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Best Survival Knives for Your Bug Out Bag List

Whether you are out camping or gone for a hunting trip, your cutting and skinning needs require nothing but the best survival knives available in town. Thankfully, this is an area of specialization where laborious efforts have been put in by manufacturers of some great survival knives.

However, picking one out of a sea of potentially good survival knives is one hell of a task. This is precisely the reason why we have reviewed some of the best survival knives available to buy in 2018. Are you looking for a survival knife, a bushcraft knife, the best tactical knife or the best hunting knife?

Best Survival Knives of 2018

Since there is a lot more detail involved in making a state of the art knife. We have formed a very detailed buyers guide to assist you in evaluating the knife designs and specifications of each knife. You can thank us later.

There are a ton of things that you need to consider if you want the most bang for your buck. Not everyone uses 1095 steel, so steel quality needs to be checked. From the right amount of knife steel hardness to its edge retention qualities and from resistance against corrosion to against wear and tear.

Even the shape of the blade matters a lot. Do you want it to have a clip point, drop point, trailing point, or one with a gut hook? Do you prefer serration? If so, should it be partial only? Would you don an American tanto just for the swagger? Last but not the least, will you be able to pay up for a full tang knife?

When buying the best survival knives, there are ton of other questions like this.

Premium Choice

Premium Choice

Fallkniven A1

Fine Edged, Premium Quality

Don’t let the more civil looks deceive you. Preferred for hard use, it has a full tang VD-10 blade and is the most balanced and stable piece out there.

If budget is not a concern, this is one of the best survival knives money can buy. Decent, solid and made of the best material. You get a long 6.3 inch blade that is good for chopping and bushcrafting and the razor sharp edge allows you to take on all camping chores.

Best Value

Best Value

Gerber Bear Grylls Ultimate Pro

Get More For Less

While it is not the cheapest alternative, it is a Gerber with Bear Grylls knife that is worthy of a collection. With full tang and a great edge retention, you have got one of the best looking survival knives.

Not only is the design very impressive it is basically a full pack that gets you not only a stainless steel pommel but great durability over all. You also get a fire starter and a sheath that packs a sharpener.

Gerber LMF II Survival Knife

When a former military man designs a knife one should know they mean business. The Gerber LMF II is surely one of the best survival knives you can find in 2018 and for various reasons. The praise that the survival knife bags is also well found. Probably the best camp knife, it is one of the most balanced products out there.

The weight isn’t much so carrying it is not a problem and the blade is razor sharp with its 420HC stainless steel. It uses a drop point design to dd to the usability, and stays safe with a 4.84 inches blade.

The blade is partially serrated, and a tang separated from the butt cap so that it becomes more shock absorbent. It might not be the best combat knife, but we are definitely backing this one for the best camping knife.

Product Specifications:

    • Blade length: 4.8 in
    • Overall length: 10.6 in
    • Weight: 11.7 oz
    • Blade material: 420HC
    • Handle material: GFN
    • County of origin: USA

Pros

  • Strong Construction
  • 1095 Steel
  • Polymer Sheath

Cons

  • Slightly Lengthy
  • Not Full Tang

ESEE 6P

The best survival knives are those that have the greatest utility and not just the demeanor of something tough. ESEE didn’t disappoint us when we went looking for their 6P which suits a hiker and backpacker the same as a hunter.

Its blade is a good 1.5 inches longer than the Gerber LMF II, totaling at 6.5 inches and the handle boasts of being anti-slip thanks to texture on it. As far as color choices are concerned you get to choose between black or grey. Whether it is the Micarta handle or the 1095 steel blade, everything is made in the US and of top quality.

Over all it is pretty lightweight and full tang which adds to the durability of the survival knife. ESEE is one of the best knife brands out there. Everything down to the drop point blade and the finger hole at the butt is made to perfection.

Despite being at the higher end of price spectrum it does justice to the value being provided and deserves a spot on your bug out bag list.

Product Specifications:

  • Overall Length: 11.75″
  • Blade Length: 6.50″
  • Blade Material: 1095 Steel
  • Handle Material: Grey Micarta Scale
  • Sheath: Black Molded Polymer
  • County of origin: USA

Pros

  • 1095 Steel
  • Razor Edge
  • Impressive Design

Cons

  • Plastic Molded Sheath
  • Heavy weight

KA-BAR Becker BK22 Campanion

The Becker Knife and Tool Corporation has been in the business for almost 40 years now and the KA-BAR Becker BK22 Campanion is one of the best survival knives that they have produced to date. Reliability reads through the 1095 steel blade that stands at a 5.25 inches with Chromium and Vanadium added.

As a result you get better durability against corrosion for a longer time. Great ergonomics allow you to hold the knife well without feeling the weight as well. If held right you can even balance it on your index finger.

Since the blade on this is 0.25 inch thick, it is probably the best bushcraft knife out there. The drop point fixed blade forms a good companion in camping as well as hunting chores like skinning and chopping.

Product Specifications:

  • Blade length: 5.25 in
  • Overall length: 10.5 in
  • Weight: 16 oz
  • Blade material: 1095 CroVan
  • Handle material: Zytel
  • County of origin: USA

Pros

  • Impressive Value for Money
  • Highly Durable
  • Comfortable Handle

Cons

  • Sheath Needs Improvement
  • Slightly Heavy

Gerber Bear Grylls Ultimate Pro

One of the first full tang survival knives of our review, this one is made by Gerber for Bear Grylls. Clearly a contender for the best survival knives list, it looks and feels promising.

At 4.8″ inches, the balde of Gerber Bear Grylls Ultimate Pro is 9CR19MoV steel. This is a premium quality material which ensures that the edge will be retained for a longer period of time. Not only that, the handle has a pommel that can be used as a hammer. Do not worry about it since it is made of stainless steel.

It has some features that we would otherwise pay no attention to as low-quality manufacturers sometimes add extra features just to make a bad product sell. That is not the case with this survival knife. Bear Brylls has a top notch fire starter and a sharpener inside the sheath.

This one of the best survival knives by Gerber and definitely one deserving to be among the collection. The only downside? Its weight which is slightly more than usual.

Product Specifications:

  • Blade length: 4.8 in
  • Overall length: 10 in
  • Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Blade material: 9CR19MoV
  • County of origin: USA

Pros

  • Impressive design
  • Full Tang
  • Stainless Steel Pommel
  • Great Edge Retention

Cons

  • Heavy
  • Bevel and Sharpener Go Out of Line Sometime

Tom Brown Tracker

There hardly are any knife makers out there who do style and quality at the same time. However, the Tom Brown Tracker leaves no aspect untouched. You have got a good looking partner which is expensive to keep.

Made of 1095 steel, this beauty boasts of beating bad weather and worse wearing without much fuss. TOPS Knives, ever since they featured in the Hollywood movie The Hunted, have been in everyone’s eye whether they are into chopping, crafting, carving, shaving or notching.

If there was anything we would disapprove it would be the grips that have been added to the handle. These might make it a little uncomfortable for longer use, especially for certain sizes of hands. Also, skinning wouldn’t be as fun with the Tracker as it would with the ESEE 6P.

However, with all the premium treatment it is not going to be easy on the wallet. For being one of the best survival knives out there, its asking price is high. We think it is a great investment.

Product Specifications:

  • Blade length: 5.5 in
  • Overall length: 10.75 in
  • Weight: 13.2 oz
  • Blade material: ATS-34
  • Handle material: Micarta
  • County of origin: USA

Pros

  • Extremely Solid and Durable
  • Versatile Usage
  • 1095 Steel
  • Impressive design

Cons

  • Handle Grips Could Have Been Better
  • High End Price
  • Debatable Size

Fallkniven A1 Fine Edge Fixed Blade Knife

Another one of the high end products that we reviewed is the Fallkniven A1 Survival Knife. While it is going to set you back by around $200, it offers premium quality of material for both the blade and the handle.

Did we tell you it is one of the few knives here that have not been made in the US and is still among the best survival knives in the US?

It is on the longer side in terms of the blade length as well as the total length of the knife. The former being 6.3 inch with the latter at 11 inches. The material used is pretty solid, VG-10 steel which uses Vanadium.

Fallkniven A1 is a very stable and durable knife that keeps a low profile in terms of design. One of the best bushcrafting knives, this also does chopping, splitting, camping and fishing very well.

There is one problem though, out of the total 11 inches a little over 5.5 inches is given for the handle which could be a little short for some. Also, in comparison with the blade size it could be something a few of you might disapprove.

Product Specifications:

  • Blade length: 6.3 in
  • Overall length: 11 in
  • Weight: 12 oz
  • Blade material: VG-10
  • Handle material: Kraton
  • County of origin: Sweden

Pros

  • Hard Use Friendly
  • Balanced and Stable
  • Full Tang
  • VD-10 Blade

Cons

  • Sheath is Not Upto The Mark
  • Handle Is Short

Buyer’s Guide

    While having a folding knife in your bug out bag sounds suitable but you should always prefer a fixed blade knife if the goal is survival. Firstly, because the folding knife is weak at the point of folding and secondly, it is never readily available for you to for cutting, skinning, prying, chopping and whatnot.

    Even if a folding knife is highly durable, a fixed knife with the same level of quality would last longer and take more beating.

    As anyone with some interest in fixed blade knives or folding knives would know that the design of the blade has a number of implications. We are discussing the most important blade designs here namely the Clip point, Drop point, Straight-back, and Tanto point blades.
    Clip Point
    As it is more focused on hunting and self defense, the clip point suits more for jobs like skinning game and / or stabbing. The shape has an upward pointed point that takes the curve in the last one-third of the blade length.
    Drop Point
    Unlike the clip, this one has the point of the blade falling downwards in the last one-third of the blade’s length. You get a blade that has a thicker and stronger spine. If carving, cutting and wood chopping is your deal, this is the design for you.
    Straight-back
    Apart from being a god fire starter, since a straight back has larger blades, which means it can be used to splitting stuff in half as well as for chopping wood and food.
    Tanto Point
    Mostly well suited for the best survival knives, the Tanto blades are generally thicker than the lot. However, they come with a straight, sharp and pointed edge. This means they are not the preferred knives for skinning game. You can, however, use them well for self defense.

    For those who don’t know, a tang length is basically how deep the blade runs within the handle of the fixed blade knives at hand. You can have full tang, skeletonized tang, partial tang, narrowing tang and a stick tang.

    Just as the name suggests full tang means the entire body of the handle has the blade in it while partial tang would end half way through. These are the two more common types.

    Ideally, the best survival knives should have full tang as that improves the pressure a knife can take. On the other hand partial tangs are mostly sold these days which, if not made by a competent knife maker, might make it go wobbly quite soon.

    There are a number of factors that you need to consider before buying yourself the most important item on your bug out bag checklist. Not every fixed blade knife is made of 1095 steel, so you’ll need to consider its hardness, edge retention, wear and tear resistance and finally corrosion index.

    Some steel like the 420HC would corrode very less but would have the least bit of resistance against wear and tear. The 420HC would also fail in hardness and edge retention as compared to others.

    Materials like the ZDP-189, CPM S90V and CPM M4 would usually be more resistant against wear, have good edge retention and hardness. They would, however, pale in comparison when we talk about resisting corrosion.

    Long story short, one of the best is the CPM 110 which does well against everything except corrosion – although it is better than the M4. Some of the best survival knives are using these. Yet these are varying levels of expensive, so for us it is okay if we are using AUS–8, 440C or 420HC.

    In order for you to confirm what material is being used, just look around the blade you should find engravings regarding the steel type on it. Make sure you check that out before paying up.

    Length
    The best survival knives are made with different sizes of blades, the length usually varies between 4 to 12 inches. Nonetheless, the size that is most suited for your knife should be between 4 to 7 inches – or as close to that as possible.

    Shorter blades aren’t any good at chopping or using the butt of the handle, even batoning. Similarly, a blade that is too long becomes too hard to handle in survival situations.

    Thickness
    Buying a survival knife that is too slim or too thick would simply kill the purpose. The best survival knife out there should have something between 0.17 – 0.25 inches of thickness. Naturally carrying more weight is an issue in survival situations and more thickness means more weight.

    However, there’s more to it than that. A middle way if suggested because of other uses that the fixed blade knife will serve. Being too thick, you won’t be able to use the blade for skinning game and if it is too slim it would be any good chopping wood or batoning.

    Do not fall for those “rambo” knives that pack a ton of other stuff with just one knife. You don’t need a storage space in the darn handle and you can get a compass separately. Those are horribly unprofessional knives!

    There are a total of three aspects that the best knives have: strength, durability and grip. While traditionally we have had wood and related material, synthetics have upped the game now. You have better alternatives in the form of synthetic rubber polymers like Kraton or glass/fiber with nylon like Micarta. These are all better than the traditionalist approach.

    Also, grip is increased with the use of textured surfaces and scales. Last but not the least, even the best survival knives come with a lanyard hole so that you can chain it to your waist – even use a rope for it.

    How to choose the best survival knives?
    We wish there was a simple answer to this. However, look at our guide above and check for all aspects like handle, blade design, steel type, blade’s length and thickness and so on. For each one of them we have explained how you will need it. Do a little filtering and then pick those from our list that have been made by renowned manufacturers.

    Can a Machete be used as a survival knife? What is the difference?
    Well it is certainly not made for the purpose as it is a much larger knife for your go bag. There are tons of knife designs but you have got to pick up the best knife for your use.

    The best survival knives need to be of moderate to short length so that you can also use them for jobs like crafting and skinning. While the Machete will have no problem chopping through firewood, the rabbit would probably go waste if you tried to skin it with one.

    Is it legal to carry a survival knife?
    The legislation on the matter varies from state to state. However, one thing that is usually common is that the laws discourage people carrying a knife while concealing it. It is still easy to carry one in the rural areas. In fact, if you are using the knife for the purpose you bought it for i.e. survival in the woods, it should not be an issue except for the national parks.

    Our suggestion is that you should check with authorities to confirm what laws are in place before you take some of your best survival knives to the woods.

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