What exactly is a survival knife and how do you choose one? Is a survival knife different than other knives? Whether you are new to knives or don’t quite know which one to pick for your bug-out bag or go-bag, we’re here to help!
A survival knife is a knife designed to be used for survival purposes, usually in an emergency. It is recommended that your knife be a fixed blade, full tang knife. Fixed blade means it does not fold or have any moving parts. A full-length tang means the blade part extends all the way down the length of the handle (whether you see it, or it is hidden), giving much more durability.
Survival knives have many options. You will have to decide what features you want on your knife. However, be sure to keep a few key ideas in mind: you want your knife to be easy for you to carry, comfortable for you to use, and the right size for you. So think about your arm and hand strength and size. A knife is a tool and getting the tool that is appropriate for you will be very useful if and when you actually need to use it.
Here is a little bit more about five of the best survival knives on the market today. All of these options are fixed blade and have a full-length tang.
The Esee 6P comes in four different colors, in case you want to customize your go-bag a little. It is a carbon steel, drop point blade measuring 6.5 inches, with a full length of 11.75 inches. The knife weighs in at 12 ounces.
The handle of this knife is made of canvas Micarta, which is a strong synthetic resin that will keep its grip in the rain or when your hands are sweaty.
The Esee 6P has excellent ratings and is a top pick on almost every survivalist’s list. It has a slim, balanced cutting edge that can stand up to a lot of abuse and it is comfortable in the hand. The biggest user complaint is that the included polymer sheath is cheap and poorly designed.
Ka-bar is a brand that has been trusted by all branches of the military for decades. Made from carbon steel, the Ka-bar Campanion (and no, that is not a typo) weighs exactly a pound and is 5.24 inches long, with an overall length of 10.5 inches. It has a fixed, drop point blade that keeps an edge remarkably well.
The Ka-Bar Becker BK-2 Campanion Fixed Blade Knife is a well-balanced knife with a comfortable, ergonomic handle. The blade on this knife is slightly thicker than your average knife, which means that it is really sturdy and can do almost anything you ask of it. On the other hand, it has a bit of a harder time with precision tasks and some users find it a bit clumsy.
It comes with a hard nylon sheath that it locks into for safety.
Benchmade is a well-known manufacturer of top-quality knives in the United States. The Benchmade Bushcrafter 162 is no exception to the company’s tradition of excellence. This premium stainless-steel blade is 4.4 inches and comes to a drop point, as is common in survival knives, with an overall length of 9.15 inches. It weighs in at just under 8 ounces. The handle is made of resin-coated fiberglass, which stands up to both abuse and weather and still lets you keep a good grip.
The Bushcrafter has two handle color options and comes with a leather belt-loop sheath.
Want a different survival knife than everyone else? Did you really like your grandpa’s knife? The Buck Knives 119 Special could be the knife for you. Made in the USA, it features a carbon steel, 6-inch blade with a clip point instead of a drop point. While a drop point is a bit stronger for heavy duty use, a clip point is an excellent all-purpose blade that can be used for just about anything around a campsite.
The 119 Special is 10.5 inches long and weighs 7.5 ounces. It has an ergonomically shaped black grip set against an aluminum pommel and guard. This striking blade is one of Buck Knives’ top sellers because it is well balanced, durable, and useful. It is also a more classic look than the newer designs you see in survival knives. Included is a leather sheath with a snap fastener and a belt loop.
Almost everyone knows who TV survivalist Bear Grylls is, but will a knife stamped with his name be any good? The answer is: yes, this knife is an impressive surprise. The Bear Grylls Ultimate Knife is a drop point, carbon steel, 4.8-inch blade, with half the blade being serrated. The overall length of this bad boy is 10 inches and it weighs just over 11 ounces. The handle is made of textured rubber, so it might not stand up to as much abuse as other knives, but it does make the grip user friendly. This knife isn’t going anywhere, rain, sweat, or mud!
But wait, that’s not all! The Ultimate Knife comes with a mildew-resistant nylon sheath that packs a bunch of extras: a fire-starter rod, a knife sharpener, instructions for land to air rescues, and Bear Grylls’ Priorities of Survival Guide. A whistle is on the nylon lanyard attached to the handle of the knife. All of this together weighs less than 15 ounces.
Having a strong, dependable survival knife is a key component to any bug-out bag. Your knife will help you feed yourself, shelter yourself, defend yourself, and more. Think about what knife will fit your needs best, will be comfortable and easy for you to use, and has the features you want. In an emergency, this will be an investment you will not regret.