32 Best Combat Knives & Military Fighting Knives (2023 Edition)

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To some, the knife may seem like an outdated weapon that has no place in this era of push-button mass death weaponry, but the truth is it’s still one of the most versatile pieces of gear out there. That’s why knives are still widely carried by even the highest level military units.

Remember, unlike people, not all knives are created equal (or even in America for that matter). There are many things to consider when choosing a combat knife (I’ll list them all below the actual list of knives). The first being what you intend to use it for, as each style shines in different areas. While they’re all effective for close-quarter fighting, some are more durable and double as multi-purpose or tactical knives.

Military Fighting and Combat Knife Buying Guide

In this review, I’ll break down the types of combat knives, what they’re designed for specifically, and show the best combat knife at each price point (and what most Special Forces guys and Marines carry).

Before jumping into the list of knives, I recommend checking out our knife blade shapes guide here where we explain the pros and cons of each blade shape, as well as our knife blade steels guide here. I think you’ll find both of those links very useful. We will identify the steel and shape of each knife we review but I highly suggest you give the aforementioned guides a read so that you understand the design and can better choose a knife that will meet your specific needs.

Quick Summary: Our Top Picks for Combat Knives and Military Fighting Knives in 2022
Cold Steel SRK
  • Extremely affordable
  • Insanely durable and wear-resistant material
  • Extremely resistant to corrosion
Ka-Bar BKR7 Combat Utility Knife
  • 1095 Cro-Van steel
  • Well known fighting and military knife
  • The updated version of the Ka-Bar
Cold Steel Spartan Folding Knife
  • Designed to look and perform like a Japanese Kukri
  • Handle length of 6 inches
  • Great for close combat/self-defense
SOG SEAL Team Elite
  • Ultra sharp and utilitarian
  • Black Titanium-oxide sintered coated steel blade
  • Includes MOLLE sheath
Gerber StrongArm and LMF II
  • 420 high-carbon stainless steel
  • Glass-reinforced nylon handle
  • The MOLLE sheath is multi-mount

Here are the Best Combat and Fighting Knives in the World


1. Gerber StrongArm and LMF II (Best Under $100)

GERBER StrongArm Fixed Blade Knife with Fine Edge - Coyote Brown

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Blade Style: Drop-Point
Blade Composition: 420HC
Handle Composition: Injection Molded Polymer
Blade Length: 4.80Inches
Total Length: 9.80 Inches
Total Weight: 7.90 Ounces
Sheath Material: MOLLE Compatible Thermoplastic

My Review: Gerber makes some great combat knives that are carried by members of the US military. The two that we’ll be discussing here are the StrongArm and LMF II Infantry. Both of these knives are incredible for combat applications and are made right here in the USA. First, let’s talk about the StrongArm. The Strongarm features a full tang blade constructed of 420 high-carbon stainless steel. Gerber takes durability and sharpness to the next level by applying a ceramic coating to the blade, which prevents rusting and increases the lifespan of the blade.

The handle is constructed from glass-reinforced nylon with a rubberized over-molded handle, making the handle strong and easy to grip. As if that wasn’t good enough, the folks at Gerber took the grip a step further by including diamond-texture, making the grip even more secure. There is also a hard striking pommel at the base of the handle, meaning that you can break through hard surfaces – priceless in rescue or survival scenarios.

The MOLLE sheath is multi-mount, it can be worn in the most efficient position possible, based on your own preferences, adding a degree of customization potential to your carry. This definitely can contribute to retaining the element of surprise in a combat scenario, which is one of the most important factors you want on your side when your life is on the line. This style of multi-mount MOLLE sheath allows you can carry on your belt/at waist level, vertically or horizontally.

Note: The other Gerber knife you’ll see being carried a lot by members of the US military is the LMF II. SensiblePrepper did a great job explaining the differences between these there knives. Here is the video:

You can find the Gerber LMF II Infantry on Amazon here and the Gerber Prodigy on Amazon here.

Here is a good video showing just how tactical the Gerber StrongArm 420 is!

At around or under 75 dollars, it is competitively priced, and you will definitely be happy with your purchase the second you unbox this versatile combat and survival knife.


2. Benchmade Nimravus Tanto or Drop Point

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Blade Style: Tanto
Blade Composition: 154CM
Handle Composition: 6061-T6 Aluminum
Blade Length: 4.50 Inches
Total Length: 9.45 Inches
Total Weight: 5.00 Ounces
Sheath Material: Ballistic Nylon

Note: You can find the Nimravus with a drop point blade here.

My Review: At just under $200, this is one of the more expensive knives on our list. However, it includes the same lifetime guarantee that comes with all Benchmade knives, meaning that you can get it replaced or repaired or even sharpened by an authorized dealer anywhere for life. It includes a MOLLE-compatible clip and a ballistic nylon sheath so you can keep it on hand in any situation.

154CM steel is notorious for its exceptional edge-retention and overall durability while still being rather resistant to corrosion. The tanto version of the Nimravus is especially powerful for combat in situations where you need to penetrate thick clothing or low-level body armor. Tanto blades, especially the one found here, are especially strong at the point and the shape of the tanto is rather thin but insanely strong giving it enhanced penetration capabilities over the more versatile drop-point, which is also an option if you so choose.

Related Article: 30 Best Fixed Blade Knives (Ranked by a Marine)

So, while the price tag may initially turn you away from this knife, just remember that you are not only paying for superior quality, 154CM super-premium steel, and a very nice tactical MOLLE compatible sheath, but also for service and repair for the lifetime of the knife. So, if you can get past justifying the price tag, this is a great knife to add to any collection. Chances are, it will become your go-to favorite for just about anything that requires the use of a knife. This is one of Benchmade’s pride and joy knives, meaning that it’s a top seller and a top reviewed product and that is saying a lot coming from Benchmade, the company that specializes in making tons of quality knives.

Key Features:

  • MOLLE-compatible clip and sheath
  • Super rugged and durable for years to come
  • Lifetime guarantee for repair, replacement, and sharpening for peace of mind
  • A true utility knife that can be used for anything
  • Blade constructed of 154CM steel with a length of 4.5 inches

3. Cold Steel SRK (Best Value)

Cold Steel 49LCK Srk SK-5, Boxed, One Size

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Blade Style: Clip Point
Blade Composition: CPM-3V or SK-5 or San Mai (Laminated VG-10)
Handle Composition: Kraton
Blade Length: 6.00 Inches
Total Length: 10.75 Inches
Total Weight: 8.10 Ounces
Sheath Material: Secure-Ex

My Review: The Cold Steek SRK has proven itself in combat and continues to impress those at the highest levels of the United States military. This knife has been used extensively by Navy SEALs in Basic Underwater Demolition training school and continues to a preferred knife by many heading overseas.

The version of the knife with SK-5 steel really stands out to me and is extremely affordable for what you’re getting, and although it’s not a super steel, it’s still a knife that you can count on. I’d say that if you are planning to heavily abuse the knife and use it as a daily beater, the SK-5 version will suit you well and is cheap enough to replace if needed.

The super steel CPM-3V version is an insanely durable and wear-resistant material that, unless you use your knife often and will be relying on it heavily, probably isn’t worth it for the average outdoorsman. Of course, I know some of you a looking for something to trust with your life, and in that case, the CPM-3V version is certainly worth the investment, especially if may need your knife for extreme applications where other steel may chip away, like cutting wire fencing or stabbing through thick dense materials like a helicopter’s fuselage. The CPM-3V version is really made for those who need a knife that will experience extreme use cases.

The San Mai version, otherwise known as laminated VG-10, is an excellent choice for when you need a knife that is extremely resistant to corrosion. VG-10 on its own is one of the best dollar per dollar corrosion resistant steels available today and with a heat-treated lamination process, VG-10 in the form of San Mai comes in at a slightly higher hardness rating, increasing its toughness and giving you a very well rounded but especially corrosion-resistant blade. This would be the choice for those of you who spend a lot of time near or in saltwater.

Keep in mind that this a smaller knife and lighter knife than many on this list, and it’s more designed as a survival knife with secondary combat capability, so keep that in mind when deciding if this is the best combat knife for you.

Here is a good video review of the SRK with SK-5 steal. I recommend skipping to around 4:00 into the video.


4. Glock Perfection

Glock KB17281 81 Field Knife

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Blade Style: Clip-Point with Sawtooth Spine
Blade Composition: Spring-Steel
Handle Composition: Polymer
Blade Length: 6.50 Inches
Total Length: 11.00 Inches
Total Weight: 7.13 Ounces
Sheath Material: Polymer

My Review: Glock is a company many of us know well and love, but can they fend off enemies without firing a shot? Yes, yes they most certainly can and they’ll do it with a massive 6.5″ carbon steel clip-point blade.

These knives were built and manufactured in Austria just like most of the legendary Glock products we all know and somewhat love. The knife was actually developed at the request of an Army Ranger who was a Glock enthusiast and was designed in tandem with input from several Special Operators.

This knife is nasty and is built to do one thing and one thing well: protect you from the bad guys. On the other side of that nasty clip point blade is a serrated spine, ensuring maximum damage to your attackers. The blade is phosphate coated to prevent corrosion, so it will last you a lifetime. It has the ability to be used in many different utility and combat situations, from opening ammunition boxes to crushing an enemy in hand-to-hand close combat. Besides military applications, many police departments make use of this knife in service as well.

The handle reminds me of something you’d see on KA-BAR. As a matter of fact, the entire knife reminds me of KA-BAR combat knives and I love it. The blades are constructed from HRC55 and are phosphate treated for increased hardness and corrosion resistance. It all gets carried around in a single piece Glock polymer sheath with a lockable retention clip and belt loop.

I’m going to be real with you right now. The price this knife is sold at seems like a joke. It seems too good to be true and I really thought that going into this, but this knife is seriously well designed and will get the job done with absolutely no complaints. These are by far the best knives in their price ranges and are well worth the money. You’ll be handing these down through the generations and they’ll still appear near brand new despite any abuse you throw their way. If you’re looking for the best combat knife under 50 dollars, I’d go with this knife or the Cold Steel SRK.

Key Features:

  • Phosphorus treated HRC55 clip point 6.5″ blade with a serrated spine
  • 11.4” total knife length weighing roughly 9oz
  • Comes with a single piece Glock branded polymer sheath that locks with a plastic clip

5. SOG Seal Pup Elite

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Blade Style: Clip Point
Blade Composition: AUS-8
Handle Composition: GRN
Blade Length: 4.75 Inches
Total Length: 9.00 Inches
Total Weight: 5.40 Ounces
Sheath Material: Ballistic Nylon

My Review: Well, the Seal Pup Elite is pretty much a compact version of the SEAL Team Elite! With the same cryogenically treated AUS8 steel, both of these knives perform very well at their price points and offer a ton of value. The only other real difference between the two is that the Seal Pup Elite has a smooth spine whereas the Seal Team Elite has a sawback style spine. Given the shape of the two knives, I certainly prefer the spine of the Seal Pup Elite but both have their crowds.

AUS-8 is famed for its low cost but extreme capabilities of becoming insanely sharp. It’s not quite a super steel but it’s also a super steal in terms of price to performance ratio. Sure, there are better knives with better blade materials, but for this price, it’s going to be almost impossible to beat and at the end of the day, AUS-8 still encompasses a 58-59 hardness rating which is right up there with some of the top end blades on the market today.

AUS-8 is a fantastic well-rounded steel used by not only SOG but other well-respected knife brands such as Ontario Knife Company. AUS-8 doesn’t stand out in any particular category but rather performs decently across the board at a great price. I have to say, in terms of dollar to performance, this knife and its larger brother are some of the best on the market right now and in terms of combat, well, I’d say it out performs many of some of the highly respected combat focused knives and without mentioning anything specific, I’ll just say that I would prefer it over anything made with 1095.


6. SOG SEAL Team Elite

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Blade Style: Clip-Point
Blade Composition: AUS-8
Handle Composition: GRN
Blade Length: 7.00 Inches
Total Length: 12.30 Inches
Total Weight: 13.30 Ounces
Sheath Material: Ballistic Nylon

My Review: This bad boy is a formidable tactical combat, survival, utility, and hunting knife. Its blade is constructed with AUS-8 high-grade stainless steel, reinforced with a patented titanium oxide coating/sintering for improved strength that also includes their patented cryogenic treatment to increase the tensile strength of the blade unique in the industry.

If you don’t feel like reading, here is a great video review on this combat style knife.

The first thing most owners of this knife tend to notice is the fact that it comes super sharp from the manufacturer, so be careful when unpacking until you are familiar with the blade. The handle is constructed with glass-reinforced nylon for strength, quality, and grip – all characteristics which are shared by the entire knife itself. As a matter of fact, if one word could be used to describe the build of the handle, it would be “indestructible,” which speaks for itself.

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With a combination of a serrated lower and a straight-edged upper fixed blade, you can use this knife for more than just combat situations, as the serrated edge is great for faster cuts through rope of other materials in a survival situation.

Include MOLLE-compatible sheath and a lifetime warranty from SOG that covers repairs, replacement. All the company asks is that you do not neglect your knife or cause any intentional damage, but they will consider any repair or replacement request as long as their doors are open.

Key Features:

  • Ultra sharp and utilitarian.
  • Black Titanium-oxide sintered coated steel blade for durability and more time in between sharpening.
  • Includes MOLLE sheath for easy adaptation to your existing gear.

7. Ka-Bar 1211 to 1214

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Blade Style: Clip-Point
Blade Composition: 1095 Cro-Van Steel
Handle Composition: Kraton
Blade Length: 7.00 Inches
Total Length: 11.75 Inches
Total Weight: 11.20 Ounces
Sheath Material: Kydex

My Review: This knife is a variation of the original Ka-Bar; the knife designed to give Marines a weapon to match the lethality, dependability, and reliance of the German combat knives and close combat weapons during World War 2.

An interesting tidbit about Ka-Bar knives is the story behind their name. Make no mistake, these knives are meant to kill; which is exhibited by the fact that the name literally is a play on “Kill-A-Bear,” which comes from a story of a man who slayed a bear with his knife after his gun malfunctioned.

I will start by saying the Ka-Bar has an excellent reputation with the Marines for creating combat-capable knives. Keep in mind that the Ka-Bar 1211, 1212, 1213, and 1214 are all stamped 1211 on the blade, the difference between them is as follows. The 1211 version has a straight edge with a leather sheath, the 1212 version has a serrated edge with a leather sheath, the 1213 version has a straight edge with a Kydex sheath, and the 1214 version has a serrated edge with a Kydex sheath. This knife works great for fighting and combat applications and also doubles as a utility knife. One thing to note is that the knife many look unfinished due to the exposed pin on the pommel. Usually, this would be an unsightly attribute for a knife but on a combat knife, this was done purposefully so that you can tell which side the cutting edge is on without looking or in low light situations. This isn’t the only knife to have ever had this feature but it just goes to show you that this knife is not made to look pretty or perform well on the farm but more so to be carried and utilized in a real combat situation.

All-in-all, it’s tough for me to really appreciate a 1095 knife that’s a hundred bucks. After having handled so many super steels and even just regular high end steels, 1095 is a bit underwhelming, but I suppose the point is very clear. This knife is made to be taken out into combat, beaten to hell and back, and then replaced. At a hundred bucks, I feel there are “better” knives, however, if you’re like me and you get nostalgic over the Ka-Bar name and design features, this is a very capable knife. It’s an excellent clip point knife that feels as hefty as it looks.


8. Ka-Bar BKR7 Combat Utility Knife

KA-BAR BKR7-BRK Combat Utility , Black, 7-Inch

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Blade Style: Clip-Point
Blade Composition: 1095 Cro-Van
Handle Composition: GRN
Blade Length: 7.00 Inches
Total Length: 12.94 Inches
Total Weight: 12.00 Ounces
Sheath Material: Ballistic Nylon

My Review: This Ka-Bar model is an updated version of the classic Ka-Bar. Featuring an easy-to-sharpen 1095 chrome-vanadium (Cro-Van) steel blade, this variant of the world-renowned combat Ka-Bar is a great all-purpose utility knife as well as a specialized hand-to-hand combat weapon. Great for self-defense as well as offensive purposes, this is both a weapon and a tool that you will come to rely on for many different purposes.

There are a lot of good reviews out there on the BKR7. I think this one does a is pretty entertaining and covers most of its features.

Because it is a Ka-Bar, you can expect to pony up a bit higher initially to own this beautiful product but that 1095 Cro-Van is known to last a very long time and is almost always the better buy over a cheaper standard 1095 steel knife.

Key Features:

  • 1095 Cro-Van steel (chrome-vanadium) for increased corrosion resistance and strength
  • Well known fighting and military knife
  • The updated version of the Ka-Bar

9. KA-Bar KA1245-BRK

KA1245-BRK Black Tanto

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Blade Style: Tanto
Blade Composition: 1095 Cro-Van
Handle Composition: Kraton G
Blade Length: 8.00 Inches
Total Length: 12.81 Inches
Total Weight: 11.20 Ounces
Sheath Material: Thermoplastic

My Review: This offering from Ka-Bar introduces Japanese combat characteristics and combines them with the awesome strength of the Ka-Bar combat series. It is designed for penetration and can even tear right through low-level soft body armor because of that super-sharp point and a thick Tanto-style, Japanese-influence blade. At around $65, you cannot go wrong with the Ka-Bar KA1245-BRK.

Like most Ka-Bar knives, the blade is constructed of easy-to-sharpen 1095 Chrome Vanadium steel (Cro-Van), which also adds hardness and strength to the blade.

The high-quality Kraton handle fits perfectly in your hand and it is constructed in the same style as the original Ka-Bar fighting knife.

Here is a video review on the Ka-Bar KA1245 that covers all of its notable features.

Key Features:

  • Thick, sharp, Tanto-shaped blade is designed for penetration.
  • Surprisingly affordable.
  • Peace of mind from a battle-hardened brand.
  • All-synthetic, manmade handle adds superior grip to the classic Ka-Bar handle design.
  • Includes rugged, hard-plastic, glass-filled, and MOLLE-compatible sheath.

10. Ka-Bar Extreme Fighting Knife 1282

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Blade Style: Clip-Point
Blade Composition: D2
Handle Composition: Kraton
Blade Length: 7.00 Inches
Total Length: 11.88 Inches
Total Weight: 12.00 Ounces
Sheath Material: Ballistic Nylon/Cordura

My Review: A lot of the military guys and gals will recognize this design as many of the original knives the military used to issue looked like these or were actually these. Ka-Bar makes several versions that all kind of look similar but in this particular model, we get D2 steel, which is a bit unorthodox for Ka-Bar.

Usually Ka-Bar uses 1095 Cro-Van steel in their knives but the 1282 Extreme Fighting knife comes with D2 steel. Don’t get me wrong, 1095 Cro-Van isn’t bad steel but D2 tool steel beats it in every category. From holding an edge longer to being materially stronger, D2 steel is far superior to Cro-Van in a combat situation and as such, brings this particular model of the Ka-Bar fighting knife to the top of the list.


11. Benchmade Arvensis 119

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Blade Style: Clip-Point
Blade Composition: 154CM
Handle Composition: G10
Blade Length: 6.44 Inches
Total Length: 11.72 Inches
Total Weight: 11.74 Ounces
Sheath Material: Boltaron

My Review: The Benchmade Arvensis is everything we love about a mid-sized clip-point that’s simple, rugged, and made out of some of the best technological advancements in steel to date. With a 6.44 Inch 154CM steel blade, the Arvensis is that perfect balance of ease to transport and an awful lot of cutting edge real-estate.

What’s truly great about the Arvensis is that it’s a full-blown combat-capable knife disguised as a work-horse. Don’t get me wrong, this knife will serve just about any purpose around camp but let’s not stray off from what this really is, which is a nearly 12 ounce 6.44 Inch monstrosity of a back-up plan when things get heated.


12. Ontario MK3 Navy Knife

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Blade Style: Clip-Point with Sawback Spine
Blade Composition: 440A
Handle Composition: Micarta
Blade Length: 6.00 Inches
Total Length: 10.75 Inches
Total Weight: 10.00 Ounces
Sheath Material: Molded Thermoplastic

My Review: These were originally designed to be carried by Navy Seals and Paratroopers operating behind enemy lines and in need of a silent mode of operation if you know what I mean. These are battle-tested blades that are notorious for their strength and dependability and are engineered with real input from top military operators.

The MK3 is just slightly different than its predecessors and sports a 440A stainless steel 6” clip-point with a half serrated spine. The 440A steel is actually a bit less hard than some of its competitors and the reason for this is that they wanted the knife to be able to flex a little without breaking due to the nature of what a Paratrooper may face when in the field. While this probably isn’t the most practical knife for the average outdoorsman or even infantry unit, it’s still one of the coolest out there and worth adding to a knife collection.

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The entire package is a tad less than 11” and weighs 10oz. It is a little on the heavy side, but extra heft in a combat situation can actually be a major advantage.

Key Features:

  • American made and Navy seal issued full tang 440A stainless steel clip-point with the serrated spine with a 3mm thick steel cross guard
  • The blade is 6” on the dot and the entire knife is 10.75” in total and weighs 10oz
  • The package includes an injection-molded plastic sheath and a lanyard

13. Cold Steel Tai Pan 3V

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Blade Style: Spear-Point
Blade Composition: CPM 3V
Handle Composition: Kray-Ex
Blade Length: 7.50 Inches
Total Length: 13.00 Inches
Total Weight: 10.80 Ounces
Sheath Material: Secure-Ex

My Review: The Tai Pan really feels like it’s the simplest yet most lethal way to destroy something. There aren’t many knives that feel as capable of destruction as the Cold Steel Tai Pan does and although I’m having trouble putting it into words, I’ll attach a video below that’s as humorous as it is impressive.

With a price tag of over two hundred bucks, you may need a little more convincing before you decide to pick this knife up and that won’t be hard to do.

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The Tai Pan is 7.50 inches of CPM 3V steel which is on the leading edge of steel technology. There are many super steels but CPM 3V is especially valuable as a combat efficient material because it is extremely resistant to breaking, shattering, or chipping. This metallurgic particle steel also hosts a bit of chromium making it very resistant to corrosion and wear. Overall, CPM 3V is among the absolute toughest and most durable materials you’ll find a blade made of today. To take it one step further, Cold Steel has applied a Diamond-Like Coating (DLC) application over the blade to enhance its wear resistance even further.


14. Cold Steel OSS

Cold Steel OSS, Kraton Handle (Secure-Ex Sheath)

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Blade Style: Drop-Point
Blade Composition: AUS-8A
Handle Composition: Kraton
Blade Length: 8.25 Inches
Total Length: 13.45 Inches
Total Weight: 9.00 Ounces
Sheath Material: Secure-Ex

My Review: The Cold Steel OSS is a classic, time-tested knife that is loved by hunters and members of the military alike. It is a dedicated combat knife, meant to get you out of dangerous situations through its razor-sharped, double-edged 8.25-inch AUS 8A stainless blade. The blade is so sharp that you should warn anyone before you allow them to take a look at it. There is no doubt about it, this knife is meant for combat. At under $60.00 and exceptionally built, this is one of the best combat knives on the market today.

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Bottom Line: With a solid design and lethal blade, the OSS is a time-tested design for anyone in need of a combat knife. It is not a utility knife, as the blade is really meant for a single purpose – combat. However, you can rest assured that this affordable knife will not let you down when you need it the most!

Key Features:

  • Razor-sharp, double-edged 8.25-inch stainless blade
  • Built for heavy thrusting to subdue any attacker fast and forcibly
  • Time-tested design is excellent for hunters in need of field dressing their catch

15. Benchmade Infidel 133

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Blade Style: Spear-Point
Blade Composition: D2
Handle Composition: Anodized Aluminum
Blade Length: 4.52 Inches
Total Length: 9.21 Inches
Total Weight: 5.11 Ounces
Sheath Material: Boltaron

My Review: As always, incredible Benchmade quality at a super high price with an unbeatable warranty and repair service on the house. This American made D2 steel tactical fixed blade offers a double-edged spear-point blade that is 4.52” in length and is ready to kick some butt!

The beauty of this knife is that you can see the full tang design. The handle is two pieces of anodized aluminum clashed around the single piece D2 steel in stunning fashion that is both ominous in appearance and extremely durable in usage.

This knife is simple and doesn’t try to be anything it’s not. Its primary mission is to dispatch incoming enemies and that’s exactly why you’d want to buy a combat knife with a spear point. Simply put, these are among the easiest knives to utilize in a combat situation and have very little room for failure.

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The Infidel comes with a hard plastic sheath implementing a button snapping lock strap that is just okay, not great but certainly not bad and if it’s all you have, it’s worth using. We also get Infidels with either black or steel finished with the grips remaining black regardless of the model you choose.

Key Features:

  • American born full tang D2 steel capable of piercing steel sheets and low-level body armor
  • A 4.52” spear-point double-edged blade with a total knife length of 9.21”
  • A slim and sleek profile weighing only 5.11oz

16. Ka-Bar Becker BK9 Combat Bowie

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Blade Style: Clip-Point
Blade Composition: 1095 Cro-Van
Handle Composition: Grivory
Blade Length: 9.00 Inches
Total Length: 14.75 Inches
Total Weight: 16.80 Ounces
Sheath Material: Ballistic Nylon

My Review: This Ka-Bar knife was created as a collaboration between Ka-Bar and master knife designer Ethan Becker. With a 9-inch steel blade crafted from 1095 Cro-Van steel, this Bowie is great for close combat situations in which you may require you to act in self-defense. The blade is also coated black, which acts to camouflage it,  especially useful if an attacker or predator comes at you in the belief that you are unarmed. This bad boy will definitely level the playing field.

As far as aesthetics go, this is not the best-looking Ka-Bar in the world, but it makes up for its looks with solid functionality. The knife is currently used by members of the U.S. military, which lets you know that it will not let you down if you need to cut through something in an emergency situation.

Because of its blade length, you may want to check with your local laws to make sure you can carry it in public before you strap the included nylon sheath onto your belt and venture out into the world.

Key Features:

  • 9-inch 1095 Cro-Van American steel blade
  • Includes nylon sheath
  • Crafted by master knife designer Ethan Becker
  • Will make short work of small shrubs or trees
  • Great for close combat or emergency situations

17. Ontario Knives Co. SP2

Ontario SP2 Air Force Survival Knife (Black)

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Blade Style: Clip-Point
Blade Composition: 1095 Carbon
Handle Composition: Micarta
Blade Length: 4.06 Inches
Total Length: 10.50 Inches
Total Weight: 9.00 Ounces
Sheath Material: Leather and Cordura

My Review: A very familiar fighting knife designed blade the SP2 from OKC has found itself hitching ride alongside pilots and other servicemen all over the world. It’s not a knife for the job of finesse but more so a brute that tears through and eliminates anything in its way. These knives do feel incredibly brutish and hefty which is exactly what you want in a combat situation.

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1095 steel isn’t especially amazing but it will suffice and is a decent value at this price. The knife overall doesn’t employ any super special technology or advancements that would give you an edge over the opponent. They just are good knives that are rather hefty and that’s what makes them so good. They’re simple, reliable, and they just get the job done.


18. GAG Special Operations Combat Knife

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Blade Style: Drop-Point
Blade Composition: PD1
Handle Composition: G10
Blade Length: 5.60 Inches
Total Length: 10.50 Inches
Total Weight: 12.20 Ounces
Sheath Material: 7075 Aluminum

My Review: At $700, this combat knife is designed for special forces to use. This intimidating combat weapon is the result of a collaboration between the manufacturer and world-renowned expert knifemaker Lou Goodman. It is easily the most expensive combat knife on our list. The Goodman Special Operations Combat Knife (GSOCK) is truly a one-of-a-kind design, with a CTS-PD1 stainless steel blade and a 3D machined handle in “desert dirt” color.

The sheath, dubbed by the company as the “Sheath of the Future,” features and an active retaining mechanism that will never fail in securing your new combat weapon while allowing for quick deployment. The manufacturer took the sheath design to a level that sacrifices nothing in terms of functionality, design, aesthetics, and size.

With the price being as high as it is, this is one of the only combat knives we have looked at that actually includes the option of financing your purchase through Amazon, meaning that you can own this knife by making small but even installment payments until it is paid in full, with an unprecedented “twelve months same as cash” payment option where you will pay nothing in interest unless it takes you longer than a year to pay the purchase off.

Usually, such “same-as-cash” installment payments extend to around 120-days at maximum. This truly means that you can own this beautiful and unique knife no matter what your financial situation looks like.

To pay it off in a year, your monthly payments would be approximately $60 per month, again showing that even the most frugal among us would be able to make such a payment. However, because other amazing combat knives like the Ka-Bar knives reviewed here, it is very hard for me personally to justify the cost, as you could literally buy every Ka-Bar and Gerber fighting knife on our list, at a rate of one new knife per month, and still end up with a smaller initial cost of ownership.

I attached a video review of the knife below. The reviewer chops a 2×4 in half to display how durable the blade is and how it maintains its sharpness even after extended use.

Key Features:

  • Unique sheath secures the knife without sacrificing ease of deployment. The sheath is unmatched in quality.
  • A specially formulated alloy of stainless steel is super strong and can also be heat treated after purchase in order to highly increase tensile strength.
  • The blade has a strong ductile core.
  • Designed by master knifemaker Lou Goodman.
  • Utilitarian in nature, this knife has extensive uses other than strictly combat applications.

19. Ontario Knives Co. Black Bird SK-5

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Blade Style: Drop-Point
Blade Composition: 154CM
Handle Composition: G10 (Micarta Discontinued)
Blade Length: 5.00 Inches
Total Length: 10.00 Inches
Total Weight: 8.40 Ounces
Sheath Material: Ballistic Nylon

My Review: “I believe the more complicated a product becomes, the more likely it is to fail when your life depends on it” is what Paul Sheiter, the designer of the OKC Black Bird SK-5, said about his philosophy behind the creation of this knife. Yeah, it’s probably not the most lethal knife you could ever equip yourself with but it’s one of the most reliable and versatile knives ever made and as such, it’s actually perfect for combat.

You see, combat isn’t always actual fighting and violence. It’s surviving harsh conditions where dangers are around every single corner. It’s finding yourself resorting to using survival skills when your rations run out. It’s being versatile both in combat and in being in the wild. It’s using the limited tools you could pack out to repair your gear and set up camp.

This knife was made to simply work and that’s what makes it so good of a knife to have while enduring in combat. That single piece of 154CM steel is a well-rounded piece of material that both holds its edge for a very long time and provides the structural strength needed to endure daily abuse both in and out of combat where your life is at risk either way.


20. Ontario M9 490 Bayonet and Scabbard

Ontario 490 M9 Bayonet System (Green)

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Blade Style: Clip-Point
Blade Composition: 1095 or 5160 Carbon Steel
Handle Composition: Micarta
Blade Length: 7.00 Inches
Total Length: 12.125 Inches
Total Weight: 16.00 Ounces
Sheath Material: Thermoplastic Nylon

My Review: If you’re looking for a badass knife that doubles a bayonet look no further than this Ontario knife (It’s currently being used by the US Military). The 7-inch blade makes this knife is a good size for the offense. It also comes with a nice sheath/scabbard to store the knife when it’s not in use.

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The nylon hand feels great in the hand and it can be attached to most combat rifles like the M16, M4, AR-15, and other popular guns. The holster is made of thermoplastic nylon and has a wire cutter and screwdriver.

Key Features:

  • Widely used military knife
  • Doubles as a Bayonet
  • Comes with scabbard

21. Ontario Knife Co. M7 Bayonet 494

Ontario Knife 494 M7 Bayonet and Scabbard Knife, Black

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Blade Style: Spear-Point
Blade Composition: 1080 Carbon Steel
Handle Composition: Molded ABS
Blade Length: 6.60 Inches
Total Length: 11.90 Inches
Total Weight: 11.20 Ounces
Sheath Material: Molded ABS

My Review: In some ways, the Bayonet became the most modern knife in the world and then went out of style insanely fast, so fast that most of us missed it! With that said, if combat is the sole reason you’re out shopping for a new blade, a bayonet has to be something you consider.

Bayonets are designed to be extremely lethal and maintain a razor-sharp edge. With that, consisting of 1080 carbon steel aids in the durability and lethality category but, and anyone who has owned a bayonet like this would know, these will rust extremely quickly without proper care and oil. So long as you take care of them, though, with a little rub down every so often, these will probably outlast you.

Technically, these are still “issued” to special active military servicemen today although I doubt you’ll get one! These bad boys can fit on M4, AR15, and M16 platforms.


22. Gerber Mark II

Gerber Mark II Knife [22-01874]

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Blade Style: Spear-Point
Blade Composition: 420HC
Handle Composition: Aluminum
Blade Length: 6.50 Inches
Total Length: 12.75 Inches
Total Weight: 8.00 Ounces
Sheath Material: Ballistic Nylon

My Review: I found a veteran that reviewed this knife on YouTube. You can check out the video below to see his review of the Mark 2 knife here. I recommend skipping to 2:10 in the video.

This unique fighting knife from Gerber features a black oxide-coated blade for protection against corrosion. This coating also has the added benefit of diminishing the amount of light that the blade will reflect. This is important in close combat situations because the longer you can convince your opponent that he has the upper hand (that you are not armed, that is), you keep the essential element of surprise when you pull out this beast.

The blade features an ultra-sharp double-edged at the tip of the blade, coupled with double serrated edges near the hilt. In a situation where inflicting lethal damage is the objective, this design makes for an epic penetration weapon that can actually double as a spear.

The blade length is 6.5”, which exceeds the allowable length for knives in certain jurisdictions, so please make sure that you are on the right side of the law before using this knife in a combat situation. Again, you can check the AKTI database using the link in the considerations section below to verify the appropriate laws and restrictions for your state of residence.

The handle is constructed of die-cast aluminum for super strength and durability and is textured for extra grip. Gerber knives are constructed with exacting quality, as I have owned many without ever identifying a single defect in manufacturing or design.

At around $80, it is a good value, especially for its unique design, but you can pick up a Ka-Bar for around the same price. Both are quality brands and will get the job done, so it really comes down to a matter of preference.

Key Features:

  • A unique design is specially designed for maximum damage upon puncture/penetration.
  • Sturdy aluminum handle means you won’t have to worry about separation from the blade in even the most extreme conditions.
  • It can double as a spear, which makes it excellent for both combat and survival applications.
  • MOLLE-compatible hard plastic sheath.

23. Classic USMC Ka-Bar Fighting Knife

KA-BAR Full Size US Marine Corps Fighting Knife, Straight

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Blade Style: Clip-Point
Blade Composition: 1095 Cro-Van
Handle Composition: Leather
Blade Length: 7.00 Inches
Total Length: 11.88 Inches
Total Weight: 11.29 Ounces
Sheath Material: Leather

My Review:

The Ka-Bar classic is literally the most famous and easiest-to-recognize model of fighting knife in the entire world. With over 70-years of reliability on and off the fields of battle, the KA-Bar is the OG of combat knives and is still a formidable combat knife.

They sometimes call the M1 Garand “the gun that saved the world.” That might be true, but I think the KA-Bar should get a little more love and appreciation for its historical importance. The Ka-Bar will always be considered one of the best combat knives of all time.

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Anyway, you can choose between a full leather sheath or a solid Kydex one. While the leather may look better, the Kydex is probably the way to go if you plan using this knife in extreme situations or environments. The sheath I personally use is the Ka-Bar Kydex Sheath here. If you’re going to buy a Ka-Bar I definitely recommend it!

Overall, if you’re looking for a reliable and high-quality combat knife at a reasonable price point, or just a knife to add to your collection, the Ka-Bar is an excellent choice.

Ka-Bar with Kydex Sheath

You can also find the short version of the KA-BAR on Amazon here.

Key Features:

  • The most recognized combat knife in the world.
  • Will make short work of your opponent.
  • A 1095-Cro-Van steel blade is easy to sharpen.
  • World-renowned reputation for quality, durability, and lethality – everything you want in a fighting knife.

24. CRKT Rakkasan

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Blade Style: Modified Clip-Point
Blade Composition: SK5
Handle Composition: G10
Blade Length: 4.85 Inches
Total Length: 10.44 Inches
Total Weight: 9.20 Ounces
Sheath Material: Boltaron

My Review: It may sound easy to design a new and interesting combat knife that is both feasible to manufacture and sells well but there is actually a lot that goes into fine-tuning the attributes of a knife towards combat efficiency.

Things get a bit easier though when you’re a member of the 101st Airborne division turned knife designer working with a world-class knife manufacturer. As part of the Forged By War program, Austin McGlaun of the US Army teamed up with CRKT to create the Rakkasan based on both leading-edge technology and actual modern combat experience.

The Rakkasan is an exceptionally crafted gift we’ve gotten as a result of actual combat experience and just like combat has changed over the years, the Rakkasan reflects a change in blade design with a rather wavey style drop-point that offers a lot of cutting-edge real-estate for a 4.85” blade. The clip-point is nimble enough for some precise work but is strong and durable enough to withstand a beating and since it’s all made out of SK5 steel, it should survive just about anything you throw at it.


25. Fox 479 G10 Emerson Wave Karambit

FOX 479 G10 Black Emerson Wave Folding Karambit

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Blade Style: Karambit
Blade Composition: Bohler N690
Handle Composition: Carbon Fiber or G10
Blade Length: 3.00 Inches
Total Length: 7.50 Inches
Total Weight: 4.02 Ounces
Sheath Material: N/A

My Review: As mentioned in the description of the Karambit earlier in this guide, this small curved knife resembles the claw of a tiger, which is where the Karambit draws the inspiration for its design. I attached a cool video review if you need a break from reading.

This particular Karambit is a tad on the expensive side, coming in at $129, but the quality makes up for the initial cost.

These are specifically designed for defensive purposes, but they can definitely do some damage in close-quartered combat with another human. It is a very versatile weapon and can be held in a variety of different positions so you can adapt to whatever your enemy tries to throw your way.

If you have never used a Karambit, it is a good idea to check out some online videos that demonstrate proper hold position, safety precautions, as well as the many different slashing and cutting motions that you can take.

Because the blade length is only 3 inches long, it is not really designed to puncture deep enough to cause lethal damage upon your opponent, but the design allows you to slice through flesh the same way a large tiger would employ its sharp claws against potential prey.

Key Features:

  • Includes an adjustable clip for easy carrying
  • Versatile Karambit with many different applications aside from combat or self-defense.
  • The unique foldable blade design is uncommon and very useful with Karambits
  • Blade constructed of high strength NC690Co stainless steel.

26. Zero Tolerance Combat Folder

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Blade Style: Drop-Point
Blade Composition: S30V
Handle Composition: G-10 and Titanium
Blade Length: 3,75 Inches
Total Length: 5.25 Inches
Total Weight: 8.60 Ounces
Sheath Material: N/A

My Review: The Zero Tolerance Combat Folder is a top-of-the-line folding tactical knife, this knife comes packed full of features, including SpeedSafe assisted opening, a 3-D machined G10 and Titanium handle. The blade is coated with DLC (diamond-like carbon) and Tungsten for extreme durability, hardness, and sharpness. While it’s price tag is very hard to justify unless you are a hardcore collector of knives, it has a reputation among buyers as being “the best knife I have ever owned.”

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Bottom Line: This is a feature-packed, top-shelf knife that will likely stand up to anything you can throw at it. The price is very high, so those looking for something to buy on a budget will not find what they are looking for with this knife. However, top-shelf knife collectors will appreciate the innovation and craftsmanship put into this Made-in-the-USA knife.

Key Features:

  • Speedsafe manual assisted opening folding blade
  • S30V Stainless steel blade coated with DLC and Tungsten for increased hardness and durability
  • Titanium handle for ruggedness
  • Blade length is 3.75-inches with a closed length of 5.25 inches

27. Benchmade Contego

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Blade Style: Modified Reverse Tanto
Blade Composition: CPM-M4
Handle Composition: G10
Blade Length: 3.98 Inches
Total Length: 9.28 Inches
Total Weight: 5.92 Ounces
Sheath Material: N/A

My Review: Another excellent offering from Benchmade, the Contego is an exception utility folding knife that even includes a glass breaker on the pommel for emergency situations. The CPM-M4 stainless blade and G10 handle construction are designed to handle the most extreme situations that you can throw at it. It is truly a tactical and utility blade. With one-handed opening and Benchmade’s AXIS locking system, the Contego can be ready to go in a second’s notice. Coming in at just over $200, it is definitely a higher-priced knife than many others, but with Benchmade’s Lifetime Guarantee and LifeSharp program, you can have your knife repaired, replaced, or sharpened by any Benchmade dealer essentially for the rest of your life. For this reason alone, many of the Benchmark products may have what seems to be a high initial cost of ownership, but their amazing guarantee is really what you are paying for. This is definitely a well-built knife that I would be proud to own.

Bottom Line: The Benchmade Contego is a top-shelf offering that is built to withstand a lifetime of abuse and exposure to extreme conditions. As with most Benchmade items, the price can seem a bit off-putting at first, but the extremely well build of this knife combined with its features and lifetime warranty for repair or replacement make the initial investment well worth it over the lifetime of owning the knife. The bottom line here is that, if you can afford it, you won’t be sorry; but if you can’t, there are other rugged knives on our list with must lower prices.

Key Features:

  • CPM-4M stainless steel blade
  • Tanto blade allows for maximum force in tactical situations
  • Like all Benchmark products, it is guaranteed for life
  • Includes built-in glass breaker on the pommel
  • One-handed opening for easy access and deployment in precarious situations

28. CRKT M16-10S

Columbia River Knife & Tool M16-10S EDC Folding Pocket Knife: Everyday Carry, Serrated Edge Blade, Tanto, Frame Lock, Stainless Steel Handle, Reversible Pocket Clip

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Blade Style: Tanto
Blade Composition: 8Cr13MoV
Handle Composition: GRN or Skeletonized Stainless Steel
Blade Length: 3.06 Inches
Total Length: 7.00 Inches
Total Weight: 2.60 Ounces
Sheath Material: N/A

My Review: There are several iterations of the M16 flipper from CRKT and I’ve tried many of them but not quite sure I’ve gotten my hands on all of them. With that said, the M16-10S really impressed me as a combat driven focused knife and although I wouldn’t normally recommend a flipping knife for combat, this knife certainly has its place on the battlefield.

You aren’t always in a situation where you can have a full combat-ready kit on with every piece of gear you would ever need. In many cases, you may not be able to carry a large fixed blade combat knife but you still may end up in a hairy situation so the compromise is obvious, a small blade is the way to go.

The M16 was designed with this idea in mind and encompasses many attributes that a regular pocket knife wouldn’t have. First, the knife was designed by Kit Carson who was made famous by the design of the M16. The reason why this design is so decorated is due to the automated liner locker and the Carson Flipper opening action. The knife is exceptionally fast to deploy and once deployed it is very safe and strong. The frame of the knife is slim and light yet ergonomically pleasing and the knife actually comes with a wide array of different blade styles to choose from.


29. Cold Steel Spartan Folding Knife

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Blade Style: Modified Kukri
Blade Composition: AUS-10A
Handle Composition: Griv-Ex
Blade Length: 4.50 Inches
Total Length: 10.50 Inches
Total Weight: 7.50 Ounces
Sheath Material: N/A

My Review: This uniquely designed folding knife from Cold Steel has a reputation as one of their most popular knives on the market today. Its design was inspired around the shape and performance of the standard Japanese Kukri, and with a blade crafted from Japanese AUS10A steel, it is meant to last and meant to keep an edge, even in the roughest of conditions. Includes the “Tri-Ad” locking system for added safety, making it one of the safest folding knives on the market. It is designed to be a true utility knife as it can cut through items diverse as rope, bamboo, cloth, and even meat. At just under $60, this knife is a steal and is worth every single penny.

Key Features:

  • Designed to look and perform like a Japanese Kukri, allowing for a true range of utility applications
  • Handle length of 6 inches and blade of 4.25 inches
  • Handle designed for ambidextrous and ergonomic use
  • Tri-Ad Lock system allows for up to 800 lbs of hanging weight
  • Great for close combat/self-defense, it needed
  • Can cut through a variety of materials, making it a true utility knife
  • With a current price tag of under $60, this is one of the best knife offers I have found yet

30. CRKT Homefront Folding Field Strip Knife

CRKT Homefront Aluminum Folding Pocket Knife: Take Apart Field Strip, Satin Blade, Flipper Open, Liner Lock, Aluminum Handle, Deep Carry Pocket Clip K270GKP

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Blade Style: Drop-Point
Blade Composition: AUS-8
Handle Composition: 6061 Aluminum
Blade Length: 3.84 Inches
Total Length: 5.00 Inches
Total Weight: 4.80 Ounces
Sheath Material: N/A

My Review: This knife is a bit different than many of the folding knives we have looked at. It features an all-aluminum blade with “Field Strip” technology that allows you to disassemble and clean the knife without using a single tool. The Homefront knife is designed by world-renowned knife designer Ken Onion and is inspired by tactical designs but is meant for everyday carry and use. While there have been some reviews that question the design of the knife, the main complaints have had to do with its price tag. However, the majority of buyers have had positive experiences with this blade and indicate that it stands up to heavy use, while the ability to disassemble and easily clean makes the components last longer.

Bottom Line: While I do not know much about this particular knife, some of its unique features are appealing. The ability to disassemble without using a single tool allows you to keep the inner workings of the knife clean, meaning that you can extend its life. With an $80 price tag, it’s hard to justify this knife over other top-shelf folding knives like the Griptilian, which has a much better warranty. However, it seems to get the job done while standing up to harsh conditions, and the innovations in design are truly unique.

Key Features:

  • Handle crafted from solid aircraft aluminum reinforced with fiberglass for durability and lightweight design
  • Field Strip technology allows you to extend the life of the knife by cleaning the working parts regularly and with ease
  • Blade length of 3.5 inches with a folding design

31. Ka-Bar EK45 Model 5 Commando


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Blade Style: Clip-Point
Blade Composition: 1095 Cro-Van
Handle Composition: GRN
Blade Length: 6.88 Inches
Total Length: 12.94 Inches
Total Weight: 10.30 Ounces
Sheath Material: Celcon

My Review: The EK45 Model 5 Commando is a refreshed design of the original Commando knife that Johns company mass-produced and consists of the new Cro-Van 1095 steel. This steel is much more resilient to wear and tear than traditional 1095 due to its material profile containing chromium and vanadium. Today most of the Ka-Bar products consist of 1095 Cro-Van which seem to offer high tier attributes at more affordable prices.

The Commando knife is rather raw in nature but has exceptional handling in part due to the integrated hilt. Without the hilt, I would say the grip is too thin but with the hilt, it all comes together nicely. The knife is rather heavy feeling and really has a great balance for fighting. One thing to note is that I have seen the handle on this knife fail multiple times by people using it for heavy wood processing and such so if you’re looking for a knife that can take a beating this is not the best combat knife out there for you.


32. United Cutlery Marine Force Recon Sawback Bowie Knife

United Cutlery USMC Marine Force Recon Giant Bowie Knife and Sheath

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Blade Style: Clip-Point
Blade Composition: AUS-6
Handle Composition: Rubber Overmolded
Blade Length: 11.50 Inches
Total Length: 16.38 Inches
Total Weight: 18.80 Ounces
Sheath Material: Ballistic Nylon

My Review: This intimidating-looking combat Bowie knife is made from high-quality material in terms of blade and hilt construction. It features a sawback on the backside of the blade and both smooth and partially serrated edge on the opposite side. With an 11.5-inch blade length and a very capable and sturdy grip, this Bowie will strike fear into the very soul of the enemy and while it may or may not be the best fighting knife on the list, it sure might be the most badass look. This definitely has the capability and potential to be a lifesaver on the battlefield and has no problem whatsoever inflicting lethal damage in a hand-to-hand combat situation, just like any quality Bowie.

The blade is constructed of high-strength stainless steel and this particular weapon includes a nylon sheath for safety in transport.

This particular Bowie, as with many Bowies, features a design that is intentionally intimidating in order to quickly give you the upper hand, psychologically speaking, if you are ever involved in a fight-to-the-death in a battle or find yourself the victim of a violent crime, such as a home invasion.

In today’s world, many jurisdictions have to check your local laws regarding the possession and purchase of long-bladed Bowies before purchase so you don’t find yourself on the wrong side of the law.

A note about this knife: Many times, cheaper products fall victim to shoddy manufacturing, especially when the manufacturer sacrifices quality components to save a buck. This does not appear to be the case with this Bowie, as it features some of the same quality features and materials used in high-end offerings, such as a highly rubberized handle, a super-strong stainless steel blade, and overall quality construction. As a matter of fact, this knife currently retains a 4.3-star rating on Amazon, based on almost 300 verified customer reviews. Out of those hundreds of reviews, there are only critical/negative reviews, with the most common complaint being that it requires sharpening by the purchaser in order to make effortless cuts. However, if you are like me in this regard, this could actually be considered a positive characteristic, giving you control over how sharp you need/want your knife to be.

Key Features:

  • Long blade, beautiful Bowie design.
  • Sawback and combination straight and serrated blade for utility use.
  • Incredibly inexpensive.
  • Rubberized hilt.

Types of Combat Knives

Fixed Blade: Fixed blade knives are more of a category of knife than a specific type/design. A fixed blade knife simply is a knife without a folding blade. Bowies, Ka-Bars, Mausers, most Karambits, and combat daggers are all fixed-blade knives. Even kitchen knives, such as butcher knives, fall into the fixed-blade category. They are more difficult to conceal than folding blades (pretty obvious) because folding functionality literally cuts the length of the knife in half, which is why some prefer folding knives, or “pocket knives”. Unlike pocket knives, fixed-blade fighting knives are designed to be carried in a sheath.

Bowie Knife: As explained in the history section below, the Bowie design was introduced in the mid-19th-century and was used extensively in the American Civil War as well as just about every other war/frontier since. Bowies had become so popular that they were literally synonymous with the term fighting knife all the way up until the beginning of the 20th century when tons of newly-designed combat knives were produced.

Tactical Knife / Utility:  Many “tactical knives” can still be used in combat and their primary purpose is for fighting, but they also have auxiliary functionality and can be used tools instead of just fighting. There are many popular survival knife designs that fall into the tactical knife category. They are designed to be used for self-defense or combat, but also contains valuable extras built into the handle. Some things you might find built into a tactical knife are a line cutter, compass, compartment, needle and thread, matches, and/or a fire-starter. One popular model by Frost even includes saw blade-style serrated edge on the back of the blade, that can literally saw through a 2×4 with ease.

Another example of a utility knife is the Swiss Army knife, which includes several folding blades, one large enough for defensive capabilities, as well as a ton of built-in tools. Of course, if you are reading this article, you are already well aware of what a Swiss Army knife is, and probably have one in your collection. Beware, though, there are many counterfeit Swiss Army knives that may look like they have all of the same features, but these knock offs are almost always cheaply manufactured and have sub-par blades.

Karambit: A Karambit is a small knife with a uniquely-designed curved blade inspired by a tiger’s claw. They are specifically designed for self-defense applications. Because the blade is curved and short, they are not meant to be used as an offensive weapon, but they can definitely be used in combat if need be. I think that every knife collector should have at least one quality Karambit in their cache because they’re just cool, I mean they’re inspired by a freaking tiger claw…

Because of their unique design, if you are not trained in using a Karambit, I recommend either taking personal lessons in their proper use or simply gaining this experience by watching some demonstration videos on YouTube. On YouTube, you can find training and demonstrations of the many different striking motions that can be employed with a Karambit.

Folding: Folding blades are the direct opposite of fixed-blade knives. Knives with folding blades are generally not designed for lethality, but rather self-defense situations, where you would likely be slashing instead of penetrating – the goal is to incapacitate instead of to eliminate. Buck knives and other utility pocket knives (such as Swiss Army knives) are examples of folding blade weapons. These knives are equally useful as utility tools as they are for inflicting damage.

5 Considerations to Find the Best Combat Knife for Your Use Cases

Just like every purchase you make, finding the perfect combat knife for your collection depends on two main factors; personal preference and intended or anticipated usage scenarios. There are many other important considerations that you need to ponder when shopping for your next combat knife as well.

Blade: Because you could find yourself using your combat knife in a situation where the end result is the injury or even death of the other party, the quality, length, material, and construction of the blade are one of the most important features to consider when looking for a military-style combat knife.

Besides blade quality, you must also consider whether or not you want a straight-edge blade or a serrated edge blade, or better yet, a combination of both. Serrated edges can have a tendency to snag when cutting through certain materials, and if you are in a situation where you are up against another human being, you may find that to be a disadvantage, and thus, a straight blade better suited for combat. However a serrated edge on the opposite side of the blade, such as is featured in certain Bowies and survival combat knives, it can come in handy if you find yourself needing to use your knife not as a weapon, but as a tool to saw through something, perhaps the texture of wood.

Make your choice according to what your anticipated needs, but if you are buying the knife for combat, you definitely want to consider a straight-edge blade. Other very popular knives that excel in combat would be the Tanto since its hard and structured point is designed with the capability of piercing low-level body armor in mind.

Handle: No matter how special or strong or sharp your blade might be, if your handle is not up to the task at hand, you may find yourself in a very precarious position if it malfunctions in the middle of a fight. If your handle fails and the blade detaches from it, you literally will be standing in the middle of a fight-for-your-life with nothing but a handle in your hand. This obviously is not desirable. Thus, when you pick a combat knife, pay extra special attention to the handle design. This is where buying a tried and true weapon like a Ka-Bar will never let you down. Just make sure that you check the specifications of the knife before you purchase it.

Some people have a preference for a strong wooden handle, while others may prefer a synthetic hard material, such as the bakelite handles of yesteryear. I personally have a World War 2 bayonet that way modified into a combat dagger after the war by a family member. He chose bakelite for the handle, and it is still just as strong today as it was in 1945. While bakelite is no longer used, there are stronger synthetic materials today that have the same characteristics of the old bakelite plastic but are better suited for all-purpose use in any condition. Furthermore, options such as rubberized coating on the handle will increase your grip on your weapon, which is a major plus when placed in a life or death situation, or even if you are using it in a more subdued manner, such as cutting through a material that requires a large amount of effort. In this situation, anything that can give you more grip will allow you more leverage against the material you are cutting through.

Design: Since the primary purpose of a combat knife is to inflict a lethal blow, the design is very important. In hand-to-hand combat, you could find yourself using a variety of maneuvers, including slashing defensively and stabbing offensively. If you find yourself in a situation like this against an equally-armed

Utility: Do you want more of a multi-purpose knife that will not only save your life during a combat or self-defense scenario; but one that can also help you to chop, cut, saw, or hack your way out of a dangerous environment, such as if you find yourself trapped by your seatbelt in the unfortunate event that you are in a serious vehicular accident.

Legality: If you reside in the United States, you probably already know that our laws are a smorgasbord of varying local ordinances, state laws, and federal statutes and regulations. Navigating these laws can be very confusing for laypersons, and this is no different when it comes to knife laws. For instance, in the 1980s, “switchblade” type knives were categorically banned by the federal government, and if you are found in possession of one of these knives, you could find yourself not only with a monetary fine but a prison sentence as well, depending on the situation and your history. While we are not discussing switchblade knives here, I only mention laws surrounding their possession and use to illustrate certain prohibitions in the US.

Most state laws are going to revolve around the length of the blade. For instance, Florida has a limit on blade length of around 4 inches. If you are unsure of the laws in your jurisdiction, you can use the search tool on the AKTI website to verify the legality of the knife you have in mind according to the laws of your state. This is a very useful tool that can potentially save you hundreds of dollars or even several months or years of your life. This tool also gives you the ability to verify laws surrounding the legality of carrying your knife either concealed or open. In this case, AKTI has provided a valuable tool that will give you peace of mind on par with getting legal advice from a defense attorney regarding the legality of your dream knife.

What is a combat knife designed for?

A combat knife is a type of military fighting weapon designed to inflict maximum physical damage, all the way up through lethal damage, on an enemy in a physical confrontation at close range, specifically at grappling range. Military fighting knives are designed to give their user the means to engage in either offensive or defensive situations, with the ability to save your life should you ever be found in one of these situations, either as a military service member or for personal protection and self-defense for non-military applications.

Combat knives were designed originally as special-purpose military weapons intended solely, or at least primarily, for hand-to-hand combat. However, in modern usage, this line has blurred with the advent of fighting utility knives, which are designed for more versatile uses as well as hand-to-hand combat.

It is very important to note that, when you are buying a knife to be used in combat or hand-to-hand fighting, the knife becomes classified as a weapon. As such, you want to make sure to check your local laws regarding purchasing, possession, and carrying of your new combat/fighting knife.

History of Knife Use in Combat:

The first use of knife-like weapons in times of war dates all the way back to the ancient Stone Age, where utility weapons with stone blades were more than likely utilized for this purpose.

The first documented use of metal as the blade material came later, during the ancient Bronze Age, where daggers were introduced as fixed-blade weapons with a copper blade.

As remarkable as it sounds, some combat knives found at archeological sites have been found to date back to over 4500 years ago, sometime around 2500 BC.

Next, iron blade combat weapons were introduced and used as a standard military armament of Anglo-Saxon warriors in the in Early Middle Ages, around 500 A.D. Around 1400, when the advent of improved forging techniques and the development of steel allowed for stronger and longer blades, that the earlier short-bladed weapons were superseded by longswords as the preferred combat weapon of most professional warriors of the time. At this point, daggers and other forms of combat knives became more commonly found as secondary fighting weapons.

It is important to note that these earlier weapons could not be defined by today’s definition of the combat knife, as they were utilized both as weapons and as bladed utility tools for performing tasks other than fighting and combat.

In fact, until the mid-1800s, with the design of the most famous fighting knife in history, the Bowie knife, that combat knives became the preferred hand-to-hand combat weapon of soldiers and frontiersmen alike. These early Bowie designs became so popular that they literally became synonymous with the term “fighting knife,” with blade lengths of these Bowies sometimes exceeding 12 inches or more. Believe it or not, but before the invention of the revolver, which allowed for multiple shots to be fired, Bowie knives were actually preferred over the single-shot, muzzle-loading rifles on the American frontier.

The American Civil War saw extensive usage of combat knives in some of the bloodiest fighting the world had ever known to date. The Bowie, at this point, gained the reputation of a battle-tested and hardened weapon that was reliable in extreme hand-to-hand combat.

Gradually, by the turn of the 20th century, the combat knife began to be adapted to civilian use for personal protection. As the Industrial Revolution has transformed manufacturing techniques, more and more styles of civilian fighting knives entered the market.

Military use peaked in World War Two, with nations the world over using different daggers, knives, and short swords in battle. For instance, the German Mauser dagger used extensively on the European theater of war was one of the most popular combat knives used in the history of war. Almost every manufacturer of cutlery in Germany and in Axis-controlled areas mass-produced this very capable weapon that had a blade just under 10 inches long.

The answer to the amazingly designed German war daggers was the Ka-Bar, designed to go hand-to-hand with any other combat knife on the market at the time. Marines especially loved the Ka-Bar, and it became a staple for US military applications from the mid-20th century through today.

Keep in mind, this is just a brief history. Knives, daggers, dirks, and other small combat blades have been used for literally thousands of years, and continue to be the preferred choice of weapon for close-quartered hand-to-hand combat


Should I Buy a Sheath?

If you are buying a combat knife, chances are you will need a sheath if you plan on using it in the field. The sheath protects you from accidental puncture injury. If you were to attempt to simply drop and unsheathed combat knife in your pocket, you will quickly learn to never do this again.

However, the good news is that almost every combat knife currently for sale on sites like Amazon includes a sheath. Cheaper combat knives will likely have cheaply-constructed sheaths, so this is really the only scenario in which we would say that buying a replacement sheath of better quality is a must.

All Ka-Bar knives include a high-quality sheath made of hard and reinforced plastic, with the option of leather in the case of the original Ka-Bar combat knife.

So, while our recommendation is that you probably do not NEED to buy a sheath, it is still a good idea to look on the manufacturer’s webpage to verify the material and construction of the sheath included with your candidate purchase to make sure that the included sheath will meet your needs.

What is the Difference Between a Combat Knife and Standard Knife?

A combat knife is a specialty knife designed to inflict lethal damage in a hand-to-hand combat scenario. As such, this means that a combat knife is classified as a weapon, while standard pocket knives are meant to be used in a utilitarian manner as a universal sharp tool instead of primary use as a weapon.

What is the Difference Between a Self Defense Knife and a Combat Knife?

The difference between a self-defense knife and a combat knife comes solely in terms of lethality. While many combat knives and tactical knives can be used as defensive weapons, they are not designed solely for that purpose. In fact, combat fighting knives are designed to impart a lethal blow to your enemy; whereas self-defense knives, while they may be capable of inflicting a lethal blow, are not solely designed for that purpose, but are rather designed to incapacity an assailant to allow you to remove yourself from the threat. Many of the types of combat knives described on this page, from the Ka-Bar to the Karambit, are also extensively used as self-defense weapons for personal protection.

Thus, the difference in these two types of knives really comes in the form of the intended purpose of the user, as in many cases, certain knives will fall into both categories, as described above.

What makes a good fighting knife?

A durable handle, cutting edge design, and a powerful blade, when put together, make the best fighting knife.

Knife skills of the person also matter when in combat.

Are combat knives legal?

Combat knives of fixed blades are legal for the most part barring some exceptions. Switchblades and ballistic knives are banned from sale and importation.

Also, you need to check your state and local laws regarding combat knives.

Does Krav Maga teach knife fighting?

No. Krav Maga doesn’t teach knife fighting.
It instead teaches you to defend against knife attacks using a knife.

Krav Maga is a real-world fighting system and anyone can learn it.

How thick should a fighting knife be?

Ideally, a combat knife should be between 0.18 to 0.25 inches thick.

If it becomes too thick, it can’t cause much damage. Too thin, and it will break and fold while in a combat situation.

Final Thoughts

Here are my references

Wikipedia: Fighting Knife and Combat Knives

History.com: Knives that changed history and Bowie Knife

Combat knives come in a variety of styles and designs, from fixed-blade Bowies and Ka-Bar styles to Karambits and folding fighting knives that also act at utility tools.

All of these knives are acceptable options when it comes to choosing a weapon that you anticipate using in combat with another person, self-defense, hunting, or cutting through different materials to accomplish whatever mission lies ahead.

So, as always, consider your own personal preferences with regards to style, available options, and bundled freebies; as well as your intended use with your new knife.

Finally, try not to make price the most important factor in considering which combat knife to choose. After all, your life may be on the line in the event that you have to use these knives for their original purpose.

Let me know your favorite combat knife below, or what you think is the best fighting knife out there right now.

Thanks for visiting my website, check out some other pages before you go.

Semper Fi,

Corporal Wabo

1 thought on “32 Best Combat Knives & Military Fighting Knives (2023 Edition)”

  1. Great article! I love the Ka-Bar Classic and the Cold Steel OSS knives the most for their balance, extensive field testing (as in, war), and yes, how amazingly badass they look. The Marine Force Recon Sawback Bowie looks incredible as well but I haven’t owned it personally. I have never been disappointed by Gerber, Ontario, or SOG knives either.

    I’d really like to try the Benchmade knives despite the higher cost, and I’ve never used a karambit style knife either, they look scary though :D. I’ve bookmarked your website for next time I need a knife. In the meantime, I have two questions if you see this comment. 1) I don’t see any Buck knives on this list. I understand they specialize in hunting and not necessarily combat, but I’ve had a couple of Bucks I’d bring to a knife fight without hesitation. What’s your opinion on them? 2) Any thoughts or recommendations on GLOVES to wear while wielding a combat knife?
    Something thin enough that they won’t impact agility, but that maybe enhance grip and/or offer some protection from the other guy’s weapon. I’ve seen those gloves that protect from cooking and utility knives but wondered if you guys as US Marines had any personal recommendations when it came to combat gloves, for lack of a better term. Thank you very much! Ooh-rah!!!

    About me: Not a Marine myself but have an extended family literally chock full of them, from my grandfather who fought on Peleliu with the 1st Marines to uncles, cousins, and now a nephew. Many have reenlisted (my grandfather also fought in Korea and my uncle in Vietnam). A fair number have transitioned to private contracting firms still serving our armed forces in developing weapons systems and both clear and classified aviation/aerospace projects. I can’t say what I do (wink).

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