The most popular type of outdoor knife must be the survival knife. It’s not just that these knives are useful for one’s survival in the wilderness, they also do look cool. And that’s one of the reasons some people buy these even though they are not really into outdoor activities.
Survival knives are quite versatile and can be useful for hunting, fishing, camping, or general bushcraft. Of course, it’s also perfectly possible to use this type of knife for your own defense. All in all, they are adapted to serve a number of roles when being out in the wild such as:
- Food preparation
- Firewood preparation
- Digging a hole in the ground for a fire pit or food storage
- Building shelters – how would you cut down branches without a knife or an ax?
- The pommel can be used for hammering
- And many others…
These are some of the situations where an ordinary knife most likely won’t be any good. Moreover, you would probably break the knife if you were to try to could down small trees or branches with such a knife.
In reality, these situations do not happen very often, unless, of course, you are into bushcraft. However, it’s always better to be prepared than sorry. Even if you are only going out camping, get yourself a good quality survival knife, and nothing will catch you unprepared. There are many survival knife reviews on the net, and I have also put together a couple of mini-reviews of survival knives in this guide. Now let’s get into business and let’s have a look at the knives I’ve picked for you!
Best 6 Fixed Blade Survival Knives for 2022
Here I present you with 6 fixed blade knives which would be an excellent choice for survival needs. Let’s start with a comparison table that lists all the most important properties of these knives and then we will look at the knives more closely.
- Blade material: lam. Vg10
- Blade length: 160 mm
- Total length: 280 mm
- High quality steel
- Simple and functional design
- Holds sharp edge very well
- Sheath included
- Quite expensive
- It’s not easy to sharpen the knife due to the steel used
Fallkniven is a Swedish company widely regarded for making excellent knives. The A1 is a fixed blade survival knife with full tang construction, which makes it especially strong and hard to break.
It is 11 inches long in total and the laminated VG-10 stainless steel blade is 6 1/3 inches long. I like the satin finish of the blade. The blade has a spear point shape, which is excellent for usage in the wilderness. It has a hardness rating of 59 HRC. If you don’t like this specific finish, there is also a black one.
A semi-rubbery high-density polymer called Kraton is the material that forms the handle. Together with the diamond-shaped pattern, it provides excellent anti-slippery measures. The design of the handle is rather plain, but the handle sits nicely in hand. You can use the end of the handle for hammering.
It comes packed with a polymer sheath or genuine leather sheath. Make sure you read the description carefully if you would like to get the leather sheath because it is not always available.
Overall, this is one of the best fixed-blade survival knives available on the market. One of the downsides is its rather high price. But be assured you will be getting top-notch quality should you decide to purchase this gem.
Schrade SCHF9 Extreme Survival Knife
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- Low price – possibly the best bang for the buck
- Good quality high carbon steel
- The handle provides good grip
- The sheath doesn’t look very nice
- The black coating will not suit everyone
- Not really suitable for EDC due to its weight unless you are Mick Dundee
If you read my website regularly, you surely remember the review of the Schrade Sharpfinger skinning knife. This time we have here a survival knife by the same company. It is the Schrade SCHF9 survival knife which belongs among the bestselling survival knives on Amazon and it also has a couple of hundreds of customer reviews over there.
The total length of this full tang knife is 12 inches which is a bit over my recommended maximum, but the knife is not too heavy, so it’s not an issue. However, it’s probably not a good choice for EDC. The drop point blade is 6.4 inches long and it is made of 1095 high carbon steel. Thanks to the steel, the knife holds a sharp edge for a long time.
The handle is made from the same material as the Fallkniven A1 – the Kraton polymer. In my opinion, it has a bit better feel to it and offers greater comfort than the A1. Please do note that the end of the handle is rounded and it’s a bit tricky to use it for hammering.
A rather cheap-looking nylon sheath is also included.
Where the knife really shines is the price-performance ratio. The Schrade SCHF9 is much cheaper than the Fallkniven A1. I would definitely recommend it to anyone looking for a cheap survival knife. If you care where it’s made, it is Taiwan, not the USA.
Gerber StrongArm Fixed Blade Knife
- StrongArm tactical knife features a black handle and a fine edge, full tang 420HC steel blade
- Durable survival knife has ceramic blade coating and rubberized diamond texture grip
- Break through hard surfaces in emergencies with the tactical knife’s striking pommel
- Good bang for the buck
- Good quality steel
- Made in USA
- Tricky to hammer with
- Some quality control problems have been reported by customers
There’s no need to introduce Gerber since it’s one of the most famous outdoor-knife-making companies in the world.
The StrongArm is a fixed blade full-tang survival knife available at a reasonable price. It comes in two different color schemes and two different edge finishes. You can choose either a full black or coyote-colored version. The edge can be chosen from either a fine plain edge or a partly serrated one, which is slightly more expensive. I would personally go with the plain one.
The black ceramic coated 420HC stainless steel blade is 4.8 inches long and the overall length of the knife is 9.8 inches. Might be slightly short for some people, but makes it a possible candidate for an everyday carry knife.
The glass-filled nylon handle has a rubber over-mold, which has a slightly tacky feel to it. There is a striking pommel at the base of the handle designed for breaking through hard surfaces. The pommel is slightly difficult to use for hammering due to its irregular shape.
Another interesting part of the whole package is the fact that it is shipping with a modular sheath system. Thanks to the system, the knife can be carried on MOLLE, vertical belt, or horizontal belt.
Overall, it’s a very good survival knife, which receives extremely positive reviews from the customers. If it had a better pommel, I would not have any complaints. It might have even been a candidate for the best survival knife for the money.
The knife is made in the USA if you are one of those who care about that.
ESEE 6P-B Plain Edge Fixed Blade Survival Knife
- SPECIFICATIONS : Overall Length: 11.75" , Blade Length: 6.50". Includes a high quality protective...
- RAZOR SHARP BLADE: Tactical knife blade made of black coated 1095 High Carbon Steel, a top choice...
- LIFETIME GUARANTEE: Esee Knives has a lifetime and transferable guarantee covering repair or...
- Good bang for the buck
- 1095 carbon steel provides a very good edge retention
- Well designed
- Good quality sheath
- Multiple color versions to choose from
- Impossible to hammer with the end of the knife
- Lackluster sheath mounting bracket
Here we’ve got another survival knife with a black finish. Is it any good as well? Hell yes, it is.
This is the ESEE 6P-B, a full tang, fixed blade survival knife with a plain edge, and a Micarta handle. ESEE is a line of survival knives made in the USA by Rowen Mfg.
It is an 11.75 inches long knife with a 6.5-inch blade. The blade is made from 1095 steel. This carbon steel is not exactly new and it stains and rusts rather easily. That’s possibly one of the reasons why the engineers at ESEE coated the 6P-B in black powder. Still, you should take proper care of this knife, as it can get rusty around the edge and laser engravings. On the plus side, this type of steel is great when it comes to edge retention. The drop point blade is ground flat, which in my opinion is the best grind for survival usage.
The linen Micarta handle has a dark gray color and it provides excellent grip, especially in wet conditions. A good grip is certainly a great feature to have when it’s pouring outside you have hammer tent poles into the ground. The good news is that the handles on most ESEE knives are replaceable, so should you damage the handle it’s an easy fix. There’s a lanyard hole at the end of the handle. You can use it to attach the knife to a strap or a loop of paracord. There’s a slight con to this solution and that is you cannot really use the end of the knife for hammering.
The sheath is made of black polymer and is of nice quality compared to sheaths that are included with most other survival knives. While the sheath itself is great, the mounting bracket doesn’t leave that great impression. It’s just a simple bolt-on belt clip.
If you do like the knife but do not like the black-gray version, do not be sad as there are two other color versions available. One is called “Dark Earth” and as one would expect, it has an earthy brown colored blade and grayish-brown handle. The second version is called “Venom Green” and looks a bit crazy with its green blade and bright orange handle. Should you ever lose your knife in the woods, this color combo will make it easier to find though.
Cold Steel SRK San Mai Steel
- EXTREME TOUGHNESS: The SRK (Survival Rescue Knife) was built with one aim in mind: to produce the...
- TRUSTED BY SPECIAL FORCES: The SRK is the standard issue knife for Navy SEALs B.U.D.S. training and...
- PREMIUM STEEL: Made with our exclusive San Mai steel, a 3-layer expertly laminated stainless steel...
- Great bang for the buck
- Simple design
- Grippy handle, although it does not look great
- Good quality sheath included
- Standard issue knife for the NAVY SEALS
- Impossible to hammer with the end of the knife
- Not made in the USA
What does the SRK acronym stand for? It stands for “Survival Rescue Knife”. The Cold Steel SRK knives often top the survival knife charts together with the iconic KA-BAR USMC, or the Fallkniven A1. It’s the standard-issue knife for the Navy Seals.
It is a 10 3/4 inches long, full tang, fixed blade knife with a simple, yet functional design. It comes fitted with a 6-inch razor-sharp drop point blade. The steel used for the blade is of the San Mai type. That means the blade is formed from 3 layers of steel. In this example, the core together with the edge is made of VG-10 steel and on both sides are plated with softer steel. The exterior layers serve as protection from elements because they are made of corrosion-resistant steel. The hard steel core provides excellent edge retention and sharpness.
The handle is finished with the Black Kraton material. This is the same material as the one used for the Fallkniven A1 handle. As I already mentioned, it is a rubbery material, which provides a great grip. The same material covers the end of the handle as well. There is no pommel so you cannot use the knife for hammering purposes as that would just destroy the grippy material. I am pretty sure not everyone will like the dimply look of the rubbery handle but it really does a great job when your hands are covered in water, blood, or even oil.
There’s also a lanyard hole on the handle allowing you to attach a loop of string to the knife.
Just like other Cold Steel SRK knives, this version comes with the Secure-Ex sheath. It grips the blade tightly allowing you to mount the knife with the tip pointing up.
Overall, this is an excellent knife, and it is usually available for slightly less than the Fallkniven A1.
Here is a cool promo video for the Cold Steel SRK knives:
Benchmade Bushcrafter 162 Fixed Outdoor Survival Knife
- BUILT FOR THE TRAIL: Robust, rugged style meets unmatched function, no matter the application; A...
- AMERICAN MADE CPM-S30V STEEL: For first-rate edge retention and corrosion resistance; Precision...
- ULTRA DURABLE G10 HANDLE: Features a resin-soaked fiberglass body that's impervious to moisture and...
- Good quality steel
- Reasonable price
- Well made
- Well-fitting handle
- Impossible to hammer with the end of the knife
- Leather sheath belt loop reported to not last very long
The sixth and final knife we are going to look at today is the Benchmade Bushcrafter 162 survival knife. I am sure there is no need to introduce Benchmade in detail. Founded in California and currently headquartered in Oregon, it is one of the most popular knife makers in the USA.
The Bushcrafter 162 is a fixed blade survival knife that is 9.15 inches long and features a 4.4-inch blade. With this size, the may appeal to people who like slightly smaller knives.
The drop-point style blade is made of CPM-S30V. It is a high carbon powder steel that’s not considered the best but it is good quality steel that does its job nicely. It can be sharpened to an extremely sharp edge and offers very good edge retention even in harsh environments.
Let’s have a look at the handle. Being a full tang knife, the handle is formed by two handle scales that are attached to the tang. Just like the scales of many other survival knives, these are made of synthetic material. G10 to be precise. G10 is made of glass fibers soaked in resin. The scales sit flush with the tang. There are two tubules that run through the handle, which is probably a feature that lowers the weight of the knife and makes it look unique. There is also a lanyard hole at the end of the handle. Unfortunately, it is not really possible to comfortably use the handle for hammering.
Colorwise, the handle has a bluish shade to it. Although Benchmade calls the color green. There are also red accent lines running between the tang and the handle scales.
The knife comes with a genuine leather sheath. It can either be attached directly to your belt or you can use the D-ring and attach the sheath to a belt dangler. I love leather, and the sheath looks great but I’ve seen a long-term report that stated the belt loop became very loose allowing the sheath to twist around.
How To Choose The Best Survival Knife?
There are a couple of decisions you’ve got to make when choosing the best survival knife for yourself or someone else. Let’s take a look at them now.
Let’s start with the most basic decision – what type of survival knife you would like to purchase? There are two primary choices:
- Fixed blade survival knives
- Folding survival knives
Now what you choose is entirely up to your preferences, I can tell you what are some of the pros and cons of both types.
Fixed Blade Survival Knives
Fixed blade knives are the most popular knives both in the kitchen and out in the woods. With good quality production materials and proper technology, they will offer outstanding sharpness and will stay in great shape for decades.
In terms of general durability, fixed blades knives have the upper hand over folding knives. This is mainly due to the one-piece-of-metal construction aka full tang. Unless you choose a really low-priced fixed blade knife, there’s usually a single piece of metal running from the tip of the blade to the end of the handle. Cheap survival knives tend to not go via the full tang road so be careful what you are buying.
- Possibility to achieve larger size than pocket knives
- Simple design, easier to manufacture, and therefore less susceptible to build quality issues
- Much stronger than folding knives – usable even for extremely demanding tasks such as chopping wood
- Easy to clean
- Usually not concealable
- Banned in some states and countries
Folding Survival Knives
As the name suggests, folding or pocket knives are foldable and you can conceal their blade in the handle when you don’t use the knife. Therefore the knives are usually much smaller than fixed blade knives. This is probably their main advantage over the fixed blade design. They are not as strong as their fixed brethren, and this may be crucial when your survival is at stake. I won’t lie to you, if I had to choose, I would definitely go for the fixed blade design. However, there are also many high-quality folding survival knives to choose from, if you really want to take the folding route.
The most vital part of the folding knife is its blade pivot and locking spring. If these are not made well, the knife has no chance to be as strong as the fixed blade. Unfortunately, the cheaper knives tend to have issues with these two features. The stress, that the pivot has to handle, is increasing with the length of the blade. This is one of the reasons why these knives tend to have shorter blades.
- Smaller size – can be concealed easily and carried pretty much all the time
- Usually lower price
- Not as strong as a fixed blade knife
- A smaller blade can be a hindrance
- More difficult to clean – dirt, fur, and other stuff will most likely start to gather in the handle, and will have to be cleaned periodically
What Else To Look For?
Now that we have gone over the basic types of survival knives, let’s dig a bit deeper and look at some of the factors to consider while choosing the best model.
If you want to use your knife for difficult tasks, you should get such a model that is constructed appropriately. This usually means that you should be aiming for a full tang knife. Of course, this is only true, if you decided to purchase a fixed blade knife. I’ve already mentioned what the full tang construction means and why it’s important. Just keep this in mind and make sure you read everything you can about the knife you have chosen. Knives without full tang construction are easier to break and that’s definitely something you do not want.
It’s not rocket science, steel is the number one material for most knives. Stainless steel and carbon steel are the two most prominent types today. Which one should you prefer? First, let’s make one thing clear – there’s good steel and there’s bad steel as well. There are different types with different properties. So always try to find out what exact type of steel is the knife made from.
In my opinion, it’s good to choose such steel that can hold a razor-sharp edge for a long time. This is usually the attribute of carbon steel. However, this type of steel can develop rust and stains rather easily. On the other hand, stainless steel is more resistant to corrosion, but it is also softer and loses its sharp edge quickly so you will have to sharpen it more frequently.
Good types of steel are for example – 1095 carbon steel, VG-10 carbon steel, S30V stainless steel, or 440C stainless steel. Of course, there are many others that will do a good job and I might write an article about knife steel in the future.
Size doesn’t matter they say, right? Well, not quite. Size is actually one of the most important factors to consider, and it’s not only about the blade length but about the overall size as well. Consider when and where you are planning to use the knife. Isn’t it too large and heavy to carry all day long? Or isn’t it too small to allow you to chop tree branches easily?
Most of the time, the survival knife is about 10 inches long. If you go over 10 inches, it may be too heavy. The typical blade length is between 4 to 7 inches. I would not advise going for knives shorter than 5 inches, because they may not be suitable for some of the survival situations you may encounter.
There are many different blade shapes and you should choose one that is most appropriate for the task you’re expecting the knife to do. The most popular blade type is probably the drop point. It has a strong tip, which is useful in many situations. Some people also like the clip point blades of Bowie-style knives, but in my opinion, the tip is easier to break than the drop point.
What I would definitely recommend, is getting a knife with a sharp, pointed tip. Pointed tips shine over other tips in various situations such as drilling or notching, cleaning small game or fish, or processing some of the wild edibles such as acorns or nuts.
When it comes to the edge of the knife, there are two basic considerations you have to account for. One of them is the grind and the second one is whether it is a serrated edge or a plain edge.
The grind is pretty much the shape in which the blade tapers from the spine to the tip of the edge. What I would recommend is the typical flat grind as it is probably the most versatile style.
Having a serrated edge is in my humble opinion not necessary. The plain edge is most of the time a better choice. In case you really want to have the serrated edge, you can go for a knife that has a combination of both edges.
The handle is another important factor. It should fit nicely in your hand and provide a strong and comfortable grip. A non-slippery finish is also a welcome addition, as there is nothing worse than a knife slipping out of your hand. This happened to me once with a cheap sashimi knife, and it pierced my other hand’s palm when it was falling to the ground. It is definitely not a pleasant experience, so choose wisely, and be careful. I’m sure you don’t want to have your hands stitched up because of such clumsy accidents.
It’s also great if the handle has a pommel at the end. If it is strong enough, it can serve well for hammering. This is especially useful when you’re trying to build a shelter and you need to drive stakes into the ground. If the knife of your choice doesn’t have a pommel suitable for hammering, don’t worry about that too much as you can find other ways to do the task.
Most of the survival knives come packed together with a sheath. Traditionally, it was made of genuine leather, but as of late other materials are often used such as nylon, plastic, or special polymers. If the knife comes with no sheath, I would recommend checking out whether a fitting sheath exists. Otherwise, you may have some trouble with carrying and storing.
Of course, you can also have a custom sheath made by a skilled craftsman. If a folding knife is what you want, you don’t have to care about the sheath that much.
Now that we have gone through the survival knife reviews and buying guide, I would like to tell you that you can ask me for any advice and leave feedback below this article via the comment form. I will be reviewing the article every couple of months, so it should be worthwhile to come back in the future, to see the new updates.
Frequently Asked Questions
In this part of the article, I will be going over the most frequent questions buyers are asking. If you have a question that I haven’t covered here, feel free to send it to me via the Contact page, or using the comment form below this article. I will do my best to answer the question and will publish it here.
Now let’s start with the questions!
Which survival knife is the best to buy?
Well, I’ve shown you quite a few knives in this article, which I personally consider to be among the best survival knives on the market. However, you will still have to do your homework and choose the right one for YOUR NEEDS.
Is this or that knife legal in my state?
Unfortunately, it’s not possible to answer this question for all states as the laws are changing in time. Please check your state/country laws before purchasing any of the knives.
Is a bowie knife good for survival situations and camping?
Bowie knives are fighting knives first created by James Black in the 19th century. While you can use bowie knives in survival situations to some degree, the standard survival knives will most likely outperform them. Keep in mind that Bowies are usually quite large, weigh quite a bit, and have the clip point type of blade, which is easier to damage than for example the drop point.
Are the Bear Grylls Gerber knives any good?
In my opinion, they are often very expensive, and you can get a better knife for the same money if you look around.
How long should a survival knife be?
A good length for a survival knife is about 10 inches. Most survival knives are between 6 to 12 inches long. Shorter knives provide better maneuverability but perform poorly in some tasks such as chopping wood. Longer knives are heavier and not suitable as everyday carry knives.
In the end, go for a size that feels good for you.
Is a kukri a good survival knife?
In experienced hands, Kukris are good survival knives. They excel at various survival tasks such as chopping wood, shelter construction, or even self-defense. The downside is they require a lot of experience and they are heavier and bigger than standard knives.
Last update on 2022-05-28 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API