Selecting the Right Survival Knife

In most survival situations, a good knife can make a huge difference. Some of us remember the “Rambo” knives with hollowed out handles and small survival kits inside. The cheap ones were as sharp as  spoons and fell apart quickly. This is obviously not something you want to happen when your life depends on it.

Selecting the right knife is a matter of personal preference, availability and your budget. Good knives don’t have to be expensive.

Today survival knives come in all sorts of shapes and sizes but one thing never changed. It is an essential tool to baton wood, process meat, help to build shelters, modify your gear or even use the butt end as a hammer. A survival knife is a workhorse so most of the time people look for very sturdy fixed blades knives that can handle everything you throw at it.

We asked our community what knife they would take if they could choose only one and here are the results.

Selco’s Survival Knife: AK 47 Bayonet

Specifications

  • Overall Length: 10.23″ (260 mm)
  • Blade Length: 5.5″ (140 mm)

Why did you get this knife?
I get it “by luck” at the beginning of the war, by searching through destroyed army storage.

What do you like about it?
It is strong knife that you can use for fight, and scavenging stuff around you, it is cheap to get today, with ability of wire cutting, and making something like hammer.

Rowan’s Cold Steel Gurkha Kukri Plus SK-5 & Survival Kit

Specifications

  • Blade Length: 12″ (305 mm)
  • Overall Length: 17″ (432 mm)

Why did you get this knife?
Bill Bagwell says in one of his articles that there are only two good blades, a bowie and a kukri. I have to agree. The chopping power of a kukri is renowned and it can, like a bowie, be used for a multitude of tasks.

I had gotten a traditional Kukri by the Kukhuri House and wasn’t impressed by it. I wanted to compare it to a Cold Steel Gurkha Kukri.

Tango 11’s Gerber LMF II Knife

Specifications

  • Overall Length: 10.59″ (268 mm)
  • Blade Length: 4.84″ (122 mm)

Why did you get this knife?
I purchased this knife about a year ago as a replacement to my aging USMC issue KA-BAR. I wanted a dedicated drop point full tang knife that I can use in my training which is primary survival/bushcraft.

The LMF II can literally cut through anything. I’ve used to baton wood at the campsite, cut meat, slice open a computer case, cut paracord and variety of other tasks.

1974’s M-Tech Kukri / Machete

Specifications

  • Overall Length: 17″ (431 mm)
  • Blade Length: 12″ (304 mm)

Why did you get this knife?
I have smaller knives with lighter blades and longer knives and machetes that did not fit with what I want for a survival situation. I wanted a knife with a blade size in between them that can still be easily carried, offering a powerful stroke and cutting abilities with thick strong blade for prying.

The steel of the blade had to be the right hardness. I don’t want the blade to be extremely hard because they don’t absorb shock well and break under sudden loads, as well as being prone to breaking when used for prying.

Freedom’s Rigid Rostfrei Italy Bowie Knife RG38

Specifications

  • Overall Length: 12″ (304 mm)
  • Blade Length: 7″ (177 mm)

Why did you get this knife?
I purchased two 15 years ago. I have been using one for the 15 years. I got it because of how well it was made and looks great. This is one of my best knives.

What do you like about it?
The Stag handle with the brass pommel and brass guard. The blade is very sharp and thick with a great point. The leather sheath is very well made and looks new after 15 years.

Tolik’s USMC Ka-Bar fighting / Utility knife

Specifications

  • Overall Length: 12″ (304 mm)
  • Blade Length: 7″ (177 mm)

Why did you get this knife?
I had had some extra cash and needed a good all around knife

What do you like about it?
The feel , once you have it in your hand , you feel the power and substantial , well , built design . It comes out of the box razor sharp ( seriously , you can accidentally cut yourself ) Its very well made , the stacked leather grip holds fast in your hand , even if wet.

Toby’s Fallkniven F1 Knife & Belt

Specifications

  • Overall Length: 8.3″ (210 mm)
  • Blade Length: 3.8″ (970 mm)

Why did you get this knife?
I was previously using the Fallkniven A1, big brother to the F1, but found it to be too large and cumbersome for a lot of the tasks I’m actually using a knife for. Given the excellent reviews and increasing popularity of this knife within the European Bushcraft and Survival market I thought I would get one and try it out.

Whirlibird’s Benchmade Nimravus 140S

Specifications

  • Overall Length: 9.45″ (240 mm)
  • Blade Length: 4.5″ (114 mm)

Why did you get this knife?
I needed a belt knife that was more appropriate than my custom knives for “duty” use and abuse.

What do you like about it?
The blade shape is excellent, more than enough straight edge for general use but the serrations for rope/belts are just large enough for real world use.
The thinner blade will get into the joints of an animal nicely, but it’s strong enough for some serious torque when deboning in the field.

Mitch’s Cold Steel SRK Carbon V + SpecOps Combat Master Sheath

Specifications

  • Overall Length: 10.75″ (273 mm)
  • Blade Length: 6″ (152 mm)

Why did you get this knife?
I originally chose this knife as a general purpose, rugged-use hunting and survival knife, with possible defensive considerations.

What drew me to the SRK was its no-B.S. design, Cold Steel’s reputation and I was able to purchase it for a very reasonable price. I haven’t been disappointed…This blade that has served me well for over 23 years.

Old’s Mora Forest (Green) Bushcraft Knife

Specifications

  • Overall Length: 9.25″ (235 mm)
  • Blade Length: 4.3″ (108 mm)

Why did you get this knife?
Out of all of my many knives, the one I use the most is my Mora stainless steel Forest (green) Bushcraft knife.

It’s got a 4.3” blade and I’m pretty sure a full tang. It’s definitely sturdy. It comes sharp right out of the box. The Swedes really know how to put on a nice bevel too. After an outing, it doesn’t take much to get it to shaving sharpness again.

Malgus’s Bark River Gameskeeper II

Specifications

  • Overall Length: 10.25″ (260 mm)
  • Blade Length: 5.75″ (146 mm)

Why did you get this knife?
Got it for hunting and general purpose.

What do you like about it?
Fits my hand perfectly. Desert Ironwood grip is almost indestructable – almost the hardest, densest wood on earth. Blade is almost 1/4″ thick A2 tool steel. Concave grind, not convex, which supports the edge like a Katana’s blade does. Absolutely razor sharp – will cleanly shave the hair from your arm, but the blade is strong enough to cleave through bone. Nice oiled leather sheath.

Ghost’s Bahadur Kukri

Specifications

  • Blade Length: 9″ (228 mm)

Why did you get this knife?
I wanted something to act as a small camp axe/ hatchet with a little more versatility.

What do you like about it?
The weight and versatility makes it a joy to use, the forward curve is ideal for chopping and it sits nicely in my hands.

Rowan’s SK-5 Cold Steel Recon Scout

Specifications

  • Overall Length: 12.5″ (318 mm)
  • Blade Length: 7.5″ (191 mm)

Why did you get this knife?
I own a SK-5 Cold Steel Laredo Bowie as a large knife and a Cold Steel Carbon V Master Hunter as a hunting / utility knife.

I can do all tasks of the Master Hunter with the Laredo Bowie but carried together they form a perfect combo. Carrying both outdoor or in the garden can be a bit cumbersome so I wanted a knife that combined the best of both knives.

Jay’s Cold Steel Bushman

Specifications

  • Overall Length: 12.25″ (311 mm)
  • Blade Length: 7″ (177 mm)

Why did you get this knife?
The Cold Steel Bushman is my “around the homestead” knife. I wanted a strong and sturdy tool for all sorts of work from cutting some fruits to splitting wood for small fires (to get the grill going for example).

I like knives that can take a beating and Im not overly worried about using and abusing.