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12.06.2014 admin
We all have our personal preferences on what makes a good knife to go camping or hiking with, but in an extreme situation you want the absolute best survival knife possible, and so we are here to make sure that you have the right choice for any situation. The comparison guide of knives below and the analysis that follows will help you find the right knife to meet your needs. All of the knives included are fixed blades which many feel is an essential criteria for choosing a proper survival knife. Feel free to use the quick jump menu below to make it easier to find the details that apply to you.
A survival knife is the essential tool that can be used in the event you get lost in the wilderness or involved in some other extreme outdoor environment. Do you really think the castaways from LOST would have survived without John Locke’s suitcase full of knives including a Ka-Bar Full-sized USMC, a Master Bowie knife, and a Spyderco Harpy? In general, a full-tang, fixed blade is going to be more reliable and less likely to break than a folding knife or partial tang.
There’s a few things you need to consider when picking out your survival knife which includes your planned needs, uses and budget. In order for a survival knife to perform all of the myriad tasks that is likely to asked of it, it must incorporate several key features that we dive into more detail in the sections below. When choosing a survival knife, blade design is perhaps the single most important factor since it determines whether or not a knife is suitable for survival use.
The reason for this is that all three blade designs are meant to position the tip of the blade closer to the center line to provide the user with greater control than can be had with a straight back design.
A heavy chopping tool will feature a robust construction and have a blade that is 10 inches to 14 inches in length with a weight-forward blade design and a saber grind and be made from a tough steel such as 1095, 5160, or 440C.
A camp knife is defined as a medium sized knife with less robust construction and a blade that ranges from 5 inches to 8 in length with a balance point near the hilt and a flat grind or a hollow grind. Schrade does a good job with the video below giving more detail on the types of blade design. As the expert in the earlier video highlighted, a pocket knife is good to have on hand when you need a good all purpose knife you can carry everyday. This is critical when you think about the different uses you may need to use your knife in when you are in a tough survival situation. You want something that’s going to be extremely sturdy that will allow you to leverage the knife in just about every situation and not break under contact. The design of the cutting edge is also a critical factor when choosing a survival knife because the different types of cutting edges are designed for different purposes.
First and foremost, here are straight cutting edges which are specifically designed to be general purpose edges.
The neutral rake angle is the most common and it is defined as a an angle that extends at a right angle from the bolster. A positive rake angle extends from the bolster at a downward angle in order to increase the angle of attack when cutting and slicing. A negative rake angle is one that extends at an upward angle from the bolster and it is designed to lessen the pressure placed on the cutting edge when cutting and slicing. Then, there are recurved edges which feature a straight section extending from the Ricasso but which then changes to a positive angle at it approaches the center of the blade and curves upward to the tip as it reaches the belly of the edge which places the balance of the blade well forward of the hilt. A third critical factor when choosing a survival knife is the length of the blade because different length blades are best suited for different purposes. Knives with blade lengths ranging from 3.5 inches to 5 inches are much better suited for more delicate tasks such cutting notches in stakes and staves to build traps and snares, skinning small game animals and gutting fish, slicing up root and tubers, ect. Blade lengths ranging from 6 to 7.5 inches represent an excellent compromise between long, heavy-duty, blade designs and short utility blade designs. Next to blade design, the type of steel that a survival knife is made from is possibly the second most critical factor when choosing a survival knife. While high carbon tool steels are often significantly tougher than stainless steels, they are less likely to break, they are more prone to corrosion.
However, having said that, the relative toughness and edge holding ability of any blade steel is also dependent on its Rockwell Hardness (designated HRC). Large, heavy-duty, survival knives with long blades should be made from a non-stainless, high carbon, tool steels and have a Rockwell Hardness of 50 to 54 whereas, small bush craft knives with short blades can be made from either type of steel and should have a significantly higher Rockwell Hardness and the same is true for camp knives. Every bit as important when choosing a survival knife as blade design and cutting edge design is the blade grind. A flat grind exhibits a primary bevel that extends from the cutting edge all of the way to the back of the blade which represents a compromise between a saber grind and a hollow grind. Some survival knives have a hollow saber grind which designed to incorporate both the spine thickness of a saber grind and the fine edge of a hollow grind and while this type of blade grind works fairly well for chopping, cutting, and slicing, it is not optimized for either task which makes it a good compromise between a saber grind and a flat grind. The tang of a fixed blade knife is the portion of the blade that extends into the handle upon which the knife’s handle is fixed. The full tang is by far the most popular design and should be your top choice because it consists of a tang that extends the full width and length of the handle with handle scales that are affixed one either side of the tang via epoxy and rivets.
The hidden tang is similar to the full tang in that it extends nearly the full width and length of the handle but is designed in such a way the handle can be hollowed an slid onto the tang where is usually affixed with epoxy. The partial tang and stick tang are the least desirable of the four types of tangs used to construct survival knives since they have a tang that extends the full length of the handle but only extends a small part of the width. Another important factor to consider when choosing a survival knife is the material from which the handle is made because it must be both tough in order to prevent cracking and breaking and it must be impervious to the absorption of moisture to prevent rot. It Also features a very ergonomic handle design made from Ultamid which is a custom made polyamide that extremely tough and impervious the absorption of moisture. Specifically designed to be a military grade survival knife, the Gerber LMF II is a very well designed little knife. THe LMF II Infantry has a 4.84” drop point blade design made from 420HC stainless steel with a deep saber grind and a serrated cutting edge.
The Gerber LMF II Infantry knife is well suited for a myriad of small utility jobs in a survival situation.
Another one of Gerber’s line of fixed blade, military, survival knives, the Strong Arm is designed to serve as a small utility survival knife. Like the LMF II, the Strong Arm is also made from 420HC stainless steel with a hard, black, ceramic coating to further enhance the steel’s corrosion resistance and to provide a stealthy appearance when used in tactical situations.
Of course, aiding in that control is the ergonomic and well designed 5” handle made from glass filled nylon with a textured rubber coating that is nearly indestructible and is impervious to the absorption of moisture. Plus, it comes with a heavy-duty, nylon, modular sheath system that can be mounted vertically on a MOLLE vest, horizontally on a standard 1.75 inch belt, as a drop leg belt mount. Featuring a heavy duty, 7”, clip point blade with a saber grind made from 1095 Cro-Van (adds both Chromium and Vanadium to Carbon and Manganese) high carbon tool steel with a black, corrosion resistant, coating and a Rockwell Hardness of 56-58. In fact, although there are a lot of survival knives on the market today, considering the blade design and the robust construction of this knife combined with its relatively low MSRP, it would hard to choose a better knife. Without a doubt, Fallkniven is one of the premier production knife companies in the business today and the Fallkniven A1L Survival Knife is a premier example of their commitment to producing high quality knives. Featuring a 6.3 inch clip point blade made from a core of VG-10 stainless steel with a Rockwell Hardness of 59 HRC laminated between two layers of softer stainless steel with a saber grind that extends nearly to the back of the blade combined with a spine that measures a full .24 inches, this is literally one of the strongest survival knives you can buy!
A truly iconic example of the general purpose “camp knife”, the Buck knives model 119 “Special” has been an integral part of the Buck line of classic knives since 1945 when Hoyt and Al Buck used to build them by hand in their two man shop.


In fact, because it features a 6” Clip Point blade with a hollow grind made from 420 HC stainless steel with a Rockwell Hardness of 58 HRC, it is an excellent design for a multitude of survival tasks such as trimming branches and carving notches for traps and snares as well as skinning game and other general purpose jobs.
It’s not well suited for chopping because of its relatively light blade and balance point near the hilt.
For those people who appreciate classics and antiques, the Buck model 119 Special is the general purpose survival knife (aka “camp knife”) to have because it is an extremely well designed knife for this purpose. The Ka-Bar Becker BK7 Combat Utility Knife was designed by Becker Knife & Tool to be the ultimate all-purpose utility knife for both soldiers and survivalists who need a relatively lightweight survival knife for heavy-duty use.
In fact, its long blade combined with its excellent blade design and its straight cutting edge make it imminently well suited for its role as a general purpose survival knife.
Plus, it features full tang construction and a very ergonomic handle design with handle slabs made from “Ultamid” (aka Zytel) which is a custom made polyamide that is extremely tough and impervious the absorption of moisture.
A fine offering from Schrade, the Extreme Survival model SCHF9 is an excellent choice for those people who prefer non-stainless tool steels over stainless steels due to their superior toughness and ease of sharpening.
Featuring a 6.4 inch drop point blade with a recurved cutting edge and a hollow grind made from 1095 non-stainless, high carbon, tool steel, the Schrade Extreme model SCHF9 is a well thought out design. The 1095 high carbon tool steel is the perfect choice for a heavy duty knife that can expect to see hard use. Schrade rounds it out with a heavy duty nylon sheath with a single, buckle closure, pocket on the front.
The Randall Adventure & Training Company entered the knife market with their own ESSE brand of knives in 1997 and since then, ESSE Knives have become well known for their quality of design and workmanship. It’s obvious that when your knife is designed by a wilderness and jungle survival training specialist specifically for the sole purpose of survival, that it should be near the top of the pack in quality.
With 6.5” drop point blade made from 1095 high carbon tool steel with a flat grind, a black, corrosion resistant coating, and a Rockwell Hardness of 55-57 HRC, this knife is easily on par with the KA-BAR knives listed above but, it has a very different blade design. While the drop point blade positions the tip close to the center line for precise control, the flat grind provides the perfect compromise between the razor sharpness of a hollow grind and the edge toughness of a saber grind. In addition, it features full tang construction for superior strength with a hand filling, highly ergonomic, handle design made from two linen Micarta handle scales attached to the tang with three Allen screws. The ESSE Laser Strike knife is somewhat unusual among survival knives in that it features a spear point blade as opposed to ESSE’s standard drop point design. Featuring a 4.75” spear point blade made from 1095 high carbon tool steel and a Rockwell Hardness of 55-57 HRC with a flat grind and a black, corrosion resistant, coating, this knife is the perfect companion to the ESSE Junglass. It features full tang construction with a highly ergonomic handle design made from two linen Micarta handle scales attached to the tang with three Allen screws. As has been stated, any of the choices in this list will be a great option for your next outdoor adventure. So, as you can see, there is actually quite a bit to consider when searching for the best survival knife on the market today. In fact, just trying to choose the best blade length, the best blade design, and the best blade steel make the task difficult enough without considering all of the other factors such as cutting edge design, tang construction, and the design of the handle and material from which it’s made.
A good camp knife is characterized by general purpose blade design ranging from 5 to 8 inches in length with either a deep saber grind or a flat grind made from a high quality stainless steel designed for the purpose such as AUS-8 or 440C combined with an ergonomic handle design. By thinking of survival knives as a system rather than a single, all-purpose, tool, you can combine a compact heavy chopper with a small camp knife or a large camp knife with utility knife to form a complete system that will ensure that you always have the correct knife for the job at hand. The same is true with the Fallkniven A2 Wilderness Knife.  If you have no real need for a knife such as the A2, then you might as well carry a smaller, lighter knife. The absurdity of the so-called “Rambo blade” comes more from attitude and knife design than knife size and intended use.  Nobody pokes fun about the size or length of kitchen knives because they are the right tool for the job.
Over a decade ago, Fallkniven took a page from the Swedish history book and explored the strength of laminated steels.
Fallkniven worked with a famous Japanese steel mill to perfect a laminated metal suitable for the highest quality knife blades.
High carbon tool steels such as D2 or O1 are popular for outdoor knives due to their ease of sharpening and resistance to snapping when bent.  Stainless steels have many fine points including edge durability, but can chip or break much easier.
When I passed my A2 around the campfire, more than a few folks have commented that it is too big. A Hori Hori, or soil knife, is a heavy duty, wooden handled, double-edged, half-serrated blade averaging seven inches long with an overall length exceeding a foot with some up to 15 inches long. In a direct comparison, the Fallkniven A2’s actual usable grip length is longer than the Gerber LMF, the Boker Orca, the Spyderco Bushcraft, and the Benchmade Bushcrafter.  And the A2 gip is exactly the same thickness as the Gerber LMF.
I think the complaints about the size of the Fallkniven A2 grip are more of visual perception clouding the actual feel of the knife. The thing that always seems to change the course of the discussion about knives is the price. Using a knife and a club to beat apart a wooden branch is the popular target task for survival knife tests. The A2 has a convex grind meaning that its slight outward bow towards the cutting edge preventing much of the pinching and binding a flat-sided chopping knife experiences.  The curved blade surface just beyond the cutting edge splays the wood apart as the knife sinks in deep, but leaves little metal on the table for the wood to stick to. If you have a question, comment, there’s a problem with the site, or you just want to say Hi, Send Us an Email. Subscribe to the FREE Survival Cache Newsletter and we'll send you a monthly email with new gear reviews, site news, survival tips, and more. You can read the most in-depth reviews, ratings and feedbacks from people who have bought and used them.
In the event that you are lost in the wilderness the proper knife can truly be a life saver to help you build shelter, start a fire, hunt, prepare food, dig, clear paths, and so much more.
Having a full-tang knife (metal blade runs the full length to the end of the handle) will help ensure the knife can handle extreme pressure or usage without the risk of breakage.
For instance, when faced with a wilderness survival situation, the user often employs the full length of the cutting edge from the choil to the belly for different purposes and sometimes, even the tip is needed for piercing.
Also, all three designs serve to lighten the tip of the blade in order to balance the blade closer to the hilt which also provides the user with better control over the tip. Also, it should feature a highly ergonomic, non-slip, handle design with, preferably, a cushioned, textured, non-slip, surface on the handle made from either Kraton or Hypalon rubber. Also, it should feature an ergonomic handle that allows the knife to be held in several different positions. However, it should be noted that they can feature either a positive rake angle, a neutral rake angle, or a negative rake angle measured from the bolster.
Therefore, the purpose of the recurved edge is to create the blade that is good for both cutting and carving near the bolster but which is also tip heavy for better chopping performance. For instance, blade lengths ranging from 8 to 10 inches are usually long enough and have enough weight to be well suited for chopping and splitting with a baton but, they tend to make it difficult to control the tip of the blade when trying to perform small, precision, cutting tasks.
You should first be aware that there are two different categories of blade steel consisting of non-stainless, high carbon, tool steels and stainless steels with the defining difference between the two being the amount of Chromium the steel contains. Plus, although they are also easier to sharpen, they will not hold an edge quite as well as stainless steels.
Therefore, knife blades with a Rockwell Hardness of 50 to 54 are meant to be tough whereas, knife blades with a Rockwell Hardness of 58 to 62 are meant to hold an edge well and knife blades with a Rockwell Hardness of 54 to 58 are meant to be a compromise between toughness and edge holding ability. Therefore, some good choices for high carbon tool steels for this purpose are 1095, 5160, O1, and A2 whereas, some good choices for stainless steels are 420HC, 440C, AUS-8, and AUS-10. While there are several different types of blade grinds, the two best suited for survival knives are the saber grind and the flat grind.


Because the point where the tang meets the blade is the knife’s weakest point, it should be noted that while there are several different types of knife tangs, the ones best suited for survival knives are the full tang and the hidden tang due to their inherent strength with the inherently weaker partial tang and stick tang being poplar for some handle designs. This type of tang is most commonly used in conjunction with handles made from stacked leather discs that are secured with a pommel cap that screws onto the end of the tang via threads. However, neither of these materials provide the user’s hand with any sort of cushion to lessen the shock generated when chopping with the knife. Not only does it have a drop point blade design that is well suited for survival use, it features a heavy-duty construction with a 5.25 inch blade made from 1095 Cro-van (adds both Chromium and Vanadium to Carbon and Manganese) non-stainless, high carbon, tool steel with a Rockwell Hardness of 56 to 58 and a the deep saber grind that allows it to be honed to a fine edge. With the quality design, craftsmanship, size, and durability, you would expect something on the higher end. Although it’s way too small to be effective chopping tool and its design is not particularly well suited to the role of camp knife, it is an excellent little utility knife. In fact, it feature a 4.8” drop point blade almost identical to the LMF II Infantry model listed above.
However, unlike the LMF II Infantry model, the Strong Arm is available either with or without serrations. Also, it has an integral double finger guard with jimping on the inside edges to improve the grip. In addition, it features hidden tang construction with a very ergonomic, diamond textured, Kraton rubber, handle with an integral finger guard, for a non-slip grip. Although the blade is a bit too short to make an effective chopping tool, it is an excellent example of what a camp knife should be.
Plus, although the hollow grind on the blade allows it to be honed to a very fine edge for cutting and slicing, it also allows the edge to dull more easily when the knife is used to chop. Plus it’s complimented by a double finger guard up front and a polished aluminum butt cap in the rear which really sets off the pitch black handle.
In fact, this knife is so well designed that it has been in continuous production for 70 years which is not only a testament to both its functionality and its popularity, but a strong argument that this could be one of the best survival knives in the world ever made. For instance, the straight section of the cutting edge is great for sharpening stakes and cutting notches while the deeply curved section near the tip places the knife’s balance point well forward to make it a more effective chopping tool. In addition, the handle is extremely well designed with a very ergonomic shape that is specifically designed to fit the human hand with finger grooves to provide a comfortable, positive, grip. So, if you are looking for a tough, medium sized, high quality, survival knife, you can’t go wrong with the ESSE 6. Plus, the choil features a shallow finger groove to allow the user to move their hand forward on the grip and place their index finger in the groove for significantly more control over the edge when carving. Not only is the handle very comfortable, it also provides the user with a nearly indestructible, non-slip, grip that is impervious to the absorption of moisture. The high carbon tool steel makes it a tough little knife while the mid-range Rockwell Hardness enables it to hold an edge well without being excessively difficult to sharpen.
Not only is the handle very comfortable just like the ESEE 6, it also provides the user with the same nearly indestructible, non-slip, grip that is impervious to the absorption of moisture.
A good heavy chopping tool is characterized by an extra heavy blade 10” to 14” in length with a weight forward design made from a high carbon tool steel such as 1095, 5160, O1, or A2 as opposed to a stainless steel and it should feature a shallow saber grind combined with a non-slip handle design made from a tough material. Yet compared to most outdoor knives, kitchen blades are downright huge!  Especially the pro-level cutters.  The Rambo knife moniker is often reserved not for just the knife but instead a knife too big for the tasks at hand. For the same reason plywood is so much stronger than a similar thickness solid board or laminated glass windshields are intensely durable compared to household window glass, the layered steel in the Fallkniven A2 is massively stronger than most any other steel of similar thickness. Most of them are high carbon steel, spring steel, tool steel or common stainless steel like 420.  Nothing wrong any of those unless you want something different. And the Hori Hori is considered a “Leisure Knife.” The smooth blade is to be kept razor sharp and the serrated side acts like a root saw. It is similar to squeezing a trigger or pulling a trigger.  And in my hand, I cannot squeeze the Gerber’s handle because it is proportioned inefficiently for the biomechanics of my hand. In this case, the price is the similar as other blades within this same knife space of size and quality.  A common knife of this size that is often compared to the Fallkniven A2 is the Cold Steel Trail Master, but at one third the price. The problem is that a survival knife is capable of so much more, and busting up firewood is something almost anything can do…until it breaks.  However, a true wilderness knife such as the Fallkniven A2 is exactly designed to baton firewood.
We have real consumer reviews of different types of wilderness survival knife, including jungle survival knife reviews, survival folding knife reviews and more. Whereas, stainless steels are generally less tough than high carbon tool steels but will generally hold an edge better (depending on composition and Rockwell Hardness) and, they are far less prone to corrosion But, they are also more prone to break and, they are generally more difficult to sharpen as well.
The reason that this is important is that a saber grind exhibits a primary bevel that extends only a very short distance from the cutting edge to the back of the blade and it creates a thick, axe-like edge that is difficult to sharpen to a fine edge but, which does an excellent job of holding an edge when chopping and splitting. Due to its small size, it is too small to be effective at even light chopping tasks and it is a bit on the small side for a good camp knife but, it does make and excellent utility or “bush craft” knife for jobs that require a significant amount of control over the blade. Plus, the leather discs have been sealed to make them impervious to the absorption of moisture while still providing a positive grip. Anyone who knows knives can spot a Buck knife at a glance just by noting the distinctive handle design. Also, the handle scales are made from Thermo Plastic Elastomer which is a material that displays the properties of both plastic and rubber. ESEE wraps it all up in a nice package with a molded Kydex sheath which is not only extremely tough, it is also completely waterproof. So a true wilderness knife like the Fallkniven A2 is actually the right size for the job so therefore it is not a Rambo knife. The Fallkniven NL1 was the first to employ the new laminated 420J2 – VG10 – 402J2 steel and it stands taller than even the A2. In order to answer the question of the best steel, one must define the landscape where the knife will live.
Hori Horis are worn in sheaths just like other belt knives and when sheathed are indistinguishable from wilderness knives like the A2 at a short distance.
And a utility knife would have a pencil-thin handle.  Instead, the grip is proportioned within a narrow range where the human hand works best. Therefore, the grip on this knife is both incredibly tough and, it also provides a cushioned, non-slip, grip. So it follows that a Wilderness Knife such as the Fallkniven A2 is the properly sized tool for the great big outdoors found just past the “great outdoors” common in movies and national parks.
The A2 is a properly sized tool for the bigger pieces of the big picture.  Of course, that means it’s not for everybody. But up close, it’s obvious why the price of a quality Hori Hori is one-tenth or less of the Fallkniven. But when the ball drops and what you have is all you will ever have, then now is not the time to be a poser.



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