14 Best Karambits in 2022 (All Price Ranges)

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Nowadays, the karambit is a symbol of lethality and skill with a blade. These knives shaped a lot like a tiger claw or a hawk talon, are popular in the world of knife collecting and knife enthusiasts. Over the years I’ve owned and tested many karambits and in the rest of this guide, I’ll be sharing my favorites.

In the below list of karambits we’ll also cover everything you need to know about them from steel selection to EDC attributes.

Here are the Best Karambits

1. Fox Knives 599 (Editor’s Choice)

Fox 599 G10 Black Emerson Wave Folding Karambit

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  • Estimated Price: $135
  • Mechanism: Spine Stud Manual Folder
  • Blade Length: 2.25 Inches
  • Total Length: 7.00 Inches
  • Blade Composition: Bohler N690Co
  • Handle Composition: G10

My Review: This was actually one of my first experiences with a karambit and to my surprise, it would become my favorite despite handling a myriad of other karambits over the past several years. There is no single reason why I like it more than some of the other heavy hitters on this list but it earns my patronage due to its overall smooth and utilitarian design. The size, a solid seven Inches when open, just feels perfect in the hand with that two and a quarter inch blade.

This particular karambit exudes class and simplicity. They didn’t try to get too fancy or too crazy with it, but it does look and feel ominous, as a karambit should. The handle is a very grippy and textured G10 and I like that although it provides a lot of grip, it doesn’t feel sharp like these G10 handles sometimes do when they are heavily textured.

The blade consisting of N690Co is a perfect selection of steel as it embodies a rough and tough blade capable of enduring heavy use but still feels elegant, light, and is rather easy to maintain.

The Fox Knives 599 isn’t assisted but you can flip it out with ease and a little flick of the wrist. Deployability is obviously a concern when it comes to folding karambits but in this case, the flip of this knife is quick, consistent, and surprisingly very smooth. As far as sound goes, this knife has a unique tone when flipping it open that I cannot simply describe in words but it’s very satisfying despite not being extremely loud or sounding mechanical by nature as many other knives do.

All in all, this is the Marine Approved favorite despite it being one of the more expensive options on the list. After all, you get what you pay for, and Fox Knives is well known for delivering exceptional pieces throughout their offerings.


2. Fox Knives Oresti Frati SRL 478

FOX Knives - Oreste Frati SRL 9001498 Karambit Fine Edge Folding Knife, Grey

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  • Estimated Price: $130
  • Mechanism: Spine Stud Manual Folder
  • Blade Length: 2.95 Inches
  • Total Length: 7.48 Inches
  • Blade Composition: Bohler N690Co
  • Handle Composition: 6082 T6 Aluminum

My Review: Another outstanding karambit, the Fox Knives Oresti Frati SRL isn’t that much different from my favorite, the 599. The primary differences here are that this knife is a slight bit larger both in blade size and overall opened length and although I actually prefer the compact size of the 599, I could see why there are many users of this particular model as well, as it still retains a lot of that same compact feel to it.

Related Article: 26 Knife Blade Types (with Chart & Shape Explanations)

The blade composition is the same as the 599 being that it’s Bohler N690Co, which is pretty hard to go wrong with since it’s well-balanced and very strong steel. The handle is where you’ll notice the largest difference between the two, with the 599 being an extremely grippy G10 versus this knife, being a very nice brushed aluminum style handle. I would certainly say the 599 has more grip, although the aluminum feels nicer in the hand and honestly looks nicer in my personal opinion as well.

Overall, the two are very similar and are within about ten dollars of each other, so if you’ve whittled down your choices between these two, you really can’t go wrong with trusting your gut and going with what suits your personal preferences most.


3. Spyderco Karahawk

Spyderco Karahawk Specialty Knife with 2.29" VG-10 Steel Black Blade and Black Premium G-10 Handle - PlainEdge - C170GBBKP

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  • Estimated Price: $250
  • Mechanism: Spyderco Hole Manual Folder
  • Blade Length: 2.35 Inches
  • Total Length: 6.50 Inches
  • Blade Composition: VG-10
  • Handle Composition: G10

My Review: Spyderco isn’t exactly known for making karambits but they are well-known for pushing the boundaries of what otherwise is a concrete design and I think the Karahawk fits right in well with their Ethos.

Of course, Spyderco elected to go with what seems to be their favorite steel, VG-10, which means this would likely be one of the most corrosion resistance karambits on this list and on the market today, which is a huge plus if you’ll be using this in a wet environment or perhaps carrying it with you to go fishing.

The Karahawk isn’t cheap and it’s tough to really justify that whopping price tag but honestly, Spyderco has been pumping out some very nice knives on the premium spectrum and the Karahawk, although not the most amazing knife they’ve ever made overall, is certainly a step ahead of most of what you’ll find in the market for karambits. It’s tough to explain, but feeling this knife in your knife just exudes a sense of confidence and strength.

The Karahawk is definitely the easiest non-assisted opening karambit on the market and is virtually effortless to flip open, which I definitely find as a plus. Honestly, if it wasn’t so expensive, this would be our favorite choice, but I would say that unless you just really enjoy the Spyderco-Esque flair they’ve brought to the karambit, the marginal upgrades over some of the other karambits on this list don’t exactly justify the price tag.


4. Emerson Combat Karambit

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  • Estimated Price: $250
  • Mechanism: Emerson Wave Folder
  • Blade Length: 3.40 Inches
  • Total Length: 8.375 Inches
  • Blade Composition: 154CM
  • Handle Composition: G10

My Review: Emerson Knives is not a stranger to building knives that are incredibly lethal and built like tanks so it’s no surprise they jumped into the market with a karambit offering. They have two versions of their iteration of the karambit and the only real difference is the size. I had my hands on the “combat” version and have yet to physically handle the “Super” version myself, but I definitely prefer compact folding karambits and had no issue with the 2.60-inch blade on the combat variant, so I’d assume I would enjoy both but wouldn’t necessarily ditch the combat for the super.

Related Article: Best Knife Steels (Steel Charts & Guide by a Marine)

154CM blade steel with these thick and strong titanium liners is right on par with a steel choice you can expect to use and abuse and keep on trucking, so that was a very good strategy for Emerson. Overall, the knife feels ridiculously strong, as most Emerson Knives do, and I would imagine that if reliability under duress is your most important factor, the Emerson Combat Karambit should be at the top of your list.


5. Cold Steel Tiger Claw

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  • Estimated Price: $103
  • Mechanism: Thumb Stud Manual Folder
  • Blade Length: 3.00 Inches
  • Total Length: 9.05 Inches
  • Blade Composition: CTS-XHP
  • Handle Composition: G10

My Review: Cold Steel makes some seriously tough products despite most of their lineup not being made in the US. As long as not being American born isn’t a problem, Cold Steel is almost always a solid choice no matter the category of knife, and a lot of people don’t know, but the Cold Steel Tri-Ad locking mechanism is one of the strongest overall locks on the market and yes, the Tiger Claw has it!

Alright, so I don’t really like the full serrated blade, sue me, however, I can certainly see why people enjoy these, and I have to say, in terms of whipping it out and slashing down a piece of fishing line, the Tiger Claw really can’t be beaten. Andrew Demko designed this knife alongside Cold Steel and its conceptual idea was to encompass the fighting and lethal heritage of the karambits history but also create a useful tool utilizing the latest and greatest technology.

While I wouldn’t necessarily say the powdered metallurgic stainless CTS-XHP is the best steel you could ever get, it’s certainly not far off. I really like this steel and would love to see it used more by other brands because overall, I’ve gotten excellent mileage out of it in terms of edge retention which is a huge plus because sharpening a fully serrated blade isn’t exactly exciting or easy. It’s not as tough overall as some of the other competitors on this list, like 154CM, but it will probably outlast 154CM in terms of wear resistance, so it kind of depends on whether or not you need something for heavy duress or something for the long haul.

Overall, at something like a hundred bucks, the Cold Steel Tiger Claw feels priced right and although it wouldn’t be my personal favorite karambit to use, I think it’s a good value and if it suits your tastes, you really can’t go wrong here.


6. CRKT Provoke

CRKT Provoke Kinematic EDC Folding Pocket Knife: Morphing Karambit, D2 Blade Steel, Kinematic Pivot Action, Integrated Safety Lock, Low Profile Pocket Clip 4040

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  • Estimated Price: $195
  • Mechanism: Kinematic Folder
  • Blade Length: 2.41 Inches
  • Total Length: 7.25 Inches
  • Blade Composition: D2
  • Handle Composition: 6061 T6 Aluminum

My Review: Is it over-engineered? Yes. Is it overpriced? Yes. Is it freaking cool as hell? Absolutely!

CRKT makes a lot of very usable and utilitarian-based knives but every so often they collab with someone that has an insane idea and they make it a reality. The morphing Kinematic Provoke is an absolutely ridiculous karambit that’s just flat-out craziness, but it is really cool too and if you have two hundred bucks and a sensation for something new, it’s pretty unlikely you’ll find anything else like it.

Related Article: Karambit Knife Uses (Explained by a Marine)

Let’s take a quick step back real quick. Yes, its design is pretty nutty, but actually, the operation of the knife itself feels very intuitive and natural, almost as if this is what folding karambits should have felt like from the get-go. Think about it, the kind of grip you want where you’re utilizing the ring and everything requires a bit of finagling with a folding karambit, but on the Provoke, the design intentionally sets you in the right direction, allowing a firm and well-established Karambit-like grip even before the blade is “unfolded”. Honestly, it’s not just a crazy design, but fully functional and sensical, who would have thought?

Okay, two hundred bucks might make this one a hard sell, especially when considering the blade is D2 steel. Don’t get me wrong, D2 isn’t an inherently horrid steel, but at this price point you can get much higher quality steel and therefore it becomes a tradeoff between steel composition and design/aesthetics. To me, it’s pretty cool to have as part of the collection, but to others, it may not be tacticool enough to fully justify paying the price of the Provoke.

Oh yeah, the zero-profile clip is pretty freaking sweet, by the way. It lays inside the handle and is deployed only when you need it, which I really like as I don’t typically enjoy the feeling of the pocket clip on most folding karambits.


7. CRKT Du Hoc

CRKT Du Hoc Fixed Blade Knife with Sheath: Powder Coated SK5 Steel, Karambit Blade, G10 Handle, Molle Compatible Sheath 2630

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  • Estimated Price: $85
  • Mechanism: Fixed Blade
  • Blade Length: 5.10 Inches
  • Total Length: 9.63 Inches
  • Blade Composition: SK5
  • Handle Composition: G10

My Review: A lot of karambits out there embody this idea of sleek and slender, being weapons of crisp lethality but not the CRKT Du Hoc, oh no, this thing is massively hefty and isn’t afraid to be pronounced and blatant in its intentions. While this may be counter-intuitive to the normal karambit behavior, it actually makes for an interesting tool.

Sure, there’s a little bit of a learning curve when you first get to using the Du Hoc, but the extra thickness and a rather flat spine actually lends itself to being a lot more useful around the campground or at work due to the easier avenue of applying pressure on the top of the blade.

It’s odd, sure, and no, the karambit isn’t the best EDC style if you have intentions for daily utility use, but the Du Hoc does make a creative gesture towards closing the gap between the lethality and utility use cases of the karambit, making it just slightly more justifiable to carry around on a daily basis for the average user.


8. CRKT Keramin

CRKT Keramin Fixed Blade Knife: Compact Utility Neck Knife, Folts Razor Edge Karambit Knife with Bead Blast Blade, Resin Infused Fiber Handle, and Sheath 2389

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  • Estimated Price: $30
  • Mechanism: Fixed Blade
  • Blade Length: 2.31 Inches
  • Total Length: 4.78 Inches
  • Blade Composition: 5Cr15MoV
  • Handle Composition: FRN

My Review: Another example of CRKT totally throwing the traditional book of karambit styling out the window, the Keramin sticks with that talon shape near the tip but actually has a swooping section on the spine, which actually acts as a great place to apply pressure with your thumb, especially with a decent thumb rise complete with jimping.

Related Article: The 9 Knife Grinds Explained (with Videos)

This design makes working in tight spaces especially easier than with a regular karambit and overall, just like their other karambit offering, the Du Hoc, makes the karambit a more digestible choice in daily use. The Keramin comes with a sheath that is set up for neck carry.


9. Boker Magnum Spike

Boker 9001491 Magnum Spike Karambit Plain Edge Knife, 8.25"

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  • Estimated Price: $65
  • Mechanism: Fixed Blade
  • Blade Length: 4.02 Inches
  • Total Length: 8.25 Inches
  • Blade Composition: 440A
  • Handle Composition: G10

My Review: The Boker Magnum Spike is a very traditional styled karambit simply built with high-quality materials and with all the modern goodies we’d like to see on a knife. From the well-textured scales to the jimping on the spine, this karambit embodies everything a karambit was supposed to be while being equipped with the most modern best practices.

It’s hard to review a knife like this, as is the case with many Boker products because they’re just so simply “good”. From choosing a steal that makes sense, 440A, with a well-rounded attribute profile, to being moderately priced so that pretty much anyone can afford one, Boker once again hits the nail right on the head.

If you’re looking for a well-rounded karambit without any frills or attempt at being different, but moreso simple refinement and top quality class, all without breaking the bank, the Boker Magnum Spike really is the karambit for you.


10. Ontario Knife Company Ranger

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  • Estimated Price: $135
  • Mechanism: Fixed Blade
  • Blade Length: 10.30 Inches
  • Total Length: 16.60 Inches
  • Blade Composition: 5160 Carbon Steel
  • Handle Composition: Micarta

My Review: Ontario Knife company is well-known for their grit and brute when it comes to knife making, leaving extra styling options off the table while simply focusing on making quality knives that can survive extreme abuse, and that’s exactly what we see encompassed in the OKC Ranger karambit.

The first thing you’ll notice is that while most karambits opt for a sleek and rounded-off handle-to-blade kind of form factor, the Ontario Knife Company Ranger immediately throws in a harsh jimping-equipped thumb raise for that extra control, power, and maneuverability, which I much prefer over the aforementioned.

Related Article: 13 Types of Knife Locking Mechanisms Explained

The Ranger karambit from OKC, although subtle, actually has a lot less curvature than most karambits I’ve handled in the past. For some, this will be a negative, as the steep and exotic concave nature of the karambit blade shape is a welcomed sight, but for me, I actually really like the claw-like shape while still having some seemingly somewhat flat portion of the blade to work with, which I think adds versatility to the karambit style.

OKC starts its design process of any knife with a versatility and durability-first mindset, and that can easily be seen in the Company Ranger. I do think this karambit is a bit expensive, especially for 5160 Carbon Steel, but it’s also one of my favorites in terms of raw styling and versatility, so while it may not fit into everyone’s budget, it’s still a great viable option to choose if you have the extra money to spend.


11. Ontario knife Company Curve

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  • Estimated Price: $45
  • Mechanism: Fixed Blade
  • Blade Length: 3.90 Inches
  • Total Length: 7.80 Inches
  • Blade Composition: 1075 High Carbon
  • Handle Composition: Composite Hardwood

My Review: The curve is kind of ironic, considering it’s from OKC, a company known for the rugged and tactical styling choices they’ve implemented with pretty much every knife in their catalog. The Curve is absolutely none of those things and is actually a fantastic karambit option for someone who prefers a very vanilla styling of the karambit absent of the tactical or rugged appeal.

The Curve is just that, a curved karambit style blade with basic wood scales and a ring at the end. That’s it, minus the decent little thumb ramp on the spine. The Curve is very sleek and simple, something most people don’t expect when it comes to shopping around for karambits, but I do think it has a place here, especially if you’re not someone outdoor-oriented or looking to train with a karambit in a tactical sense, but more so just simply enjoy using a karambit shaped blade.


12. SOG Gambit

SOG Survival Karambit Knife - Gambit Curved Security Belt Knife, Full Tang Fixed 2.6 Inch Blade w/Hard Nylon Sheath and Adjustable Clip (GB1001-CP)

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  • Estimated Price: $30
  • Mechanism: Fixed Blade
  • Blade Length: 2.58 Inches
  • Total Length: 7.28 Inches
  • Blade Composition: 7Cr17MOV
  • Handle Composition: GRN

My Review: SOG dubs this knife, the “Survival Karambit” and that’s a bit off to a knife lover like myself, considering a karambit would be nowhere near my list of top survival knives, as it’s just simply not a versatile and useful blade shape like the drop point or clip point. I suppose if their idea of “survival karambit” was to be used as deterrence in a self-defense situation, perhaps that’s where the name could make sense.

Naming schemes aside, SOG has never really done me wrong in the past and they certainly haven’t gone awry here. Keeping in mind that this karambit is only about thirty bucks or so, sometimes had for even cheaper, the 7Cr17MOV steel can be excused and can even be called a decent steel at this price point.

Sure, it’s by no means one of the better steel options on this list, but again, this karambit is rather inexpensive while still being very much so trustworthy and usable for the average person. Survival quality? No, but is it something that’s low-cost you could keep in the car or carry in a purse for the possibility of a self-defense situation? Sure.


13. TOPS Tac Karambit

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  • Estimated Price: $145
  • Mechanism: Fixed Blade
  • Blade Length: 7.13 Inches
  • Total Length: 11.25 Inches
  • Blade Composition: 1095 Carbon Steel
  • Handle Composition: Micarta

My Review: Tops knives, much like OKC, almost universally opts for the rugged and tactical styling options when it comes to knives and it’s honestly no surprise that this monstrosity of a karambit is here on the list from Tops. It’s hard to figure out a starting point, but I’ll do my best.

First and foremost, this is not a light or easy-to-carry knife, period. If concealability and ease of carry are your concerns, scroll on down. If modest styling and inconspicuous lethality are of importance, also keep scrolling. There is nothing about the TAC-TOPS karambit that doesn’t scream “this knife is crazy and is being wielded by someone who may also be crazy”. That’s not to hate, that’s just the truth!

The design is hard to pinpoint and of course, the actual shape of the cutting edge is in fact a karambit blade shape, but that spine is something else. Can we even call the section past the handle a thumb ramp? I suppose we could, and I’m a bit surprised it lacks jimping, but as for the rest of the spine, I’m not really sure what the purpose was here other than styling and perhaps giving you a place to apply downward pressure on. I imagine the section about an inch off the handle is incredibly good at slicing, but the thickness later on down the blade may cause some unwanted friction, so I’m just not entirely sure what the exact purpose was, other than looking cool, which of course is still important nonetheless!

Over a hundred bucks for 1095 Carbon steel is pretty lackluster. This knife really is only for you if you’ve got the budget and you really love the styling, which in all honesty, I can respect it, but I don’t love it myself.


14. Bark River Ghost II

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  • Estimated Price: $230
  • Mechanism: Fixed Blade
  • Blade Length: 3.50 Inch
  • Total Length: 6.60 Inches
  • Blade Composition: A2
  • Handle Composition: Micarta

My Review: Your wallet will hate you for this one, but this is one of the most well-refined karambits on the list. A2 isn’t exactly a steel that is popular in my collection and it’s often relegated to the sub-mid-tiers of knife steels, but in this case, it’s beautifully refined and extremely robust.

The Ghost II from Bark River is a very steep angled karambit with an excellent design that just feels great in the hand. That steepness does lend itself to being a karambit that wouldn’t necessarily be great for a beginner, but the overall feeling of the knife does make it easy to get a great grip and overall great control. The thumb ramp is a bit steep and the section after it are tough to use, I’m not sure if they were really intended to be used anyways, but the sparsely spaced jimping on the handle is actually quite nice, better in the hand than what I thought from the photo.

Overall, if you’ve got a rather steep budget to spend on a premium level karambit, the Bark River Ghost II is one of the best.


15. Hogue EX-F03

Hogue 35328 Knives EX-F03 Fixed 2.25" Hawkbill Blade, G-Mascus Purple

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  • Estimated Price: $135
  • Mechanism: Fixed Blade
  • Blade Length: 2.25 Inches
  • Total Length: 6.50 Inches
  • Blade Composition: 154CM
  • Handle Composition: G-Mascus G10

My Review: You might wonder whether or not the Hogue EX-F03 truly fits in on this list as it’s technically a hawkbill, but in reality, karambits are a type of hawkbill, and this particular hawkbill very much resembles what I think a lot of people daily using a karambit would want in an EDC karambit companion, so let’s talk about it.

It probably doesn’t need to be said, but first and foremost, Hogue is one of my favorite EDC brands. They make knives that, albeit aren’t on the lower end of the spectrum of cost, are insanely durable and reliable. I have owned countless Hogue knives and every single of them, some of which I’ve abused heavily, is still operational and trustworthy to this day, despite taking a beating. The EX-F03 with a 154CM steel is arguably one of the toughest and most reliable blades on this page and at a price point that I think is certainly not cheap but also justifiable.

Of course, the blade shape here doesn’t have that drastic and pronounced C-shape that our beloved karambits have, but it still does curve inwards and it still feels very much so like a karambit, especially in a reverse grip, and of course, has the recognizable ring.

This is the karambit for those of you who love the design and the curvature but really dislike the harsh negatives of daily using a karambit and all of their inadequacies for normal daily tasks. The Hogue EX-F03 truly is a fantastic EDC knife because it just has so much more utility and versatility with an overall flatter and less extreme curved blade.


16. Schrade Shasta McNasty

Schrade SCH112 8.4in High Carbon S.S. Full Tang Fixed Blade Knife with 5.2in Hawkbill Dual Edge Blade and TPE Handle for Outdoor Survival, Tactical and EDC

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  • Estimated Price: $30
  • Mechanism: Fixed Blade
  • Blade Length: 5.20 Inches
  • Total Length: 8.40 Inches
  • Blade Composition: 8Cr13MoV
  • Handle Composition: Thermoplastic Elastomer

My Review: Ah yes, Schrade, one of many great  American companies sold off to an overseas buyer that no longer truly encompasses their original ideas and values. Is the Shasta McNasty a knife you should still consider and is it still a quality Schrade product?

At something in the realm of thirty bucks or so, it’s not a horrible choice. Sure, 8Cr13MoV is definitely not an amazing performing steel by really any metric, but it’s not priced to embody a premium level steel, so at this price point, it’s fair. If you can’t spend more than this, then this is probably okay, so long as you enjoy this kind of karambit style.

The shape and curvature of this blade is something a little odd and difficult to explain. In the hand, it just doesn’t feel like a compact and controllable karambit, but more so something wild and difficult to tame, and not in a particularly advantageous way. Some people may like the exaggerated swoop near the handle, but it’s just really not for me, as I much prefer a more well-balanced curvature in my karambits.


What are Karambits Used and Designed For?

Karambits were initially designed to be smaller versions of the sickle for use in agriculture. Of course, it didn’t take long for this tool to become used as a weapon and as that process took motion, the actual karambit we have today started to take form.

Karambits are excellent in hand-to-hand combat due to their incredible grip and unique versatility. In the real world, where in actual combat you may face an opponent well trained, a traditional knife blade will likely be something the adversary has at least received some training in dealing with, but the karambit? The karambit at close range in physical combat is extremely difficult to defend against due to its unique and versatile form, even for the most well-trained combat operators in the world.

What makes the karambit so deadly and so difficult to deal with is that most karambits used in combat are sharp on both sides of the blade and with the blade having that unique tiger claw shape, both sides of the blade have entirely different use cases and deployments.

Karambits are usually held in what’s called a reverse grip with the implementation of a finger-ring that makes the knife really easy to hang on to and in some cases, you can even open your hand and use something else without having to drop or sheath the knife. This of course makes becoming disarmed much more difficult as well, as even if your grip is temporarily disrupted, it is unlikely that you will completely lose possession of the knife. You can check out the various grips for holding a karambit from this blog post here.

Karambits are some of the best knives to use in hand-to-hand combat because you can still maintain great control over your hands, make a fist, and use nonlethal strikes. In many cases, you’ll see fighters trading punches and using the karambit as the final finisher. That finger ring is also pretty dang painful when struck with it, think of it just like using brass knuckles.

Folding Karambits Versus Fixed Karambits

There is a lot of debate and even some shade thrown across the field between fixed or folding and not just in the category of karambits but in pretty much all knives where both of these options exist. At the end of the day, what works best for you and your specific use cases, as well as region and governance, is what I recommend.

Anyone telling you that you should buy one or the other without understanding what you need is just being silly, so let’s talk about the pros and cons of both and hopefully, from there you’ll be able to decipher which configuration is best for you. As a last note here, we will cover both styles in the buying guide, so whichever you choose, there will be options discussed that may fit your needs.

Fixed Karambits

Pros

  • Superior rigidity, durability, and overall strength. A full tang fixed blade karambit is going to be the strongest option with the least points of failure.
  • Can be found to be lighter given they don’t need scales, locking mechanism, etc.
  • Often cheaper when the length and steel are the same since they require a lot less machining and assembly as well as fewer materials. A lot of fixed blade karambits are just going to be steel wrapped in paracord or with a relatively low-cost rubber or GFN type handle while a folder is going to have scales, pocket clip, opening, and locking mechanisms, etc.
  • Have no moving parts and so they are easier to clean and maintain.

Cons

  • A fixed blade karambit is going to be significantly harder to conceal and carry and a lot less comfortable overall for most people to use as an EDC.
  • In some cases, laws may apply that limit your ability to own or carry a fixed blade karambit whereas otherwise those laws wouldn’t apply to a folder of the same length.
  • Many people just find fixed blade karambits to be awkward and annoying to carry, especially because the odd weight distribution of the knife can cause a lot of movement while sheathed on a belt.

Folding Karambits

Pros

  • All of the advantages of a pocket knife but with a blade in the karambit shape
  • Easy to carry, conceal, and store. Most folding karambits are around 3.5-5” in total length when closed, which is going to be a little less than half the total length of a fixed blade.
  • High-quality karambits are simply a lot of fun to deploy from a folded position and can be really smooth.
  • A folding karambit is probably going to be the safer choice for those of you who are new to owning a karambit.
  • The obvious choice for everyday carry (EDC) self-defense carry.

Cons

  • It Will not have nearly the overall strength and durability as a well-built fixed blade. I will say, though, that good quality folding knives from reputable brands are being designed now with locking mechanisms that are insanely strong, far more durable than what just the average Joe would actually push the limits of.
  • Are more difficult to clean and maintain.
  • Can often be more expensive due to more engineering, design, assembly, and moving parts.
  • Cheap folders are significantly worse than cheap fixed blades. Cheap fixed blades are really just cheap steel while cheap folders are not only cheap steel but cheap locking mechanisms, which can be dangerous, and also cheap opening operations which can be sluggish, inconsistent, and slow. I have many cheap folders that will not fold anymore due to cheap lockers getting bent out of place and now they’re essentially just really weak fixed blades.

Are Karambits Used in the Military and Special Forces?

The answer is yes, but it’s kind of a weird yes that we should dive further into. For the most part, modern basic military training isn’t focused at all on actual knife fighting. It’s pretty rare, especially for a Marine today, to not have access to a more deadly and efficient weapon (firearms). It’s also pretty rare for a Marine to come into battle against an enemy that also does not have more deadly and efficient weapons, so at the end of the day, there is still training on knives in general, but it’s more to create familiarity and to be used as a last resort.

So, would you find US Marines regularly running around deploying and utilizing karambits as professional karambit users on the regular? No, absolutely not, but as a Marine, you can choose to receive additional training (usually privately, not via the military), and you can choose to deploy with a karambit so long as it’s okay with your unit. There are, of course, special forces units in the world where they do train very extensively in the use of the karambit such as the Emerson Combat Karambit being popular with the Canadien Joint Task Force 2, and of course, some specialized units in Asia are still using and training with the karambit, but this too is also fading and are rare cases.

For the most part, soldiers and militants are going to shoot people where deadly force is necessary. It’s just a fact of life and something that has come with the modernization of weaponry. Knives at this point, in actual military theatre, just aren’t effective and are really just outdated. Not just the karambit but really most knives nowadays are used and carried for their utility purposes as a tool and not regularly used or expected to be deployed in real combat scenarios.

You’re going to find a lot more martial arts guys using karambits because it’s something they are simply passionate about. On the flip side, you’ll find karambits popular by EDC carriers simply for their unique and high performance in last resort based self defense. The modern karambit can be bought as a small, lightweight folder, easily fits into any jeans pocket or purse, or backpack, and can be both deployed and utilized very quickly in a situation where you weren’t expecting a frontal assault from an actual organized militant force but are more so preparing for the unfortunate late night mugging or what have you.

What is a Karambit Classified as?

A karambit is a cheeky little knife that’s hard to put your finger on as to what family it actually belongs to. Many will say that karambits are just karambits, they aren’t classified as anything and are just what they are. Well, legally speaking, that doesn’t exactly hold over too well as there has been a lot of regulation and legislation covering karambits both directly and indirectly.

We won’t talk about the laws themselves or whether or not a karambit is legal to own where you live, that’s on you to do your due diligence on but I will warn you, in some cases, some laws, like laws against dirks and daggers, or concealable knives, or blade length limits, may apply to karambits even though a karambit isn’t really referred to as being a dagger, so this is something to strongly consider and research before buying, owning, and carrying any karambit. There may be certain variations of the karambit that are legal where you live while others are not and there may even be laws outright banning karambits entirely, no matter the design or attributes.

In reality, a karambit is a unique and multi-purpose knife that can be found in both fixed or folding variants at various lengths and designs. There are now karambits with odd blade shapes like a kind of Sheepsfoot or S-curve that, in reality, do behave and are used quite differently from a traditional tiger claw karambit shape, so are they really karambits? Some people say yes, some people say no, it’s just kind of one of those things where semantics and who you’re dealing with is going to play a part in what a particular karambit is classified as.

Karambits can be called many different things such as a talon blade, tiger-claw, hawkbill, concave blade, and are even often classified together with a scythe or sickle.

Karambit Trainers and Training

As with all weapons, I do recommend getting training for karambits if you’re actually going to own and expect to deploy them, especially if they are to be used for self-defense. Karambits are deadly, but not just to your opponent, but to yourself as well when in the hands of someone untrained and unfamiliar with the unique and technique-heavy karambit.

If you’re a first-timer thinking karambits look pretty cool and would be a fun addition to your EDC loadout or your knife collection, I think it’s a safe bet to grab you a trainer first. Just like a Balisong (butterfly knife), these knives have some pretty harsh consequences to improper or negligent use and so if you’ve not been familiar with a karambit yet, I think a trainer is the way to go, plus they are cheap and easy to get.

Some recommendations I could make regarding karambit trainers would be the Cold Steel Rubber karambit trainer or for a heavier more real feeling, the Kali Gear karambit trainer.

In terms of getting real training, you’ll need to seek out professionals in your area and since my readers are global, I can’t exactly help all of you out with that but I can send you to a cool karambit training for beginners video and I can urge you with every fiber in my existence to receive the proper training from real professionals no matter what weapon you purchase or plan to utilize, especially for a tool like the karambit that is so unforgiving when used improperly.

Wrap Up

After reading through this massive guide on karambits you should have a pretty good idea of what would fit your needs, if a karambit is right for you, and what karambits available on the market today tickle your fancy. Of course, new knives are added to the market all the time and so if we have missed anything, please let us know in the comments and we’ll do our best to add it to the list.

If you found that karambits aren’t for you but you’re still looking to grab a new knife, you can check out the Marine Approved guide on EDC knives or perhaps our guide on self defense knives.

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