What’s The Best Survival Knife?

Knife collage isolated on a white background depicting a variety of sheath knives.

There’s few things in the world more useful than a decent knife, especially in a survival situation. If there’s anything The Simpsons have taught us, it’s that you never know when one of these simple little tools will come in handy.

However, selecting a good-quality knife isn’t all that easy. Nowadays, the market is flooded with so many knives, it can be hard to separate the wheat from the chaff. It gets even worse when we start talking specifically about survival knives. With such diversity, it should be obvious that no single knife will satisfy everyone. Some people prefer folding knives over fixed blades, others value weight over durability and others still would prefer something with a few extra bells and whistles. Recognizing that everyone has different priorities, I’ve opted against selecting a single knife as the one size fits all, best of the best. Instead, I’ve opted to highlight four of the leading survival knives on the market based on specific attributes — durability, weight, utilities and value. You can decide for yourself which one is the most suited for your needs.

The most durable: Fallkniven A1

It’d be impossible to discuss survival knives without mentioning the Fallkniven A1. Made by a relatively small, family-run company in Sweden, the A1 is a legend among knife enthusiasts, and a favorite piece of gear for elite military personnel. The knife is widely used by the Swedish Air Force, and is issued by some US and Russian special forces. Compared to most outdoor knives, the A1 is chunky, not particularly light and very simple to look at. The reason for the A1’s cult following really comes down to one factor: durability. The A1 is the Terminator of knives. It might seem a little clunky at first, but it will never die. Just check out this video series titled “Fallkniven A1 Destruction Test.”

For anyone who doesn’t want to watch someone chop things up for an hour, the highlights of this video series include the A1 being put up against everything from apples to solid blocks on concrete. The knife is eventually shattered, but only after it has cut through iron bars, hammered through concrete and suspended in a vice and jumped on repeatedly.

The secret to the A1’s ridiculous durability basically comes down to its perfect craftsmanship. They’re supposedly manufactured in relatively small batches, and independently tested for strength. As you’d expect from a knife of this caliber, it comes out of the box sharp enough to shave with, is full tang and has a fairly nice ergonomic grip. It’s only real downside is its steep price at a jaw-dropping $200.

The lightest: Deejo Naked series

On the exact opposite end of the spectrum to the A1 is the Deejo Naked series of knives. Sometimes referred to as Baladeo knives (referring to Deejo’s parent company), these knives are some of the lightest on the market. The smallest of the series, the 55mm blade, has a weight of just 15 grams. It’s about the size of an ordinary clothes peg, and ridiculously thin. There are two other variations with 80mm and 100mm blades. At this point, many serious survivalists will be shaking their heads in disgust at even mentioning a knife like this. None of these knives will stand up to a serious beating, and they’re too small to even be considered survival knives in the traditional sense of the word. It’s for these reasons that this knife wouldn’t personally be my first choice.

However, these little guys fit a very specific niche. Deejo knives are perfect for mountaineers and climbers who want a basic knife that weighs as little as possible. They also appeal to minimalists and ultra-light trail runners, who pride themselves on carrying as little as they can get away with into the wilderness. For these kinds of people, the Deejo is the perfect tool to keep in a back pocket in case things go bad, or if an apple needs slicing. In other words, this is an emergency knife for people who don’t want to drag around a full survival knife. To see for yourself what the Deejo has to offer, check out this review from BladeHQ.

Best bells and whistles: Bear Grylls Ultimate Survival Knife

Nobody wants to admit it, but the Bear Grylls Ultimate is actually a great knife. In fact, it’s more than just a knife: It’s an entire emergency kit. The blade itself is made of lightweight, high carbon stainless steel, with serration halfway down. This means the knife is suited to a broad range of cutting applications, with the serration acting like a small saw that can make small work of wood and even some metals. It’s far from the best on the market, but it holds up well. To start with, there literally is a whistle — it’s attached to the handle, and a nice little addition for survival situations. There’s also a built-in fire starter, sharpener and Gryll’s survival pocket guide. The blade also has a decent pommel for bashing stuff, and eyelets so it can be easily lashed to a stick to create a spear. In short, the Bear Gryll’s Ultimate isn’t the most fashionable knife on the market; but if you want a full survival kit in your pocket, then this is it.

Watch the video below for more information.

Best value: KA-BAR Becker 22 Companion

Good value doesn’t mean cheap — it means getting the most for your money. That’s lucky for the KA-BAR Becker 22 Companion, which is anything but cheap. In fact, it’s more expensive than the Bear Grylls and Deejo combined. However, the reason I feel you get bang for your buck here is because this knife is such extremely high quality for its price range. It’s usually around $20 more than the Bear Grylls, but is a world apart in terms of durability and general craftsmanship. It’s basically bombproof, versatile and its edge retention almost gives the A1 a run for its money. Of course, compared to the A1, the 22 has some pretty obvious flaws. The handle doesn’t grip that great when wet, and the sheath with its stubborn retention straps is pretty disappointing compared to the A1’s beautiful leather one. Like the A1, it’s also on the heavy side, and won’t appeal to everyone. Yet these are relatively minor issues when considering just how effective this knife is overall. If you want top quality for a very reasonable price, it’s hard to find anything better. Check out the video below for all the action.

What do you think of our choices? Did we miss any knives that should have been on the list? Tell us in the comments below!

—Ryan Mallett-Outtrim

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