Making the Cut: The 10 Best Survival Knives

Back in the days when men were men and every problem could be solved with a duel, no man would be without his knife. Whether you were a rugged frontiersman or a prissy genteel that played an instrument called a “harpsichord” you would always have your knife within easy reach.

Well, times may have changed and men might now be forced to talk about their feelings rather than settle them on the field of battle, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be without a decent blade by your side. With our guide to the best survival knives, you’ll always be ready for the zombie apocalypse or cutting the strings off your frilly apron.

Tom Brown Tracker

Tom Brown Tracker

Unsurprisingly, the Tracker was created by an expert in wilderness survival, and it shows. Mr. Tom Brown Jr. devised this knife when he couldn’t find anything on the market that suited all of his needs. His loss is the gain of us all. This knife is practically a multi-tool. It’s carbon-steel, full tang blade cuts like a dream, it can gut and clean fish and game, the saw edge is perfect for pruning saplings or cutting through bone, and it even has the balance to throw effectively. Just don’t try to do any battoning with it. It has a shorter blade that most knives, but the extended grip gives extra leverage to make up the difference. [Purchase]

Fallkniven A1

Fallkniven A1

Usually the only things that come to mind when you think about Sweden are meatballs, milkmaids, and furniture that is impossible to put together, especially if you are drunk. What should come to mind is their bulletproof fixed blades. The entire A series from Sweden-based Fallkniven is amazing, and the A1 has few rivals. It uses a laminated VG-10 steel blade that is 6.3 inches of deadly sharpness. The handle is Kraton which improves durability and grippability. You’ll pay more for these lovingly crafted beauties, but when your survival is on the line, it can be the difference between life and death. [Purchase]

Chris Reeve Green Beret Knife

Chris Reeve Green Beret Knife

Green Berets specialize in unorthodox combat methods and survival training, but there is nothing unorthodox about the exceptional quality put into this knife by Chris Reeve. While it is one of the few knives made for combat first, its CPM S35VN stainless steel blade and canvas Micarta handle can stand up to the most punishing conditions. The blade has an interior serration giving it the edge when it comes to battoning, skinning, and woodland uses. It has a 7″ blade, making it slightly heavier than some other options, but not enough to wear you down. [Purchase]

Ka-Bar Becker BK2

Ka-Bar Becker BK2

This knife would be tough as nails, but there aren’t nails this unflinchingly rugged. You want to clean a deer carcass? Child’s play. You want to saw through bone? No problem. You want to pry open the Ark of the Covenant? Sure thing. The BK2 can take punishment without tarnishing, dulling, bending, or breaking. It claims to be nothing more than 1095 Crovan Steel, but that hardly seems like enough to make this dangerous, unbreakable juggernaut. Easily the best battoning knife of the bunch, it rewrote the book on survival knives…then cut it right in half. [Purchase]

Tool Logic SL-Pro 2

Tool Logic SL-Pro 2

Normally if you are using a folding blade as a “survival” knife, then you are really just choosing the knife they will bury with your body. With that said, the SL-Pro 2 is the lone folding knife with any potential. It has a 420 J-2 steel blade that fits into a Zytel handle. It can hold a razor’s edge for a long time, and the serrated side helps allow for sawing and hacking up wood. It comes equipped with additions such as an LED light, a magnesium alloy firestarter, and a signal whistle, all attached to the grip. While it isn’t as strong as the others, it compensates by being sharp and versatile. [Purchase]

Gurkha Kukri

Gurkha Kukri

For those times when a machete is too much, but a standard knife is too little, there is the Kukri. The standard knife of the Gurkha in Afghanistan, the Kukri blurs the lines between knife, tomahawk, and utility blade. It is larger than most knives on the list, but much better at dealing with brush or dense foliage. The high-quality carbon steel is easy to sharpen and will hold an edge longer than many stainless knives. It’s longer than most at more than 16 inches, but it is intended for combat as much as survival utility. A bit cumbersome for the minimalist, but an incomparably good knife overall. [Purchase]

ESEE-6

ESEE-6

If you want substance over style and are looking for a workhorse survival knife that won’t disappoint you even under the worst conditions then you need the ESEE-6. The knife looks like your favorite pair of old jeans feel, just right. The blade is nearly 6 and a half inches of 1095 carbon steel heaven with removable Micarta handles. It is one of the longest knives built for survival out there, but even the increase in quantity didn’t decrease the quality at all. Whether hunting, camping, backpacking, or being air dropped into the Montana wilderness blindfolded, you’ll appreciate this knife’s utility every time you use it. It can handle battoning and chopping as well as stabbing and skinning with the same efficiency. [Purchase]

Randall Model 18

Randall Model 18

The Model 18 goes the opposite direction of the ESEE-6. It is one of the flashiest blades you can strap to your belt. When you feel like going on a survival adventure that involves dressing in your finest pimp gear, this is the knife you pack. The handle is a waterproof, stainless steel tube, perfect for matches, garrotte wire, fishing line, or a little Peruvian nose candy. The hilt and butt are both brass, while the blade is pure stainless steel. The only modification you will want to get is a knurled handle so that it doesn’t slip or cause blisters from extended use. [Purchase]

SOG Force

SOG Force

Whatever your survival needs, you really can’t go wrong with any of the SOG line, but at the end of the day, when you are alone in the dark and the wolves are at your door, the Force is the one you want. It has AUS-8 steel sunk into a glass reinforced nylon handle that is easy on the hands, grippable, and offers maximum endurance. The 6″ blade is not too long and not too short. The serrated edge helps accomplish sawing jobs, while the main blade can hold an edge for ages. It resists weather, it fights off wear, and it laughs in the face of adversity. [Purchase]

Original KA-BAR USMC Utility Knife

Original KA-BAR USMC Utility Knife

There is only one rule that you ever need to know: You never, ever argue with a Marine. When generations of them swear by a single knife, you ignore their advice at your own peril. The USMC KA-BAR is thought by many to be the original survival knife and time has proven that few things can compare with a classic. No new age songs are as strong as Bob Seger’s “Like a Rock,” no space-age bat is better than a Louisville Slugger, and no knife is ever going to quite be a KA-BAR. When it comes to survival knives, this isn’t just the gold standard, it is the only standard. [Purchase]

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