Best Survival Knife If You Could Only Have One – My Updated Choices

The marketing of a knife. The word “survival” is often placed in front of it, implying all sorts of various value propositions. (I will get into that in a moment). The question here is, “If you could only have one survival knife, what would be the best survival knife to have?”

I list several below. Each of which could easily qualify, and many people consider them to be among the best for this purpose.

I have just updated this information to reflect my current up-to-date opinion for best choices.

What Is A Survival Knife And It’s Purpose?

First, I’m not talking about a knife that’s purposed towards one particular use, like camping, pocket carry, hunting, fishing, go-bag / survival gear kit, cooking, bushcraft (though closely aligned with our topic), or even self defense.

Hey, that’s all great – however, what about a knife that you can count on for survival. Any situation. A knife that will get you out of a jam regardless of the task at hand. A quality multi-task tough knife. It’s actually a tool. That’s what I call a survival knife.

Ask yourself, what is the purpose of a so called, survival knife? And then, will the functionality of the given knife serve (perform) the multiple purposes that you require, given its design?

A survival knife is really a sort of multipurpose tool. You might say that a true survival knife will perform very well at many tasks. Something very reliable.

A knife is designed to cut. It’s a cutting tool. But not all knives are good at cutting a wide variety of things. A good survival knife will be designed sturdy and rugged. Enough to not only cut ordinary things that an ordinary knife would cut, but will hold up to the tasks of more demanding cutting and tasks.

Logically, one common purpose of the survival knife would be in a wilderness environment. Often to assist in making a fire. Sharp enough to scrape, chip, and shred tinder. Strong enough and big enough to cut/split kindling. They are also used with a ferro-rod to start a fire.

A good sturdy and strong survival knife can be used for batoning wood. It’s a technique of splitting wood. Repeatedly striking the spine of the knife into the end of the wood you’re splitting.

Use the knife while cooking and eating. A utensil of sorts. Stab and flip the meat cooking over a fire. Lift a hot pot off the fire.

A survival knife can make tools. A sharp spear. Tent pegs. A shelter.

You get the idea. The many tasks…

What To Look For In A Survival Knife

A fixed blade (as opposed to a folder). It will be safer and stronger, and a better performer.

A full tang. The full length of the knife itself. The steel goes all the way and will be visible at the butt of the handle. In other words, it’s not a knife blade attached to a handle. Instead, the handle is fastened to the blade.

The steel. High carbon 1095 steel is popular with survival knives. Made of 95% hardened carbon, it’s good for wear (resists wear better). It holds a great edge. It’s easy to sharpen. Typically coated to resist rust. However they do require care to further resist rusting. There are other steels too. Stainless. Pros and Cons for everything…

TIP: Use Tuf-Glide dry lubricant for maintaining 1095 steel from rust. Goes on wet and dries leaving lubricant and metal protectant micro-bound to surface.

The sheath. Popular choices include those made from Kydex. They’re durable heat-molded plastic. Here’s a bit of practical advice… Consider a sheath designed to carry below the belt. Because a protruding handle (above the belt) can cause injury if you fall (ribs, organs).

It’s handle. It should be comfortable in your hands while providing good grip.

The size. This is a matter of preference. The bigger the knife, the more issues with carrying it. So choose what works for you. A Rambo knife (machete!) might not be the one…or maybe it is…

Straight edge or serrated blade? Personal choices. Serrated is difficult to sharpen and I would rather have a longer smooth edge. Some have partial straight edge with partial serrated. I’m curious of your opinion on this, and your own preferences…

So, what’s the best survival knife?

In my opinion, many, or most, would consider the following ESEE to be the best choice, especially if you could only have one. However, if money is no object, the choice after this one is perhaps technically the best (grin). But the ESSE-5 (or 6) are fantastic!

Designed by Military SERE instructors.

ESEE-5 or ESEE-6

The ESEE-5 has ~5″ blade whereas the ESEE-6 has ~6″ blade.




  • Blade Cutting Edge: 5.75 inches
  • Blade Overall: 6.5 inches
  • Overall Length: 11.75 inches
  • Blade Steel: 1095 High Carbon Steel – 3/16″ thick, full flat ground
  • Jimping on the spine for increased thumb grip
  • Micarta handle
  • Durable olive drab molded polymer carry sheath with removable clip
  • “Best In The Industry” No Questions Asked Lifetime Guarantee
  • Made in the USA

Fallkniven A1

Fallkniven A1


The Fallkniven A1 is a better knife. But it is a bit more expensive than the ESSEE. If money is a concern, the ESEE’s your best survival knife.

This one is more common among those in the military who choose to buy their own.

Laminated VG-10 stainless steel instead of 1095 high-carbon. This enables a longer-lasting edge, and no worries about rust or rust prevention maintenance like the 1095.

It is broad across the shoulders, with 0.24 inches of blade width.

Fallkniven’s signature convex edge. Better retention and cutting performance against natural materials like wood. 

  • Blade material: VG10
  • Blade Length: 6.3 inches
  • Overall Length: 11 inches
  • Processed in Japan with finalized quality control and assembly in Sweden

With a shorter blade and overall length, the Fallkniven F1 is the official survival knife Swedish Air Force pilots since 1995. 

The Ka-Bar USMC fighting knife is a legendary blade that was first designed to serve US troops during World War II. 

The traditional KA-BAR is still in service with the Army, Navy, and USMC.

KA-BAR Full Size US Marine Corps Fighting Knife, Straight
(view on amzn)


  • Blade Length: 7 inches
  • Overall Length: 11.875 inches
  • The most famous fixed blade knife design in the world
  • 1095 Cro-van steel
  • Made in the USA

This is the Mora you have always wanted. It has all of the cutting performance of its little brothers, but with a much more burly build.

Morakniv Garberg


Morakniv Garberg full tang knife

The Morakniv Garberg is a powerful, full tang, stainless steel knife that is the toughest Morakniv the company has ever made.

  • Full tang 14C28N Sandvik stainless steel blade
  • Blade Length: 4.3 inches
  • Overall Length: 9.0 inches
  • Made in Sweden

The Best Survival Knife

Many people carry a pocket knife. It’s part of our every-day-carry. I use one often throughout a given day. In addition, I own a number of full tang fixed blade knives. Each of them is a sort of “survival knife”.

However, upon looking for a sort of best survival knife, I sure do like the Fallkniven A1. Or any of those listed above!!

I’m curious to get your input regarding your own ‘survival knife’.

[ Read: How to Baton Wood ]

[ Read: The Secret To Sharpening A Knife ]


  1. I have had a k-bar for years. They are great for whatever task. They have been in the service since WWll. Stick with what’s tried and true.

    1. I agree Joe. They had me at the first pic. While I don’t know anything bad about the other knives I also don’t know about 10s of thousands of them being used without any complaint by our military.

      1. Poorman, You can never go wrong with a KaBar strapped to your side. If I ever have to go back into combat, I will never be without one.

    2. I concur Joe45. The KaBar is one tough knife that holds it’s edge and specially designed for knife fighting and can handle all the rigors of combat anywhere in the world. Give me a Carbon steel blade over stainless steel any day. Semper Fi

    3. SMH.
      The traditional Ka-bar stacked leather knife is an extremely poor choice of survival knife. The handle tang is a narrow tang- almost a rat tail, not a full tang, and not designed to be used for batoning or prying. The stacked leather handle and leather sheath ruin quickly in wet weather, becoming moldy and weak. And the handle shape provides minimum grip.
      And it’s overpriced.

      1. And yet they have been issued to military personnel and used effectively for decades!Maybe you have a personal preference here but thousands would disagree!

        1. Yes cause the military would never issue substandard equipment, right? Just because something has been done consistently, doesn’t automatically grant it the respect of being done right consistently.

        2. I’m in the military I can say for certain with lots of first hand experience that Uncle Sam buys plenty of inferior gear and equipment. Plenty is good but sadly, lots is also very substandard.

        3. Navy,
          Lots of poor quality, like the wet weather gear that doesnt keep rain out,

    4. I have 2 Kabars. I wouldn’t sell or trade ém for any other fixed blade out there. And as for they having a less than desirable handle strength—I use a knife for cutting NOT prying. If I need to pry I’ll use a tool meant for that purpose!

  2. I have a Seal Pup in my GHB and a Schrade SCHF9 in the BOB.
    I have learned the hard way the Pup is NOT a pry bar :-( so don’t even think about it. Both seem to hold an edge very well, I really don’t have a preference on either.
    I will insert the main carry knife, and yes I know “fixed blade”, is the good old Leatherman Wave.

    1. I concur with the Leatherman Wave as a daily carry. I’ve carried a Leatherman over 20 years. They have a 25 year “no questions asked” warranty. When the 2 main blades were attached to the outside with the “fold & lock”
      -that was the cat’s meow for me!! P.S. The secret to carrying a leatherman is NEVER-EVER let someone “borrow your leatherman a sec”

  3. My choice is a Camillus Titanium, Les Stroud edition with a Ferro Rod for starting a fire. Also the folding Buck knife, Gerber machete and last but not least Gerbers Multi-tool. Each of these have specific tasks but also have a sharp edge for cutting. Almost forgot the dagger strapped to my calf just in case!!! Using the hand held Smith sharpeners.

  4. For survival, I’d look for a tool more than a knife.

    Unfortunately there is no perfect knife for me done yet (as far as I know), but Becker BK2 comes closest when heavily modified.

    This tool needs to be bomb proof, rust-proof (very least resistant), easy to maintain, and have a good balance in terms of size and function (a chopper doesn’t need to be as long as your arm to perform well).

  5. It’s hard to say which would be the one choice. However, I would be inclined to go with the Schrade SCHF9 Extreme Survival Knife . Fixed blade, high carbon steel; it’s all about longevity of the blade’s edge. My Schrade has only been sharpened once in the four years I’ve had it. I go with a few other unconventional weapons as well.

  6. The best survival knife is the one you have with you and KNOW how to use/maintain!
    My preferences (in no certain order):
    Ontario RAT-3
    Becker BK-2 and BK-7

    The knife you choose should meet your anticipated needs and be readily available when you need it.

    Learn how to sharpen and care for your knife. A good knife will last years and serve you well.

    1. My two favorites are:

      ESEE 4
      Ontario Black Bird

      It would be super difficult for me if I had to choose just one. The Ontario fits better in my hand but the ESEE 4 has a thicker blade. The prices on both knives have increased dramatically over the last few years. If their current prices were the same back then, I more than likely would not have purchased either. The Ontario Black Bird has almost doubled in price. However, both are excellent knives.
      My EDC though is a Leatherman Wingman. It gets used for almost everything even with the broken knife tip.

  7. There are many good knives on the market but I guess for price and performance my favorite is still the Cold Steel Recon Scout. It has served me well for many years and it will hold an edge as good as any I have used.

    Ruana makes great knives but since the collector craze has taken them over, their price is too steep for me and my Ruana Crockett Bowie too valuable to use as a work knife .

    The K Bar is also a great knife for the price and is also a great knife I have used for many years with out fail.

  8. For a Survival Knife (certainly not for every day carry), I would never, ever part with my trusty K-Bar!

  9. I love my Mora Bushcraft Knife. May be a little small for some but very light, dependable, razor sharp, and tough as nails. Comes with fire steel and sharpening diamond pad build in.

    1. I have several models of Mora knives and I love them all. Very dependable and all of them are high carbon steel, very important for starting fires. Also, since they take an edge so well, they’re great for skinning. They can also be sharpened quickly and easily out in the field if you happen to lose your edge working on kindling or other tasks not suited for knives.

  10. The K-Bar knife tang is pretty fragile. I’ve seen a few break when prying or twisting.

    I’m a big fan of the Cold Steel Recon Tanto. My Tanto has traveled quite a bit with me and has been abused but still keeps ticking.

    Having said that, I don’t go downrange or offroad without my CS Recon Tanto and Leatherman Wave. I just don’t think you can deal with 60% of situations with just one knife. With these two, I think you’re good for 90% of what might come your way.

  11. Becker BK series is great, they make phenomenal knives! Also the Schrade SCHF9 model is great too, probably the best survival knife dollar for dollar.

  12. I have a fairly extensive knife collection, but my go-to knife for over 40 years has been a Boy Scouts of America fixed blade knife with leather sheath. I bought it at a garage sale for a dollar when I was a kid. It’s bulletproof.

  13. I own a Fallkniven. They are expensive. Swedish steel is well known in the knife and axe world.
    Fallkniven is in a class of its own. If you want the best, expect to pay more.

  14. If I had just one survival knife I would have a hardened carbon blade so I could cut and also start a fire with it. In the handle it would have a small compartment for my flint and char-cloth. Other wise, I have them separate, but would be nice to have two in one, a multipurpose knife.

  15. I have a KA-BAR but the Sojourner knife is incredibly appealing — right size, full tang, and the high carbon steel for strength. Beautiful blade — at first, I thought it was damascus steel. Speaking of that, went to the website and am drooling at those damascus blades. After reading your review, the Sojourner sounds perfect. Really should get an upgrade sometime soon…so how does Mrs. J like the fit and feel in her hand?

  16. I’m very fond of my Puma Hunters Friend. Nothing pretentious about it, just a good all around hiking, camping and hunting knife. I bought it in the late 60’s and thought I got it in while in my senior year of high school which was 1968. According to the date code it was made in the fall of 1968 but I would have sworn that I bought it at the local hardware store for $16.00 and change.
    In the fall of 1968 I was making $98.00 a day once a month as a private and $16.00 was a heck of a lot at the time. Anyway the knife was my backup knife as a medic and has since hitch hiked across the USA twice and halfway across Canada once, It’s been hunting and camping in more places than I can remember. The sheath went MIA on a hike in Hawaii but I made a serviceable one that it has lived in since.
    I see them going on eBay for up to three hundred dollars so I think I’m going to keep it awhile longer. The Puma knives are now assembled in China but the blades are still made in Germany. This is a knife that will be handed down for many generations to come. My stepson is looking forward to inheriting it. (Not to soon I hope!)

  17. The most robust rugged knife I have used to date are STRIDER knives. I have been issued K-Bars, Benchmade, Ontario, Gerber, etc. They are all great knives however when given the opportunity to carry whatever I want regardless of price nothing has yet to compare to a Strider.

    Wont say specifically which of the militaries most prestigious service schools give a Strider out to selected graduates but it’s high up there and for good reason.

    I have used a Strider folder all over the world with great success. Handle one once that is all it will take, trust me. The fixed blades are awesome too, the finest cutting tools I have used. I’m not associated with the Strider folks just to be clear.

    If you cannot afford one Buck did a Strider folder a few years ago. If you search Amazon they come up but are getting hard to find.

  18. I use a Kabar 5557 tanto. It is extremely sharp (have a scar to prove it) and was fairly priced for what I may do with it. It hangs low when on a belt and has a nice feature that holds it in the polymer sheath. It has cut through anything I’ve needed it to. I like the partial serrated blade to cut rope/line quickly, but the blade is so sharp it probably wasn’t needed.

    I usually take it camping and on extended hunting trips (more than a few hours in the field or out of our usual stomping grounds). It is quite intimidating to others, so it is best used with that in mind. It has drawn a few looks; I should have switched it out for something more discrete going to a farmer’s market.

  19. Attn: MilDot
    If you had a problem with your K-Bar, you’ve got a knock-off, not the original K-Bar from Olean, NY. With years in the bush, with mine and others, I’ve never seen one to fail. It can take an enormous amount of abuse.

    1. WarVet,

      The only K-Bar I’ve owned was an issue blade. I never really used it much because I was on an Al Mar kick at the time. I have no idea what happened to it. But I have seen other issue K-Bars break.

      As someone else pointed out here, a knife is a cutting tool and does other jobs poorly. But when you’re out there and have to improvise, you use what you have for whatever job is at hand.

      Having said that, if someone were to give me a K-Bar, I would snatch it in a heart beat. But I would reach for my Cold Steel when heading for the woods. I won’t insult someone who prefers a K-Bar or any other knife. It’s all personal preference like you prefer Ford and I like Chevy. We all have our favorites and live with it.

      1. Of course, the KaBar stacked leather handles and leather sheaths have wear and weather issues too. But even so, I still like those knives.

  20. I agree with your assessment of the serrations on the blade, I absolutely hate that! It only gets in the way, I use a full tang stainless blade knife I got at Tractor Supply for 9.99, my ferro rod has a striker with it, so that is not an issue. It is stout and strong enough for anything I have thrown at it, it’s no KaBar, but the price was right for my budget!

  21. I have a had a KaBar for years and it has never let me down.

    Adapt and Overcome.

  22. I still have the first knife I ever owned from over 60 years ago. The first knife I ever cut myself with and the first knife I ever mistreated and broke the tip of the blade when I threw it at a tree. I have carried a knife in my pocket all my life, in school, on planes (back when you could legally). The first time I ever took the stand in court to testify I had my knife. I love knives. I have some beautiful knives and some very serviceable knives. But if I had to choose one knife to rule them all, one knife to bring them all and in the darkness bind them… I would bring a felling axe.

  23. i’ve got a cheap one but not too bad. It works pretty well. Schrade.


    Like most of us I don’t have much discretionary income.

    Trying to get a real KA-BAR or SRK. In time I guess between water, food, and ammo.

  24. Boy what a question!! And that’s coming from a man who hasn’t gone out of his home in over 40 years without at least one knife in his pocket.
    I usually carry 3 knives. One auto-opening old Monarch that’s had the tip broken off and was reground to a curved point. It’s saved my life more than once when up a sailboat mast and I’d only one hand to use to get to it and open it. Another easy to open and equally worn old Benchmade (push the button, flip my wrist and it’s open for business) that is my ‘American Express’ knife…….. I don’t leave home without it. And last a little combo folder that has a can opener, a small file, small stubby pen-knife blade and fingernail clipper.

    But, if I had to bug-out, could only grab one blade? Like many here, I’ve my share of others. Many folders – from Swiss Army, Boy Scout, Case folders, a wide assortment of ‘Leatherman’ types…. Fixed blades such as a Bowie, various military sheath knifes, bayonets and on and on. As I say “But”…. if I could only grab one? The first that came to mind is an old old 1/4″ thick, some apx. 16” long angle from the spine forward and down to the point of the main edge…….. machete. Strong enough to be an axe, a frow, a spokeshave, a drawknife, a defensive weapon par excellence; as well as, sharp enough for some fine work if need be. The type of ol’ girl that can hack its way through brush all day, split some firewood for the evening and sharpen tent-pegs, fillet a fish or butcher game.

    Yep – my old machete that I’ve recently replaced its worn out wood handle with some exotic woods scavenged from imported cigar boxes.

  25. I actually have Bear Grylls knife. It was a gift that I had my doubts about but have since changed my tune. For the price it’s a pretty robust knife that after you examine you gain a real appreciation to the design. Hammer in the pommel, tie on points to improvise a spear, sharpener, flint, and a survival guide built into it. Not to crazy about the non tactical orange, but it was intended as a survival knife and not a war fighter’s knife. I have grown to trust the utility of this blade.

  26. Have had a K-Bar for years it does a great job , but I also have a Cold Steel Bushman that is good too , the only thing is the grip gets very slippery when wet , so that is about the only bad feature , I like the fact that it can also be used as a spear . Looking at adding a Bear Grylls ultimate knive to the inventory . Be prepared and ready . Keep your powder dry .

  27. Swiss Army knife. I have carried one my entire life, and use it almost on a daily basis. I have only owned 2. When I lost my first one from childhood I felt incomplete until I bought another one.

    I know it won’t chop down a giant redwood or cut thru an armored humvee door, but it has served me well my whole life. It has fixed cars, motorcycles, off road vehicles, done countless home repairs, helped with medical issues (mostly splinters), countless campouts and road trips..etc. And it will still clean a fish, butcher a deer or open a can or beer bottle. Plus I can cut summer sausage and cheese when I get the munchees.

    Forgot to mention how it makes my grandchildren feel so excited when they get to use it to go and cut their own hot dog/ marshmallow roasting stick! Not only does it make them feel good about using grandpas pocket knife, but it is teaching them a valuable skill without them even knowing it…… me…that’s priceless.

    1. I agree with the above. In my locale, a machete is a better ‘heavy duty work tool’ than most knives because of the thorny vegetation we have here. The humble SAL does a lot of jobs pretty well – my most used SAK tools are the saw, awl, scissors blade (of course! :^). Dummy corded on a ‘biner attached to a belt loop. Indespensible.

  28. My pick of Survival Knife would be……a Bowie Knife.Had one when I was younger made from a File,and it was great for just about anything.

  29. I’ve had many knives in my lifetime but the one that’s been at my side more than any other is a Buck Model 119 that I’ve had for thirty years. If I have a serious outdoor engagement the 119 is the blade of choice and it would be the one I’d grab if I could only grab one.

  30. I like knives. Never leave home without 2 on me. I keep a folding lock blade in the pocket and carry a fixed blade on my belt. Lately I have been carrying a 3″ Skinner that a friend gave me. Does every thing I need it to do while I’m working. It’s only 7 1/2″ so it’s discreet.

    Survival wise, personally, I would grab one of my Bowie knives. There are just things a smaller knife can’t do. You can make a lot of useful tools with a big knife.

    Local Filipino boys showed me how to make bamboo knives when I first got here (a lot of bamboo around). It was easier with the Bowie than a smaller blade. Them boys carry machetes for the most part. You would be Surprised how sharp bamboo can get. Made cooking pots, cups, spoons too. There isn’t much you can’t make out of bamboo. You are lucky if you have it growing where you are at.

    A few years back I bought an Ontario tactical and a SP16 SPAX on sale. I was working in a city about 70 miles away and thought the SPAX would be a good addition for my GHB if I got hung up in the city. It is pretty versatile tool.

    It rains A LOT where I’m at. Last 30 days nonstop.
    I have lanyards on my fixed blades so I don’t lose them in this rainy jungle.
    I know a lot of guys don’t like/use them. I understand the logic. It works for me in this wet weather…

  31. I have an 11” bladed kukri from Nepal that is shaving sharp with a 10 mm thick spine that can fell 4-6 ” diameter trees as easily as a hatchet.Made from recycled truck leaf spring it is easy to keep sharp and seems indestructable. Perfect for batoning,splitting,shaving wood etc.Also a formidable weapon as demonstrated by numerous accounts involving Nepalese Ghurkas.Quite versatile for it’s size,I prefer it to a bowie.My experience with a couple of Gerber folders [ including a Bear Grylis ]is that they are on the fragile side.Had a K-BAR but just didn’t ”feel” right in my hand.Love most things Cold Steel but have found out that bug repellant can turn rubber type grips into bubble gum.

    1. My first Kurkuri was a “Junky Jungle” 10″ with rose wood handle scales. After cutting down a dead 10″ Dogwood tree I noticed the aluminum rivets were loose. And the scales were loose . I bought a carbide drill bit and drilled three more holes thru the tang. Then I used epoxy and steel pins to re secure the handle. No problems since and I can chop all I want. The kurkuri is a cross between a heavy knife and a hatchet.

  32. I like this: Gerber Gator Machete, found at Amazon for $20. I use a machete primarily for camping purposes, fetching kindling.

  33. 90% of my knives and my EDC are Buck Knives. But if I only had to pick one knife it would probably be a Mora… Just my 2 cents.

  34. Machetes are so useful, they almost deserve their own catagory: they are great for brush cutting when your weed whacker takes a dump on you. (I suppose they would be in high demand in the Zombie Apolcalypse as well.)

    The regular machete is also used as a draw knife when wearing work gloves. I have a Cold Steel 2 handed Kukri Machete to cut thick brush that is as close as I could find to the old USFS “brushhook” and I can use it standing straight up too.

    I am a little, bald, brown guy so I have to be careful waving one around my neighborhood. Some soccer mom will call the cops on me. If a nosy neighbor wants to talk to me and it is not reciprical, I can always sit on the curb, sharpening it and talking about how I am waiting for my antipsychotics to kick in before I resume cutting brush.

    Good post Ken. Lots of interesting responses to this one.

  35. Not really a survival knife, but a handy one is a Hori-Hori. It is primarily a gardening tool, but I use it for foraging.

  36. I think a must-have knife for everyone is one that you can open carry in a mall, post office, public school in plain view without anyone knowing it is knife. I’m talking about the CRKT Tao Tactical Pen.

  37. My go to knife for the last 28 years or so has been a Gerber BMF. When I first got it back in 1986 or 87, I was a young EOD tech at Ft. Dix, NJ fresh out of EOD school with a shiny new Charles County Crab. As most techs seemed to do, I proceeded to equip myself with a big ass knife as any “worth his salt” slick bomb EOD tech should! Over the next decade or two, the Gerber served me well from Greece to Turkey, in the Egyptian desert, back in the states and then down in Panama, El Sal, Nicaragua, Honduras and a few other places as well. Over the years the knife has been used and abused and has withstood it all. It’s done everything from chopping wood and opening ammo crates, to being an field expedient eating utensil and general purpose cutting tool. Nowadays the big Gerber is my hunting partner and has been invaluable in field dressing a fair number of deer and other woodland critters. It has a few battle scars like me but still holds a good edge. I figure at some point I’ll pass it on to one of my sons and see what adventures he takes it on!

  38. To each his own,but just try and destroy a well made kukri.The Nepalese have been using them for hundreds of years as general purpose survival tool\weapon,as well as different commonwealth military units including the SAS,and I doubt they would pack the weight for nothing.True,a good kukri is actually the only type of knife I wouldn’t hesitate to pound on.

  39. Has anyone checked out the Bear Grylls Ultimate Pro? Supposed to be a nice upgrade from the Survival knife.

  40. The original Cattaraugus 225Q (Quartermaster’s Knife) has no peers. That six inch blade will go through anything…thrusting or with a meat cleaver swing. The SOB is a razor sharp, prybar with a hammer in the handle! No crate or locked wooden door will stay closed for very long. It’ll do whatever you need and then some.
    Custom make your own low-rider sheath, to hold a small diamond stone (which will only be used sparingly) and a firestarter.

  41. ok, the survival knife I have and love is the Gerber Strongarm non serated. In my pocket at all times I have 3: a small swiss army knife, a folding blade, and a small box cutter. They all serve a purpose as tools and they are always kept razor sharp. Cuz what is a dull knife? A Liability.

  42. My personal favorite is my surplus USMC bayonet, Ontario OKC3S. Little bulky but my favorite. Runner up would be one of my ak bayonets with wire cutter scabbard.

  43. No intent to anger anyone…just my personal observations….

    If it’s marketed as a “survival knife” I steer clear of it.
    If the blade is much over 4″ long, it’s too unwieldly for the smaller, more likely tasks you will need a cutting edge for.
    A good grade of carbon steel is much easier to keep a good edge on than stainless.
    I’ve field dressed many, and on more than one occasion, completely boned out deer using a small pocket folder with a two inch blade.
    I’ve never found a reason to use a knife to “baton” firewood except in campgrounds where you had to purchase commercially cut firewood and didn’t allow you to collect your own.
    I’ve never used a knife to chop a tree down other than small saplings a couple inches in diameter for tent poles or pot hangers, and then I bend the tree over and slice through it right above the base.
    My knife and my weapon are comfortable to carry and with me at all times, because survival circumstances happen at the most inopportune times.
    Each to their own, but I think most people put too much emphasis on the the size (and looks) of both their guns and knives and not near enough time learning how to use them and what they are likely to need them for.

    1. I agree. I have a stainless 6″ blade with a handmade handle I used to skin elk, deer, squirrel, fileted fish, and cut meats and to split kindling but i have a camp axe for the larger wood, I used it to cut through the bark layers of dead birch trees for making baskets for many years. Nice easy handling knife I have had since 1984.

    2. I agree 100%. I have found a 3-3/4″ bladed Case folder good for just about everything i need a knife for. Also have found a Finnish Puukko knife fits the bill in a sheath knife form, again 3-3/4″ to 4″ blade.

    3. Dennis,
      i agree wholeheartedly. my EDC is a carbon steel 3.5″ gen4 from bear cutlery, its about the only carbon steel pocket knife available that i know of now. the old case, old timers and barlows were carbon steel. not any more. i have many fixed blade knives that i have had since the 60s that are carbon steel. nothing against stainless, i have many, but S.S. knives are harder to sharpen and don’t get as sharp as carbon IMO. are you are going to sharpen S.S. knife with a river rock and a leather belt, eventually, its doable. for tree’s i have a eastwing hatchet that is awesome, i love it.
      i always check out the garage sales for knives and tools made before the 60’s. most people don’t know what they have and think, well it’s just an old tool or knife. you can tell by the weight of the tools if they are of good metal or not.
      heavy- good
      light-bad- pot metal
      if it’s not rusted i don’t buy it.

  44. I think a lot of folks need to rethink survival. The vast majority of people’s choice knife for survival in the comments and most other forums is a big blade knife that is kept in a sheath hanging on a belt. For a soldier or woodsman, that’s great. But most people in a SHTF grid down etc. etc. are not going to be surviving in the woods.

    Most are going to be in modern buildings trying to stay warm, dry, fed, watered and safe. Only the most trained and experienced outdoor survivalist is going to be able to make a go of it in the wild and even they ultimately build a cabin and replicate modern conveniences of some sort if in the wild for any duration.

    The survival scenario for most is going to be holed up trying to cobble together parts of modern technology to have some heat, water, light, cooking, can opening, etc. The ultimate survival “knife” is more likely to be something that facilitates being a bit of a handyman; Leatherman or Gerber multitool devices will likely be of higher value to most of us than a single big-ass blade.

    1. Bill – Very well said. You saved me a lot of typing. My “survival Knife” is a Bark River Gunny (straight spine – no hump) paired with a Leatherman Wave.

  45. I have a Buck Special in a leather snap case I bought in 1969 for
    $19.95 and took it to Viet Nam had a six inch blade, and served me well.

  46. My edc includes 4 knives. Three folders and a chipaway drop point skinner with a 4 inch blade. Each one has a specific purpose. If i was heading into a wildeness survival situation I would take a knife I made myself. It is a camp knife with a 8 inch blade made from boron steel with saw teeth on the spine. It is ugly as home made crap but incredibly tough. I keep it in the door pocket in my truck just in case.

  47. My K-Bar was my constant companion in ‘Nam’, and still is.

    I would never even consider parting with it.

  48. i have the gerber lmf 2…several vids online where they tried to destroy the thing…it can handle just about anything…

  49. – I was issued an “Aircrew Survival Knife” in 1984, marked Ontario 3-83 on the side of the pommel. I have carried it whenever I am outdoors ever since. I also have a Puma “Hunter’s Friend” which I carried prior to being issued the Ontario. If I had to pick one as the only knife I would have, the Ontario would get the nod.

    Having said that, it has always been accompanied by a Victorinox Explorer and a Craftsman Ignition Pliers in my pocket. Those three items have met 90% of all my needs for minor repairs in the field for years. That kept me alive while in the Army for years, including basic survival classes and practical field exercises.

    – Papa S.

  50. I like the Air Force Survival Knife with the leather sheath and sharping stone and an add firesteel!

  51. One knife huh, well I guess it would be the old “Western” brand knife. I’ve had it for 40+ years. It fits my large hand well. The steel is easily sharpened, though too quickly dulled. I’d hate to think what the inside of the leather sheath looks like. That knife has gutted a lot of deer through the years. I’m sure there are better knives out there, but as was mentioned in the article, the one ya have at the time.

  52. I must admit, I have a thing for blades…but my favorite knife is my old Gerber multi tool that I always carry on my person. It has two small blades, and at least one of them is used every day. It is perfect for my small hands and always there when I need it. And it was just sharpened again. LOL.

  53. My sole fixed blade knife is a Gerber LMF II (plain/serrated blade). EDC carry is a Spyderco Delica. I also have a Buck 110 folder for when discretion is not such a concern.

  54. My 1st choice is the 7″ Kbar with the serrated blade…..
    2nd choice would be the M9A1 Bayonet…..

  55. I got a Cold Steel recon a couple months ago, kinda like it, would be a decent survival knife as its pretty stout,
    My favorite is still my strider

      1. Ya, i got it to keep in my mule, handy for whatever, have a smith diamond sharp folding stone i keep with it, will also put an edge on the estwing axe i carry on it

    1. I carry one that I got a long time ago, it’s a “sterile” version with no name, “SOG” bowie.

      1. Nice. I lost a SOG Bowie and tomahawk a ‘few’ years ago. Actually didn’t ‘forget’ them. They had been used and I didn’t have the time to get them back. They were kind of stuck. I bought a new Canopy and Tomahawk, spent about a week re-honing them on Arkansas stones using mineral water until they shaved real good. Not that I would ever suggest one try to shave with a tomahawk. Wrapped the handle of the ‘tommy’ with P-cord…..makes it a lot easier to handle. Made a ‘Crocodile Dundee” scabbard for the Canopy. i.e., Blade up, middle of back, damn nice and strong magnet holding it in scabbard. Kind of a pain putting it back, but is nice and easy to get out.

  56. The one knife I bought long ago and have kept all these years is my old Buck Personal knife.
    I bought it as a young EMT driving ambulance in a large city. In retrospect, it is the only true “field to table” knife in my collection. It has a sharp stainless blade with a broad skinning sweep that has been used to clean and help process the many deer and few elk I have processed. It was there when I processed out feral pigs cutting through the tough hide, mud and fat that combine to dull a blade quickly. In the field, on the hunt, the knife was either on my belt or in my pack. Along with the knife was a medium grit diamond stone to touch up the edge as I went along on the big job.
    I am now too old to hunt the really big game and it has been years since I made the initial cut on a dead and downed animal with this blade. It still works for this purpose and has been replaced with a wooden block in my counter that is full of high quality European Cutlery. I process mostly vegetables with santoku shaped blades and I am now partially edentulous eating a lot of chili, spaghetti and soup these days.
    My thoughts of Survival knives are similar to Dennis’s in that a knife that can be used for multiple purposes does a poor job on big specialty jobs. like gutting and skinning ( much less caping out the head for trophy mount ). When I needed to cut wood, I generally grabbed a saw. When I needed to split wood, I grabbed an axe or maul and wedges, When I needed to cut brush, I grabbed a machete or long handled machete.

  57. So I’m gonna be a little off the wall, here.
    I have a Cutco serrated hunting knife. A 4 1/2 in blade. Fixed blade with an orange soft poly handle. (In case I miss place it in the woods.)
    I’ve had it for decades for a hunting knife.
    Sharp enough for skinning, rugged enough for cutting a rib cage on a white tail.
    I’ve never had to sharpen it. Although I could send it in to have it sharpened. And has a lifetime guarantee.
    I have no idea if they’re still in business.

    1. I have a Cutco steak/??? knife that the LEO had when we married. Best darn knife, still sharp, never been sharpened. Used to cut up chickens and such. Stainless.

      1. Mrs. U
        Do you know if they’re still in business?

        I once used that hunting knife for a screw driver. (I know)
        The tip is blunt, but it still functions after all this time.

        1. Hey Joe C, I purchased a set of Cutco knives back in the late 90’s from one of my sons High School friends. He was in some type of program they offered to kids that were planning on a career in Business. I still use those knives everyday. About a year ago I saw a display with a salesman at Costco, so they are still in business. By the way, that kid I bought those knives from, lives in a million+ home, owns numerous rental properties, apartment complex, and several marijuana dispensaries. Go figure.

        2. NWMitten

          “several marijuana dispensaries”
          Seems to be the trend now days, doesn’t it?

    2. Joe C, they are still in business in Oleander NY but do NOT send it in for sharpening! A friend sent a knife to them for sharpening and 5hey sent her a replacement knife. She was pissed as her knife had sentimental value. I love Cutco and 5he business is not too far from us, but I will not send anything to them unless it is broken. Like my ice cream scoop…and 5he replacement I received said made in China on it! Explain that one to me. Hmmmm

  58. Still love my Finnish Puukko knives, 3-3/4″ carbon steel blades. SIL bought me a Benchmade sheath knife, has now earned a permenent place in my hunting pack.

  59. A little nostalgia…

    About 58 years ago (I was 13) I got a job at a small Mom & Pop service station, grocery store, meat market. The wholesale vendor that sold the cheap pocket watches, Barlow folding knives, candy, etc. was taking pre-orders on a new line of knives being offered by Schrade called “Old Timer”. As he showed us the different offerings in a catalog, A fixed blade hunting knife caught my eye…it was called simply, the 150T. It cost $13…over two days pay, working my 12 hours a day at 50 cents an hour. I ordered one…pre-production…took delivery close to a year later…

    I still have that knife…had to have a new leather sheath made as age and use destroyed the original…I no longer use it, it’s earned a place in the gun safe to go to my oldest son, then his son…probably one of the few things, other than my guns, that say U.S.A stamped on it.

  60. Saw an advertisement for the Huusk knife. Hand made in Japan. HC steel, full tang, nice pommel on the end. Looks interesting. Any one here used one?

  61. Well folks I have an odd one for youall , back in 1969 when I went in the Corps My first tour I got me one of those Western Bowies . Well I carried it on two patrols and found that heavy peace of steel was just to much. I found that in the real shit you don’t need that big blade. If we had time to cut out ambush areas the GI issued machete was pretty good. So back in the world the second time my Uncle WW2 and Korea vet showed me this knife made in Canada . Him and my Father did a lot of the islands in the Pacific and He told Me that a good 4 to a 5 inch knife was all you needed So if you can find one This knife has served me well ,in a lot of different places . It is the Russell Belt Knife ., Mine was made in 1964 . Full tang and some kid of carbon steel , sharpens easy and stays sharp . This knife has done some real stuff Through its life , and to this day it stays with me cause you never know .

    1. secondrecon,
      Something tells me that you might like the Grohmann survival knife as well.

  62. To Joe C. Yes, I know Cutco. they still make a solid, well made American product that is generally sold from door to door. I still have a jam spreader with the famous serrated edge that can cut through rope. Great item to have in your lunch pail or picnic basket.

    1. Cali
      Good to know they are still in business.
      A jam spreader that cuts through rope?

      Precautionary measures may apply.

  63. Others have already stated it: If things devolve into chaos and you find yourself within a city, you may be better served with a functional multi-tool versus on fixed blade knife. My Boy Scout knife was a good blade made by Camillus Cutlery. When I fought fire and needed a tool that would lift caps, uncork wine bottles open cans, have a functional screwdriver in both phillips and standard head, I switched to a Swiss Army knife (Victorinox) because the tools seem to work just a little bit better than on the old Boy Scout knife.
    Like any multitool, things start to loosen up and the nature of my work meant that I was buying a new replacement every 2-3 years. This was pre-Leatherman days folks so this may sound dated to younger readers.

  64. Mora Companions in both vehicle bags, couple more in the house, one stored backup. A multi-tool in each bag. An Ontario Air Force survival knife in my bag, machete in the truck. Couple of pocket folders to carry. Tactical foldings knives in vehicles, workbench, tool bags, night stands, stored, I beginning to think they reproduce. Two folding Bucks, one around 40 years old (blade replaced since I snapped the tip prying in the woods). Grandfather’s wood handled Rapala fillet knife with the original belt loop sheath, had a shoe repair shop fit a new leather belt loop, sentimental thing, cleaned many walleye, lake perch an northern pike with it. Many sharpening stones spread around. One knife: probably the Buck since I’ve used it forever and a stone. Looks like a future order based on some of the items listed or mentioned.

    1. Grey,
      Would be nice to have an Air Force survival knife with a wood saw on the spine versus the one used to cut yourself out of a downed aircraft.

  65. I have accumulated many edged instruments over the years and so have the proper tool for the job. If only allowed one of them it would be my EDC, the Huntsman SAK.

  66. I have recently added a Buck 110 pro to my edc. I love this knife. It is incredibly sharp and holds the edge well. I cut a lot of cardboard at work and that usually kills a knife edge quick. But this Buck is staying sharp.

  67. For an excellent selection of American made knives check out Dave Canterbury’s Pathfinder Knife Shop.

    1. Big oops! as it looks like his knife shop knives are sold out or out of stock.

      1. If interested, you can search for Dave Canterbury on YouTube and find a Pathfinder Knife Shop update as his knives are in high demand and they have to make the necessary adjustments to their system.


  69. I would want to have the AIR FORCE SURVIVAL KNIFE if I was ever in a SHTF situation. I have 2 of these knives and I love them. The small pocket that stores the sharping stone is good to store a small FERO rod and fire tinder. I have glued on the sharping stone to the back of the sheath. That works for me!

  70. Al Mar SERE 2000 liner lock. Because even if I know a full tang knife is stronger, I will never be able to religiously carry one on my person 100% of the time.

    If confined to ONLY a fixed blade, a Cold Steel SRK Carbon V would do the trick. Damn tough knife. That Air Force Pilot Survival is another good choice, but blade is too short for some tasks.

  71. cold steel has come out a drop forged line of knives that are all one piece handle and all no hollow handle just one big hunk of steel i have done almost anything possible with it and it still takes GREAT edge its a little heavy and while its handle is very solid weather can make it a little uncomfortable a good pair of work gloves comes with me

  72. I own a lot of knives, both folders and sheath knives. TOPS, Bark River, Ka-bar, Fallniven F1 (the newest one), HELLE, MORA, Benchmade, etc., etc. Also have a couple Leathermen and a SAK my wife purchased for me at the factory in Switzerland that rides in my pocket daily still. If only one, I wouldn’t feel slighted with any of them. But why just one? When I hunt or camp I have a folder, the SAK, a sheath knife, a hunter’s axe (great for splitting the rib cage of a deer) and a small folding Silky Saw. Not much I couldn’t do with those whether its cleaning game, setting camp, or surviving on the run.

  73. That Fallkniven A1 looks an AWFUL LOT like the old Cold Steel SRK. I’ve had my SRK for years and years and years and it’s never let me down. I’ve also still got my very old school Buck Buckmaster, with the original hard plastic(or whatever it is) sheath, with the little screw in things on the guard that you were supposed to be able to use as a grappling hook and the Silva Compass it came with. I love that thing but dang is it heavy!

  74. IMO their is no one perfect knife. they all have their jobs. pocket knives for light duty, fixed blade knives and 18″ machete’s or small hatchets for heavier work. i don’t like SS, give me a carbon steel blade any day.
    don’t forget to have something that you can sharpen them with in the field. i like the corona knife sharpeners, small, lightweight and work very well. good strikers for a ferro rod also.

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