The 7 Best Fixed-Blade Survival Knives in 2020 – Tested & Reviewed
Looking for the best survival knife to tackle the great outdoors? We’ve got you covered with this handy overview! Our experts have ranked the Top 7 Best Survival Knives with fixed-blades on the market. Rating them on value-for-money, quality, and – of course – sharpness and handling. This means that when you buy a fixed-blade knife included in this list, you know you’re making a well-informed choice for your bushcraft, camping, hiking, or other outdoor activity needs!
We’ve included a fantastic buy for every preference and budget. In our Best Survival Knife overview, you’ll both find high-end, premium knives AND budget-friendly basics. Whether you want to spend a lot, or a little on your new survival knife: you’ll find something that cuts the mustard, without exceeding your budget. Curious about our Top 7 Best Survival Knives? Then let’s give you a sneak preview…
Our Top 7 Best Survival Knife choices are:
- Morakniv Companion Heavy Duty Fixed Blade Knife
- Gerber Bear Grylls 31-000751 Ultimate Knife with Serrations
- Gerber 31-003941 Ultimate Fixed Blade Survival Knife
- KA-BAR Becker BK2 Campanion Fixed Blade Knife
- ESEE 4P Survival OEM Sawtooth Drop Point Fixed Blade Knife
- Schrade SCHF36 Frontier Stainless Steel Full Tang Fixed Blade Knife
- Benchmade Bushcrafter 162 Fixed Outdoor Survival Knife
Our team has also included a handy Buying Guide section at the bottom of this post. In this section, we’re highlighting the most important buying factors to consider when shopping for a survival knife, such as size, blade material, branding, and more. If you need help in figuring out which is the best knife for your survival situations, we recommend browsing this Buying Guide to get informed about the possibilities!
Top 7 Best Fixed-Blade Survival Knives
Morakniv Companion Heavy Duty Fixed Blade Knife
The Morakniv Companion Heavy Duty Fixed Blade Knife is a highly-rated, budget-friendly knife with hundreds of 5-star Amazon ratings. Though affordable, this Swedish-made survival knife doesn’t compromise on quality, grip, and performance – ensuring you get maximum bang for your buck. Whether you use it for bushcraft activities such as skinning or even to gut a fish: the Morakniv Companion Heavy Duty Fixed Blade Knife is a Jack of all trades.
The Morakniv Companion Heavy Duty Fixed Blade Knife has a 4.1 inch, three-quarter Sandvik 12C27 stainless steel blade. This tang-hardened, corrosion-resistant material offers superb edge-retention. According to Amazon reviews, the Morakniv Companion will keep its razor-sharp edge for many camping or bushcraft trips to come. The knife features a blade thickness of 0.1 inches and measures 8.6 inches including the handle. When covered with a sheath, the total weight of the design is 4.1oz – lightweight enough for easy carrying.
High-friction grip handle
This best-selling survival knife comes with a protective plastic sheath to keep the blade secure in-between uses. The sheath has a clip point, allowing you to attach it to your hiking belt. Another perk is that the Morakniv Companion Heavy Duty Fixed Blade Knife has a high-friction grip handle. This slightly textured, ergonomic handle allows you to maintain full control in wet or cold conditions and provides extra safety when handling the blade.
Made by Morakniv, a Swedish brand known for its premium knives and bushcraft accessories, the Companion Fixed Blade Knife is also covered by a limited lifetime warranty. This means that you have any issues with your knife, you’ll be eligible for a quick solution such as a replacement or refund (subject to conditions). Though considering its affordable pricing, excellent handling, great edge retention, and high Amazon rating, we doubt anyone would be disappointed by this best-value survival knife!
Gerber Bear Grylls 31-000751 Ultimate Knife with Serrations
The Gerber 31-000751 Ultimate Knife from the Bear Grylls Survival Series is designed to help any bushcraft enthusiast endure in the toughest environments. The survival knife features an ergonomic grip for comfortable handling and a dependable stainless steel blade with sharp serrations and great edge retention. Furthermore, the knife and high-quality nylon sheath are packed with handy survival accessories, such as a fire starter, a diamond blade sharpener, a whistle, and a pommel.
The Gerber Bear Grylls 31-000751 Knife has a 4.75-inch drop-point blade. The blade is half serrated to make quick work of cutting through rope and undergrowth. The blade is made of high-grade stainless steel and features full-tang construction for extra durability. Balanced for optimum handling, this Gerber Bear Grylls 31-000751 Knife has an overall length of 10 inches and weighs only 11.2 ounces (14.72 ounces with the included nylon sheath).
To ensure safe and secure handling, the Gerber Bear Grylls 31-000751 Survival Knife comes with an ergonomic rubberized grip that’s textured to prevent slipping. Another perk is that the handle comes with two holes, which allow you to easily lash it to a stick to use as a makeshift fishing spear or another extra-long survival tool. Additionally, the base of the handle features a stainless steel pommel, which can be used for pounding or hammering. Furthermore, the knife’s lanyard cord helps you keep it close at hand, whilst the integrated whistle in the lanyard can be used to attract attention in emergencies.
Firestarter and striker notch
That’s not all, because even the knife’s included nylon sheath is packed with perks. The high-quality nylon sheet is a protective cover for your knife but also hides some clever survival accessories. For example, the sheath folds open to reveal a diamond sharpener. The sheath also features a fire starter rod, which is locked into a water-tight holder. This nifty ferrocerium rod can produce a shower of hot sparks when scraped against the rough surface of the striker notch, incorporated into the back of the knife blade.
The nylon sheath even includes a waterproof copy of the “Priority of Survival” guide by Bear Grylls, tucked into a protective pocket on the back. This handy guide is packed with experience-based survival advice and instructions, ideal for when you need some expert help on the go.
Designed by survival enthusiasts, for survival enthusiasts: the Gerber Bear Grylls 31-000751 Knife is a mid-budget favorite with high-end functionality, making it one of the best deals on fixed-blade survival knives you’ll find.
Gerber 31-003941 Ultimate Fixed Blade Survival Knife
Another popular choice by Gerber, similar in design and style to the Bear Grylls Survival Knife (as previously listed) is the 31-003941 model. The Gerber 31-003941 Ultimate Fixed Blade Survival Knife is loaded with handy features and innovations, including a firestarter, a pommel, an integrated blade sharpener, and a whistle lanyard.
The Gerber 31-003941 Ultimate Fixed Blade Survival Knife features a full-tang blade measuring 4.75 inches in length. The drop point blade is made of stonewashed stainless steel and is partly enhanced with serrations for cutting through rope and undergrowth with ease. To help you keep a steady grip, even in wet conditions, the knife features an ergonomic and textured non-slip rubber grip handle. A mildew-resistant click-retention nylon sheath cover is also included with the Gerber 31-003941 Ultimate Fixed Blade Survival Knife.
Emergency whistle and fire starter
Similar to the Bear Grylls Survival Knife by Gerber, this 31-003941 model is packed with additional perks. Combining multiple tools into one sleek design, this high-quality knife can also be used as an emergency whistle, a sharpener, and a fire starter. To help you start a fire, Gerber has incorporated a ferrocerium rod fire starter into the knife’s sheath and a striker notch into the back of the blade. The knife also includes a handy lanyard for easy carrying, which has an incorporated whistle for emergencies. Furthermore, the knife can even be used as a hammer, because it comes with a stainless steel pommel at the base of the handle.
If you’re looking for a knife that combines multiple survival tools and accessories in one, sleek design: the Gerber 31-003941 model could be your perfect match. Packed with survival features, made of high-quality materials, and excellent edge-retention: this Gerber 31-003941 Ultimate Fixed Blade Survival Knife makes the cut.
KA-BAR Becker BK2 Campanion Fixed Blade Knife
KA-BAR Becker BK2 Campanion Fixed Blade Knife is a high-end, premium quality knife with maximum durability. Granted, this knife is a bit pricier than the previously-listed Gerber and Morakniv options, but for its excellent quality standard, it is more than worth the splurge. The Becker BK2 Campanion Fixed Blade Knife by Ka-Bar is a great choice for a wide range of outdoor activities, including skinning, cooking and cutting kindling sticks for a campfire.
The lightweight Ka-Bar Becker BK2 Campanion Fixed Blade Knife has a drop point shape and a 20-degree edge angle. The blade itself is made of durable 1095 cro-van steel, which is corrosion-resistant and offers fantastic edge retention. The fixed-blade measures 5.5 inches long; with the knife’s overall length being 10.5 inches.
The KA-BAR Becker BK2 Campanion Fixed Blade Knife comes with a comfy handle made of Grivory: a durable and wear-resistant thermoplastic. The ergonomic handle ensures a steady hold, without slippage – even in wet or humid conditions.
MOLLE Compatible Sheath
This high-end survival knife includes a hard plastic sheath to keep it protected between uses. This plastic sheath is MOLLE compatible – meaning you can easily attach it to any Modular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment (MOLLE) outdoor gear. We also like that the Ka-Bar Becker BK2 Campanion Fixed Blade Knife is made right here in the USA. This means it adheres to high-quality American standards and is a result of American invention.
Made of premium cro-van steel, highly durable and agile, versatile, and highly-rated by other bushcraft enthusiasts: the KA-BAR Becker BK2 Campanion Fixed Blade Knife is a solid investment to your outdoor gear. Yes, it is slightly more expensive than other options, but if you want a blade that will last you for many years to come: this is worthy of your time, money, and attention!
ESEE 4P Survival OEM Sawtooth Drop Point Fixed Blade Knife
The ESEE 4P Survival OEM Sawtooth Fixed Blade Knife is a highly tactile, agile survival knife with an eye-catching handle. This new and improved version of the ESEE-4 looks as intimidating as the shark it’s named after. This model was designed by survival experts Jeff Randall and Mike Perrin as an all-round bushcraft knife for every kind of survival situation. The ESEE 4P Survival OEM Sawtooth Fixed Blade Knife is proudly made in the USA and adheres to premium US quality standards.
According to ESEE, this is ‘a survival knife in the truest sense of the word’. The knife features a versatile drop point blade with a 4.5″ cutting edge, suitable to a variety of outdoor tasks, such as field dressing and preparation of medium to large-sized game animals. The blade’s edge is sharpened to approximately 20 degrees, with an overall length of the knife of 9 inches. The total carrying weight of the knife is a mere 7.8 ounces.
Proper care required
The ESEE 4P Survival OEM Sawtooth Fixed Blade Knife is a go-to choice for outdoorsmen all over the globe and is even used by military and law enforcement professions for self-defense purposes. The hard-use knife is highly durable and made of heavy-duty, 1095 carbon steel. Do note that without proper care, the cutting edge may be prone to rust/staining – as 1095 steel is not corrosion-proof. This is why you’ll have to clean and lubricate the blade often and use a dry film rust inhibitor such as TUF-GLIDE. Though a bit of a hassle, with proper care, the ESEE 4 fixed-blade knife should last you for many bush crafting trips to come.
The ESEE 4P Survival OEM Sawtooth Fixed Blade Knife includes a polymer sheath for safe storage. The sheath comes with various holes, making it compatible with MOLLE (Modular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment) Gear.
If you’re looking for a tactile knife with great versatility, and a sleek and lightweight design: the ESEE 4P Survival OEM Sawtooth Fixed Blade Knife could be a great match. Do note that it requires a bit more care and attention to keep in tip-top condition, but for its high-end performance, we reckon that’s a worthy compromise.
Schrade SCHF36 Frontier Stainless Steel Full Tang Fixed Blade Knife
When it comes to affordability, it’s hard to beat the value of the Schrade SCHF36 Frontier Stainless Steel Full Tang Fixed Blade Knife. This affordable survival knife is at the lower end of the price range but doesn’t compromise on sharpness, agility, and smooth handling. Granted, it’s durability may not match that of the ESEE 4P or the Benchmade Bushcrafter 162, but at only a fraction of the cost, it still offers maximum value-for-money.
The Schrade SCHF36 Frontier features a 1095 high carbon steel drop point blade. The overall length of the knife is 10.4 inches, whilst the blade length measures 5 inches. The total carrying weight of the knife is 12.3 ounces. You can use the versatile carbon steel blade for a wide range of survival tasks, including skinning and prepping meals.
The Schrade SCHF36 Frontier Stainless Steel Knife’s handle material is a durable thermoplastic elastomer (TPE). The ergonomic handle is textured for extra grip, making it smooth to maneuver without slippage – even in wet conditions.
Firestarter and lanyard hole
Though it’s one of the most affordable survival knives on the market, the Schrade SCHF36 Frontier still comes with some high-end perks. These include a polyester belt sheath for easy carrying, and a lanyard hole if you want to wear it around your neck. The knife itself also features a sharpening stone and a ferrocerium rod which can be used as a fire starter.
For the price listed, you honestly can’t go wrong with the Schrade SCHF36 Frontier – as it’s without a doubt a good survival knife. Yes, it doesn’t quite reach the quality standard of high-end bushcraft knives, but for its affordability, that’s a fair trade-off. Plus, with over 700 5-star reviews on Amazon, the Schrade SCHF36 Frontier is one of the highest-rated knives on the list – giving us the confidence that this beauty is guaranteed to live up, and exceed expectations!
Benchmade Bushcrafter 162 Fixed Outdoor Survival Knife
We wanted to end our Top 7 Best Survival Knives with a high-end choice for those consumers who have the luxury of a bigger budget: the Benchmade Bushcrafter 162 Fixed Outdoor Survival Knife. This premium knife may cost a pretty penny, but for its superb quality and performance, it should last you a lifetime. Sound too good to be true? Well, the manufacturer even offers a LifeSharp warranty on the Benchmade Bushcrafter Survival Knife. This means that if your knife needs re-sharpening, Benchmade will do it for you and send the knife back free of charge. Now that’s what we call premium service.
The Benchmade Bushcrafter 162 Fixed Outdoor Survival Knife is made in the USA and designed by a renowned knife-maker Shane Sibert. The blade steel of the Bushcrafter 162 is a high-grade CPPM-S30V stainless steel. This type of stainless steel offers superb edge retention and is corrosion-resistant and very durable. The blade length is 4.4″, the overall length of the knife is 9.15″ The Bushcrafter 162 by Benchmade is designed as an everyday carry for the modern outdoorsman, which is why the brand has kept the knife lightweight at just 7.72 ounces.
Ergonomic fiberglass handle
The Benchmade Bushcrafter 162 Survival Blade comes with an ergonomic G10 handle. This handle features a resin-soaked fiberglass body that offers a solid, non-slip grip at all times. The fiberglass handle is also less prone to wear and tear and can handle moisture and wet conditions with ease.
The Benchmade Bushcrafter 162 Survival Blade comes with a Kydex sheath with belt loops for easy carrying. Do note that though most Amazon reviewers rave about the knife, they’re less enthusiastic about the included Kydex Sheath. That is why we’d recommend upgrading to a custom sheath for maximum carrying convenience and secure storage. We are a bit disappointed about the lack of quality of the sheath, as, for the premium price listed, we expected the accessories to be as high-end as the knife itself… That said, since this is pretty much the only con we can think of, the Benchmade Bushcrafter 162 Survival Blade still gets our full seal of approval!
So, out of all the Top 7 Fixed-Blade Survival Knives on this list, which would we classify as ‘the Best’? Well, that’s all a matter of personal preference over hard facts. Whilst one bushcraft enthusiast may prefer the versatile Gerber Ultimate Knife, packed with perks such as a firestarter rod, lanyard hole, and even emergency whilst in the lanyard, another may look for a simple yet heavy-duty option such as the Ka-Bar Fixed Blade Survival Knife.
Which is ‘the best’ survival knife is dependent on what buying factors are most important to you. For example, what type of blade material do you prefer? Do you want a full tang or partial tang knife? How much are you willing to spend? And do you want a survival knife with maximum versatility or solely tactile usage? Once you’ve determined which buying factors matter most, you simply match them to one of the 7 survival knives in this overview and voila: you’ve found your best match:
Finding the best deal for your survival and bushcraft needs can be that straightforward and convenient!
Tip: Need help in understanding which buying factors to take into consideration? Then don’t forget to check out our Buying Guide section at the bottom of this post. In the Buying Guide, we are highlighting the most important features and functions of survival knives, and are explaining the difference between drop point blades and Tanto design, fixed versus folding blades, and why we prefer a full tang option. Use this info to get informed, and let us help you buy with confidence!
Though every survival knife in this overview can be the best for you, we can share our favorite: the Gerber 31-003941 Ultimate Fixed Blade Survival Knife. This budget-friendly favorite offers maximum versatility and is simply an outstanding value-for-money deal.
The blade is made of high-quality stainless steel with great edge-retention and has a full-tang design for maximum durability. The drop-point blade silhouette is versatile and can be used for a wide variety of bushcraft tasks, including piercing, skinning, cooking, and more. The sharp blade is enhanced with handy partial serrations, which make cutting through rope and other materials a whole lot easier. Ideal for when building a shelter or on-the-go gear repairs. The 4.75-inch blade is the perfect length, whilst the 11 ounces carrying weight (including sheath) is more than manageable. Furthermore, this great-value design is packed with perks, such as a Ferro firestarter, a heavy-duty pommel, an integrated blade sharpener, and a whistle lanyard. The knife is easy to handle and comes with a non-slip grip, allowing full control even in wet conditions. You also get a mildew-resistant nylon sheath included, keeping the blade safe in-between uses.
Granted, the Gerber 31-003941 Ultimate Fixed Blade Survival Knife may not be as heavy-duty or premium quality as high-end options such as the Benchmade Bushcrafter 162 Fixed Outdoor Survival Knife – but for only a fraction of the cost, it is without a doubt one of the best-value deals you’ll find.
How to Pick the Best Survival Knife
With so many options on the market, finding the perfect knife for your outdoor needs can be quite challenging. That is exactly why we’ve created this handy Best Survival Knife Buying Guide. In this section, we’ll highlight the most important buying factors to take into consideration when shopping for a survival knife.
These factors include the difference between folding knife versus a fixed-blade knife, the type of blade material, a smooth sharp edge versus serrations, the blade’s size and weight, and the branding. You can use these factors to help determine which is the best bushcraft knife for you, and make a well-informed choice that won’t disappoint in any survival situation!
Let’s take a closer look at the most important buying factors when shopping for a survival knife:
Type of Blade
Folding or Fixed Blade Knife
Survival and bushcraft knives can have a fixed blade or a folding blade silhouette. Each has specific pros and cons. For example, a folding pocket knife is compacter, smaller, easier to store, and carry. However, a folding blade is also less sturdy and durable – and more prone to breaking due to having more smaller parts. That is exactly why for bushcraft and survival situations, we prefer a fixed blade knife. A fixed blade knife is sleek and streamlined and does not contain any moving or folding parts. This makes it more sturdy and durable and reduces the chances of it snapping or breaking when used for heavy-duty tasks.
Partial Tang or Full Tang Blade
The tang of a survival knife refers to the part of the blade which extends into the handle. You can choose a knife with a partial tang design or a full tang design. The difference is that a full tang blade means the blade and handle are constructed of one solid piece of steel or metal. Whilst a partial tang blade means the handle and blade are made of two separate pieces, for example, a laminated micarta handle and stainless steel blade.
We’d always recommend a full tang blade over partial tang knife blades. Firstly, because full tang is much more durable than partial tang. Some partial tang blades tend to ‘loosen’ over time, especially when used for heavy-duty activities such as chopping wood and batoning. A loose blade is an instant hazard, which is why full-tang knives are not only more durable but also a bit safer. If you want a blade with maximum strength and durability, and minimize the risk of the blade coming loose, choose a full tang knife – you won’t regret it!
Another important buying factor to consider is the shape/silhouette of the blade. There are several popular blade styles on the market, though we prefer a drop point blade.
Drop Point Blade
A drop point knife has a convex curve that runs from the spine to the tip. A drop point blade is known as one of the most versatile styles on the market and can be used for a whole range of survival situations. Drop point knives are known for their tip strength and heavy-duty durability, plus easy handling and agility.
Other alternatives, also great for survival and bushcraft activities, are tanto blades and clip-point blades. Tanto blades are great for tactical situations. The Tanto blade is inspired by the short fighting knife that was used by Samurai. It features an angular edge transition instead of the classic curve. The result is a sharp and prominent tip, ideal for piercing tough objects. If you want a tactical knife with maximum piercing power, Tanto could be the way to go. However, this shape is not as versatile as a drop point blade; which is why for general bushcraft – we wouldn’t necessarily recommend it.
Clip Point Blade
Clip Point Blades are very similar to drop point blades. The only major difference is that instead of having a convex curve (shapes that curve outward, like a football), the blade has a concave curve (meaning the sides curve inward) towards the tip. Clip point blades were popularized with the introduction of the Bowie knife, as seen in “Crocodile Dundee.” This traditional blade style is excellent for stabbing strikes but also works for skinning and detail work. Though for all-round bushcraft and survival tasks, we’d still prefer the classic and versatile drop point blade, though the clip point is a close second.
If you want a survival knife that can cut through rope and undergrowth with ease, choose an option that features partial serrations on the blade. Serrations make it easier to slice through thicker and rugged materials and require you to exceed less pressure to cut compared to a smooth-edged blade.
When buying a survival knife, always check the quality and gradation of the blade material. The most commonly used options for survival blades are stainless steel, high carbon steel, and titanium.
One of the most common choices for survival knives is a stainless steel blade. This type of material is corrosion-resistant and stain-resistant, making it easy to maintain/care for and extra-durable. Strong, solid, and relatively affordable: stainless steel is a great all-round option. Do note that stainless steel has different gradations. This means that one type of stainless steel can be a lot less durable than another. We like stainless steel with a rust-resistant compound called vanadium, known as S30V Stainless Steel. This type of stainless steel offers excellent edge retention and is corrosion-resistance and low-maintenance.
Avoid 420J Stainless Steel
Though most types of stainless steel are more than suitable for survival knives, we would recommend you to avoid 420J Stainless Steel. This type of alloy is a cheaper, low-grade type of steel. Though corrosion-resistant, 420J stainless steel is known to be quite ‘soft’. This means that though the survival blade may seem sharp and strong out of the box, it is prone to degradation and will loose its sharp edge a lot quicker than, for example, S30V or 420HC High Carbon steel. This means you’ll have to resharpen the blade frequently, and may have to replace the entire knife quicker than desired. That is why we recommend you to avoid 420J Stainless Steel as a blade material and go for a high-carbon steel or titanium blade instead.
Other Survival Knife Features
Though the type of blade of the survival knife is the most important buying factor, there are some other features to take into consideration:
The pommel refers to the bottom of the knife’s handle (a.k.a. the butt). If your knife has a reinforced and/or blunt pommel, you can use it for hammering tent stakes or building a shelter, and other survival tasks. If you want your knife to be extra-versatile, look for a design that mentions a reinforced/blunt pommel at the base – and avoid knives with a rounded pommel since this isn’t handy for hammering.
Some survival knives also come with an incorporated Ferrocerium rod fire starter and a striker notch. The Ferro rod fire starter is often built-in or incorporated in the carrying sheath, whilst the striker notch is located on the back of the blade. Though not a necessity, a firestarter Ferrocerium rod, and striker notch may come in handy in many survival situations and could be a real perk for your survival knife.
Another feature that a survival knife can have is a lanyard hole at the base. A lanyard hole allows you to easily loop a lanyard through the knife or sheath, allowing for neck-carrying if desired. Again, this is not a necessity, but if you prefer carrying your survival knife on a lanyard, choose one that comes with a lanyard hoop for maximum convenience.
If you plan to attach your survival knife to any Modular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment (MOLLE), make sure it is MOLLE-compatible. Some survival knives include specially designed nylon sheath with attachment points, making them easy to strap-on/attach to your MOLLE backpack or other MOLLE gear. That said, other knives only come with a basic sheath without MOLLE compatibility, meaning you may have to purchase an extra sheath or case – which makes them less value-for-money and could lead to extra costs.
Always choose a survival knife that includes a sheath cover. A nylon sheath/Zytel sheath/leather sheath/hard-plastic sheath will keep your knife protected when not in use, plus protect you from any sharp edges when carrying the knife in your pack or on your body.
If you want to buy with confidence, we recommend purchasing your survival knife from an expert brand in bushcraft and tactile gear. There are dozens of highly-rated, established brands on the market – all known for their premium quality standards, reliability, and great customer service. Brands that we recommend are Gerber, Benchmade, Fallkniven, Victorinox, Morakniv, SOG Knives, Kershaw, KA-BAR, and more.