The Ultimate Survival Knife Shootout
The debate on which are the best survival knives are both ongoing and extremely heated. When searching for the best survival knives there are just so many choices out there that it’s mind-boggling. I have searched long and hard, read hundreds of reviews and tested survival knives over and over and have come up with my elite list of the best 5 survival knives on the planet. Why five? The truth is just as each knife is different, each person is different and what survival knife is the best for you may not be the best for someone else. By the end of this review you should have an idea on which survival knives suit you best.
The 3 Most Important Things To Look For In A Survival Knife
Before we look at the top 5 it’s important to see why I selected what I did. Survival Knives are not your standard chefs knife and must be made to withstand whatever you can throw at them without even the inkling of breaking or failing, lets face it, survival knives are made for handling a potential life and death situation. Here are the top 3 things all survival knives MUST have.
1. Fixed Blade – With recent technological improvements, folding knives have come a long way, but in the end they will NEVER be as strong or durable as a tried and true fixed blade knives. Fixed blade survival knives have a full tang that extends all the way down to the butt of the handle, and every one of my top 5 pics is a full tang, full fixed blade survival knife.
2. Top Notch Steel – This could very well be the most important thing to look for in a survival knife and is certainly one of the most debated topics when it comes to survival knives. While there are literally hundreds of types of steel out there, my top 5 pics are either stainless steel, carbon steel or a mix of the two which is my personal preference.
3. Thick Blade and/or Heat Treatment – Lets face it, survival knives aren’t made to slice tomatoes for your next catering party, these knives are meant to hack, slash, chop, skin and save your life! We need a knife that will not fail you when failure means death. This is why we look for at least a 1/8″ blade thickness combined with a reputable company that will give the knife a proper heat treatment for maximum strength.
The Top 5 Survival Knives In the World For 2012
Whoa, pretty big claim there right? Well, first let me give you a little disclaimer. I know some of you will read this and say, “No way, X/Y/Z makes a $500 knife that is way better!” The truth is you might be right, but I don’t know about you but I don’t like spending $500 on a knife. This list is the top 5 survival knives FOR THE MONEY! Each of these knives will give you the ultimate bang for your buck, and each of them will typically blow away any $500 survival knife. I should also preface this by saying that these survival knives are in no particular order and I have not been paid by any of the manufactures listed here to favor any of these survival knives, this is just a list from my personal use and experience with these survival knives. Enough talk, lets get to it!
1. KA-BAR 7″ Fighting/Utility Knife– You can’t search anywhere for quality survival knives without coming across KA-BAR. These knives are tried and true and have so much history and field experience that many won’t even consider going with another brand. KA-BAR uses a 1095 Cro-Van Steel which is a stainless/carbon mix that is extremely tough and very durable, and yet just soft enough to hold a razor sharp edge. There are many types of KA-BAR survival knives but the one I like most is the 7″ blade with the Kraton G Handle, they do make a leather handle but I found Kraton G to be much better for grip and MUCH more weather-proof. Also, make sure to buy it with Kydex sheath, Kydex beats the crap out of leather hands down, don’t worry about the few extra dollars, just get it! This knife can literally do it all and has been used by the USMC for years as their standard issue knife, and for good reason, this knife is simply amazing.
2. Becker BK2 Campanion Survival Knife– Ethan Becker broke the mold when he created this bad boy, with a blade thickness of 1/4″ this thing could withstand a nuclear attack! With a true full tang design where the handle is literally 2 pieces of Givory stuck around raw steel this honestly has to be the most rugged knife out of all my top 5. The Becker BK2 is tough as nails, I have seen videos of people putting hundreds and hundreds of pounds of weight on the knife without it so much as flinching, combine that with a beautiful drop point design and one of the best designed sheaths in the business and you have yourself a knife that will out cut and out handle most $400 survival knives at a fraction of the price! My only issue with these survival knives are that the blade might be a tad short for batoning wood, that said when I tested this knife I actually found it the easiest to baton with due to its super thick blade. Its bigger brother the Becker BK7 has a 7″ blade opposed to the BK2′s 5″ blade but it is a bit thinner and comes with a nylon sheath instead of kydex, very disappointing. This is why I choose the BK2 over the BK7, but honestly you can’t go wrong with either.
3. Gerber LMF II Infantry Knife– I was never a big fan of Gerber blades as most are outsourced these days, however I’m not a big fan of Chevy cars…but Chevy does make the Corvette, which I adore, and this survival knife, my friends, is the Gerber’s Corvette of survival knives. In my opinion it’s Gerber’s last redeeming quality. Made in Portland, OR of super tough 12C27 stainless steel, this knife requires very little maintenance, if any. This super thick, razor sharp blade can make short work of any survival task. Survival knives come and go these days, but this one is a tried and true legend in the armed forces and sees heavy use in wartime. Theses survival knives have a tough steel butt-cap that can be used as a striking weapon or a hammer and its sheath is one of the best designs I have ever seen. These survival knives are simply amazing, and for a cheap price you are getting a bomb proof, essential survival tool.
4. Cold Steel SRK (Survival Rescue Knife)– If you have ever seen Cold Steel’s marketing you have either been terrified or grossed out, personally while I feel its slightly gimmicky it proves a point, Cold Steel make some of the worlds BEST survival knives, if it can cut through a whole cow it will probably do the trick. All joking aside, Cold Steel makes many types of survival knives, some cheap, some insanely expensive. For the money the Cold Steel SRK is one of the best designed and best made survival knives in the world. It is made of AUS8 Steel, which happens to be my overall favorite type of steel for edge retention and durability, it has a super tough, super comfortable Kraton handle (think super tough rubber). While the blade length is on the small side, it is very thick (3/16″) and very durable. It has a great Kydex sheath which man survival knives don’t have these days. I love the drop point style blade design, I have always felt drop point blades make the best survival knives. Cold Steel make amazing knives and this is their best one for the money, hands down!
5. Buck 119 Special– What can you say about the Buck 119 special. This knife’s reputation is a strong as KA-BAR’s. Many outdoors-man swear by this knife and with good reason, its design has withstood the test of time. Buck’s philosophy is, “If it aint broke, don’t fix it” and who can argue that? This knife is super strong, razor sharp, easy to clean, no maintenance, no hassle and would you look how beautiful this bad boy is? 420HC stainless steel is used on the blade for super durability and if it ever breaks or fails, Buck has a 100% lifetime guarantee on it, a class act! My only complaint would be the sheath, which is leather, so make sure the blade is dry when storing it, or dont store it inside the case. The handle may get a tad slick if wet but I feel this knife has great ergonomics and fits tightly in the hand so it wont slip out, all in all a survival knife among survival knives!
Survival knives are so important in a survival situation, that if you were only able to bring one item with you, you would be foolish not to pick a good quality survival knife. While survival knives come in many shapes and sizes, this list of the top 5 survival knives in the world will narrow that list down for you quite a bit. Each one discussed above you could trust with your life and believe me many have. Survival knives can also be used for family camping and many other uses around the house making them invaluable tools for everyday use.