Survival knives are designed to help you meet and survive every dangerous situation that you can encounter. These aren’t Swiss Army Knives that try to cover all bases; the top survival knives are designed to perform fewer tasks, but perform them better, in extreme conditions, and at the time of emergencies. There are many top quality survival knives with different features and for different budgets. So, it may be hard to choose the best survival knife for your requirements, needs, and price range. Don’t worry, that’s why we put this informative guide and reviews together, we want to help our readers make the best decision and purchase a top survival knife with confidence.

Comparison Table: 10 Top Survival Knives

The following comparison table can help you weigh the pros and cons of the top 10 best outdoor knives that we have identified. All of these knives were selected because they have verifiable quality standards in their construction, and have had expert reviews returned that rated them highly on performance. More in depth summary reviews follow the comparison chart, but the chart should act as a shortcut for making your decision.

PictureModelBlade LengthOur Rating (out of 5.0)
ESEE 6P-B Fixed Blade Knife6.50"4.8
Falkniven A1 Survival Knife 6 1/3"4.9
KA-BAR Full Size US Marine Corps Fighting Knife7"4.8
SOG SE-38-N Fore6"4.9
Buck Knife 65 Hood Punk5.62"4.8
Ka-Bar Becker BK25.5"4.6
31-000751 Bear Grylls Survival Knife4.75"4.5
Mora Companion4.1"4.8
Tool Logic SLP2 3"4.3
Survivor Outdoor Fixed Blade Knife3"4.1

Now that you have the basics of the functions and features of each of these knives it is time to take a closer look at each of the top 10 survival knives.

Top 10 Best Survival Knife Reviews

Here are the top 10 best survival knives for the money. All of these knives feature high-quality manufacturing standards in tensile strength and sharpness. Almost all of them feature a full tang, which is essential in most survival applications. We compiled each survival knife review for these blades based on multiple consumer and expert feedbacks and we strived to create a condensed value-packed guide that will make it easier for you to select the best survival knife for your needs.

ESEE 6P-B Fixed Blade Knife Review

#1Topping the lists of expert and consumer reviews is the ESEE 6P-B Fixed Blade Knife. This knife measures a sizable 11 and ¾ inches in total length. The blade makes up 6 and a half inches of that and the tang is solid through. There are many features to point out on this full tang survival knife such as:

  • 1095 steel blade composition
  • Polymer molded sheath with detachable clip
  • Flat ground edge
  • Black powder coated finish
  • Jimping spine for improved thumb control
  • Gray Micarta scales handle
  • Rounded pommel with lanyard hole

This knife lists for over $200 but can be had for a discounted price quite often. It represents a serious investment in your ability to function in tactical and survival environments. The length of the blade makes it a good choice for all types of encounters. There is enough of a handle to get solid balance with the grip enhanced both by the scales and the jimping on the thumb spine. The powder coating eliminates reflection risk and the flat ground edge is rated high by owners for taking a burn and holding it for months. All in all, this is the top of the line item on this list.

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Fallkniven A1 Survival Knife Fixed Blade Knife

#2The battle between the ESEE and this Falkniven A1 Survival Knife for first place was a stiff one. The only reason the Falkniven didn’t bump the ESEE is that it is slightly more specialized than the other. At its price it is the prince among knives for survivalists. Here are just some of its features of this fixed blade survival knife:

  • Full tang length is 11 inches with a 61/3 inch blade
  • Satin finish
  • Spear Point
  • Kraton handle
  • Extended thumb guard

Many of the customers rate this as the best survival knife ever and definitely the best survival knife for the money. It is expensive, but Falkniven creates tangs that will power you through anything.

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KA-BAR Full Size US Marine Corps Fighting Knife Review

#3When it comes to picking a good survival knife what you are really looking for is the best survival knife            around. There is no better place to look for a lead than the armed forces. The Ka-Bar company has made Marine Corps and Air Force survival knife models for decades. They are the go-to company for military standard blades. This full size version of their US Marine Corps fighting knife is everything that you expect it to be. The list price is at $121.62, but you can find it for almost half off. The enduring nature of this knife on the top ten list as a top choice for the best fixed blade survival knife comes from its features.

  • 1095 Cro-van steel
  • Real leather wrapped handle
  • Official USMC fighting knife
  • Pure balance
  • 7-inch straight blade with jigging top edge near hilt
  • Leather sheath
  • Solid tang with full hand guard
  • Solid pommel with rounded shape

The Ka-bar became synonymous with the Marines in WWII. Its legacy continues on with outdoorsman, tacticians, and survivalists because there is little to improve on with this knife. From the perfect balance to the leather wrapping, this blade is made for hard and fast use. While everyone raves about its durability and quality, there is also a strong undercurrent of appreciation for being able to own a part of history. It’s just always better when that history can still help you get the job done.

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SOG Specialty Knives SE38-N Force Knife Review

#4The best knife for survival may surprise you as it will be the one that fits your movement and hand the best, not necessarily the one that wins out on all the best outdoor knife reviews. The SOG SE-38-N Fore is a prime example of that rule. While you won’t find it mentioned much in the camping and outdoors guides, you will find it highly praised in the survival and tactical articles. Here are just a few reasons why –

  • Heat treated 6 inches AUS 8 steel blade
  • Straight edged
  • Full tang fixed blade
  • Clip point blade
  • Hardcased TINI glass reinforced nylon handle
  • molded lanyard hole
  • MOLLE compatible sheath

This knife lists for under 200 dollars but can be found for discounted price. Many of the reviewers and consumers gave this knife high marks because of its MOLLE compatibility and the glass reinforced handle. The choice of AUS 8 steel is something only a tactical specialist would realize makes more sense than the more common steel used in other knives. The clip point also has strong penetrating qualities that just aren’t a common consideration in other survivalist knife manufacture. This is a powerhouse that you can rely on when you have to – and you won’t have to worry about a thing.

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Buck Knife 65 Hood Punk Fixed Blade Survival Knife Review

#5This one rates as one of the best all-around knife issues to have. The Buck survival knife enjoys a stellar reputation among enthusiasts. Ten to one your father and grandfather grew up with Buck survival knives and the Buck Knife 65 Hood Punk is definitely going to be the one your generation lays claim to as their own. It lists for under $200 but retails for a lot less. That also puts this knife squarely in the best buy category. It includes such features as:

  • 5160 powder coated steel blade
  • Ultra lightweight design makes this the best backing knife around
  • Solid 5,62-inch blade gets any job done
  • Finger grooved and solid finger guard for safety
  • Total length of 11 inches makes it easy to handle
  • MOLLE compatible nylon sheath
  • USA made
  • Forever Warranty

Uniform comments from consumers and experts found this knife to be a best hiking knife option. It is solid, but lightweight. The 5160 steel blade holds its edge well and is easy to maintain. One thing that everyone will also admit to is this is one of the few that made the list of best survival knives that also has a lot of curb appeal. The name ‘Hood Punk’ describes its style and a lot of people like having an excellent survival knife with a mean look too. That the knife comes with a MOLLE compatible sheath is just icing on the cake. This is the perfect knife for hiking or hunting.

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Ka-Bar Becker BK2 Campanion Fixed Blade Knife Review

#6Ka-Bar is known for setting high standards when it comes to producing tactical and survival knives, and this knife is no exception. It varies from their standard offerings as this is advertised as a “campanion” knife. Ka-Bar Becker BK2 is in the middle of the full tactical and survival knives they seal incorporating the best of both. Listing for over $120, it is easy to find this knife at discounted price. The features of the knife include:

  • Full tang 1095 cro-van steel
  • Bolt handle is made of Grivory
  • Entire knife is 10 ½ inches in length
  • Blade length is 5 and ½ inches
  • The blade is cast with a 20-degree drop point shape for easy handleability
  • Comes with a lifetime warranty

The beauty of this knife comes in its simplicity. There are no compasses, whistles or fire starters built in. The purpose of this knife is to allow you to cut, slice and stab. Customers are very happy with the balance of the 50/50 length between blade and handle. It has a sure grip handle that doesn’t get slick with rain or sweat. This is a true campanion and can also do double duty as a serviceable tactical knife.

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Gerber 31-000751 Bear Grylls Survival Knife Review

#7It should be no surprise that Gerber has their Bear Grylls knife on this list. Their survival series has made it to all of the lists, and for good reason. 31-000751 Bear Grylls Survival Knife is one of their best wilderness survival knife releases, it features –

  • Serrated edge on the back that is saw grade
  • Knurled butt cap for striking
  • Solid molded rubber grip
  • Fire starter and diamond sharpener
  • Micro lanyard whistle

Experts always look forward to reviewing the latest upgrade to the Gerber Bear Grylls line as this company has developed an edge in the tactical and survival knife category. Their solid tang designs have enough anecdotal history to support their claims of durability and performance. One thing that customers point to with this one is that the serrated back edge can saw wood, most knives that offer this edge intend them more for scaling fish but this can be used on heavier duty items. The diamond sharpener and fire starter are also well integrated so this makes the perfect pack kit knife.

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Morakniv Companion Fixed Blade Outdoor Knife Review

#8Morakniv enjoys a reputation for being able to deliver an economy knife that is reliable and durable. This is their fixed blade Sandvik steel product. With a 4.1 blade inch length, it is the perfect size for a belt sheath. Available in several different colors, Mora Companion comes with a color matched sheath made of plastic. The color range is ideally suited to camouflage, including hunter orange.

Reviewers rated the size of the knife highly. The overall length is 8 and a half inches, which makes it ideal for belt wear. The sheath also gets high marks for durability. While some customers were hesitant about the choice of plastic versus nylon for the sheath, most discovered that it was the right choice for this style knife. The blade thickness is also solid for outdoor work and hunting, measuring in a 2.5mm.

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Tool Logic SLP2 Tactical Folding Knife Review

#9This is a knife that many of the true outdoorsmen prefer over other tactical varieties. It makes for an excellent emergency survival tool as it incorporates a LED flashlight right on the tang. Combine that with a 3 inch 50/50 blade with a serrated edge, magnesium fire starter, and whistle and this is the knife you want to tuck in with all your emergency gear. It also scores very high with boaters and fisherman.

For such a small knife, Tool Logic SLP2 packs a lot of utility in its design. Customers have found that the white LED is more than bright enough for use in the true dark. It has a solid tang made of stainless steel. The edge and serrated edge also get high marks for retaining sharpness and tensile strength too. One of comments expert reviewers all make is the appreciation of the satin finish on the blade. That satin finish is what really makes the LED flashlight functional, any other type of finish would create a glare. The flashlight is also submersible and the knife comes with a reliable lock and belt clip. While it has a high list price of under $65 it is possible to get almost 50% off the price too.

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Survivor Outdoor Fixed Blade Knife with Fire Starter Review

#10You may be surprised to see this economy survival knife make it on the list, but it has earned its place in the top ten. This isn’t like other cheap survival knives; the Survivor Outdoor Fixed Blade Knife makes this fixed blade knife and it lives up to their reputation. It measures 7 inches in length and is a solid stainless steel tang knife. It comes with a magnesium fire starter and a parachute cord wrapped handle. Available in brown or green, it is also sold with a sheave that matches the cord wrap.

This knife has gotten excellent reviews for holding sharpness, tensile strength and having a functional fire starter. Many people have expressed surprise that such an economy knife delivers, but that is one of the reasons that Survivor has such a good reputation in the business. The knife lists for under $15 but is usually sold at almost 50% discount.

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What to consider when buying a perfect survival knife

Choosing the best knife for survival isn’t as complicated as it seems. You are probably overwhelmed with information by this point and every review reads like it is correcting your idea of the knife you want. The best outdoor knife is the one that is going to support you well – that means what drives experts wild may not affect your choice at all. Here is a brief and expert guide for how to really make a decision about what type of survival knife is best for you. Forget what you think you know about selecting a knife and read those these points of consideration. Then go back and look at the comparison chart to find the knife that matches your life best.

Start simple – Learn what a survival knife isn’t

You can narrow your choices down immediately by learning what isn’t a good choice for features in a survival knife. There are lots of knives that are labeled “survival,” but that doesn’t mean that they are up to the task at all. Just because a knife has a full steel tang doesn’t mean it isn’t going to fail you when you are under stress. These are the following things that should be avoided in a survival knife –

  • Narrow tang – Some manufacturers save money by creating full but narrow tangs. If you take off the handle the tang should extend up the full body of the grip area, and be almost the full grip width. Knives that are used in kitchens will have a tang that narrows down to an anchoring strip in the handle. That works on your filet mignon, but when you need to bring force to bear on that blade the handle will snap the tang. Survival knives need to be able to withstand full body weight force. If they are narrow and snapped, you might wind up severely injured.
  • Folding or retractable blades – No. Just say no to this type of blade for a survival knife. It goes right back to stress and pressure. You can’t afford the risk of that hinge or spring giving out or getting bent out of place and that knife folding on you. Full tang, full width or not at all.
  • Crocodile Dundee size blades – These look great in the movies but are impractical and real life. A real machete is used for clearing and hacking, a survival knife is used for cutting and penetrating. Too big a blade, or too long a knife (over 11 inches) and you are going to run into problems being able to handle the knife in close quarters.
  • Hollow handles – At the risk of alienating Chris Reeve fan’s, I am going to come out and say that most people should avoid hollow handles. These are survival style knives that allow different tools and gear to be packed into the hollow handle. That is ideal for a basic camping or hiking knife, makes for a decent emergency knife, but it lacks the strength to handle the heavy tasks associated with survivalism.

What you should be looking for

Basically, the knife you are looking for is the one that isn’t described in the section above – with some additional points. So you now know that you want –

  • Full tang
  • 11 inches or smaller overall length
  • Fixed blade
  • solid handle

That covers the basic description of a survival knife. All of the knives in our guide and comparison chart meet these criteria. Now you can get into the specifics of what will make one knife better than the other for your purposes.

The steel in the tang

Steel comes in many different types and with different ratings. The quality of your steel is going to determine how well it stands up to different types of stresses, how easy it is to maintain, and how long its edge will last. Rather than launch into a technical discussion of the varying types of steel, let’s limit us to looking at the steel types that are best for survival knives. These steel types are chosen for durability and strength.

Stainless steel is better than carbon as it can resist rust. Be wary of carbon blades with powder coatings – that can hide rust from notice. Stainless cannot be sharpened easily, so don’t rule out carbon if you are looking more at chopping activities. A best practice is to pack one of each type. If you need to pick one, or can only afford one, then stainless is the better choice, with enough strength, you can chop through everything but if you need durability and strength you can’t make that in the field from a carbon blade.

Blade shapes and edges for survival knives

When it comes down to what shape the blades and edges should be it is a matter of intended use. Bear in mind that most “real” survival knives have a clip or drop blade shape with a base to tip edge. That goes contrary to every movie you have seen where the hero is running around with a tanto with dual edges. Those knives are fighting knives and won’t help you much in survival type situations. As for the blade shape – clip blades have more of a reservoir at the tip. This makes them ideal for hunting, but fragile in contact with harder materials than meat or fish flesh. The drop blade is designed with a drop angle that lowers the blade slightly away from the hand. This is a chopping blade. Now, you can kill a deer with a drop blade but you can’t chop firewood with a clip blade. What you have in your gear is really going to determine which blade shape you need. If you are packing a hatchet, go with the clip. If you are doing pure boots on the ground survival quests then go with the drop. The edge on both should run on one side from tip to base – just think about why – more strength, longer edge. That single long edge is also something you will come to appreciate when it is time to sharpen that knife in the field.

The spine of the knife – no controversy here

Some people will advocate that there should at least be a small saw blade section near the hilt on a survival knife. You can pick a knife like that, but there are very few designed with it. You will find a saw spline more on tactical knives. The reason for this is that they add overall weight to the knife because the blade must be thicker to support the saw edge. This is really a matter of preference but the only decent knife with a saw edge is the Tom Brown Jr. Tracker – as good as that is you should also note that the Tracker did not make it into the top 10 list. Take a hint from the list and its exclusion of saw spline knives and skip it.

The golden rule of survival knives

There is one golden rule of survival knives that you should bear in mind too. That rule is “keep it simple”. When you are looking at the best tool for survival you want it to be simple and strong. You can make a good knife work for you in numerous ways and you don’t want the weakness of a multi-tool or the weight. If you don’t plan on dropping into enemy territory, skip the knives that are all dressed up like you are going to audition for Rambo. Pick the simplest, strongest knife that is optimized for the action you need in the field.

Using the ultimate guide to your advantage

If you really want to answer the question of what is the best survival knife then use this ultimate guide to your advantage. You don’t have to waste your time reading thousands of survival knife reviews – our team of editors has already done that and provided you with an overview of the top ten survival knives. Now, use the comparison chart at the beginning to remind you of the features of each knife and make your selection. The time you spent considering all the information about these outdoor knives will make you an informed consumer.