I’ll spoil it right away. There’s really no such thing as a best survival knife. Too many personal preferences. Rather, it’s the one that you have. In other words, it might not be so much about which one, but rather the fact that you do have one!
With that said, keep reading! Because if you could only have one survival knife, what would be the best choice?
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 sort of multipurpose knife. There are many knives designed for specific functionality. Tactical, Combat, Hunting, Fishing, Brush cutting, etc..). You might say that 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 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.
[ Read: How to Baton Wood ]
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.
Hit stuff with it (the base of the handle).
There are lots of uses for a survival knife, and that’s the point…
It’s versatile. It’s not just a small little pocket knife. But rather, a larger and sturdier knife.
We’re talking about a fixed-blade knife. Ideally a full tang.
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. Pros and Cons for everything…
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?
If you were around the blog back when I originally posted this (2015?), you might remember some of the following choices…
I believe the traditional KA-BAR is still in service with the Army, Navy, and USMC.
What bout this Ontario Survival Knife:
>> Ontario Knife Company
(view on amzn)
The Swedish made Fallkniven A1 is a preferred choice (although expensive).
This one kept showing up in reviews and choices among some military who buy their own.
Fallkniven A1 Fixed Blade Knife
(view on amzn)
The SOG Seal Pup Elite is also very highly reviewed.
SOG Specialty Knives Seal Pup Elite
(view on amzn)
The ESEE-6 is a highly regarded fixed blade survival knife.
ESEE 6P-B Plain Edge Fixed Blade Survival Knife
(view on amzn)
The Best Survival Knife
Many people carry a pocket knife. It’s part of their every day carry. I do. I use it often throughout a given day. In addition, I own several full tang fixed blade knives. Each of them is a sort of “survival knife”.
Living rural, I do occasionally see others carrying fixed-blade knives while out-and-about in public. More common while out hiking, camping, or generally in the wilderness.
I’m curious to get your input regarding a so called ‘survival knife’.