Finding The Best Survival Knife in 2017: Reviews of the Top Fixed Blade Knives

If you find yourself in an unexpected survival situation, what kind of knife would you want at your side?  Honestly, you would probably be happy to have ANY knife with you.  But obviously since you are reading this, you are someone that plans ahead, and you don’t want just any old pocket knife, you want the best knife possible to well, survive with.

We all have our personal preferences on what makes a good knife to go camping or hiking with, but in an extreme situation you want the absolute best survival knife possible, and so we are here to make sure that you have the right choice for any situation.

The comparison guide of knives below and the analysis that follows will help you find the right knife to meet your needs.

Comprehensive Survival Knife Comparison Guide and Key:

Knife Brand:Steel:Rating:Price:
Ka-Bar Becker BK2 Fixed Blade1095 Cro-Van$$
Gerber LMF II Survival Knife420 High Carbon$$
Gerber Strong Arm420 High Carbon$$
Ka-Bar Full Sized Fighting Knife1095 Cro-Van$$
Fallkniven A1 Survival KnifeLaminated VG10$$$$
Buck 119BKS 6 Inch Blade420 High Carbon$$
Ka-Bar BK7 Combat Utility Knife1095 Cro-Van$$
Schrade SCHF9N Fixed Blade Knife1095 Cro-Van$$
ESEE 6P-B Plain Edge1095 Steel$$
ESEE Laser Strike1095 Carbon Steel$$$

Included in the Matrix are 4 Columns:

1.Knife brand and name/model: Click to view more details or to purchase.
2.Blade Material: The metal used in the blade.
4.Rating: Approximate User Rating on Amazon.com
3.Price: These are approximate prices on Amazon.com.  Generally Speaking: $ = under $40, $$ = $40 to $100, $$$ = $100 to $200, $$$$ = $200+

The knives included on this chart actually only begin to scratch the surface.  So many manufacturers and models exist that there is no way that we could have listed everything.  However, many exceptional knives are included at every price range and from a wide variety of quality makers.

All of the knives included are fixed blades which many feel is an essential criteria for choosing a proper survival knife.  There are a few folding knives that will make good backup options, but your primary choice for a survival knife should always be a fixed blade.

Feel free to use the quick jump menu below to make it easier to find the details that apply to you.

Quick Jump User Menu:

So Just What is a Survival Knife?

A survival knife is the essential tool that can be used in the event you get lost in the wilderness or involved in some other extreme outdoor environment. In the event that you are lost in the wilderness the proper knife can truly be a life saver to help you build shelter, start a fire, hunt, prepare food, dig, clear paths, and so much more.

Best Fixed Blade Knife in Tree Stump

Do you really think the castaways from LOST would have survived without John Locke’s suitcase full of knives including a Ka-Bar Full-sized USMC, a Master Bowie knife, and a Spyderco Harpy? Even Hollywood knows that you need a knife to survive when you get “lost”!

In general, a full-tang, fixed blade is going to be more reliable and less likely to break than a folding knife or partial tang. Having a full-tang knife (metal blade runs the full length to the end of the handle) will help ensure the knife can handle extreme pressure or usage without the risk of breakage.

However, a solid folding knife or partial tang knife is more likely to be in everyone’s price range and still provide many of the benefits that perhaps an “ideal” survival knife would.

How To Choose the Right Survival Knife: 8 Things to Consider

There’s a few things you need to consider when picking out your survival knife which includes your planned needs, uses and budget.

In order for a survival knife to perform all of the myriad tasks that is likely to asked of it, it must incorporate several key features that we dive into more detail in the sections below.

1. Blade Design: Choosing the Right Type of Survival Knife

When choosing a survival knife, blade design is perhaps the single most important factor since it determines whether or not a knife is suitable for survival use. For instance, when faced with a wilderness survival situation, the user often employs the full length of the cutting edge from the choil to the belly for different purposes and sometimes, even the tip is needed for piercing.  As a result, you should be aware that there are actually several different blade designs consisting of clip points, drop points, spear points, Nessmuks, trailing points, ect., but, those best suited for survival purposes are the clip point, the drop point, and the spear point.

The reason for this is that all three blade designs are meant to position the tip of the blade closer to the center line to provide the user with greater control than can be had with a straight back design. Also, all three designs serve to lighten the tip of the blade in order to balance the blade closer to the hilt which also provides the user with better control over the tip.  Experienced wilderness survivalists tend to think of survival knives as falling into one of three different categories consisting of heavy duty choppers, camp knives, and bushcraft/utility knives depending on their blade length and blade design.

A heavy chopping tool will feature a robust construction and have a blade that is 10 inches to 14 inches in length with a weight-forward blade design and a saber grind and be made from a tough steel such as 1095, 5160, or 440C. Also, it should feature a highly ergonomic, non-slip, handle design with, preferably, a cushioned, textured, non-slip, surface on the handle made from either Kraton or Hypalon rubber.

A camp knife is defined as a medium sized knife with less robust construction and a blade that ranges from 5 inches to 8 in length with a balance point near the hilt and a flat grind or a hollow grind. Also, it should feature an ergonomic handle that allows the knife to be held in several different positions.

A bush craft/utility knife is defined as a knife that has a blade that measures from 3.5 inches to 5 inches with clip point, a drop point, or a spear point blade design and a flat grind or a hollow grind with an ergonomic handle design.

Schrade does a good job with the video below giving more detail on the types of blade design.

2. Fixed Blade or Folding?  Which is best for a survival situation?

As the expert in the earlier video highlighted, a pocket knife is good to have on hand when you need a good all purpose knife you can carry everyday.  The primary problem with relying on a folding knife is the fact that they have the additional break point that a fixed blade knife does not have.

This is critical when you think about the different uses you may need to use your knife in when you are in a tough survival situation.  The last thing you need is a broken knife when you are trying to setup a shelter or start skinning a recent game kill.

You want something that’s going to be extremely sturdy that will allow you to leverage the knife in just about every situation and not break under contact.  You need to have a knife that is ready to stand up to extreme abuse and last a long time doing it.  A good folding knife has it’s place in any survivalist’s arsenal, but it should never replace a fixed blade knife as the primary resource that you use for extreme situations.

3. Blade Edge:  Know the Best Purpose of your Knife’s Edge:

The design of the cutting edge is also a critical factor when choosing a survival knife because the different types of cutting edges are designed for different purposes.

First and foremost, here are straight cutting edges which are specifically designed to be general purpose edges. However, it should be noted that they can feature either a positive rake angle, a neutral rake angle, or a negative rake angle measured from the bolster.

The neutral rake angle is the most common and it is defined as a an angle that extends at a right angle from the bolster.

A positive rake angle extends from the bolster at a downward angle in order to increase the angle of attack when cutting and slicing.

A negative rake angle is one that extends at an upward angle from the bolster and it is designed to lessen the pressure placed on the cutting edge when cutting and slicing.

Then, there are recurved edges which feature a straight section extending from the Ricasso but which then changes to a positive angle at it approaches the center of the blade and curves upward to the tip as it reaches the belly of the edge which places the balance of the blade well forward of the hilt. Therefore, the purpose of the recurved edge is to create the blade that is good for both cutting and carving near the bolster but which is also tip heavy for better chopping performance.

4. Blade Length:  How Long Should Your Knife be?

A third critical factor when choosing a survival knife is the length of the blade because different length blades are best suited for different purposes. For instance, blade lengths ranging from 8 to 10 inches are usually long enough and have enough weight to be well suited for chopping and splitting with a baton but, they tend to make it difficult to control the tip of the blade when trying to perform small, precision, cutting tasks.

Knives with blade lengths ranging from 3.5 inches to 5 inches are much better suited for more delicate tasks such cutting notches in stakes and staves to build traps and snares, skinning small game animals and gutting fish, slicing up root and tubers, ect.

Blade lengths ranging from 6 to 7.5 inches represent an excellent compromise between long, heavy-duty, blade designs and short utility blade designs.

5. Blade Steel: What’s your Knife Made of?

Types of Survival Knife SteelNext to blade design, the type of steel that a survival knife is made from is possibly the second most critical factor when choosing a survival knife. You should first be aware that there are two different categories of blade steel consisting of non-stainless, high carbon, tool steels and stainless steels with the defining difference between the two being the amount of Chromium the steel contains.

While high carbon tool steels are often significantly tougher than stainless steels, they are less likely to break, they are more prone to corrosion. Plus, although they are also easier to sharpen, they will not hold an edge quite as well as stainless steels. Whereas, stainless steels are generally less tough than high carbon tool steels but will generally hold an edge better (depending on composition and Rockwell Hardness) and, they are far less prone to corrosion But, they are also more prone to break and, they are generally more difficult to sharpen as well.

However, having said that, the relative toughness and edge holding ability of any blade steel is also dependent on its Rockwell Hardness (designated HRC). Therefore, knife blades with a Rockwell Hardness of 50 to 54 are meant to be tough whereas, knife blades with a Rockwell Hardness of 58 to 62 are meant to hold an edge well and knife blades with a Rockwell Hardness of 54 to 58 are meant to be a compromise between toughness and edge holding ability.

Large, heavy-duty, survival knives with long blades should be made from a non-stainless, high carbon, tool steels and have a Rockwell Hardness of 50 to 54 whereas, small bush craft knives with short blades can be made from either type of steel and should have a significantly higher Rockwell Hardness and the same is true for camp knives. Therefore, some good choices for high carbon tool steels for this purpose are 1095, 5160, O1, and A2 whereas, some good choices for stainless steels are 420HC, 440C, AUS-8, and AUS-10.

6. Blade Grind:  Saber Grind or Flat Grind?  What’s the Difference?

Blade Grind ShapesEvery bit as important when choosing a survival knife as blade design and cutting edge design is the blade grind. While there are several different types of blade grinds, the two best suited for survival knives are the saber grind and the flat grind. The reason that this is important is that a saber grind exhibits a primary bevel that extends only a very short distance from the cutting edge to the back of the blade and it creates a thick, axe-like edge that is difficult to sharpen to a fine edge but, which does an excellent job of holding an edge when chopping and splitting.

A flat grind exhibits a primary bevel that extends from the cutting edge all of the way to the back of the blade which represents a compromise between a saber grind and a hollow grind.  As a result, it can be honed to a much finer edge than a saber grind but will hold an edge better than a hollow grind.

Some survival knives have a hollow saber grind which designed to incorporate both the spine thickness of a saber grind and the fine edge of a hollow grind and while this type of blade grind works fairly well for chopping, cutting, and slicing, it is not optimized for either task which makes it a good compromise between a saber grind and a flat grind.

7. Tang Construction Full or Partial?

The tang of a fixed blade knife is the portion of the blade that extends into the handle upon which the knife’s handle is fixed. Because the point where the tang meets the blade is the knife’s weakest point, it should be noted that while there are several different types of knife tangs, the ones best suited for survival knives are the full tang and the hidden tang due to their inherent strength with the inherently weaker partial tang and stick tang being poplar for some handle designs.

The full tang is by far the most popular design and should be your top choice because it consists of a tang that extends the full width and length of the handle with handle scales that are affixed one either side of the tang via epoxy and rivets.

The hidden tang is similar to the full tang in that it extends nearly the full width and length of the handle but is designed in such a way the handle can be hollowed an slid onto the tang where is usually affixed with epoxy.

The partial tang and stick tang are the least desirable of the four types of tangs used to construct survival knives since they have a tang that extends the full length of the handle but only extends a small part of the width. This type of tang is most commonly used in conjunction with handles made from stacked leather discs that are secured with a pommel cap that screws onto the end of the tang via threads.

8. Handle Material: Understanding Grips

Another important factor to consider when choosing a survival knife is the material from which the handle is made because it must be both tough in order to prevent cracking and breaking and it must be impervious to the absorption of moisture to prevent rot.  The single most popular handle material for survival knives is either canvas or linen Micarta which is a resin impregnated fabric that has been heated to liquefy the resin and then pressed under tremendous pressure to form into a solid material.

Fiber reinforced plastics such as G-10 and Zytel are also popular and work just as well. However, neither of these materials provide the user’s hand with any sort of cushion to lessen the shock generated when chopping with the knife.  Textured rubber handles such as those made from Krayton or Hypalon are good choices for heavy duty choppers.

Our Review of the Top 10 Fixed Blade Survival Knives:

Honestly, most of the knives included above are excellent options; but there are a few that we just need to point out as our favorites.  Below you will find our top 5 picks for overall best survival knife along with more a more detailed review of each.  So, pull up your camping chair, lets dig into these options.


1. Ka-Bar Becker BK2 Companion Fixed Blade Knife:

The Ka-Bar Becker BK2 Companion is one of the most popular survival knives on the market today.  With over a thousand reviews on Amazon, this makes it not only well-tried, but also well reviewed.  (You can read all those reviews by clicking the link below).

Here are some points worth mentioning about the knife:

• Ka-Bar-Becker-BK2-Companion-Fixed-Blade-KnifeBlade type: drop point
• Overall length: 10.5”
• Blade length: 5.25”
• Blade material: 1095 Cro-Van
• Rockwell Hardness: 56-58 HRC
• Handle material: Ultramid
• Sheath material: Nylon
• Weight: 16 oz.

Looking at the knife, you can see why people like it. Not only does it have a drop point blade design that is well suited for survival use, it features a heavy-duty construction with a 5.25 inch blade made from 1095 Cro-van (adds both Chromium and Vanadium to Carbon and Manganese) non-stainless, high carbon, tool steel with a Rockwell Hardness of 56 to 58 and a the deep saber grind that allows it to be honed to a fine edge.

It Also features a very ergonomic handle design made from Ultamid which is a custom made polyamide that extremely tough and impervious the absorption of moisture. Due its medium size, it is well suited as both camp knife and a bush craft/utility knife since it will perform most any small task asked of it from skinning game animals to preparing an evening meal.

However, another reason it’s so popular is the price! With the quality design, craftsmanship, size, and durability, you would expect something on the higher end. But, for less than $70, you can add this great survival tool to your collection!


2. Gerber LMF II Infantry:

Specifically designed to be a military grade survival knife, the Gerber LMF II is a very well designed little knife. Although it’s way too small to be effective chopping tool and its design is not particularly well suited to the role of camp knife, it is an excellent little utility knife.  Here are some features worth mentioning below:

Gerber LMF II Infantry Knife Blade type: drop point
• Overall length: 10.59”
• Blade length: 4.84”
• Blade material: 420 HC
• Rockwell Hardness: unknown
• Handle material: Glass Filled Nylon
• Sheath material: nylon
• Weight: 11.67 oz.

THe LMF II Infantry has a 4.84” drop point blade design made from 420HC stainless steel with a deep saber grind and a serrated cutting edge.  The serrations and the glass breaker on the pommel are indicative of its military mindset since the serrations on the cutting edge are not particularly well suited for sharpening stakes and staves nor for carving notches but, they are rather useful when cutting a seat belt to exit a downed air craft or for sawing your way out of an aircraft fuselage or a helicopter canopy.

In addition, it features a very well designed 5.75” handle made from glass filled nylon with a textured rubber coating that is nearly indestructible and is impervious to the absorption of moisture and it has an integral double finger guard with jimping on the inside edges to improve the grip.Furthermore, the designers of this knife had the forethought to include two lanyard holes in the finger guard so that the knife can be lashed to a staff or pole to create a makeshift spear to protect the user from attack by predatory animals or for use as a makeshift hunting tool.

The Gerber LMF II Infantry knife is well suited for a myriad of small utility jobs in a survival situation.


3. Gerber Strong Arm Military Knife:

Another one of Gerber’s line of fixed blade, military, survival knives, the Strong Arm is designed to serve as a small utility survival knife. In fact, it feature a 4.8” drop point blade almost identical to the LMF II Infantry model listed above.  Here are a few of the features worth looking at for this knife.

Gerber Strong Arm Survival Knife• Blade type: drop point
• Overall length: 9.8”
• Blade length: 4.8”
• Blade material: 420 HC
• Rockwell Hardness: unknown
• Handle material: Glass Filled Nylon
• Sheath material: nylon
• Weight: 7.2 oz.

Like the LMF II, the Strong Arm is also made from 420HC stainless steel with a hard, black, ceramic coating to further enhance the steel’s corrosion resistance and to provide a stealthy appearance when used in tactical situations. However, unlike the LMF II Infantry model, the Strong Arm is available either with or without serrations. Due to its small size, it is too small to be effective at even light chopping tasks and it is a bit on the small side for a good camp knife but, it does make and excellent utility or “bush craft” knife for jobs that require a significant amount of control over the blade.

Of course, aiding in that control is the ergonomic and well designed 5” handle made from glass filled nylon with a textured rubber coating that is nearly indestructible and is impervious to the absorption of moisture. Also, it has an integral double finger guard with jimping on the inside edges to improve the grip.

Plus, it comes with a heavy-duty, nylon, modular sheath system that can be mounted vertically on a MOLLE vest, horizontally on a standard 1.75 inch belt, as a drop leg belt mount.  The Gerber Strong Arm knife is a well designed utility survival knife for small jobs with its 420HC stainless steel blade and its nearly indestructible, rubber coated, handle and modular nylon sheath system.

Like many other top Gerber products, the Gerber Strong arm it is a knife that you can depend on in a survival situation.


4. Ka-Bar Becker U.S. Marine Corp Fighting Utility Knife:

Recognized worldwide as a true icon among combat knives, the KA-BAR U.S.M.C. Fighting and Utility Knife is their most famous knife! In fact, the only other combat knives as widely recognized as the classic “KA-BAR” are the Sykes/Fairbain and Sykes/Applegate double edged daggers issued to British soldiers during WW1 and WWII and the “Kukri” issued to Nepalese Gurkha troops.  Even though there’s a fair bit if history behind the KA-BAR fighting knife, here are a few features that the knife boasts:

Ka Bar Full Size US Marine KnifeBlade type: drop point
• Overall length: 11.875”
• Blade length: 7”
• Rockwell Hardness: 56-58 HRC
• Handle material: leather
• Sheath material: leather
• Blade material: 1095 Cro-Van High Carbon Steel
• Weight: 0.7 lb.

Featuring a heavy duty, 7”, clip point blade with a saber grind made from 1095 Cro-Van (adds both Chromium and Vanadium to Carbon and Manganese) high carbon tool steel with a black, corrosion resistant, coating and a Rockwell Hardness of 56-58.  This knife follows the classic Bowie knife design and not only is it eminently well suited as a combat knife, it is also extremely well suited as a heavy duty survival knife.

In fact, although there are a lot of survival knives on the market today, considering the blade design and the robust construction of this knife combined with its relatively low MSRP, it would hard to choose a better knife.  In addition, for those of you who like a bit of nostalgia, the handle of this knife is made from thick, leather discs stacked on a stick tang with a double finger guard at one end and secured with a steel pommel cap on the other to help balance the knife near the hilt. Plus, the leather discs have been sealed to make them impervious to the absorption of moisture while still providing a positive grip.

Lastly as a nice add-on feature, it comes with a heavy duty leather sheath stamped with both the KA-BAR and U.S.M.C. logos.


5. Fallkniven A1L Survival Knife:

Without a doubt, Fallkniven is one of the premier production knife companies in the business today and the Fallkniven A1L Survival Knife is a premier example of their commitment to producing high quality knives. Here are some of the notable points of the A1L:

Fallkniven A1 Survival Knife Blade type: clip point
• Blade length: 6.3”
• Overall length: 11”
• Blade material: VG-10
• Rockwell Hardness: 59 HRC
• Handle material: Kraton rubber
• Weight: 12 oz.

Featuring a 6.3 inch clip point blade made from a core of VG-10 stainless steel with a Rockwell Hardness of 59 HRC laminated between two layers of softer stainless steel with a saber grind that extends nearly to the back of the blade combined with a spine that measures a full .24 inches, this is literally one of the strongest survival knives you can buy! In addition, it features hidden tang construction with a very ergonomic, diamond textured, Kraton rubber, handle with an integral finger guard, for a non-slip grip.

Plus, it comes with a heavy-duty black leather sheath that has a single snap strap. Although the blade is a bit too short to make an effective chopping tool, it is an excellent example of what a camp knife should be.  Due to its general purpose blade design, it is one of the best possible choices for a wilderness survival knife for performing nearly every task you might need to do from slicing to cutting to skinning.


6.  Buck Model 119 Special Survival Knife with Leather Sheath:

A truly iconic example of the general purpose “camp knife”, the Buck knives model 119 “Special” has been an integral part of the Buck line of classic knives since 1945 when Hoyt and Al Buck used to build them by hand in their two man shop. Here’s are the specs:

Buck 0119 Survival Knife Final• Blade type: clip point
• Overall length: 10.5”
• Blade length: 6”
• Blade material: 420 HC
• Rockwell Hardness: 58 HRC
• Handle material: phenolic plastic
• Sheath material: leather
• Weight: 7.5 oz.

In fact, because it features a 6” Clip Point blade with a hollow grind made from 420 HC stainless steel with a Rockwell Hardness of 58 HRC, it is an excellent design for a multitude of survival tasks such as trimming branches and carving notches for traps and snares as well as skinning game and other general purpose jobs.

It’s not well suited for chopping because of its relatively light blade and balance point near the hilt. Plus, although the hollow grind on the blade allows it to be honed to a very fine edge for cutting and slicing, it also allows the edge to dull more easily when the knife is used to chop.

On the other hand, the 4 1/2”, black phenolic plastic, handle is both large enough to comfortably fill the hand and is very ergonomic. Plus it’s complimented by a double finger guard up front and a polished aluminum butt cap in the rear which really sets off the pitch black handle. Anyone who knows knives can spot a Buck knife at a glance just by noting the distinctive handle design.

For those people who appreciate classics and antiques, the Buck model 119 Special is the general purpose survival knife (aka “camp knife”) to have because it is an extremely well designed knife for this purpose. In fact, this knife is so well designed that it has been in continuous production for 70 years which is not only a testament to both its functionality and its popularity, but a strong argument that this could be one of the best survival knives in the world ever made.  Last, it comes with a heavy-duty, black, pouch type, leather sheath with fold-over flap and snap closure which is a nice touch.  It’s hard to go wrong with a classic and the Buck Model 119 is no different.


7. Ka-Bar Becker BK7 Combat/Utility Knife:

The Ka-Bar Becker BK7 Combat Utility Knife was designed by Becker Knife & Tool to be the ultimate all-purpose utility knife for both soldiers and survivalists who need a relatively lightweight survival knife for heavy-duty use.  KA-BAR has been well known by survivalists and military personnel for years.  Here are the Specs for the BK7:

KA-Bar BK 7• Blade type: clip point
• Overall length: 12.75”
• Blade length: 7”
• Blade material: 1095 Cro-Van
• Rockwell Hardness: 56-58 HRC
• Handle material: Ultramid
• Sheath material: Nylon
• Weight: 0.85 lb.

In fact, its long blade combined with its excellent blade design and its straight cutting edge make it imminently well suited for its role as a general purpose survival knife.  Featuring a 7” clip point blade with a deep saber grind made from 1095 Cro-Van (adds both Chromium and Vanadium to Carbon and Manganese) high carbon tool steel with a black, corrosion resistant, coating and a Rockwell Hardness of 56-58 HRC, the BK7 is a good choice for a truly tough survival knife that will stand up to most any job including light chopping, splitting, and digging.

Plus, it features full tang construction and a very ergonomic handle design with handle slabs made from “Ultamid” (aka Zytel) which is a custom made polyamide that is extremely tough and impervious the absorption of moisture.

Due its medium size, the Becker BK7 Combat/Utility Knife is very well suited for use as a general purpose camp knife since it will perform most any job you might need of it in a survival situation from building survival shelters to building traps and snares to preparing the evening meal.  It also comes with a heavy-duty, MOLLE compatible, nylon sheath.


8. Schrade Extreme Survival Knife (SCHF9):

A fine offering from Schrade, the Extreme Survival model SCHF9 is an excellent choice for those people who prefer non-stainless tool steels over stainless steels due to their superior toughness and ease of sharpening.  It’s also the most budget friendly knife on the list which is a good thing for folks with a sub $100.00 knife budget.  Here are the specs:

Schrade Fixed Blade Knife• Blade type: drop point
• Overall length: 12.1”
• Blade length: 6.4”
• Rockwell Hardness: unknown
• Blade material: 1095 High Carbon
• Handle material: Plastic Elastomer
• Sheath material: nylon
• Weight: 16 oz.

Featuring a 6.4 inch drop point blade with a recurved cutting edge and a hollow grind made from 1095 non-stainless, high carbon, tool steel, the Schrade Extreme model SCHF9 is a well thought out design. For instance, the straight section of the cutting edge is great for sharpening stakes and cutting notches while the deeply curved section near the tip places the knife’s balance point well forward to make it a more effective chopping tool.

The 1095 high carbon tool steel is the perfect choice for a heavy duty knife that can expect to see hard use. In addition, the handle is extremely well designed with a very ergonomic shape that is specifically designed to fit the human hand with finger grooves to provide a comfortable, positive, grip. Also, the handle scales are made from Thermo Plastic Elastomer which is a material that displays the properties of both plastic and rubber. Therefore, the grip on this knife is both incredibly tough and, it also provides a cushioned, non-slip, grip.

Schrade rounds it out with a heavy duty nylon sheath with a single, buckle closure, pocket on the front.


9. ESEE-6 Plain Black Blade with Grey Removable Micarta Handles:

The Randall Adventure & Training Company entered the knife market with their own ESSE brand of knives in 1997 and since then, ESSE Knives have become well known for their quality of design and workmanship. In fact, the ESSE 6 with plain edge is one of the top rated knives on the market today.  Let’s look at the specs:

ESEE 6• Blade type: Drop Point
• Overall length: 11.75”
• Blade length: 6.5”
• Blade material: 1095 High Carbon
• Rockwell Hardness: 55-57 HRC
• Handle material: linen Micarta
• Sheath material: Kydex
• Weight: 12 oz.

It’s obvious that when your knife is designed by a wilderness and jungle survival training specialist specifically for the sole purpose of survival, that it should be near the top of the pack in quality. So, if you are looking for a tough, medium sized, high quality, survival knife, you can’t go wrong with the ESSE 6.

With 6.5” drop point blade made from 1095 high carbon tool steel with a flat grind, a black, corrosion resistant coating, and a Rockwell Hardness of 55-57 HRC, this knife is easily on par with the KA-BAR knives listed above but, it has a very different blade design. In fact, it’s design resembles a hunting knife far more than it does a combat knife.

While the drop point blade positions the tip close to the center line for precise control, the flat grind provides the perfect compromise between the razor sharpness of a hollow grind and the edge toughness of a saber grind. Plus, the choil features a shallow finger groove to allow the user to move their hand forward on the grip and place their index finger in the groove for significantly more control over the edge when carving. This knife is an excellent choice for a tough, general purpose, survival knife.

In addition, it features full tang construction for superior strength with a hand filling, highly ergonomic, handle design made from two linen Micarta handle scales attached to the tang with three Allen screws. Not only is the handle very comfortable, it also provides the user with a nearly indestructible, non-slip, grip that is impervious to the absorption of moisture. ESEE wraps it all up in a nice package with a molded Kydex sheath which is not only extremely tough, it is also completely waterproof.


10. ESEE Laser Strike Fixed Blade Knife:

The ESSE Laser Strike knife is somewhat unusual among survival knives in that it features a spear point blade as opposed to ESSE’s standard drop point design. However, many experienced wilderness survivalists consider the spear point blade design to be the ultimate bush craft/utility knife blade design because the tip is positioned directly in line with the center of the blade for highly effective piercing while retaining enough belly to still make a good skinning knife.  Let’s look at the specs:

ESEE Laser Strike• Blade type: spear point
• Overall length: 10”
• Blade length: 4.75”
• Blade material: 1095 High Carbon
• Rockwell Hardness: 55-57 HRC
• Handle material: linen Micarta
• Sheath material: Kydex
• Weight: 9.5 oz.

Featuring a 4.75” spear point blade made from 1095 high carbon tool steel and a Rockwell Hardness of 55-57 HRC with a flat grind and a black, corrosion resistant, coating, this knife is the perfect companion to the ESSE Junglass. The high carbon tool steel makes it a tough little knife while the mid-range Rockwell Hardness enables it to hold an edge well without being excessively difficult to sharpen.

It features full tang construction with a highly ergonomic handle design made from two linen Micarta handle scales attached to the tang with three Allen screws. Not only is the handle very comfortable just like the ESEE 6, it also provides the user with the same nearly indestructible, non-slip, grip that is impervious to the absorption of moisture.   ESEE finishes it off with a molded Kydex sheath which is not only extremely tough, it is also completely waterproof.


So What’s the Best Survival Knife for the Money?

So the true question always comes down to value.  What’s THE best knife I can get for my budget?  We have four knives on our list that we would choose that are all in a similar price range.  They all give different features and while all of the knives in our top 10 list feature some great options, there’s 4 of them that we’d take above the rest.  Those four are the following:

Best Under $100.00, around the $80.00 Price Range:  Ka-Bar Becker BK2

Coolest Looking Model under $100.00:  Gerber LMF II Survival Knife

One of the Most Trusted Knives & often used in the US Military:  Ka-Bar Full Size US Marine Corps Knife

Old Faithful on the Cheap:  Buck Knives 0119 Fixed Blade Knife

As has been stated, any of the choices in this list will be a great option for your next outdoor adventure.  If we could only choose from a few knives, these four would be our top choices as they are economical and will last a very long time if cared for properly.

Our Wrap Up & Parting Thoughts:

So, as you can see, there is actually quite a bit to consider when searching for the best survival knife on the market today. In fact, just trying to choose the best blade length, the best blade design, and the best blade steel make the task difficult enough without considering all of the other factors such as cutting edge design, tang construction, and the design of the handle and material from which it’s made.

Rather than thinking of a survival knife as a single, all-purpose, tool, it is helpful to instead think of them as purpose specific tools consisting of heavy duty choppers, camp knives, and utility/bush craft knives. A good heavy chopping tool is characterized by an extra heavy blade 10” to 14” in length with a weight forward design made from a high carbon tool steel such as 1095, 5160, O1, or A2 as opposed to a stainless steel and it should feature a shallow saber grind combined with a non-slip handle design made from a tough material.  You can see some blades we recommend for these purposes by checking out the article here.

A good camp knife is characterized by general purpose blade design ranging from 5 to 8 inches in length with either a deep saber grind or a flat grind made from a high quality stainless steel designed for the purpose such as AUS-8 or 440C combined with an ergonomic handle design.

A utility/bush craft knife can be either a fixed blade or a folding knife and is characterized by a much shorter blade ranging from 3 to 5 inches in length with either a flat grind or a hollow grind for superior sharpness and made from a high quality stainless steel designed for the purpose such as AUS-8 or 440C.

By thinking of survival knives as a system rather than a single, all-purpose, tool, you can combine a compact heavy chopper with a small camp knife or a large camp knife with utility knife to form a complete system that will ensure that you always have the correct knife for the job at hand.

8 Comments

  1. Michael
    • Wilderness Today
  2. Ken Pevahouse
    • Wilderness Today
  3. BEN COHEN
    • Wilderness Today
  4. John
    • Wilderness Today

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