If you're going camping or hunting, one of the gears you must bring with you is a knife. No, we're not talking about the one you have in your kitchen. We're talking about hunting & survival knives.
A hunting and survival knife comes in various shapes, sizes, materials, and styles. You want a knife that meets your needs for any situation, be it opening cans, building a temporary shelter, or skinning game. But can you get the best of all worlds? Are there multipurpose knives available that can get all of those done?
Read on to discover our top picks for the best hunting & survival knives.
Before we dive into our list, let's discuss how to choose a hunting and survival knife so that you’ll understand why we included the models below. Here's what to look for when purchasing one.
Whether you're buying a survival knife, or hunting knife, or both, ensure that the knife's blade is fixed, not folded. When you’re in a survival situation, its blade can withstand rigorous prying, chopping, and cutting. For hunting, it can perform various tasks such as gutting, boning and cutting, and skinning flesh.
During an emergency, a fixed-blade knife is more convenient to deploy than a folded blade because you still have to unlock the latter. Fixed-blade knives are also durable, stable, and sturdy. Folded knives, on the other hand, might break, especially in dangerous survival situations.
A 3.5- to 5-inch blade is enough to slice tubers and roots, gut fishes, skin small games, and cut notches in staves and stakes. Otherwise, if you want a longer blade that still qualifies as a short utility blade, go for a 6- to 7.5-inch blade. For general purposes, a blade with at least 7 inches is ideal.
The blade designs suitable for hunting and survival are drop point, clip point, and spear point. Let's explain each type.
Choose a cutting edge with either a positive or a negative rake angle. Both of these make it easier for you to cut and slice meat. Alternatively, you can also try a knife with recurved edges, perfect for carving and cutting near the bolster.
The American Survival Guide (ASG) recommends two types of blade compositions: carbon steel and stainless steel.
Although carbon steel is prone to rust, it offers unrivaled sharpness and hardness. Moreover, it has better edge retention. D2, O1, A2, 1095, and 5160 are good choices for high-carbon steels.
However, if the knife will be exposed to extreme moisture, such as when you're skinning or cutting game, the best option is a stainless steel blade. There are good selections for this type, such as 440C, 420HC, 154 CM, AUS-10, S30V, and AUS-8.
ASG defines blade grind as the shape and angle of a knife's cutting edge. For hunting & survival knives, choose flat grind or saber grind.
The flat grind is the more common of the two. It has symmetrical bevels, producing a blade with a very steep V-shape, and it is flat on each side. Suitable for kitchen and hunting chores, a flat-grind blade is the most versatile grind.
On the other hand, the saber grind almost looks like a flat grind. Its grind begins further from the cutting edge or extends closer to the spine. Consider it as an upgrade of the traditional flat grind. It does an excellent job in cutting, chopping, or splitting something.
Also known as the “butt” or the “tail,” the tang connects the blade to the handle, and the handle covers this part of the knife. Almost all knife experts agree that a full tang is a must for hunting and surival.
According to ASG, a knife has a full tang if the blade runs from the tip to the handle. When you're working with a full-tang knife, you’ll never have to worry about breaking the blade or the handle, reducing the possibility of injuring yourself.
The handle must have an ergonomic and non-slip design. As much as possible, it should have a textured non-slip material on the surface to provide a good grip.
Besides considering its form, choose a handle that lets you work in humid conditions or when your hands are bloody. Avoid handles made of leather, wood, and bone. The best options are synthetic materials such as rubbery plastic, nylon, polymer, or fiber-reinforced plastics.
Now that you know the criteria, let's discuss the best picks, along with their features.
The Gerber LMF II is one of the fixed blade survival knives designed with the military in mind. Its conception was led by Jeff Freeman, a former military man.
This blade features a drop-point saber grind with a serrated cutting edge. Its blade length measures 4.84 inches, and it's made of 420 HC stainless steel. It has a glass-filled nylon handle with textured rubber coating, making it moisture-resistant.
The CDS-Survival MOVA-58 is a 5.7-inch-long knife with a drop-point blade. Used for bushcraft or as a tactical knife, it's popular among campers, wildlife enthusiasts, and hunters.
Its fixed blade can endure extreme beating in rough conditions, especially in the wild. The CDS-Survival MOVA-58 also comes with a knife sharpener, firesteel, and a beautiful leather sheath.
The Fallkniven A1 has a 6.3-inch clip-point blade with a Kraton rubber handle. The blade of this saber-grind knife is composed of VG-10 stainless steel. In between, it is laminated with Rockwell hardness of 59 HRC.
Nothing penetrates a game so smoothly as this spear-point blade. It makes slicing and chopping a breeze. The Fallkniven A1 is also great for batoning hardwoods and treated lumber.
We warned you to avoid folded knives. However, we’ll make an exemption for the Buck hunting knife. Its manufacturer prides the Buck 110 as its number 1 folding knife.
Why is it so iconic? Its 3.75-inch blade is made of high-carbon stainless steel. You've read it right: Buck managed to combine the two of the most rigid blade materials in one single knife. It has a razor-sharp clip-point blade that underwent the Paul Bos heat treatment process. It features a nail-notch lock-back design, making it easier to open and close in a snap.
The Gerber StrongArm has a 4.8-inch drop-point blade and a full tang. Its blade material is 420 HC stainless steel, and the handle is glass-filled nylon. Despite its size and thickness, it only weighs 0.49 pound.
The Gerber StrongArm functions as a utility and a tactical knife. The glass-filled nylon is coated with textured rubber, making it easier to grip and control. Its base is a striking pommel you can use to break hard surfaces.
We've got another Buck hunting knife on this list, but this time it is a fixed-blade knife. The Buck Vanguard is made of high-carbon stainless steel with a length of 4.13 inches and a thickness of 0.140 inch. Its blade shape is a drop point, but it has a plain edge.
Its handle is textured rubber with an integrated finger guard. Buck Vanguard is a full-tang knife, which makes it ideal for heavy-duty, all-around tasks. The package includes a genuine leather sheath.
The Schrade Extreme SCHF9 is perhaps one of the longest survival knives on this list. Its blade is 6.4 inches and composed of 1095 high carbon steel. It has a full-tang, drop-point blade design with a recurved edge.
Its handle material is a plastic elastomer and offers a non-slip, ergonomic design. It is suitable for sharpening stakes, chopping wood, and cutting notches.
The KA-BAR Becker BK2 is designed by Ethan Becker, the founder of Becker Knife and Tool Company. This knife is your ultimate "campanion," suited for hunting and camping chores.
It has a 1095 Cro-Van blade with a length of 5.25 inches and a Rockwell hardness of 56–58 HRC. The blade design is a drop point, and the handle material is Zytel, a high-density plastic. You can confidently split or chop a woodblock with it and later use it to skin game. That's how versatile KA-BAR Becker BK2 is.
If you're trapped in the wilderness, this is probably the best hunting knife to have. You can also use it while you're fishing or camping.
Its drop-point blade with a combination edge is made of stainless steel. It is a full-tang fixed blade, so rest assured it can handle strenuous outdoor activities. It also features an ergonomic acrylonitrile butadiene styrene composite handle.
Although we have given you the list of the best hunting & survival knives, the final verdict is still up to you. This article only serves as a guide for choosing a knife that will make your hunting expeditions easier. Just ensure that you tick all the factors to consider above and the knife suits your needs best.