32 Best Survival Knives in 2020

Introduction: You’re a pilot of one of the new screaming P-51 Mustangs in the midst of the Second World War when suddenly you hear shrapnel ripping through the wings of your aircraft. The motor starts to smoke and you realize something has struck a vital piece of the drivetrain in your new shiny aircraft and as you glance at the elevation gauges you begin to see nothing out of the cockpit other than the deep and dense green color of the Hurtgen forest.

You have one option: detach the canopy and abandon your disabled aircraft over unknown enemy territory and as you land, you’ll have nothing other than your trusty survival knife to fight and survive with as you make your way back to friendly faces. That knife becomes your one and only friend and against all odds, that knife will be the difference between whether you live or die.

Your feet touch the ground and seconds later you are entangled in the cord of your parachute, only to pull your survival knife from its sheath and begin cutting away your chute. Your journey home has only just begun, Godspeed soldier.

Group of the Best Survival Knives

Alright, your story may or may not be as dramatic as that but nonetheless, the importance of being equipped with a proper survival knife can most certainly be the difference between life and death even if you’re not a part of a world war. Survival knives got their start after being designed for pilots but nowadays survival knives have a very wide range of use cases that just about anyone could benefit from.

In this guide, we’ll define what a survival knife is and then we’ll talk about the individual characteristics of survival knives such as the type of steel a blade is crafted of, the shape of the blade and how that changes its behavior and the weight tradeoffs among other attributes. After we learn about the basic attributes we will then review the best survival knives that capitalism has to offer. For organizational purposes, I’m going to list the knives in alphabetical order and label my favorites in each price range.

Finding the Right Survival Knife (Buying Guide)

What is a Survival Knife and How Did They Originate?

Survival knives were really made popular and developed for the sole purpose of survival during WWII and got their origin stories started by being deployed alongside pilots. At some points in the war, pilots had life expectancies of less than 14 days from the end of their training and many were shot down on their very first combat experiences. These knives were to be used to quickly cut away the cords on the parachute and then as a weapon and means of survival as they stealthily moved back to safety from deep behind enemy lines.

Nowadays, survival knives can be bought by anyone and are highly suggested even if you aren’t an avid outdoorsman. A survival knife can be one of the most important tools you ever bring into your possession. Now, a survival knife is very loosely defined and for good reason – your survival situation is going to be unique and will have a multitude of challenges and characteristics that you will need to try and best be prepared for. Whether you’re lost in a jungle, washed up on an unknown tropical beach, or find yourself fighting zombies, the knife you choose will need to be chosen carefully based on several characteristics that we will define below.

In a nutshell, Marine Approved will define a survival knife as the following: A knife whose minimum length is of 3.5” and possesses a versatile shape (drop-point or clip-point), decently hard steel (HRC of 46 or higher), medium to high corrosion resistance, easy enough for someone who has never owned a knife to sharpen, and maintains an edge well enough to be used on a campground for several weeks. Oh, and you should be able to fight off or at least have the confidence to fight off a bear. Yeah, a bear, good luck with that. If your plan includes the bear, maybe you should bring a survival firearm as well.

Blade Shapes Explained

Knife Blade Shape Chart

Before we get started on a brief discussion about how the shape and type of steel has an impact on the performance and characteristics of your survival knife, I’d like to point out that we have put together in-depth guides for these topics already that you can find far more information than what I’ll include here if you so desire! These attributes are extremely important and should be well understood before trusting your life to any blade!

You can check out the full Marine Approved Blade Shape Guide here and the Marine Approved Knife Steel Guide here.

The shape of your blade will determine its behavior when being used and will ultimately decide it’s strengths and weaknesses across use cases. I won’t explain each and every shape here as that would take forever and we’ve linked our blade shapes guide above but I will talk about the two most popular shapes you’d likely have to choose from when deciding on a survival knife.

Drop-Point: The drop point is recognizable with its lightly sloping spine that seems to drop into the point as the belly juts out from the handle, sloping up into the point and giving the cutting edge a nice and lengthy belly.

This style of blade is by far the most popular across most knife categories and this stands true for the survival knife niche as well. The drop-point is simply the most versatile and easiest blade shape to use across a wide variety of situations and is the blade shape of the majority of the knives on this list to come.

Clip-Point: The clip-point is actually very similar to the drop-point with one key difference, and that’s it’s “clip”. You can identify this by looking at the spine near the tip and finding a piece of the spine seemingly cut out like it was snipped off with toe-nail clippers.

The clip-point joins the drop-point in the super versatile family but allows the user a little more maneuverability in tradeoff with integrity at the point. With a portion of the spine clipped out near the tip of the blade, you can move the tip through closer and tighter areas. Scimitars are a type of clip-point and this style certainly resembles a lot of the knives we’ve selected on our survival knives list.

Steel Compositions Explained

Steel composition is arguably the most important attribute and is something I see commonly overlooked by those new to buying blades. It’s totally understandable why this attribute is overlooked, steel types aren’t exactly easy to understand and can be very confusing very quickly.

The key takeaways I really want you to understand when choosing a blade is that any choice between different types of steel will consist of tradeoffs. The game of choosing the right steel is and probably will be for a very long time a tradeoff between hardness, edge retention, ease of sharpening, resistance to corrosion, and cost.

Hardness: The hardness of a blade is measured along the Rockwell Hardness Scale, which you can learn more about at this link here. In a nutshell, the higher the HRC level the steel has, the harder the steel is. Harder steel has benefits such as being able to retain its edge for longer durations and through heavier workloads. As you get into steels that are harder, those steels will get much more expensive as well as becoming more difficult to sharpen. A harder blade may retain an edge better but once that edge is widdled down, it may be very difficult and time consuming to repair the edge. Since hardness is achieved by adding certain elements to the mix, those elements often lower the resistance or take place of elements that would be resistant to corrosion, lowering the effective resistance to corrosion of the blade.

Edge Retention: This attribute depends heavily on both hardness and corrosion resistance. Basically, when we talk about edge retention, we are referring to how long a blade stays sharp under normal use. If a blade starts to corrode around the edges, that will make the blade significantly less sharp and on the flip side, if the steel is too soft, it will lose its edge quickly when you use it. Edge retention is extremely important for a survival knife as you may need that knife to operate on a daily basis for an unidentified amount of time and as such, you’ll need your knife to be reliable and ready to use no matter the situation.

Ease of Sharpening: Ease of sharpening is pretty self-explanatory and when we mention this, we’re talking about how easy it is to recover a dull edge and return it to its sharpened glory days. Usually, softer steel used in a blade makes that blade significantly easier to sharpen but the tradeoff is how long that edge will be retained. On the flip side, a harder type of steel will be more difficult to sharpen but may retain its edge for much longer and through harder use cases.

Corrosion Resistance: Corrosion resistance is how resistant a blade is to rusting, pitting, and overall breaking down due to weathering and exposure to corrosive liquids. A blade that is highly resistant to corrosion may have a high content of something like chromium or manganese, however, the tradeoff of adding those materials is that they are far softer than the material they would be replacing, meaning the blade will lose hardness the more corrosion resistance it has. Simply put, a survival knife will need to have a decent level of corrosion resistance as you may find yourself out in the rain, lost at sea, or whatever the case may be, your knife will likely end up wet eventually and a corroded blade will be of little use to you. On the same token, a survival knife can’t be overly resistant to corrosion as it will have a low level of hardness and thus won’t retain its edge long and won’t be very durable, sharp and strong.

Cost: Of course, not all blades are created equally and even though there are tradeoffs among the most popular steel types used to make survival knives, you can find some happy mediums where each of the attributes perform decently well in their respective categories. These knives that seem to be juggernauts and will slice through anything with a super hard blade, hold their edges for a long time, and are somewhat resistant to corrosion will come at a very high cost. Like anything else in this world, you get what you pay for and I highly recommend the “buy once, cry once” mentality when it comes to survival knives because, well, your life might actually depend on you opting to purchase a higher-quality knife than trying to skimp on a few bucks.

Weight and Portability Considerations

We won’t go too in-depth here as your situation is likely unique and would warrant a weight configuration personalized to you. Just a few points to keep in mind here are this if you’re buying a survival knife you need to consider how you’ll use it but also how you’ll transport it to where you’ll need to survive in the first place. Are you driving through the desert and have the comfort of leaving a large and heavy blade in your vehicle or are you trekking through the mountains where each and every gram adds up considerably and will wear you down before you even need your knife?

I would imagine most people need something right in the middle in terms of a survival knife and thus, I’d try and choose a knife whose total weight lies somewhere between 8oz and 20oz.

Yeah, that’s a wide range and even some of the knives we’ve chosen to review don’t fall in that category, but as I said before, you’ll need to consider your specific use case and scenario and plan accordingly. A heavier knife is going to be better for fighting off bears, chopping down trees, and hunting small game, but a lighter knife is going to weigh you down less, take up less pack space and requires less energy to handle and carry, so I’ll let you decide what weight you need!

A final note here is that the sheath you use with your knife is going to be almost as important as your knife itself. If you can’t carry your knife comfortably and efficiently, it isn’t going to help you when you decide to leave it at home due to a lack of comfort or carry options. If your sheath fails you while you’re out in the abyss knee-deep in whatever mess you’ve gotten yourself into, well, you’re kind of screwed and it looks like one of your hands will have just one job for the duration of your struggle – carrying that knife.

Fixed Blade Tangs Explained

Our list here will consist entirely of fixed blade survival knives. If that’s not what you were looking for, no worries, we have guides on backpacking knives, camping knives, knives for self-defense purposes, and a whole lot more!

Now, could you carry and use a folding knife in a survival situation if you had to? Absolutely! Should you not buy one of those in case you ever need it? No!

With that said, however, if you’re going to go out and spend your hard-earned money on a solid survival knife, we would like to think you’re aiming for the best performance in the survival category and as such, fixed blade knives are going to beat folders hands down each and every time.

The simple fact is, a fixed blade has less moving parts and as such, fewer points of failure. During a survival crisis, lowering your chance of potential failure is of the utmost importance and survival knives are not only going to be stronger and more durable but they will endure far more stress and abuse than a folding knife would.

In terms of tangs, you want to look for a knife that has a full tang design. This simply means that the entire blade is constructed of a single piece of steel all the way through the handle. A knife that consists of two pieces, perhaps the blade portion is then screwed or welded into the handle portion, will have more points of failure and thus breaks our “lowest amount of failure points” rule for a survival knife. Now, there may be some exceptions, but for the most part, the knives we review will be full tang fixed blade knives.

Here Are the Best Survival Knives You Can Trust With Your Life

Alright, we have learned about the most important characteristics of survival knives and what to look for in terms of a knife that would perform well in a survival situation, knowledge is key here! All that’s left to do is for you to grab a new knife and begin to become well familiar with it as the time to buy a survival knife and practice using it is long before you actually need it!

If you’d like a visual of some survival knife basics, you can check out this video here:

In this list I will be reviewing the best survival knives money can buy today. Of course, there are many great knives I won’t be able to add to the list simply because there are just so many, however, I will go through some of the most reputable brands that are Marine Approved and we’ll talk about each one individually to try and guide you into getting the knife that suits your lifestyle.

This list will include knives at all price points in order to help find everyone a survival knife no matter their budget! With that said, however, please understand that survival knives follow the same mantra as most other products in the world and that you will get what you pay for, so I do suggest the “buy once, cry once” mentality here as a high-quality knife will last you a very long time compared to cheaper knives.

As always, if I’ve left off a knife you’ve found to perform exceptionally well, tell us in the comments and if you’ve taken one of my recommendations and fell in love with your new steel, please let me know down below!

32. Aitor Jungle King (Most Complete Survival Kit)

Aitor Jungle King

Shop or Read Reviews

Estimated Price: $230

My Review: Aitor is a Spanish knife manufacturer with contractual relationships that provide survival and combat knives to the United Nations, UNESCO, and military personnel around the world. To be frank, they make some of the absolute best survival knives in Europe and have held this reputation for several decades. Many have tried and failed to imitate the quality, ruggedness, and versatility the Aitor Jungle King knives have offered.

So, what’s in the end cap? Yeah, that was one of my first questions too! Twisting off that steel end cap reveals a sewing kit, fishing kit, scalpel, nippers, pencil, compass, magnesium pill, SOS tools, signal mirror, and a ruler.

But wait, there’s more! The sheath comes with a 2.5-inch gut hook skinning blade, a sharpening stone and a pair of latex power bands that can be used to create a slingshot with. The end of that skinning blade also acts as a bottle opener and flathead screwdriver. You truly have an entire little mini-survival kit stashed away inside the Aitor Jungle King.

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

Aside from all the included goodies, the knife itself is of exceptional quality. The CroMoVa18 steel has impeccable corrosion resistance. Leave this knife outside in the wind and rain for years, give it a little wipe down, and it’ll shine like it’s brand new. It isn’t the hardest steel, meaning it won’t be the toughest on this list, but don’t let that fool you, it’s awfully strong and durable and will certainly handle above-average levels of abuse.

Key Specifications:

  • Blade Style: Clip-Point
  • Blade Composition: Steel CroMoVa18 (58 HRC)
  • Handle Composition: Knurled Stainless Steel
  • Blade Length: 8.00 Inches
  • Total Length: 14.00 Inches
  • Total Weight: 20.50 Ounces
  • Sheath Material: OD Green Polyamide with Nylon Paracord

31. Benchmade Bushcrafter 162 (Minimalist and Indestructible)

Benchmade Bushcrafter 162

Shop or Read Reviews

Estimated Price: $210

My Review: Shane Sibert designed both the Benchmade Bushcrafter and the Benchmade Adamas and boy oh boy was he right on the money. I suppose someone who is well-known as a top-tier blade craftsman and an avid outdoorsman would know exactly what we need when it comes to a survival knife and I really think the Bushcrafter 162 embodies just that.

The 4.40-inch drop-point you get here consists of CPM-S30V steel which, in my opinion, is one of the absolute best steels you can currently buy and fits perfectly with the survival performance we’re looking for. This steel embodies exceptional edge-retention so that you can abuse it over and over again and still be able to rely on your Bushcrafter maintaining a razor-sharp cutting edge. With a hardness rating of 60 HRC, you get the perfect balance of strength without the blade ever being close to being too hard, causing brittleness.

Now, typically blades made out of steel that are relatively hard and have exceptional edge retention have to give up a bit of corrosion resistance but that’s the beauty of CPM-S30V. You get all the best attributes from a super hard steel with top-tier resistance to corrosion.

CPM-S30V really has earned its rightful place in the “super steels” category and despite the Bushcrafter being over two hundred bucks, I’d say the reliability and longevity of this knife are well worth it. If you choose something cheaper, you’ll have to buy that option several times before you’d ever have to replace the Benchmade Bushcrafter.

When you come out of your survival situation and your gear is in tatters, you can simply send your Benchmade Bushcrafter back in for the LifeSharp program where they will completely restore your knife back to its factory specifications. More information on the Benchmade LifeSharp program here.

Key Specifications:

  • Blade Style: Drop-Point
  • Blade Composition: CPM-S30V
  • Handle Composition: G10
  • Blade Length: 4.40 Inches
  • Total Length: 9.15 Inches
  • Total Weight: 7.72 Ounces
  • Sheath Material: Leather

30. Benchmade Puukko 200

Benchmade Puukko 200

Shop or Read Reviews

Estimated Price: $130

My Review: Benchmade makes a knife for just about every situation and we here at Marine Approved love Benchmades products so much that we actually make an entire list of our favorite Benchmade knives that you can find here!

The Benchmade Puukko is a purpose-built Scandinavian inspired badass whose design does not reflect ominous destruction but more so humble versatility. Consisting of CPM-3V, arguably one of the highest quality premium steels of any knife on this list, the knife is exceptionally well-rounded. It has far above average resistance to corrosion while being very hard and razor-sharp.

These are some of the most durable blades that can withstand heavy usage without chipping that super sharp edge which makes this one extremely durable and reliable knife to have on hand during a survival situation. The handle is rubberized Santoprene which I was a bit wary of at first but under no circumstances, even when using it submerged in water, is the grip anything less than superb and solid.

When you come out of your survival situation and your gear is in tatters, you can simply send your Benchmade Puukko back in for the LifeSharp program where they will completely restore your knife back to its factory specifications. More information on the Benchmade LifeSharp program here.

Key Specifications:

  • Blade Style: Drop-Point
  • Blade Composition: CPM-3V
  • Handle Composition: Rubberized Santoprene
  • Blade Length: 3.75 Inches
  • Total Length: 8.25 Inches
  • Total Weight: 4.51 Ounces
  • Sheath Material: Leather

29. Benchmade Adamas 375

Benchmade Adamas 375

Shop or Read Reviews

Estimated Price: $175

My Review: Benchmade usually sticks to a full utilitarian and/or simplistic modern design scheme so when I took my first look at the Adamas, I was quite surprised to see such an ominous looking purpose-built monstrosity offered by them. Needless to say, it was love at first sight.

The Adamas is a 9-inch full-tang beast that is raw in nature but still utilitarian at heart. You’ll probably notice first the saw-tooth spine and unlike many knives that come with this feature, these are actually very handy in cutting a wide variety of materials.

On the other side of that razor-sharp spine is a 4.20-inch drop-point D2 blade. D2 is a steel that is mixed with a lot of chromium making it very wear-resistant and resistant to corrosion. When properly heat-treated, and no one does it better than Benchmade, D2 can reach an astounding 62 HRC which is right up there with some top-tier premium steels that don’t have nearly the resistance to corrosion that D2 has. Is D2 the best overall steel for a survival knife? It’s hard to say but I would definitely rank it in the top 10.

Popular Article: 17 Best Long Range Rifles (Ranked by a Marine Sniper)

The sheath that comes with this bad boy is a molded ABS MOLLE compatible sheath that is easily carried on the belt during a long trek, slapped onto a MOLLE compatible backpack, or stuck to your MOLLE compatible chest rig to ride into combat with.

By the way, when you purchase a Benchmade Adamas, Benchmade makes a donation on your behalf to the Three Rangers and Navy Seal Foundations where the proceeds are used to treat our freedom fighters who have come home with injuries or PTSD and to help support the families of our fallen heroes.

When you come out of your survival situation and your gear is in tatters, you can simply send your Benchmade Adamas back in for the LifeSharp program where they will completely restore your knife back to its factory specifications. More information on the Benchmade LifeSharp program here.

Key Specifications:

  • Blade Style: Drop-Point
  • Blade Composition: D2 
  • Handle Composition: Skeletonized Paracord Wrap
  • Blade Length: 4.20 Inches
  • Total Length: 9.03 Inches
  • Total Weight: 5.60 Ounces
  • Sheath Material: Molded ABS – MOLLE Compatible

28. Benchmade Arvensis 119

Benchmade Arvensis 119

Shop or Read Reviews

Estimated Price: $200

My Review: The Arvensis was built to be used in combat as a last resort weapon and as such, the design and materials are built to withstand incredible levels of periodic stress and, just as you’d imagine, are designed to be impeccably reliable for when you need it most.

Of course, many of the same attributes that make a combat knife are present in a survival knife too. The rather large 6.44-inch clip-point blade consists of 154CM stainless steel which hosts an incredible level of tensile strength while being decently well-rounded in other categories such as edge retention and corrosion resistance. This steel is created in the USA and is mixed with a substance called Molybdenum. This substance allows the steel to consist of a very high level of carbon so that the finished product is extremely hard while still maintaining a bit of resistance to weathering, a suite of characteristics that is otherwise very difficult to balance without the addition of Molybdenum.

The Boltaron sheath this knife and some other knives on this list come with are incredibly durable and will likely replace Kydex holsters among high-tier knives. Boltaron sheaths typically hold their form far better than a Kydex holster, meaning you could leave your sheath on the dash of a humvee in a Middle-Eastern summer for an entire day and it’ll deform less or not at all compared to a Kydex. On the flip side, Boltaron also doesn’t become as brittle as a Kydex holster would in sub-freezing temperatures.

When you come out of your survival situation and your gear is in tatters, you can simply send your Benchmade Arvensis back in for the LifeSharp program where they will completely restore your knife back to its factory specifications. More information on the Benchmade LifeSharp program here.

Key Specifications:

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

27. Boker Savannah (Best Fit and Finish)

Boker Savannah

Shop or Read Reviews

Estimated Price: $345

My Review: Our pointy objective pals in Germany fully understand what we want from a survival knife and the Boker Savannah is proof of this. Boker has always left a very positive impression on us with their pocket knives so I had high hopes for the Savannah fixed blade and those hopes were not disappointed.

The Savannah comes with a hefty price tag but with that price tag comes hefty steel. N690 is an Austrian super steel that is blended with cobalt, chromium, molybdenum, and vanadium to create an attribute profile that menaces CPM steels.

Popular Article: 17 Best Tactical Pants (Ranked by a Marine)

What you get here is a blade that can take an ultra-sharp edge, sharper than just about anything else on this list and although this usually means that edge won’t be held for long, that’s not the case with Bohler N690. N690 has proven to be one of the most wear-resistant steels on the market and once you get it sharp, it stays sharp through thick and thin. VG-10 has often been heralded as one of the top corrosion-resistant steels and I’d say it is about the same with N690, except that N690 does not have the hardness or durability tradeoffs VG-10 had to make to become so resistant to corrosion.

All in all, you’re getting a knife that is arguably one of the toughest and longest-lasting knives on this list. Yes, that price tag is pretty expensive but at the end of the day, if you get a nice blade consisting of N690 cobalt steel, you’re getting a knife that will last considerably longer than other knives and when considering how many times you’d need to replace other knives in the lifetime this blade is capable of sustaining, it’s actually not that far fetched of an investment.

Key Specifications:

  • Blade Style: Drop-Point
  • Blade Composition: Bohler N690 Cobalt steel
  • Handle Composition: Micarta
  • Blade Length: 4.55 Inches
  • Total Length: 9.45 Inches
  • Total Weight: 7.80 Ounces
  • Sheath Material: Leather

26. Buck Knives Frontiersman 124

Buck Knives Frontiersman 124

Shop or Read Reviews

Estimated Price: $150

My Review: This knife was purpose-built to aid you in your survival of the frontier for many years to come so I’m sure it’ll suffice just fine for your run-of-the-mill survival situation! Buck Knives are kind of that brand that’s hard to describe just why it’s awesome. Of course, they have a very lengthy reputation of quality and bang for your buck, that’s something you’ve probably already known about.

Let me try and tell you something you don’t know. Buck Knives has a secret weapon in their blade making arsenal and that weapon goes by the name of Paul Bos. Mr. Bos conjured up a way to heat treat 420 high carbon steel in a way that no one else at the time thought was possible. This heat treatment took steel that is simply meh and turned it into a downright juggernaut by increasing its hardness, tensile strength, resistance to heat, and allowing the steel to hold a much better edge than previous treatments allowed for.

So, while I don’t recommend blades consisting of 420HC steel often, I do highly recommend those offered by Buck Knives as they have seemingly perfected crafting quality blades out of this well-rounded material. If insane durability with exceptional edge retention isn’t enough, 420HC, even when given the Paul Bos treatment, is extremely easy to maintain and sharpen which gives this knife a huge advantage over other seemingly higher tier steels when you need to resharpen it in the field.

You can learn more about Paul Bos and his revolutionary heat treatment solutions at the link here.

Aside from the exceptional blade material, the knife itself exudes a classic quality that you just don’t see very often in the knife world anymore. The handles, although made with modern technologies, appear in that rustic classic flavor that I really appreciate and the integrated finger guard gives this knife a hefty feeling while also ensuring a slip doesn’t result in the loss of a finger. Buck Knives have been made in America since 1902 and you’ll know as soon as you open the box that these knives are good old fashion American quality.

Key Specifications:

  • Blade Style: Clip-Point
  • Blade Composition: 420HC
  • Handle Composition: Micarta
  • Blade Length: 6.25 Inches
  • Total Length: 11.75 Inches
  • Total Weight: 13.30 Ounces
  • Sheath Material: Leather

25. Cold Steel Drop Forged Survivalist (Most Utility Usage Under $100)

Cold Steel Drop Forged Survivalist

Shop or Read Reviews

Estimated Price: $80

My Review: I’ll start right off by saying that this knife is an absolute steal piece of steel at this price and if you’re looking for a purpose-built survival tool under a hundred bucks, this is exactly what I would look for. This was designed to be a large, fat, heavy, down and dirty survival tool and everything about it exudes the idea of versatility and durability first. These knives are ready to be heavily abused right out of the box and if you find yourself astray on an uncharted island somewhere, this is the knife you’re going to wish you had.

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

These things are HEAVY! At over 18 ounces, the Cold Steel Survivalist is the largest of their Monolithic lineup and making up that weight is a huge 8-inch blade that is far thicker than what you’d find in the average blade. That extra blade thickness is there for extra rigidity when using this knife as an axe.

Key Specifications:

  • Blade Style: Drop-Point
  • Blade Composition: 52100 High Carbon Stainless Steel with Grey Teflon Coating
  • Handle Composition: Kray-Ex Rubber
  • Blade Length: 8.00 Inches
  • Total Length: 13.00 Inches
  • Total Weight: 18.30 Ounces
  • Sheath Material: Secure-Extm Molded Plastic

24. Cold Steel San Mai Trail Master III

Cold Steel San Mai Trail Master III

Shop or Read Reviews

Estimated Price: $310

My Review: We’ve covered a Cold Steel product that is both utilitarian in design and priced at a bargain, the Drop Forged Survivalist, so now let’s see what Cold Steel has on the other end of the price spectrum.

The San Mai Trail Master is incredibly expensive, but is it worth it? I’d say, in many cases where you’re just buying a knife just to have one “just in case”, that the Survivalist is the way to go if Cold Steel tickles your fancy. The San Mai Trail Master is for someone else, the individual that really appreciates handmade craftsmanship and the individual that just really likes paying that extra premium price for a product that will likely live longer than him/her.

That’s right, each and every San Mai Trail Master is handmade in Japan in very limited quantities using only the finest VG-1 steel that is specially treated, laminated and polished for the San Mai Trail Master and only appears on this very specific knife.

By the way, San Mai is used referring to the technique used to create these blades which was originated by the Japanese. A San Mai blade is a knife, blade or sword that has the hard steel Hagane forming the blade’s edge, and the iron/stainless forming a jacket on both sides that is then laminated for an increase in strength, durability, and a high-class luxury polish.

In layman’s terms, you can chop, hack and slash your way out of just about any situation, realize you dropped your lighter, chop, hack and slash all the way back in, and then chop, hack and slash all the way back out again and still have a blade that is basically brand new, brimming with that beautiful Japanese San Mai polish. These blades are insanely resistant to rust, can handle an absolute beating without the edge quivering in fear, and have such high tensile strength that your axe may find itself out of a job.

Key Specifications:

  • Blade Style: Bowie
  • Blade Composition: Laminated VG-1 / V Gold 1 HC
  • Handle Composition: Kraton
  • Blade Length: 9.50 Inches
  • Total Length: 14.25 Inches
  • Total Weight: 17.50 Ounces
  • Sheath Material: Cor-Ex

23. Condor Tool and Knife Bushslore

Condor Tool and Knife Bushslore

Shop or Read Reviews

Estimated Price: $70

My Review: The Bushslore offered by Condor & Tool is an excellent budget all-arounder and consists of 1075 steel, a material that we don’t often talk too much about but probably should. The 1075 steel used to create this satin blasted 4.31-inch drop-point is a happy medium between low and high carbon steels, although technically still in the high carbon category at roughly 75%. Typically, I focus on high carbon steel as I want the strongest blade possible but the truth is, strength is only one attribute of many that are important for a survival knife.

Usually, 1095 would beat out 1075 in edge retention but the Bushslore, in particular, is a 1075 steel blade that has garnered a well-respected reputation for being exceptionally durable and reliable. On top of that, this blade is probably the easiest on this entire list to touch up and resharpen and for that reason, I highly recommend this knife especially to a beginner. The Scandi grind these come with is of exceptional quality and overall, the knife is well-built for a relatively low-priced survival tool.

Key Specifications:

  • Blade Style: Drop-Point
  • Blade Composition: 1075 Carbon Steel
  • Handle Composition: Hardwood Micarta
  • Blade Length: 4.31 Inches
  • Total Length: 9.31 Inches
  • Total Weight: 12.80 Ounces
  • Sheath Material: Leather

22. CRKT Rakkassan

CRKT Rakkassan

Shop or Read Reviews

Estimated Price: $85

My Review: CRKT is always adding a wild flavor into whatever category they compete in and that’s probably due to the Forged By War program that we will talk about later. For now, let’s focus on that sub 5 inch SK5 clip-point that seems to be waving at you.

SK5 stainless steel is in extremely hard material ranking at 65 on the HRC scale. This makes the blade especially strong and allows it to hold an edge for an exceptionally long time and although high hardness steels are notoriously difficult to sharpen, SK5 seems to be a fair bit easier to sharpen than other steels of similar hardness. SK5 doesn’t have amazing corrosion resistance but I’d say it’s still plenty for a survival knife so long as it isn’t exposed to salt-water often.

The clip-point is an exceptionally strong blade shape that offers a lot of strength at the tip but with a little more precision than something like the drop-point. Usually, the clip-point has a rounded belly but on the Rakkassan we get a slight wave that increases ergonomics as you pull or push the blade making these especially useful when shaving off wood chips for fire kindling or even skinning small game.

The Rakkassan was designed by Austin Mcglaun via the CRKT Forged By War Program. Check out Austin’s profile at the link here and learn more about how CRKT partners with real veterans to design their products! Austin has chosen the Green Beret Foundation as his charity of choice and as such, every purchase of a CRKT Rakkassan results in a portion of the proceeds being donated.

Key Specifications:

  • Blade Style: Modified Clip-Point
  • Blade Composition: SK5 Carbon Steel
  • Handle Composition: G10
  • Blade Length: 4.894 Inches
  • Total Length: 10.438 Inches
  • Total Weight: 9.20 Ounces
  • Sheath Material: Boltaron

21. CRKT KUK 2742 Kukri

CRKT KUK 2742 Kukri

Shop or Read Reviews

Estimated Price: $45

My Review: I won’t review too many Kukri’s on this list because I personally don’t believe they make the best survival knife shape, but with that said, if you must have a Kukri and you’ll be using one as a survival knife, you may as well grab the KUK from CRKT. This is the most ergonomic and comfortable Kukri I’ve come across that still maintains exceptional strength and durability for all-day hacking and slashing.

Guys, $45 for a solid Kukri made of super-strong 65 Mn Carbon Steel is an absolute steal. These will handle abuse which is exactly what a Kukri needs to be designed to do and overall, CRKT just does a fantastic job with integrating that rough and tough character a Kukri should encompass while enabling this often overlooked blade design to be super comfortable and easy to use.

Key Specifications:

  • Blade Style: Kukri
  • Blade Composition: 65Mn Carbon Steel
  • Handle Composition: Double Injection Molded Thermoplastic Rubber
  • Blade Length: 10.563 Inches
  • Total Length: 15.875 Inches
  • Total Weight: 14.70 Ounces
  • Sheath Material: 1680 Denier Cross Woven Polyester with Polyethylene Insert

20. ESEE Knives 4P or 6P (Editor’s Choice)

ESEE Knives 4P

Shop or Read Reviews

Estimated Price: $105

My Review: ESEE makes a lot of great knives but it’s no secret that the 4P is the pinnacle of their offering and is by far one of the most popular ESEE knife ever made. These are so sought after that they are often bought in bulk for survival and combat schools and given to the students as they learn the skills they need to survive.

1095 Carbon stainless steel isn’t particularly known as great steel in any one category but it is well-rounded which I’d argue makes it especially good as a survival knife. The ESEE 4P really feels to be designed to be the most versatile a knife of 4.5 inches can be and I think that’s why so many people really like it. There are no gimmicks, no style points, no fancy additions, just a knife that is exceptionally well-built with a very good reputation of having solid quality control.

Key Specifications:

  • Blade Style: Drop-Point
  • Blade Composition: 1095 Carbon Steel
  • Handle Composition: Micarta
  • Blade Length: 4.50 Inches
  • Total Length: 9.00 Inches
  • Total Weight: 7.45 Ounces
  • Sheath Material: Molded Polymer

If you’d like to check out the ESEE 6P, which is essentially the exact same knife with larger dimensions, check out the link here.

The following are the ESEE 6P key specifications:

  • Estimated Price: $150
  • Blade Style: Drop-Point
  • Blade Composition: 1095 Carbon Steel
  • Handle Composition: Micarta
  • Blade Length: 5.75 Inches
  • Total Length: 11.75 Inches
  • Total Weight: 11.82 Ounces
  • Sheath Material: Molded Polymer

19. ESEE Knives Junglas-E

ESEE Knives Junglas E

Shop or Read Reviews

Estimated Price: $190

My Review: As ESEE is well-known for, the Junglas series is a “get the job done” kind of line-up. These knives are made of 1095 steel which is well-rounded and performs decently across all survival-related situations and the knife is extremely comfortable to use with their textured Micarta or G10 handles.

The 1095 carbon steel drop-point feels massive in the hands and comes in at well over 10 inches. This length really gives a drop-point shaped blade a massive belly that almost feels sword-like. That belly is long and flat for roughly 8 inches of the 10.38-inch blade and allows for chopping wood, self-defense, setting up camp, etc. The butt of the knife comes with an integrated hammer pommel that can be used to drive in tent stakes, break out a window, etc.

Key Specifications:

  • Blade Style: Drop-Point
  • Blade Composition: 1095 Carbon Steel
  • Handle Composition: Micarta or G10 on the Junglas-VG-E version
  • Blade Length: 10.38 Inches
  • Total Length: 16.50 Inches
  • Total Weight: 23.00 Ounces
  • Sheath Material: Kydex with MOLLE Compatibility

18. Fallkniven A1

Fallkniven A1

Shop or Read Reviews

Estimated Price: $175

My Review: Fallkniven is one of Sweden’s premier knife manufacturers and the A1 has been seen in many survival shows and boasted about by some of my favorite outdoorsmen. I get it, these knives are beautifully designed with a simplistic and utilitarian flavor that exudes craftsmanship and quality. At close to two hundred bucks, though, I was skeptical, that is until I realized who this is for.

The Fallkniven A1 is constructed of laminated VG-10 steel. This particular steel is rather soft (59 HRC) compared to some other premier tier steels but it has one major advantage – It’s extremely resistant to corrosion and when laminated, it’s almost just as durable as significantly harder and more expensive steels. Fallkniven has taken a base material that they know will stand the test of time and weathering and they’ve made it insanely thick (6mm) and insanely strong.

The Fallkniven A1 is for the avid outdoorsman looking to make a buy once cry once purchase. Yeah, they’re among the priciest survival knives on this list, but they sure are worth it if you plan on putting your survival knife through the ringer day in and day out. Buy this knife and it’s very likely you’ll never need to buy another survival knife again!

Key Specifications:

  • Blade Style: Clip-Point
  • Blade Composition: VG-10
  • Handle Composition: Kraton
  • Blade Length: 6.30 Inches
  • Total Length: 11.00 Inches
  • Total Weight: 12.00 Ounces
  • Sheath Material: Zytel or Leather

17. Gerber LMF II Survival

Gerber LMF II Survival Knife

Shop or Read Reviews

Estimated Price: $110

My Review: The Gerber LMF II is the direct answer Gerber had to a military survival specialist that specially requested that Gerber design a purpose-built Army pilots knife specifically for the scenario the intro of this guide detailed. The LMF II was to be carried by a pilot and used in the off chance they are shot down and needed to survive behind enemy lines. The literal request read as “a knife to deploy and conduct quick egress of a downed helicopter”.  The knife needed to be extremely lightweight, quick to deploy, as versatile as possible, and tough enough to bet your life on it.

Now, I wouldn’t say Gerber necessarily has a better reputation than many of the other brands on this page and most of us have seen Gerber knives at Walmart which kind of sparks a low-end cheap mentality and you’re right, some of those knives are not so great. The LMF II, however, is not in the same category, class, or even from the same designers that make those cheaper knives and should not be likened to the knives you’d find in a big-box retailer.

The LMF II is actually one of my favorite knives around the one hundred dollar price point. No, it doesn’t come with a super steel blade, but that 420HC steel (58 HRC) is plenty strong and durable and with the reinforced butt pommel, you could just as easily bust out the plexiglass in a downed helicopter or bust a skull, or I suppose, both! A final note here is that the handle is designed in a way that protects the user from electric shock and the blade and handle are electrically isolated from the pommel.

Note: There are actually three versions of this knife (the ASEK, Infantry, and Survival version), but in this review, we will be focusing on the survival version.

Key Specifications:

  • Blade Style: Drop-Point
  • Blade Composition: 420 High Carbon Steel
  • Handle Composition: Glass-Filled Nylon
  • Blade Length: 4.875 Inches
  • Total Length: 10.59 Inches
  • Total Weight: 11.67 Ounces
  • Sheath Material: Molded Polymer

16. Gerber Strongarm (Best Value Overall)

Gerber Strongarm Fixed Blade Survival Knife

Shop or Read Reviews

Estimated Price: $70

My Review: The Gerber Strongarm is the cheaper of the two against the LMF and although I would always recommend the LMF if you can afford the extra cost, the Strongarm certainly is no slouch. The Strongarm is made of the same super hard 420HC steel that the LMf is made of and its sold along with a similar molded sheath.

So, how does it differ? Well, it’s shorter, a whopping 0.075 inches shorter. It’s about 4 ounces lighter. It has a glass pommel on the butt but here is where things become contrasting, the LMF has a significantly better pommel, however, the Strongarm still has one and it is still very much usable for most people. The Strongarm isn’t electrically isolated like the LMF but it does come with a very ergonomic feeling GRN handle that is actually one of my favorite grips under a hundred bucks.

Popular Article: 16 Best Tactical Backpacks (Ranked by a Marine)

The Strongarm is often overlooked against the LMF but for the price, the LMF is basically just heavier duty and fancier. If you won’t be pushing your knife to the absolute limits and you just simply want something to help you out in the occasional sticky situation, the Strongarm is more than capable of fulfilling that role. Furthermore, the Strongarm is in that “premium Gerber” category, meaning it’s designed and manufactured right here in Portland, Oregon and performs vastly better than the rest of the lower-tier Gerber products across all categories. The Strongarm is very well-balanced and its attributes are well-suited for a survival knife.

Key Specifications:

  • Blade Style: Drop-Point
  • Blade Composition: 420 High Carbon Steel
  • Handle Composition: Glass-Filled Nylon
  • Blade Length: 4.80 Inches
  • Total Length: 9.80 Inches
  • Total Weight: 7.20 Ounces
  • Sheath Material: Molded Polymer

15. Glock Perfection Field Knife (Excellent Low Budget Knife)

Glock Perfection Field Knife

Shop or Read Reviews

Estimated Price: $40

My Review: Now, this isn’t the best knife on this list but it might just be one of the best bangs for your buck. We all know Glock and whether you love or hate their firearms, I think most people would agree that forty bucks for a 6.5 inch SAE 1095 steel clip-point blade with a sawtooth serrated spine and a very ergonomic polymer handle is a pretty good deal.

These blades and the steel they are made out of are among the softest on this list. This has a few advantages such as being extremely easy to resharpen and work with as a beginner or someone who simply doesn’t have the time to sit down and finely sharpen something harder. Spring steel is notorious for its resistance to impact and it has a little flex meaning it might give a bit where a harder steel would simply shatter.

The only real con I see here and probably why this knife is so low-cost is that SAE 1095 has very low resistance to corrosion. At forty bucks, this is the kind of knife you buy and abuse heavily for just a few years and then you replace it. It won’t last you a long time but while you do have it, it’ll be a pretty solid knife and I’d argue that as long as you keep it dry and especially away from saltwater, it should serve you quite well.

Glock Field Knives are excellent gifts for someone that is new to owning a knife of this size and caliber and is interested in getting something mid-tier to try out and experience before they pull the trigger on a three-figure blade.

Key Specifications:

  • Blade Style: Clip-Point with Sawtooth Spine
  • Blade Composition: SAE 1095 Spring Steel (55 HRC)
  • Handle Composition: Glock Proprietary Polymer
  • Blade Length: 6.50 Inches
  • Total Length: 11.40 Inches
  • Total Weight: 7.20 Ounces
  • Sheath Material: Glock Proprietary Polymer

14. JEO-TEC No 55 (Spanish Design)

Jeo Tech 55 Bushcraft Survival Knife

Shop or Read Reviews

Estimated Price: $140

My Review: JEO-TEC is a knife manufacturer in Spain that specializes in making knives out of a type of steel that many of us aren’t too familiar with – Spanish MOVA-58. This steel has a rough HRC level of 58 and utilizes slightly higher quantities of molybdenum and vanadium than most other high carbon steels found in other survival knives. These elements allow steel that is very hard to encompass high levels of resistance to corrosion thus making for excellent survival knife platforms.

The knife does appear to be a bit blade-side cumbersome but in reality, this is an exceptionally well-balanced blade and you can certainly tell this is of Spanish origin, despite the actual blade design being done in the USA. Personally, I really like the design and the shape of the blade makes it an excellent all-arounder that can hack, slash, cut, and even be used as an axe considering it weighs 15.50 ounces.

A beautifully designed knife only rightfully comes with a beautifully designed sheath and that’s what you get here. The sheath is genuine handmade leather from Spain and it has the ability to carry all the included goodies such as a sharpening stone and a Firesteel.

Their website is pretty cool, give it a look at the link here and check out the other products they have too. I have very little experience with JEO-TEK so far but I definitely plan on getting my hands on many more of their products as the No. 55 is an absolute beast of a survival knife!

Key Specifications:

  • Blade Style: Drop-Point
  • Blade Composition: Mova-58
  • Handle Composition: Micarta
  • Blade Length: 6.70 Inches
  • Total Length: 12.40 Inches
  • Total Weight: 15.50 Ounces
  • Sheath Material: Multi-Positional Leather

13. Ka-Bar BK2 Becker Companion

Ka-Bar BK2 Becker Companion

Shop or Read Reviews

Estimated Price: $120

My Review: Ethan Becker set out to really design and build the absolute most versatile knife as possible and the result was the BK2 Becker Companion. Everything from the 5.25-inch blade length to the exceptionally ergonomic even when wet Grivory handles just feel so well balanced and capable of being taken on any trip and used in any situation. If survival is only one subset of why you want to buy a new knife, this knife enables you to use this in a plethora of situations and even as an excellent fixed EDC.

1096 Cro-Van on a drop-point style blade is about as versatile as you can get without going over the top and raising the price tag considerably. Are there better steel materials to use? Sure, but are they actually worth spending more for diminishing returns? Well, in some cases, yes, they are, but for the most part, the BK2 Becker Companion is going to be far more knife than what most people would ever have a need to push past.

This steel has an excellent middle-ground hardness of about 58 HRC and has a leg-up in the survival realm over traditional 1095 steel because of the addition of chromium and molybdenum which raises the steel’s ability to resist corrosion. The Becker BK2 is a knife that performs decently across the board and certainly won’t be a pain in the butt to resharpen after you return home.

Key Specifications:

 

  • Blade Style: Drop-Point
  • Blade Composition: 1095 Cro-Van
  • Handle Composition: Grivory
  • Blade Length: 5.25 Inches
  • Total Length: 10.50 Inches
  • Total Weight: 16.00 Ounces
  • Sheath Material: Glass-Filled Nylon

12. Ka-Bar BK3 Becker Tac Tool (Most Unique)

Ka-Bar BK3 Becker Tac Tool

Shop or Read Reviews

Estimated Price: $100

My Review: The Tac Tool is something a little different for this list but nonetheless it serves the same purpose. Something you’ll immediately notice is how the point of the blade is squared off and lacks a point altogether, except maybe the point on the squares spine edge. This tool was designed specifically for the use-cases defined in this guide and is actually one of the most versatile “knives” you may ever purchase.

The squared-off point of the Tac Tool has a much simpler explanation than you might think. Simply put, in a survival situation where it’s you versus the environment, you likely won’t be stabbing or thrusting at anything given you aren’t in an area where you’ll need to fend off dangerous wildlife.

Instead, that squared off point makes for a safer tool to carry around and stow away in your backpack or luggage while maintaining similar survival-related components like a long and straight belly for cutting, hacking, and chopping, while the edge is used for accurate slicing and pushing down on the spine for cutting. The back of the spine has a gut hook that makes the Tac Tool complete, allowing for skinning of the local wildlife. The Tac Tool is also significantly thicker than your average blade and comes in at 0.230 inches of thickness making for a very hefty pry tool and an axe replacement.

The Tac Tool is constructed from 1095 Cro-Van steel which is basically 1095 but with the addition of chromium and molybdenum to increase its durability against weathering and corrosion. Many of Ka-Bars products consist of this steel material and the brand itself is essentially built upon this steel type. Needless to say, Ka-Bar has earned its reputation of creating high quality but reasonably priced blades and the same goes for the Tac Tool.

Key Specifications:

  • Blade Style: Tac Tool
  • Blade Composition: 1095 Cro-Van
  • Handle Composition: Grivory
  • Blade Length: 7.00 Inches
  • Total Length: 12.50 Inches
  • Total Weight: 20.80 Ounces
  • Sheath Material: Glass-Filled Nylon

11. Ka-Bar Becker BK9 (Great Value Bowie Knife)

Ka-Bar Becker BK9 Combat Bowie

Shop or Read Reviews

Ka-Bar Becker BK9 Combat Bowie

Estimated Price: $70

My Review: Yes, I know, the name implies this is more of a combat knife than a survival knife but I think we can all agree that a lot of characteristics that make up a combat knife are also characteristics that we may want in certain survival situations. The BK9 Combat Bowie has a long history of being used among military service members and after speaking with those who have extensive experience with this knife, you’ll come to understand that it has far more experience being used as a survival tool than a combat weapon, although it fully excels at doing both.

The long 14.75” clip-point scimitar looking blade is constructed from 1095 Cro-Van steel, a material that Ka-Bar seemingly uses in just about all of its main catalog of products and rightfully so, it provides an excellent bang for your buck and a considerable upgrade in durability from the standard 1095 steel, specifically in corrosion resistance. Overall, this is an excellently priced knife that is well-rounded in survival attributes and would be a good fit for anyone looking for a mid-tier addition to their survival kit, home defense, camp knife, or combat knife.

Key Specifications:

  • Blade Style: Bowie
  • Blade Composition: 1095 Cro-Van
  • Handle Composition: Grivory
  • Blade Length: 9.00 Inches
  • Total Length: 14.75 Inches
  • Total Weight: 16.80 Ounces
  • Sheath Material: Polyester MOLLE Compatible or Kydex

10. Kershaw Camp (Good Budget Camp knife)

Kershaw Camp

Shop or Read Reviews

Estimated Price: $50

My Review: The Kershaw Camp is one of the most popular mid-sized camp knives on the market right now. Of course, part of that popularity is the low cost and high availability but the truth is, the Kershaw Camp simply gets the job done without fancy polishing or super steels that cost an arm and a leg and I can respect that.

This is one of the cheapest knives on the list but by no means does that mean it’s of low quality or won’t suffice as a proper survival knife. No, it doesn’t have the impeccable hardness of S30V and no it doesn’t have the resistance to corrosion you would find in premium VG-10 steel but for the average user looking for a relatively large-sized cutting tool that is versatile in nature and relatively high performing, this is a top tier bang for your buck kind of product.

Aside from that, the finish on these knives is strikingly high quality with a nice anti-reflective black powder coating and a very grippy textured rubber over-molded handle with a very subtle and modern handguard. These are also super easy to resharpen and I would say they are a great beginner knife for someone that has little experience with 10 inches or longer blades.

Key Specifications:

  • Blade Style: Modified Drop-Point
  • Blade Composition: 65 Mn Carbon Steel
  • Handle Composition: Rubberized Thermoplastic
  • Blade Length: 10.00, 14.00, or 18.00 Inches
  • Total Length: Depends on Blade Length Choice
  • Total Weight: Starts at 19 Ounces in the 10-inch version
  • Sheath Material: Molden Nylon

9. Morakniv Garberg

Morakniv Garberg

Shop or Read Reviews

Estimated Price: $90

My Review: Morakniv is a Swedish knife company that is well-respected in the survival and camping knife niche. They don’t reach up for the premium super steels and they don’t offer fancy attributes like special polishes or laminations but they do make knives that simply get the job done and are priced in a way that you won’t be scared to abuse them.

Oh and abuse they do so deserve as these knives are built extremely tough and are some of the most reliable knives you could ever possibly buy under a hundred bucks. The Morakniv Garberg consists of a 4.30-inch drop-point made out of 1095 carbon steel that is powder-coated to prevent corrosion. It’s not a super steel but it’s certainly no slouch and at this price point, I’d consider it a steal. The spine of the blade is squared off making this a very easy blade to apply pressure on the spine or to use with a firestriker.

Morakniv makes a lot of great knives but earlier in this guide, I said I’d try to stick to only recommending full tang knives as full tang increases reliability and lowers points of failures. The Garberg at the time of writing this is the only Morakniv with a full tang and as such, will be the only Morakniv I recommend in this list but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t check out some of the other offerings they have as well, especially if you want something similar in design but cheaper, like the Morakniv Bushcraft.

Key Specifications:

  • Blade Style: Drop-Point
  • Blade Composition: 1095 Carbon Steel
  • Handle Composition: Polyamide
  • Blade Length: 4.30 Inches
  • Total Length: 9.00 Inches
  • Total Weight: 9.60 Ounces
  • Sheath Material: Leather or MOLLE Compatible Multi-Mount Polyamide

8. Ontario Knife Company Black Bird SK-5 (Minimalistic)

Ontario Knife Company Black Bird SK-5

Shop or Read Reviews

Estimated Price: $115

My Review: Ontario Knife Company is a very reputable brand especially among Airmen and Special Forces as they design knives specifically for military use with input from actual military personnel. These knives leave all the gimmicks at home and are made to endure ridiculous amounts of abuse while still maintain operability.

The Black Bird SK-5 name bothers me because when I first came across it as I was actually shopping for something like this, I thought the SK-5 in the name meant it was made out of SK-5 steel. It is not, it’s actually made of 154CM and although I had a slight chuckle at my misguided assumption, I must say, 154CM is aptly used for this design and is exceptionally durable. For those who don’t know. 154CM is similar to 440C steel but has the addition of molybdenum for increased resistance to corrosion.

Overall, the 5-inch center-point blade consisting of 154CM is extremely tough and the knife overall exudes a utilitarian design with the grit to back it up. The blade is then powder coated with something they call Special Operations Capable (SOC) coating. This coating is to reduce glare off of the blade.

This particular knife has won the “Best of the Best” award from Field & Stream magazine in 2011. Ontario Knife Company never disappoints me and they sure didn’t disappoint with the Black Bird.

Key Specifications:

  • Blade Style: Center-Point
  • Blade Composition: 154CM
  • Handle Composition: G10
  • Blade Length: 5.00 Inches
  • Total Length: 10.00 Inches
  • Total Weight: 8.40 Ounces
  • Sheath Material: Glass-Filled Nylon MOLLE Compatible

7. Ontario Knife Company Rat-7

Ontario Knife Company Rat 7

Shop or Read Reviews

Estimated Price: $70

My Review: The Rat-7 is the child of a partnership between Ontario Knife Company (OKC) and world-renowned blade craftsman Jeff Randall, yeah, the guy from ESEE knives! Like many of the knives from Ontario Knife Co, the Rat-7 encompasses a very utilitarian “get the job done” style absent of gimmicks and attempted style points.

This 7.2 inches of 1095 steel drop-point black powder-coated monster was built simply to be as effective and as versatile as a tool as possible given a survival situation. It comes with a MOLLE compatible nylon sheath and was purpose-built for anything you may come across in the great outdoors. Of course, it’s a little large to act as an EDC but if you need a reliable camp knife or a knife that is sure to aid you in survival, the Rat-7 is a solid choice and at an amazing price point.

Key Specifications:

  • Blade Style: Drop-Point
  • Blade Composition: 1095 Carbon Steel / 5160 Carbon Steel (58 HRC)
  • Handle Composition: Micarta
  • Blade Length: 7.20 Inches
  • Total Length: 12.20 Inches
  • Total Weight: 12.32 Ounces
  • Sheath Material: Nylon MOLLE Compatible

6. SOG Seal Pup Elite Survival (Great Value)

SOG Specialty Knives and Tools Navy Seal Pup Elite Survival Knife

Shop or Read Reviews

Estimated Price: $65-80

My Review: SOG is an American knife and multi-tool manufacturer that makes blades that are currently being used by elite operators in the military. They have gotten a little flack for having most of their knives made in Taiwan instead of the US and although we love ourselves some good old fashion American made goods, the truth is that Taiwan has some of the best CNC and blade manufacturing facilities in the world. On top of that, they are capable of offering very high-quality knives at extremely competitive prices, meaning you get quality products for a price that won’t break the bank.

The Seal Pup comes with either a 4.75 or 4.85-inch blade constructed from AUS-8 that is cryogenically treated to achieve a much higher hardness level that AUS-8 typically encompasses. Now, AUS-8 isn’t a particularly notable steel on its own but when the hardness is raised significantly you get a steel that is capable of holding an edge and having the overall durability of a steel that is much more expensive. Again, cost-cutting but cost-cutting done the right way that only benefits you.

At this price point, it’s pretty tough to find a tactically inspired clip-point blade that would even come close to the performance of what the SOG Seal Pup offers. These knives are excellent for a wide variety of survival-related situations. Originally designed to be carried on missions by special forces operators, these knives are capable of hacking, slashing, and deep penetration with that insanely strong clip-point blade and are sure to add a wide variety of use cases anyway you need it.

Key Specifications:

  • Blade Style: Saw Tooth Clip-Point
  • Blade Composition: Cryogenically Treated AUS-8
  • Handle Composition: GRN
  • Blade Length: 4.75 or 4.85 Inches
  • Total Length: 9.45 or 9.50 Inches
  • Total Weight: ~5.40 Ounces
  • Sheath Material: Ballistic Nylon

5. SOG Specialty Knives and Tools Pillar

SOG Specialty Knives and Tools Pillar

Shop or Read Reviews

Estimated Price: $190

My Review: We’ve covered one of my favorite knives from SOG that’s affordable and, in my opinion, an excellent deal, so now let’s reach up and see what SOG has to offer in the premium knives category.

Paying about a hundred bucks more than the Seal Pup gets you the Pillar. The Pillar is a 5-inch monster constructed of one of my favorite super steels, CPM-S35VN. This steel is often hailed as a favorite among serious knife enthusiasts and is used across other premium brands in flagship knives. These blades typically come in around 60 HRC and have a well-balanced suite of attributes including some of the best corrosion resistance in the super steels category as well as some of the best edge retention and blade durability. Furthermore, S35VN is far easier to maintain and sharpen than its brethren, S30V.

There isn’t much out there at the time of writing this review that can beat S35VN without costing far more for very little benefit. Unlike the SOG Seal Pup and many of the more affordable SOG knives, the Pillar is designed and manufactured in the US using US steel which gets a huge Oorah from us!

SOG typically makes knives in a very “Tacticool” fashion and although I can appreciate that, I tend to like modernistic and simplistic designs. The Pillar is exactly the knife I’ve always wanted to see SOG produce. It’s stylish and it still exudes what we love from the SOG mentality but the Micarta handles are modern and the knife as a whole is very stylish and simple. At the end of those beautifully designed Micarta handles is a very hefty pommel that is just as strong and premium as the blade itself.

Key Specifications:

  • Blade Style: Clip-Point
  • Blade Composition: CPM-S35VN
  • Handle Composition: Micarta
  • Blade Length: 5.00 Inches
  • Total Length: 9.90 Inches
  • Total Weight: 7.30 Ounces
  • Sheath Material: Kayden Multi-Mount

4. Spyderco Bill Moran (Best in Class for Skinning/Hunting)

Spyderco Moran

Shop or Read Reviews

Estimated Price: $115

My Review: Spyderco is well-known for there new take on the drop-point, the leaf-point, but go ahead and throw out everything you’ve ever heard about Spyderco because the Moran is a totally different take on a knife than what Spyderco is used to.

Instead, Spyderco took a break from making leaf-shaped knives and asked one of the most legendary bladesmiths to collaborate and create a cutting edge knife encompassing Spyderco’s famous VG-10 steel and Bill Morans design expertise.

Somehow we got a trailing-point. I don’t know how we got here, but we did, and I love it! As the only trailing-point on this list, I must mention that this is going to perform the best when slicing and skinning game. That works out perfectly for many who find themselves in a survival situation.

Although you can technically slice and skin with just about any of the knives on this list, the trailing-point on the Moran is basically built for it. When you find yourself in a survival situation of a lengthy duration, it’s quite possible you’ll need to kill something and consume it for energy and there is no other knife I’d rather have from this list than the Moran to prepare my meal!

Of course, this knife is plenty more capable than just use as a skinning blade. The VG-10 steel Spyderco likes to use is notorious for being a very tough and resilient steel with some of the best resistance to corrosion of any steel. These knives can sustain long term abuse whether that comes in the form of preparing your next meal or use around the campsite and can perform many of the same duties as the ever so versatile drop-point.

Key Specifications:

  • Blade Style: Trailing-Point
  • Blade Composition: VG-10
  • Handle Composition: Fiberglass Reinforced Nylon (FRN)
  • Blade Length: 3.92 Inches
  • Total Length: 8.06 Inches
  • Total Weight: 3.10 Ounces
  • Sheath Material: Boltaron

3. Spyderco Proficient (Resistant to Anything and Everything)

Spyderco Proficient

Shop or Read Reviews

Estimated Price: $340

My Review: Spyderco loves their VG-10 steel blades and that’s fine and dandy but when we want the absolute best from them, especially in a blade we may need to trust our lives on, we’ll take special notice of the super steel CPM S90V.

S90V has a bunch of vanadium mixed in with carbon which makes this steel a particular mess to do craft and work with but once it’s done, it’s a god among blades. S90V is among the hardest and most durable blade materials on the market today and with that exceptional hardness comes some pretty insane edge retention that’s likely the best on this list and a far better wear resistance than other high carbon-containing steels.

The Spyderco Proficient is something of an interesting beast. On one hand, you have some of the best characteristics you could ask for in a survival knife being insanely high durability, tensile strength rivaled by none, resistance to pretty much everything, and top-class edge retention.

Wearing down the edge on this blade will take some serious abuse over long durations of time and if you ever actually do get to a point where you need to sharpen it, well, good luck to you. S90V is notoriously difficult to sharpen and thus I can only recommend this knife to those of you who really appreciate S90V and have the time and patience to thoroughly resharpen it.

Other than that, this knife is drop-dead beautiful. The way Spyderco incorporates a very minimalist design in a knife where nothing about its engineering is minimal is a piece of art. I know, it’s insanely expensive, but the truth is, if you have the skill and patience to resharpen it every once in a blue moon, this knife will outlast several replacements of other lower-quality blades and thus the value is clear. Buy once cry once (maybe cry a little bit when resharpening), that’s the Proficient way!

Key Specifications:

  • Blade Style: Drop-Point
  • Blade Composition: CPM-S90V
  • Handle Composition: Carbon Fiber
  • Blade Length: 4.00 Inches
  • Total Length: 8.75 Inches
  • Total Weight: 6.35 Ounces
  • Sheath Material: Leather

2. TOPS Knives Armageddon ATRD01 (Balance Between Machete and Camp Knife)

TOPS Knives Armageddon ATRD01

Shop or Read Reviews

Estimated Price: $195

My Review: Tops did say they were shooting for what I could only describe as the child of a camp knife and a machete and I honestly couldn’t possibly think of a single thing they could change to achieve that mission with their monstrous Armageddon.

At 16 and a half inches and a fatty 24 ounces, this is one of the largest knives on our survival knives list and although to some of you, you’ll probably scroll right past it as it simply is too much blade for your use case, some of you may actually really appreciate this, especially if your survival situation requires quick movement through dense jungle foliage. What can I say other than the fact that you really do get the machete experience as you hack and slash your way through pretty much anything that stands in your way but it’s tame enough to use around the campsite and perhaps even prepare dinner with.

That 16.5-inch blade consists of 1095 carbon steel which offers a rather balance suite of attributes and is exactly the steel type I assumed this blade would consist of when I first saw it. 1095 makes perfect sense as its tough and capable of holding an edge just long enough for you to get out of a hairy situation and then is extremely easy to resharpen for another go. Remember to rub these down with a little oil from time to time as 1095 does suffer just a tad bit in the corrosion resistance category.

Key Specifications:

  • Blade Style: Bowie
  • Blade Composition: 1095 Carbon Steel
  • Handle Composition: Micarta
  • Blade Length: 10.63 Inches
  • Total Length: 16.50 Inches
  • Total Weight: 24.00 Ounces
  • Sheath Material: Nylon with Kydex Liner

1. TOPS Knives Brothers of Bushcraft Series (Fieldcraft)

TOPS Knives Brothers of Bushcraft Series

Shop or Read Reviews

Estimated Price: $125

My Review: As far as a survival knife that you can easily pack out and carry with you in almost any situation goes, this is likely the most versatile and well-balanced knife you could buy. No, it doesn’t exactly consist of premium tier steel but that was never the idea here. The point behind the Fieldcraft is to find a perfect balance between all of the attributes we look for in a blade and then make it affordable enough that anyone can grab one and be especially thrilled to use it.

Now, I’m not suggesting you purposely throw yourself into a sticky situation just to use this bad boy but hey, unboxing these might just cause a few awry thoughts to perk up. These knives are purpose-built for survival and the quality and design you’ll immediately notice just exudes from holding the knife in your hand.

Related Article: 32 Best EDC Knives (Ranked by a Marine)

It’s hard to really portray how high quality this knife is without having a premium steel tag to rave about, but please, most of us likely won’t ever need a premium steel blade and what they’ve managed to do with 1095 is more than enough. The blades are thick and hefty and feel like they have some serious power behind them without being too thick and too cumbersome to pack out. The grind is sort of a tool or compound grind and is purposely selected to give the highest level of versatility with the already super versatile 4.75-inch drop-point.

One thing you will notice is that the blade comes with a very heavy powder coat. Like most 1095 steel (this applies to the Armageddon too), they have just a little less than desired resistance to corrosion. To offset that, the blade comes coated and perhaps every so often you should give a 1095 blade a little run down of oil to ensure it doesn’t start to oxidize. Oh, and using this knife to strike a firesteel (included) is no problem and you won’t have to worry about scuffing up the coating on the blade because the pommel comes with a notch that is purposely designed for use with striking.

Key Specifications:

  • Blade Style: Drop-Point
  • Blade Composition: 1095 Carbon Steel
  • Handle Composition: Micarta
  • Blade Length: 4.75 Inches
  • Total Length: 10.00 Inches
  • Total Weight: 9.73 Ounces
  • Sheath Material: Kydex

Your Thoughts:

Let us know if you think there is a knife that should be added to this list or what your favorite survival knife is below. And as always, let us know if you have any questions or comments!

Leave a Comment