lasts you and the long list of things it enables you to do makes it worth every penny.
There are a lot of amazing options available in the market today, and there is a quality survival knife for people with budgets of all kinds.
There are several factors to consider when deciding on the best survival knife for you.
It is best to go to a store and get a feel of the survival knife in your hand before making the purchase, so you know how comfortable it feels to you. Remember, the most expensive ones aren’t always the best ones.
If you are a seasoned survivalist, you might know exactly what you are looking for. You can identify a good knife, and have sufficient knowledge about the specifications of the knife to make a good decision.
But if you are a beginner, trying to purchase their first survival knife, deciding between one and the next might seem confusing and intimidating.
To make it easier, we did the job for you. After thorough research, we have compiled a list of the five best survival knives out there that you can choose from according to your budget and expected usage.
We compared multiple knives on the basis of crucial factors and decided on the best one. Here, we lay it out for you.
Best Survival Knife – Reviews & Buying guide for 2020
- Morakniv Companion Fixed Blade Outdoor Knife
- Gerber Bear Grylls Ultimate Knife
- SE Outdoor Tanto Knife
- Sylvester Stallone Signature Edition Knife
- KUBEY KU162 Hero Folding Pocket Knife
Best Overall: Morakniv Companion Fixed Blade Outdoor Knife
Material: Stainless Steel
Length: 8.6 inches
Weight: 4.1 oz.
- It comes with a limited lifetime warranty from the manufacturer
- It is available in 9 different colors, with matching plastic sheaths
- The stainless steel blade is top-notch and will stay sharp for far longer than other carbon-based blades
- The patterned handle is curated to allow for a strong grip, despite the weather conditions
- Some people complain that the blade is too dull for extreme adventure; however, it is fit for woodworking and carving
- The plastic sheath is hard to operate
The Morakniv is a trusted brand among consumers, and most of their products are quite popular with the users.
The Companion Fixed blade outdoor knife is no exception. It is easy to use, offers a strong grip, and is easy to maintain due to its stainless steel blade.
The knife can be used in all kinds of situations and environments; the blade won’t rust or corrode. You barely need to clean it up before stowing it away.
The Morakniv Companion Fixed Blade comes in a variety of colors, which is an aesthetic element that does not come in most knives. You can choose from up to nine different colors.
The sheath is made of hard plastic, unlike the nylon sheath that most knives offer. While the sheath is sturdy enough, plastic sheaths can be difficult to unclip from the belt, and tough to get off too quickly.
The Morakniv Companion Knife is a true companion for your adventures in the wild or your woodworking project in the shed. It is not too heavy on the pocket, nor uncomfortable in your hand.
By comparison, the Morakniv Companion knife has emerged to be the most superior survival knife out there today. You won’t get such amazing quality at such a low price elsewhere.
Runner up: Gerber Bear Grylls Ultimate Knife
Material: Stainless Steel
Length: 10 inches
Weight: 11.2 ounces
- Heavy-duty knife that can handle anything and everything
- The blade is serrated halfway, to make cutting ropes effortless
- It comes with a military-grade nylon sheath with a sharpening stone on top
- The knife has a whistle, firestarter and a metal pommel in its handle
- The handle is ergonomically designed for superior grip
- It is slightly pricier than the rest
- The sheath is reported to be of low quality and breaks and cracks rather easily
Bagging second place is this brilliant, heavy-duty survival knife that is designed keeping in mind the true survivalist, just like the person it is named after.
This knife thinks of everything you might need on an adventure and equips you with some of the most essential things you will need to survive. This isn’t just a knife; it’s a complete survival set.
The stainless steel is easy to maintain; it does not rust and does not break. It can pretty much be used in any survival situation, from slicing up fish to chopping up wood.
The handle contains a Firestarter that can be used to light fires for cooking or for keeping warm. There is a whistle attached too, which could help you if you get lost in the wild or get separated from your buddies.
There are also two holes in the handle for you to attach the knife to a pole or anything to make an immediate sharp and convenient weapon. The metal pommel at the base is also amazing at crushing nuts or pegging tents.
The knife is a great investment. If you don’t mind the price, the Berger Bear Grylls Ultimate Knife is the ultimate tool to have if you are a serious survivalist.
Alternative: SE Outdoor Tanto Knife
Material: Stainless Steel
Length: 7 inches
Weight: 6.1 oz.
- It has a nylon cord wrapped handle for a better grip
- The nylon cord can be used in a variety of emergency situations, such as wrapped around a rod for a makeshift spearhead, or as cordage to hang something
- It has a cool and aesthetic matte black finish
- The sheath includes a magnesium alloy Firestarter
- The quality of the cord is subpar, and the cord will need a replacement
- The blade is duller than what would be ideal in an emergency or survival situation
- The sheath can get worn out after being on the belt over an extended time
The SE Tanto Outdoor knife is one of the coolest survival knives to see. It looks super cool and is small and slim enough to fit in your pocket or bug out bag.
IF you need a knife with more reach, tie the knife with its cord to a pole or stick. The cord actually makes the knife very versatile, along with offering a great grip on the knife as well.
It also comes equipped with a metal firestone, which can be used to light fires effortlessly. The firestarter works really well and sits comfortably along with the knife in its sheath. For the price it is selling at, the SE Tanto knife is a great steal.
Alternative: Sylvester Stallone Signature Edition Knife
Material: Stainless Steel
Length: 18 inches
Weight: 2.4 pounds
- It is a beautifully crafted knife and is pleasing to look at
- It has serrated edges for thorough cutting
- It comes with a Diamond Sharpening rod to sharpen the knife
- It is great for collectors and beginners who are using survival knives for the first time
- The sheath has a sharpening stone on the front
- It is part of a novelty collection and is much better for display than usage
This knife can be the perfect gift to a collector who is a Rambo fan. The gorgeous knife looks perfect if it’s seated in a display case. However, good looks aren’t this knife’s only selling point.
While it does belong to a limited collection, the knife works pretty well for its intended use as a survival knife too.
The saw-toothed edges are great for cutting through things, and the handle of the knife packs a very cool survivor’s kit, which includes a fishing line and hook, firestarter, and matches, just like in the Rambo movies.
This knife will have your back and has covered you on all necessary fronts if you are stuck in an emergency situation.
If you plan to do some serious hunting or camping, stronger and more durable knives are available. For amateurs, this knife is a perfectly fine-looking and functional one, and as they learn how to wield it, they can upgrade to better knives in the future.
Alternative: KUBEY KU162 Hero Folding Pocket Knife
Material: D2 Stainless Steel
Length: 8 inches
Weight: 4.5 oz.
- It is a flipper knife and can be carried around as a pocket knife for less heavy-duty uses too
- The blade has a high amount of carbon and some nickel too, giving it a sharp finish
- Slightly heavier than other survival knives of the same size
- The high carbon content in the blade makes it prone to rusting
- The flipper button can be too hard to operate single-handedly
This piece of beauty is priced lesser than most knives but definitely gives competition to other, more expensive knives.
The blade on the Kubey folding pocket knife is as sharp as it gets and can cut through ropes, slice up prey, and shave wood. The knife does not lose its edge and works perfectly fine even after several uses.
This can be a good buy for beginners, as it is easy to wield and carry. The flipper might take some practicing to open, but if the size and weight of the knife feel appropriate, the knife is a great bargain.
Just make sure to keep it nice and dry, as it might get rusted if not cared for properly. Otherwise, as far as functionality is concerned, the Kubey knife is all that you can hope for.
Survival knives FAQ
What is a survival knife used for?
Survival knives are popular because of their versatility and multi-functionality.
They can be used for a myriad of purposes, such as cutting up tree foliage, chopping up vegetables for cooking, skinning prey, wood carving to make sharp weapons, cutting up rope to set up camp, striking a match against to start a fire in the cold wilderness.
They can also help you climb up rocks or climb out of frozen lakes, and almost anything else you can imagine needing a knife for in the outdoors.
Survival knives can even be used to defend oneself against hostile animals, and unwelcome company, if the need arises, and also to maintain personal hygiene,
Survival knives are hard and sturdy, and while they can do tough jobs, they are also pretty great for intricate and sensitive work, which requires great precision.
So while it comes in super handy when you are out camping, hiking, and mountain climbing, it does not necessarily have to stay redundant while you are not away on an adventure.
You can use your survival knife in the kitchen as your cooking knife too, but take great care, as it can be too sharp for the job.
What is the best steel for survival knives?
Most survival knives are made of two types of materials, which are deemed best because of their strength, durability, and resistance to rust and corrosion.
The materials are carbon steel for its extreme strength and stainless steel for its rust-resistant properties, despite the level of humidity and dampness it is exposed to.
Both these qualities are priceless for a steel knife blade, as it needs to be used for heavy-duty work, while inevitably be exposed to the elements of nature.
This is a high-carbon steel and is a popular material for use in survival knives and machetes. It is prized because of its durability and edge retention (i.e., the blade stays sharp for a long time despite heavy usage).
The only drawback to the 1095-HC blade is that it can rust and corrode and is not ideal for use in wet and humid conditions. Great care must be practiced when using this blade outside to prevent it from rusting.
This is Japanese stainless steel and has a high chromium percentage.
The chromium percentage gives it its strength, while the stainless steel ensures that it stays rust-free despite rough use. The high chromium content could make sharpening the knife a challenge, though.
This is a favorite among a lot of survival knives manufacturers, as this American-produced Stainless Steel blade combines the properties of both carbon and stainless steel to give high durability, strength, and rust-free properties.
154CM is the choice of steel used for professional survival knives, though it does require more maintenance and upkeep than other pure stainless steel knives.
D2 is almost like a weaker-version of 1095-HC; it breaks and chips more easily. This makes it unsuitable for use in hardcore, heavy-duty survivor knives.
However, it makes up for the fragility by being more resistant to rust than 1095-HC. D2 would perhaps be a better fit for smaller, foldable knives and not for bigger ones.
This is the Chinese version of the AUS-8 blade, with the same high Chromium percentage.
8Cr3MoV is easier on the pocket than most other blades, and even though it does not have the same superior edge retention and strength of more expensive blades, it is good value for money for less extensive and less extreme use.
The best steel for a survival knife would, therefore, be the one that is most suited to the extent of use of the knife. For extreme survivalists, 154CM is ideal, but for less heavy usage, a D2 or 8Cr3MoV would serve well too.
Why is a knife the most important survival tool?
When in a survival situation, you don’t have the luxury of carrying a lot of baggage, thus weighing yourself down.
Only essentials that will serve you well must be taken along. It is a bonus if one item can do the work of ten different items that you would not need to carry then.
Survival knives are considered one of the most basic among the gear.
Not only does it help defend yourself and your belongings against all sorts of threats in the wild, but it also keeps you alive by letting you hunt prey, cut up firewood, and chop anything edible you find in the wild.
It can also assist you in performing and administering basic first aid care.
It helps you fashion shelters to protect you from the elements, helps you light a fire to keep warm.
It helps you dig up holes or clear away shrubs and foliage. Survivor’s knife is one of the most important survival tools because it lets you accomplish so many things all together.
How big should a survival knife be?
One of the most common questions that people ask before purchasing a survival knife is how big the knife should be. The truth is, there is no clear answer to this.
If you ask a survivalist or an expert, they would advise you to choose the one that feels most comfortable to you.
Now that could be a difficult judging standard for people who are purchasing a new survival knife, but it’s also very genuine advice.
Your survival knife is going to serve you in all sorts of situations, possibly even life-threatening ones. It is necessary that it is the right fit for your hand, so you can yield is easily and effectively.
Though survival knives are available in all sizes, starting from 1 inch to over 10 inches, the standard size preferred by most people is 4-6 inches, as this accomplishes almost everything you would want a survival knife for.
Any bigger than that would essentially become a machete, and any smaller than that might not be effective in the heavy-duty work that you would need it for.
You should always test out a knife’s size by holding it in your hand, and assessing if it is comfortable to you.
What Survival Blade Knife Does the Special Forces Use?
The Ontario MK 3 Navy Knife is one of the survival blade knives used by the special forces. However, it’s important to note that the carbon steel blade or serrated blade that the special forces use isn’t always definitive.
For example, the U.S marine corps have used the Ka-Bar knife in the past, while many military personnel from around the globe favor a wide range of smaller and larger blades such as the Karambit, Kukri, and the Glauce, to mention a few.
Our favorite survival knife at the moment is the Morakniv because it elegantly combines the best features of most of these excellent survival knives and elegantly improves on them.
What is the Hardest Steel for a Survival Fixed-Blade Knife?
D2 is the hardest steel for a survival blade knife. Other steel types like O1 and CPM varieties are also very hard as well. As such, you can trust these blades to withstand stress without distortion.
But, remember that hardness isn’t the same as toughness. So, just because a blade length has a high hardness rating doesn’t mean it can’t suffer chip damage or lose its sharp edge quickly.
Is a Full-Tang Knife Better Than a Partial Tang Knife?
Yes, a full-tang knife is better than a partial tang knife. This is because knives with a full-tang construction have a blade length that runs from the tip down to the grip.
Thanks to this, you can get more power and leverage behind each swing and cut you make with these knives. A classic example of this kind of blade is the fixed-blade knife.
The absence of moving parts in this type of knife often makes it a more valuable asset to your survival kit. Also, because it’s stronger, you’ll be able to complete more difficult survival tasks with it without worry.
What are Drop Point Blades and What are They Used for?
Drop point blades are knives that have convex, wide spines which curve all the way down from the handle. Because of the shape of this blade length, you get a knife that gives you greater control over cuts. Its bigger belly also makes it better adapted for slicing.
A drop point blade is a true survival knife that’s used for hunting and several other general-purpose tasks.
Is a Survival Knife the Same as a Tactical Knife?
No, a survival knife isn’t the same as a tactical knife. The key distinguishing factor between these two tools is their design. This, in turn, affects their uses.
A survival blade is designed with a wilderness survival situation in mind. So, it’s usually greatly lacking in combat ability. On the other hand, tactical knives are designed solely with combat and self-defense in mind.
Is Carrying a Belt Knife Legal in the US?
Yes, carrying a belt knife is legal in parts of the US. However, whether you’re allowed to lug around this piece of steel is dependent on the local knife laws where you live.
Some states prohibit the action outright while others put a restriction on certain features of the knife and/or how it’s carried. Knowing exactly what your state knife laws say can help you avoid getting in trouble with the authorities.
While the ‘best survival knife’ might mean different things to different people, these are by far some of the most superior knives in the market, unarguably.
Whichever you use, it is guaranteed to stay by your side for a long while and assist you well in your adventures in the wild.
So go extreme camping, or hike your way to the top of the peak, and don’t forget to pack your loyal survivor’s knife.