If you’re a fan of the outdoors – professional or enthusiast – you know the massive need to have the right knife or set. Outdoor situations can take a turn for the worst at a moment’s notice and having the best survival knife might be your only way out.
We’ll show you what you should be looking for at the different price points by taking a deeper peek into some of the best survival knives on the market. Our goal is to get you as informed as possible so that you get a knife that’s right for you – and gives you value for every dime you spend. Let’s take a look!
Top 7 Best Survival Knife Reviews in 2023
We’re going to look at 7 knives that have been carefully chosen based on their features, performance, price, usability, durability, uniqueness, and much more. You’ll learn how they stand out from the pack and what kind of performance you can expect from them.
We’ll show you what we did and didn’t like about each knife so that you know what to expect and have a good feel for how well the knife would suit you. By the time we’re done, you’ll be ready and have the knowledge it takes to choose a knife that could, one day, be the difference between life and death. Let’s dive into our best survival knife reviews!
Smith & Wesson Survival Knife
With a 4.7” blade and a 9” overall length, you’re getting a hefty and robust knife that loves the outdoors. While it’s not the lightest knife, the weight is put to good use. You’re getting quite a large and easy to hold handle. It does a fantastic job of balancing the knife and gives you plenty of grips.
You can handle it with either hand and the profile suits quite a wide range of grip styles and hand sizes. You’re getting excellent resistance to staining and corrosion with the 7CR17 high-carbon steel construction. It’s capable, holds a sharp edge, and doesn’t dull or chip too easily. These are all boxes that you want ticked when you’re looking for something reliable for survival and tactical needs.
We loved the large handguard. It’s broad and smooth profile combines excellently with the textured non-slip grip to give you impeccable and consistent control over the knife. Overall, this is a versatile, functional, and capable option – and one of the best survival knives for the money.
- Excellent quality steel and material build
- Large and comfortable handle
- Broad hand guard for safety
- Sharp and sturdy tip with a powerful piercing ability
- Black coating can be scratched off quite easily
- Doesn’t come with a protective case or sheath
Mossy Oak Fixed Blade Survival Knife
If you like large knives, you might want to pay attention to this one. With a 10” blade and a 15” overall length, this knife has beastly proportions. You’ve got a sturdy thick blade that leads to a clip-point edge. Both the cutting edge and the tip come very sharp and can be taken to a fine edge. You’ll have plenty of cutting power to work with. This is made even truer by the rubberized handle.
Its non-slip texture helps you get expert control over the blade. The handle is a little soft which helps to reduce the strain on your hands and wrist. The spine of the blade houses a fire starter strip that can be used with the provided flint. There’s also a small sharpener that lets you work on the blade while you’re in the outdoors or away from your tools.
We loved the nylon sheath and though it was excellent at protecting the knife from the elements. This combines well with the corrosion-resistant coating on the blade to give you a very robust and durable knife. Overall, this knife makes great use of the 440HC steel and gives you a functional top best survival knife.
- Large and capable blade
- Clip-point tip is well-made
- Rubberized handle ergonomic and comfortable
- Excellent quality sheath that clips the knife into place
- Black coating on the blade comes off over time
- Provided sharpener is a little small to be consistent (especially considering the size of the blade)
GrandWay 6772 Tactical Folding Knife
Here’s a snappy and reactive pocket knife with a spring-assisted opening and a thumb stud for a smooth and steady opening action. While we’re not always keen on spring assisted pocket knives, this one checks all the right boxes. It’s consistent and reliable enough to carry around with you and frequently use.
You’re getting a built-in lanyard that’s cord-wrapped around the handle. It looks fantastic and gives you plenty of slip resistance. This has the double benefit of being easy to remove to better balance the knife. There’s a firm pocket clip that allows quite a few different mounting options. You can carry it one a tactical belt just as easily as you can mount it to a backpack.
The 420HC steel that’s used here is incredibly robust and perfectly suited to extensive outdoor use. It offers decent edge retention and an edge that can be sharpened to cut like a razor. It comes very sharp and ready to go right out of the box too. You’ll love the contoured spine of the blade.
It’s been designed to house a Fire starter and to give you thumb a pad for better grip for accurate cutting/slicing. You’ll find the handle comfortable and easy to hold in either hand. Some finger grooves help the handle fit the natural shape of your hand. Overall, you’re getting a best survival knife that’s adept in the outdoors – and it’s light on your wallet.
- Ergonomic and comfortable handle
- Wrapped para cord is removable
- Spine of the blade doubles as a Fire starter
- Quick blade deployment
- A little difficult to keep clean
- Cord-wrapped handles aren’t for everybody
Gerber LMF II Survival Knife
Originally designed to be used by the crew on aircraft for emergencies, this Gerber knife is capable of cutting through the fuselage of an aircraft. This incredible cutting power comes in the form of an ultra-sharp edge and a devastating serrated portion neat the handle. You’ll have no trouble using this knife for everyday tactical needs.
It’ll easily cover you in an emergency or a pinch. There’s an intentionally left gap between the tang and the butt of the handle. This gives you insulation against electric shocks and helps to reduce the vibrational shock from hard impacts.
The handle is crafted from glass-filled nylon and shaped to fit the natural contours of your hand. You’ll find the hand guard and the elevated portion near the butt of the handle give you slip resistance and help you better control the knife. It comes with a quality sheath that’s coated to be fire-retardant.
It can be mounted in a variety of ways as isn’t too clunky. Overall, this is an exceptionally robust and tough knife. It’s a top best survival knife and can comfortably handle itself in almost any situation. While it’s a little on the pricey side, it’s money very well spent.
- Excellent value for money
- One of the toughest and robust builds
- Electrical shock proofing
- Fire-resistant sheath
- A little on the pricey side compared to other knives here
- Quite a pain to sharpen
Schrade SCHF9 Survival Knife
If you like large fixed blade knives, you’re in for a treat. With a blade length of over 6”, you’ve got a powerful and capable cutting edge at your disposal. There’s no getting around the fact that this is a heavy knife. It’s designed to handle the rigors of outdoor survival and even tactical needs.
It’s crafted from 1095 high-carbon steel and features extensive resistance to corrosion, rusting, fading, discoloration, chipping, and more. This is an impressively robust knife you’d want by your side in a pinch. The slim and sleek handle is textured and comfortable.
There are finger contours to help it fit the shape of your hand and give you fine-tuned control over the wicked cutting edge. The final finger contour rises a little to double as a hand guard of sorts. It’s pronounced enough to stop your hand from accidentally slipping onto the blade.
You’ll get the knife in quality and easily accessible ballistic belt sheath. It has a removable storage compartment and can be mounted in loads of different ways. You’re getting a reliable, secure, and effective full tang knife – one of the best survival knife options at this price point.
- Large and powerful blade
- Full-tang with a slim and ergonomic handle
- Excellently fitted ballistic sheath
- Wicked sharp cutting edge
- Plastic handles wear quicker over time
- Handle doesn’t suit non-standard grip types and styles
BlizeTec Folding Survival Knife
If you love the convenience of folding knives that can comfortably slip into your pocket, here’s a sophisticated choice. You’re getting the versatility and functionality of five tools packed into one compact and easy to carry build. The blade has quite a jagged serrated edge that’s fantastic for sawing, a glass breaker, a cord cutter/seat belt cutter, a fire starter, and a bright LED light.
This gives you a handy combination of features that come in clutch during an accident. It’s durable enough to take with you on your outdoor trips. Its lightweight build and extremely sharp tip give it an edge when it comes to tactical and survival use. The handle is quite a bit taller than we’re used to seeing on folding knives. You’ll have no trouble getting a very sturdy grip that’s comfortable.
While the design is sleek and attractive, it’s relatively simple. The lockup is strong and keeps the blade from accidentally slipping (very little wiggle room for the blade too). If you’re into the outdoors and want something versatile in a compact and lightweight body, this might be one of the best survival knifes for you.
- Easy to keep clean and maintain
- Powerful serrated portion with a strong and sturdy tip
- Very affordable
- Compact and lightweight profile
- Black finish on the blade comes off over time
- Opening and closing one-handed is slow
Morakniv Bushcraft Survival Knife
Here’s an ultra-durable survival knife with a thick and juicy high-carbon steel blade. Other than being devastatingly sharp, this thicker steel lends to better cutting power and impressive durability. It’s been given an anti-corrosion coating that helps the blade be more consistent and reliable in the outdoors.
It’s exceptionally resistant to the elements and lasts for ages. This, when combined with the high-quality sheath, gives you a knife you can take almost anywhere without worrying about its condition. At 4.3” long, the blade can handle a versatile range of work from utility to self-defense, and more.
This is even further enhanced by the ergonomically handle with a slightly curved spine. It fits the shape of your hand and gives you excellent control over the knife – especially the tip. A unique feature is that the sheath has a built-in diamond coated sharpener. You can touch up the knife while you’re in the field or don’t have access to your maintenance gear.
There’s also a fire starter that can handle more than 7000 strikes before needing to be replaced. These are excellent and incredibly reliable outdoor survival knives. They make fantastic companions and will last for years with the right treatment and care.
- Extremely durable and robust build
- Thick blade with awesome cutting power
- Sheath includes a fire starter and a diamond-coated sharpener
- Ergonomic handle with a non-slip texture
- Quite heavy compared to many similar sized blades
- Very bulky with the sheath on
What to Look for in a Survival/Outdoor Knife?
Naturally, there’s quite a bit to consider here. We’re going to quickly look at some things you’ll need to consider when choosing a survival or outdoor knife. Bear these in mind as you go through your choices. Don’t let the information paralyze you though – it’s simply here to help you make a better-informed decision. If you’re sticking closely to your needs then you’re not going to go wrong. Let’s take a look.
How We Chose the Knives in This Review?
Quite a bit of thought went into which knives we want to review. The main goal is to give you some variety to meet your unique needs, without compromising on real-world performance, build quality, and usability. We carefully looked at the steel quality used to craft the blade.
It’s not just about the steel quality though – we also have to consider how well the knife makes use of it. A 420HC steel Buck Knife might be way better than a lesser-known knife with the same steel (due to heat treatment techniques, etc.). Ergonomic handles are essential. We want knives that fit the natural shape of the average hand.
Some of the knives we picked can even be used ambidextrously and in various grips. Non-slip handles is a non-negotiable for a survival knife – especially in emergencies where blood and water can get on the handle. We’re a little partial to clip-point knives when it comes to the outdoors. Tanto style tips are also excellent – and we’ve tried to bring that out in the knives we chose.
You’ll find a couple of knives with both tip styles. Sharpness is key! This links in quite well with the steel used for the knife – but needs to be treated separately. We chose knives that come very sharp and ready to go out of the box. On top of this, we made sure each of them has respectable edge retention. You don’t want to be stuck with a dull blade when you expected it to be sharp.
This can often mean the difference between life and death. Durability and robustness was the last main deciding factor. You want high-carbon steel and preferably some kind of corrosion-resistant coating (optional). Rugged knives tend to fare better in the outdoors and they handle the elements better.
How to Choose the Perfect Knife for YOU?
This advice is especially important for beginners or if you’re someone looking to get their first survival knife. It might seem like overkill, but it’s worth putting the time and effort into a knife that might save your life – or another life – in the future. Start by writing down all the situations you’ll be using the knife for.
Pay special attention to the types of cutting and utility tasks the knife will handle. If you need something that can cut through thick material, cords, and seat belts, you’ll want a serrated portion on the knife. Next, write down the places you’ll be using the knife. If you’re a devout hiker or camper, you might want an LED light, fire starter, or knife-attached sharpener.
Finally, note down what you’re looking for size-wise. This involves how you plan to carry the knife and whether you want a folding knife or a fixed knife. Fixed knives are often far heavier, but you have less moving parts that can wear out. You’re more likely to run into performance issues with a folding knife.
Their blades are often shorter and they often aren’t as well-balanced as many equally-priced fixed knives. Keep this list of requirements with you and use it in combination with the above section to make sure you’re getting the best possible knife for you. If you want to take it even further, you can rank the requirements according to how important they are to you.
If you’re experienced and have owned tons of knives over the years, this probably won’t be very useful to you. You’re likely to already know exactly what you’re looking for, and possibly even the very knife model that can give it to you.
What’s the Difference between a Survival Knife and a Tactical Knife?
Tactical knives are designed for what you’d call “battlefield” tasks. They often have built-in tools like a glass-breaker and cable cutter (usually on the blade’s spine). Tactical knives tend to have powerful tips and tip-styles that better lend to easy piercing and stabbing.
The overall length of the blade is quite short and frequently features a curved blade and handle. These shapes better suit more tactical holding styles, grips, and techniques. You’ll find the knives to extremely sharp edges that can easily cut and slice through materials (and skin/flesh).
Survival knives often have serrated cutting portions – usually near the neck of the knife. They’ll include features like a fire-starter and have large blades with a long (straight) cutting edge. Survival knives can get pretty large. They have bulky builds and big handles to balance the knife and give you space to hold it for heavier duty cutting.
Care and Maintenance Tips for Survival Knife Users
Always keep your knife sharp and clean. Rusting and corrosion are most likely your biggest enemies. Clean and dry it after every use if possible. That could simply be a matter of wiping the blade and handle down with a cloth and thoroughly drying it off. Never put the knife into the sheath while it’s still wet. Only use the cutting edge on appropriate materials and avoid using the tip to pry open cans, stones, etc.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Q: Which Type of Blade Is Better, Serrated or Straight?
A: It’s not very likely that you’ll find a fully serrated blade so that the choice will be between a partially serrated and entirely straight blade edge. A straight edge is effortless to sharpen and maintain, whereas, with a partially serrated blade, the process becomes difficult, especially if you’re out in the wilderness.
At some point in time, you’ll probably need a serrated edge for something or other, so my recommendation is to plan on having both a straight and partially serrated knife.
Q: Does the Length of the Blade Matter?
A: If you’ve ever used a survival knife, you might have some idea of what the weight and length contribute to this particular type of knife. The blade’s length will depend on the task being carried out; if you are doing small jobs, you might want something shorter, like a 5-inch blade.
When it comes to more complex, more forceful tasks, a heavier, longer blade might be the way to go. This type of blade can be 8 or 9 inches.
Q: Should I Get a Folding or Fixed Blade?
A: Again, this might depend on whether you need the knife for more vigorous use, as opposed to more straightforward tasks. A fixed blade will offer tremendous strength and durability, but a folding one might break easily if used forcefully.
Folding blades have many small pieces that make up the overall build of the knife; these small pieces also move, making them weak points when put under pressure.
Q: Is a Leather Sheath Necessary?
A: In most cases, a leather sheath will offer the most protection, but it is not the only type of sheath that will do the job well.
That’s it for our review and guide! You should feel comfortable moving forward. Take your list of needs (if you went with our suggestions) and go back through the knives we’ve shown you. If anything interests you, check that it meets your needs and budget (with some minor compromises if necessary).
Getting the best survival knife for you could help you save a life – or your own. So once you’re ready, go ahead. Get the knife on order and you’ll better prepared for what the wild outdoors throws your way – good luck!