Hard Cuts: The 8 Best Fixed Blade Knives

Multi-tools and folding pocket knives are great for their purpose, but no matter how stiff their locking mechanism or how strong their handle, they’re never going to match up to a good fixed blade knife. Whatever your purpose, be it working in the kitchen, surviving in the wilderness, rescuing hostages behind enemy lines, or dazzling knife-thrower groupies, you want a fixed blade in your hand. They’re harder to conceal and harder to explain in polite company, but they do better jobs across the board, no matter what kind of work you have in mind.

These knives come in all shapes and sizes. We’ve broken them down into all the major categories, so whether you need knife for the chopping block or one to tuck in your boot, we have you covered. Everything from small blades to survival knives is represented to help you handle every aspect of your life and every situation where nothing but sharp steel will do. Get ready to slash faster, chop easier, and cut deeper with one of the 8 best fixed blade knives.

Smith Wesson SWHRT9B Boot Knife

Smith & Wesson SWHRT9B Boot Knife

Pro: Balanced enough to throw
Con: Stealth coating does wear off

Last Resort: The boot knife is probably one of the most notable fixed blades that a person can carry, since ultimately if you’re down to needing it, you’re really at the end of your rope. Coming it at more than 9 inches this S&W darling is a larger boot knife which gives it more utility than its smaller cousins. The draw won’t be as quick, but the balance and the dagger-style design make it capable of being thrown with some degree of facility. Using a rubber handle for a harder grip that makes it difficult to pull out of your fingers it is also grooved right down the center so that when it causes a wound, it won’t get stuck. A lanyard hole in the handle and the ability to clip onto a belt or a boot allow numerous concealment and carry options depending on your needs. Make note that it is a double-edged knife that might be illegal if your region frowns on bladed combat. [Purchase: $17]

Ka-Bar BK11 Becker Necker

Ka-Bar BK11 Becker Necker

Pro: Extremely light
Con: Unusual balance

Quick Pull: During a pat-down at the underground gambling den you go to, they always tap your back, your hips, and your boots for blades, but they don’t always think to check your chest. If you want a light fixed blade that can be mounted on everything from a belt to a tactical vest, or kept as a necklace for any dangerous gala events, then this will do it. Made from 1095 Cro-Van steel with a 550 cord, it’s rugged enough for the woods or any urban commando. It runs just shy of 7 inches with an even split between handle and blade that gives this a good balance, though the hollowed-out handle is a little on the light side. It only comes in around one sixth of a pound, so you can keep it on you when walking, backpacking, or even doing backcountry jumps on your fat bike. Works equally well for camping as brawling, and can make short work of a hide when you’ve just got to take down Bambi’s mom. [Purchase: $32]

United Cutlery GH2033 Gil Hibben

United Cutlery GH2033 Gil Hibben

Pro: Adaptable spin on release
Con: Steel is on the soft side

A Right Tosser: Remember when your dad used to take you out in the backyard to throw the old blade around? If you don’t, your dad didn’t raise you proper. Any spineless, corn-fed, Field of Dreams mook can “have a catch” with a baseball. But chucking knives will get you a blue ribbon at the father/son freak show. If you’re looking for a knife that you can use from a distance, this should be at the very top of your wishlist. At 12 inches and 12 ounces, they are big and heavy which limits distance, but increases damage when they land. Unlike shorter throwing knives they have a slow spin which can be increased with a little wrist action so you can always sink the point. Made with 420 stainless steel they won’t rust or degrade whether you wear them during rainy competitions, dragging yourself through the muck on recon, or just letting them molder in their sheath at the back of your closet. [Purchase: $44]

Ka-Bar USMC Fighting Knife

Ka-Bar USMC Fighting Knife

Pro: Extremely durable
Con: Does not hold an edge long

The Last Word: When it comes to knives built for fighting, built for survival, this is still the platinum standard. Devised in 1942 by Ka-Bar, the USMC fighting knife is synonymous with greatness. It has been used by members of nearly every branch of the military as their combat knife of choice because they know that 1095 Cro-van steel, the true leather handle, and timeless design will be there no matter what hits the fan. It is best for hunting and survival if you aren’t intending on carrying it into the fray, but it has some tactical attributes such as a reinforced pommel that can bust through windows. The enhanced guard, taper ground edge, and blood groove all make it clear that this is intended to stab and slash when your back is against the wall. It barely qualifies as a self-defense knife, thanks to an aggressive design made for attacking, not protection. It is meant for abuse rather than grinding, which makes it tough, but also tough to keep a sharp edge. [Purchase: $64]

Cold Steel Recon Scout

Cold Steel Recon Scout

Pro: Keeps its sharpness
Con: Fairly heavy

Scout’s Honor: While our neighbors at the Ventura-based Cold Steel produce a handful of quality products, the Cold Steel Recon Scout is our best bet when it comes to the world of fixed blades. Essentially a 7.5-inch Trail Master Bowie, this thing packs all the same features you love from the classic Cold Steel offering, without the 9.5-inch blade length. And is somewhat “heavier” at 15 ounces (there’s a lot of steel there), but  you’ll have no problem bringing this thing with you, everywhere you go. The brand opted for SK-5 high carbon steel when it came to construction, and unlike many of its competitors, the broad clip point is highly resistant to both breaking and bending. Ideal for everything from long range cutting to slashing, this thing will quickly become your right hand man while exploring everything the great outdoors has to offer. [Purchase: $95]

Wusthof Classic Cooks Knife

Wusthof Classic Cook’s Knife

Pro: Very little fatigue from use
Con: Blunts quickly

Dine and Slash: We couldn’t just ignore the fact that not everyone wants a fixed blade for alley fights, survivalist adventures in the wilderness, and tactical S&R missions. Some guys prefer cutting up peppers to cutting down foes. For them there is the Wusthof Classic chef’s knife. It is a carbon-steel composite that gives you a deadly sharp edge with every sharpening and holds it well so long as you’re careful with your cutting board. The body has a full tang, triple rivet style that is backed by a lifetime warranty. It comes out of the box laser sharpened for a surgical edge. The balance is better for slicing and dicing, but it’s ability to hack at bone and chop smoothly through muscle also make it handy to have if an assassin from your past comes back to haunt you while you’re making dinner. It is hard to nick, hard to wear out, and nearly impossible to break. You’ll find that even after hours of use, the ergonomic handle feels comfortable in your grip. [Purchase: $117]

ESEE 6P-B Fixed Blade Knife

ESEE 6P-B Fixed Blade Knife

Pro: Unrivaled performance
Con: Still trying to find one

Best Overall: If we had to pick an absolute favorite survival knife, the ESEE 6 would most certainly be a top contender. Built right here in America, this knife features an ultra sharp blade crafted from 1095 high carbon steel steel, equipped with thumb grooves for increased grip. The handle is made from a bombproof grey Micarta scale complete with lanyard hole, and can even be removed if you’d prefer to use your own paracord-wound handle instead. The blade measures in at 6.5 inches, while the knife in its entirety is just under a foot long (11.75 inches). Each ESEE 6 also comes with a black molded polymer sheath for easy, safe transport. Not only was this full tang knife built for business, she’s also a beauty when it comes to aesthetics. [Purchase: $140]

Spartan Blades Ares

Spartan Blades Ares

Pro: Slight inward curve
Con: Cannot be used to chop

The God of War: You probably aren’t a knife fighter by trade, but as soon as you pick up the Ares, you’ll want to be. It has a blade made from 3/16-inch of Crucible CPM S30V stainless steel that won’t rust or breakdown, a matte black finish with 3-5 microns of titanium carbon nitride or zirconium nitride for an overall hardness of 61-65 HRC. Special Ops soldiers helped extensively in the creation of this knife specifically for blackout missions where wetwork was expected. The slightly inward curve to the blade is reminiscent of the kukri carried by Gurkha soldiers who are known for their viciousness in battle. It can be used either right side up, or run along the forearm for inverted slashing in the event of truly close combat. Black canvas Micarta rests on the handle and is screwed into the full tang body should you need to replace it or prefer something easier on your hand. [Purchase: $370]

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