The survival knife is considered by many to be the most important piece of your survival gear. With a good knife and proper training you can make or obtain whatever you need in a survival scenario. That is why you want to take the time to select a knife that will satisfy your needs if you ever find yourself in a true survival situation. Below you will find all of my survival knife reviews. After the reviews I also offer some guidance on things to consider when selecting a survival knife.
Survival Knife Reviews:
- KA-BAR Fighting Utility / USMC Full-Size Fixed Blade Knife Review
Knife, Fighting Utility. That’s what the U.S. Marine Corps lists as the knife they adopted for issue in 1942 when soldiers demanded a replacement that would hold up to the rigors of more than just battle. The prev ... continue reading
- KA-BAR BK14 Becker Knife and Tool EsKabar Review
During the 2016 SHOT Show, I had the great opportunity to meet a man named Ethan. Ethan was working at the KA-BAR Knives display and approached me as I was viewing some of KA-BAR’s newest designs. We began talking ... continue reading
- Ka-Bar Becker BK-9 Review
With the weather turning cooler, it was high time to get outside and to start tearing into the yard. We had an especially hot and wet summer this year, and the back 40 was taking over the entire house. I wanted to try ... continue reading
- Cold Steel Ultimate Hunter Review
You won't find too many hunting knife reviews on this website. The reason is because I am not much of a hunter. But despite being advertised as a hunting knife, there was something intriguing about the Cold Steel Ulti ... continue reading
- Fallkniven F1 Review
I am not sure if I have the patience for a compact survival knife. I tend to favor a brute force approach when working in the outdoors. Maybe I am lazy, or stupid... or lazy and stupid... but when in doubt I often fin ... continue reading
- Ka-Bar Becker BK-2 Review
Down here in Florida we don't get a lot of seasonality. Case in point, I wore shorts and flip flops on Christmas. But when the air starts to turn cool I get a hankering for 2 things: cigars and fixed blade knives. I a ... continue reading
- CRKT Chanceinhell Review
Through his many collaborations with production knife companies Ken Onion has become one of the most recognized names in the cutlery industry. The Kershaw catalog is still chock full of Ken Onion classics like the Blu ... continue reading
- Cold Steel SRK Review
The SRK (Survival Rescue Knife) has been a staple in Cold Steel's catalog for well over a decade. In its role as the company's go to mid-size survival / utility knife, the SRK has been selected as standard issue for U ... continue reading
- Fallkniven A1 Review
When I was a child I had the experience of packing up and shipping off half way around the world. The destination was Sweden, and I couldn't have been more than 5 years old. My family stayed in Stockholm for 3 months ... continue reading
- Blackwater Grizzly 6 Review
The Blackwater Grizzly 6 is another knife in a new line up by California-based cutlery company Blackwater Knives. The Grizzly 6 is designed by Robert Young Pelton and Tom Novak, and is manufactured for Blackwater by L ... continue reading
- Blackwater Ursa 6 Review
Blackwater Knives has recently released a cadre of new tools that caught my eye – both visually, and from a specification standpoint. The Ursa 6 is one of those tools, with an uncompromising design geared towards h ... continue reading
- ESEE Candiru Review
Updated: 11/29/2015 Small, sharp, and damn near indestructible. If you want the short version of my Candiru review, that was it. Coming from ESEE, a company with a pedigree for making tough as nails outdoors and surv ... continue reading
- Boker Plus Vox BOB Review
Designed by Jesper Voxnæs of Vox Knives, the Boker Plus Vox BOB is an interesting blend of chunky fixed blade and simple Scandinavian design. Mr. Voxnaes has done a number of collaborations with Boker, perhaps most n ... continue reading
- Cold Steel Bushman Review
When I ordered a Cold Steel Bushman I wasn't sure what to expect. My previous experiences with Cold Steel products have all been very good, but for under $20 I really had no idea what I was in for. All I knew for sure ... continue reading
- Combative Edge SALUS Review
I've said it before and I'll say it again, one of my favorite parts of running this website is the excuse to check out sweet knives. I can try to do this under the pretense that I am offering the reader some noble ser ... continue reading
- Cold Steel Spartan Review
Tired of reading reviews on wussy EDC knives? Need something capable of holding off an army of blood thirsty Persians? Consider the Cold Steel Spartan. Yeah, I enjoy reviewing EDC blades just as much as the next guy, ... continue reading
- SOG SEAL Pup Review
SOG got their start with one fixed blade combat knife. It's hard for me to imagine a knife company's future balancing on the edge of one blade, but that's how it went. Thankfully that knife was popular so we now have ... continue reading
- Ka-Bar Kukri Machete Review
The Kukri is an ethnic design that has truly stood the test of time. Originally the kukri was meant to be a fighting knife. Members of the Nepalese military carried these blades, most notably their elite Gurkha regime ... continue reading
- ESEE Junglas Review
Woodsmen and survivalists are a special breed. Whole communities online are dedicated to survival knives and the people who use em... and it's rightfully so, many argue that a knife is the single most important tool ... continue reading
- ESEE Izula II Review
Updated: 11/29/2015 The ESEE Izula is one of the most iconic small fixed blade knives of our time. Named after an infamous South American Ant, the Izula was designed to be a small, sharp, and incredibly tough blade ... continue reading
- ESEE-3 Review
Updated: 11/29/2015 ESEE specializes in outdoor fixed blade knives designed to take a beating and perform in a number of environments. Something special about ESEE knives is their no questions asked warranty that cov ... continue reading
- Smith and Wesson Homeland Security Survival Knife
The Rothco Smith and Wesson Homeland Security Survival Knife is a large Urban Survival Knife from Smith and Wesson. As the "Urban" designation suggests, this knife is designed differently from a forest survival knife ... continue reading
- Schrade SCHF9 Extreme Survival Knife
I've always been into big survival knives. I especially like a large, "do it all," survival knife because it can substitute the need to carry an axe and a smaller knife. One such knife that has been getting a lot of a ... continue reading
- Schrade SCHF1SM Extreme Survival Knife
The Schrade SCHF1SM is the SCHF1's little brother. If you are unfamiliar with the SCHF1 I would consider reading my Schrade SCHF1 review to get some background information to put this smaller version of the knife in c ... continue reading
- Schrade SCHF1 Extreme Survival Knife
The Schrade SCHF1 is a hollow-handled survival knife. The SCHF1 is almost exactly like the Schrade SCHF2 (I have a Schrade SCHF2 review here) however, the SCHF2 has a drop point blade shape, while the SCHF1 has a spe ... continue reading
- Schrade Extreme SCHF3 Survival Knife
Updated: 11/28/2015 The SCHF3 is a survival knife from Schrade. It weighs 13.8 oz, has 6.4" hollow ground drop point blade, and a 5.6" Micarta handle. The Schrade SCHF3N is the non-serrated version of the k ... continue reading
- Schrade SCHF2 Extreme Survival Knife
The Schrade SCHF2 is a popular survival knife from Schrade. What intrigued me about this particular knife is it's close resemblance to a blade made by a high profile custom knife maker selling for over $300. Consideri ... continue reading
Selecting the Right Survival Knife
Picking out the right survival knife can be tough. When you are buying a survival knife it usually needs to fit into your overall survival “system.” For example, if you plan on carrying a saw or axe with your survival system, you probably won’t need a really big and heavy knife to do chopping tasks. Another example is, if you live in the frozen tundra and there are no trees around, you probably don’t need a really big chopper either. Alternatively, your survival system may call for 2 knives, or one really big one, or some other configuration. Once you have the general size and purpose of the knife figured out, you can start to look at more specific details.
I require a knife with a full tang. A tang is the protrusion of the blade steel into the handle of the knife. Below is a picture of the handle of 2 kitchen knives. The one on the right has a full tang while the one on the left has a partial tang. The SCHF3 is an example of a full tang survival knife. Alternatively, I would go for a hollow handled knife made from a solid piece of steel like the SCHF1SM shown below.
This is largely a matter of preference. I prefer a good drop point blade, but some like a tanto or clip style blade. One thing to avoid is a double edged blade. This type of knife is mostly designed for stabbing. A good survival knife will excel at a variety of tasks including chopping and will require a strong tip. Double edged knives typically have a very weak tip so they are a style of blade that you generally want to avoid.
You also have the option of a plain edge knife or a serrated edge. For a survival knife I would go with a plain edge. Serrated edges are good for certain tasks (like cutting cloth or sawing) but they can be difficult to sharpen in the field and aren’t as good at carving or chopping – 2 tasks that will be almost essential for firemaking. If you really feel like you need a saw in the field, consider packing a lightweight saw.
Finally we have combo edges which are partially serrated. I honestly am not a big fan of these as I feel like you don’t get the advantages of either a full serrated or full plain edge knife. Some people dig em though so to each his own.
Blade length is going to be your next consideration. Depending on your application, bigger isn’t always better although I like my true survival knives to have a minimum of a 6 inch blade because I find myself chopping up a lot of wood when I spend time camping and hiking. In fact, if you are going to be doing tasks like batoning wood, and stripping branches you are going to want to buy a large survival knife. Yeah, it might be heavier, but you will expend less energy using the knife (due to the leverage and the weight of it) in your survival tasks and it will be a more capable knife. You may not want to lug around those extra ounces, but I say put the weight into the blade – for your most important survival tool it is worth it.
That said, there are a lot of survival tasks that require detail work and a large blade would be impractical here. My solution is to carry 2 knives (a large survival knife and then a smaller secondary blade) or a large survival knife and a multi-tool. This gives you the best of both worlds and you also get some redundancy if you happen to lose or break one of your knives.
You really need a decently thick blade if you plan on using it as a survival knife. I would recommend at least a quarter inch thick but common thicknesses are from 5/32″ to 8/32″.
Ok well that is a quick and dirty run-down on survival knives. From here I would recommend looking at individual knives and reviews. If you have any questions or comments don’t hesisitate to contact me.