Best Survival Knife for the Outdoors

Like no other piece of equipment, the survival knife carries a heavy burden. A hunting knife or camping knife may create some serious inconvenience it either fail you but the survival knife could cost you everything. If you find yourself in a legitimate survival situation you will weigh heavily on that knife and it must perform.

When you think of the duties a survival knife must perform. What comes to mind? There are so many it’s really hard to comprehend. So, to really help you grasp what we need out of a stout and powerful survival knife I will provide a brief list. It will help you understand the importance of this weapon/tool.

  • Fire
  • Shelter
  • Modifying Clothing
  • Staking
  • Hammering
  • Digging
  • Protection
  • Cutting Wood
  • Fashioning Traps
  • Breaking Down Fish and Game

Of the many things you could ask of your survival knife that cutting edge is what you will need the most. It will be a sharp edge that provides you with things like food, tinder and most of all protection. Your battle against the elements will be tough enough that is excluding any wildlife you happen across.

In this review, we are going to look at five knives from great companies in the survival knife niche. They are all great options for your next adventure. All the blades are made here in the USA which of course adds a little pride to the review. These will all be fixed blade, full tang survival knives.

Name
Top Pick
Gerber StrongArm 420 High Carbon Stainless Steel Fixed Blade Survival Tactical Knife with Molle Compatible Multi-Mount Sheath - Fine Edge - Black (30-001038)
Runner Up
KA-BAR BK-10 BECKER CREWMAN FIXED BLADE SURVIVAL KNIFE w/ FRONT POCKET SHEATH
Ontario Knife 1086277 Co RAT-5 1095 Knife
ESEE Knives Izula-DT w/Handle, Molded Polymer Sheath Clip Plate
Budget Choice
Schrade SCHF9 12.1in High Carbon Steel Fixed Blade Knife with 6.4in Kukri Point Blade and TPE Handle for Outdoor Survival, Camping and Bushcraft
Image
Gerber StrongArm 420 High Carbon Stainless Steel Fixed Blade Survival Tactical Knife with Molle Compatible Multi-Mount Sheath - Fine Edge - Black (30-001038)
KA-BAR BK-10 BECKER CREWMAN FIXED BLADE  SURVIVAL KNIFE w/ FRONT POCKET SHEATH
Ontario Knife 1086277 Co RAT-5 1095 Knife
ESEE Knives Izula-DT w/Handle, Molded Polymer Sheath Clip Plate
Schrade SCHF9 12.1in High Carbon Steel Fixed Blade Knife with 6.4in Kukri Point Blade and TPE Handle for Outdoor Survival, Camping and Bushcraft
Design
Thick Blade - Rubberized Handle
1095 Steel Blade - Ultra Durable Construction
Sturdy Designed Pommel
Ground Flat - Powder Coat Finish
6.5 inch Fixed Blade
Length
9.8 inches
5 1/2 inches
11 inches
6.25 inches
12.1 inches
Material
Ceramic Coat
1095 Cro-Van Steel
1095 Carbon Steel
1095 Carbon Steel
1095 High Carbon Steel
Editor's Rating
(5 / 5)
(4.8 / 5)
(4.7 / 5)
(4.5 / 5)
(4.4 / 5)
Top Pick
Name
Gerber StrongArm 420 High Carbon Stainless Steel Fixed Blade Survival Tactical Knife with Molle Compatible Multi-Mount Sheath - Fine Edge - Black (30-001038)
Image
Gerber StrongArm 420 High Carbon Stainless Steel Fixed Blade Survival Tactical Knife with Molle Compatible Multi-Mount Sheath - Fine Edge - Black (30-001038)
Design
Thick Blade - Rubberized Handle
Length
9.8 inches
Material
Ceramic Coat
Editor's Rating
(5 / 5)
Price
Runner Up
Name
KA-BAR BK-10 BECKER CREWMAN FIXED BLADE SURVIVAL KNIFE w/ FRONT POCKET SHEATH
Image
KA-BAR BK-10 BECKER CREWMAN FIXED BLADE  SURVIVAL KNIFE w/ FRONT POCKET SHEATH
Design
1095 Steel Blade - Ultra Durable Construction
Length
5 1/2 inches
Material
1095 Cro-Van Steel
Editor's Rating
(4.8 / 5)
Price
Name
Ontario Knife 1086277 Co RAT-5 1095 Knife
Image
Ontario Knife 1086277 Co RAT-5 1095 Knife
Design
Sturdy Designed Pommel
Length
11 inches
Material
1095 Carbon Steel
Editor's Rating
(4.7 / 5)
Price
Name
ESEE Knives Izula-DT w/Handle, Molded Polymer Sheath Clip Plate
Image
ESEE Knives Izula-DT w/Handle, Molded Polymer Sheath Clip Plate
Design
Ground Flat - Powder Coat Finish
Length
6.25 inches
Material
1095 Carbon Steel
Editor's Rating
(4.5 / 5)
Price
Budget Choice
Name
Schrade SCHF9 12.1in High Carbon Steel Fixed Blade Knife with 6.4in Kukri Point Blade and TPE Handle for Outdoor Survival, Camping and Bushcraft
Image
Schrade SCHF9 12.1in High Carbon Steel Fixed Blade Knife with 6.4in Kukri Point Blade and TPE Handle for Outdoor Survival, Camping and Bushcraft
Design
6.5 inch Fixed Blade
Length
12.1 inches
Material
1095 High Carbon Steel
Editor's Rating
(4.4 / 5)
Price

Survival Knife Reviews

Schrade SCHF9 Extreme Survival Full Tang Fixed Blade

Schrade is a powerful brand in fixed blade knives. This knife bears the name Extreme Survival which is quite an undertaking. Seeing the claim, I thought it very important that we at least look at this blade.

When you talk about the blade itself. I am impressed with its design and shape. I really like these fixed blade knives that have very little deviation.

I prefer a completely straight blade over one that has the serration. These blades are much easier to sharpen because you are not managing the long, wide bends.

The blade is made in a drop point style with 1095 high carbon steel. This is a powerful method. The blade has the backbone you will be looking for in a survival knife.

It carries a nearly 6.5-inch blade. The blade sinks into a solid grip of TPE rubbers scales that increase handling of this survival knife.

The Schrade did great against the reviews. I was so impressed with what people had to say about this knife. One man said that if he had only one knife to take in the woods that would be it.

It’s a heavy knife, it’s a big knife and it will be there when you need it. This knife came into the review with a powerful claim that it was an extreme survival knife. In my opinion, this blade lives up to the name. It’s a survival knife that is durable and easy to sharpen.

Pros

  • Great blade shape
  • Powerful carbon steel
  • Heavy knife for many applications

Schrade SCHF9 Extreme Survival Summary:

  • 6.5 inch fixed blade
  • 1095 high carbon steel
  • Easy to sharpen
  • Durable construction

Gerber StrongArm Fixed Blade Knife

There is always a section of camp that has terrible things to say about Gerber. I cannot write a review about a serious fixed blade survival knife without including this great knife.

It has so much to do with just the type of blade that this knife offers up. I am very impressed with the thickness of the blade and the design.

The fine edge on this full tang blade with black ceramic coating. This blade was designed around military survival training.

The diamond texture rubberized handle with offer a solid grip in almost any conditions. Another very important characteristic of the survival knife is to have a serious pommel.

The butt end of the knife will have many other uses in a survival situation. A knife without a viable pommel should not even be a consideration.

The StrongArm is made by a company that produces weapons for the military and has done so through most of the conflicts of this age.

There is something to be said about this. It comes with a cool tactical sheath that allows you to hand it almost anywhere on your person in any direction.

This knife is a powerful tool and you will pay for the quality. The price hovers right around $50. The overwhelming amount of reviews on this knife states that this a simple, strong blade for heavy use. What more could ask for on this one?

Pros

  • Super durability
  • Powerful blade
  • Comfortable textured handle

Gerber StrongArm Summary:

  • Ceramic coated thick blade
  • Rubberized handle
  • Cool tactical sheath
  • Heavy duty blade

KA-BAR BK-10 Becker Crewman Fixed Blade Survival Knife

The fact that KA-BAR knives are made domestically in the state of New York is reason enough to fall in love with them.

This survival knife also carries that same look and feel of the craftsmanship that makes KA-BAR one of the best knife companies in the world today.

There are a few models by KA-BAR that fall into this “survival knife” category but this one takes the cake.

This knife has been put through a rigorous quality and durability testing to assure it has what it takes to stick around for a while. Remember, one of the most critical parts of a great survival knife is the ability for it to take abuse.

Though it may be fun to call on the survival knife amongst friends and listen to the oohs and ahhs it must be there when the chips are down and you really need it.

With a 1095 Cro-Van Steel blade this knife that is 5 1/2 inches in length. A great size for a comfortably mobile survival knife.

You do not want a blade much longer than 6 inches on a comfortable and easily carriable knife. The blade can be sheeted in a polyester sheath provided. This sheath was frowned upon for its quality and fit on the knife

The Becker is used by all branches of military and service members. This is not because they are all sponsored by Becker. Rather, it’s a testament to the quality of the blade.

Though this weapon had minor complaints about the material used for the handle most people loved it. They were very impressed with the sharpness out of the box.

This knife comes in just over $75 for an American made model I have no qualms as it is from one of the best brands out there. The reviews did it justice and in my estimation, it would be a great companion blade in a survival situation.

Pros

  • Made in USA
  • Great blade length
  • Sharp out of the box

Cons

  • Cheap sheath, not very fitting

KA-BAR BK-10 Becker Crewman Summary:

  • Ultra durable construction
  • High quality material
  • 1095 steel blade
  • Made in the USA

Ontario 8627 RAT-5 Knife

I was interested in the Ontario because I know little about the brand other than their cutlery history. When it comes to a company that makes blades of all types, not must outdoor blades, I get a little excited.

There is nuance to the edge of a blade that affects the quality of the knife base on its use. For example, the one-sided razor sharp blade of a santoku knife is much different than most blades used in the outdoors.

The santoku is a kitchen knife. When I see a company that has experience in both fields I get excited.

This knife has a great look and feel when talking about a survival knife. It comes from a RAT series of knives that have been tested for durability. The blade is made from 1095 carbon steel and features a textured micarta handle.

The blade is black coated, full tang with canvas micarta scales. There is a lanyard hole on this blade as well.

The pommel on the knife looks like it will get the job done in the wilderness.

The company is based in New York as well. Thus, when you carry an American made survival knife through the American wilderness you the get the satisfaction. This knife includes a sheath to make that carry an easy one as well as a full length of about 11 inches.

This knife reviewed very well and even featured a survival story about a rushing river that was quickly encroaching on the reviewer’s campsite.

This knife was used to cut various lengths of paracord that were affixing items at the campsite. He said it did the job quickly and easily and they could pull out of there before the river got close to them.

The Ontario RAT-5 shares an almost identical price point to the above-mentioned KA-BAR. I don’t see anything wrong with paying under $100 for a long lasting, durable survival knife. If you are betting your life on this knife it cannot be something flimsy that will fail you.

Pros

  • American made
  • Decent price
  • Powerful testimonial

Cons

  • It’s a heavy knife at nearly 12oz this could present carrying issues

Ontario 8627 RAT-5 Summary:

  • 1095 carbon steel blade
  • Textured micarta handle
  • Sturdy designed pommel
  • Ultra durable material

ESEE Izula Desert Tan Survival Knife

The Izula survival knife has a lot going on and the brand took the time to explain the details, which is a big sticking point for me.

In the hyper competitive world of fixed blade knives, the devil is most certainly in the details. They have based the name of this knife on the terrifying bullet ant of the Peruvian jungle. It’s actually called isula.

ESEE draws parallels between the bullet ant’s independent, tough and light movement as well as its ability to be an aggressive survival. The knife was designed by Jeff Randall and Mike Perrin after numerous trips into the Peruvian jungle.

It’s hard to beat a great story but let’s get down to the knife itself. What are we dealing with in this bullet ant knife? It’s a full tang 1095 carbon steel blade with G10 handles.

The blade is ground flat with a powder coat finish. The handle includes a 1/2-inch-long notched section at the spine and is engraved with Izula and the ant logo.

The knife is made here in the USA as well and features a durable black injection molded sheath with a removable clip to make carrying easy and customizable.

The whole knife is just over 6 inches in length with stout blade that is 2.8 inches long. The blade is a little on the short side for my taste when you consider all the applications you might need a survival knife for.

ESEE puts an emphasis on care after purchase by way of sharpening and lubrication. I wish more knife companies would pressure their buyers to take care of the knives after purchase. Without the warning, you tend to feel a false sense of security and expect the knife to work well forever.

Either way ESEE offers a no questions asked warranty on all the 1095 carbon steel knives. If it breaks they replace it and that’s a beautiful thing. For all this the ESEE comes in just over $75 as well. Competitive.

Pros

  • Great quality steel blade
  • American made
  • Comfortable grip

Cons

  • Short blade

ESEE Izula Summary:

  • Full tang 1095 carbon steel blade
  • G10 handle
  • Made in the USA
  • Competitive price

Final Verdict

This review most likely opened your eyes to the nuisance of a survival knife. They way these knives were presented by the companies and by myself as the writer lets you know the importance of quality and durability.

Again, if you are betting your life on this knife and its functionality it’s best to pay extra for some quality.

I wish I could make it easy on you and call out some brand that I have an inherent bias to but we are working with some solid names here.

Though some of the knives were assigned pros and cons they would all fit the bill as a great knife to carry into the woods. The differentiation in these great knives will truly come down to personal preference.

From this review, I hope you have gathered the information you were looking for. I also hope you have come to realize and appreciate the powerful knife industry here in America.

Support these brands with your next purchase as they are driving a great product onto the world market and it is made right in your backyard. The tool to survive your environment is always better want made at home.