The Top 10 Choice Survival Knife Brands of 2019

Mention the words “survival knife” to a casual person and for sure the images he or she would be visualizing either a commando stealthily navigating enemy territory or a jungle explorer roughing it in the badlands.

Pop culture has a lot of “blame” for this imagery, thanks to movies like “Rambo” or “Crocodile Dundee,” and more recently in video games like first-person shooters where it’s a mark of honor to get kills with just a survival knife (or more likely, they ran out of ammo).

The Uses of a Survival Knife

While there’s some shred of truths to how survival knives are in these depictions, it is not an understatement to say that the survival knife has evolved from its hardy, rural beginnings to its current practical usage.

Outdoorsmen, particularly, will swear by the necessity of having a trusty survival knife in their possession at all times. Naturally, something so important and prevalent would be produced by enterprising companies marketing that their brand is the best in the business.

With the plethora of choices in the market today, how does one determine the best survival knife for their needs?

Read on and we’ll explore this point further which might help you in making the right choice as to which is the best survival knife.

10 Choices for the Best Survival Knife in 2019

With the categories set, the following are the best brands and models of survival knives available in the market for the discerning outdoorsman, survivalist, or hobbyist.

Note that this is not an exhaustive list and are not “ranked”, as is the case with most lists found online. Instead, this is a listing presented for comparisons.

1. Gerber Freeman Guide Fixed Blade Knife

Gerber Freeman Guide Fixed Blade Knife, Fine Edge, Drop Point...
  • 5Cr15MoV SS blade, glass bead finish
  • Full fine edge blade
  • Large finger grooves, tachide on lay, full tang and lanyard slot

Made in the good, old U.S. of A., the Gerber Freeman Guide Fixed Blade Knife is crafted with military applications in mind. The Gerber Freeman Guide Fixed Blade Knife is an 8.38-inch example with a blade of about 4 inches.

The Gerber Company produces some of the top blades in the business, and this is a great example. The blade is partially serrated with a drop point. Former military Jeff Freeman helped design this beauty, thus the Gerber Freeman Guide Fixed Blade Knife is well suited for a variety of situations as tested by troops in the field.

With a durable 45Cr15MoV SS blade with a glass bead finish, large finger grooves and a glass-filled nylon handle with lashing holes for lanyards or even potential conversion to a makeshift spear, this is a fine choice of a survival knife.

2. Bear Grylls Ultimate Knife Pro Fixed Blade

Gerber Bear Grylls Ultimate Pro Knife, Fine Edge [31-001901]
  • Full-tang, premium 9CR19MoV stainless steel construction for durability
  • Military-grade, mildew-resistant nylon sheath with pull-through carbide sharpener, for guaranteed sharpness
  • Built-in fire starter rod in watertight holder

Another product produced by Gerber, the Bear Grylls Ultimate Knife Pro Fixed Blade a fine edged, 4.8-inch drop point blade is made of high-density stainless steel.

Weighing close to 14 ounces, the Bear Grylls Ultimate Knife Pro Fixed Blade has the namesake’s stamp of approval for utility and survival use. This comes with a built-in fire starter rod, a lanyard with an emergency whistle, a carbide sharpener, a durable sheathe, and even a pocket guide titled “Priorities of Survival.”

3. Buck 119 Special Knife

This 10 ½-inch knife from Buck is arguably a “classic.” Hoyt Buck and the company named after him have been producing well-made survival knives since World War II, and the Buck 119 Special Knife is certainly living up to that legacy.

A clip blade design, the Buck 119 Special Knife uses 420HC stainless steel with a Rockwell hardness of RC58. This no-frills survival knife does a great job for puncturing tasks, but is only average for finer work like skinning.

4. SOG Seal Pup Elite E37T-K 

SOG Survival Knife with Sheath - SEAL Pup Elite Fixed Blade Tactical...
  • 4.75-INCH AUS-8 STAINLESS STEEL FIXED BLADE KNIVES: SEAL Pup Elite full tang knife is an outdoor knife, duty knife and...
  • 5.4 OUNCES W/ GRN HANDLE: A nearly indestructible service knife handle for this type of Bowie knife with sheath;...
  • HARD-MOLDED KYDEX SHEATH: Great as a camping knife, hiking knife, belt knife, rescue knife, skinning knife, boot knife,...

Crafted by SOG, this 9.5-inch clip point knife, has a glass reinforced nylon handle. Given its history in use by the U.S. Seals and Special Forces, it comes as no surprise that this is a well-put together survival knife.

The SOG Seal Pup Elite E37T-K has a AUS8 stainless steel composition with a titanium nitride coating, making it one of the most durable survival knives available. However, that comes with the caveat that sharpening it may prove to be more arduous than its peers.

5. KA-BAR U.S. Marine Corps Fighting Knife

KA-BAR Full Size US Marine Corps Fighting Knife, Straight
  • 1095 Cro-van steel. Edge Angles - 20 Degrees
  • 7" Straight Edge Blade
  • The most famous fixed blade knife design in the world

There are many survival knives on the market today, but sometimes it's just best to get an original that has been around for decades and has proven itself time and time again in the field. 

Adopted by the United States Marine Corps in 1942, the KA-BAR has served as the primary combat and utility knife for the military branch in every major war since World War II.

The 7-inch straight edge blade is slightly angled at 20 degrees and is made using 1095 Cro-van steel, meaning the blade won't chip, crack or break and will be durable and sharp in any survival situation. The knife comes with a sheath and is made in the United States. So, whether you are cutting small saplings to construct a shelter or slicing through paracord  or shaving or processing an animal for your next meal, you can count on the KA-BAR. If it's good enough for the Marines, it's good enough  for you.

6. Cold Steel Survival Rescue SRK SK-5

Cold Steel 49LCKZ Srk SK-5, Clam Package
  • Overall length: 10 3/4 inch
  • Blade length: 6 inch
  • Steel/material: sk-5 with black Tuff-Ex finish

Cold Steel has a long-standing reputation of producing quality blades. The Cold Steel Survival Rescue SRK SK-5 weighs only a little over 8 ounces. This is a plain, straight blade with a clip point made from AUS 8A stainless steel with a checkered Kraton handle over a full tang.

The blade has a Dura-coat to protect it from the elements. Made from Taiwan, the Cold Steel Survival Rescue SRK SK-5 however lacks a good pommel, thus is left wanting when it comes to hammering tasks.

7. KaBar Becker Campanion Fixed Blade BK2

KA-BAR Becker BK2 Campanion Fixed Blade Knife
  • Full tang heavy duty field knife suited for camping chores.
  • Made in Olean New York, U.S.A
  • Designed by Ethan Becker

No, that’s not a typo. The KaBar Becker Campanion Fixed Blade BK2 is intentionally spelled to give the impression (rather appropriately) that it is an excellent tool for camping and wilderness roughing out.

One of the shorter examples in this list with only 5.25 inches on the blade, yet it is also one of the heavier survival knives at 16 ounces. The polyester sheathe included with this knife has a front pocket for keeping other small useful items.

While this survival knife is good for heavy duty tasks, it is only average for more detailed work.

8. Morakniv Companion HD Knife

Morakniv M-12211 FT01460 Fixed Blade,Hunting...
  • A powerful tool for outdoor people
  • Extra large ergonomic handle
  • Includes orange plastic sheath and belt clip

If you’re on a tight budget, the Morakniv Companion HD (Heavy Duty) Knife is right up your alley. With a 4-inch long blade made of carbon steel with a partial tang, but compensates with a thick and angled rubber grip that is quite stable and reliable even after continued usage.

The drop point blade has a 27-degree angle which makes it comfortable and easy to sharpen when needed. However, the carbon steel is not immune to corrosion and the rather dull plastic sheathe is nothing to look at.

9. Schrade SCHF2 Extreme Survival Special Forces Knife

Schrade SCHF2 12.7in One-Piece Drop Forged Fixed Blade Knife and Tool...
  • DIMENSIONS: 12.7 inch (32.3 cm) overall length with a blade length of 7.5 inches (19 cm) and a weight of 1 lb 1.8 ounces
  • DURABLE: Blade is made of reliable SAE-1070 Carbon Steel with a grey, steel handle
  • DEPENDABLE: Quick and easy access with the convenient ballistic sheath making it ideal for everyday carry

Given “Extreme Survival” and “Special Forces” are included in its name, the Schrade SCHF2 Extreme Survival Special Forces Knife is exactly the kind of blade you would expect it to be.

Made from SAE 1070 high carbon steel is quite thick with a serrated section, giving it versatility. Carving, skinning, and slicing are very easy to do with its clip point design and the handle has a hollow part for storing additional survival tools, without sacrificing grip and stability.

Furthermore, it comes with a sheathe that includes a multi-tool attachment, making this a very attractive package for those who take their survivalist weekends seriously.

10. ESEE 6P-B Plain Edge Fixed Blade Survival Knife 

ESEE Knives 6P-B Plain Edge Full Tang Fixed Blade Knife and Sheath...
  • SPECIFICATIONS : Overall Length: 11.75" , Blade Length: 6.50". Includes a high quality protective polymer sheath with...
  • RAZOR SHARP BLADE: Tactical knife blade made of black coated 1095 High Carbon Steel, a top choice for professional field...
  • LIFETIME GUARANTEE: Esee Knives has a lifetime and transferable guarantee covering repair or replacement - no sales...

This drop point blade produced by Randall’s Adventure and Training is built of 1095 stainless steel is very durable, corrosion resistant, and sports a Grey Linen Micarta Scale handle.

This is one of the best blades available, with just the right balance of length and thickness for its type. The U.S. made ESEE 6P-B Plain Edge Fixed Blade Survival Knife also has a rounded metal pommel for hammering purposes.

The ESEE 6P-B Plain Edge Fixed Blade Survival Knife does a swell job for both hardcore and fine motor tasks. Many enthusiasts count this as a first-rate survival knife, and with good reason.

The Perfect Survival Knife – Buyers’ Guide

The most basic tool to survive for a man in the wilds is a cutting tool. Let’s face it: having a blade handy for various tasks that can come up without the comforts of civilization can be a lifesaver.

Since pre-history, the knife or some variation of it has helped men adapt and survive nature, whether through hunting, creating other tools, or defending against danger.

They say the wheel is the greatest invention ancient man came up with, but it’s arguable the blade or knife does it one better. You can’t use a wheel to cut wood or vines and dig, all of which can help you build a shelter from the elements.

With a knife, you can even create fire, another basic need to live out in the wilderness, provided you know what you’re doing. Thus, the perfect survival knife should be able to help you do these and more.

So what are the most important features to consider in choosing the best survival knife? Well, we can break it down into the following:

1. Blade - Naturally, the “business end” of a survival knife is the primary feature that you should look at in choosing the one that fits your needs. Sharpness of the edge, of course, is an important quality.However, the hardness is also a key feature, as you want it to be durable for the rough tasks it will be subjected to. The spine of the blade can be important if it is a single edged blade (as double-edged blades will not have a spine).

Furthermore, the blade is the “grind,” which refers to the shape of the blade’s edge pointed away from the user. It can come in different shapes like a bevel, a chisel, sabre, or a compound convex.

The grind is imperative in determining what you can do with the blade as well as how easy it is to sharpen and maintain.

Another consideration with the blade is whether it is a fixed blade or a folding blade. Generally, the fixed blade is preferred, but a folding blade has its merits in the right situations.

Some minor considerations, such as a straight or serrated blade, are also important factors. To summarize, the blade should be functional, reliable, and versatile.

2. Material - In prehistoric times, a knife could be made of sharpened stone or early attempts at iron and bronze. In the modern age, the blades of survival knives are made of stainless steel, carbon steel, or even alloys like titanium and osmium.It goes without saying that the stronger and less prone to corrosion the material is, the better it performs, so the best survival knife should certainly be rated high with this point.

3. Tang - The tang is the part of the body of the survival knife that connects to the handle. A full tang means it is about the same length and nearly as wide as the body of the handle, while a partial tang can be 2/3 to a quarter of length of the handle.Full tangs are generally preferred as this ensures a stable grip, where partial tangs can get loose more easily after continued and prolonged use of the survival knife.

4. Size - While folks like Rambo and Crocodile Dundee prefer survival knives nearly as long as a short sword, big doesn’t necessarily mean better. If it is too long or wide, it sacrifices portability and the use for tasks that require finesse and precision (such as skinning fish, for instance).In this case, personal preference can vary. However, we can presume finding the right balance between too big and too small for the purpose of comparisons for getting the best survival knife.

5. Handle - The handle of a survival knife is nearly as important as the blade itself. Without a good handle, it would prove difficult to safely manipulate the knife without injury (think about your poor fingers!).The handle should provide a good, solid grip while allowing for a wide range of angles and maneuvers. Another area where the handle should excel is the pommel. A good pommel can be useful for hammering or grinding, as needed.

6. Price - When it comes down to it, the perfect survival knife is one that fits your budget. But since the buyer’s budget can widely vary, estimating a right balance of cost vs. quality is the next best thing.Put it simply: if it’s cheap, but not well made, then it isn’t worth the price. On the other hand, if it’s high-priced, but if its performance is only average, then it isn’t good, either.

These 6 factors are the suggested main considerations in judging the best survival knife. Although there may yet be other factors, these will be a case by case basis, depending on the knife brands and models themselves.

The Best Survival Knife - Final Word

As good as any survival knife is, ultimately, it falls to the user’s preference and personal skills that make for the best survival knife. However, this selection of the top choices available for purchase should give a good basis to make your judgment before making that purchase.

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