The best survival knife is the one that you have with you. With that said, and if you were to buy a new survival knife, what would be the best one?
If you could only take one knife with you, what would you take and why would you take it?
Lets try to answer those questions with a review of functionality, as well as a few examples…
What Is A Survival Knife And It’s Purpose?
Ask yourself, what is the purpose of a so called, ‘best’ survival knife? And then, will the functionality of the given knife serve (perform) the purpose or purposes that you require based on its design?
A survival knife is really a multipurpose knife. While there are many knives designed for specific functionality (tactical, combat, hunting, fishing, brush cutting, etc..), a true survival knife will perform reasonably well at many tasks.
A knife is designed to cut. But not all knives are good at cutting a wide variety of things. A good survival knife will be designed sturdy 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.
A very common purpose of the survival knife will 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’ – a technique of splitting wood by using another piece of wood to repeatedly strike the spine of the knife into the end of the wood you’re splitting.
Use it while cooking and eating – a utensil of sorts. Stab and flip the meat cooking over the fire. Lift a hot pot off the fire.
A survival knife can make tools. A sharp spear. Tent pegs. A shelter.
Hit stuff with it (the base of the handle).
There are lots of uses for a survival knife, and that’s the point… What makes it versatile is that it’s not just a small little pocket knife, but a larger and sturdier knife.
We’re talking about a fixed-blade knife. They are actually safer than a folding knife. They are strong and won’t accidentally fold back on you to cut your fingers or hand.
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 blade will continue through the entire length of the knife, the edge of which can be seen at the rear of the handle. In other words, it’s not a knife blade that is attached to a handle. Instead, the handle is fastened to the blade.
The steel. High carbon 1095 steel is popular with survival knives.
The sheath. Sheaths made from Kydex are popular choices for durability (heat-molded plastic). I recently read a good bit of practical advice that the knife (it’s sheath) should be designed to carry below the belt because a protruding handle can cause injury if you fall (ribs, organs).
The 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 issue with carry, so choose what you would most likely carry. A Rambo knife might not be the one…
Straight edge or serrated blade? Personally I have not found much use for the serrated blade portions of a given knife (except the bread knife in the kitchen), and I prefer non-serrated – but that’s just me. Serrated is difficult to sharpen and I would rather have a longer smooth edge that partial serrated. Lots of so called ‘survival knives’ do have serrated edges built-in. I’m curious of your opinion on this, and your own preference…
So, what’s the best ‘survival’ knife?
What knives are issued to the Marines, or Special Forces, or SEALs?
I believe the traditional KA-BAR is still in service with the Army, Navy, and USMC.
KA-BAR Full Size US Marine Corps Fighting Knife, Straight
Apparently, the standard issue knife for a Navy SEAL is the Ontario MK3 as shown below.
Ontario 6141 MK 3 Navy Knife (Black)
This Survival Egress Knife is chosen by the U.S. Army for its ‘Air Warrior Equipment System’
Ontario ASEK-Aircrew™ Survival Egress Knife
Having done some research while trying to discover what others might consider a best survival knife, one that kept showing up in reviews and apparent choices for military (and others) who buy their own, the Swedish made Fallkniven A1 is a preferred choice (although expensive).
Fallkniven A1 Survival Knife Fixed Blade Knife
A very popular choice that people are making (and buying) for a survival knife is the Gerber ‘Bear Grylls’ knife (there are several), and they cost significantly less than the Fallkniven.
The most popular is pictured below.
Gerber Bear Grylls Ultimate Knife
The SOG Seal Pup Elite is also very highly reviewed and bought as a ‘best’ survival knife.
SOG Specialty Knives Seal Pup Elite
The ESEE-6 is a highly regarded fixed blade survival knife.
ESEE 6P-B Plain Edge Fixed Blade Survival Knife
I also want to plug IHKnives.com who hand craft (and forge) several unique knives (Made in the USA). They are a sponsoring vendor here at Modern Survival Blog.
Here’s a review of one of their knives which I currently own…
The best survival knife is the one that you will carry. While many people carry a pocket knife, I don’t often see someone carrying a fixed blade attached to their belt while out and about in public. Maybe that’s a different story while out hiking, camping, or generally in the wilderness.
I’m curious to get your input regarding a so called ‘survival knife’, and what are the things that substantiate or qualify for the title?