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.)
This tomahawk is very, very strong and durable.
More of an axe than a knife, so less portable, but more deadly.
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.
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.
Solid, effective, and handmade vintage design.
It's a semi-stainless knife, rather than stainless steel.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This Smith & Wesson option is high quality with an extremely great price point.
Includes small parts that can break.
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.
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).
This knife boasts an extremely good lock-up and snappy response.
Comparatively "weaker" than others.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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: