How To Choose The Best Knife For Survival

Within the vast universe of knives offered today a person could easily get lost and wonder where do I start. Learning what to look for on a knife is not difficult and your decision can be made based on the intended use of your new knife.
The most important things to look at are the tang, fixed or folding, blade length, blade type, blade grind, and the type of steel.

The parts of a knife

There are three types of tangs available full, half, and push. When choosing a survival knife look for one that has a full tang meaning it is the same size as the handle. If you look at the handle of the knife you should be able to see the tang sandwiched between the grips. Avoid half and push tang they lack the durability required in a survival knife and are much more prone to breakage.

Blade Length
Hollywood has everyone believing that the best knife for survival is huge and could be used for slaughtering a mammoth, don't buy it. A huge knife is garbage in the field because it is to difficult to control and use for smaller jobs. Generally 4-6" is the best length, perfect for small jobs and bigger jobs like splitting small logs.

Folding or Fixed Blade
By all rights you should really have both a folder for your EDC and a fixed for your survival knife. For survival purposes a fixed blade is always best. There is less chance of breakage because it is all one piece and a folder could close on your fingers.

Blade Type
There are essentially four different main blade types with numerous variations of them available. Drop point and clip point are usually best for survival and spear point and tanto point are best for fighting.

Blade Width
The general rule of thumb for a survival knife's blade thickness is an 1/8" to 1/4". Any thinner than an 1/8" and the blade will bend and be to flimsy any thicker than 1/4" and the knife will be to thick for most jobs other than splitting wood.

Blade Metal Type
Knife blades are basically made out of two kinds of steel, carbon and stainless. Stainless will not rust as easily as carbon but is also more difficult to sharpen in the field. Carbon can be brought to a razor edge with primitive sharpening tools but if not taken care of it is prone to rust.
Stainless            Carbon
S60V                 D2
BG-42               A2
S90V                 O1
CPM S30V        Carbon V

Different Blade Grinds
2. Flat
3. Saber
4. Chisel
5.Double Bevel
6. Convex
Blade Grinds
There are six commonly used grinds available for a survival knife; hollow, flat, saber, chisel, double bevel, and convex. Hollow grind is extremely sharp but has bad edge retention and is difficult to sharpen in the field. Flat grind tapers from the spine of the blade all the way to the edge, which makes it greats for chopping and slicing as in a kitchen knife. A saber grind is similar to the flat grind but the taper starts further down the blade. A chisel grind is like a chisel with only one edge ground. A double bevel grind has two angles to make the edge. Finally a convex grind is like an axe which makes it good for chopping and gives it decent edge retention. Out of all these grinds the best for a survival knife is the saber grind.

Knife Handle
The knife handle is almost as important as the blade itself. You should find a knife with a grip that is comfortable and made from durable materials. Do not get a knife with a survival kit in the handle as this is just a sales gimmick and better suited for a novelty gift. As long as you purchase a full tang blade there shouldn't be to much concern the handle will break. If you are in the field and the handle does break you can just wrap a full tang with paracord.

Remember to choose based on the use of the knife. The ideal survival knife will be a 4-6" long, full tang, fixed blade that is a 1/8" - 1/4" thick with a saber grind and comfortable grip.

My Suggestions
  • Gerber LMF 2 Infantry or Survival
  • SOG Seal Pup Elite
  • Kabar Becker BK2
  • Kabar USMC Utility
  • Gerber Bear Grylls Fixed Blade Survival Knife
  • Tom Brown Tracker
  • Cold Steel SRK
  • Fallkniven A1 Swedish Survival Knife
This is a link to purchase any of these great knives from Amazon

Photos courtesy of Bing Images


  1. Thank you so much for this information! I'm in the process of picking out some knives for xmas and this really helped!

  2. I like to carry my pocket knife kershaw. What types of knife you should choose depends on what type of adventure and survival you are going to make. Thanks for letting us know about the tips on how to choose a survival knife, A knife can safe your life or waste your life.

  3. I often opt for stainless steel blade because of their durability and they're not prone to rusting. Unlike carbon blades, our best bet will be a stainless steel by a landslide, in my opinion! I also look into the handle, style of the blade, and knife size, aside from the material used. I have arthritic hands so handles are crucial for me, too. I look for ones that can fit comfortably in the palm of my hands and will not slip when my hands are wet, too. I always invest in a good knife, and everyone should, too. For more info, here's a quick link