In need of a trusty companion for your outdoor adventures? Look no further than “The Ultimate Survival Knife Guide: Features, Types, and Top Picks.” This comprehensive guide is your go-to resource for everything you need to know about survival knives. Packed with valuable information on the various features, types, and our top picks, this guide will equip you with the knowledge to make an informed decision and ensure that you’re well-prepared for any situation Mother Nature throws your way. Whether you’re a seasoned outdoor enthusiast or a beginner looking to embark on your first adventure, this guide has got you covered. So, grab a cup of coffee, sit back, and let us take you on a fascinating survival knife journey!

Features of a Survival Knife

When it comes to survival situations, having the right tools at your disposal can make all the difference. And one tool that should always be included in your survival kit is a reliable and versatile survival knife. But what exactly makes a survival knife worthy of being called the ultimate tool for survival? Let’s explore the key features that you should look for in a survival knife.

Blade Material

The blade material is arguably the most important feature to consider when choosing a survival knife. It determines the knife’s strength, durability, and overall performance. The two most commonly used materials for survival knife blades are stainless steel and carbon steel.

Stainless steel blades are known for their corrosion resistance, making them suitable for wet and humid environments. They require less maintenance and are less prone to rust. On the other hand, carbon steel blades are renowned for their exceptional hardness and edge retention. They are easier to sharpen but tend to rust more easily if not properly cared for.

Blade Design

The design of the blade plays a crucial role in determining the knife’s functionality and versatility. There are various blade designs to choose from, each serving a specific purpose.

Some of the common blade designs for survival knives include drop point, tanto, spear point, and clip point. The drop point design, with its strong and versatile tip, is often considered the best for survival situations. It allows for easy control and precision when performing tasks such as carving, slicing, and piercing.

Blade Length

The blade length of a survival knife is another critical factor to consider. Generally, survival knives have blades ranging from 4 to 6 inches in length. A longer blade can be more effective for tasks like chopping and batoning, while a shorter blade offers increased maneuverability and ease of use for finer tasks.

However, it’s essential to strike a balance between blade length and portability. A knife with an extremely long blade may become cumbersome and difficult to carry, while a knife with a very short blade might not be sufficient for certain survival tasks.

Full Tang Construction

Survival knives with full tang construction are considered the most durable and reliable. Full tang means that the blade extends the full length of the knife, with the handle scales secured on either side of the tang. This design provides maximum strength and prevents the knife from snapping or breaking under heavy use.

A full tang knife is more likely to withstand intense survival situations, such as chopping wood or prying. It ensures that the blade and handle remain firmly connected, making it a crucial feature for a reliable survival knife.

Handle Material

The handle of a survival knife is as important as the blade itself. It should provide a comfortable and secure grip to prevent slippage and ensure safe handling in various weather conditions. Common handle materials for survival knives include rubber, G-10, Micarta, and wood.

Rubber handles offer excellent grip even when wet, making them suitable for survival situations involving water or extreme humidity. G-10 and Micarta handles are known for their durability and resistance to wear and tear. Wooden handles, while aesthetically pleasing, may require more maintenance and can be less reliable in harsh conditions.

Handle Design

The handle design is closely related to the ergonomics of the knife. A well-designed handle should fit comfortably in your hand, allowing for extended periods of use without causing discomfort or fatigue. Look for handles with finger grooves or textured patterns that enhance grip and provide optimal control.

Additionally, some survival knives come with handles that feature integrated guards to prevent your hand from sliding onto the blade during heavy use. This extra layer of safety is particularly important when performing tasks that require forceful movements or when working in challenging environments.


The grip of a survival knife goes hand in hand with the handle design and material. A secure and comfortable grip is essential for maintaining control and preventing accidents. Check for knives with textured or contoured handles that offer increased friction and minimize the risk of slippage.

Some survival knives also feature specialized grip enhancements, such as jimping or finger choils. Jimping refers to notches or grooves on the spine of the blade or handle that provide extra grip for your thumb. Finger choils, on the other hand, are recessed areas on the handle that allow for better control and precision during detailed tasks.


A durable and well-designed sheath is crucial for safely carrying and storing your survival knife. Look for sheaths made from high-quality materials, such as nylon or Kydex, that can withstand the rigors of outdoor use. The sheath should securely hold the knife in place, offer quick and easy access when needed, and allow for various carrying options, such as belt loops or attachment points.

Some sheaths also come with additional features like built-in sharpening stones or storage compartments for fire starters or fishing kits. These added features can further enhance the functionality and practicality of your survival knife.


The weight of a survival knife is a matter of personal preference and intended use. While some prefer heavier knives for tasks that require chopping or splitting, others opt for lighter knives for increased portability and ease of use during finer tasks. Strike a balance based on your own needs and the demands of your survival situations.

Keep in mind that a heavier knife may fatigue your hand more quickly during prolonged use, whereas a lighter knife might not handle heavy-duty tasks as efficiently. It’s essential to find a knife weight that feels comfortable and manageable for your specific requirements.

Additional Features

In addition to the essential features mentioned above, survival knives often come with additional features that can provide added functionality. Such features may include:

  • Sawback spine: Some survival knives feature a serrated sawback spine that can be used for cutting through tough materials like wood or bone.
  • Firestarter: Some survival knives have a built-in firestarter on the handle or sheath. This can be extremely useful in emergency situations where starting a fire is essential for warmth, signaling, or cooking.
  • Whistle: Some knife handles are equipped with an integrated whistle, allowing you to alert others in case of an emergency or to use it as a signaling device.
  • Lanyard hole: A lanyard hole on the handle or pommel can provide a convenient way to secure your knife to your wrist or gear, minimizing the risk of loss.

Consider these additional features based on your specific needs and the environment you anticipate using the knife in. While they may not be essential for every survival situation, they can certainly come in handy and add value to your overall survival gear.

Now that we’ve covered the essential features of a survival knife, let’s explore the various types of survival knives available on the market.

The Ultimate Survival Knife Guide: Features, Types, And Top Picks

Types of Survival Knives

Survival knives come in a wide range of styles and designs, each tailored to specific survival situations and personal preferences. Here are some of the most common types of survival knives:

Fixed Blade Knives

Fixed blade knives are the most traditional and reliable type of survival knife. They consist of a single, solid piece of metal with the blade and handle seamlessly integrated. Fixed blade knives are known for their strength and durability, making them suitable for heavy-duty tasks like chopping, batoning, and prying. They are also generally easier to maintain and clean compared to folding knives.

Folding Knives

Folding knives, also known as pocket knives, offer versatility and compactness. These knives feature a folding mechanism that allows the blade to be concealed within the handle, making them easy to carry in your pocket or backpack. Folding knives are popular among outdoor enthusiasts and survivalists due to their practicality and convenience. While they may not be as robust as fixed blade knives, they are still capable of handling a wide range of survival tasks.

Multitool Knives

Multitool knives combine various tools into a single compact device. They typically feature a folding knife blade along with other tools such as pliers, screwdrivers, saws, and can openers. Multitool knives offer exceptional versatility and functionality, making them an excellent choice for those who want a complete tool kit in a compact form. They are particularly useful for survival situations that require a wide range of tasks to be performed.


Machetes are long, thin knives with a straight or curved blade. They are primarily used for cutting vegetation, such as clearing brush or chopping through dense foliage. Machetes are popular among survivalists and outdoor enthusiasts who spend a significant amount of time in heavily vegetated or tropical environments. They are lightweight, easy to maneuver, and can also be used for other survival tasks like shelter construction and food preparation.

Combat Knives

Combat knives, also known as tactical knives, are designed for self-defense and military purposes. They typically feature a fixed blade with a sharp point and serrated edges. Combat knives are built to withstand extreme conditions and perform well under high-stress situations. While they may not be as versatile as other survival knives, they excel in combat and security-related scenarios.

Throwing Knives

Throwing knives are specifically designed for recreational or competitive throwing purposes. They have a balanced weight distribution and a sharp point that allows them to stick into targets when thrown correctly. While not typically used as survival tools, throwing knives can still provide entertainment and recreational value in survival camps or emergency situations where time allows for it.

Neck Knives

Neck knives are compact knives that can be worn around the neck for easy access. They typically come with a small sheath and cord that allows you to hang the knife securely around your neck. Neck knives are lightweight and discreet, making them an ideal choice for everyday carry or as a backup survival tool. However, their small size limits their versatility and may not be suitable for heavy-duty survival tasks.

Boot Knives

Boot knives, as the name suggests, are designed to be tucked into your boot or strapped to your leg. These knives are usually small and slim, making them easily concealable. Boot knives offer a discreet self-defense option and can serve as a backup tool in survival scenarios. However, their limited size and weight make them less practical for extensive survival tasks.

Credit Card Knives

Credit card knives are ultra-compact knives designed to fit in your wallet, resembling a credit card in shape and size. These knives fold into shape or come with a detachable blade, allowing for easy storage and convenience. While credit card knives are not suitable for heavy-duty survival tasks, they can be useful in emergency situations where carrying a larger knife is not possible or allowed.

Serrated Knives

Serrated knives feature a blade with small, jagged teeth along the cutting edge. The serrations enable the knife to saw through materials more effectively, making them ideal for tasks like cutting through rope, branches, or other fibrous materials. Serrated knives can be found in both fixed blade and folding knife designs, adding versatility to their functionality.

Now that you have a better understanding of the different types of survival knives available, let’s move on to our top picks for survival knives.

The Ultimate Survival Knife Guide: Features, Types, And Top Picks

Top Picks for Survival Knives

Choosing the right survival knife can be a daunting task with so many options available on the market. To make your decision-making process easier, we have compiled a list of our top picks for survival knives. These knives have been chosen based on their overall performance, durability, and reputation among outdoor enthusiasts and survival experts.

1. Gerber StrongArm

The Gerber StrongArm is a versatile and rugged survival knife that can handle a wide range of tasks. It features a 4.8-inch full tang blade made from high carbon stainless steel, providing excellent edge retention and corrosion resistance. The handle is made from glass-filled nylon with a diamond-textured rubber grip, offering a secure and comfortable hold. The StrongArm also comes with a striking pommel at the base of the handle, making it useful for various survival-related tasks.

2. ESEE 6P-B Plain Edge Fixed Blade Survival Knife

The ESEE 6P-B is a highly regarded survival knife trusted by survival enthusiasts and professionals. It boasts a 6.5-inch full tang blade made from high carbon 1095 steel. The blade is ultra-sharp and holds its edge well, even under heavy use. The handle is made from green canvas Micarta, providing excellent grip and durability. The ESEE 6P-B also features a glass breaker pommel and a lanyard hole for added functionality.

3. Benchmade Bushcrafter 162

The Benchmade Bushcrafter 162 is a premium survival knife that combines quality craftsmanship with exceptional performance. It features a 4.43-inch fixed blade made from high-quality CPM-S30V stainless steel, renowned for its edge retention and corrosion resistance. The handle is made from G-10, providing a secure grip even in wet conditions. The Bushcrafter 162 is a reliable and robust tool for survivalists and outdoor enthusiasts alike.

4. Fallkniven A1 Survival Knife

The Fallkniven A1 Survival Knife is a formidable tool designed for extreme outdoor situations. It features a 6.3-inch full tang blade made from laminated VG-10 stainless steel, known for its exceptional strength and razor-sharp edge. The handle is made from Kraton, offering a secure and comfortable grip in all weather conditions. The A1 Survival Knife is highly regarded for its durability, reliability, and overall performance.

5. Cold Steel SRK

The Cold Steel SRK (Survival Rescue Knife) is a rugged and versatile knife designed for survival, rescue, and tactical applications. It features a 6-inch fixed blade made from Japanese AUS-8A stainless steel, providing excellent strength and corrosion resistance. The handle is made from Kray-Ex, offering a secure and comfortable grip even when wet. The SRK is a workhorse of a knife that can handle anything you throw at it.

6. KA-BAR Becker BK2 Campanion

The KA-BAR Becker BK2 Campanion is a heavy-duty survival knife built to withstand the toughest conditions. It features a 5.25-inch full tang blade made from 1095 Cro-Van steel, known for its durability and ease of sharpening. The handle is made from Ultramid, offering a comfortable grip even during prolonged use. The BK2 Campanion is a popular choice among survivalists and outdoor enthusiasts who require a reliable and robust knife.

7. Morakniv Companion Fixed Blade Outdoor Knife

The Morakniv Companion is a budget-friendly survival knife that doesn’t compromise on quality. It features a 4.1-inch stainless steel blade with a Scandinavian grind, providing excellent cutting performance and ease of sharpening. The handle is made from high-friction rubber, offering a secure grip in all weather conditions. Despite its affordable price, the Morakniv Companion excels in functionality and reliability.

8. Ontario 499 Air Force Survival Knife

The Ontario 499 Air Force Survival Knife is a classic survival knife that has stood the test of time. It features a 5-inch fixed blade made from 1095 carbon steel, offering excellent edge retention and durability. The handle is made from leather, providing a traditional and stylish look. The 499 Air Force Survival Knife is a favorite among military personnel and survivalists for its toughness and versatility.

9. Tops Knives B.O.B. Brothers of Bushcraft Survival Knife

The Tops Knives B.O.B. Brothers of Bushcraft Survival Knife is a collaboration between Tops Knives and survival expert David Canterbury. It features a 4.5-inch fixed blade made from 1095 carbon steel with a Scandinavian grind, providing excellent cutting performance and ease of sharpening. The handle is made from green canvas Micarta, offering a secure and comfortable grip even in wet conditions. The B.O.B. Survival Knife is designed for bushcraft and survival use, making it a reliable tool for outdoor enthusiasts.

10. Buck Knives 119 Special

The Buck Knives 119 Special is a classic and timeless survival knife that has been a favorite among hunters and outdoor enthusiasts for decades. It features a 6-inch fixed blade made from 420HC stainless steel, known for its corrosion resistance and ease of sharpening. The handle is made from black phenolic, providing a secure grip and classic look. The 119 Special is an iconic knife that combines functionality, durability, and heritage.

These top picks represent a range of survival knives catering to various needs, preferences, and budgets. Each knife offers reliable performance and durability, making it a valuable tool for survival situations.


Choosing the right survival knife is a crucial decision that can greatly impact your ability to navigate and overcome survival situations. By considering the essential features, understanding the different types of survival knives, and exploring our top picks, you’ll be better equipped to make an informed decision. Remember that the ultimate survival knife is the one that suits your needs, preferences, and the specific challenges you may encounter in your outdoor adventures. Stay prepared, stay safe, and choose your survival knife wisely.

The Ultimate Survival Knife Guide: Features, Types, And Top Picks