Best Survival Knives, Period!

What is the best survival knife available?

Ask any survivalist what their favorite piece of survival gear is – most will tell you their knife. A quality survival knife can last you a lifetime, and will simply outshine a cheap, common knife on every level.

When all else has failed and your knife is the only thing left by your side, it pays to have only the best, most useful survival knife around. Many survivalists have beaten the odds with little more than their knife and their own determination to live.

With hundreds of knives to choose from, finding the one to suit your needs can be challenging, which is why we're here to help you filter out the bad and find the best survival knives around.

The classic KA-BAR survival Bowie knife. Click to order from Amazon

The classic KA-BAR survival Bowie knife. Click to order from Amazon

Choosing the Right Survival Knife

In your search for the top survival knives out there, you'll be plagued with many options and styles, some of which are desirable and some that aren't.

One trait you should look for is a knife that is "full tang", meaning the steel of the blade continues all of the way to the end of the handle, in one piece. Knives with only partial tangs are weaker, especially when exposed to stress and high levels of usage.

The best survival knives feature blades that are much thicker than the average knife, meaning it can stand up to hard wear and tear without getting damaged. Look for a knife with a thickness of 5/32 to 1/4 inches.

The length of the blade is a personal choice and depends on the situation you'll be in (which can be hard to predict). A survival knife should at least be four to six inches in length. A longer knife, like a bowie knife, is handy for self-defense, cutting, and clearing large amounts of growth and brush, but its versatility is limited.

Types of Survival Knives

Most survivalists will tell you that the best survival knives are the fixed blade type. Remember: to ensure quality and durability, you'll want to look for one that features a full tang steel blade and handle. If the blade separates from the handle, your knife will be nearly useless.

Topping many "Best Survival Knives" lists, the KA-BAR knife has been serving the U.S. Military since Word War II as the ultimate survival knife. The KA-BAR Marine Corps Fighting Knife features a 7-inch straight-edge blade made from ultra-durable 1095 Cro-Van steel and a unique hardened leather handle. Also included is a leather sheath.

As the story goes, KA-BAR got its name from a hunter who killed a bear with the knife and wrote a letter to the manufacturer of the knife. However, parts of the letter were illegible except for "ka bar" (kill a bear) and the company quickly adopted the name.

Click to order the Bear Grylls Ultimate Survival Knife from Amazon

Gerber Legendary Blades has been making practical, durable blades since 1939, and their Bear Grylls Ultimate Survival Knife is the perfect choice in your hunt for the best survival knives.

Featuring a molded rubber grip, a half straight / half serrated back blade, and an emergency whistle attached to the knife's lanyard, the Bear Grylls Ultimate Survival Knife literally has everything you could need to survive on your own with only your knife. The sheath features a fire starter, an integrated diamond sharpener, a ground to air communication patch, and a complete guide to building shelter, fire, and more.

At one point in time, a survival knife featured a hollowed handle so you could store an additional item, like matches or a fire starter. While these types of knives can be hard to come by, Frost Cutlery has got you covered with their Survival Scout II bowie knife.

Featuring an 11" blade, the Survival Scout II's handle opens at the bottom to reveal a waterproof compartment and a compass built into the cap. The sheath houses a cutting stone to keep your knife functional after every use.

Timber Rattler Western Outlaw survival knife. Click to order from Amazon

However, with these hollowed-out handles, the knife won't be full tang, so you'll have to watch how much stress you're putting it under.

If your situation calls for a long and powerful knife, a bowie knife is your best choice. The Timber Rattler Western Outlaw is a full tang bowie knife with a 11 3/8” solid steel blade and a hardwood handle.

This bowie knife is absolutely huge, so its uses will be limited to heavy cutting and defense.

Machetes are extremely long knives (sometimes classified as swords) with blades around 1.5-2 feet long. While machetes are great for clearing brush and chopping up large pieces of food or wood, their uses are limited.

However, machetes make a great addition to your survival supplies. Cold Steel's Latin Machete could make a perfect fit for your survival knives collection.

Folding knives are great for their portability and ease of use, but over time, the hinge can become worn down and eventually break. In a survival situation, coming across replacement equipment can be hard, so don't risk it – invest in the best.

If you want to add one to your survival gear arsenal, check out Smith & Wesson's Extreme Ops series of folding knives.

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