Every prepper knows that a survival situation could happen at any time. Being prepared is the essence of survival. And preparation means accumulating skills, goods and knowledge while everything is going well.
Survival knives are without question, an essential prepper item. Being able to filet a fish, cut rope, slice rubber, carve wood or even cut through cloth may be necessary for survival situations. There are many different and unique types of knives, but in this case, I’ve looked at the best fixed blade survival knives available on the market. I don’t rank them because I truly believe that knives are a think of subjective comfort. So I gave them all in-depth reviews. I did, however, place my favorite fixed blade survival knife at the top. Beyond that, there is only one I really didn’t like (it is noted). The rest are great survival knives and would certainly get the job done.
So what are the best fixed blade survival knives?
Bear Grylls Ultimate PRO Survival Knife
This knife is a legitimate beast. I have no other words. This is my mainstay survival knife. A full tang powerhouse, you can achieve whatever you need with it, short of having an axe. And in the end, I don’t care if it is marketed to a mainstream crowd, when you compare this knife to others, you see it is clearly a top rated fixed blade survival knife.
This knife has a loud whistle, a fire starter, a high-quality sheath and a survival guide that fits into a pocket inside your sheath. The Ultimate Pro is so balanced, you can use it to throw rather accurately (if you already have experience). You can check out my full Bear Grylls Ultimate PRO Survival Knife review for more information.
Fallkniven A1 Survival Knife
A high-end, premium knife experience. The Fallkniven A1 is one of the most well built, as well as highest priced knives on the market. This knife is a perfect gift for someone special. It is also a knife that adds legitimacy to a refined knife collection. And not to mention, this knife is durable, has a top of the line blade and would be the most trusted survival knife in your collection. Read our Fallkniven A1 Survival Knife Review for more of a tighter look.
Bushcrafter 162 Fixed Blade Knife
Without question, one of the most premium fixed blade knife experiences you can ever own. This knife could last you multiple lifetimes. It can functionally perform almost any blade related camping or hunting or prepping task you could imagine. Sure, it is better to have a small axe for many of those tasks, but the fact is, the Bushcrafter 162 fixed blade can get a lot of jobs done that fall off the survival knife spectrum. It comes at a higher price, but you are paying for S30V stainless steel, a beautiful handle, and a full-tang survival knife experience. You can read my Bushcrafter 162 Fixed Blade Review for more info.
Ka-Bar Becker BK2 Fixed Blade
This is one of the most well-built field knives you will ever lay your hands on. I rank it second to the Bear Grylls Ultimate Pro, but not by far. And if you are someone who hates the big brand feeling of Bear’s knife, then you can’t lose with this Ka-Bar. Ka-Bar is a big top-quality knife maker.
So, the reason I love the Ultimate Pro so much is because it is a full tang fixed blade. In my opinion, that’s the sign of power. Ka-Bar Becker BK2 fixed blade is a full tang. Again, full tang means it runs all the way to the end of the blade handle (or close, some makers leave a little space for pummeling absorption). This is one of the greatest survival knives you will encounter and will run you roughly the same in price to the Ultimate Pro.
Read my Ka-Bar Becker BK2 Fixed Blade review for more information.
ESEE-6 Survival Knife Review
Another premium, higher dollar knife experience but worth every cent. Sharp out of the box. Perfect hunting knife, camping knife or prepper’s knife. Outstanding balance and highly reviewed. You can check out my ESEE-6 Survival Knife Review to get even more details into how great this survival knife truly is.
Case Skinner Buffalo Horn Hunter Knife
The case skinner buffalo horn hunter knife is a thing of absolute beauty. This knife is pure stainless steel and perfect for someone who spends a lot of time outdoors (hiking, hunting, outdoor enthusiast).
Here’s a bit of a better picture of one of the best fixed blade survival knives on the market.
The entire knife is 9 inches long, while the blade rest at 5 inches in length. It weighs a modest 9.6 ounces. Oh, it’s made in the USA, for any of you patriots out there who that might matter to. This fixed blade knife hovers closer to the $90 mark, depending on supply. Amazon is often near out of stock of them.
The handle is incredibly comfortable to hold, its made from a Cape water buffalo’s horn. It’s nice and thick to grip and you won’t be worried about losing your grip. Many cheaper survival knife handles are made of synthetic materials that feel cheap and eventually can break down. That won’t be the case with the buffalo horn hunter knife.
The craftsmanship on this knife is second to none and super sexy, completely worth paying a little bit more for. It comes with a nice black leather belt sheath. The sheath fits nicely in the belt.
The blade holds the edge and is easy as pie to resharpen. This is my go-to for fixed blade survival knives. You can check out my Case Skinner Buffalo Horn Hunter Knife Review for more details.
Oh, another big winner from KA-BAR, one of the most trusted knife maker brands in the world. KA-BAR will hardly ever let a prepper down. The KA-BAR Globetrotter fixed blade weighs in about 3 ounces heavier (12 ounces) than the Buffalo Horn Skinner reviewed above (9.6 ounces). The blade is 3.5 inches. The overall knife length is 7.5 inches. It’s a smaller, but weightier, knife than the Buffalo Horn knife.
This knife’s smaller length means more carrying options for those that may matter too. You can get a custom sheath and neck carry it. The knife’s weight, however, takes many off guard. Here’s the thing: This is a KA-BAR knife. These things are built with military construction. Good quality weighs more, so maybe don’t allow this to be a knock against it. When it comes to deciding between the Buffalo Horn Skinner and the KA-BAR Globetrotter, your main concern should be the length. How long do you want you blade length to be? In my humble survival knife opinion, that’s the true differential at play. You are going to pay little less for the KA-BAR.
The Globetrotter handle is high quality and feels nice in the hand. Great for camping and hiking.
NEGATIVE: Some people say they have to remove the coating from the knife in order to get the sheath to work right.
ESEE Laser Strike Knife
Boy, this sure a beautiful specimen of prepper knife. A touch more pricey, but not so much so that the economical shopper shouldn’t consider adding it to their survival knife collection or even purchasing it as their main knife. One of the cool attributes to the Laser Strike is that the blade is a spear point. That’s a bit unusual for a survival fixed blade experience that usually offers a traditional drop point. It makes the knife super powerful from point of strike to end of handle.
The blade is made from 1095 high carbon, comes out of box sharp, and holds an edge incredibly well. The only downside is that if and when the powdered coating wears down on certain parts of the blade due to use, your blade might rust if you don’t apply a little oil touch up. However, this powdered coating tends to last longer than most in its class (and beyond its class). You can also read my ESEE Laser Strike knife review to learn more.
Gerber Strong Arm Fixed Blade Knife
Another fantastic fixed blade from Gerber, they truly rarely ever let us down. This is a full tang fixed blade, meaning that the blade runs from point down through the handle, creating a sturdier experience (think. pummeling). The handle has a pommel at the base of the handle. This is a true survival knife that is a top level, high quality fixed blade knife experience.
Check out my full Gerber Strong Arm Fixed Blade knife review for more info, or go directly to the purchase page on Amazon and check out more glowing reviews there.
SOG Seal Pup Elite Fixed Blade Knife
A new installment to the SEAL series lineup from SOG, this knife represents one of the finest, most affordable, tactical knives in the game. It is used by our military’s Special Forces. I’d say that makes it a good knife to use on a hunting excursion as well as meet your basic survival needs. The Seal Pup Elite has a .185 stock steel fixed blade, an awesome handle for gripping and thumb placement, and can cut through most any material. Read my SOG Seal Pup Elite Knife review for more details.
Buck Model 119 Special Survival Knife
Buck Knives is one of the few survival knife companies to guarantee their products for a lifetime. They are also fully made in the USA. The blade on the Buck Model 119 Special comes sharp out of the box. They use retreated 420 HC steel that holds an incredible edge and fights corrosion. Buck Knives retreating process is actually quite innovative. You can read my Buck Model 119 Special Survival Knife Review, or check out some Amazon reviews.
Winner of 2016 Scandinavian Outdoor Award based on functionality, quality, innovation, design, and sustainability (according to the manufacturer’s pitch). This is a stainless steel blade that’s pretty darn rugged. It’s a good option for someone who wants to spend less than they would with the two higher end fixed blades above.
This thing is small, which should be obvious from the image. You can most definitely wear it around your neck if it pleases you. The fixed blade’s length is 2.2 inches. The thickness is .8 inches. It weighs in at about 2.8 ounces.
The blade is super sharp and it carves things nicely. The grip is secure and comfy and feels safe in the hand.
Some people have noted confusion with the Amazon ad. To clear it up, the Morakniv Eldris fixed blade knife comes with a sheath, but it DOES NOT COME WITH THE NECK SHEATH KIT. Be aware, the description makes it seem like aversion does.
It’s highly reviewed and other than the ad confusion, it is a great economic option for someone looking for a shorter, fixed blade knife. But it is not going to be a great option for a hunting or fishing expedition, though it definitely passes my prepper website test. Check out my Morakniv Eldris fixed-blade knife review.
Boker Plus U.S. Air Force Survival Knife
The Boker Plus U.S. Air Force Survival Knife is a good quality knife at a decent price that won’t break your bank. It has a classic, old school western look to it. The blade is finished from SK-5 carbon steel mirror. The fixed blade’s length is 4.5 inches. The total length of the knife is just over 8 inches and it weighs in at 3.6 ounces. So we are moving back up in size with the U.S. Air Force Survival Knife.
The knife’s history dates back to the 1940’s. General Curtis LeMay made it a standard military issue to serve as an effective survival knife in the wilderness, particularly when it came to cleaning fish and performing various outdoors tasks.
Here’s the thing, this is a great quality survival knife, but the term “survival” might be applied a little too liberally here. Its a great filet knife. It can accomplish things for you, but not nearly at the level the ones above do. And you aren’t really paying much less (if you are at all). This knife is a classic military style knife. It’d be cool to own, but not sure I’d buy it as my lone knife. If you already have a good knife, this isn’t a bad second knife.
Buck Abyss Fillet
This knife is essentially what I’d call, “not a thing of beauty.” It’s rather ugly. This is a 6 inch fixed (but flexible) blade. The blade is made of 420HC steel. It is marketed as a corrosion resistant knife that has a super secure and safe grip.
I’m not one that buys flexible blade knives. They clearly have their uses, but it appears on Amazon that not many others were that interested either. The handle might be safe (super important) but it sure is ugly.
Condor Tool and Knife Huron
The Condor Tool and Knife Huron comes with a great 100% leather sheath (probably the best sheath you will find on my fixed blade survival knives list, to be honest). It has a very traditional knife design. The handle is made from wood. The Condor has a history dating back to 1787.
It does not let us down.
They used to make it with a black blade, but for some reason, they discontinued that. The fixed blade’s length is 8.5 inches while the overall knife’s length is 14.25. She’s big. She’s pretty. She’s sturdy and durable. Its a big seller and tons of satisfied customers.
It cost around the same as the other higher quality knives. You just have to decide if the design is for you. Many people have purchased it striclty to get the amazing sheath it comes with (very serious).
Zero Tolerance Hinderer FieldTac Knife
Zero Tolerance is a superior knife maker. Their knives are commonly “out of stock” due to supply and demand issues. But I think they also don’t make a ton of them as a way to produce higher quality experiences. The Hinderer FieldTac G10 is an amazing knife. It is a shorter blade, lighter weight experience, which you must take into consideration, but the blade on this thing is sharp and holds an edge. If the blade were longer, I’d list it higher. But the honest truth is, shorter fixed blades serve a lot of unique purposes that the longer blades simply can’t serve. Read my Zero Tolerance 0180 Hinderer Fieldtac G10 Knife review to learn more about this fixed blade.
Hopefully this has helped you figure out which of the best fixed blade survival knives are for you. Being prepared is a premeditated act. The time to prepare is now while things aren’t a problem. You can also check out the best survival knives general page, which is more of a general knife review post. Also, make darn sure you have a bug out bag essentials.
What Is A Survival Knife Exactly?
The term “survival knife” is an often confused, misunderstood term. But some of that is excusable due to “survival,” as a general rule, is a subjective concept. A prepper in Alaska preps differently than a prepper in NYC does (at least we’d hope). Types of people and various locations expose the uniqueness of survival needs.
When it comes to survival knives, that’s just as true. I’m a big believer in owning two survival knives (I will explain why below) as well as one EDC, or “everyday carry” knife.
There are hardly more manly considerations than what survival knife one should buy. With a range of costs and a multitude of specifications to consider, such a manly endeavor is most certainly one that presents challenges. I’ve also found that many men don’t care to research more than past the optics of the survival knife (at least when it comes to their first purchase). And while buying a mediocre survival knife on your first order isn’t world ending stuff, it could be avoided. Many first survival knife purchases end up bound in some old ragged dusty sheath, never to be used until a neighbor needs a knife for something you and you end up just giving it away.
I used to think survival knife shopping was simple. But now, I know that it is! But not until you understand a few essential terms and concepts.
Should My Survival Knife Have A Fixed Blade?
I’m not going to beat around the proverbial bush on this one; the answer is an absolute YES. But having two survival knives, one being a folding knife on backup, is probably the best option. If you are to only have one survival knife, go fixed blade (that’s what we are going to discuss mostly in this article because it is the primary need). However, a folding knife offers some added survival value often missed by fixed blade snobs like myself.
A folding knife is easier to carry, both on your body (like in your jeans pocket) or in your bug out bag. Being that the knife can safely stow the blade (obviously, review the safety features of all folding knives as some do pop open more readily) a folding knife can serve as a super portable knife option. Many folding knives have powerful blade edges and sturdy builds. You can get decent blade lengths such as 3 inches and even more out of them, a size that in some cases can be comparable to a fixed blade. And additionally, the ability to conceal them lends them to some self-defense functionality. I’d personally never rely on a folding knife for self-defense, I’d prioritize them behind concealed firearm carry and Jiu Jitsu training, but if you are already carrying one, they do serve as a potential option in a bad situation with a human or animal alike.
Folding knives begin to expose themselves as weaker considerations when confronted with a variety of other survival needs, such as cutting down trees, pummeling rocks, and skinning animals for survival food. As a second option, folding knives are great for survival equipment carry. But they simply do not stand up to power and durability needs that an actual survival predicament would warrant needing. A folding knife would be more relevant to an urban survival situation, rather than a wilderness one. Many websites list folding knives under survival knives as a category, but consider that a loose relationship more geared to allow consumers to find the information they need logically.
What Is The Full Survival Knife Experience?
In other words, what should a survival knife be capable of doing? Well, when we think about survival, we must consider food supply, shelter needs, self-defense and the ability to start a fire (maybe).
A survival knife should be able to both kill an animal as well as skin one and create edible, safe-to-eat food supply. It should be able to chop down trees of around 3-inch girth or more to build a temporary shelter unit. A good survival knife should help you dig into the tough soil. And you should be able to hammer or pummel, into wood or stones.
Regarding being able to start a fire, you will hear a large number of survivalists say that your survival knife should be able to start a fire. I use a Bear Grylls Ultimate Pro survival knife myself (say what you want about the mainstream marketing of that knife, I challenge you to find a more economical and powerful survival knife). The Ultimate Pro has a fire starter on it, and it is more than competent in striking an ember. However, I’m not sure this should be your priority survival knife attribute. There are plenty of survival fire starters available for pretty inexpensive prices. If you have a bug out bag (and damn, you should), you could always stow that piece as a second addition, rather than an included addition on the survival knife. Of course, this is coming from a guy that does have an on knife fire starter, so take from that what you please.
The same thing goes for a safety whistle. My Ultimate Pro has it, as do many survival knives, but we are talking about a small whistle that could indeed be packed separately. Many fantastic survival knives don’t have a whistle on them. I’m not sure you should make this a priority either, but only you know what makes you comfortable.
Let’s Start With The Fixed Blade
The blade matters. And there are a few attributes regarding the blade you need to get some clarity on before making that first survival knife purchase.
You might think you want the blade’s length to be longer because as all men know, bigger is better. Wait, no, that’s not it at all, it really depends on how you plan to use it! (I’m going to abort this metaphorical drunken conversation now, for the sake of all the readers).
If a blade is too long, it might have a difficult time with smaller game. Want to skin a squirrel with a 20-inch blade? That sounds clumsy. But if the blade is too small, you might rule out chopping down a smaller tree.
That said, the winning rough blade length estimate is 5 inches, give or take. Now, we aren’t talking about the FULL length of the knife, that’s different. With a 5 inch blade you should be getting around the 8 to 11 inches range in terms of the knife’s full length. But in terms of the blade, 5 inches is a prime number to shoot for in length.
Full tang. The blade must be “full tang.” If you don’t know what this term means, you need to get to know it because in my humble opinion, it will make or break your survival knife’s quality and you often don’t pay that much more for a full tang fixed blade. Full tang means the knife’s actual steel blade runs through the handle. In some cases, this could mean just short of the handle’s end (this is typically done to allow the handle’s end to have absorption for hammering it). For a knife to be full tang, it means the blade must run through most of the handle.
Why the big deal? Because a blade’s steel running entirely through a handle gives the knife more durability. Would you want to hammer the backside of a handle knowing that there is a split between the handle and the blade? That’s a recipe for an accident. Yes, most non-full-tang knives have sturdy handles, but nothing is stronger than blade steel. Concerning cost, I just ran a comparison check on Amazon.com. The Bear Grylls Ultimate Pro is listed at $71. It is a full tang knife. It’s predecessor, the Ultimate Knife, is listed at $49. It is not full tang. So you save $20 by not opting for full tang. Is $20 worth saving for a survival knife you may buy only once? This is only one case and there are a variety of comparisons of other brands which could be made, but this exposes one clear cut example where the savings in money doesn’t equal the shortage of quality.
In terms of blade style, there are many, but I always suggest your blade’s end be a sharp point. In the end, you might need to stab or spear things. You can take a fixed blade knife and tie it to a stick and make yourself a competent spear. You could fish with that. Hunt with that. Hell, you could go to war with that. But you need a sharp pointed edge, or it drastically reduces the effect.
The Fixed Blade Handle Matters
When reading survival knife reviews, pay attention to the analysis involving “grip.” The grip you get on the handle matters for both function and safety. You don’t want a survival knife that becomes slippery when it gets wet. What if it rains? And you don’t want one that allows your hand’s pinky finger to slip down the blade when you are hammering. Because life without a pinky is no fun at all. I mean, I assume it isn’t that fun, I really don’t know. All the same, the grip matters.
Additionally, your knife should be capable of pummeling and hammering. Make sure the handle is built for such activity. Most full tang survival knives I’ve seen do account for this with a strong handle. And many leave space at the end of the full tang so that the end of the handle has some absorption padding. This makes for a less “shocking” pummeling experience.
Survival Knife Frills
You can get survival knives that have whistles, fire starters, LED lights and even survival guides included on them. But these items should come second to the quality of the blade and handle. Don’t get fooled into buying a survival knife just because it lists 11 functions on it.
Additionally, some survival knives are awesome, but the sheaths you carry them in are not so awesome. If you love the knife, don’t worry about this. But if you are choosing between two closely compared fixed blade knives, you might allow a sheath to make the difference. A sheath, for example, that’s MOLLE capable might help you decide.
I hope this helped any first-time survival knife buyers or preppers that are interested in survival knives in general. Once you understand a few basic terms and concepts, the experience of purchasing your knife is much more fluid. Additionally, stay safe out there! These are weapons, just because they don’t fire bullets doesn’t give anyone a free pass to pay less attention to safety.
Author: Jim Satney
PrepForThat’s Editor and lead writer for political, survival, and weather categories.