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Survival Knives: 20 Great Knives for Wilderness Survival

Survival Knives: 20 Great Knives for Wilderness Survival

Is there such a thing as the perfect survival knife? Probably not. But, these 20 blades are damn close.
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from Brian Allison wrote 3 weeks 20 hours ago

I think that you forgot a knife.
Tahoma, by topsknives.com
This knife is an amazing survival knife.

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from James Hightower wrote 10 weeks 2 days ago

I bought a SCHF1 after watching all the torture tests on youtube for many knives, and a lot of reasearch and comments about knives. I am no expert, but for around 50 bucks, it out performed the chris reave project knife. It is a knockoff made in china. lol. Search youtube for SCHF1 and see for yourself. I am not rich, so for around 50 bucks I have something that would be better than a stick if I had to survive. I have a gerber multi tool that fits in the sheath pocket perfect, but it has a sheath so the pocket can be better used for a sharpening tool and/or fire starter kit. Drill bits in the woods? Well maybe in a situation like Kartina, old boards and debri and screws can be reused for a shelter. I am looking for a small knife for whittleing or surgery in a survival situation as a companion. This is full tang hollow handle and 1070 high carbon. Some dont agree if its 1070 or 1080. I have looked at knives that were 100 to 1000 dollars. This is a great knife. Hardness vs resilantce? 1070 id great for both. This spear point is great for spear fishing, and I bet a stick can be jammed into the hollow handle as well as tied on. Many take the drill bit kit out of the handle and add survival items. I think it is about how much you can afford, because your knife is your buddy. It is your best friend alone in the wilderness. Expensive doesn't always mean better. I also have a few swiss knives stashed in 1 of the pockets of my tactical vest. Pockets and items are also important in survival. Not being weighed down with non essentials is too, as weight = calories burned while walking. I wish I could afford some of the knives you guys mentioned.

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from Edward Annibale wrote 21 weeks 5 days ago

There is no one best knife. If there were, we would all be using it. There is only personal preference, however, there are knives that are better made than others. For a fairly affordable knife that could handle your survival needs, I would recommend one of the following brands: ESEE, TOPS, Busse, or Rat. Good luck and happy knife hunting.

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from Michael Asimos wrote 39 weeks 4 days ago

Would like to see a 2013 review

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from dccd wrote 1 year 7 weeks ago

A survival knife is one knife that your life depends on. If it does not have a full tang, it may break when you needed it most. So, folders are out of the question. As to the metal alloy, it is a personal preference but generally speaking you should strike a balance between hardness and resilience. Bear Grylls' ultimate survival knife is not bad. I also use a cheap Buck full tang knife for the rough works. Sometimes I use a Winchester. They are all good as long as they have the most important feature of a survival knife - full tang.

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from equip4survival wrote 1 year 11 weeks ago

Nice article but way too many folders here. A good survival knife needs to be a fixed blade. Good carbon steel like 1095, full tang with a flat grind which is good for chopping and to baton wood. Doesn't have to be a huge knife, but I would go with a minimum of a six inch blade. You don't have to spend a fortune on decent survival knife either. I have some video reviews on low cost survival knifes at www.youtube/equip4survival.com

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from dovehunter2 wrote 1 year 15 weeks ago

I've owned two BG (Bear Grylls) knives and i would rate them as very good to have with you in a survival situation.
also, has anyone ever heard of AG Russell?
It is a company that hand-makes (not mass produces) very high quality wilderness knives and pocketknives.
i own one of his blades and it holds an edge very well and is very easy to sharpen.

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from jamaljj wrote 1 year 19 weeks ago

the kabar was the best knife I've ever owned. It was voted as a great knife by bestmachete. bestmachete.net/the-3-top-best-fighting-knives-for-soldiers-and-marines/

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from Maarten Sluijs wrote 1 year 20 weeks ago

I'm sure barkriver and fallkniven should be in here!
Maybe you didn't put them in because they are less known in the USA but actually they make great survival knives

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from First Aid Expert wrote 1 year 22 weeks ago

Thanks - good input - I've gotten a few "Survival Knives" included in Disaster kits, but they were all CCS (Cheap China "stuff") - there are some good comments here about real knives.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from SR69 wrote 1 year 33 weeks ago

If it had to be only ONE knife, I wouldn't touch anything less than a full 6" and that'd be my minimum. Folder? For survival? No way. A "survival" knife would ideally have a full tang, have a high carbon content steel blade and IMO have be of a substantial size so as to be able to built shelter. It's a tool, not a hobby implement.

I have an ESEE-6 that gives me all the confidence that it can do what I need it to do. The next knife up for me would be a Junglas (no doubt), and my very next ESEE will be an ESEE-3.

I agree with Michael S.'s choices myself. Of these, the RTAK is the CLEAR choice. A Mora Companion or Robust is the budget-minded choice for a smaller blade to prep food and do detail work.

My 2 cents.

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from CharlieV wrote 1 year 35 weeks ago

I bought the Ontario survival knife from a famous liquidator its a sturdy knife the edge is not over sharp and it has a nice saw back that will cut 1/8 inch kerf in wood the sharpening stone is basic and its an oil stone rough carbide el cheapo. Keep some neetsfoot oil around for the leather components and 3n1 for the blade.

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from Adam Allen wrote 1 year 36 weeks ago

bestmachete.net/what-are-the-best-survival-knives/ stated the kabar is the best!

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from Best Survival Knives wrote 1 year 38 weeks ago

I absolutely love the passion around this debate. All over the web in every outdoor or knife forum you see the same argument as Michael S put forth. I agree that a large blade is a better blade for wilderness survival if you have it paired with the right kit. That being said, every time I go for a day hike and potentially put my self in a situation where i could get lost etc, it is not always convenient to have a 2 lb edged hunk of steel in my pack. The Esee knives are great knives and the junglas is a beast. Busse are great knives also ( you would be a fool to say they are not) but they are also $400 plus. Your average hunter, hiker that gets put into a survival situation will not be carrying that type of blade.

Cheers,

TshirtFrank

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Michael S Forti wrote 1 year 39 weeks ago

With the exception of the 'Hoodlum' and 'RTAK II', I don't see any knives in your list that would even qualify as true 'survival' knives.

There's some nice little utility blades on your list that would help out in backyard food prep or whittling on the porch, but only those two that I'd even consider carrying for serious wilderness use. Even those two are nowhere near the top of the line when it comes to serious blades. Consider a Busse or Scrap Yard if you're serious about your gear.

Anyone who is familiar with life close to nature knows that a large blade can do anything that a little blade can, but the opposite is simply not the case. You're not going to quickly chop/split firewood, hack your way through dense brush, whip up a fast shelter, limb trees, fell saplings, etc etc... with a 4 inch blade.

Remember, survival situations are NOT planned events. When they happen, you don't typically have hours to muck around with a little blade. If you're 'stuck in the muck', it's getting dark and a freezing rain is starting to fall, you may only have a few hours left to LIVE. Making shelter FAST means serious limbing and chopping tasks, NOT whittling sticks. For actual survival (and not this silly 'bushcraft' stuff) I'll take a $20 Ontario machete over pretty much everything in your list.

I DO carry smaller blades (typically a multi-tool) for small tasks, but when big tasks are required, so is a big blade.

PS - In the third world where life and nature are inseparable, you don't see ANYONE running around with those little 'bushcraft' blades. They carry parangs, kukris, machetes and other effective tools that are up to the job!

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from Oneshot wrote 1 year 39 weeks ago

Have you ever heard of Al Mar?

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from Montanagyrene wrote 1 year 44 weeks ago

Have the brother to #8 at home on a shelf, used it to scare more than a few guys when I went to college…Might have to get it down, now that Little Miss Gyrene’a almost old enough to date!! Just because it’s a little smaller, and easier to leave on my holster belt, I have a Schrade,( probably the Woodsman judging by the picture, but I remember it with more of an upsweep at the point) that’s pretty handy for a hunting/ skinning knife…Several of these look tempting...Wonder how Mrs Gyrene would react to yet ANOTHER knife!!

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from Forrest Penner wrote 1 year 44 weeks ago

Totally just have my Leatherman on me all the time!

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from sucngas wrote 1 year 45 weeks ago

It was nice to see the scandanavian knives get some respect. I have started making my own knives, and have quickly learned that it's hard to beat a Helle, Kellam, or Mora blade at any price.

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from BigOak4 wrote 1 year 45 weeks ago

What, no Benchmade. They are much more than just butterfly knives for hoodlums anymore.

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from huntfishtrap wrote 1 year 45 weeks ago

My vote would go for the KA-BAR, if it's good enough for the Marines, it's good enough for me!

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from charliedakota wrote 1 year 45 weeks ago

I carried the Army survival knife for a good while until a GI poked his head into the tent and asked if anybody had a knife he could use to open T-Rations. I should have known better than to lend a knife to anybody in the field to ignorant to carry one. He went back to base and my knife ended up along some German road. It was originally designed as a pilot's knife and the saw teeth along the back were to saw through the plexiglass of a helicopter canopy.

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from guitarman1978 wrote 1 year 45 weeks ago

i agree w/ blue ox. my ka-bar usmc knife is my ONLY knife. that knife does everything! dressed my 2 deer last season like a hot wire thru butter... sternum, too.

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from Blue Ox wrote 1 year 45 weeks ago

The Ka Bar USMC is my go to knife, and i'd put it up against any of the others on this list.

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from wgiles wrote 1 year 45 weeks ago

I enjoy knives almost as much as guns and I have quite a few knives. My go to folding knife is a Swiss Army knife, an electrician's knife to be specific. My go to fixed blade knife is a Mora Clipper. I have one almost every where that I might need one.

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from originalmikewynne wrote 1 year 45 weeks ago

I own and use several of these, so I know they are good choices. My favorite knife is my Daddy's old USN skirmish knife (resembles a KA BAR) from WW2, but the leather ring grip is long gone.

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from mouseman30 wrote 1 year 45 weeks ago

i have two of the CRKT ultima the 4.95 inch blade and the 7 inch blade they are great i use them for everey thing

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from Blue Ox wrote 1 year 45 weeks ago

The Ka Bar USMC is my go to knife, and i'd put it up against any of the others on this list.

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from huntfishtrap wrote 1 year 45 weeks ago

My vote would go for the KA-BAR, if it's good enough for the Marines, it's good enough for me!

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from Michael S Forti wrote 1 year 39 weeks ago

With the exception of the 'Hoodlum' and 'RTAK II', I don't see any knives in your list that would even qualify as true 'survival' knives.

There's some nice little utility blades on your list that would help out in backyard food prep or whittling on the porch, but only those two that I'd even consider carrying for serious wilderness use. Even those two are nowhere near the top of the line when it comes to serious blades. Consider a Busse or Scrap Yard if you're serious about your gear.

Anyone who is familiar with life close to nature knows that a large blade can do anything that a little blade can, but the opposite is simply not the case. You're not going to quickly chop/split firewood, hack your way through dense brush, whip up a fast shelter, limb trees, fell saplings, etc etc... with a 4 inch blade.

Remember, survival situations are NOT planned events. When they happen, you don't typically have hours to muck around with a little blade. If you're 'stuck in the muck', it's getting dark and a freezing rain is starting to fall, you may only have a few hours left to LIVE. Making shelter FAST means serious limbing and chopping tasks, NOT whittling sticks. For actual survival (and not this silly 'bushcraft' stuff) I'll take a $20 Ontario machete over pretty much everything in your list.

I DO carry smaller blades (typically a multi-tool) for small tasks, but when big tasks are required, so is a big blade.

PS - In the third world where life and nature are inseparable, you don't see ANYONE running around with those little 'bushcraft' blades. They carry parangs, kukris, machetes and other effective tools that are up to the job!

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from mouseman30 wrote 1 year 45 weeks ago

i have two of the CRKT ultima the 4.95 inch blade and the 7 inch blade they are great i use them for everey thing

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from originalmikewynne wrote 1 year 45 weeks ago

I own and use several of these, so I know they are good choices. My favorite knife is my Daddy's old USN skirmish knife (resembles a KA BAR) from WW2, but the leather ring grip is long gone.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from charliedakota wrote 1 year 45 weeks ago

I carried the Army survival knife for a good while until a GI poked his head into the tent and asked if anybody had a knife he could use to open T-Rations. I should have known better than to lend a knife to anybody in the field to ignorant to carry one. He went back to base and my knife ended up along some German road. It was originally designed as a pilot's knife and the saw teeth along the back were to saw through the plexiglass of a helicopter canopy.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from sucngas wrote 1 year 45 weeks ago

It was nice to see the scandanavian knives get some respect. I have started making my own knives, and have quickly learned that it's hard to beat a Helle, Kellam, or Mora blade at any price.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from dccd wrote 1 year 7 weeks ago

A survival knife is one knife that your life depends on. If it does not have a full tang, it may break when you needed it most. So, folders are out of the question. As to the metal alloy, it is a personal preference but generally speaking you should strike a balance between hardness and resilience. Bear Grylls' ultimate survival knife is not bad. I also use a cheap Buck full tang knife for the rough works. Sometimes I use a Winchester. They are all good as long as they have the most important feature of a survival knife - full tang.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Montanagyrene wrote 1 year 44 weeks ago

Have the brother to #8 at home on a shelf, used it to scare more than a few guys when I went to college…Might have to get it down, now that Little Miss Gyrene’a almost old enough to date!! Just because it’s a little smaller, and easier to leave on my holster belt, I have a Schrade,( probably the Woodsman judging by the picture, but I remember it with more of an upsweep at the point) that’s pretty handy for a hunting/ skinning knife…Several of these look tempting...Wonder how Mrs Gyrene would react to yet ANOTHER knife!!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Oneshot wrote 1 year 39 weeks ago

Have you ever heard of Al Mar?

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Best Survival Knives wrote 1 year 38 weeks ago

I absolutely love the passion around this debate. All over the web in every outdoor or knife forum you see the same argument as Michael S put forth. I agree that a large blade is a better blade for wilderness survival if you have it paired with the right kit. That being said, every time I go for a day hike and potentially put my self in a situation where i could get lost etc, it is not always convenient to have a 2 lb edged hunk of steel in my pack. The Esee knives are great knives and the junglas is a beast. Busse are great knives also ( you would be a fool to say they are not) but they are also $400 plus. Your average hunter, hiker that gets put into a survival situation will not be carrying that type of blade.

Cheers,

TshirtFrank

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Adam Allen wrote 1 year 36 weeks ago

bestmachete.net/what-are-the-best-survival-knives/ stated the kabar is the best!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from First Aid Expert wrote 1 year 22 weeks ago

Thanks - good input - I've gotten a few "Survival Knives" included in Disaster kits, but they were all CCS (Cheap China "stuff") - there are some good comments here about real knives.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from equip4survival wrote 1 year 11 weeks ago

Nice article but way too many folders here. A good survival knife needs to be a fixed blade. Good carbon steel like 1095, full tang with a flat grind which is good for chopping and to baton wood. Doesn't have to be a huge knife, but I would go with a minimum of a six inch blade. You don't have to spend a fortune on decent survival knife either. I have some video reviews on low cost survival knifes at www.youtube/equip4survival.com

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Michael Asimos wrote 39 weeks 4 days ago

Would like to see a 2013 review

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Brian Allison wrote 3 weeks 20 hours ago

I think that you forgot a knife.
Tahoma, by topsknives.com
This knife is an amazing survival knife.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from wgiles wrote 1 year 45 weeks ago

I enjoy knives almost as much as guns and I have quite a few knives. My go to folding knife is a Swiss Army knife, an electrician's knife to be specific. My go to fixed blade knife is a Mora Clipper. I have one almost every where that I might need one.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from guitarman1978 wrote 1 year 45 weeks ago

i agree w/ blue ox. my ka-bar usmc knife is my ONLY knife. that knife does everything! dressed my 2 deer last season like a hot wire thru butter... sternum, too.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Forrest Penner wrote 1 year 44 weeks ago

Totally just have my Leatherman on me all the time!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from CharlieV wrote 1 year 35 weeks ago

I bought the Ontario survival knife from a famous liquidator its a sturdy knife the edge is not over sharp and it has a nice saw back that will cut 1/8 inch kerf in wood the sharpening stone is basic and its an oil stone rough carbide el cheapo. Keep some neetsfoot oil around for the leather components and 3n1 for the blade.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from SR69 wrote 1 year 33 weeks ago

If it had to be only ONE knife, I wouldn't touch anything less than a full 6" and that'd be my minimum. Folder? For survival? No way. A "survival" knife would ideally have a full tang, have a high carbon content steel blade and IMO have be of a substantial size so as to be able to built shelter. It's a tool, not a hobby implement.

I have an ESEE-6 that gives me all the confidence that it can do what I need it to do. The next knife up for me would be a Junglas (no doubt), and my very next ESEE will be an ESEE-3.

I agree with Michael S.'s choices myself. Of these, the RTAK is the CLEAR choice. A Mora Companion or Robust is the budget-minded choice for a smaller blade to prep food and do detail work.

My 2 cents.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Maarten Sluijs wrote 1 year 20 weeks ago

I'm sure barkriver and fallkniven should be in here!
Maybe you didn't put them in because they are less known in the USA but actually they make great survival knives

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from jamaljj wrote 1 year 19 weeks ago

the kabar was the best knife I've ever owned. It was voted as a great knife by bestmachete. bestmachete.net/the-3-top-best-fighting-knives-for-soldiers-and-marines/

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from dovehunter2 wrote 1 year 15 weeks ago

I've owned two BG (Bear Grylls) knives and i would rate them as very good to have with you in a survival situation.
also, has anyone ever heard of AG Russell?
It is a company that hand-makes (not mass produces) very high quality wilderness knives and pocketknives.
i own one of his blades and it holds an edge very well and is very easy to sharpen.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Edward Annibale wrote 21 weeks 5 days ago

There is no one best knife. If there were, we would all be using it. There is only personal preference, however, there are knives that are better made than others. For a fairly affordable knife that could handle your survival needs, I would recommend one of the following brands: ESEE, TOPS, Busse, or Rat. Good luck and happy knife hunting.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from James Hightower wrote 10 weeks 2 days ago

I bought a SCHF1 after watching all the torture tests on youtube for many knives, and a lot of reasearch and comments about knives. I am no expert, but for around 50 bucks, it out performed the chris reave project knife. It is a knockoff made in china. lol. Search youtube for SCHF1 and see for yourself. I am not rich, so for around 50 bucks I have something that would be better than a stick if I had to survive. I have a gerber multi tool that fits in the sheath pocket perfect, but it has a sheath so the pocket can be better used for a sharpening tool and/or fire starter kit. Drill bits in the woods? Well maybe in a situation like Kartina, old boards and debri and screws can be reused for a shelter. I am looking for a small knife for whittleing or surgery in a survival situation as a companion. This is full tang hollow handle and 1070 high carbon. Some dont agree if its 1070 or 1080. I have looked at knives that were 100 to 1000 dollars. This is a great knife. Hardness vs resilantce? 1070 id great for both. This spear point is great for spear fishing, and I bet a stick can be jammed into the hollow handle as well as tied on. Many take the drill bit kit out of the handle and add survival items. I think it is about how much you can afford, because your knife is your buddy. It is your best friend alone in the wilderness. Expensive doesn't always mean better. I also have a few swiss knives stashed in 1 of the pockets of my tactical vest. Pockets and items are also important in survival. Not being weighed down with non essentials is too, as weight = calories burned while walking. I wish I could afford some of the knives you guys mentioned.

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from BigOak4 wrote 1 year 45 weeks ago

What, no Benchmade. They are much more than just butterfly knives for hoodlums anymore.

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