23 Best Combat Knives and Military Fighting Knives in 2020

Military Fighting and Combat Knife Buying Guide

To some, the knife may seem like an outdated weapon that has no place in this era of push-button mass death weaponry, but the truth is it’s still one of most versatile pieces of gear out there.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

In this review, I’ll break down the types of combat knives, what they’re designed for specifically, and show you some of my favorites (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.

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. We actually have an entire guide on our favorite fixed blade knives here if you’re interested.

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 for 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 blade, 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 being 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.

Here are the Best Combat and Fighting Knives in the World

1. USMC KA-Bar Fighting Knife

Marine Holding Ka-Bar Knife

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Price: Around $75

My Review: This is 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.

You can bet your ass that this knife will do just that, too. So think about it, if it can take down a bear, you better believe you’ll come out on top if the opponent is a human.

The KA-Bar is the OG of combat knives and in my opinion the best combat knife in the world. 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, you can bet your life on the fact that the Ka-Bar will not let you down in a fight.

They sometimes call the M1 grand “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.

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, in my opinion, the Ka-Bar is nearly impossible to beat.

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.
  • 1095-Cro-Van steel blade is easy to sharpen.
  • World-renowned reputation for quality, durability, and lethality – everything you want in a fighting knife.

2. KA-Bar KA1245

KAA Bar KA1245 Combat Knife

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Price: Around $60

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, with a super-sharp point and a thick Tanto-style, Asian-influence blade. At around $65, you cannot go wrong with this awesome Ka-Bar combat knife. It will not let you down when it matters most, and it may just be the reason you walk away from a battle and your enemy does not.

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

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 manmade handle fits perfectly in your hand, and it is constructed in the same style as the original Ka-Bar fighting knife.

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.

3. Gerber StrongArm (Best Value)

Gerber StrongArm Tactical Knife

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Price: Around $70

My Review: Designed to be used in the fields of combat, the Gerber StrongArm features a fixed blade constructed from high-carbon stainless steel for long life and effortless sharpening. Gerber takes durability and sharpness a step further than most by utilizing a process which applies a layer of super-strength porcelain coating to the blade. This means that, although the knife boasts an “easy-to-sharpen” blade, the porcelain will allow you to keep your edge sharper longer, decreasing sharpening frequency, which in turn increases the life of this knife.

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

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.

The handle is constructed from glass-reinforced nylon and then coated with rubberized grip material, greatly lessening the potential of losing your hold on the knife in a rigorous battle, potentially allowing your enemy to gain the upper hand. The rubberized coating all but eliminates this risk as a possibility. As if that wasn’t good enough, the folks at Gerber took the grip a step further by including diamond-texture, greatly adding to grip leverage. 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 multi-mount style of MOLLE sheath means that you can carry on your belt/at waist level, vertically or horizontally, or on your leg for concealment to retain the all-important element of surprise.

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.

Key Features:

  • Titanium-oxide coated blade.
  • Striking pommel at base of handle for use in rescue operations.
  • MOLLE-compatible sheath adds multi-mount technology to allow you to carry according to personal preference and ease of deployment.

4. Glock Perfection

Glock Perfection

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Price: Around $30

My Review: Glock makes some decent handguns 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. Honestly, I’d rather be shot by Glock than stabbed, that’s for sure.

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 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.

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. Ontario MK3 Navy Knife

Ontario MK3 Navy Knife

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Price: Around 80

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. These are purpose-built for combat use and are ready to rock and roll whenever you need it most.

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. 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.

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

6. Navy Seal SOG Tactical Knife with Knife Sheath

SOG Tactical Knife

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Price: Around $110

My Review: This bad boy is a formidable tactical, survival, utility, combat, and hunting knife. Coming in at over $100, it is more expensive than some other combat knives in this guide, but it makes up for its expensive price tag in sheer usefulness and lethality. Its blade is constructed with 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.

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 constructed to allow you to saw through materials with ease. This makes it incredibly useful for hunting when you made need to saw through bone while cleaning your kill in order to transport it.

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 intention 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 BKR7-BRK Combat Utility Knife

Ka-Bar BKR7

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Price: Around $80

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 a bit higher initial cost to own this beautiful product.

Key Features:

  • 1095 chrome-vanadium
  • Well known fighting and military knife
  • Updated version of the Ka-Bar

8. Marine Force Recon Sawback Bowie Knife

Marine Force Recon Knife

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Price: Around $25

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.

9. Zero Tolerance Combat Folder

Zero Tolerance Combat Folder

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Price: Around $400

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.”

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

10. Cold Steel Spartan Folding Knife

Cold Steel Tactical Pocket Folding Knife

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Price: Around $70

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

11. Benchmade Nimravus Tanto

Benchmade Nimravus Tanto

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Price: Around $185

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 nylon sheath so you can keep it on hand in any situation. Those who have bought and used this fixed-blade knife have all indicated that it can be used day-in, day-out for multiple applications and still have an edge as sharp as the day it arrived. So, while the price tag may initially turn you away from this knife, just remember that you are not only paying for quality 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. The manufacturer claims that this is their most popular and best-selling knife, and the features and durability alone make that understandable.

Key Features:

  • MOLLE-compatible clip and sheath
  • Super rugged and durable for years to come
  • ifetime 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

12. Gerber Mark II

Gerber Mark 2

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Price: Around $75

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 and ultra sharp double-edge 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 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 it 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:

  • 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.
  • Can double as a spear, which makes it excellent for both combat and survival applications.
  • MOLLE-compatible hard plastic sheath.

13. Fox 479 G10 Emerson Wave Karambit

Combat Karambit

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Price: Around $130

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

14. CRKT Homefront Folding Field Strip Knife

CRKT Homefront Folding Field Strip Knife

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Price: Around $85

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 folding design

15. Ontario M9 Bayonet and Scabbard

Ontario M9 Bayonet

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Price: Around $110

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 offense. It also comes with a nice sheath/scabbard to store the knife when it’s not in use.

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 a thermoplastic nylon and has a wire cutter and screwdriver.

Key Features:

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

16. Benchmade Infidel 133

Benchmade Infidel 133

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Price: Around $220

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.

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

17. Ka-Bar Becker BK9 Combat Bowie

Ka-Bar Becker BK9 Combat Bowie

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Price: Around $100

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

18. Benchmade Contego

Benchmade Contego Knife

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Price: Around $195

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

19. Benchmade Griptilian

Benchmade Griptilian

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Price: Around $115

My Review: This pocket utility knife from Benchmade may be a bit pricey, but if you are someone who has the need to carry a utility pocket knife that is durable and guaranteed, this may just be the knife for you. It includes features that make it perfect for everyday use, including it’s incredibly designed locking mechanism, which allows for ambidextrous opening with a single hand.

With a blade length of just 4.62”, it is not designed for self-defense, but that’s not to say that it wouldn’t give you a bit of an edge if you find yourself in a bad situation. The smaller blade length generally means that you will not run into any legal issues carrying this knife. It has a sturdy reversible clip that allows you to fasten onto your belt or inside of your pocket on either side so it is always within reach. Probably the best feature of this knife is its guarantee, which allows owners of this knife to take it into any Benchmade dealer for immediate repair or sharpening if it ever happens to lose its edge, similar to the guarantees offered by tool manufacturers Craftsman and Snap-On.

Bottom Line: If you work or play in environments that require the use of a sharp, durable, and dependable pocket knife without the express need for combat functionality, give the  Griptilian a try. It is built so durably that you may never need it, but knowing that you have the Lifetime Warranty and LifeSharp sharpening service right at your fingertips gives you peace of mind. While the initial cost of ownership of $120 for a pocket knife may turn you off, the fact that you can have it replaced, repaired, and sharpened for life definitely makes that price tag a bit more understandable.

Key Features:

  • Super versatile, allowing for ambidextrous single-handed opening
  • Blade crafted from 154CM stainless steel for super corrosion resistance
  • Handle is made from highly durable glass-filled nylon
  • Guaranteed for life through Benchmade’s Lifetime Warranty and LifeSharp Service

20. Cold Steel OSS

Cold Steel OSS Knife

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Price: Around $70

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.

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

21. Glock Field Knife

Glock Field Knife

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Price: Around $30

My Review: Another quality utility/combat knife that has stood the test of time, I have personally owned one of these badass Glock knives. The saw back allows you to cut through thick brush that the sharp side cannot get. This knife, just like many of Glock’s firearms, was designed in close cooperation with the Austrian Army.

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. If you are a knife collector, you can pick up this bad boy for under $30.00, which is just an amazing price.

Key Features:

  • Total length 11 inches; Blade length 6.25 inches
  • Phosphate coated to prevent corrosion means a long life
  • The handle is designed to be sturdy and strong enough to break windows in emergency situations
  • World-renowned for its ruggedness for use in the most extreme of circumstances

22. MTech USA Fixed Blade Knife

MTech USA Fixed Blade Knife

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Price: Around $30

My Review: The Mtech USA MX8054 is an affordable tactical knife that is ideal for camping or survival situations. With it’s 440 stainless steel tanto blade, it comes from the manufacturer razor sharp, and the added carbon content allows for retention of the blade’s edge.

This knife was built to be a tactical tool and it accomplishes that purpose just fine. It has an intimidating design that would make any would-be attacker think twice before engaging someone with one of these in their hand. The handle is constructed to supply superior grip and blade control, even if you are using it in wet conditions. With a price tag under $30, there is no reason not to add one of these to your collection. The ergonomic yet striking design gives it a unique appearance that is sure to make it the centerpiece of conversation among your friends, too.

Bottom Line: This knife from Mtech is a great deal with a super-low price tag. With reviews that indicate its use in the real world as being rugged and reliable, this blade holds its own against some of the more expensive offerings.

Key Features:

  • Superior grip with finger grooves for added blade control
  • Blade is meant to stay sharp through heavy duty use
  • The 5.5-inch tanto-style blade is unique and includes a saw back for hard-to-cut materials
  • Great for self-defense, due to its ruggedness, sharpness, and intimidating design

23. GAG Special Operations Combat Knife (Most Expensive)

Special Forces Knife

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Price: Around $750

My Review:At $700, this combat knife is designed for special forces 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. It 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 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.
  • Specially formulated alloy of stainless steel is super strong and can also be heat treated after purchase in order to highly increase tensile strength.
  • 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.

5 Considerations to Find the Best Combat Knife for You

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 is 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.

Handle: No matter how special or strong or sharp your blade may 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 1980’s, “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, in 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 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-1800’s, 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 include 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 the 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.

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 “23 Best Combat Knives and Military Fighting Knives in 2020”

  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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