If you love the wild outdoors then you know how important having the right tools for survival tasks is.
Among the essentials in any outdoorsman’s survival kit is a rough-and-ready survival knife.
But with literally thousands of models to choose from, making a decision is easier said than done.
Best Survival Knives for 2020 – Quick Look
(Click on the name of any survival knife to read its in-depth review)
|Knife||Blade's Length||Overall Length||Price|
|KA-BAR Survival Knife|
|Gerber Strong Arm||4.8"||9.8"|
|Gerber LMF II||4.8"||10.59"|
|Smith & Wesson||4.75"||9"|
|BlizeTec Survival Knife||3.5"||8.5"|
1. KA-BAR Knife – Best Overall Survival Knife
Perfect as a retirement, anniversary or military gift, this knife symbolizes all the US Military stands for. Featuring a pommel and a brass guard that are both gold-plated, this tough knife stays sharp and is durable.
Strong, rugged and tough. These three words are often used to describe the Ka-Bar knife, which will not let you down like many plastic sheaths tend to do.
For those in the know, this knife is an icon. It was issued to the USMC during World War II, and its popularity grew from there.
Ka-Bar has been in the knife making business since 1898, with each knife undergoing their unique design process, after which they are strenuously tested for the sharpness of its cutting edge, ability to hold an edge, strength, and corrosion resistance.
Our In-Depth Review:
This knife carries with it a rich and storied history. This knife should suit a wide variety of users very well, with an excellent length for more demanding tasks, with a fit and finish to match.
When considering the value in the outdoor, all-purpose adventure knife sector, the Ka-Bar knife has few rivals and has been described by many down the years as an all-around solid knife.
The flat ground, the black-coated blade is designed with a clip point in the Bowie style. The steel used to make this blade has added vanadium and chromium, both of which aid in edge retention and corrosion resistance. Based on preference, serrated and plain edges are readily available. While taking slightly more strength to sharpen, the 1095 Cro-Van steel hold a much better edge than normal 1095 steel.
The Ka-Bar knife’s full tang protrudes fully and from one of its sides, is clearly visible. Offering a pommel made from steel, this knife is ready for the rough stuff.
When not in use, the knife should be accessible and secure. This is achieved by the leather sheath, which is excellent for this purpose.
When locked in, the knife is kept secure by the sheath, ready for its next use. Both right-handed and left-handed users will be able to reach for the knife, aided greatly by the sheath’s attachment holes. Backpackers and campers especially will find this feature handy, as the holes make it simple to attach the sheath to the knife.
Storing and cleaning a Ka-Bar is essential to its longevity. Simply wipe it down using a soft, dry cloth. Before storing, apply some mineral oil, then keep it away in a dry place. Avoid using the sheath as storage, instead, use the provided cardboard sleeve received after purchase.
- 20-degree edge angles.
- Leather provides a tighter grip.
- Uncomplicated design.
- One of a top-rated survival knife.
- No Cons.
In addition to being a fighting knife, the KA-BAR full-sized fighting knife can serve other purposes. Its versatility is one of its hallmarks, as is its reputation. A few of these purposes are culinary in nature, such as taking the heads of fish or dressing meat. I additions, out in the wild, this knife can help make a salad or a sandwich!
2. SOG Wood Pocket Knife – Classic Wood Design
Featuring a lock-back mechanism of quite some innovation, the SOG Twitch II Lockback Pocket Knife is a handy and high-performing pocket knife.
Combining a blade opening technology with a specially executed ‘kick’, this knife opens and is ready for action with just a press!
This knife comes in three types of handle material, wood, black TiNi, and aluminum, with the black TiNi being the most expensive, the wood is slightly cheaper and the cheapest being the aluminum handled Twitch II.
Our In-Depth Review:
This knife is described as being ultra-sharp, which can be used in several applications, such as being a pocket knife, hunting knife and a discreet, all-around, and daily-use pocket knife. When folded, the blade is 3.55 inches long.
SAT technology assists the SOG in making the Twitch II an ideal everyday carry pocket knife for both women and men, as well as a great outdoors and camping knife. It also features a handy assisted opening system that allows for one-handed opening, with a safe straight-edged clip.
The Twitch II also features a ‘kick’ when unfolding it, which ensures that the user is aware when it is open. The unfolding can be accomplished using either hand while deploying minimal pressure or effort. The unfolding and ensuing ‘kick’ are managed by a flick on the back of the EDC tactical knife.
SOG knives are manufactured with longevity in mind, and as such, all replacement and/or repair requests are carefully considered by the makers of the Twitch II foldable knife.
The blade is made durable through being cryogenically heat-treated, which results is a toughened and hardy blade that is able to hold on to its edge for a prolonged amount of time.
Tactile cutouts and bumps aid in controlling the knife, while every feature is functional and purposeful. Safety features ensure blade retention while acting as an additional lock when the knife is in its open position.
Controlled and comfortable grip is provided by thumb groves designed into the stainless steel handle. Additionally, quick access and close carry are offered through the addition of a bayonet pocket clip attachment, which is reversible.
Caring for the SOG Wood Pocket Knife is simple. Potential injury, wear, and corrosion can be mitigated through keeping the knife sharp, oiled, dry and clean.
Clean the handle and blade following each use but don’t soak it in water. A water and soap solution should be enough to clean away any debris and dirt that may have been added during use, taking care to avoid harsh cleaners such as products containing chlorine, dish soap or laundry soap. Any visible dirt or lint trapped on the handle can be cleaned using a Q-tip or a toothpick.
- Reversible pocket/money clip.
- A durable blade that holds its edge longer through the use of Cryogenic heat treatment.
- Satin-finished blade.
- Special ‘kick’ mechanism on a blade that fits through a pass-through lock bar, thereby activating the SAT system.
- Innovative design.
- Relatively small blade.
- Belt clip not sturdy.
Featuring an innovative assisting technology, one-handed knife operation is very much possible with the Twitch II. Mechanically, opposing tension coil springs open the blade when it is needed, and this action can be achieved using whichever hand, even your non-dominant one.
As a well-priced pocketknife, the SOG Twitch II is very intricately designed and constructed. It has a classy design which you won’t see every other day yet its still very functional.
3. Gerber Strong Arm – With Ceramatic coating
Gerber is a household name in the knife business, manufacturing, since 1968, survival knives for the US troops.
The StrongArm fixed blade knife continues this legacy, as it is an excellent knife for survival and combat applications. Its sheath is mountable in a number of ways, whether for use on the battlefield or on a family camping trip. Additionally, this knife is proudly made in the USA.
For all the outdoor enthusiasts out there, whether hunting or camping, look no further for a knife that is reliable, durable and versatile.
The Gerber StrongArm Fixed Blade knife is effective and efficient, all the while allowing you to feel truly safe in the great outdoors.
Our In-Depth Review:
This knife is not aiming to begin a revolution in the fixed blade, military-inspired survival knife segment, as it is on the smaller side as compared to others. It is, however, simple to carry, and for those trying to trim some weight off their loads, it is perfect for the job.
The StongArm comes in both a plain or half-serrated edge, with most users preferring the plain edge. Coating the blade is a matte finish cerakote, black in color. Like most finishes, it will wear off with effort and time, but the finish itself is tough. Once the finish wears off, rust is a possibility, due to the blade’s material: 420 HC steel. Ideally, keep the blade oiled and clean as the finish wears off, and you should be fine.
The over-mold material is made of rubber, featuring a pattern of diamonds that are raised. This helps you grip firmly on to the knife when undertaking strenuous tasks, in whatever weather, gloved hands or not.
A pommel is featured on the handle’s bottom, capable enough for smashing windows. It also has a loop for a lanyard.
The StrongArm comes included with a brilliant sheath, which is designed to be user-adaptable. In this case, this includes a horizontal-carry belt loop, a drop-leg option, and a MOLLE mount. While being too large for horizontal hidden carry, it does make up for that by being a breeze to carry while wearing armor.
Both active and passive retention is employed by the sheath, depending upon the amount used. A thong with a snap button describes the active retention while the handle’s center that features an indent describes the passive retention, with the knife being held well by the sheath locking into the indent.
- Great ergonomics, unique design, and shape.
- A versatile knife can be used in a variety of ways.
- Sheath adjustable carry options.
- Perfect sheath retention.
- Easy to grip.
- Knife Handle quite small.
- Uneven clip grind at the knife’s back.
For its price, the Gerber StrongArm Fixed Blade Knife with a fine edge packs a worthwhile punch. Recently, Gerber’s reputation had taken a hit owing to poorly manufactured foreign knives, but this knife is a step in the right direction for the company.
In most outdoor situations such as hunting or camping, the Gerber StrongArm is a great knife companion to have by your side, as it not only assures your safety, it is a versatile and tough tool for most of your cutting needs.
4. Morakniv Bushcraft – With Fire Starter
Here comes another quality creation from Bushcraft with all the hallmarks we have come to associate with this dependable brand.
With the Morakniv you get a knife with a really hardy carbon steel blade that ends in an ergonomic, grippy rubberized handle.
For those looking for their latest bushcraft kit must-have, this knife may be it.
More a package than just a mere knife, the Morakniv Bushcraft Carbon Steel Survival Knife features a sheath, sharpening stone, fire starter, and knife, right out of the box.
Our In-Depth Review:
Hardened using HRC56-58, this knife’s blade can better withstand the stress that is caused by batoning. Corrosion is protected against by the knife’s black coating material, and for further prevention of corrosion, make sure to oil the carbon blade following every use.
The Morakniv Bushcraft survival knife is manufactured with a Scandi grind that prevents slippage from the hand, deploys surface bite without becoming stuck and maintains its sharpness for a longer amount of time. Its relative thinness allows the blade to carve easier while making it an effective batoning tool, as well as other as demanding outdoor purposes.
The Bushcraft Survival knife’s sheath comes with an included diamond sharpener and integrated fire starter. Also included is a belt loop and belt clip, which are removable doe safe and secure place holding when carrying the knife.
This knife has many functions, one of which is its ability to baton. Batoning is essentially splitting larger pieces of wood into smaller pieces, which are then used as kindling. Using its sharp edge and robust blade, this knife is your camp-side fire partner.
Another function is carving. In addition to its sharp edge, its balanced handling attributes allow for tinder preparation, fashion feather sticks, shape shelter stakes and prepare wood for a variety of uses, including making camp tools or collecting water.
This knife’s fire-starting feature is aided by feather sticks. They are used in situations where there is a lack of tinder, or when forced to use damp wood. The Bushcraft survival knife creates these feather sticks due to its sharp edge, lightweight-ness and it balanced, simple to use nature.
- Holds edge exceptionally.
- Sharp spine.
- Simple to sharpen.
- Carbon steel blade construction.
- Partial tang.
- It can become rusty when not cared for.
The Morakniv Bushcraft survival knife is indispensable for every outdoors person, in applications ranging from emergency, hunting to most other outdoor pursuits. High carbon steel is preferable when requiring durability alongside frequent re-grinding.
Treated using a tungsten coating that is anti-corrosive as well, this knife is manufactured in Sweden by well-known and respected knife makers. Its handle is ergonomic and made of a rubber grip that is high-friction, making work more enjoyable and easier.
In addition to feeling great in-hand, this knife cuts well, with a great balance between knife and handle. For those venturing out into the woods and want to carry only the essentials, this knife ‘package’ is it.
5. Gerber LMF II – With 420HC Steel
Tested on the fields of battle, the Gerber LMF II survival knife features a 10-inch blade engineered with the troops in mind.
This knife is MOLLE compatible is versatile and rugged, with a blade that is partially serrated, which can be deployed as a spear or a pommel. Its sheath also doubles up as a sharpener, which is built-in.
The Gerber LMF II survival knife is offered in 3 distinct models: Aircrew Survival Egress Knife (ASEK), Survival and Infantry. While similar, the ASEK comes featuring a green handle, the survival sports a coyote brown handle and the Infantry’s handles can be coyote brown, green or black.
Our In-Depth Review:
This black in color infantry knife is one of the better survival knives out there, and is America-made! When held, the weight of the knife feels just right and can be used to cut through branches and brush with ease.
Built to the specifications of the American soldier, this knife features a serrated edge halfway through the blade for those instances where cords will require cutting through. Sharpening of the serrated bits may require a diamond rod, but that it is a worthwhile feature to have.
The Kraton grip remains in-hand and is easy to purchase. Additionally, should the need arise to cut through live electrical wire, the grip is insulated. The pommel’s point makes it less difficult to smash through stuff such as camping stakes, nuts, and when required, can also shatter glass. The handle also features three holes in order to make it less difficult to fashion it into the tip of a spear.
The left side or right side carrying is made possible by this knife’s innovative sheath, which contains a sharpener built-in. The blade, which is manufactured from 420HC, although among some observers worry over the blade’s retention. In addition, the sheath is not wearable, with users citing difficulties pulling the knife out or sheathing it back in.
- Perfect length for a variety of uses.
- Non-flaking and non-chipping blade coating.
- The sheath contains an in-built sharpener.
- The blade is half-serrated for rope cutting.
- Not ideal for those with smaller hands.
- The blade’s steel suffers from blade retention concerns.
- The sheath is not wearable; difficulty in the carriage without some sort of bag.
The Gerber LMF II survival knife is ideal when used for simple chopping. Durability is his knife’s calling card, with deceptive length from when seen in pictures. The knife’s blade is coated with a material that holds up well with continued use, with frequent users reporting no chipping or flaking.
As a cutting tool, this knife can withstand any mission thrown its way. Both an occasional hiker and a professional soldier can make use of its wide array of attributes.
In some quarters, the Gerber LMF II Black Infantry Knife is seen as the ultimate in survival military-style knives, with a budget-friendly price to boot. With its extensive history in knife making, Gerber surely knows what they are doing.
6. Mossy Oak Survival Knife – With Rubber Handle
With its saw-back, the Mossy Oak is an ideal companion on survival training or camping expeditions. This knife excels in heavy-duty use, and due to its rugged construction, it should last you a very long time indeed.
This multi-purpose hunting knife is the ideal companion for sport hunters as well as campers and outdoor enthusiasts in general.
It is easy on the hand yet comes with a hardy and very sharp blade. Built to last, the Mossy Oak Survival Knife is forged from stainless steel that will resist rust and remain sharp for a long time.
Our In-Depth Review:
Featuring rock-solid construction, the Mossy Oak Survival Knife is ideal for light or heavy usage, for work or fun. Its saw-back allows for an additional dimension to its use, along with its enhanced tools should make for a reliable cutting partner when out in the wilderness.
The Mossy Oak Survival Knife’s blade is hewn from 440C stainless steel, which means you have a very tough blade that will not break easily. It also means that though the product comes with a sharpener, you might not need to use it soon.
You will be impressed not just by how well this knife does its job, but how comfortable it feels to use. The full-tang rubber handle will keep your hands protected from the effects of friction as you use the knife. It also keeps the blade from slipping from your hand during use. The sheer length of the handle- 5 inches- also ensures it remains comfortably in your hand as you put the knife to work.
To keep the blade safe from damage and prolong its life, this product comes with a sturdy nylon sheath. A plastic slot at the mouth of the sheath makes the Mossy Oak Survival Knife safer to carry around as it prevents the knife from sliding down through the sheath.
Talking about the product’s longevity, its manufacturers made it better able to resist corrosion. Its improved edge retention means you don’t have to keep sharpening it, further prolonging the knife’s life. It will take a long time before all 3.5mm of the blade is worn out.
Mossy Oak also clearly thought long and hard about how easy the knife is to carry. Evidence of this is the lightweight feel of the ‘War Horse’ and the loop at the top of the sheath that you can slip your belt through to hang it from your waist.
- Sharp, sturdy blade.
- A full tang rubber handle ensures comfortable use.
- Corrosion-resistant and durable.
- It comes with a sharpener.
- It comes with a fire starter.
- Edge doesn’t stay sharp for long.
- Sheath material is not sturdy.
- Firestarter not efficient.
The Mossy Oak Survival Knife is built to the purpose and represents good value for the savvy outdoorsman. It is sharp, cuts well and is easy on the hands. The knife is also easy to lug around in its nylon sheath. Whether your thrill is a hiking, camping or actual survival training, this knife will prove a worthy companion. In areas like the fire starter, which is admittedly, not its core function, the War Horse does fall a little short. But this should not detract from the merits of this well-designed all-rounder.
7. Gerber Bear Grylls Ultimate Knife – With Steel Pommel
The Gerber Bear Grylls Ultimate Pro Fixed Blade Survival Knife tries, and succeeds, at being all things to all survivalists. Not only is it a survival knife, but it is also a rudimentary survival guide, hammer, rescue whistle, and fire starter, but all also rolled into one.
Built for rugged outdoor extremes, the Gerber Bear Grylls Ultimate Knife is a sturdy, multifunctional tool that will stand the test of time.
Manufactured by renowned outdoor equipment maker Gerber, the Ultimate Knife comes with a 4.75-inch blade and texturized rubber grip for easy handling.
It also comes with a host of extras including a steel pommel at the base of the handle for grinding stuff. Its lightweight nylon sheath makes it easy and safe to carry around.
Our In-Depth Review:
Versatility is one of the key selling points of this knife. Over and above using the drop-point blade to carve and cut things, there’s a lot more you can do.
The Ultimate Knife’s serrated spine makes it easy to cut through rope and branches as a miniature saw.
Tied by the two holes in the handle to stick, the knife can also be converted into a fishing spear. And that’s not all, you can use the pommel on the base of the handle as a hammer to knock nails in.
This tool is not just built to cut; it is designed to last. It is made from tough stainless steel and its three quarters tang design leaves little room for breakage.
Talking portability, the knife’s sheath holds the tool firmly in place using the force of friction. It has an additional Velcro strap to keep the blade close to the body instead of flapping about on your hip.
This knife comes with a rugged military-grade nylon sheath that is mildew-resistant. You can, therefore, use it to carry the knife with you into all sorts of terrain. Sawn into the sheath is a diamond sharpener to keep the blade nice and sharp as you use it.
Also integrated into the sheath is a ferrocerium rod used to generate sparks to light a fire in the wild. It works well with a notch on the spine to quickly light up whatever dry tender you’ve gathered.
A lanyard with a whistle attached to it hangs from the handle, adding to the many practical extras on this survival knife. Small as it is, the whistle is loud enough to attract attention from a long distance.
- Great edge retention.
- Easy-grip handle.
- Very versatile.
- Waterproof user manual inside.
- Tough, mildew-resistant sheath.
- Blade relatively small.
- Short serrated edge.
- The included guide has little on the usage of the knife.
Extremely well-constructed in both its primary function as a knife, but with its many secondary uses as well. As a package, it certainly takes some beating, as its accessories mark it above most survival kits.
One of the better truck knives currently on sale, it is a survival knife through and through. It may appear as a gimmick but rest assured, it is anything but.
Add to this the durability and hardiness of both the blade and its sheath and you have an ideal outdoor companion that will serve you for many years. However, seasoned outdoor enthusiasts will feel that the size of the blade limits its practical usage in the real jungle quite a bit.
8. Smith & Wesson SWHRT9B – With Carbon Stainless Steel
This knife is a good-looking collector’s gift that is still very handy in the wild outdoors. Smith & Wesson has a reputation for stylish, functional weaponry forged over more than a century.
Right from the sturdy 4.75-inch, double-edged blade, you get a feel of quality and careful craftsmanship.
The black, beautifully carved full-tang blade and the well-shaped rubberized handle make the SWHRT9B easy on the eye. Its leather boot sheath is just as pretty and allows for discreet conveyance of the knife.
As the knife is part of a line of knives from Smith and Wesson known as the Hostage Rescue Team line, and as such is an exceptional boot knife.
Our In-Depth Review:
Manufactured by one of the most revered names in the weapons space, it’s no surprise that this knife functions well as a self-defense tool. It is quickly deployed from its sheath with a flick of the thumb. An assailant who attacks you will find themselves faced by a sharp-tipped blade that pierces through the skin with minimal effort. The dual edges of the knife are sure to inflict maximum damage on any such assailant.
Still, on the handle, there is a hole near the pommel through which you can slip a lanyard. You can tie this around your wrist to keep the knife more firmly in place in your hand. When not in use you can keep the blade in its leather sheath, which comes with a clip to allow you to clasp it onto your belt or boot. There is a little strap with a button at the top of the sheath that you can use to keep the knife from slipping out.
Back to the Smith & Wesson SWHRT9B’s blade; it is really sharp out the box and can cut through many materials even before you sharpen it. The blood grooves on the curved edges allow it to saw through anything quite easily, as long as the thing is not too thick.
One of the knife’s key shortcomings is its size, which limits its practicality as an all-rounder. Even as a self-defense tool, the size of the blade will limit its effectiveness.
You, therefore, won’t get extras like a fire-starter or a sharpener that comes as standard with other survival knives, but you can always buy these separately. And the beauty of getting them separately is you can control the quality of what you’re buying.
Smith and Wesson are a knifemaker renowned for creating knives adept at dealing with a multitude of situations. At home whatever the purpose, an S&W knife can be relied upon and is a trusted name in the knife-making scene, as can be evidenced by its sterling reviews among first responders, survivalists, and knife collectors.
- Edge quite sharp.
- Great aesthetic appeal.
- Lightweight and easy to carry.
- Easy to conceal for tactical operations.
- Full-tang design for durability.
- No extra features.
- Not very useful for other purposes.
- Size not ideal for many fixed blade tasks.
- The hole doesn’t fit paracords.
The Smith & Wesson SWHRT9B offers real bang for your buck. You get a handy self-defense weapon and a reasonably effective cutting/hunting tool. You also get a stylish collector’s item from a world-renowned weapons manufacturer.
Built to purpose as a weapon for law enforcement agents or as a self-defense tool (where it’s legal to carry a knife for this), the SWHRT9B has limited use as a survival tool. It is therefore not your ideal camping/hiking companion.
9. BlizeTec Survival Knife – With Magnesium Fire starter
Multi-purpose or multi-featured knives may seem impressive but tend to come with many compromises. The BlizeTec Survival 5-in-1 Knife is the rare exception; it is robustly manufactured and suffers none of the drawbacks that plague such multi-tools.
As far as multipurpose blades go, the BlizeTec is one of the best in the market. Billed as a 5-in-1 tool, this foldable tool comes with a magnesium fire-starter, window-breaker and LED light among other utilities. This means you have the ideal tool for your camping/hiking/hunting expeditions.
The extras will cost you, though, as you will find out when you shop around online. You will be hard-pressed to match this blade for value.
Our In-Depth Review:
Right out the box, the BlizeTec Survival Knife gives you the feeling you’re dealing with a premium product. It comes in an engraved box with a magnetic lid and when you open it, a little card emblazoned ‘Quality Matters’ pops out. The knife itself is nestled in a groove that fits its folded shape snugly to keep it from moving about. When you take it out, feel it in your hands and run your eyes along its black and grey outline, the premium feel is confirmed.
This knife has two features to aid its portability; an on-body metallic clip that can be used to fasten it directly onto your belt and a nylon pouch. The pouch comes with a loop at the back through which you can slide your belt so the knife rides safely on your waist.
Compared to a regular pocket knife, the BlizeTec Survival Knife will feel a bit bulky though. But outdoors enthusiasts will consider this a small price to pay for the wealth of features on this tool. And for the joy of owning a premium, limited edition knife from a trusted brand.
There are five extra utilities on this knife that make it ideal for a variety of situations. The glass breaker and seatbelt cutter will prove invaluable should you need to extricate yourself from a vehicle in a hurry. Lighting tinder for a bushfire when out camping or hiking will be a cinch with the BlizeTec’s magnesium fire starter.
When night falls during your outdoor expedition, you will be grateful for the detachable LED light on the base of the knife. If only because it saved you the extra weight of a separate torch.
- Effective in handling most outdoor tasks.
- Blade sharp right out the box.
- Hardy and durable.
- Light and easily portable.
- It comes with a fire starter and other extras.
- Handle not the easiest to grasp especially in the use.
- The firestarter is small and difficult to use.
The BlizeTec Survival 5-in-1 Knife is among the best in the multi-purpose knife bracket. Every tool included is durable and functional, and each one of its tools comes in handy to the discerning survivalist. Simply, a must-have for every outdoors person.
This knife is a little bit pricey. But it is a well-built product that justifies its price quite well. It packs a sturdy steel blade that is sharp to the touch accompanied by a variety of extras that are useful for outdoor activities. The combination of the above merits and the premium feel of the knife, and its packaging, making it an ideal gift.
10. SOG Seal Pup Elite – Titanium Nitride Coated
The Seal Pup is neither a bush crafting nor a survival knife. It is more a general utility and tactical knife, and a very good one at that. It is geared towards being smaller combat or tactical knife, mainly to be used in defensive stances.
This knife excels in everyday, basic functions such as preparing food, cutting rope, opening packages, and so on. For those going on shorter, less involved day hikes and excursions, this is the perfect knife for you.
The SOG Survival Knife Seal Pup Elite is a military-grade self-defense weapon. A miniature version of SOG’s Seal Team Elite fixed blade, it comes with a 4.85-inch stainless steel blade, a firm-grip nylon handle, and a tough Kydex sheath. This ‘razor-sharp’ dagger is a purpose-built weapon but is handy as an outdoorsman tool.
It will do real damage in combat but will equally be a great help in hunting expeditions.
Our In-Depth Review:
Buyers of the Seal Pup Elite will immediately notice how sharp the blade is right out the box. The sheer thickness of the blade is just as eye-catching and goes a long way to ensuring the longevity of the knife. It is also a testament to how rough and ready it is to handle heavy-duty tasks.
At the end of the solid, highly efficient blade is a glass-reinforced nylon handle that offers a great grip. Besides the patterned notches on the surface, there are grooves shaped to comfortably fit your fingers and keep the knife from slipping. The handle also comes with a pronounced guard to better protect your fingers and hand from impact injuries.
For safekeeping, the Seal Pup Elite comes with a hard-molded Kydex sheath complete with a strap to ensure the knife stays in place. A Velcro loop at the back allows you to hang it on your belt for portability and quick access. Attached to the sheath is a nylon pouch, which can be handy for carrying outdoor like fire starters and sharpeners. Note that this knife model doesn’t come with these items. The design of the sheath doesn’t limit conveyance to the belt; the Seal Pup can be converted into a boot knife as well.
Named after an elite operations team that did duty in Vietnam, SOG has been making military-standard survival tools and weapons since 1986. Buyers of the Seal Pup Elite can, therefore, be sure that they’re getting a tried and tested tactical knife that will live up to its intended purpose.
- Extremely sharp, high retention blade.
- Large, textured, ergonomic handle for good grip.
- Lightweight but solid.
- Good full-tang build, durable.
- Not very versatile.
- No fire starter and other extras.
- Quite pricey for its limited functionality.
The SOG Survival Knife Seal Pup Elite may be a smaller version of SOG’s Elite survival knife, but it is just as effective. It still bears the same quality of workmanship, sturdiness, and usability, only in a handy, more portable package. As compared to other military-style survival knives, this model comes at a slightly higher price point. But it goes a long way to justifying the price tag in the quality of its build and its great functionality. Plus the knife itself is a beauty.
It is a great self-defense tool and can be useful for skinning game and other survival tasks in the jungle. For its price, it would be great to have a sharpener and other such extras thrown in, though.
Survival Knives – Buyer’s Guide
What is a survival knife?
People who spend a great deal of time outdoors, on camping trips or hunting expeditions, know that the most pleasant of afternoons can turn into the darkest of days in an instant. Imagine exploring the woods near your campsite, and then all of a sudden, you can’t seem to find your way back.
Or the trees start howling, and the weather goes wrong in an instant? One tool that can prove quite handy in these situations and significantly boost your chances of making it home in one piece is a survival knife.
A survival knife is one piece of equipment that is of extraordinary importance to survivalists or adventurers. A typical survival knife comprises just a blade with its handle. Still, it can carry out a wide variety of tasks, and this versatility is what makes it such a valuable piece of equipment to adventure lovers. The many uses of a survival knife range from hunting games to building makeshift shelters, treating wounds, and starting fires.
More often than not, we have heard survivalists tell tales of how this piece of equipment came clutch at the right times and the vital roles it played in keeping them from harm.
Who needs a survival knife?
Survival knives are intended for one purpose only – use in extreme outdoor conditions. The importance of a survival knife is not lost to adventure seekers, and it is usually one of the first pieces of equipment in the bag. The sheer amount of things you can do with a survival knife makes it a piece of valuable equipment to use outdoors.
Number of blades
When choosing a survival knife to buy, you often have to select the number of blades you want your knife to have. This choice of blade number strictly depends on what you intend to do with the knife. That being said, survival knives typically have either single blades or multi-blades.
These are knives made up of a lone blade that comes in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. This type of knife is custom made to serve a specific purpose and is easy to carry about. Most times, single blade knives also have a unique locking mechanism that you can activate to make them super steady and robust for demanding tasks.
The major downside of using single-blade knives is the apparent lack of versatility. If you get a knife with a single blade that is custom built to cut wood, you can be sure that’s the only thing you can ever use it for.
Knives with multiple blades
These kinds of knives usually have two to four detachable blades, with each blade performing a completely different function from the other. The increased versatility and convenience of being able to carry different kinds of tools all in one package make these kinds of knives one of my personal favorites. Another advantage of using multi-blade knives is the fact that you can sharpen each blade differently to suit the intended purpose.
Survival knife edges
When it comes to selecting a knife based on the type of side it has, there are three popular options for you to choose from. You could either buy a knife with a plain edge, a partially serrated edge, or one whose sides are entirely serrated. Most companies these days release knives with an option for both three tedges; hence, it would be best if you knew what you were going for before walking into a store.
Knives with straight edges are arguably the most common kinds you can find on the market today, and it is with good reason. Apart from it being ridiculously easy and straightforward to make one, a knife with a straight edge allows you to make smoother cuts with greater control.
The simple design employed most times also means you can sharpen plane knives easily, at the comfort of your home.
Straight-edged knives are generally good at making push cuts – that is, a cut made by pushing a knife through an object, such as when you are peeling an orange. They are also ideally suited to peeling barks of trees and removing skin from killed animals.
One major drawback of using plane-edged knives, however, is that you are unable to make pull cuts with them. Also, a plane-knife is limited in use, and can only be used to perform specific actions.
Regardless, a straight-edged knife is a handy tool to have, and it will serve its intended purpose with high effectiveness.
Fully Serrated-Edge Knives
These kinds of knives are the more recent introduction to the market, and they comprise blades with several tiny cuts (or serrations) made on the main cutting edge. These cuts make it possible for a serrated knife to grip whatever you are cutting through. Hence, serrated knives are particularly adept at making pull cuts.
With serrated knives, you don’t need to worry too much about blade dulling and sharpening, as the serrations are ninety-nine percent responsible for the cutting action. Because of the serrated edges, this type of knife looks like a saw, and it is particularly useful when you need to cut through wood.
Serrated knives can cut through much tougher materials, compared to plain edge knives. Still, you are more likely to get rough surfaces after cutting. You are also prone to making mistakes while using a serrated knife as the pulling action of the cut edges on the workpiece might sway the blade.
It is considerably challenging to sharpen a serrated knife, and most times, you have to send it back to the factory to get it done. A more expensive way of sharpening your knife would be to buy specially designed sharpening materials for it.
Partially Serrated Knives
These kinds of knives usually have a cutting edge, often made up of a combination of a serrated edge and a plain cutting edge. In most cases, the plain edge forms the lower end of the blade – near the tip –, while serrations make up the upper end.
A partially serrated knife is some sort of multipurpose tool, and it can comfortably carry out the features of both the fully serrated knife and the plain edge knife. But to be useful, this kind of knife must have a long blade with enough space for the serrations and the typical cutting edge. You can carry out both push and pull cuts with this knife as well.
Because this type of knife is made up of two different cutting edges in one, sharpening it becomes an arduous task that requires a great deal of focus and attention. Also, the serrations are sometimes placed where they are not able to carry out any real cutting.
Another factor that should make a considerable impact on your choice of a survival knife is the length of the blade. Typically, survival knives on the market are available in three different blade sizes. You can either have a small blade, a medium-sized blade, or a long blade.
Small blades are typically less than three inches in length, and this small, compact size makes it easy to carry them around and use anywhere.
They are also well suited to everyday domestic tasks but are not a perfect choice for large jobs, mainly because their blades are not sharp enough.
Medium-sized blades are usually between three to four inches in length. They are ideal for carrying out a wide variety of tasks, ranging from regular home chores to heavy-duty jobs.
In the same vein, knives whose blades are higher than four inches in length are known as long-blade knives, and they are well-suited for combat and self-defense purposes. The longer blades also make these kinds of knives heavier, and it can get quite bothersome having to carry one from place to place.
Best Uses of a Survival Knife
As stated earlier, survival knives are one of the most versatile pieces of equipment ever made, and this versatility translates into use in a wide variety of situations. This versatility makes a survival knife one of the first pieces of equipment you should pack in your bag when going for an outdoor trip or camping.
Some of the more common uses of survival knives include:
For hunting animals
Survival knives are typically made of tough metal blades. They could be a potent weapon in the hands of an experienced hunter. Hence, when you’re out in the field and develop a sudden craving, you can easily make your knife into an improvised spear and go hunting.
A word of advice – do not chew more than you can bite by going after large animals, as things can quickly go south, and you could end up critically injured. Take on smaller sized animals that you can easily handle, such as rabbits, deer, and the likes. After killing the game, your
The knife will also be useful in skinning it and preparing it for cooking.
A survival knife is a pretty useful tool to own, but it is equally adept when it comes to making other tools. This tool-making ability is enhanced by the characteristic sturdy blades of the knives, which makes it possible for you to shape other materials with them. From hunting spears, bows and arrows, to fishing rods, the list of equipment you can make with the aid of a survival knife is endless.
For building fires
If for one reason or the other, you failed to take matches or a lighter along with you for that camping trip, you can still make fires provided you are with a survival knife. After gathering pieces of wood to start a fire, you just need to strike your blade against rock pieces. Doing this repeatedly creates fire sparks, which catch on collected wood to produce fire.
A survival knife comes in handy in times of physical danger as it makes for a great weapon due to its sharp edges. You can use it to protect yourself against dangerous animals and fellow human attackers – hopefully, you never have to use it for this. Still, in times of trouble, your knife is your best friend, and it will rarely let you down.
Out in the wild, you do not have the luxury of preparing meals in the comfort of your kitchen with the proper tools. Hence, you have to make a lot of improvisation to ensure you get a decent meal. One way you can prepare a decent meal out in the open is the use of your survival knife as a substitute for the standard kitchen knife.
With a survival knife, you can comfortably dice vegetables, skin and cut meat into suitable sizes, as well as build fires to cook tasty meals.
As an improvised digger
Digging with a knife is bad and an unideal way to make holes, but it can be done if you have no other choice. You can dig up edible roots, make holes for fence posts, and carry out different tasks that require excavation with your survival knives. I would rather dig with my sword instead of using my fingers, anyways.
Do not make this a habit; however, prolonged digging can damage the blade of your kitchen knives.
Hardened blades make the survival knife a decent option when it comes to the chopping of wood into smaller pieces. You can use it to make firewood, as well as carved wooden posts. However, you can only cut wood with large blades that do not break under stress.
As a make-shift screwdriver
It is quite easy to forget screwdrivers and wrenches when packing for a trip. Still, a survival knife makes a capable replacement for these tools. With this knife, you can comfortably loosen electrical equipment and devices to carry out repairs or maintenance works when needed.
Blade metal and material used on the handle
The kind of material used in forging blades plays a massive impact on the quality of knives produced. The top knife-producing companies out there spare no expense in using the best materials to craft their products. Typically, blades are made of two different kinds of materials: high carbon steel and stainless steel blades. Although, these days, a whole lot of other materials have been adapted for use in making knife blades.
High carbon steel blades typically have a higher percentage of carbon content in their composition, compared to other steel blades. What this translates into is a knife that is harder and stronger compared to its low carbon components. However, as tough as these knives are, they are quite susceptible to chipping, and they do not have excellent resistance to rust. High carbon blades can maintain a sharp edge for reasonably long periods, an attribute that will prove helpful in the open.
Stainless steel blades, on the other hand, contain chromium along with the regular carbon content in their makeup. Chromium can resist tarnishing and subsequently translates this property into a high corrosion resistance for the stainless steel blades. Therefore, knives made from stainless steel are pretty much capable of holding their own against rust, making them long-lasting and quite robust. They are, however, prone to deformation and are more challenging to sharpen compared to high carbon blades.
Materials used in crafting knife handles
Equally as important as the blade of a survival knife is its handle and its constituent element. One of the most common materials used in crafting knife handles is micarta. Micarta is an incredibly durable composite of linen and synthetic resin. It is capable of withstanding extreme changes in weather and temperature and offers a firm grip even when wet.
Another material widely employed in making knife handles is G10, a product of fiberglass and synthetic resin. It has similar properties as micarta, but its grip in wet conditions is slightly weaker.
Wood is another material commonly employed in crafting knife handles, but its use in survival knives is suspect. Wood tends to crack under suitable pressure, a trait which is not ideal when you’re out in the open, hunting. Also, wood changes shape with a corresponding change in temperature and humidity, and this wears wooden handles out pretty quickly.
Hence, when choosing a knife, it’d be in your best interests to go for one with a synthetic handle, as those with naturally crafted handles tend to succumb all too easily to forces of nature.
Things to consider when buying a survival knife
Before picking a knife that will accompany you on your various camping trips, and outdoor adventures, there are factors you should consider. This is to ensure the knife doesn’t let you down at critical moments. Some of the features that should influence your choice of a survival knife include:
Remember, you are going to be out in the open, potentially battling against the forces of nature. Hence, you should choose a survival knife with a reasonably big blade. The generally accepted thickness for survival blades ranges from between 0.15 to 0.27 inches.
With thicker blades, you can easily hunt down and kill animals, skin animals, chop wood and even dig holes as the situation may require. Also, survival knives with thick blades are wear-resistant and more durable.
In the same vein, massive blades will significantly add to the load you have to carry, and this might not be ideal if, for one reason or the other, you have to dash it.
You might not know this, but the blade length is another factor that should significantly impact on your choice of a survival knife. Survival blades usually range in length from six to twelve inches. Shorter blades allow for greater control when carrying out tasks, as well as guarantee a higher degree of precision. A short sword can be used to carry out crucial, life-saving abilities due to the high degree of control displayed in tight situations. In essence, they are like an extension of your fingers.
Long blades, on the other hand, are bound to give you a tough time in terms of handling. You will simply find it difficult to use and manipulate a large blade in tight situations. On the flip side, you can easily skin an animal with a long sword. It is also easier to carry out tough tasks, such as chopping of wood with a large blade as against what is obtainable with short swords. You can also modify your long knife into some sort of spear for hunting.
I would recommend a blade of length ten inches for the ideal survival knife. Blades with that length are easy to handle and can also carry out the big tasks reasonably well.
Type of Handle and Pommel
The handle of a survival knife should be reasonably tough with a robust grip design, which makes it hold firm in your hands. Also, go for handles made with synthetic materials as they are usually more reliable and durable, compared to handles made from natural products such as wood and rubber.
The pommel simply refers to the bottom end of a survival knife. You must ensure you pick a survival knife with a firm and robust pommel as it can easily deputize as a hammer when you’re out in the wild. A weak pommel will break quite easily, rendering your survival knife useless in the process.
Number of Edges
The number of cutting edges on a survival knife should play a significant role in your choice of a knife. As much as possible, go for single-edged knives with a flat spine.
Double-edged blades are a no-go area for survival knives. For one, it is difficult to start a fire with a blade if its two edges are razor sharp. Also, you will find it considerably difficult to make holes with a double-edged knife as you, most times, have to push down on the blade with your palm. Doing this with a doubly sharp edge can cause serious injury.
The tang of a blade refers to its back portion, which extends into the handle. Blades with full tangs are mostly the best choices for survival knives. A full tang refers to a single steel blade made of the same material throughout, which runs from top to bottom without any form of holes or hollows. If the bottom of the blade has a hollow and does not run down to the end of the handle, it is a half-tang.
Full tangs make the better choice for survival knives because their handles are firmly attached to the lower ends of the blade, allowing for a firmer grip and better handling. Also, if by a stroke of terrible luck, the handles of your full tang come off, you can wrap some cordage around the lower end of the blade to serve as some sort of makeshift handle. If the handle on a half-tang blade is taken off, the knife is rendered useless.
What are Knife Grinds?
To the untrained eye, a knife is just a blade with a handle. However, there is way more to a knife than that. To make the most of your survival knife, you need to intimate yourself with every inch of your equipment, and one part you should pay particular attention to is the Knife Grind.
The grind of a knife refers to how its edges thin to one cutting edge, or the cross-sectional shape of the blade. Generally, the lighter the edge of a knife is, the better it will cut. In the same vein, small blades are more susceptible to damage, compared to thick ones.
We have different types of knife grinds, with each differing in the cross-sectional shape of the blade. However, the most widely used types of knife grinds include:
Knives with hollow grinds have blades with a hollow curve on one side – talk about stating the obvious. This type of grind is produced by sharpening one side of the blade with a giant spinning, grinding machine, with a curve developing in the edge as a result of the rotating effect of the grinder.
Blades sharpened with this method usually have fragile edges, but this makes them susceptible to breaking. Also, for thick knives with a hollow grind, the thick body of the blade could serve some sort of wedge while using, which might serve as some sort of hindrance to your work.
This is by far the most popular grind you will find on most knives these days, and it is as well one of the easiest types of grinds to make. When a flat grind comprises a straight flat cutting edge running for the entire length of the cutting blade, it is referred to as a full flat grind.
The flat grind looks nice and easy on survival knives and is also easy to produce. However, a significant drawback of this grind is that the part of the blade behind the edge is quite thick, and this only gets worse every time you sharpen the knife.
Survival knives with a curved grind feature a blade that runs straight out of the handle and then employs a round finish when approaching the tip of the cutting edge, on both sides. To create convex grinds, you simply sharpen your blade using a free sharpening belt.
Knives with convex grinds typically have more durable edges. They cut through tight spots with relative ease, resulting in better cutting performances.
However, the processes involved in making a convex grind are usually very technical and take up more time, making knives with the edge relatively expensive. Also, you might find it difficult to sharpen the blade due to the nature of the edges.
Also referred to as a Scandinavian grind, the v-grind is typically one sizeable secondary edge devoid of any additional frills. The two sides of the blade in a v-grind remain apart for a considerable length until it starts getting close to the cutting edge. Consequently, what you get is one thick mass of blade, with a significant, full cutting edge.
V-grinds are quite easy to produce, and because of their thick blades, you can adopt one for use in woodworking as well. However, if you use a scandi knife for two hours, you’ll spend a cumulative thirty minutes sharpening it in-between because they dull quickly.
FAQs related to survival knives
What is the strongest steel for the knives?
The primary material used in making knife blades is steel, which is an alloy that could be made in a zillion different ways. Hence, there’s no direct answer to this question. However, the most durable knives usually have steel blades with a high percentage of carbon (above 0.8%) and vanadium – which increases wear resistance.
Can you sharpen a survival knife with a rock?
Yes, you can sharpen a survival knife with a rock, but it takes longer to achieve the desired sharp edge. To successfully sharpen your knife with a stone, follow the steps enumerated below:
* Select a suitably strong rock, and soak it in water. Doing this will make the stone soft, and you can subsequently sharpen your knives faster. It also prevents your blade from getting scratched.
* For incredibly dull knives, use a coarse stone for the sharpening process. However, if your knife is just slightly dull, boost the sharpness with a medium grit stone.
* To sharpen the knife, hold it against the stone at an angle with the blade facing away from you. Press your fingers firmly on the knife to control the sharpening pressure and the direction in which you move the blade.
* Then, slide the blade up and down the stone in a half curve. If you want to sharpen the whole cutting edge, slide the entire length up and down the rock repeatedly. Continue this until you feel the blade is sharp enough, then turn it over to the other side and repeat the process. Both sides should be sharpened with an equal number of strokes to ensure an even cutting edge.
* Once you’re done sharpening, test the newly cut edge on a piece of material. If it cuts clean with little stress, you’re good to go; otherwise, repeat the above steps.
Can you sharpen a survival knife with sandpaper?
Yes, you can indeed sharpen a knife with sandpaper. To do this, you can either:
* Cover a thick, sturdy material with sandpaper, and run your knife across it in measured, repeated strokes, OR
* Directly place the knife on the sandpaper at an angle and repeatedly run the length of the blade across the paper, while taking care to exert minimal pressure.
To get more delicate cutting edges, use sandpaper with a high number of grits.