Ten Popular Survival Knives

Ask any survivalist what’s the one most important thing you should have in a survival situation and nine times out of ten the answer is the same – a survival knife! With a good tactical knife you can cut limbs and leaves to make a shelter, start a fire to keep warm, prepare game to eat and defend yourself from enemies. No other one item is so versatile and important to have in your arsenal than a good survival knife. Here is our list of recommended knives.

If you can only afford ONE thing to prepare for what’s coming – it should be a knife! Be sure to check out this great article on how to how to choose a survival knife to know what to look for.

1.  KA-BAR Full Size US Marine Corp Fighting Knife, Straight

KA-BAR Full Size US Marine Corp Fighting Knife

2.  Gerber 22-01629 LMF II Black Infantry Knife- 4.8 inch blade

Gerber LMF II Black Infantry Knife

3.  Spyderco Tenacious G-10 Handle Folding Plain Edge Knife

Spyderco Tenacious G-10 Handle Folding Plain Edge Knife

4.  SOG Trident Military Folding Knives – Black Blade

SOG Trident Military Folding Knife

5.  Kershaw Ken Onion Black Blur Folding Knife with Speed Safe

Kershaw Ken Onion Black Blur Folding Knife with Speed Safe

6.  Gerber 22-41121 Prodigy Survival Combat Knife

Gerber Prodigy Survival Combat Knife

7.  Ka-Bar BK11 Becker Necker Neck Knife

Ka-Bar BK11 Becker Necker Neck Knife

8.  Smith & Wesson CK5TBS Bullseye Extreme Ops 4.1″ 40% Serrated Black Tanto Blade

Smith & Wesson Bullseye Extreme Ops Serrated Black Tanto Blade

9.  Extreme Tactical Folding Pocket Knife with Aluminum Handle

Extreme Tactical Folding Pocket Knife with Aluminum Handle

10.  4.5 Inch Tactical Pocket Knife – Black

4.5 Inch Tactical Pocket Knife - Black

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36 Responses

  1. JayneCobb

    Give me a Busse Combat anyday…

  2. Dave

    Spot, you are far from spot on with this list.

    Besides the Spyderco there is not one blade on the list I would own let alone put on a top ten survival blade list.

    To be a top survival knife in my mind the knife has to survive itself, tough nearly indestructable and holds an edge.

    Look at Busse blades, Scrapyard and Swamprats for a start. Not many stack up to these.

    Dont take my word for it learn more about tough blades here.http://www.youtube.com/user/noss4

    Its all about the steel not the maker.

  3. durabo

    I recently went on a search for my perfect survival knife, and i purchased and tried out almost ALL of those knives you have listed, some were meh, ok… some werent suited for survival..

    I ended up with the RAT (or ESEE) H.E.S.T.

    i think this is the last knife ill ever buy!

    • Dustin

      Great choice – I have an ESEE/RC 5 and Izula and HEST. Technically, the HEST is DPx – a joint venture with ESEE and RYP.

  4. themirage

    My survival knife is a little different then those posted. I like something good for chopping and brutally strong. I went for a KaBar Becker TacTool. This thing is very thick so it can be used to split wood or swing like an axe. It's only downside without the curve blade is that you can't skin things very well with it.

  5. No BoB

    Same as Dave, besides the Spyderco the listed knives are tactical and hardly the best survival knives. Sorry, but it looks like you got the list from a gun magazine. Get real, in a survival situation you want a knife that has been used for bush crafting or camping. Lots of good blades out there and my top 10 list would look completely different.

    In the end it boils down to what you have on you right now. If it is the kabar then this knife will be your survival blade.

  6. No BoB


    One comment, steel alloys are fairly irrelevant, heat treat on the other side is very important. Hence makers are more important than steels.

    For example Rats and Dogs use common steels with proprietary heat treats which makes them outstanding blades (besides that their designs are also very good). With infi you have a marketing gimmick, sooo secret steel. Odds are it is normal high carbon steel with some slight variations. Some people claim it could also be a nitrogen steel but then it wouldn't rust and infi rusts.

    Frankly, if you ask me in the wild you want something like classic 1095 high carbon steel with a good HT because it is sufficiently tuff and easy to sharpen. Supersteels are so hard that you cannot really sharpen them in the field.

  7. Survival Knives

    awesome survival knife choices, mine in particular would be the Gerber Prodigy, its exactly the same as the LMF II but without the lashing holes, but even without them its not like the knife has any different performance. Anyway good choice of knives up there. Keep it up.

  8. Saffer

    This list should change it's name: Top 10 Knives for Mall Ninjas.

    Proudly sponsored by Gecko45.

    • Slobyskya

      Yeah, all us Mall Ninjas in Nam sure as hell used KaBars and the old versions of the SOG-style bowie for playin' games. Surprised we didn't see you there showin' us how it's done ;o)

      Likewise, our kids or nephews playing soldier over in Douchebagistan seem to think that the LMF and Prodigy are OK, although most don't like the serrated part because the serrations are a bitch to sharpen in the field once they're dulled.
      the RAT / ESEE knives are also awesome for the money. BUSSE are great but way overpriced.
      There IS a diff in combat / tactical knives and 'survival' blades, to some degree, but you do better asking men who have had to actually use their blades in such situations, rather than just reading about great adventures and then deciding.
      All in all, I think that ANY well crafted blade, full tang and easy to re-sharpen, is a great blade if you have it available all the time. A 400.00 Wunderknife home in a drawer is worthless if yo0u are at work, in your car or in a movie theater when TSHTF.

  9. ReginaPhalange

    Some people have a very narrow definition of "survival situation". In an urban setting, some of those knives would do just fine. You'd likely be scavenging more than hunting and skinning and building shelter. That Tac Tool would be appropriate then. Sometimes it's more immediate survival. 911 was a survival situation and 5 or 6 men trapped in an elevator escaped without a knife among them. They used the squeegee that happened to be in the hands of the window washer trapped with them to pry the doors open and hack through the wall the found themselves facing. In that case, even the Gerber LMF would probably suffice. Think outside the box, people.
    There are still lots of people who swear by the Ka-bar USMC on that list, both military and outdoorsmen.

  10. Ricky Giordano

    "Frankly, if you ask me in the wild you want something like classic 1095 high carbon steel with a good HT because it is sufficiently tuff and easy to sharpen. Supersteels are so hard that you cannot really sharpen them in the field."

    Good point. It would definitely figure in choosing the right one. Thanks

    • William

      Sintered diamond sharpeners will sharpen anything. Use a different coarseness for the purpose at hand.

  11. sandw44mag

    A good knife is a well cared for knife. I am a blade junkie myself and have more than once been questioned about and even arrested for carrying such things around. The look on the cop's face while I tried to explain that the machete behind the seat of my truck is a tool, not a weapon (while my .357 magnum ta)urus lay on the dashboard) was priceless. And the SOG jungle primitive and tomahawk in the trunk of my cadillac are cool and fun to play with, but the CASE XX Copperlock that is in my pocket when I'm awake and on my nightstand when I'm not is good for as much as I wanna do with it. Before that was a Smith and Wesson something or other, that got lost at work, before that was a Gerber (choose a bunch of letters and numbers). I snapped the blade off that one using it as a pry bar. The point is, know your knife and know its limitations and versatility, care for it because you will miss it when you try flint knapping for the first time. Hope for the best, prepare for the worst!

  12. William

    Cold Steel Carbon V Trailmaster!! Would not be without one!

  13. Bowie Knife

    The best survival knife is a large bowie knife. They are durable and you can sharpen them over and over again. In a survival situation, you will need a knife that can cut into tough materials like tree bark and leather. You have to be able to hunt small and big animals in a survival situation.

  14. Stephen D.

    I have a Buck hunting knife i bought in 1997 6" blade great grip and a Schrade Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation i bought in 2004 which will lay a person open has the blood grooves both USA made and better than the over priced crap you can today paid $60.00 for both.

  15. Andrew Z

    A survival knife is an important tool, my favorite ISHTF Survival knife is the Fallkniven A2, watch the torture test video and you will see how indestructible this knife really is.

  16. Timo

    Lol I don't think there is anything more contrversal in survival than knives. Everyone has there fav's but if your looking for a survival knife just remember what you are gonna use it for. Tatical knives are for defence more than survival but if you know how to use a knife most any will do. I personally carry a minimum of 2 but usually 3 knives any time I venture into the bush. I like to carry a small camp axe a large bowie and you will never find me without a mora bushcraft survival knife. I also like tanto blades for digging, piercing and prying. I carry a small tatical drop leg pouch survival kit that afords me to carry 3 knives easyly along with other necesities. If I loose, break or dull a knife I can always finish my task with another knife and resharpen or repair later in camp when I have time. Its also why I dont spend big money on knives. I can carry 3 good knives for under 100 dollars.

  17. Dan

    This is a pretty controversial list! I have to admit, this would not make my list for top 10 survival knives. Still, it sparked some interesting discussion here in the comments section. I agree, 1095 is a great steel for a fixed blade survival knife, and is my personal choice if we are just talking about commonly available steels. It's very tough, sharpens easily, and takes a very nice edge. It's not very corrosion resistance and depending on the task edge retention is merely ok. Still, for all around survival steel I really like it.

  18. ptruble

    For survival or just general self-defense a good knife is a necessity. Whenever I go into any wilderness area, my knife is truly one of the first items I stow as part of my survival gear. Lately I've been using the Metolius Folding Knife by Gerber. Easy to store and sharpen, I literally dont go anywhere without it. If you are interested in adding it to your outdoor survival gear, you can find it at <a href="http://www.patriotprovisions.com</a).” target=”_blank”>www.patriotprovisions.com</a).

  19. Galuyasdi

    I generally carry 3 knives, too- plus a couple throwers for play & hunting. A tactical knife is a class of it’s own, but a survival knife should be an excellant fighter as well. A bushcraft/field/skinner doesn’t have to be a good fighter. Survive means- survive. Whether the threat of starvation, animal attack, exposure, thirst, any scenario you know of, you can dream up, or have yet to encounter. First and foremost a survival knife should be heavy duty, robust, sharpenable by the user in the field and capable of taking/holding a good edge. Kukris, bowies (my personal choice) and simular knives, and even short swords such as a good quality gladius are prime examples. These are not necessarily the first knife you reach for or even use at all on a typical outing but are what you are going to want in a real life and death challenge. Personal preference in everyday using knives has no place in selection of a “survival knife”. Some of the knives listed in the article are known to break with normal usage. The only one worthy of consideration is the Spyderco. Does anyone really wish to wonder in a shtf situation whether their gear is going to fail/kill them?

  20. Researching Knives

    What makes a tactical knife different? I don't know if I should be looking for a hunting, survival, or pocket knife….basically I just want something that is good for most common uses and also not too expensive and sturdy.

    Any recommendations.

  21. Explo

    Schrade SCHF9 Extreme Survival Knife, well worth looking into.

  22. Jim W

    I think it more boils down to how much you want to spend. If you are on a budget and do not feel like spending 200 plus for a knife then some of the knives that you have shown may be okay in a short term situation. I have a friend that makes knives out of old plow steel and rasp and those are hard to beat. They are not pretty like the store bought ones but I would trust my life to them and do. I also have the Gerber as well as several made by people like ZT (Zero Tolerance) and Reeves as well as a couple other custom made knives. Yes they cost a ton but they will be there forever so it is all in the budget. Get what you can afford because you at least have to have something when the SHTF

  23. William

    I love the Spyderco Tenacious G-10. It's one of my favorite knives!

  24. Steven Larson

    The Gerber Prodigy is my favorite from your list. High quality steel at an affordable price and very versatile in countless situations, I highly recommend it.

  25. Survival Ken

    These are some great survival choices. Obviously, different buyers have different preferences but I personally like #7 and #10. Something about a 4 1/2" blade that I particularly like to handle.

  26. Steve

    The Gerber survival knife is my favorite. I have owned one for 5 years now and it’s hard to find a bad thing to say about it, it’s perfect in almost all aspects, despite the fact that is “just” number 2 on your list.

  27. Steve

    Well, it's a hard choice among these ten choices for survival knives that you put forward, but if i was to go into the wilderness and had space for only 1 survival knife i guess i would choose the Extreme Tactical knife. There is something about that model than inspires safety and reliability.

  28. larry

    Right on Jayne!!!


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