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A strong survival knife is a vital part of any bug out bag, survival, or even camping kit. Even in non-critical situations, you’ll find that your knife quickly becomes your go-to tool out in the wilderness.
In these situations, your knife will get a lot of hard use. So, you really want a quality blade.
For a survival knife, a fixed blade knife is best. However, you may find yourself working with a folding knife, since a folder is easiest to carry every day. It’s a good idea to make sure you’ve got a tough folder, as well.
Since you’re here to find the best survival knife, let’s dig right into the meat of that topic.
Our Favorite Choice
First, a quick spoiler: the ESEE Knives Izula-II Fixed Blade Knife is our winner for best overall survival knife.
Considering all the factors—size, price, quality, utility, etc.—this knife is the most capable jack-of-all-trades survival knife you can get.
If you want to stick around and weigh your options, we’ll put a whole bunch of them under the microscope, so you can choose the best survival knife for you.
Top Survival Knife Picks
Best Survival Knife Reviews: The Best of them All
1. ESEE Knives Izula-II Fixed Blade: Best Overall Survival Knife
ESEE manufactures strong knives, and sells them at reasonable prices. It’s a tried and true business model. The ESEE Knives Izula-II Fixed Blade Knife fit this mold perfectly.
The first word that comes to mind with the Izula is “versatility.” It’s only 6.75 inches in total length, with a 2.63-inch blade. This is a super handy size for anyone who wants to use their fixed-blade survival knife as their everyday carry knife.
You could easily conceal this knife, if you need, and the size is just right for mundane cutting tasks as well as survival.
The grip is canvas Micarta, which provides a super secure grip, even when wet. Also, the grip is well shaped, with a nice swell that fills out your palm comfortably. The tang features a steep bolster that will keep your fingers off the blade, no matter what you’re doing.
At the end of the handle, there’s a large eyelet that’s ideal for lashing or tying an extra length of rope.
The only downside to the grip is that the texture is so aggressive that it might scuff up your hand during long, hard use.
ESEE built the Izula from 1095 carbon steel, which is hard and holds an edge well. The powder coating protects the blade from corrosion. However, 1095 steel is susceptible to rust. It’s best if you can keep the cutting edge dry to prevent corrosion.
However, with a little care, this knife will perform admirably in almost any situation. For the price, the combination of size and quality make this one of the best survival knives on the market.
- Very versatile size
- Excellent grip shape and texture
- Hard steel holds an edge well
- Handy eyelet for lashing or carrying a bit of rope
- Grip texture can be a bit too aggressive during long, hard use
- Edge and laser engraved areas are susceptible to rust
2. Grand Way Tactical: Budget Folding Survival Knife
The name of the game with the Grand Way Tactical Folding Knife is affordability.
First off, yes, it’s a folder. For serious survival situations, you’d be better off with a fixed blade. However, you can easily carry this knife in your pocket. So, you at least have a cutting tool on hand, if you need one.
In addition to providing an easy-to-carry cutting tool, this knife also offers a firestarter and a length of paracord wrapped around the handle. So, it brings additional utility, beyond just cutting stuff.
The opening mechanism is spring assisted, so it’s also a decent defensive folder.
The blade is 420 stainless steel, which comes with ups and downs.
The good: 420 steel has good corrosion resistance. So the blade will last longer in dirty conditions.
The bad: 420 steel is a bit soft. You’ll need to sharpen regularly if you’re doing a lot of heavy cutting.
Overall, this knife places the emphasis on utility and affordability, rather than hardcore cutting. It’s an excellent EDC survival blade for those who want to be sure they won’t be caught without a knife, even if it’s not a fixed blade.
- Easy to carry in your pocket
- Integrated firestarter and length of paracord
- Spring-assisted opening
- Corrosion resistant blade
- Blade is soft steel, so the edge dulls quickly
- A folder isn’t ideal for heavy-duty survival tasks
3. DAX Survival Knife: Budget Fixed-Blade Survival Knife
The DAX Survival Knife brings affordability and utility to the fixed blade market.
As such, one of the best things about this knife is that it’s super budget friendly. But, it’s also a fixed blade knife. So it’s more durable than a folder.
This knife features a firestarter and emergency whistle. Sadly, they aren’t integrated into the blade. They’re stored in the sheathe.
The handle uses a length of paracord wrapped around the tang for grip. This creates a good grip texture. However, the handle is still fairly thin. So, it can get uncomfortable when you’re applying a lot of force to the blade.
Also, if you need to use the paracord, all that’s left is the bare tang, which makes a rather uncomfortable knife handle.
The overall length is 8 inches, and the blade itself is forged from 420 stainless steel. This is a decent all-purpose size, that could be used for everyday carry, and the steel has good corrosion resistance.
Unfortunately, the steel is also soft. So the blade will dull fairly quickly with regular use.
Even so, this an an excellent blade for those who want some additional survival utility from their fixed-blade survival knife.
- Included firestarter, emergency whistle, and length of paracord
- Versatile size
- Corrosion resistant steel
- Very affordable
- Handle is thin, and would be even thinner without paracord
- Soft steel will dull quickly under hard use
4. Gerber Bear Grylls Ultimate Knife: Utility Survival Knife
The name might be a little over the top, but the Gerber Bear Grylls Ultimate Knife is one of the best knives to have in a long-term survival scenario, and not just because Bear Grylls designed it.
Let’s get the basics out of the way. The blade is 4.75 inches long, and the overall length is 10 inches. This is a great size for a knife you keep in a bug out bag, survival kit, or in your vehicle. However, it’s a bit too big for everyday carry. You’d definitely struggle to conceal this one.
The blade itself is partially serrated, which is nice for sawing. The steel is a high-hardness, stainless steel. Great for edge retention and corrosion resistance. But difficult to sharpen.
But, it comes with a firestarter, diamond sharpener, emergency whistle, and pommel. It’s practically a survival kit all on its own!
But, only the pommel is integrated into the knife itself. So you’ll need to carry the rest of them in the sheathe.
The handle is ruggedized rubber, with a nice tall bolster to protect your fingers from the blade. Additionally, the handle has three lashing points for using the knife as part of a spear or other tool.All the features add up to make this model one of the best options for adding redundancy to a survival kit, as a backup survival kit in itself, or for keeping in your vehicle for emergencies.
- Excellent array of utility tools
- Hard steel holds an edge well
- Partially serrated blade for sawing
- Comfortable handle with lashing points
- Too large for everyday carry
- Hard steel is tough to sharpen
- Most of the utility tools must be stored in the sheathe
5. BlizeTec Survival Knife: Survival Knife For Vehicle Emergencies
The BlizeTec Survival Knife is specifically designed to help you in the event of a car accident. This knife has tools to help you escape your vehicle, then survive until help arrives.
First up: the tools. This knife comes with an LED light, glass breaker, seatbelt cutter, and firestarter. What’s nice, is that all of the tools are integrated into the knife itself. So, you won’t lose them.
The blade is 3.5 inches long, and the overall length is 8.5 inches. It’s small enough to carry in your pocket, or dump in your glove box or center console.
The blade steel is 420 stainless steel. The corrosion resistance is good. But the edge will dull quickly.
Unfortunately, the handle is almost entirely plastic and metal. So the comfort is only so-so and the grip texturing is minimal. Also, there’s no assist to help you open the blade. Therefore, this knife isn’t ideal for defensive use.But, if you need a knife to keep in your car for vehicular emergencies, this is an affordable option that offers a lot of vehicle-specific tools.
- Comes with several tools for escaping a vehicle and surviving a vehicle accident
- All utility tools are integrated
- Corrosion resistant steel
- Small enough to be an EDC knife
- Handle isn’t great
- No assisted opening mechanism
- Soft steel dulls easily
6. Morakniv Bushcraft Carbon Steel: Value Survival Knife
Morakniv is known for delivering high quality knives at budget prices, and the Morakniv Bushcraft Carbon Steel Survival Knife is one of their best blades, both in terms of quality and price.
Morakniv includes a sheathe, firestarter, and diamond sharpener with their survival knife. None of these tools are integrated into the knife itself, unfortunately.
This model features a 4.3 inch blade and an overall length of 9.1 inches. It’s a touch too big for comfortable everyday carry, though it might be possible. However, it’s the perfect size for a bug out bag or survival kit.
The blade is forged from Swiss carbon steel, which is hard and holds an edge well. Also, the blade is flat ground, for better edge durability and easier sharpening. An anti-corrosive coating keeps the blade safe from the elements.
Both the handle and the sheathe are plastic, which may not be for everyone.
Additionally, the sheathe is super simple. Definitely nothing special.
But, for the price, it’s hard to get higher quality steel with utility tools. This is a great knife for anyone who’s looking for the best balance of price and quality.
- Good array of utility tools
- Excellent carbon steel blade
- Flat ground edge
- Decent all-purpose size
- Carbon steel is hard, takes some effort to sharpen, even with the flat ground edge
- Crazy simple sheathe
- All of the utility tools are stored on the sheathe
7. Ka-Bar BK-22 Becker Companion Fixed Blade Knife: Military Survival Knife
The Ka-Bar BK-22 Becker Companion Fixed Blade Knife is an updated version of the original Ka-Bar that’s a bit more suitable for the civilian environment.
First, this is definitely a knife for your bug out bag or survival kit. The blade is 5.25 inches long, and the overall length is 10.5 inches. It’s a big, heavy duty knife that will hold up through even the most demanding survival trials.
The blade is forged from 1095 Cro-Van stainless steel, and is extra thick. The edge retention is solid. However, the corrosion resistance is weak. But the blade is covered in an anti-corrosive coating, so only the edge is susceptible to rust.
The handle is super ergonomic and sports a steep finger choil near the hilt to keep you from cutting your fingers during hard use. Unfortunately, the grip is very smooth, and can be rather slick when wet.
At the butt of the knife, the tang protrudes from the handle for use as a glass breaker or pommel, for some added utility.
All this means that the BK-22 is designed to be your go-to tool in a survival scenario, and it’s durable enough to hold up through unintended use like prying and hammering.
- Super heavy duty knife
- Hard steel for sturdy edge retention
- Comfortable handle with protective hilt
- Pommel on the butt of the handle for use as a glass breaker
- Edge is susceptible to corrosion
- Grip is rather smooth
8. Ontario Black Bird SK-5 Knife: No Frills Survival Knife
The Ontario Black Bird SK-5 Knife is designed for two things: durability and usability.
The durability comes from the 154CM stainless steel. 154CM stainless steel is known for its excellent blend of hardness and corrosion resistance. This knife will hold up to the elements, and retain its edge.
To help take the pain out of sharpening a hard steel, the edge is flat ground, with a full flat taper.
There’s a significant drop point that brings the point of the knife to the center of the blade for better balance, especially for stabbing.
The handle is fitted with G10 scales, which is one of the best grip materials available. It provides excellent traction even when wet. Additionally, the handle features a steep finger guard. So, you know your hand will never slip onto the blade.
Even though the blade is made of corrosion resistant steel, a coated blade would be better for durability in dirty conditions. Also, hard steel is less flexible. So, the the Ontario Black Bird might break if you’re using it for really heavy prying.
Even so, this might be the best option for those who want high quality steel and very straightforward design. No frills, just plain usability.
- 154CM steel offers a good mix of corrosion resistance and hardness
- Flat ground edge for easier sharpening
- Well balanced blade with drop point near the center of the blade
- G10 scales offer excellent grip
- Well shaped grip
- No anti-corrosive coating
- Hard steel takes some effort to sharpen, even with flat ground edge
- Very hard steel is not intended for heavy prying
9. ESEE 5P Fixed Blade Knife: Dedicated Survival Knife
The ESEE 5P Fixed Blade Knife isn’t the biggest knife in this article. But it’s a substantial and sturdy blade that’s suitable for a bug out bag or survival kit.
Here’s how it measures up: the blade length is 5.25 inches. The overall length is 11 inches. It’s definitely too big for everyday carry. But the size is an asset when you need to use your survival knife for things like chopping.
The blade is 1095 carbon steel, which offers good edge retention. The corrosion resistance isn’t so good. But the blade is powder coated for corrosion resistance. So, only the edge is exposed to the elements.
ESEE saber ground the edge, which is nice for cutting and chopping. It creates an edge like an ax. The trouble is that it’s tough to sharpen, especially with the hard steel.
The grip is very ergonomic and features a canvas Micarta texture for excellent grip, wet or dry. There’s also a glass breaking pommel on the butt, which makes this a decent knife to keep in your vehicle.
The handle also has a hole for using as the pivot for a bow drill. So, even though it doesn’t come with a firestarter, you can still use it to start a fire.
Although it’s a bit too big to use as a carry knife, the 5P is big enough to do some hatchet or machete work in a pinch. So it’s a great tool to have in a bug out bag or survival kit.
- Hard steel provides excellent edge retention
- Saber ground edge delivers excellent balance for cutting and chopping
- Excellent ergonomics and grip texture
- Glass breaking pommel
- Bow drill pivot
- Hard steel and saber grind are tough to sharpen
- Edge is susceptible to corrosion
- Much too big to carry comfortably
10. Buck Knives 060 Hoodlum Survival Fixed Blade: Survival Knife for Hard Cutting
Buck Knives took the approach that your survival knife should double as a machete or a hatchet, if you need it to. That’s why the Buck Knives 060 Hoodlum Survival Fixed Blade is so big.
The blade is 10 inches long and forged from 5160 alloy steel. The overall length is 15.5 inches. This is large enough for cutting foliage and chopping. The blade features a rather straight shape, for better balance in these blunt-force tasks.
On the other hand, it may be a bit too big for finer tasks like carving. And it’s definitely too big to be an EDC knife.
The steel is hard enough to hold a good edge. However, alloy steel can be a challenge to sharpen. To bump up the corrosion resistance, the blade is powder coated.
Buck used a curved handle design, which helps you apply more force to the blade and mitigates shock from chopping.
However, many people find curved handles to be uncomfortable.
But, the grip features a deep finger groove and solid finger protector to keep you from cutting yourself, even if you’re using this knife as a machete.
In the end, the size is the biggest limiting factor when it comes to potential uses for this knife. It’s the sort of knife that goes with your camping or survival kit, and gets used for blunt force tasks like hacking and chopping. If you need a knife specifically for heavy duty survival tasks, Buck is the one to get.
- The size is an asset in hard-use tasks like chopping wood or hacking foliage
- Alloy steel holds an edge through lots of abuse
- Curved handle for applying more force to the blade
- Excellent finger grooves and finger choil
- May be too big for fine cutting tasks
- Edge is susceptible to corrosion
- Too big for everyday use
The right survival knife can greatly increase your chances of survival in critical situations. A versatile survival knife can also be handy for everyday tasks.
So, it’s wise to choose your survival knife carefully. Or get more than one. That way, you always have the right knife for the occasion.
But, if you want the best do-everything survival knife, get the ESEE Knives Izula-II Fixed Blade Knife. It’s affordable, and has the right set of features to be useful in any situation, from the extreme to the mundane.
Now that you’ve got a good survey of the options, get the best survival knife (or knives), and outfit your kits so that you’ve always got a go-to tool on hand.