How To Choose The Best Survival Knife

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Picture yourself in a survival situation.  Perhaps you got injured on a solo hunting trip or maybe you became disoriented while walking through a forest and got lost. Regardless of how you end up in a survival situation, a knife is one of the few tools that will give you a fighting chance at making it out alive.

Although any knife could be beneficial in a survival situation, some knives will hold up better than others. Here you'll find some information on what makes a great survival knife, a searchable chart of some of the best survival knives, and our picks of the top five survival knives on the market.

Fixed Knives vs. Folding Knives: Which is the Way to Go?


fixed-blade knife has no moving parts and is less likely to break. A folder, on the other hand, cannot withstand stronger force and will succumb to pressure by breaking.


While this is an oversimplification, since many folders are strong and reliable, it's a good rule of thumb to follow. Many outdoorsmen will take along two knives: one fixed-blade knife and one folding knife for smaller tasks. If you're someone who's serious about being prepared for anything, two knives is the way to go. But first and foremost, you should focus on a dedicated survival knife.

What's the Ideal Survival Knife Blade Length?

The blade length of a survival knife can range anywhere from four inches to a hefty eight inches. Although many survival experts say the ideal length is somewhere between four and six inches for the blade, it's mainly a matter of preference. A shorter blade can give you more flexibility to do smaller tasks, but a longer blade will give more power and durability for accomplishing heftier deeds.

Straight vs. Serrated: Which Way to Slice it?

The next point of debate in deciding on the perfect survival knife is whether the blade should be straight or serrated. You'll get people vehemently arguing their case on either side, but again the answer is going to be a matter of preference. Serrations comes in handy when you're cutting rope and doing other tasks, but it's very difficult to sharpen, especially if you're out in the wild.

A fully-serrated edge shouldn't ever be used because a straight edge will be a must in nearly any situation.That's why a partially-serrated blade or a fully straight-edge blade should be your only two options. Simply put, a straight edge is cleaner, easier to sharpen, and doesn't have some of the limitations imposed by serrations, but again, it will depend on your comfort level with the knife and what you plan to do with it.

Top 5 Survival Knives

Tired of learning and ready to buy? Finding the best survival knife depends on your personal preferences, but the following are some of our favorites.

Fallkniven A1 Survival Knife

Fallkniven knives are the best of the best. Although you may not be familiar with the small Swedish knife company, they put tender care into every knife they make and it really shines through on their A-models. The Fallkniven A1 is 11 inches of pure mastery and boasts a 6.3-inch blade made from laminated VG-10 steel. For extra strength and durability, the handle is made from Kraton and the sheath is made from Zytel.

With the Fallkniven A1, there's no doubt the knife was designed with survival situations in mind. The blade's a bit longer and thicker than some of the other options, but it will not fail you in extreme situations. The major downside of this fine blade is the price -- but it's well worth it for hard-core survivalists. A smaller and less expensive alternative with many of the same qualities is the Fallkniven F1.

Cold Steel SRK Survival Knife

The Cold Steel SRK goes by the model that simplicity is the key to success. Whereas other knives try to lure in buyers with gimmicks and add-ons, Cold Steel puts all its focus on the knife itself. The SRK, which stands for Survival Rescue Knife, is a high-quality knife that's designed to withstand tons of abuse when you're out in the elements fighting for your survival. The blade is six inches long and features a plain edge with a clip point.

At a reasonable price, the Cold Steel, which comes with a Concealex sheath, is an all-around fantastic survival knife that won't let you down.

KA-BAR Becker Companion Survival Knife

KA-BAR is well known for its reputation and domination in the world of tactical knives, but KA-BAR Becker Companion proves that the company also knows a thing or two about survival knives. This fixed blade knife is one of the most popular survival knives on the market and for a reason. The 5.5 blade is made from 1095 Cro-Van steel and features a plain edge with a drop point. At 16 ounces, this is one of the heaviest survival knives, but its weight can be used to your advantage during more labor-intensive jobs.

In addition, Ethan Becker, the man who designed the knife, is a well-respected chef, outdoorsman and hunter who has been designing knives for decades.

Gerber Survival Knife

Whenever you ask experts about the five best survival knives on the market, they will all have the Gerber LMF II somewhere on the list. The partially serrated blade is 4.84 inches long and is made from 420HC stainless steel, which is resistant to rust. While a lot of attention gets paid to the blade itself, the unsung hero of the knife is its Kraton handle. Although it's a bit wider than you might be used to, the handle feels extremely comfortable in your hand and even features a window breaker on the end for urban survival.

This survival knife from Gerber is quite possibly the best survival knife under $100.

ESEE-6 Survival Knife

ESEE Knives (formerly RAT Cutlery) are quintessential outdoor adventure knives. However, for survival situations, nothing can beat the ESEE-6, which has the perfect weight, balance and purpose. The overall length is a bit long at 11.75 inches because it boasts the longest blade length of the bunch.

Even though many knives go for beauty and outward appearance, the ESEE-6, though not a bad-looking knife, puts all its effort on making it completely functional for the outdoors. This is where it succeeds mightily. The comfortable and curvaceous grip fits perfectly in any hand.

Looking for more survival knife info?

Scope out our chart below or mosey on over to our survival knife selection today.  Remember all Knife Depot knives come with a 60-day 100% guarantee, so can feel confident you'll find the right knife for your needs and NEVER LOSE YOUR EDGE!

Best Survival Knife Comparison Chart

Title Price Total
Sheath Edge
MTech First Recon $ 12" 8" 11 440 Plastic & Nylon Plain
Schrade SCHF9 Extreme Survival $$ 12.1" 6.4" 15.9 1095 Nylon Plain
SOG Field Pup $$ 8.5" 4" 4 AUS8 Leather Plain
Bear Grylls Ultimate $$ 10" 4.8" 11 Carbon Nylon Partially Serrated
Buck Classic Special $$ 10.5" 6" 10.5 420HC Leather Plain
Gerber  $$$ 10.6" 4.8" 11.4 420HC Plastic & Nylon Partially Serrated
KA-BAR Becker Companion $$$ 10.5" 5.5" 16 1095 Plastic & Nylon Plain
SOG SEAL Team Elite $$$ 12.7" 7" 10.3 AUS8 Nylon Partially Serrated
Buck/Hood Punk $$$$ 11" 5.6" 7.4 5160 Nylon Plain
Cold Steel SRK $$$$ 10.8" 6" 8.2 San Mai III Secure-Ex Plain
ESEE-6 Plain Edge $$$$ 11.8" 6.5" 11.8 1095 Plastic Plain
Fallkniven A1 $$$$$ 11" 6.3" 11 VG-10 Zytel Plain
Spyderco BushCraft $$$$$ 8.8" 4" 7.75 O-1 Leather Plain