Survival Knife Buyers Guide: Find the Best Survival Knife!
Need a knife? Looking for the best survival knife buyers guide? You’ve come to the right place!
Our online Survival Knife Buyers Guide chart looks at and compares more than 50 of the Best Selling Survival Knives on the market today, along with knife details, specifications and top rated knife reviews to help you make an informed buying decision when shopping for the best survival knife to buy.
We all have our own opinions and personal preferences on what makes a good survival knife to go camping or hunting with, but in any case, I think most will agree that we all want the absolute best survival knife possible, regardless of the situation. So, take a moment and ask yourself the following question…
“If you could only have one knife by your side… which one would it be?”
A tactical knife, a fixed blade, a folding style or an all around best of the best survival knife? Maybe you’d even want a machete! Everybody has different wants and needs. For emergency survival situations and risky environments, perhaps you’re looking for a particular type of tactical knife. Maybe you like to hike and go fish a lot and need a good quality fishing knife. Survival Knife Buyers Guide has the info you need!
For any given circumstance, it’s always nice to have ANY knife by your side, but it’s always best to plan ahead and have the best survival knife with you! Whatever situation you do find yourself in, the unexpected usually happens and, like the Boy Scouts say, it’s best to “Always Be Prepared.”
Will the Survival Knife Buyers Guide Help Me?
Some people know exactly what to look for while others don’t know how to choose a survival knife or where to start. Because of this and the overwhelming amount of knives on the market today, I’ve taken the time and have done the knife research and compiled all the details for you in one convenient survival knife comparison chart to help you make an informed buying decision when you decide to buy your next knife.
The comparison chart of best selling survival knives below and the full knife review analysis, specs and details that follows the knife chart will help you decide what is the absolute best survival knife to buy.
Take a moment to see the full list of top selling knives: 50 Best Selling Survival Knives
Survival Knife Buyers Guide | Top 10 Selling Survival Knives
Brand / Name / Model
Survival Knife Picture
|CRKT M16-14SFG Special Forces Folding Knive||9.25||3.875||5.9||8Cr14 Stainless Steel||4.5||$$|
|Cold Steel Bushman Black SK-5 Steel||12.25||7||16||SK5 Steel||4.7||$|
|Cold Steel Recon 1 Folder Knife||9.38||4||5.3||Japanese Aus 8A Stainless Steel||4.4||$$|
|Cold Steel Master Tanto Knife||11.5||6||9.5||VG-1 San MAI III||4.7||$$$$|
|Spyderco Gayle Bradley Folder PlainEdge Knife||8.078||3.438||5.5||CPM M4||4.6||$$$|
|Buck Hood Hoodlum Hunting Knife||15.5||10||14.6|
22 w/ sheath
|5160 Carbon Steel||4.4||$$$|
|Gerber LMF II Black Infantry Knife||10.59||4.84||11.67|
24.28 (w/ Sheath)
|Gerber Warrant Knife Partially Serrated Tanto Blade||9.5||4.5||5.4||7CR17MoV Stainless Steel||4.5||$|
|United Cutlery GH201 Gil Hibben III Survival Knife with Sheath||16||11||32||420 Stainless Steel||4.8||$$|
|Ka-Bar Becker BK2 Campanion Fixed Blade Knife||10.5||5.5||16||1985 Cro-Van Steel||4.6||$$|
|Gerber Bear Grylls Survival Series Ultimate Knife||10||4.8||11.2||High Carbon Stainless Steel||4.4||$|
|Fallkniven Pilot Survival Knife||8.33||3.8||8.4||Laminated VG10||5||$$$|
|SOG Field Pup Survival Knife||8.5||4||4||AUS8 Stainless Steel||4.5||$$|
|Cold Steel SRK Kraton Handle Knife||10.75||6||8.2||Japanese AUS 8A Stainless Steel||4.4||$$|
|Schrade Extreme Survival Fixed Blade Knife||12||6.4||22||400 Series Stainless Steel||4.6||$$|
|Smith & Wesson Bullseye Search and Rescue||10.5||5.88||7.4||440 Stainless Steel||4.4||$|
|Fallkniven A1 Survival Knife||11.13||6.38||12||Laminated VG10||5||$$$$|
|Helle Fjellkniven Outdoor Knife||8.25||3.94||4.5||Laminated Stainless Steel||5||$$|
|Ka-Bar Mule Field Folder Knife||9.0625||3.75||7.4||AUS 8A Stainless Steel||4.9||$$|
|Ka-Bar Black Tanto Knife||12.88||8||12||1095 Cro-Van Steel||4.7||$$|
|Ka-Bar Fighting / Utility Serrated Edge Knife||11.75||7||11.2||1095 Cro-Van Steel||4.8||$$|
|Spyderco Bushcraft G-10 PlainEdge Knife||8.75||3.9||7.75||O-1 Carbon Steel||4.8||$$$|
|ESEE-5 OD Plain Blade||10.88||5.25||16||1095 Steel - 57 RC||4.9||$$$|
|Helle Temagami Carbon Steel Knife||9||3.5||5.4||Laminated Stainless Steel||4.4||$$$$|
|Kellam Knives Puukko Fixed Blade Knife||8.25||3.75||6.4||Carbon Steel||5||$$|
|Cold Steel Trail Master Knife||14.5||9.5||16.7||SK-5 High Carbon Steel||4.6||$$$|
|Cold Steel Pendleton Hunter||8.25||3.5||5.8||VG-1 Stainless Steel||4.6||$$|
|Mora Companion Heavy Duty MG Knife||8.86||3.97||4.76||Carbon Steel||5||$|
|Mora Bushcraft Black Carbon Steel Knife||9.15||4.29||5.75||Carbon Steel||4.7||$|
|Cold Steel Survival Edge Black Knife||9.25||5||3||German 4116 Stainless||4.6||$|
|Cold Steel R1 Military Classic||11.63||7||9.25||VG-1 San Mai III Steel||4.4||$$$$|
|Tom Brown Tracker #2 Survival Knife||9.5||3.5||9.6||1095 High Carbon Alloy RC-58||5||$$$$|
|Benchmade Adamas Sibert Knife||8.7||3.82||7.7||D2 Tool Steel||4.9||$$$|
|SOG SEAL Pup Elite Knife||9||4.85||5.4||AUS8 Stainless Steel||4.7||$$|
|SOG Seal Team Knife with Kydex Sheath||12.3||7||10.3||AUS8 Stainless Steel||4.8||$$|
|ESEE-6 Plain Black Blade Knife||11.75||6.5||11.8||1095 Carbon Steel - 57 RC||5||$$$|
|Gerber Prodigy Survival Knife||9.75||4.75||7.21||420HC Stainless Steel||4.7||$$|
|CRKT 2020 AG Russell Sting Knife||6.85||3.19||3.9||1050 HRC 54-55 Carbon Steel||4.6||$|
|Ontario USN-1 Survival Knife||9.625||5||8||1095 Carbon Steel||4.6||$$|
|Ontario RTAK II Knife||17||10.5||22.5||5160 Steel||4.6||$$|
|Ontario Blackbird SK-5 Wilderness Survival Knife||10||5||8.4||154 CM Steel||4.4||$$$|
|Ontario Air Force Survival Knife w/ Sheath 499||9.5||5||9.9||1095 Carbon Steel||4.8||$$|
|Buck 65 Hood Punk Knife||11||5.62||7.4||5160 Carbon Steel||5||$$$|
|ESEE-4 Plain Edge Black Blade Knife MOLLE Locks||9||4.06||7.4||1095 Carbon Steel - 57 RC||4.7||$$$|
|ESEE Knive Izula-II||6.75||2.88||2||1095 Carbon Steel - 57 RC||5||$$|
|M-tech Full Tang Camo Survival Knife||10.375||5.25||16||440 Stainless Steel||4||$|
|M-tech USA Full Tang Jungle Survival Knife||12.25||7||16||440 Stainless Steel||4.6||$|
|Buck TOPS Nighthawk Hunting Knife||10.14||6.5||10||420HC Stainless Steel||4.6||$$|
|Buck 0119BKS-B Special Fixed Blade Knife||10.5||6||7.5||420HC Stainless Steel||4.6||$$|
|Spyderco Bill Moran Knife||8||3.9||3||VG-10 Stainless Steel||5||$$|
*Click on any of the columns in the chart above to sort the data to help make your buying decision easier. Click on the knife name or picture to view more details and purchase!
Survival Knife Buyers Guide: Knife Chart
Included in the best selling survival knife chart above, there are 7 columns:
- Knife Brand and Name/Model – (click to view more details or to purchase)
- Knife Picture – Picture of knife.
- Overall Length – Combined blade and handle length in inches.
- Weight – The knife weight in ounces.
- Blade Length – The knife blade length in inches.
- Blade Material – The type of metal used in the knife blade.
- Rating – The average user rating on Amazon.com. This can be very helpful in deciding if people are satisfied with their purchase.
- Price – These are approximate prices on Amazon. These change frequently based on availability, special promotions, and more. But generally speaking this should give you an idea:
- $ = under $40
- $$ = $40 to $100
- $$$ = $100 to $200
- $$$$ = $200+
What is a Survival Knife?
By definition, a knife is simply a two piece component. The blade and the handle. A survival knife is usually a fixed blade, full tang knife with a blade length (usually) between 5-12 inches.
A survival knife is one item that you want to have with you with things go bad. Most survival knives are intended for situations in the outdoors or wilderness, such as hiking or camping, in which the circumstance has become an emergency and you are left with bare essentials. A good quality survival knife can be a lifesaver in an environment where you have lost most of your gear, become trapped or come face to face with a dangerous or risky situation. Many double as a hunting knife, to be used for trapping, skinning, fishing and other uses.
Survival knives are used by outdoor sports enthusiasts, hunters, campers, hikers and survivalists. Many of us find it an essential tool as part of a larger survival kit. A good quality knife will last you a lifetime!
Features of a Top Rated Survival Knife?
Aside from it’s function as being a high quality knife, most survival knives are heavy duty and designed for work such as cutting wood and branches, skinning animals, gutting fish, cutting cordage and tasks that require a more durable knife blade. Some knife blades have more thickness and allow you to hit the spine or back of the blade, if it is flat. This allows you to pound on it to assist with tasks such as splitting and chopping wood. Other models have features such as a serrated spine that allows you to saw directly with the knife. Overall, a survival knife is just that, a knife that can help you survive.
If used properly, it is a tool with literally dozens of different survival-related functions, including:
- Prying Tool
- First Aid Tool
- Food Preparation
- Shelter Building
- Fire Making
- Hunting Weapon
- Signaling Device
- Make-Shift Screwdriver
Each survival knife has different features that make them unique. For some it’s the blade materials, others it’s the handle and yet for others, it’s the features of the sheath or blade design itself. Most all individuals have things they want to see on their knife and sometimes know exactly what they want. A lot of outdoor enthusiasts carry more than one knife with them as they each serve a different, specific purpose. There are countless styling options that come down to personal preference. Most have no actual bearing on the survival functionality. Some of the features you can find on a good knife include:
- Blade Material (Carbon or Stainless Steel – varying options with varying results)
- Handle Material (Poly, Rubber, Micarta, Bone, Antler, etc.)
- Color or Finish
- Blade Steel (Damascus, Blued, Polished, etc.)
- Lanyard Holes
- Paracord Wrapping
- Serrated, Non-serrated or Combo Blade
- Sheath Design, Style and Functionality
- Knife Designer / Manufacturer / Brand
- Decorative Milling
- Blade Style
- With or Without Finger Guards
- Blood Groove
Whatever features you are looking for, it’s always smart to add a good quality survival knife to ANY emergency survival kit. You never know when something is going to happen, and it’s always best to be prepared for it!
What Makes a Good Survival Knife?
Everybody has a different opinion on what makes the best survival knife, but it comes down to 3 basic things for me.
Quality: It has to be a high quality blade material, good name brand with an excellent reputation.
Durability: A good warranty offered by the manufacture says a lot about the reliability of the knife.
Versatility: I like a good multifunctional survival knife to carry with me. It needs to serve many uses.
High quality is a must, it goes without saying. The last thing you want your knife meant to help you survive is to break, or worse yet, break and injure yourself with it. A high quality knife with good blade material and thickness is always something I consider when making a knife purchase.
It needs to be durable AND reliable. They go hand in hand. There are some knife brands out there that offer lifetime warranties. Standing behind your product when it’s something as important as a survival knife says a lot and is also criteria I use when shopping for a knife. I look for the top rated survival knives or best rated knife to see what others have to say.
My knives need to serve more than one function, therefore I look for versatility in a survival knife. I want to be able to chop wood, spark my fire starting rod, dig and gut fish and even shave if needed! In a survival situation, if all you are left with is the knife strapped to your side, it’s important that it has the ability to serve more than one purpose.
Of course, there are other criteria I consider when shopping for a survival knife. These factors are all important to me and I explain why with each feature I list that you too should consider when looking for a good survival knife.
Size: Bigger isn’t always better, but sometimes it is. Just remember you need a good balance and happy medium between a knife that is too big versus a knife that is too small. You want to be able to chop wood, but you probably still want to be able to clean a fish, even if it is a small one. Be sure to select a blade size and overall knife size that will suit your needs.
Fixed Blade: This is important to me. A fixed blade is more durable and stronger than a folding knife. If you’re going to be using your survival knife to chop, pound or pry, you want a fixed blade so there is no joint of any kind in the knife to break. You minimize the risk of damage and potentially loosing your survival tool with a strong, fixed blade knife. I like a good quality folding knife, but I use them more for my Every Day Carry (EDC).
Full Tang: If you are looking for the strongest, most durable knife, then it needs to be a fixed blade AND full tang. Full tang means that the blade and handle are made from one solid piece of metal. It is much more robust than a partial tang, half tang or rat-tail tang knife and provides a more solid, comfortable grip. Good quality knives rarely break, even with a half tang or rat-tail tang. Those types do sometimes become loose in their handles and develop a little bit of play, especially in demanding situations. For this reason, I like having a knife with a full tang as well as a fixed blade. Much more solid for me in my opinion.
Sharp Spear Tip: This may sound stupid and obvious, but there are many knives out there that have curved, rounded or angled blade tips. There are many arguments and reasons for and against those styles, but my needs favor a sharp, pointed tip, such as a good Tanto blade or spear point knife. This allows me to attach my knife to a pole, either by itself or lashed with paracord and use it as a hunting weapon or defensive spear. I take into account the handle material, shape and design aspects when considering the ability to attach it to other objects.
Single Edge Blade, Flat Spine: It’s important to be able to use your survival knife to chop wood. A knife with a thick, flat spine is essential when needing to split wood or pound on to chop wood. It could be for fire starting or making a shelter. The ability to hammer on the back of the blade and assist with the wood tasks is vital when it comes right down to it. A sharpened back edge would serve you no purpose if these tasks were necessary and critical to your survival.
Substantial Butt, or Pommel: If you’re needing to use your survival knife as a hammer, then you’ll need a butt on it that is flat and not pointed or hooked. Sure, those types of ends have good purposes in their own rights, but having the ability to pound stakes in the ground to hammering away ice when needed is always important. A good substantial pommel will only add to your knives capabilities.
Is a Fixed Blade or Folding Knife Better?
You will read a lot about this topic here at Survival Knife Buyers Guide. Ultimately, fixed blade knives make better survival knives. They are stronger and allow you some benefits that a folding knife does not. A full tang, fixed blade knife with a thick knife blade is the best choice. It is the strongest choice in survival knives. Folding knives do just that, they fold closed. Fixed blade knives come with sheaths to protect and secure the knife blade. There are some very high quality folding survival knives on the market and even on my list, but when it comes down to needing it; I want a solid fixed blade by my side.
What’s the Difference in Knife Blade Steel?
The blade is what makes or breaks a knife. Make sure you know what material the blade is constructed of, as each specific type has its own advantages and disadvantages. Metal classification can get very complex. It’s important to have at least a general knowledge about knife blade materials, so I’ve included a short description of the different and most common types of steel used in knife blades. Take care of your knife blade as that will ensure a long-lasting life for your knife!
Stainless Steel Knife Blades
The stainless steel blade is one of the more popular types for knives due to its high durability and resistance to corrosion and rust. Stainless steel comes in lots of different metal grades and classifications, each having its own distinctions and benefits. While being more resistant to rust, they do stain and will not be as sharp as other knife materials, such as carbon and ceramic. Today, most kitchen cutlery, scuba diving knives and many pocket knives are commonly constructed with stainless steel.
Carbon Steel Knife Blades
In the past, carbon steel was used for most blades, but due to the popularity of stainless steel, that has changed somewhat. Carbon steel knife blades are the sharpest blades available today and much easier to maintain their edge than stainless steel blades. Popular with survival knives, hunting knives and pocket knives, but rarely seen in kitchen knives due to the lack of Chromium. This lack of Chromium makes the metal susceptible to rust and corrosion which causes the metal to discolor easily. It’s very important to carefully clean carbon steel blades after each use. They should not be put in damp sheaths due to the corrosive factor.
Titanium Knife Blades
Popular with scuba diving knives and pocket knives, titanium is a very strong rust-resistant material that is easy to tell apart from other metal blades due to its dark color. Usually not as sharp as other blade types, but sometimes coated with other materials on the blade to strengthen it and increase durability. Being non-magnetic, titanium knives are popular in bomb-defusing work.
Most survival knife blades will be of either a grade of stainless steel or carbon steel metals.
What are the Different Types of Knife Blade Points?
Listed below are some of the different types of blade point designs you can get in a survival knife:
The normal (or straight-back) blade is pretty straight forward – it has a dull flat back and a curved edge. Because the back is not sharp it allows you to use your hand or fingers to apply additional pressure to increase the cutting force. Overall it’s good for slicing or chopping. Still, the dull back adds a little weight to the blade so these knives tend to be a little heavier.
The clip-point blade is formed when you take a normal blade and ‘clip’ the back which results in a thinner tip. This thin tip can be used to cut in hard to reach places and provides some additional control. A Bowie knife is a classic example of a knife with a clip-point blade. Usually the clip is concave but it can also be straight.
The trailing-point blade has a distinctive back edge that curves up which allows for improved slicing ability. The large curve is often referred to as a “belly” and a large belly is particularly useful for skinning. The curve allows for a more lightweight knife as compared to the normal blade. This blade style is also popular on filet knives.
The drop-point blade uses a convex curve on the back of the knife near the tip which is the opposite of the clip-point that uses a concave curve. The convex curve is less suited to piercing but provides more strength than a clip point. You’ll find many modern pocket knives today having drop point blades as it’s effective in most applications.
The spear-point blade is symmetrical in that is is curved the same on either side of the spine which runs down the center. They can be sharp on both edges or only on a single edge which is common for penknives. Typically you will find spear-point blades on daggers and other knives designed for thrusting or throwing.
The needle-point is also symmetrical but tapers much more sharply and therefore is not particularly strong but can be used effectively to pierce or penetrate. Stabbing is the needle-point blade’s strong point and you tend to see this blade mostly on daggers intended for close range combat just like the spear-point.
The spey-point obtained its name from being used to spey animals. It has a straight edge that curves upward at the end with a relatively small clip on the back. This type of blade does not really provide a point and hence not good for penetrating but very effective for skinning animals.
The tanto knive has a chisel edge inspired by Japanese swords which provides excellent strength. The Tanto name originally referred to the tip of a broken samurai sword which was very effective at piercing armor. Tanto knives have no belly so will not be able to slice but instead make up for it with tremendous tip strength that can penetrate almost anything. You’ll find some different varieties of Tanto blades and they are becoming quite popular in certain tactical knives.
The sheepsfoot blade is almost the opposite of the normal blade by offering a sharp straight edge and a dull back which is largely straight then curves at the end. These knives can be closely controlled by your fingers being placed on the dull back and were originally used for trimming the hooves of sheep. Great for chopping but lacks a sharp point (which can be a plus in many situations as it prevents accidental stabbing).
The Wharncliffe blade is a thicker blade but very similar to the sheepsfoot but the back begins to curve towards the tip much earlier and therefore at a more slight angle. These blades were typically used by sailors as the shape of the tip was designed to prevent the sailor stabbing himself as a result of being jolted about by the waves.
The pen blade is typically found on smaller folding pocket knives and similar in shape to the spear point blade but with a more gradual curve. One side is sharp and the other dull just like you find on Swiss Army and similar pen-knives.
What is the Best Rated Survival Knife?
This is entirely personal preference. While there are many great quality knife manufacturers, it’s hard to even try and say which one makes the best quality survival knife. I’ve had knives from Buck since I was a kid and they’ll probably be handed over to my kids, while I’ve got some other newer brands that don’t quite have the same reputation as these other knife builders yet, but sure will over time. Gerber, Ka-Bar, Ontario, Benchmade and other knife brands all have outstanding reputations, but it comes down to preference.
It’s like the long-time debate over a Chevy and a Ford. Which one’s better? It’s really a personal preference as to which one is going to best suit your needs and overall taste. They’re both going to do the same job in a sense, just to different degrees, based on design. Same with the knives on the market today. Of all the knives listed in on our comparison chart, you won’t be disappointed with any of them. They are all fine, top quality survival knives with great reputation and overall high customer satisfaction ratings. You really can’t go wrong choosing any of the best survival knives in our survival knife buyers guide.
What is the Absolute Best Survival Knife?
The one you have with you when you find yourself faced with an emergency survival situation! No really, go check out the best survival knife comparison chart I’ve made that shows all the different top rated survival knives and even the absolute best selling survival knife on the market today.
Use the Survival Knife Buyers Guide, along with your specific needs and taste, to help determine which survival knife is the best overall fit for you!
There are many great knives in this list and it was hard to select the 50 shown. Ultimately, it is up to you to find the best survival knife that fits your needs. I have given you a full survival knife comparison chart that is sortable so you can rearrange the knife guide into any helpful order you want. I hope this article, along with this website and knife chart as well as my survival knife reviews, tips and insight help you in your search for the best survival knife.
Remember, the best survival knife is the one you have with you when you need it! As the Boy Scouts say… “Always Be Prepared!”