So which survival blade should you buy?
We’re glad you asked.
How to Choose the Right Survival Knife
Before we give you our top survival knife recommendations, there are specific features to look for when investing in a knife. Here’s what to consider:
First things first – size really does matter here, but bigger isn’t always better.
Because your survival knife might end up acting as an all-purpose tool when SHTF, you want something that isn’t too short or too long.
Too short, and you won’t be able to use it for rugged tasks, like chopping or batoning (when you strike the back of the blade with a heavy object to get through wood).
If you go too long, you’ll struggle with detailed tasks like carving or dressing small game.
You need a good compromise; something with a 5 to 7.5 inch blade.
2. Fixed Blade vs. Folding
Folding blades are your best friend when it comes to EDC.
However, when it comes to survival, fixed blades are king. You need something super sturdy, especially for rugged work or defending yourself against wild animals, and the joint of a folding blade ultimately becomes a weakness here.
3. Full Tang
Speaking of sturdiness, a full tang survival knife is your best bet. While there’s a special place in the world for blades with a rat-tail, push, or half tang, when it comes to survival knives, you want the security of a full tang.
Even if the handle breaks or wears off over time, you can continue to use the blade by making a DIY grip with paracord.
4. Blade Design
Let’s face it – you’re going to get far more use out of your survival knife if you pick the right blade design.
Even though hooked, angled, and rounded tips are rather popular (and have their uses), you want a sharp-pointed tip. Many survivalists prefer a spear point tip, but other sharp-pointed designs do the job just as well.
5. A Flat Ground Spine and Single-Edged Blade
Double-edged, dagger-style blades might look cool, but they’re not very good for survival.
With a single-edged blade – especially one with a flat ground spine – you can use your survival knife to strike your fire-starting ferro-rod and batoning. You can also use the spine as a thumb rest, which isn’t possible (and even dangerous) with a double-edged blade.
Best-Choice Survival Knives
While there are a few other optional factors – such as a hollow saber grind and high carbon steel, both for durability and ease of sharpening – you should now have a good idea of how to choose the best survival blade.
Of course, you’re still going to be spoiled for choice even with these metrics. So to help you out, here are our best-choice survival knives:
Ka-Bar Becker BK2 Campanion – one of the most popular models on the market, tried and tested by literally thousands of users
- Full tang heavy duty field knife suited for camping chores.
- Made in Olean New York, U.S.A
- Designed by Ethan Becker
- Manufactured by KA-BAR Knives Inc.
- Comes with a hard shell black nylon sheath.
Gerber LMF II Infantry – as a military-grade survival blade, the Gerber LMF II Infantry might not be the best chopping tool or camp knife, but it makes a great utility blade.
- Survival knife developed to free an aircrew from a downed aircraft
- Purposeful break between the tang and the butt cap, providing insulated protection against stray wires and absorbing any shock from hammering
- MOLLE compatible sheath with built-in sharpener
- Overall Length: 10.59"
- Proudly made in the USA
Gerber Strong Arm Military Knife – similar to the above model, the Gerber Strong Arm Military Knife is another great option for a small utility blade.
- StrongArm tactical knife features a coyote brown handle and a fine edge, full tang 420HC steel blade
- Durable survival knife has ceramic blade coating and rubberized diamond texture grip
- Break through hard surfaces in emergencies with the tactical knife’s striking pommel
- Four mounting pieces and sheath can be used for mounting on MOLLE, belt, or in drop-leg fashion
- Gerber gear is proudly made in USA at Gerber's Portland, Oregon factory
Ka-Bar Becker US Marine Corp Fighting Utility Knife – a world-famous, somewhat legendary combat knife that makes a great heavy-duty survival knife
- Edge Angles - 20 Degrees
- Overall length 11.875 inches
- The most famous fixed blade knife design in the world
- 1095 Cro-van steel
- Leather Handle, USMC Fightning Knife
Fallkniven A1L Survival Knife – the name says it all: this is a blade made for survival
- Blade material: lam. Vg10
- Blade length: 160 mm
- Total length: 280 mm
- Zytel sheath included
Buck Model 119 Special Survival Knife – this one’s been a classic survival knife since 1945 and makes for one impressive tool
- RAZOR SHARP CLIP POINT BLADE - 6" Clip Point 420HC steel blade has excellent strength, edge retention, and corrosion resistance for lasting durability. The clip blade is good for piercing, detail work, and cutting in tight places
- COMFORTABLE GRIP & BALANCE - Traditional black phenolic handle has palm swells for a comfortable grip. The aluminum pommel/guard provide the perfect combination of beauty and balance. Overall length 10-1/2", Weighs 7.5 oz.
- AN AMERICAN ICON - Classic phenolic handle and aluminum pommel/guard provide a perfect combination of beauty and balance. One of Buck's top selling knives, the 119 Special is one that's handed down from generation to generation
- CONVENIENT CARRY- Includes a genuine high quality protective leather sheath with snap fastener. The integrated belt loop allows you to carry the knife securely and safely on your belt
- MADE IN THE USA - FOREVER WARRANTY - Since 1902 Buck Knives has offered a lifetime warranty on our knives because we believe in the integrity of our products. This knife is proudly made in the USA
Ka-Bar Becker BK7 Combat/Utility Knife – perfect as a lightweight survival blade capable of heavy-duty use
- Combat utility
- Category name: knives
- Made in USA or imported
- Sturdy, lightweight all-purpose utility knife
- Easy-to-sharpen 1095 Cor-Van steel blade
Do you have a favorite survival blade in your pack people should know about? Let us know in the comments!