When TSHTF your knife will be your most important piece of gear. A good knife is versatile and holds many uses in a survival situation. There’s a lot of knives out on the market and finding the right one can be tough. Use this guide to choose the best fixed blade knife for you and your situation. Please note – this list is in no particular order. All the knives discussed have their own unique strengths and weak points. I will illustrate these as we move through the guide.
Also be sure to read my primer on choosing a survival knife so you know what you’re looking for.
Fixed Blade Survival Knife Comparison Chart
|ESEE 5||Ontario Rat 5||Gerber LMF 2||SOG Seal PUP Elite||ESEE 6||Fallkniven F1||Morakniv Bushcraft Black||Condor Bushlore||Kabar Bk7||Kabar BK2|
|Blade Length||5.25 inches||5.0 Inches||4.84 Inches||4.85 Inches||6.5 Inches||3.8 Inches||4.3 Inches||4 5/16 Inches||7 Inches||5.25 Inches|
|Total Length||10.88 Inches||10.5 Inches||10.59 Inches||9.5 Inches||11.75 Inches||8.3 Inches||9.1 Inches||9 5/16 Inches||12.75 Inches||10.5 Inches|
|Blade Thickness||0.25 Inches||0.188 Inches||NA||0.19 Inches||0.188 Inches||4.5mm||3.2mm||3mm||0.188 Inches||0.25 Inches|
|Blade Material||1095 Steel / Sabre Grind||1095 Steel / Full flat taper / Drop point||420 HC Stainless Steel||Aus 8||1095 Steel / Flat Grind||VG-10 Stainless Steel||Carbon Steel with anti corrosive coating||Carbon Steel with Scandinavian grind||1095 Cro-Van||1095 Cro-Van|
|Weight||16 oz||11.5 oz||11.67 oz||5.4 oz||20 oz||6 oz||5.7 oz||10 oz||0.85 lbs||1.0 lbs|
The ESEE 5 is a brute force knife designed to crack out of any full blown SHTF situation. It’s original design was to assist a downed pilots escape from his aircraft and out of enemy territory. The ESEE-5 is overkill for most people but perfect for those who want a bombproof knife that will never break. The blade is the thickest on this list and made of time tested 1095 carbon steel. While the blade is thick, it can take and hold a wicked edge. The handle is canvas Micarta. It’s a heavy beast but perhaps the most reliable knife on this list. You could pry, dig, and do anything to the ESEE-5 and it’s not going to show any signs of wear. One final feature I like about the ESEE-5 is the glass breaker pommel on the end of the handle. This is not only a great way to break glass but a formative self defense feature as well.
9.) Ontario Rat 5
The Rat 5 is the budget version ESEE-5. It’s identical in many features right down to the 1095 carbon steel and Micarta handle. It’s even got the classic glass breaker pommel on the end too. The ESEE-5 is significantly heavier however and still remains the top dog between the two. However, the ESEE-5 is quite heavy and difficult to use for finer tasks such as skinning and making feather sticks. The Rat 5 is a lighter and more agile alternative to the ESEE-5 and many people spring for this knife over the ESEE for this reason. It’s also significantly cheaper than the ESEE which can make the Rat 5 a no brainer for the budget conscious prepper. Without comparison, the Rat 5 can easily stand on it’s own as a competent survival knife.
8.) Gerber LMF 2
The Gerber LMF 2 is a truly unique blade with one of a kind design features. It was forged by the minds of the U.S. Special Forces who needed a knife that could cut through electrical wire without getting electrocuted. This led to a partial insulated tang design which does not come into contact with the sides of the handle. This allowed troops to hack and slash their way through enemy territory with ease. Staying to their red blooded roots, all Gerber knives are made right here in the U.S.
7.) SOG Seal Pup Elite
This knife is first and foremost a combat knife. Everything from the bowie blade design to the finger grooved handles makes this blade perfect for combat. I wouldn’t say it’s the best bushcrafting knife by any means but it’s a formative combat knife you don’t want to be on the business end of. The handle is extremely grippy thanks to the checkered print and fits your hands like a glove. The serrated edge comes in handy for tearing through cordage and other material. The SOG is a great tactical knife and very affordable compared to some of the other knives on this list.
The ESEE-6 is my favorite blade from the ESEE line of survival knives. I find it far superior to the bulky and weighty ESEE-5. This knife is much lighter and features a longer blade – making it very easy to baton wood and carry out general bushcrafting tasks. It’s made of all the same high quality material but designed in a way that makes using the ESEE-6 a joy. The lightness of the knife keeps you agile while the thinner blade lends itself well to skinning and other micro tasks. Referencing the comparison chart above you can see similar materials but very different specs and dimensions.
5.) Fallkniven F1
This knife was designed in Sweden and issued to all Swedish Army personnel. Sweden brings not only some of the nicest people in the world, but some of greatest and sharpest knives in the industry. Morakniv knives are also forged in the country so suffice to stay the Fallkniven F1 is one hell of a blade. The knife has a basic look but feels great in your hand. The blade material is a form of stainless steel known as VG-10. The blade features a convex grind which will make sharpening the blade more difficult but not too much. The Convex grind is efficient at batoning wood. The convex curve literally acts as a wedge and makes batoning wood an effortless endeavor. The Fallkniven F1 is a good basic knife.
4.) Morakniv Bushcraft Black
Another all time classic from Sweden. Morakniv knives are extremely sharp. The Bushcraft Black features a carbon steel blade with an anti corrosive coating. Carbon Steel is a high maintenance material and easily gathers rust if you don’t take care of it. The powder coating does a good job preventing the rust and keeping the blade in ship shape. The handle is ergonomic and fits nicely in your hands. My one gripe about this knife is a partial tang. The tang only runs 3/4 down the handle. While I would prefer a full tang, this knife still feels very solid even when doing serious damage in the bush. The raw sharpness of this blade makes up for the tang. Be careful not to slice yourself when you unbox this bad boy.
3.) Condor Bushlore
A true bush knife through and through. The aesthetics on this knife scream bushcrafting. The handle is wooden and almost looks like a rustic steak knife. Not that I would hesitate to slice into some meat with this thing out in the bush! One thing to note – it’s a lightweight knife. You won’t be batoning anything crazy but the Condor is a fantastic general purpose bush knife. The blade is carbon steel and sharpens up like a straight razor. A solid knife to keep on your belt especially if you plan on bugging out to the woods.
2.) Kabar BK7
Now here is a knife that rivals even the legendary ESEE-5. I give you the Kabar BK7. Some consider this the ultimate survival knife. The blade is long and the 1095 Cro-Van steel sharpens up to a razors edge. This knife also features a glass breaking pommel with which to bash and hammer anything in your way. The Bk7 is a beast when it comes to batoning wood and being an overall bombproof knife. Will it cost more than most of the knives on this list? Yes it will, but the Bk7 is well worth it if you want a knife to stand the test of time.
1.) Kabar BK2
Perhaps the most popular survival knife of all time is the Bk2 – the little fat brother of the Bk7. Despite having a shorter blade, the Bk2 actually weighs more than the Bk7. This is thanks to the extra thickness given to the blade. Many people note the Bk2’s resiliency out in the bush. You couldn’t break this thing even if you wanted to. I have a post comparing the Bk2 and Bk7. If you have the money these are the survival knives I recommend the most on the site. They’re tough as nails and sharp as a razors edge – a formidable survival companion in the bush or in a fully blown SHTF situation.
The preceding knives represent the absolute best of the best. You could go with the cheapest contender and still have a knife that will stand the test of time and do everything you need it to do. The survival knife is one piece of gear you can’t afford to miss if you’re serious about putting together a survival kit. Good luck in your choice and put the knife to good use when you get it!