Finding The Best Survival Knife in 2019: 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?  In all honesty, you would probably be happy to have ANY knife with you.

But obviously since you are reading this, you must be someone who plans ahead, and you don’t want just any old pocket knife, you likely want the best knife to well… survive with.

We all have our personal preferences on what makes a good knife for camping or hiking, but in an extreme situation, we want the absolute best survival knife.

So, here we are to make sure that you have the right choice for any situation.

We hope that the following comparison guide of our top three fixed blade survival knives below and the analysis that follows will help you find the right knife to meet your needs.

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OUR TOP THREE SURVIVAL KNIFE PICKS:

Ka-Bar BK2 Fixed Blade 1095 Steel

Our rating

Ka-Bar Becker BK2

TOP OVERALL PICK

Gerber Strong Arm 420 High Carbon Steel

Our rating

Gerber Strong Arm

BUDGET PICK

ESEE 6P-B Plain Edge 1095 Steel

Our rating

ESEE 6P-B Plain Edge

HIGH END PICK

The three knives above actually only begin to scratch the surface.  So many brands and models exist out there that there is no way that we could have listed everything.

However, we have included many exceptional knives in great detail below, survival knives in every price range and from a wide variety of quality makers.

All of the knives on our list are fixed blades which many survivalists feel is an essential criterion for choosing a proper survival knife.

There are a few folding knives that will make good backup options, as well, 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 item that best suits you.

So, Just What is a Survival Knife?

A survival knife is one of the essential tools that can be used in the event you get lost in the wilderness or involved in some other extreme outdoors situation. If you are lost in the wilderness a quality knife can truly be a lifesaver, as it will enable you to quickly 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-size 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, a fixed blade is going to be more reliable and less likely to break than a folding knife or partial tang one.

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 breaking.

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

Best Survival Knife Guide: How to Choose the Right Survival Knife

There are several things you need to consider when picking out a survival knife, like your planned needs, expected uses, and family budget.

For a survival knife to smoothly perform all of the myriad tasks that it is supposed to in an extreme scenario, it must incorporate several key features that we dive into in 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 hardy enough for survival use. For instance, when faced with a wilderness survival situation, users often employ 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, etc., but, those best suited for survival purposes are the clip point, the drop point, and the spear point.

All of those three-blade designs are meant to position the tip of the blade closer to the centerline to provide the user with greater control than what can be attained 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: heavy-duty choppers, camp knives, and Bushcraft/utility knives (depending on their blade length and blade design).

A heavy chopping tool will feature robust construction and have a blade that is 10 inches to 14 inches in length with weight-forward blade design and a saber grind and be made from 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 a 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, a genuine camp knife should feature an ergonomic handle that allows the knife to be held in several different positions.

A Bushcraft/utility knife is defined as a knife with a blade that measures from 3.5 inches to 5 inches with a 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 great job in the video below at giving us more detail on the types of blade designs.

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 tool you can carry every day.  The primary problem with a folding knife is the additional breakpoint that a fixed blade knife does not have.

This is critical when you think about the different uses you may need your knife to be up to the task when in a tough survival situation.  The last thing you need is a broken knife when you are trying to set up 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 while at it.

A good folding knife has its special place in any survivalist’s arsenal, but it should never replace a fixed blade knife as the primary cutting tool 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, there 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 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 the so-called recurved edges which feature a straight section extending from the Ricasso but which then changes to a positive angle as 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 a recurved edge is to make a blade that is good for both cutting and carving near the bolster, but which is also tipped heavy for superior 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 as cutting notches in stakes and staves to build traps and snares, skinning small game animals and gutting fish, slicing uproots and tubers, etc.

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: the non-stainless, high carbon steel and the stainless steel, with the defining difference between the two, is the amount of Chromium the blade material contains.

While high carbon steels are often visibly tougher than stainless steels and 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, they 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 breakage and, they are generally more difficult to sharpen.

However, having said that, the relative toughness and edge holding ability of any type of steel are also dependent on its Rockwell Hardness (designated HRC).

In other words, 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 non-stainless, high carbon steel and have a Rockwell Hardness of 50 to 54 whereas small Bushcraft knives with short blades can be made from either type of steel and should have a higher Rockwell Hardness rating. 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 steel are 420HC, 440C, AUS-8, and AUS-10.

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

Blade Grind Shapes For Knives

When choosing a survival knife, every bit as important as the 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.

A classic saber grind features a primary bevel that extends only a very short distance from the cutting edge to the back of the blade and that it can create a thick, ax-like blade that does an excellent job at holding an edge when chopping and splitting, even though it is difficult to sharpen to a fine edge.

A flat grind exhibits a primary bevel that extends from the cutting edge all of the ways 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 is designed to incorporate both the spine thickness of a saber grind and the fine edge of a hollow grind.

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 the best types of knife tangs for a survival knife are the full tang and the hidden tang. These two comes with inherent strength when compared to the inherently weaker but more popular partial tang and stick tang.

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 on 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 and slid onto the tang where it 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 provides 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:

Most of the knives mentioned 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 10 overall best survival knives along with a more detailed individual review.

So, pull up your camping chair and let’s dig into these options.


1. Ka-Bar Becker BK2 “Campanion” Fixed Blade Knife:

The Ka-Bar Becker BK2 Campanion 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 Knife Sharp

• Blade 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. While its drop point blade design is well suited for survival use, it also features a heavy-duty 5.25 inch blade made from 1095 Cro-van (adds both Chromium and Vanadium to Carbon and Manganese) non-stainless, high carbon steel with a Rockwell Hardness of 56 to 58 and a 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 to its medium size, it is well suited as both a camp knife and a Bushcraft/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, even if you are on a budget, 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 an effective chopping tool and its design is not particularly well suited for the role of camp knife, it is an excellent little utility knife.

Here are some features worth mentioning below:

Gerber LMF 2 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.

As a result, 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 escape a downed aircraft or for sawing your way out of an aircraft fuselage or 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 unbreakable 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 any survival situation.


3. Gerber Strong Arm Military Knife:

Another one of Gerber’s line of a fixed blade, military, survival knives, the Strong Arm is designed to serve as a small utility survival knife. In fact, it features a 4.8” drop point blade almost identical to the LMF II Infantry model’s 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.

What’s more, because of 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 an excellent utility or “Bushcraft” knife for jobs that require a significant amount of control over the blade.

If you are looking for a sturdy bushcraft tool that won’t break the bank, take a look at our selection of the best bushcraft knives that you can buy this year.

This Gerber model achieves extra control with its ergonomic and well designed 5” handle made of glass-filled nylon with a textured rubber coating that is nearly indestructible and is impervious to moisture. Also, it has an integral double finger guard with jimping on the inside edges to improve the grip.

Plus, this Gerber 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 unbreakable, rubber-coated, handle and modular nylon sheath system.

Like many other top Gerber products, the Gerber Strongarm is a knife that you can rely on in any survival situation.


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

Recognized worldwide as a legendary combat knife the KA-BAR U.S.M.C. Fighting and Utility Knife is the brand’s 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 of history behind the KA-BAR fighting knife, here are a few features that this knife boasts:

Ka Bar Full Size USMC Marine Knife• Blade 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 of 1095 Cro-Van high carbon tool steel with a black, corrosion-resistant, coating and a Rockwell Hardness of 56-58. Cro-Van steel adds both Chromium and Vanadium to Carbon and Manganese.

This knife follows the classic Bowie knife design and not only is it eminently well suited as a combat knife, but 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 moisture while maintaining a good 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 Full Tang• 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 119 Survival Knife• 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, the handle is both large enough to comfortably fill the hand and is very ergonomic.

Plus it’s complemented by a double finger guard upfront 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 Clip Point• 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 almost 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 almost 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 steel 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 who are looking to stay conservative with their knife budget.  Here are the specs:

Schrade Extreme 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 is expected to be put to 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 of Thermo Plastic Elastomer which is a high-tech material that packs the properties of both plastic and rubber. Therefore, the grip on this knife is both incredibly tough and cushioned.

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 a plain edge is one of the top-rated knives on the market today.  Let’s look at the specs:

ESEE 6 Micarta Grip• 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 centerline 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 extra 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, but it also provides the user with a nearly unbreakable, 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 Bushcraft/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 this knife’s specs:

ESEE Laser Strike Micara Handles• 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, but it also provides the user with the same nearly unbreakable, non-slip grip that is impervious to moisture. ESEE finishes it off with a molded Kydex sheath, which is not only extremely tough but also 100% 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 since they are all in the same 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 Overall Value Pick:  Ka-Bar Becker BK2
Coolest/Toughest Looking Model:  Gerber LMF II Survival Knife
Most Trusted & 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 budget-friendly 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, or the best blade steel makes the task difficult enough without considering all of the other factors such as the cutting edge design, tang construction, and handle design and material.

Rather than thinking of a survival knife as a single, all-purpose tool, it is helpful to instead think of it as a purpose-specific tool be it a heavy-duty chopper, a multi-purpose camp knife, or a utility/Bushcraft knife.

A good heavy chopping tool should come with an extra heavy blade of 10” to 14” in length, made from a high carbon tool steel such as 1095, 5160, O1, or A2 as opposed to a stainless steel, and should feature a shallow saber grind combined with a non-slip handle design made from a really tough material.

You can see some blades we recommend for these purposes by checking out this article here.

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

A utility/Bushcraft knife can be either a fixed knife or a folding knife. It usually has a much shorter blade, ranging from 3 to 5 inches in length, with either a flat grind or a hollow grind for superior sharpness.  This type of knife should also be made from high-grade 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 pair a compact heavy chopper with a small camp knife or a large camp knife with a utility knife to form a complete system that will ensure you always have the right knife for the job at hand.

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