If you’ve ever been in a life-or-death situation – whether it be another person, an animal, or anything – you’ll know the incredible security a good quality tactical brings you. That’s where the best combat knife shines. It could be used for something as simple as freeing a trapped limb or defending yourself from an armed attacker.
The bad news is that any old knife isn’t going to cut it. You need something that you can bet your life on. It needs to be reliable and capable enough to have your back when you need it most. The good news is that we’ve rounded up some excellent choices that offer you value for your money – so that you don’t have to go around searching endlessly for the best combat knife for you.
By the end of this guide, you’ll know what to look for in your next combat knife, and where to find it. You’ll be able to judge the knife’s value for money and get an accurate feel for its real-world performance. Let’s get started!
Top 7 Best Combat Knife Reviews in 2023
We’ve very carefully selected 7 combat knives we feel offer the best balance between price, performance, durability, ease of use, and functionality. Combat knives also have a visual element and having a knife that looks intimidating might be what gets you out of a sticky situation without having to put it to use.
Here, we’ll show you the unique features of each of the knives and why they’re worth paying attention to. We’ll also cover what we did and didn’t like about each of them so that you can get an accurate idea of how they’ll perform in the real world.
As a result, if you combine your experience and knowledge with what you’ll learn here in this guide – you can be confident in the choice you make. With all this in mind, let’s get into our best combat knife reviews!
SOG Seal Pup Elite Combat Knife
To kick it off, here’s an excellent premium quality combat/survival knife. Weighing in at just over 5 ounces, you’ll find it easy to carry around and isn’t a huge burden on your belt/bag. AUS-8 stainless steel gives the 4.75” blade a rugged and robust feel, as well as excellent edge retention and corrosion resistance. The textured GRN handle is contoured and comfortable to hold, especially for more vigorous cutting work.
Moreover, your hands aren’t at risk of slipping onto the blade thanks to the extended handle piece that doubles as a hand-guard. There’s a serrated cutting section near where the blade meets the handle and also along the blade’s spine. Overall, this is one of the best knives for combat and general utility/tactical uses.
- Great balance between heft and portability
- Extensive serrated cutting edge
- Strong tip
- High-quality stainless steel
- Handle scratches quite easily
- Black coating on the blade wears over time
United Cutlery USMC Combat Fighter
This knife has a stainless steel construction that excels outdoors while still offering great edge retention and functionality. The unique black finish on the blade is the result of rigorous heat-treating and makes this knife even more reliable and consistent.
You’ll find the hand-guard is in just the right spot to give you fine control over the long and slightly more slender blade. We loved the stacked leather handle for how classy it looks – but also for its raw performance and durability. It’s easy to grip and fits comfortably into either hand.
- Stacked leather handle is unique
- Sleek and subtle black finish
- Exceptional edge retention
- Comes with an embossed leather sheath
- Not very easy to sharpen
- Black finish shows scratches easily
SOG Fixed Blade Combat Knife
Here’s one of the best combat knife choices in this price range. The full-tang 4.9” blade is super-functional and is made from AUS-8 stainless steel for class-leading durability and performance. While it’s slightly heavier as it sits closer to the 6oz mark, but it’s still not too heavy that it becomes a burden to carry.
However, our favorite feature is the hard-molded sheath. It fits perfectly and offers you a ton of different mounting options, all without adding too much weight to the overall carry. Lastly, the blade is also heat-treated to greatly improve the knife’s cutting power and robustness for all things tactical!
- Excellent value for money
- Ergonomic handle
- Fantastic quality molded sheath
- Super-sharp serrated cutting portion
- A little on the heavy side
- Tough to sharpen
Ka-Bar Combat Kukri Knife
At over 8” the curved blade is excellent for tactical and outdoor use. It’s hefty enough for slashing and heavier-duty cutting work. Additionally, the high-carbon steel is coating in an epoxy coating for added corrosion and scratch resistance. You’ll find the knife to be well-balanced and easy to control thanks to the ergonomic and non-slip handle.
Furthermore, there’s a decent quality strap-connected sheath that comes with the knife. It’s a little on the bulky side but does an excellent job at protecting the knife from getting damaged while traveling. All in all, there are also loads of carrying and mounting options, making this knife a versatile choice for tactical and outdoor use.
- Versatile and capable heavy-duty combat knife
- Sturdy sheath
- Super-resistant to corrosion
- Quite difficult to sharpen
- Not the most functional blade shape
Gerber Applegate Combat Folding Knife
Here’s one of the best combat knife options at this price point. This Gerber knife is built to be robust and functional, with excellent wear and corrosion resistance. 420HC steel gives the blade excellent edge retention and cutting power, without being too brittle. As a result, you can put a wicked edge on and not have to worry about chipping it.
Also, the spear-point blade-style combines excellently with the serrated cutting portion to bring you one of the most capable and versatile combat knives. You’ll find the glass-filled handle is comfortable and reliable to use, even with wet/oily hands. Finally, its large and ergonomic design gives you all the control you’d need to make the most from the powerful blade.
- Extremely functional and capable for its size
- Large and ergonomic handle
- Great steel and material quality
- Comes very sharp out the box
- Handle doesn’t feel as premium as it looks
- Serrated cutting portion is a little on the small size
S.S. Fixed Mtech Combat Hunting Knife
Here is another one of our top picks for the best combat knife if you want something heavy-duty and versatile. Its appearance is stylish and the build is well-suited to the outdoors. The handle is contoured and shaped to fit your hand, while still offering enough slip-resistance and versatility to suit different grips and hand sizes.
There’s also a hand-guard to stop your hand from slipping onto the blade during heavy use. Most importantly, we love the saw-like serrations on the blade’s spine that help it quickly cut through small branches and other tough materials. Overall, you’re getting an extremely rugged, reliable, and durable knife you can bet your life on in the outdoors.
- Well-designed handle
- Excellently balanced
- Easy to sharpen
- Great quality serrated saw on the blade’s spine
- Quite heavy and bulky
- Black coating scratches off over time
DEFENDER XTREME Tactical Combat Knife
Our final knife is a fantastic value for money choice that still has great performance and durability for the price. It’s a massive 12” Bowie knife that comes with an extremely protective strap-on sheath. There are many mounting and carry options too. Especially, you’ll find this knife to be great for general tactical and outdoor use, with the slightly curved blade being handy and adept at chopping and larger-scale cutting/slicing.
Moreover, it is exceptionally corrosion-resistant and coated to further protect the knife from the elements and discoloration. To sum it up, considering the affordable price point, this knife would make an excellent choice if you’re just getting into the combat knife market and need something reliable to hone your skills with.
- Great value for money
- Highly corrosion-resistant
- Sturdy and robust sheath
- Large serrated cutting potion
- Heavy and bulky
- Not the greatest long-term durability
How to Choose the Perfect Combat Knife for You!
Objectively speaking, the perfect knife probably doesn’t exist. It’s all about knowing exactly what you need and finding a knife that satisfies your planned uses, style, budget, and skills. This is why we always recommend taking 5 minutes to write down what you’re looking for.
The more specific you get the better the choice you make will be. We’re going to take a quick look at some of the features that you need to pay attention to, and how important they are forgetting the perfect combat knife. Let’s go.
This is one of the most important aspects of any purchase – especially with combat knives. There are options at both extremes and each come with their advantages and disadvantages. For example, we’ve found that upper-midrange knives often have everything that premium knives do in terms of functionality and performance.
They’ll usually sacrifice a little in aesthetics and design, without compromising the knife’s real-world performance. Write down your minimum and max budget (how much you’re willing to spend if you get everything you’re looking for). Then, use this as your guideline when browsing through combat knife options.
Durability and Build Quality
Build quality and durability will both rely heavily on the knife’s material quality. For instance, in case of combat knives, you must get stainless and corrosion-resistant steel. In fact, this should be your number one priority. That’s because a knife with poor corrosion resistance can become a pile of rust in as quick as a couple of weeks – especially if you live in a humid environment.
We always prefer our combat knives to have a full-tang design. Since they’re mostly going to be used for more rigorous piercing, cutting, and sawing, all that extra structural strength will be the key. Write down how often you’re expecting to use the knife for medium to heavy tasks, and how long those tasks will last. This will help you pick a knife that has the durability you need for your specific situation.
Handle and Other Features
An ergonomic handle is essential for combat/tactical and outdoor knives. Your hands will often be wet so you’ll need a handle with a non-slip texture. On top of this, go for a combat knife with some sort of hand-guard, or at least contouring to stop your hand from slipping off the top or base of the handle. Write down some features you’d need most, such as a serrated cutting edge or a saw on the blade’s spine.
You’ll find it easier to choose these features if you have some experience with combat knives. On the other hand, if you’re new to this, we suggest doing some additional research first. Go and watch some videos of knives being used how you plan to use them, and pay attention to the features and blade-styles used.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Q: What Is the Best Size for a Combat Knife?
A: This depends on how you plan on using the knife. If you need class-leading durability and cutting power that can handle the outdoors, then a 12” Bowie knife might be perfect for you.
If you need a combat knife that’s lightweight, quick, and capable, you might consider going for a smaller 5-8” straight combat knife. Many folding combat knives offer an excellent balance between size and portability – though you shouldn’t get anything smaller than a 3” folding knife for combat and tactical use.
Q: Is a Sheath Necessary?
A: If you plan on taking the knife out of the house, then yes, a sheath is essential. It will also protect the knife from the elements, and give you a ton of different mounting options.
You should feel very comfortable about choosing a combat knife that’s just right for you. All you need to do is get the list of requirements and features we wrote out earlier and get to work.
Combine your list and experience with some of our recommendations and you can be confident that the knife you choose will be excellent. With the best combat knife in hand, you’ll be ready for all the unexpected things life throws your way – and always come out on top! Enjoy!