Best Survival Knife of 2020 Complete Reviews with Comparisons
The fact of the matter is that a good survival knife can come in handy for many things. Whether building fires and shelters, cleaning fish, signaling for help, or defending yourself, plus a whole lot more, a survival knife is a versatile tool in many situations.
That being said, finding a good one is easier said than done, and it’s because there are so many out there.
Today, we want to help you find the best survival knife that your money can buy, and to do this, we want to review some top-notch options, and provide you with some buying tips too.
Best Survival Knife Reviews
SOG Survival Knife
This model from SOG is a high-end survival knife that features a solid build and an overall high level of quality, yet it still comes at quite a reasonable price.
Thanks to the unique design of the blade, the SOG Survival Knife is one of the best survival knives we have seen in a long time. First, the blade is a total of 4.75 inches long, which is a good size for most general purposes, as can be said for the overall 9-inch length of the knife as a whole.
However, the cool part is that this knife features a straight edge on the main blade side, and then the top side of the blade is serrated along the full length. The fact that you get both a straight edge and a serrated edge makes this a very versatile survival knife that can be used for a variety of purposes.
What also stands out is how it is made with AUD-8 stainless steel, combined with a black titanium nitride coating. This combination produces a durable blade that is highly resistant to scratching, chipping, denting, cracking, and more.
On that same note, the straight edge side has a very sharp cutting edge that can easily make its way through various materials, and it doesn’t need to be sharpened very often. Of course, the fact that this is a full tang knife automatically makes it quite durable, plus it allows for great balance.
Thanks to both the size and limited weight, which is around 5 ounces, it is very portable. It’s heavy enough so you know that it is made out of solid materials, yet light enough to remain highly portable.
Its portability is increased even more thanks to the high-quality hard-molded KYDEX sheath that is included. This sheath features a hard pocket, so the knife will never poke through when not in use, and therefore, it’s a sheath that keeps both you and the knife safe from harm and damage.
What we like about the SOG Survival Knife is that it is just an all-around high-quality, portable, and versatile knife that works well for camping, fishing, and survival scenarios, not to mention that it comes at a fairly reasonable price.
One thing that we don’t like is how it needs to be sharpened before you use it for the first time. Moreover, be aware that dual-sided knives be somewhat dangerous to use, especially for people with limited experience.
- Superior durability
- Very sharp cutting edge
- Dual-sided – straight and serrated blade
- Full tang
- Resistant to corrosion, cracking, chipping, and more
- Portable – nice sheath
- Reasonable price
- Requires sharpening before use
- Double-sided blades can be dangerous
KA-BAR Becker BK2 Campanion Fixed Blade Knife
If you have a little extra to spend, you want a high-quality knife, and you like knives that can be used for combat, survival, fishing, camping, and more, the KA-BAR Becker BK2 Campanion Fixed Blade Knife is a knife worth further investigation.
One thing that can be said about the KA-BAR Becker BK2 Campanion Fixed Blade Knife is that it is a full tang knife made of 1095 Cro-Van steel which makes it one of the toughest and most durable knives on the market. It will withstand rusting, corrosion, chipping, cracking, and dulling.
The fact that this is a full tang knife not only makes it very durable, but it also allows for great balance during use. We would also like to mention that the KA-BAR Becker BK2 Campanion Fixed Blade Knife is made in the USA which assures a high-quality level.
The KA-BAR Becker BK2 Campanion Fixed Blade Knife is 10.5 inches in length, with a 5.25-inch blade, a good size for most purposes. It’s large enough to use for most survival purposes, yet small enough to remain portable. Now, this knife is a bit heavy at about 1 pound, which is admittedly a bit heavy, yet it does indicate that some really solid and high-quality materials were used to make it.
This knife comes with a black hardshell nylon sheath. We like hardshell sheaths because they can stop the knife from stabbing your leg in the event of a fall, and at the same time, helps keep the knife safe from damage.
There’s also the fact that the sheath can be easily attached to a belt loop, which makes the KA-BAR Becker BK2 Campanion Fixed Blade Knife just that much more portable. Keep in mind that this blade design was originally classified as a combat knife, making it ideal for self-defense and survival, but it works well for any general purpose.
What we like about the KA-BAR Becker BK2 Campanion Fixed Blade Knife is how it’s just a beast. Simply put, this knife is relatively large and heavy, and it’s made with solid materials. This kind of knife will last for decades if you treat it right.
Something that we don’t like about the KA-BAR Becker BK2 Campanion Fixed Blade Knife is the handle. It is made of high-quality plastic, but because it has no texture it’s difficult to get and maintain a good grip on the knife.
- Very tough and durable
- Resistant to all forms of damage
- Very sharp cutting edge
- Does not need sharpening often
- Made in the USA
- Fairly portable
- Good size for most purposes
- A bit heavy
- The handle needs texture
If you like a good buck knife that is functional and tough, yet also looks stunning, the sleek and stylish Buck Knives 119 Special Fixed Blade Knife could be a good option for you.
One thing that we want to say right away is that the Buck Knives 119 Special Fixed Blade Knife is made in the USA, something that helps ensure a high level of quality, not to mention that it comes with an amazing lifetime warranty.
Moreover, this knife is 10.5 inches long with a 6-inch clip-point blade, and it weighs 7.5 ounces. This is a good size for a survival knife, particularly the blade length, as it is quite long and therefore able to handle a wide variety of tasks, yet not so long or heavy that it is hard to use or difficult to carry. It’s a versatile, medium-weight, portable survival knife.
The blade of the Buck Knives 119 Special Fixed Blade Knife is made with 420HC steel, which is a great material to go with for knives, as it is resistant to extreme temperatures, rusting and corrosion, chipping and cracking, and dulling. The fact that this knife is so durable and versatile quite honestly surprises us because it comes in at a fairly low price, lower than either of the other knives reviewed so far.
We also like the Buck Knives 119 Special Fixed Blade Knife for its phenolic handle combined with the aluminum pommel and guard. The handle comes with finger grooves which makes it a very ergonomic knife that is easy to hold for long periods; it provides a good grip and allows for a decent balance.
What we like about the Buck Knives 119 Special Fixed Blade Knife is that it comes at a very good price, and for the level of quality you get, the price is surprisingly good. Moreover, it’s a sleek and stylish knife that will make heads turn, plus it’s pretty versatile.
The only thing that we don’t like about the Buck Knives 119 Special Fixed Blade Knife is that it does not feature a full tang. This means that the blade does not go all the way down the handle, and instead, stops where the handle starts. This limits its overall durability and functionality.
- Fairly durable
- Great price
- Good balance
- Nice grip
- Good size and weight for most applications
- Extremely sleek and good looking
Not full tang
Columbia River Knife Folding Pocket Knife
If you want a knife that features a combination of good functionality, high portability, durability, and a great price, the Columbia River Knife Folding Pocket Knife is worth further investigation.
Right off the bat, this is a folding knife, whereas the others reviewed so far have had fixed-blades. Many people like folding knives because they are far more portable and convenient than fixed-blade knives; you don’t need a sheath for them, because when folded up, you can just put it in your pocket.
Moreover, the Columbia River Knife Folding Pocket Knife is only a few inches long when folded, plus it is quite lightweight, so you can easily carry it around, and maybe even forget that you have it in your pocket.
In terms of safety, this knife is easy to unfold but comes with a secure locking mechanism to keep the blade out when in use, so it doesn’t close on your fingers. It then features a simple button-activated closure for ease of use.
What stands out about the Columbia River Knife Folding Pocket Knife is the glass-reinforced nylon handle, which for a folding knife is quite good. It’s a very durable handle that is lightweight, and it has finger grooves to allow for good grip, not to mention that the knife itself is fairly well balanced.
In terms of the blade itself, the Columbia River Knife Folding Pocket Knife features a blade just over 3 inches in length, which is a bit on the small side, but still good enough for basic camping and survival tasks.
The blade is made of AUS-8 steel, so it should be quite durable, resistant to corrosion, cracking, and chipping. Keep in mind that the blade also features 3 serrations above the handle, something that allows a bit more functionality.
The best aspect of the Columbia River Knife Folding Pocket Knife is how portable it is. When folded up, the knife is short and easily fits into a pocket, it’s very lightweight, and it doesn’t require a sheath. In terms of convenience, this knife is up there with the best.
What we don’t like about this knife is the fact that folding knives are inherently weaker than fixed-blade knives. The hinges on these knives can’t handle all that much pressure or punishment, and this limits its overall durability, versatility, and functionality.
- Durable for a folding knife
- Portable and convenient
- No sheath required
- Fairly high-quality blade
- Handle with good grip
- The blade has a few serrations for increased functionality
- The hinge is a weak point
- The blade is a bit short for larger tasks
ESEE Laser Strike Fixed Blade Knife
This is a unique fixed blade knife from ESEE, and the reason it is so unique is due to the way it looks. Simply put, this knife looks like it means business. It may not be a cheap knife, but you get what you pay for, and here you get quality.
Right off the bat, one of the coolest features of the ESEE Laser Strike Fixed Blade Knife is the Micarta handle. Micarta is a special type of super-tough material, and here, it covers the full tang blade/handle of the knife.
This material, Micarta fabric, is extremely durable, more so than nylon, or canvas; it’s not quite as durable as a pure metal, but this fabric handle does have a big advantage, and that’s the grip. The textured fabric is easy to get a good grip, plus the shape of the handle makes getting a good grip easy.
As mentioned above, the ESEE Laser Strike Fixed Blade Knife has a full tang, something that automatically makes it quite durable and functional. With the high level of durability featured in a full tang fixed blade knife, it can handle many different tasks.
On that same note, the blade is made with 1095 stainless steel, a great material that is durable, resistant to cracking and chipping. The ESEE Laser Strike Fixed Blade Knife comes with a sharp cutting edge, which shouldn’t dull any time soon. The blade also comes with a special coating to prevent corrosion.
Keep in mind that the ESEE Laser Strike Fixed Blade Knife comes in at 10 inches, with a 4.75-inch blade, which is a good size for most survival purposes. The knife weighs about 10 ounces, which is not exactly lightweight, but you instinctively feel that it’s made of solid materials.
Finally, this knife comes with a hardened KYDEX sheath, which helps keep both you and the knife safe, not to mention that it helps with portability. On a side note, the sheath incorporates has flint fire starter.
Simply put, the ESEE Laser Strike Fixed Blade Knife is tough and durable, and it is an ideal size for survival situations. All around, it’s just a good-looking and high-quality survival knife.
The only downside to this knife that we can see is that the Micarta fabric handle can degrade over time. It can get wet, it can stain, and with plenty of use, it may start to come apart or wear thin.
- Superior blade durability
- Good length for most applications
- High-quality blade coating
- Resistant to rust and damage
- Nice sheath
- Flint fire starter included
- A bit heavy
- A bit expensive
- Micarta handle could be more durable
Before you go shopping for a survival knife, here are some of the main things that you should be looking for.
Blade Length and Thickness
If you are looking for a good all-around survival knife, you want to look for a blade that is no shorter than 3 inches, but no longer than 7 inches.
The shorter the blade, the more portable the knife, but the longer the blade, the more versatile it is.
Also, pay attention to blade thickness, as thicker blades are ideal for heavy tasks that require a lot of pressure, while thinner blades are ideal for smaller jobs and precision work, although thinner blades will not be quite as durable.
You also want to make sure that the blade material is of high quality. This could be 1095 stainless steel, Cro-Van steel, AUS-8 steel, carbon steel, and more, plus some blades may also have special coatings, such as titanium.
You need to look for a blade material that is durable, resistant to cracking and chipping, and won’t rust.
When it comes to survival knives, blade shapes serve different purposes. Some of the best knife blade shapes for survival purposes include tanto blades, clip-point blades, and drop point blades.
You also want to look for a survival knife with a good handle. While you want the handle to be made of solid material, it also shouldn’t be so heavy that it becomes uncomfortable to hold.
A metal handle is generally best, but high-quality plastic may work as well. What is important here is that the handle should feature finger grooves and have a good texture so you can get and hold a good grip on your knife.
Never go for a partial tang blade – always choose a full-tang fixed knife. Full tang means that the blade material extends through to the base of the handle, instead of cutting off at the top of the handle. This allows for increased durability and balance.
The Pommel or Butt
Another thing to look out for is the butt or pommel of the knife. There should be a curved or rounded knob on the end of the knife, as this will help provide you with a good nonslip grip.
Of course, if you are going for a folding knife, then a sheath is irrelevant, but you want your fixed blade knife to have a good sheath.
For the most part, this means having a solid sheath that can prevent the knife from stabbing you in case you fall, plus a hard shell sheath will help keep the knife safe, not to mention that it helps with portability.
KYDEX is also a good go-to material for knife sheaths.
What are the Benefits of a Survival Knife Over a Normal Knife?
Survival knives are extremely versatile and can be used for fishing, building fires, making shelters, and so much more, not to mention self-defense, all things you might have trouble doing with a normal knife.
Moreover, survival knives are generally made to be much tougher, more durable, and more portable than regular knives.
What is a Survival Knife Used for?
Survival knives can be used for combat, for self-defense, for prepping firewood, for hunting and foraging, for digging holes for water, for building shelters, for reflecting light to get the attention of rescuers, for fishing, for first aid, and much more.
They are called survival knives for good reason – they are so versatile and functional.
Why do some Survival Knives Have Holes?
Survival knives may have holes in them (the blade) so that things do not stick to them as you are cutting. Holes may also let water and liquids drain out, thus making cutting easier. They can help reduce friction.
Moreover, the blades and handles may have holes in them to reduce the overall weight, and handles may also have holes in them to allow for a better grip with more ventilation. In some cases, a knife with holes may be purely aesthetic.
What is the Best Type of Steel for a Knife’s Blade?
Many types of steel are ideal for knives. The best are generally M390 steel, but 420 steel, 1095, and AUS-8, and Cro-Van steel are also great options.
That concludes our list and review of the best survival knives, some important questions answered, and a buyer’s guide. Now you have everything you need to select your survival knife. Choose wisely!