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Survival Knives | Ultimate List

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Survival knives are one of the most important survival tools one must keep in his bug-out bag. These items are an absolute necessity for survival and everyday carry, as you never know when it will be needed.

RELATED: All You Need to Know About Pocket Knives For Everyday Survival

Know the Best Survival Knives for Almost Anything

The Best Survival Knives

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A good knife can be used for everyday projects, quick fixes to equipment or vehicles, defense, shelter building, fire starting, hunting, cleaning and preparing food, etc.

A quality knife or set of knives is the most important tool required for survival. There is a wide variety of types of knives out there from the ridiculous Rambo knife to the practical Swiss Army tool.

Here is a list of my top 3 favorite knives for survival:

  • Multi-Tool
  • Fixed Blade
  • Folding Knife

Best have all 3 on you when sh*t hits the fan, don’t you think?

1. Best Multi-Tool Survival Knife

Check out Survival Knives | Ultimate List at https://survivallife.com/best-survival-knives/

When it comes to survival, a multi-tool knife should be at the top of your list. It’s more than just a knife, and it should be a part of your everyday carry.

I personally recommend a quality multi-tool like the Gerber Center Drive Multi-Tool With Sheath or Hoffman-Richter Multi-Tool in its carrying case and worn on your belt or a solid folder with a carrying clip that is semi-concealable in any pants pocket.

The choice is up to you and the situation you find yourself in. When I’m in dress clothes as required at times for work, I carry a folder that is thin, not bulky and has a nice carrying clip due to its slimmer design.

This multi-tool has a lighter weight than the multi-tool I use when I’m wearing more casual clothing. The way I look at it, it is my first choice for everyday carry due to the wide variety of functions these tools provide.

Blades for cutting purposes, the pliers, wire cutters, screwdrivers, can opener, and the serrated edges to cut limbs can all be used as needed.

Many multi-tools have a clip or loop to give you the option of dummy cording the knife to your carrying case or belt with paracord or something similar so you don’t lose it while traveling cross-country or traversing heavy brush.

The dummy cord has saved my knife more than once when the thick brush opened the Velcro or button closure on the carrying case leaving the knife to fall. This one goes without saying, my favorite of all is the Hoffman-Richter Multi-tool.

RELATED: Are Switchblades Legal? Knife Laws By State

2. Best Fixed Blade Knives for Survival

Check out Survival Knives | Ultimate List at https://survivallife.com/best-survival-knives/

I also recommend keeping a solid, quality fixed blade knife handy in either your vehicle, home, or workplace.

The fixed blade is larger than the blades on the multi-tool or smaller folder you use for everyday carry and is used in more deliberate situations, like when you are in the field full time.

Normally, the fixed blade comes with a carrying case or scabbard that you can mount to your belt, gear, or boot. I personally like to have it handy on my hip and within arm’s reach at all times.

I recommend purchasing a fixed blade that has the option of carrying a fire starter such as the Bear Grylls fixed Ultimate Knife blade.

This knife comes with many handy features, including the semi-rigid carrying case/scabbard that has a vertical belt loop and two horizontal loops for attachment to the leg (if you prefer to do so) so the scabbard is not flapping around or getting caught on things.

You can also use the loops to attach the scabbard to a rucksack/backpack or even use to attach it with MOLLE clips to a vest.  My favorite fixed blade knife is the Hoffman-Richter WOLF fixed blade knife with a belt sheath holder.

You could buy it on Amazon right now and save $80. When selecting your knife know that you can get a solid, decent, dependable, and quality knife for a relatively inexpensive price.

There is no need to spend hundreds of dollars on a knife. I have purchased cheap knives to see how they work out or when I saw a good looking knife on sale, but most were not quality and did not last.

The most important thing to consider is practicality. I have found that if you purchase an impractical knife that is too large, too heavy, or not concealable, you will simply not carry it, and you will miss having the most essential survival tool when you need it most.

One example from my personal experience is the Swiss Army Knife. I purchased one that had over 30 tools on it to include a toothpick and tweezers and was over 1″ thick and pretty heavy.

The knife did not come with a carrying case and was not practical to be carried in my pants pocket, so I never carried it. So I later purchased a smaller, pared-down model of the Swiss Army Knife and ended up carrying it much more often.

3. Best Tactical Folding Knife for Survival

Check out Survival Knives | Ultimate List at https://survivallife.com/best-survival-knives/

Tactical Folding Knives come in many shapes, sizes, and colors. My favorite is the heavy and stealth Hoffman-Richter HR-30 Tactical Folding Knife with a Titanium Coated Razor Sharp Steel Blade.

The HR-30 uses high-quality 440C Steel, for a perfect balance of edge retention and ease of sharpening; The ultra-tough titanium coating ensures that it will last a lifetime.

EXCLUSIVE DEAL: The Hoffman-Richter #1 Knife On Earth Just Got Better!

Think about the size and weight of the knife, the practicality of carrying it, dependability, and solid construction is a must.

For semi-concealable folding knives think about the ease of opening the knife single-handed as some folders have assisted opening features that lock open and have a slim profile and a carrying clip.

I recommend you consider the color of the folder and the carrying clip as I like to carry mine concealed or semi-concealed where only the clip can be seen from the outside by other people.

I chose black as it does blend in with most of my earth-tone wardrobe. Some people choose to overtly carry the knife so others clearly know they have it as a deterrent, though I do not agree with that thinking.

Remember if others can observe the knife they now know where your weapon is and can eliminate or counter that threat of even just take it from you. I carry my folder where it is not normally observed and therefore not easily taken from me.

Watch this video by KnifeCenter as they show us their picks for the best survival knives of 2021:

On a final note, as a red-blooded patriotic American, I wish everything was made in the U.S. as it is the best quality in the world hands-down. However, doing this is not always practical so try to buy the best-quality knives you can.

I know that Buck Knives is one of the prominent American companies that sell American-made knives. Though they do have some foreign-made products, they proudly report making most of their products here in the U.S.

Which is your most favorite survival knives to keep on hand? Let us know in the comments section below! 

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Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in January 2016, and has been updated for quality and relevancy.

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47 Comments

47 Comments

  1. Irish-7

    June 16, 2014 at 1:09 PM

    I’ve had a Huntsman Swiss Army Knife in my pocket since 1976. Not the same blade, but that particular model. I always felt that this knife was the best compromise between size and function. The Champion model has more tools, attachments and capabilities. But, it is so big that you have to wear it on your belt. I started wearing a multitool around 1990, when the first Leatherman reached the market. I have used this handy gadget, switched to a Gerber and then to a Schrade Tough Tool. There was a serious flaw in the design of the early Gerbers! The handles came completely together, setting the user up for some pinched skin and broken blood vessels. Anyway, I just recently added a fixed blade to my EDC. I bought a neck knife from BUDK for about 3 bucks. I do keep a Schrade (SCH-F9?) Survival Knife on my webgear in my SUV. One of the priorities that I held in picking a blade for decades has been having a saw. Can’t go wrong with that capability!

  2. Sierra Hotel

    June 16, 2014 at 5:30 PM

    Gerbers are definitely a top brand. Almost all of their knives and tools are made in the U.S. I prefer by very outdated, original Leatherman for everyday carry along with a SOG Flash II. Being a lefty, I like blades where you can switch the pocket clip over if needed and it also sinks all the way in my pocket so all you see is the clip when carrying. That’s a big deal here in southern Cali. Don’t need the cops harassing me for carrying a necessary tool. I used to carry the CRKT Hissatsu folder. I’ve owned a number of their knives as well and that one is top-notch. It’s specifically a combat knife, but sturdy enough to chop through small kindling and delicate enough to cut fruit. Too bad I lost it…I’ll NEVER buy or carry another Buck knife. Complete junk. For actual field time or BOB purposes, the Gerber Big Rock is a bad ass blade. That, or my trusty Ka-Bar that I’ve had for many years are the go-to’s.

    • Jayson

      June 21, 2014 at 12:50 PM

      Gerber is owned my Fiskars and are almost all made in China. Good knives if you only got $20 to spend. Otherwise buy a Kershaw, Emerson or CRKT. I own about 20 different knives from Victorinox Swiss Army knives, Kershaws, Gerbers, and MTech. If you have the money buy a Ken onion or Chris reeves knife. I carry a Ken onion shallot daily. As well as my other favorite my Kershaw Junk Yard Dog.

      • Lauren J

        June 24, 2014 at 9:36 AM

        Good to know. Thanks for those recommendations, Jayson.

      • Dan K

        October 30, 2016 at 8:17 AM

        I carry a ken onion kershaw blackwash leek every single day i agree with this man!

      • Larry

        April 30, 2018 at 10:23 AM

        I’m an Eagle Scout (1988) and have had a Kershaw Ken Onion Scallion in my pocket every day for about 5 years. Wouldn’t trade it for another. Even bought 2 more for when my 2 boys get old enough for them.

  3. Richard W Mc Kenney

    June 16, 2014 at 9:58 PM

    Do you know how to contact the manufacturer of Fixed-blade knife with a conical shaped, hollow handle to convert to a spear head. They were made about 5 years ago, but I can’t remember the name of the catalogue

    • Jason miles

      June 20, 2014 at 9:58 PM

      I think cold steel made a hollow handle knife like you describe. In my youth I had an old bayonet with a hollow handle which I mounted on a spear type handle. When the handle breaks off your in for a treat trying to drill out the wood.

    • anthony

      June 20, 2014 at 11:23 PM

      they are called the cold steel bushman. they are still being made even today

    • Harold

      January 18, 2016 at 3:17 PM

      Cold Steel made that item. Personally I carry a Cold Steel Recon 1 and have for years. It’s one bad folder. Never had one better.

  4. Butch Brodeur

    June 16, 2014 at 11:20 PM

    I carry at any givin’ time at least 3 knives on me! A Swiss Army in my pocket, a multi tool on my belt, and a one handed assisted open folder in my strong arm pocket that also has a window breaker and seat belt cutter on it! When hunting I also carry a medium sized fixed blade in a belt sheath usually of the Marine Fighting design!
    I call the multi my “American Express Card” I’m never leave home without it!

    • Irish-7

      February 9, 2019 at 10:40 AM

      I have similar habits, a Huntsman Swiss Army Knife in my pocket, Schrade Tough Tool on my belt and Schrade SCHF1 fixed blade in a Get Home Bag with my vehicle. I was wearing a small fixed blade around my neck, but took it off for driving. I was worried that air bag deployment may drive the knife into my midsection.

  5. Left Coast Chuck

    June 21, 2014 at 9:23 PM

    For fixed blade knives I like surplus bayonets that one can pick up at a gun show for very little money. I am not talking about collectibles, but bayonets from one of the iron curtain countries or South America. They usually have good steel in them and are made for fighting. The sturdy blade can be used for lots of cutting and if damaged can be restored with a stone. If lost, no big deal. They usually have a large knob on the end that can be used for hammering. A bayonet on an O3A3 or Mauser 98 makes a formidable weapon when you are out of cartridges. I have made a dangerous stiletto out of an SKS bayonet. I changed the point from the screwdriver point to a needle point. It is a shortened “Emily”, the old Lebel bayonet which the Germans hated. In the days before antibiotics, getting stabbed with Emily meant you were probably going to die quite painfully from blood poisoning from the deep puncture wound Emily bestowed.

    • Lauren J

      June 24, 2014 at 9:35 AM

      That’s a great piece of information, Chuck. They sound perfect for a survival situation.

  6. Jason

    June 24, 2014 at 10:28 AM

    I have the BG knife mentioned in this article and also the Gerber LMF II which is a far superior knife, larger in size but also includes a glass breaker and strap cutter.
    It is currently my fixed blade of choice. No flint stick but I have numerous already in my kits so no great loss, same goes with the whistle. Another bonus of the LMF II is that it has a carbide sharpener as opposed to the diamond plate which is a pain to use and I have the ceramic rods for finishing off the edges if needed.

    I almost always carry a Leatherman Sidekick and also an Excalibur 3 blade Stockman as my EDC’s.

    Currently have my eye on a tracker knife similar to the TOPS brand which with the larger blade design, allows for a stronger chopping action as well as general purpose duties as well.

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  9. Al

    July 17, 2014 at 6:59 PM

    Good article but personally I wouldn’t be lashing my knife to a branch to make a spear. Now not only do you not have a knife in case you need it, but thanks to Murphy you could end up losing it. I’d rather just sharpen the branch to a point and use that as a spear.

  10. Andon Ancluin

    July 22, 2014 at 4:42 AM

    I own, carry, and use many knives, and no matter what I always have some sort of blade on me. Currently my every day carry knives: I have a Leatherman super tool. I have both the new model amd the older model, but the new one, even though it is a little larger and heavier, has the rounded grip, so much nicer than the painful grip of the older model. I also carry in pocket a Leatherman style. It has a good pair of scissors, outside opening blade and file, and the best pair of tweezers I’ve ever used. Also clipped in a back pocket I have a Kershaw G+G Hawk. It has a great razor sharp blade, and a fold out bit driver and four interchangeable bits. I use these more than the screwdrivers on my Leatherman. And I also open carry (the way to make it legal here) various fixed blades that I rotate out depending on where I’m going that day, or what I’m wearing. But my favorite fixed blade is a Randall Made Knife. They are hand made in Florida, and was the original design for the Vietnam fighters. That one doesn’t leave my side at all if I am out in the woods. I have the bear grills knife described above, but having a few more quality blades, I wasn’t all that impressed with it. And I ended up giving it to my son. I figured it would be a good first survival knife for him. And he loves it, so it worked out well anyways.

  11. Peter Herigodt

    August 30, 2014 at 12:46 PM

    Me personatly the way I feel is that there is realy no ultimate best knife around,it is a matter of personal choice. What I always carry in my pocket is a decend pocket knife.I choose blades to be not less than three inches in lenght.If I am in the woods I always carry a good hunting knife on me.What I have rigded up at home on my LBE in case there is a shit hits the fan senario,I have Kabar utility knife with a seven inch blade.I got my ammo pouches,two cantines,a pistol holster,two magazine pouches,a first aid pouch,a carabiner and a but pack.I hope that I never have to use it.But it is there in case of an emergency.

  12. Richard

    October 19, 2014 at 11:56 AM

    I like the Leatherman wave best of the multi-tools. I have one on my belt at all times, and usually a Pro Tech TR4 in the pocket. When I’m out in the sticks I add a Chris Reeve Pacific (in a leather sheath…the web sheath that comes with it is not comfortable for me). My go-bag has a SOG tomahawk in a framing-hammer type loop on the side, so I can grab the whole thing on the way out the door, along with a loaded tac-vest and my M4. Similar equipment rides in my vehicle. I sure hope the poop never hits the fan so hard that it comes to that, but it’s there if I need it.

  13. Signalsurvival

    November 1, 2014 at 4:57 AM

    I completely agree that knife is the most important survival tool. Almost all the bug out kits contain the knife. Here in your article you have recommended many knives such as swiss army and American army knives and even you have recommended two swiss army knives. I have read or heard that U.S. army knives are best. Please let me know that which one is perfect for the survival in mountains.

  14. GRAYDON L. HUFF SR.

    December 27, 2014 at 11:42 PM

    YES, I HAVE PURCHASED QUITE A LOT OF YOUR MERCHANDISE IN THE PAST YEAR..ie, “COMPASS”, “CREDIT CARD KNIFE”, “SET OF THROWING KNIVES”, “TWO THROWING KNIVES, ONE CHROME, ONE BLACK”, AND SEVERAL OTHER ITEMS…ANYWAY..WHAT I AM ASKING IS:”…DO YOU STILL HAVE THE MULTIPLE BATTERY CHARGER” ie, THE ONE THAT YOU HAD ON SALE THAT CHARGES ALL TYPES OF BATTERIES, i,e “D”, “AA”, “AAA”, etc..I WOULD LIKE TO PURCHASE IT IF IT IS..THAN KS YOU..HAVE A GOOD AND SAFE NEW YEAR AND GOD BLESS YOU ALL.

  15. tom

    January 4, 2015 at 2:35 PM

    I used to love the Gerber gator. Had two but could never keep an edge on them. I switched to an assisted open CRKT and also carry a Case Russlock in my pocket. Fixed blade I keep a RAT 3 in my pack and also my outdoor must – the trusty tomahawk. I just found this site. Would like to say hello to all. Thanks

  16. Pat Davis

    January 5, 2015 at 3:49 PM

    How am I supposed to get your big knife the switchblade that’s legal when I can’t get through on the phone I cannot find it on your website.

  17. Mike

    January 28, 2016 at 5:27 PM

    Great piece. I don’t carry a multitool as much as I should, but I do keep one in the car. I generally find that my Para Military 2 gets me through most tasks, and my Ka-Bar and BK get me through the hunting and camping trips. Thanks for promoting American products as well.

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  19. Wilford Vangordan

    December 13, 2016 at 7:18 PM

    Great Hoffman-Richter ad.

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  21. Outdoor Survial Gear

    September 3, 2017 at 3:07 AM

    Thanks for this insightful post!

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  25. Hunting Knife

    September 10, 2018 at 12:46 PM

    Not knowing what to expect, the expertise was on the far side expectations. I bow-hunted nine days and shot nine animals. Had the most effective time looking a steenbuck – that I ne’er got! My guide Woody Herman created all the distinction. initial time I spot & pedunculate game thanks to Herman. will be back!

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