7 Best Survival Knives

7 Best Survival Knives

14
Hours
Researched
318
Products
Evaluated

After 14 hours of research evaluating 318 products, we picked Spyderco Paramilitary 2 Digi Camo Knife as our top choice.

Here's the deal:

Knives are an essential part of tactical survival kits. Often overlooked, a good knife is composed of many intricate features that maximize its effectiveness. The sharpness of a blade could quite literally be the difference between life and death if you're out in the wild.

When it comes to choosing a reliable survival knife, everyone’s ideal tool differs on factors such as style, purpose, and cost; thankfully, the survival knife comes in various shapes, sizes, and utility. Whether you're looking for something light and small, heavy and durable, or a little bit of both, this list highlights the best survival knives on the market.

You might be wondering:

Which knife is best suited for your excursions?

Though it may not seem like it, every component of a survival knife is thoroughly analyzed and engineered to perfection. The knives are specially crafted to help perform survival tasks in an efficient manner. They can be used as weapons, utility tools, emergency rescue tools, entry tools; they can also be used to help start fires, and even for manufacturing other tools like a fire bow drill or forks and spoons.

Below, you'll find our top picks for the best survival knives. Let’s get straight to the point!

(I’ll just see myself out.)

Why trust us: Faveable has spent thousands of hours researching, interviewing experts, and testing products to come up with carefully selected lists trusted by millions of consumers since 2013.

7 Best Survival Knives

  • 7. Hardcore Hardware BFT-01-G Tactical Tomahawk
  • 6. Moorhaus Handmade D2 Hammered G10 Tracker with Leather Sheath
  • 5. Cold Steel 39Fnsz Double Agent - Serrated Edge Blade
  • 4. Smith & Wesson Swbg9Bs Liner Lock Folding Knife
  • 3. Kershaw Launch 1 Automatic Knife - Black Aluminum
  • 2. AKC F-16 Copper D/A OTF Automatic Knife - Dagger Satin Plain
  • 1. Spyderco Paramilitary 2 Digi Camo Knife

Bonus: Best Hardcore Survival Tool

#7

Hardcore Hardware BFT-01-G Tactical Tomahawk

Bonus: Best Hardcore Survival Tool: Hardcore Hardware BFT-01-G Tactical Tomahawk
Overall Length
9.0
Axe Edge Width
8.7
Appearance & Value
8.2
Durability
9.5
Overall
89%
89 % Editor Score
80 % User Score
30 Bought

Why People Love it

  • Heavy product made with authentic steel
  • Features an agile carry system
  • Unique and distinct design can last a lifetime

This tomahawk is very, very strong and durable.

More of an axe than a knife, so less portable, but more deadly.

Expert Ratings

Overall Length

9.0 / 10

18.46 Inches

Axe Edge Width

8.7 / 10

3.46 Inches

Appearance & Value

8.2 / 10

Quite possibly the most hardcore blade ever made. This beast, that is actually named "Hardcore", can take on any heavy-duty task your adventures require, whether that's chopping, hammering, digging, cutting, climbing, defeating locks, or smashing windows.  This is the ultimate survival tool and you should consider adding a tomahawk to your lineup. The Tomahawk is the most expensive item on this list, but with good reason: A steel blade with a jet-black Teflon finish and G-10 Handle; a spike with a modified tanto point, aiding in massive penetration and destruction; and finally a pommel that has a chisel point specifically designed for prying things open in the wild.

Durability

9.5 / 10

The G-10 Handle (which is present in many knives) provides good grip and durability, minimizing the amount of ‘wear-and-tear’. If you take care of this blade, it will last you a lifetime (or two). Is it a knife? No — but it's more durable than one, and this survival tomahawk may save your life one day.

Overall Editor Score

8.9 / 10

Best Vintage Knife

#6

Moorhaus Handmade D2 Hammered G10 Tracker with Leather Sheath

Best Vintage Knife: Moorhaus Handmade D2 Hammered G10 Tracker with Leather Sheath
Blade Length
8.1
Handle Length
7.9
Appearance & Value
9.0
Durability
9.3
Overall
86%
86 % Editor Score
82 % User Score
33 Bought

Why People Love it

  • Includes a solid and protective leather sheath
  • Authentically handcrafted with care
  • Holds up in harsher weather conditions

Solid, effective, and handmade vintage design.

It's a semi-stainless knife, rather than stainless steel. 

Expert Ratings

Blade Length

8.1 / 10

5 Inches 

Handle Length

7.9 / 10

5.75 Inches

Appearance & Value

9.0 / 10

The Moorhaus knife is genuinely hand-crafted. For a reasonable price, you'll get a D2 tool steel blade, lightweight handle and an original leather sheath to store your prized possession. The blade is etched with marvelous textures etched that resemble dragon scales. The handle has a nice worn look to it, radiating woodland and outdoor vibes.

It has a longer handle and blade than most others on this list, so this knife is slightly less portable.

Durability

9.3 / 10

This knife was tempered and finished to an HRC of 60-62, meaning that it is strong and can stand harsh temperatures relatively well. The durability of the Moorhaus is really enforced by its overall tough demeanor; it proves to be scratch-resistant and durable, which are two features that you should be looking for in the best survival knife.

Overall Editor Score

8.6 / 10

Best Manual Knife

#5

Cold Steel 39Fnsz Double Agent - Serrated Edge Blade

Best Manual Knife: Cold Steel 39Fnsz Double Agent - Serrated Edge Blade
Blade Length
8.3
Handle Length
9.0
Appearance & Value
9.5
Durability
8.2
Overall
88%
88 % Editor Score
85 % User Score
29 Bought

Why People Love it

  • Elegant, thin profile with a quirky design
  • Affordable, light and pro quality, perfect for an EDC that you'll ACTUALLY bring everywhere
  • Hangs around the neck with a cord (included)

Light and easy to grip, which makes it a top contender for self-defense (the grip is so solid that it's harder to take and use against you).

Dulls quicker than high carbon steel, but it won't rust the way high carbon steel does.

Expert Ratings

Blade Length

8.3 / 10

3 Inches

Handle Length

9.0 / 10

4.875 Inches

Appearance & Value

9.5 / 10

The Double Agent is actually used by police officers and really drives home the "survival" aspects of the survival knife; often attached on LEOs’ duty belts, its prime purpose is for close-quarters combat and self-defense. The Cold Steel knife’s most notable attribute is the double ring handle design (which you can read more about below in "durability"). It features a stainless steel blade accompanied by a unique sheath. In regards to customization, these Double Agent neck knives can come in a Karambit or Clip Point blade style.

This knife really takes survival and safety into account, which are very important factors to consider when purchasing a tactical or survival knife.

Durability

8.2 / 10

This knife enforces its credibility by implementing ‘integral steel rings’ that are used for solid gripping. These rings are equally as scratch-resistant as the blade... so even if you're a little clumsy, these rings fortify the safety of your fingers. They provide a useful mechanism that prevents the hand from sliding onto the blade’s unforgiving sharp edges (ouch!).

Unfortunately, one downside is that the handle is made of plastic, which ruins the overall aesthetic as well as strength. Some might also argue that the quality and utility of the knife are affected by its somewhat low price... but as the old adage goes: you get what you pay for.

Overall Editor Score

8.8 / 10

Best for your buck

#4

Smith & Wesson Swbg9Bs Liner Lock Folding Knife

Best for your buck: Smith & Wesson Swbg9Bs Liner Lock Folding Knife
Blade Length
9.0
Handle Length
9.0
Appearance & Value
8.6
Durability
9.0
Overall
89%
89 % Editor Score
88 % User Score
36 Bought

Why People Love it

  • Partially serrated stainless steel
  • The stone-washed finish on the blade
  • Solid lock-up and movement mechanism

This Smith & Wesson option is high quality with an extremely great price point.

Includes small parts that can break.

Expert Ratings

Blade Length

9.0 / 10

3.39 Inches

Handle Length

9.0 / 10

4.64 Inches

Appearance & Value

8.6 / 10

Smith & Wesson not only manufactures quality firearms but also quality survivals tools. Coated with a sturdy stone-washed finish, you can rest assured that this blade is sharp enough for your basic needs; it is black, textured and grooved, and it's backed by a G-10 Handle that provides ambidextrous thumb gripping.

Durability

9.0 / 10

This knife is definitely a bang for its buck. Armed with high carbon stainless steel and hefty varnish, this knife is not for kids, and not for messing around. The easy-maintenance tool features a nifty drop-point blade mechanism for portability. Like all others, the only maintenance you’d have to perform is occasionally grinding the knife (to maintain its sharpness).

Overall Editor Score

8.9 / 10

Best Automatic Knife

#3

Kershaw Launch 1 Automatic Knife - Black Aluminum

Best Automatic Knife: Kershaw Launch 1 Automatic Knife - Black Aluminum
Blade Length
9.1
Handle Length
9.2
Appearance & Value
9.5
Durability
9.3
Overall
93%
93 % Editor Score
91 % User Score
29 Bought

Why People Love it

  • Fast deployment and firing time
  • Keeps a sharp edge
  • Comfortable and light to hold

This knife boasts an extremely good lock-up and snappy response.

Comparatively "weaker" than others.

Expert Ratings

Blade Length

9.1 / 10

3.375 Inches

Handle Length

9.2 / 10

4.625 Inches

Appearance & Value

9.5 / 10

This is a stylish knife with a little unique addition — the US flag engraved on the back handle. Similarly to the OTF knife, it has an efficient firing mechanism triggered by a single red bullseye button. This knife is middle-of-the-range in terms of cost on this list.  In comparison to many knives in this vast market, this is priced competitively. Additionally, as a bonus, the manufacturers provide quick compensation for any damage or faulty pieces. It's very easy to disassemble for repairs.

Durability

9.3 / 10

With an incredible blackwash finishing, anodized aluminum handle and sturdy blade, this knife definitely excels in the durability category (as well as all other aspects, honestly). The only thing to note is that if you’re not careful, the coating can rub off — so we don’t recommend using this knife for cooking.

Overall Editor Score

9.3 / 10

Best OTF Survival Knife

#2

AKC F-16 Copper D/A OTF Automatic Knife - Dagger Satin Plain

Best OTF Survival Knife: AKC F-16 Copper D/A OTF Automatic Knife - Dagger Satin Plain
Blade Length
8.9
Handle Length
9.2
Appearance & Value
9.1
Durability
9.3
Overall
91%
91 % Editor Score
94 % User Score
73 Bought

Why People Love it

  • High-sensitivity perfect for quick use
  • Reliable firing mechanism for opening
  • Solid lock-up and movement mechanism

Light, durable, and snappy double-action automatic OTF knife. Double Action OTF knives automatically extend and retract by using a lever or sliding button.

Double action OTF knives are considered easier to use but more expensive than a similar single action knife.

Expert Ratings

Blade Length

8.9 / 10

3.375 inches

Handle Length

9.2 / 10

4.625 inches

Appearance & Value

9.1 / 10

Compact, striking and reliable, this is a sturdy OTF tool that's priced right for enthusiasts. Showing off a black aluminum handle with a copper inlay, this knife is just asking to join your collection! Featuring a simple and efficient design, it is perfect for light-duty tasks. It’s designed with a snappy, well-thought-out mechanism — it has a sideloaded thumb-slide that opens and closes the blade with smooth precision (so be careful!). It also comes with a pocket clip for tip-down carry.

Durability

9.3 / 10

Though it may not look like it, the AKC F-16 is surprisingly sturdy; it's actually inspired by the impressive F-16 jet of the same name. As expected, however, the handle will eventually ‘run down’, which shouldn’t really be that big of an issue; the handle does allow for a good grip though. With a very sharp blade, this knife feels solid in your hand and can handle many survival needs.

Overall Editor Score

9.1 / 10

Best All-Around Knife

#1

Spyderco Paramilitary 2 Digi Camo Knife

Best All-Around Knife: Spyderco Paramilitary 2 Digi Camo Knife
Blade Length
9.2
Handle Length
9.5
Appearance & Value
9.7
Durability
9.1
Overall
94%
94 % Editor Score
96 % User Score
34 Bought

Why People Love it

  • Thin profile with US Army camo print
  • A new, revised version of a higher-end folding knife
  • Large lanyard hole = lots of carrying options
  • Smooth compression lock

Dubbed "the best folder ever made," this knife is easy to sharpen, the lockup is sturdy and strong, and the ergonomic upgrades are blissful.

Blade-to-handle ratio may feel weird to hold.

Expert Ratings

Blade Length

9.2 / 10

3.44 Inches

Handle Length

9.5 / 10

4.84 Inches

Appearance & Value

9.7 / 10

The Spyderco PM2 shows off an attractive design with a military/camouflage-textured G-10 handle. A short yet deep blade gives the user a secure grip and dexterous maneuverability. The most discernible feature of this blade is the wide hole located in the top of the blade — its purpose is to provide an easy transition for opening and closing the knife, giving it a feel of manual interactivity. This knife is extremely worth its price and is a great EDC (every-day-carry) model since it's lightweight and infinitely customizable. 

This knife strikes a good balance between safety, function, and cost.

Durability

9.1 / 10

The Spyderco knife has a premium CPM-S30V flat ground (plain-cutting edge) blade. The handle is made of ergonomic top quality steel and it's a handy, comfortable size. Notable features like a free-swinging blade, smooth compression lock, giant thumbhole, and textured grip make this knife stand out from the crowd. 

Overall Editor Score

9.4 / 10

Faveable Ratings: 7 Best Survival Knives

7 Best Survival KnivesBlade LengthHandle LengthAppearance & ValueDurabilityOverall
Spyderco Paramilitary 2 Digi Camo Knife Thumbnail
Best All-Around Knife
#1Spyderco Paramilitary 2 Digi Camo Knife
9.2
9.5
9.7
9.1
94
AKC F-16 Copper D/A OTF Automatic Knife - Dagger Satin Plain Thumbnail
Best OTF Survival Knife
#2AKC F-16 Copper D/A OTF Automatic Knife - Dagger Satin Plain
8.9
9.2
9.1
9.3
91
Kershaw Launch 1 Automatic Knife - Black Aluminum Thumbnail
Best Automatic Knife
#3Kershaw Launch 1 Automatic Knife - Black Aluminum
9.1
9.2
9.5
9.3
93
Smith & Wesson Swbg9Bs Liner Lock Folding Knife Thumbnail
Best for your buck
#4Smith & Wesson Swbg9Bs Liner Lock Folding Knife
9.0
9.0
8.6
9.0
89
Cold Steel 39Fnsz Double Agent - Serrated Edge Blade Thumbnail
Best Manual Knife
#5Cold Steel 39Fnsz Double Agent - Serrated Edge Blade
8.3
9.0
9.5
8.2
88
Moorhaus Handmade D2 Hammered G10 Tracker with Leather Sheath Thumbnail
Best Vintage Knife
#6Moorhaus Handmade D2 Hammered G10 Tracker with Leather Sheath
8.1
7.9
9.0
9.3
86
Hardcore Hardware BFT-01-G Tactical Tomahawk Thumbnail
Bonus: Best Hardcore Survival Tool
#7Hardcore Hardware BFT-01-G Tactical Tomahawk
  
8.2
9.5
89

Faveable Expert Tips

Remember to consider the reason you want to purchase a knife — this will help you choose the best survival knife for your needs.

Here are some of the best uses for your new tactical knife when you're out in the wilderness:

  1. Self Defense
  2. First Aid (think cutting bandages, draining blisters [after you sterilize it])
  3. Food Processing
  4. Hammer (for stakes and snares) or Screwdriver
  5. Stake (can be used in a pinch as a stake in the ground)
  6. Digging
  7. Cutting wood or saplings
  8. Emergency gear modification
  9. Fire (create ribbons of inner bark that will light easily)
  10. Help build a shelter
  11. Manufacturing other survival tools from the wild
  12. Tapping trees for sap, which is a fantastic multipurpose substance

We value your feedback

What did you think of 7 Best Survival Knives?
7 Best Survival Knives
4.72 Stars (15 Votes)

Vote to enter our $100 Amazon Gift Card giveaway.

Article Staff

Jenny Aquaro is a research contributor to Faveable.com. Her expertise lies in health, wellness, digital marketing, and finding the perfect gift. She also creates web content for small businesses across America with her own business, Digital Advising Solutions. When she's not writing, Jenny likes to invent new recipes and mollycoddle her puppies. Follow her @writinginraleigh / @lifeinraleigh on the 'gram.
Editor Jenna Holtz
Researcher Ronnie Langston
Art Director Cherry Barbacena

Join the conversation

7 Best Survival Knives

Thanks for reading my article. I value your feedback and invite you to join the conversation:

  • Share your opinion on the list
  • Suggest an item for consideration
  • Review items you've tried
— jennyaquaro jennyaquaro

You May Also Like

See more in Outdoors

Never make a dumb purchase again
Our tips in your mailbox:
for access to exclusive free content -- it's easy!
Newsletter signup