How To Choose The Best Survival Knife

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Originally Posted: Updated: December 23, 2017

Finding just any ol’ survival knife is easy, but we want the best knife possible at the best price, am I right? In this guide I’ll show you how to choose the best survival knife by teaching you exactly what to look for in a knife and why.

A proper survival knife is one of the most important items to carry in your survival kit. Not that you’d want to cheap out on any of the items, but the knife is one you definitely don’t want to. You’re looking for the best bang for your buck (the best inexpensive knife, NOT the cheapest). This is a 6 step guide designed to ensure you choose the right knife for your situation.

In a hurry? Check out our top pick!
The Ka-Bar BK22 is a highly rated survival knife meeting all the criteria laid out in the guide below.

Why You Need a Survival Knife

Survival knives can be used for trapping, skinning, wood cutting, wood carving, and other uses. [source] This makes it a versatile piece of equipment and a potential life safer. It is a must!

6 Key Points For How To Choose The Best Survival Knife

#1 – Fixed Blade

The fixed blade will add durability over a folding blade knife. Folding blades are great for everyday carry, but the pivot is a weak spot. When you rely on your blade to safe your life you don’t want any sort of failure in the knife. With the abuse your knife will see over the years a folding blade just won’t be able to hold up.

Another benefit is the speed of deployment, if you’re in a situation you need a knife NOW then it’s ready to go once pulled out of the sheath.

#2 – Full Tang

A full tang is the blade from the tip to end of the handle. Some knives are a partial tang which ends about half way into the handle. A partial tang is too flimsy when you need to use the knife for any sort of forceful or hard impact use (digging, prying, etc.)

With extended use a partial tang will become loose, this becomes a safety hazard and therefore rendering the knife useless. If it breaks in a situation you need it most you won’t be able to repair it. With a full tang you can use cord, rope, leather, etc. to rebuild the handle should it break.

#3 – Carbon Steel Blade

There are many forms of steel on the market so be sure to do your due diligence to make sure you any knives you come across have a high quality carbon steel blade. For your everyday carry knife stainless steel will do fine, but for your survival knife you need quality, durable, carbon steel. Just remember, unlike with stainless steel, you’ll need to care for and clean your survival knife blade to prevent rusting and staining.

#4 – Blade Length 4-7″

The length of the blade is a delicate balance. Too short and it won’t be effective for what you need it to do; too long it’ll just be in the way. You’ll see many knives with varying lengths and bigger doesn’t always mean better. It’s recommended anything over 10″ is a no-no.

Keep the blade between 4-7″  for a nice balance of usability and convenience.

#5 – Blade Thickness  0.17 – 0.25″

Just like the length of the blade, the thickness is also a delicate balance. Too thick and you can’t do delicate work; too thin and you can’t perform heavy duty tasks. Try and find a blade with a thickness between 0.17″ and 0.25″ with no flexibility.

#6 – Solid, Synthetic Handle

You could have the best blade in the world, but without a solid handle it’s useless. Look for a durable, strong handle with a nice grip. The handle will take a beating over it’s lifetime so make sure it will last. Look for Kraton, Micarta, G-10, glass/fiber reinforced nylon with brands like Zytel or Valox, or even just dense rubber.

How To Choose The Best Survival Knife Conclusion

To sum it up, what you need are the following:

  • Fixed blade
  • Full tang
  • 4-7″ carbon steel blade with a thickness between 0.17-0.25″
  • Synthetic handle

What you need is the KA-BAR BK-22 Campanion.


Blade length: 5.25 in. | Overall length: 10.5 in. | Weight: 454 g (16 oz) |Blade material: 1095 CroVan | Handle material: Zytel | County of origin: USA

There are many more to choose from so be on the lookout for my best survival knife comparison guide coming soon!

Already have a favourite survival knife? Disagree? Tell us about it in the comments below!


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