Best Survival Knife 2017
If you're looking for the best survival knife for your purposes, this guide has you covered with extensive reviews and a carefully crafted list of top 10 best survival knife.
The Cold Steel SRK Kraton Handle Knife is a versatile knife able to withstand extreme abuse. They didn’t hold back when it comes to the steel, heat treating and construction on this survival knife. The blade is made with AUS-8A steel and has a black epoxy powder coat to help protect the blade from the elements. The blade has a very strong clip point that’s fine enough for delicate work, yet has a large enough belly for efficient slashing, skinning and cutting. At 3/16″ of an inch thick, the SRK offers the sturdiest possible point and edge configuration, without sacrificing sharpness. Every blade is hand honed to an edge that is razor-sharp! The 6 inch blade definitely handles bigger jobs well.
The sheath is Concealex which is a tough, flexible and solvent-resistant plastic. The sheath can be configured for all sorts of carry options which is always a plus. The knife locks positively into the sheath by means of friction between the sheath and the guard. I think the sheath is “jump-rated,” and although you may not be parachuting with it on weekends, if you take a spill down a hill, then you’ll be glad the knife stayed where it was supposed to stay, instead of finding its way in to your soft supple skin.
Overall this is a tough survival knife, a little on the thicker side, which is useful for prying things open. Definitely a great deal at these prices. Everyone should have at least one knife like this in their collection.
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Buck 119 Special Fixed Blade Knife
The Buck 119 Special hunting knife has been a top seller going back 47 years and is Buck Knives most popular fixed blade sheath knife. The fixed blade is a 6 inch clip blade shape, great for detail work, such as cutting in tight places. It is made from 420 High Carbon Stainless Steel. This knife comes sharp right out of the box. This is not the knife you want to use to pry things or use for throwing. This knife is great for cutting but it is not a thick blade so there is some bend in the blade. If you try to use this blade to pry something open you WILL snap the blade and possibly hurt yourself. The overall length is 10.5 inches and weighs 7.5 ounces, making it easy to control and very manageable.
The Buck 119 Special has a phenolic handle with a polished aluminum butt and finger guard. It is very comfortable to hold and easy to control. However, this is not the kind of handle you want if you are working in wet conditions of any sort. This handle can get very slippery when wet. It looks very beautiful no doubt, but when it comes to functionality under all conditions, this handle loses points. If you want a camp knife for skinning or cutting this is a great knife to get. It’s like the classic muscle car of knives. If you need something built for tougher jobs under possible harsh conditions, then you should look for something with a rubberized grip like Kraton.
The Buck 119 Special comes with a fitted black leather sheath for convenient storage and transport. The sheath is a nice grade leather and does the job. You have to be mindful of leather’s ability to retain moisture which could lead to corrosion of the blade. Remember, even stainless steel can rust, given the right conditions. I prefer the harder plastic sheaths like Kydex, especially if there is a chance that I could be working in wet conditions. Keep in mind that a sheath is easy enough to replace no matter which knife you get.
This Buck 119 Special is definitely an All American Classic Knife still made in America and it comes with Buck Knives 4-Ever unconditional lifetime warranty.
- Blade length: 6 inches
- Blade material: Satin-finish 420HC stainless steel
- Carrying system: Black leather sheath
- Fixed blade: Yes
- Handle material: Phenolic
- Weight: 7.5 ounces
- Warranty: Lifetime
Ka-Bar Black Fighting Knife
This Ka-Bar Black Fighting Survival Knife is ideal for camping, and many other uses. This Ka-Bar survival knife is tough and long lasting. The blade has a partially serrated edge, making it easy to cut looped and synthetic materials. The serration are circular, making it harder to sharpen but outperform other pointed tooth serrations. The blade is made of hard 1095 carbon-steel material, which makes it very durable. This survival knife is easy to sharpen and built to hold up to heavy use and also has a 20-degree edge angle for serious cuts. The knife’s blade measures 7 inches long and the overall length is 11-3/4 inches so consider how you will be carrying this knife before buying. This isn’t a small knife.
The handle is made of Kraton G which is very comfortable yet durable and is completely waterproof. The extended tang comes out past the butt of the handle which is useful for hammering. This Survival Knife is very well-balanced.
The leather sheath is kind of cheap. It does the job of housing the knife but that’s it. I suggest you purchase something better if you decide to go with this survival knife. This Kydex Sheath is perfect. It fits this model and the Kydex Sheaths are awesome. Many more mounting options and won’t promote moisture or corrosion like the leather sheath.
Some things I don’t like about this survival knife are:
It is vulnerable to rust. The black oxide coating is not as protective as something like a TiNi coating. So you will need to follow good Survival Knife Care guidelines, to prevent it from rusting. As I mentioned above, the leather sheath is not so great, but for less than 11 dollars you can get an awesome Kydex Sheath.
If you need a Survival Knife with a carbon steel blade, then this is a good knife and you have to love Ka-Bar for carbon steel survival knives. I think everyone should own at least one Ka-Bar Fighting Knife. If you don’t want to maintain your knife, then you should probably consider a different knife.
- Blade length: 7 inches
- Overall length: 11-3/4 inches
- Shape: Clip-Point
- Edge angle: 20 degrees
- Steel: 1095 Cromium-Vanadium carbon steel
- Grind: Flat
- Handle material: Kraton G
- HRC: 56-58
- Butt cap/guard: Powdered metal/1095 carbon
- Weight: 0.66 pounds
Ka-Bar US Marine Corp Fighting Knife
Ka-Bar has a history of hardcore reliability for everyday chores, as well as lethal efficiency in last-ditch combat uses. Ka-Bar kept the US Marine Corp Fighting Knife almost identical to the ones carried by soldiers in WWII, Korea and Vietnam. This Knife is still used by soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan to this day. The blade is made of exceptional 1095 Cro-Van steel. The shape of the blade is extremely well done. It has a very sharp point, a sufficient belly to allow slicing or skinning and a long enough straight portion for anything else. The blade also has enough heft to make thrusting, chopping or slashing feel natural in a combat situation. The blade will hold a shaving edge, and can be re-sharpened in the field with a little bit of effort. I recommend a V-shaped ceramic sharpener where you should be able to get that razor-sharp edge again after a dozen passes. The blade is 7 inches long with an overall length of 11.8 inches from tip to butt.
The leather-stack handle provides an excellent grip, and the balance of the knife is really nice. I am partial to rubberized grips but some leather grips like the one on this survival knife are comfortable and provide a good grip. Remember that a little more maintenance and care goes with having a leather handle.
This comes with a leather sheath and I prefer something like a Kydex sheath over a leather sheath, but I have to admit that this leather sheath, although simple in design seems to fit this knife well. Admittedly only because of the USMC insignia on the front of the sheath. Extra care and maintenance should be taken if storing this knife in the leather sheath that comes with it.
This Survival Knife always gets 5 stars no matter where you read reviews on it. Although this is an excellent fighting knife which works well in general utility situations, I believe part of its 5 star rating comes from the rich history that you get when you purchase this knife.
The Gerber LMF II Survival Knife has a 12C27 stainless steel blade measuring at almost 5 inches long. The 12C27 steel is stainless steel and comparable to the durability and toughness of a 440A steel. This steel is generally low maintenance, resistant to corrosion and holds an edge well. The blade has a half serrated edge which is great for cutting through rope and even a seat belt but sort of makes it a pain to sharpen the blade because the serrations are on the sharp edge. This knife is heavy-duty and weighs in over 1 lb. The overall length is slightly over 12 inches, so you might consider it a little cumbersome to carry sheathed on your person. That is a personal preference of course. The blade holds its edge really well and it is easy to get the blade portion sharp, not including the serrations.
The butt cap comes with a plexiglass punch which can be used to break glass and as well as for use as a hammer. The punch is separated from the push tang blade to allow for shock absorption and prevent electrical shocks, which means you can cut electrical lines without getting electrocuted. Keep in mind that this is not a full tang. The push tang allows them to insulate the knife from the handle, thus protecting the user from things like electrical shock.
The handle is Kraton which is rubber-like and is also textured to provide a secure grip. If you use survival knives then you probably prefer rubberized grips like the Kraton grip on the LMF II, because they are comfortable and don’t become slippery when conditions get wet. The handle comes with more than one lanyard hole (one on the butt and 2 on the crossguard) which allows you to attach the knife for use as a spear. The over sized handle looks a little goofy to me but it is very comfortable and provides a solid grip. You can use this knife comfortably for heavy-duty jobs for a few hours at a time but anything more and the weight and size of this survival knife will most likely take a toll on your hand and forearm. The handle is designed to absorb shock which helps when hacking through branches.
The sheath is low profile and has a lot of option for attaching to a belt or MOLLE vest. The sheath comes with a built-in carbide knife sharpener so your Gerber Survival Knife will always be sharp when you need it most. You can get the blade pretty sharp just by sliding it in and out of the sheath a few times, however it doesn’t sharpen the serrations. You’ll have to use something like a diamond sharpener for the serrations. If you like the fact that its heavy-duty and don’t mind that it weighs over a pound and is slightly over 12 inches long then you should give this knife some serious consideration.
Ka-Bar 2-1245-1 Black Tanto Knife
The Ka-Bar Black Tanto Survival Knife is made of 1095CR-V High Carbon Steel which means this knife sharpens well. It has a full tang which makes this survival knife very durable and solid. It has a Tanto style blade which is great for piercing. The blade is 8 inches long and the overall length of this survival knife is 12 7/8 inches long. So there is a whole lot of blade for any job you can throw at it. The blade is partially serrated. I usually prefer my serrations on the top edge of a survival knife because I hate giving up half of my cutting edge for serrations that could easily be put on the top edge.
However, the serrations on this knife are only a small useful portion (partly because the blade is 8 inches long) of the bottom edge of the blade. The serrations are actually really great at cutting with saw-like teeth. Tanto style blades are really great for combat functions and I don’t usually buy Tanto blades but this one had some great reviews for its other capabilities so I bought it and I am very happy with it. The epoxy coating on the blade reduces reflection and helps protect it from corrosion. The Ka-Bar Black Tanto Knife has a good balance to it which by looking at the blade to handle ratio doesn’t seem like it would, but it is very well-balanced and feels comfortable to use for long periods of time.
The Kraton-G handle is very comfortable to hold. Kraton-G grips are textured and rubberized so they provide a very secure grip under all conditions. I love rubberized grips the best. If you actually use your survival knife then you will find yourself working in wet conditions at times. This is where a rubberized grip wins out every time. The pommel is flat and simple and seems very durable which makes it useful for striking with the bottom of the pommel. The handle comes with a lanyard hole so you can throw some paracord through there.
The Kydex sheath that this survival knife comes with is one of the best in the business. Kydex sheaths are tough, hard plastic which grip the knife tightly. They don’t retain moisture like leather or nylon. They have a ton of mounting options and not just a belt loop hole like some sheaths do. The Kydex sheath has a locking mechanism for holding your survival knife in place. I try to get a Kydex sheath for every survival knife if it fits. I love them. This is definitely the best Tanto style blade I own.
- Includes knife and sheath
- Weighs 0.72 lbs.
- The blade is 8″ long with an edge angle of 20 degrees; overall length 12 7/8″
- 1095 Carbon Steel
- Butt Cap/Guard: Powdered Metal/1095 Carbon; Hollow-Ground; Tanto Shape; Kraton G Handle; Stamp: USA
CRKT 2020 AG Russell Sting Knife
The CRKT 2020 AG Russell Sting Survival Knife is an exceptional survival knife. It is made entirely of high-grade 1050 Carbon Steel. It is super easy to sharpen and it holds its edge well. The blade really holds up to abuse and though I don’t suggest you abuse it because you would void your warranty if you did, this survival knife can take what you dish out. This knife is solid and you will be surprised by how heavy it feels. Not to say that this is a heavy knife but it felt heavier than I expected. The blade is 3.2 inches long with an overall length of 6.85 inches for the knife itself. The size puts in on the small side of survival knives and even though it’s marketed as a survival knife, you could easily sport this knife as a boot knife.
The handle is very comfortable and gives you a firm grip. There are grooves and indentations over the handle to make it ergonomic and help provide a better grip. I prefer rubberized grips but I have to admit this is the best grip I have felt on a non-rubberized survival knife handle. The sheath is a custom Cordura Zytel sheath and it small. By custom, I mean, you can tell this sheath was made specifically for this particular survival knife. It fits like a glove. It has two Velcro straps which allow you to strap the sheath to your belt, to your ankle, or even your arm. It is very comfortable wherever you mount it. I am a little concerned that over time the Velcro straps will lose their ability to hold well but it’s too new for me to say that now.
There is a beautiful powder coating over this knife which can be scratched. Maybe the real problem is that this knife is so tough, that you find yourself pushing the limits of how hard you use it and scratches are to be expected when you use a knife as hard as I have used this one. CRKT claims that the blade is indestructible and I have to say after using this knife, I don’t doubt them. This is such a great knife and it’s pretty easy to see why CRKT is considered such an excellent brand after owning this survival knife. Have I mentioned that this knife is basically perfect?
- Fixed blade
- 1050 HRC 54-55 carbon steel
- Non reflective powder coated blade
- Cordura Zytel sheath
CRKT claims that the blade is indestructible and I have to say after using this knife, I don't doubt them. This is such a great knife and it's pretty easy to see why CRKT is considered such an excellent brand after owning this survival knife. Have I mentioned that this knife is basically perfect?
Ontario RTAK-II Serrated Knife
The Ontario RTAK-II Serrated Survival Knife is one big knife with an overall length of 17 inches. The blade is made of 1095 High Carbon Steel with a flat blade angle and is 10.5 inches long. One thing that surprised me was how the blade is only 0.2 inches thick. For such a big, heavy knife I expected it to be thicker. This version has a serrated section on the sharp edge of the blade.
Normally I prefer the serrations on the top edge of a survival knive’s blade because I hate losing some of the sharp edge to serrations but its not a big section and with a 10.5 inch blade it’s not as noticeable as it would be on a 6 inch blade. Because of the weight and large size, this survival knife is really great when you need to baton wood. Of course because of its weight and size, you won’t be able to carry it on your side. It’s very durable and takes abuse well. It’s a bit tougher to get a really sharp edge on the blade but once you have a nice sharp edge, it will hold its edge very well.
The handle is made of Micarta and is very durable. It provides a really good grip even during heavy use. The balance in this knife is good but the almost 7 inch handle was a bit big for my average sized hands. It is built well and I like this knife but I prefer to carry a medium sized survival knife at my side and bring a machete or camping axe with me for the times I want to cut wood. The sheath it comes with is MOLLE compatible and made of nylon. It has some decent mounting options and it does the job well. If I was carrying it on my person I would prefer some sort of hardened plastic sheath, but this sheath is fine for this knife.
Overall the RTAK-II Survival Knife is a big, heavy-duty survival knife with a very large blade that can be sharpened to a nice edge that will hold well under all kinds of abuse. If you want a big, strong and sharp survival knife then you should consider the RTAK-II by Ontario. It will definitely make you feel like a beast when you wield it, although your forearms might feel weak after a day of using it.
- Overall Length:17 in
- Blade Length:10.5 in
- Weight:1 lb 6.5 oz
- Blade Material:1095 Carbon Steel
- Hardness:54-56 HRC
- Finish:Powder Coat
- Handle Material:Micarta Handle
- Sheath Type:MOLLE Compatible Sheath
Overall the RTAK-II Survival Knife is a big, heavy-duty survival knife with a very large blade that can be sharpened to a nice edge that will hold well under all kinds of abuse.
The Condor Rodan is a full tang knife made of 1075 high carbon steel. The blade is 3/16 inches thick so it can handle some light duty prying and batoning as well as many other common tasks without giving too much flex. The blade is 5.25 inches long and has a black powder coating which will scratch off slightly with sharpening as time goes on but this is usually the case with any black powder coating on survival knife blades. The overall length of the Rodan is 10.5 inches which makes it very manageable and weighing in at 9.6 ounces means the Condor Rodan won’t tire out your hands after a full day’s use. The 1075 high carbon steel takes a little extra work to sharpen but the payoff is the fact that it will hold it’s edge a bit longer. Keep in mind that 1075 high carbon steel can rust pretty easily so be sure to wipe the blade down and give it a light coating of oil before putting it away.
The handle on the Condor Rodan is made from a high impact polypropylene. The grip you get is decent but be careful when using this knife in wet or slippery conditions. The handle is pretty hefty which you may find cumbersome if you have smaller hands. The hefty handle usually works better for jobs like chopping wood and not so great on the smaller jobs. They could improve the design of the handle by adding some knurling but it still provides a decent grip. The grip is molded on so it cannot be removed like the Becker BK2 handle.
The sheath that comes with the Condor Rodan Survival Knife is made of leather and I really dislike leather sheaths because they retain moisture which will rust the blade out quicker than anything. That said, I have to admit that the leather sheath is a really good quality and the blade fits nicely in to the sheath even though there is no fail safe lock to keep the knife locked in to the sheath. I have read that the kydex sheath that comes with the Varan can be modified to fit the Rodan. At some point I will probably try that modification because I really don’t like leather sheaths even when they are good quality like the one that comes with the Condor Rodan.
A lot of people compare this survival knife to the Ka-Bar Becker BK2 Campanion. I don’t think I would categorize the Rodan as comparable to the Becker BK2 but in its own right, the Rodan is a really decent knife with a thicker than average blade that holds an edge well and when you consider the price point of this knife (about half the cost of the Becker BK2), you can’t go wrong when you buy the Rodan. This knife and sheath is manufactured in El Salvador but you will find the quality decent, especially considering the price point which is around $30 USD.
A lot of people compare this survival knife to the Ka-Bar Becker BK2 Campanion. I don't think I would categorize the Rodan as comparable to the Becker BK2 but in its own right, the Rodan is a really decent knife with a thicker than average blade that holds an edge well and when you consider the price point of this knife (about half the cost of the Becker BK2), you can't go wrong when you buy the Rodan.
Fallkniven A1 Army Survival Knife
The Fallkniven A1 Survival Knife is a top quality survival knife. The blade is made of high quality VG-10 steel and is laminated to help protect the blade somewhat. It has a full tang and This knife was razor sharp right out of the box and is easy to maintain its edge. The blade has a convex grind so it takes a little practice sharpening if you aren’t used to sharpening a convex grind. The blade length is 6.33 inches which just feels great for all sorts of jobs. The overall length is 11 inches. The blade is 1/4 inch thick so it’s very solid and can take whatever you throw at it. The A1 weighs in at just over 1 lb and it feels great in your hands. It is Well balanced and very durable. I was seriously blown away by how tough this survival knife was. I have the F1 and it’s a great knife so I wasn’t worried about Fallkniven quality, but I didn’t expect it to be so tough and heavy duty for its size. You can easily cut through 4 inch branches
The handle is Kraton and provides an awesome grip no matter what the conditions are and that includes wet conditions. To me that is hugely important because I don’t use my survival knives only when the weather is nice. Being able to hold a strong grip in all weather conditions makes you safer and more effective when using a survival knife. This version of the A1 comes with a Zytel sheath but there is a version that comes with a leather sheath. Personally I prefer the Zytel sheath because it drains water where a leather sheath will retain water and I love the low profile of the Zytel sheaths. I’ll leave the leather sheaths for the old timers. Whenever I have a choice I choose the hardened plastic sheaths like the Zytel sheaths hands down.
My first Fallkniven survival knife was the F1 and I was so impressed I had to get the A1 as well and I am super happy with it. This is definitely one of the best mid-size survival knives I own. It is on the expensive side but it is worth every penny. If you are unsure if this survival knife is right for you or not, check out any of theYouTube videos on the Fallkniven A1 and you won’t be unsure any longer. It basically has everything I want in a survival knife. A nice thick, strong steel, a rubberized grip that provides a strong grip in all weather conditions, including rain and a low profile, moisture draining, low profile hardened plastic sheath and no serrations taking up space on the sharp edge of the blade. This is one of the few survival knives that deserves more than 5 stars.
Blade length: 6 1/3 inches
Overall length: 11 inches
Steel: Laminated VG-10 Steel
Handle material: Kraton
Weight: 16.10 ounces
The Fallkniven A1 Survival Knife is a top quality survival knife. The blade is made of high quality VG-10 steel and is laminated to help protect the blade somewhat. It has a full tang and This knife was razor sharp right out of the box and is easy to maintain its edge.