So, why do you need a survival knife? Imagine yourself losing your way in the middle of a jungle. You don’t have any food or water with you. As the icing on the cake, there are plenty of aggressive carnivores to welcome you. You have to sustain yourself anyhow until the rescue team arrives. Your presence of mind, willpower, and adequate survival resources are the only things that can get you out of the trouble.
Carrying a sharp, easy-to-deploy survival knife can help you fight away almost any obstruction you face in the wilderness. Survival knives are the most valuable assets of professional campers, hunters and soldiers. It is an all-in-one tool that helps procure your food (and cook it as well), shelter and save life in dense forests, deserted islands, and many other emergency situations. Now you must have understood why choosing a right survival knife is so important. Hence, in this guide, my aim will be to find the best survival knife for your unique purposes.
When it comes to choosing a good survival knife, experts have varied opinions. The convenience of handling the knife is one the main determinants. The market is saturated with multitasking, technologically superior, razor-sharp, rough and tough tactical knives from the finest brands of the world, be it the multipurpose swiss army knives, machetes or skinning knives. The key is not to throttle your opinion based on the flamboyant appearance of a knife. If your requirement from the knife is limited, I’d suggest you to avoid feature-loaded knives. Having said that, the very concept of perfection is full of loopholes. Suitability varies from person to person. Operating a survival knife requires a certain amount of outdoor skills, which is why it’s not meant for everyday all-round tasks. I spend most of my weekends either mountaineering or tripping along with my equally adventurous pals in a forest. Survival knives aren’t just tools. Over the years I’ve developed a deep friendship with them.
Bestseller is an over-hyped tag. It doesn’t determine the quality of the product. The knives I’ve chosen to review in this section have proved their metal through consistently top-class performance, excellent resistance against rust, extreme weather and nicks & cuts. Each product is in a league of its own and has set a benchmark for the knife-makers all over the globe. I’ve been fortunate enough to use all the 5 models personally. The serial numbers mentioned below don’t indicate the ranking. Each product has a novelty and its own share of pros and cons. So, without further ado, below are the top 5 survival knife reviews:
Fallkniven A1 Survival Knife
Looking for a knife that can stand strong in the most punishing conditions? If you’re willing to be liberal in expenditure to get the best in the business, Fallkniven A1 is the answer for you. This ultra-strong, outstanding survival tool, manufactured by the premium Swedish manufacturer of military knives, Fallkniven, has a laminated, fine edge VG-10, 6.38 inches long blade with an ideal 0.24 inches thickness. This full tang survival knife knife with an attached Kraton handle is crafted to perform detailed tasks like prying, firewood process, sawing like a pro. This is the reason why the Fallkniven A1 is considered as the best survival knife by countless knife aficionados. You can read our detailed review of the Fallkniven A1 to know more about its features.
The Bk2 companion is your true companion in life and death situations where nothing else can rescue you except a sharp mind and an equally sharp survival knife. The key component of this amazing model from the famous Ka-Bar is its 1095 Crovan steel. Be it cutting through the bone, dicing fruits and veggies or skinning big animals, nothing is impossible for this rugged, tough, 5.5 inches solid steel blade. The steel is rust-proof and retains its shape even in extreme humid weather. It comes to your pocket for a fairly reasonable price and offers a lifetime warranty on the blade too. This is why the Ka-Bar deserves a place in your tactical backpack!
For the ardent lovers of the wild, the ESEE-6 comes as a blessing. This true-blue-gorgeous Black blade is a perfect addition to your arsenal when you’re gearing yourself up for an adventurous weekend in the foothills of Andes or in the mysterious lush of Daintree forest. Black blade is admired by survivalists for its unique 0.188 inches thick, 6.5 inches long carbon steel blade which helps you conquer the deadly wildlife or merciless climate without debilitating. The 11.8 ounces frame swiftly fits in your grip. Need to fix gears, cut open twigs and branches of the tree? Sure thing.
Gurkha Kukri is a synthesis of the best features of a regular life, a machinate and a tomahawk. Driving the blade through the skin of the carcass, cleaning small games, chopping woods or permeating thick bushes-there’s a long list of tasks it accomplishes with speed and accuracy. The oversize is a little on the negative side albeit, I couldn’t still help mentioning it as one of my all-time favourites.
Any Chris Reeve-inspired model is an asset for any knife lover. The unparallel combination of CR legacy and modern technology has brought to you a powerful combating tool with a slightly serrated 7 inches long edge blade. Albeit the massive length of the blade increases the bulk of the equipment, making it a bit tough of the novices to deploy, as you gain experience, you’ll get used to the bulk. Suitable for splitting logs into sections, tearing apart animal skin and batoning.
An ordinary knife isn’t fit enough to face the rough challenges Mother Nature puts up in front of you. There are many instances in which I’ve seen people coming out of a far-away island or the forest of amazon alive even after losing the direction. Their breathtaking stories are still fresh in my memory. Into the wild, without your GPS system, cellphone, gun or food, you’re just as helpless as a kid without its mother. A versatile weapon like survival knife attached can alone boost your confidence to fight against the odds.
As a Woodcutter
A survival knife is something no woodcutter should be without. Flat, long handle knives are a worthy replacement of axe or hatchet. When it comes to splitting solid wood, cutting thickets or saplings, it can be a reliable gear. This technique is also known as batoning. You can use a piece of wood as millet, place the knife over it and pound the back of the knife with a solid wooden stick to cut the wood. Apply the same method to divide logs into several sections. Seasoned campers possess a sort of spidey-sense which helps them detect dry firewood instinctively. Create your DIY fireplace in the jungle to keep cold and fierce animals away.
Lighting the Fire
The primitive technique of fire-making is fascinating for any camper. Although it requires a certain amount of precision over the method, if you manage to master the art, making super-hot sparks even in damp weather won’t be tough. A survival knife allows you to produce tinder from the bark or branch of a tree. Housing a Ferro rod along with Vaseline soaked cotton balls is a way better option than packing a regular lighter. The flatter has the risk of running out of fuel. To create a 3 inches high spark for continuous 2 minutes, use your knife to strike the rod rigorously until it produces tinder. Without fire, it’s almost impossible for anyone to sustain his life in the wilderness or in the cold foothills of a mountain without fire. No wonder why the invention of fire marked the dawn of civilization.
In ancient times, the one-stop solution of almost any problem was fighting duel. Hanging a fixed-blade knife on the belt was a ritual every man followed. In the pre-historic era, men learnt to hunt down animals for their flesh and skin. The use of knife as a survival or hunting weapon hasn’t diminished with the advent of more action-specific tools. In unfavourable conditions, a survival knife empowers you to collect your own food, process them and even cook them in fire. Catching fish with knives instantly reminds us of Survival guru Bear Grylls.
In case you’ve forgotten to pack your metal shovel in hurry, a big fixed-blade knife can perform the task of digging on behalf on it with equal efficiency. If handled with ingenuity, you can dig fire pits, carve out a hole for disposing faeces, dig up worms or edible tubers and etch distress signal on the ground to grab the attention of a rescue helicopter.
How to Choose the Best Survival Knife
Disaster never gives you a phone call before bursting in. Despite the overwhelming progress of science and technology, satellite communication, medical science, nature has always proved that we are nothing but mere helpless mortals in front of her wrath. During the devastating Tsunami of 2004, thousands of people were drifted away to obscure islands by the massive force of sea-waves. We all have heard about the successful survival stories of some brave-hearts who managed to conquer inevitable death. How did they do it? Were they just plain lucky? Definitely not, survival in an unexpected life and death situations requires immense nerve strength, experience, courage and some basic survival resources. Survival tools, at a minimum, have to ergonomically sound and accessible. Below, I’ve listed some key features you must look for in your survival knife.
Size and Thickness
Well, when it comes to survival knives, size does matter. Large, bulky blades are not desirable for survival needs. It not only makes it very difficult to handle but also restricts its ability to perform intricate tasks. On the other hand, small blades as well have its share of perks. You can’t effectively use small blades for demanding tasks like hammering or batoning. Models with around 9 to 10 inches blade length are considered ideal by the experts. Blades below 6 inches or above 11 inches should be avoided. Blades with 4/16 thickness is perfect for strenuous jobs like splitting woods.
The heart and soul of any tool is its material. Corrosion-free, stainless steel is a widely used material for making survival knives. The only drawback of stainless steel is low edge retention power. On the contrary, a carbon steel blade stays razor-sharp for ages. While choosing the a useful survival knife to house in your ultimate survival kit, make sure the knife is full tang. Full tang knives are far superior to partial tang or rat-tail tang blades. Being made of one single, solid piece of metal, full tangs are capable of performing heavy-duty tasks like batoning, prying, digging with ease.
A slippery grip can call for more danger than the ones you’re already facing. You need a firm grip on the knife to accomplish precision. Polymer, hard-rubber are non-slip materials, which is why handles composed for these materials provide comfortable grip.in full tang knives, the tang has to be attached to the handle portion. Long tangs make for highly durable, robust survival knives.
Sharp Pointed Tip
A sharp pointed tip is mandatory for stabbing thick furred animals or hooking fishes. A spear-pointed survival knife deployed for self-defense purposes. In a similar way, cleaning the fishes, repairing gears, digging worms for bait is also easier with spear-pointed tips than with angled or hooked tips.
The bottom or butt of the knife handle is known as pommel. It is commonly used for hammering, batoning or pounding heavy materials. I typically use the pommel to pound shelter stakes. Many people choose to overlook it but a solid pommel really adds to the functionality of the knife. When you need to crush ice, put the tip of the blade on the ice surface, beat the pommel hard continuously with a wooden stick to drive the blade through it.
Different Types of Survival Knives
For a better and more informed understanding of the different application of survival knives, I’ve classified it into 5 categories. The classification is mainly based upon two criteria- design and functionality.
Fixed Blade Knives
Wildlife always puts your physical and mental strength to the ultimate test. One wrong move and your game is over. Choosing only the well-tested and tried tools to prepare your survival kit is the first step towards success. Fixed blade knives will always get preference over folded survival knives for good many reasons. First and foremost, a fixed blade is way more capable of taking high-stress than its other counterpart. Speed is another advantage. You can go on chopping tomatoes, slicing fresh meat with accuracy, wipe it off and put it back in the sheath-all in just a matter of minutes. Here are my top picks for the category of best fixed blade knives:
Buck 65 Hood Punk
Buck is the king of knife-making since, I don’t even know when. There’s a huge fan base of Buck knives around the world and rightly so. The iconic powder coated, 5.62 inches 5160 steel blade is incorporated into a feather-light 7.04 oz. frame, making it an excellent multipurpose tool for professionals and amateurs alike. Buck 65 also features a multifunction MOLLE compatible nylon sheath. The 11 inches length of the knives allows easy, efficient maneuvering. The added deep finger groove maximizes the safety. Hence, it’s considered as one of the best survival knives out there. All in all, it’s quite suitable for outdoor activities.
Ka-Bar Becker 22
When it comes to building knife for survival in adverse situations, Ka-Bar is the gold standard. The Ka-Bar 22 is the ultimate survival kit for real-life action heroes. It weights around 14.6 ounces and the non-slip grip provides excellent control over the 5.25 inches long 1095 Crovan steel is. The solid glass breaker pommel and heavy-duty frame are included among the other highlights. It is the perfect choice for rescue and hunting applications in the wild.
Gerber LMF II Infantry Knife
Gerber survival knives have been rocking the market since I’ve known about them. The 420 HC solid, stainless steel is the biggest highlight of the model. The insulated handgrip ensures maximum protection of your hand from potential injuries while cutting live wire. The super-sharp blade has partial serration which easily increases the application of the knife. Break heavy materials such as firewood, split logs without any hassle with the help of its heavy-duty glass breaker/pommel.
Schrade Extreme Survival Knife
The Schrade model is known for its smart ergonomic design and diverse applications. The 12” knife easily fits in your palm and allows smooth manoeuvring for demanding tasks. It integrates a powerful 1095 carbon steel construction with a durable 6.4” blade. The razor-sharp blade stands strong in the most extreme conditions without fraying. The pommel greatly multiplies the pounding capacity of the knife. The pointed tip is effective for performing detailed jobs like opening cans, prying or digging.
Tom Brown Tracker
The Tom brown master survival tool is crafted to perfection for those who never compromise with the quality. The large size (11.9”) of the knife, quite unbelievably, doesn’t restrict the application of the model. Rather, it provides accuracy and mind-blowing speed for light chopping works, processing firewood, slicing rope and other materials. Definitely deserves a place in your ultimate survival kit!
Bear Grylls Survival Knife Series
Bear Grylls’ unflinching fame as a survivalist in the popular TV show Man v/s. Wild didn’t go unnoticed by the legendary American fine edge knife makers Gerber. In 2010, the icon of billions used a Gerber survival knife in one of he episodes of his show. Launching a product line that carries the legacy of Bear Grylls and amazing product design of Gerber was albeit a shrewd business strategy. Gerber Bear Grylls survival knives put together a wide range of features like stainless steel pommel, built-in diamond tool, rapid deployment along with reliability and amazing warranty. To top it all, the products have been priced daintily, making it an irresistible choice of Grylls’ fans.
Gerber 31-001901 Bear Grylls Ultimate Pro Fixed Blade
Gerber 31-001901 is the watermark of Gerber Bear Grylls ultimate survival series knives. A premium stainless steel has been integrated with Gerber’s superior q2uality full tang construction. Deploying the blade is a cake walk, thanks to the carbide pull through sharpener (one of the best knife sharpeners out there) attached to the frame. At the bottom of the knife, here is a ferrocium fire starter that helps you create high flames anywhere, even in damp weather conditions.moreover, a whistle has been added to create help signals, making you’re your survival scenario a tad less tricky.
Gerber 31-001063 Bear Grylls Ultimate Knife, Fixed Blade, Fine Edge
This tough and meaty survival knife bearing the name of Bear (all puns intended) eases out your journey in the wilderness by enhancing your touted outdoor skills. The texturized, no-slip rubber handle provides perfect control over the high carbons tainless, drop point steel blade. This wilderness survival knife is packaged inside a nylon and hard rubber sheath that can be worn both horizontally and vertically. You will get a portable diamond sharpener for quick and easy sharpening, an emergency whistle and comprehensible survival knife absolutely free with the product!
Gerber 31-000751 Bear Grylls Survival Series Ultimate Knife, Serrated Edge
A serrated edge knife makes tricky jobs like slicing ropes, splitting woods and chopping hard man-made materials like plastic a few steps easier for you. The Gerber 31-00051 series knife has a one half serrated high carbon stainless steel, drop point, ultra sharp blade. The glass break coated blade is ideal for edge retention for years. The model is both ergonomically and economically sound. Hence, it’s considered by many as the greatest survival knife which has a serrated edge. A must have for the toughest action maniacs out there!
The phenomenal collaboration of survival expert Bear Grylls and leading knife manufacturer Gerber brought a series of survival gears endowed with state-of-the-art design and latest technology. Gerber 31-00752 has a 3.60” partially serrated blade that brilliantly multiplies its applications. Its integrated dual-sided thumb stud allows swift deployment and textured, rubberized handle provides optimum firm grip.
Gerber 31-002530 Bear Grylls Survival AO
One of the finest examples of Bear Grylls survival series knives, Gerber 31-002530 has an unmatchable ergonomic design and an attached opening blade for quick, one-touch deployment. The use of Gerber’s FAST 2.0 technology for full-proof protection against cuts is a major highlight of the product. In addition, there is a safety barrel lock that keeps the blade folded when housed in the pocket.
Military Survival Knives
Military combat knives aren’t alien to you if you’re a hardcore gamer and spend your life playing IGI or Call of Duty. Military range of knives not only serves to men and women in the army, they have myriads of civilian uses as well. These razor sharp, sleek models are an ideal addition to your arsenal to combat challenging situations, hunting and fighting purposes. This type of tools has a target consumer group, mainly comprising adventure sports enthusiasts, solders, hikers and campers. The saw teeth blade is a primary feature of such knives. The solid, durable construction is capable of taking extreme work load. Here’s my pick for the top 5 military survival knives of 2017:
SOG E37T-K Seal Pup Elite
SOG’s platinum standard SOG E37T-K Seal Pup Elite is he latest kid on h block. The speciality of the knife is its 4.85” long, fixed blade, partially serrated AUS-8 steel blade. The blade has a cool clip point shape and a stellar TiNi finish. It also incorporates deeper finger grooves and spine rasp for swift notching and comfortable thumb placement. The quirky shape of the blade makes for quick sharpening, easy deployment, allowing the blade to perform heavy-duty, stressful jobs with accuracy.
SOG Seal Knife 2000
The Seal product line of SOG offers multiple styles and sizes of military knives. SOG Seal Knife 2000, specially designed for the Navy Seals, has a 7”, powder coated, part-serrated AUS-8 stainless blade featuring a longer cutting edge. It has a contoured black handle for superior hand grip with a lanyard hole attached to it. The model is housed in a hard SOG nylon sheath.
SOG TS02-N Tsunami
SOG Tsunami fixed blade knife redefines urban survival. Finger grooves in the crossguards, durable TiNi coating, premium Tsunami blade integrated with a slip-proof diamond checkered handle are the most iconic features of the Tsunami series survival knives. It comes carefully covered with a MOLLE nylon sheath. SOG TS02-N Tsunami is one of my all time favourite trekking buddy. Order yours today if sounds like your thing.
SOG S241-L NW Ranger
SOG S241-L NW Ranger tactile knives are admired by outdoor sports freaks, trekkers, hunters and hikers across the world, for all the good reasons. This portable, stylish model has a 5.2” straight edge blade that can tolerate stress without buckling. Releasing the blade is super-simple due to the elongated clip point mated with the blade. An ideal multipurpose tool to help you fight adversities when you’re stuck in the middle of nowhere.
SOG AG02-L Agency
This feature-rich, limited edition product range of SOG AG02-L Agency is a highly sought after model by every knife enthusiast and collector. Exclusively crafted for combating, hunting and clearing carcass, SOG AG02-L Agency with its 7.5 inches, racy, fine edge blade is one of a kind in this highly competitive market. The fixed, AUS-8 steel blade has a clip point for one-hand puncture upon insertion and excellent performance.
Ontario Air Force Survival Knives
The classic, versatile, reliable Ontario survival knives easily fit in your pocket due to its compact size, though they are not fully-fledged pocket knives. These short knives can tackle multifarious tasks and requires almost no maintenance. The blade I coated with zinc phosphate to inhibit rusting. As the saw teeth blade requires frequent sharpening, you’ll find a built-in sharpener in the sheath for quick and easy sharpening. For maximum edge retention, soak one-third portion of the blade in hot beeswax. Any standard USAF Ontario knife features a high quality black zinc phosphate finish carbon parkerized blade of combo edge. Read below to know the Ontario knives that rocked the market in 2016.
Ontario SP2 Air Force Survival Knife
SP2 air force knife rewrote the history of survival gears and then tore it apart. This gen text combating tool is perfect for sporting and military applications. The frame is composed of a 1095 carbon steel and displays a 5.25” straight edge blade. Use it for fishing, hunting, digging, fire-making or trickier jobs like ropes, live wire, the deep finger grooves will provide a secure grip. The knife comes in a protective leather condura sheath.
Ontario 1400 ASEK Survival Knife System
ASEK stands for Aircrew Survival Egress Knife. This line of product is chiefly used in the air war programs of U.S armed force. Ontario 1400 grabs your attention instantly with its electrically insulated handles with a hole. It enables the user to maneuver the knife as a spear for self-defense purpose. The glass breaker butt increases its effectiveness as a hammer. The knife comes loaded with several add-on features like anodized strap cutter, honing rod, screwdriver, replaceable blade etc.
Ontario ASEK-AircrewSurvival Egress Knife
The revolutionary Ontario ASEK-AircrewSurvival Egress Knife model was used by the U.S army in their air warrior program. If you too wish you find a perfect match to your outdoor skills, Ontario ASEK-Aircrew is the answer for you. The knife will be delivered with an additional strap cutter and a flame retardant nylon sheath. The beautiful blade has a combo of serrated edge and saw teeth on the spine.
Rambo Survival Knife Series
Before Bear Grylls, Rambo was the role model of adventure seeking fellas like me, and he still is. The knife used by the leading character of the First Blood movie series became an overnight superstar along with Sylvester Stallone. Signature Rambo knives were sold like hot cakes as soon as it hit the market. The popularity of these knives hasn’t diminished till date. Master Cutlery was the force behind the production of these classic survival knives. Apart from the standard knife versions, it also manufactured a limited edition John Rambo signature range of survival knives. Although all Rambo knives are unique in it on way, here’s a list of the ones that impressed me immensely:
Rambo II MC-RB2 First Blood Part II
To celebrate the overwhelming success of the legend of Rambo in the box office, Master Cutlery created Rambo style survival knife that replicates the design shown in the movie. The overall length of each knife is 15 inches, made from premium 420 stainless steel blade, RB2 has the trademark saw teeth and hollow handle. For better user experience, the aluminum butt cap of the knife features a precision compass. The manufacturing company has chosen only the best quality material to fabricate the lineage of Rambo.
Rambo I MC-RB1 Hunting Knife
Rambo I MC-RB1 knives are officially licensed and offers certificate of authenticity so that you can keep away from those fake stamped knives plaguing the market. The original miniature Rambo knives have a stamped Rambo logo. It is a signature edition knife, so, you might need to stretch your wallet a bit to afford this mini wonder. The heavy duty construction is mated with a 5.75” stainless steel blade, proudly boasting lasered Sylvester Stallone signature. Any knife collector would be proud to show off a knife like this.
Rambo II MC-RBM2SS Miniature
This knife is a replica of the knife shown used by our rough and tough childhood hero Rambo in First Blood part II. It features a racy, powerful 9 inches long blade for a wide range of application in a crude environment. The cord-wrapped handle gives perfect grip and easy handling. The survival kit comes geared with a hook, a fishing line, matches and a lot more. The 40 stainless steel blade has a thickness of 0.25 inches, making it capable of handling meticulous works.
Rambo 4 Signature Edition Knife
This limited edition Rambo knives is modeled after the machete-like knife used by Stallone in the 4th installment of the First Blood franchise. The knife has been hand crafted and manually sharpened by expert knife makers. The full tang frame of tool is built from 1060 high carbon steel. The masterpiece is housed in a high quality grain leather sheath! If budget permits, grab your today and thank me later!
Wrapping Up the Survival Knife Chaos
Your perfect survival knife hunting would remain incomplete without a detailed, insightful knowledge of different kinds of survival knives. Most traders out in the market are waiting to fool the customers in the greed of some extra profit. What knife will be the most appropriate pick for you is contingent upon the environment you’re dealing with and the activities you intend to perform with the knife. Purchasing the right knife is not the end of your duty, you need to take care of your survival companion regularly to keep it in prime condition. I hope our survival knife reviews have helped you in some way or the other in picking the best survival knife for your unique use cases. Stay sharp, be adventurous, happy knifing and definitely happy surviving!