What is your favorite survival knife?

Apr 11, 1999
What is everyone's opinion of the best survival knife and why?
When I was in the market for a survival knife my decision came down to either the Cold Steel SRK or the USMC KA-BAR. I chose the KA-BAR because I felt it would chop better and it had that butt you could pound things with. I also considered a SOG government which had the pommel/buttcap for pounding but also had a bigger price tag. Plus I like the history behind the KA-BAR.

"Little strokes fell great oaks." --Benjamin Franklin
My favorite survival knife would be any knife I was caught with in a survival situation. Whether that means my SAK, and Endura, or my Ontario fighting knife is regardless. If I was in a survival situation I'd be glad to have any knife!
Cybeq, between the two you mentioned, I would have gone with the SRK, because of the thicker blade, giving it more strength and I consider strength a must in a survival knife. Although the KA-BAR is a good knife.

If we stick to the under $100 range as you did, there are many good choices:

The Sog seal pup is excellent
The CS recon tanto
The CS bush ranger
The CS bushman
Ontario Marine Raider bowie
Ontario Large Tanto
Ontario Survival bowie
Small Buck Intrepid
Junglee makes several in that price range

And many, many more
In the $100 range I really like my srk.If I was going to spend $150 I would buy one of Bob Doziers knives.
My favorite for the last 11 years is my Gerber BMF. The earlier 8" blade and no sawteeth. I keep a Serber Tool, magnesium fire starter, and other goodies in a pouch on the front and still have the original Silva Starter compass in its own pouch. It is a big knife but I have chopped trees down, split wood and even abused it but it still keeps going. I used it in Montana in Air Force survival training as well as working with the County Search and Rescue unit. I love it and will pass it on to my son when I don't need it any more.
For me, probably the Fallkniven F1. It's thick enough that I don't have to worry about breaking it, yet it can be made nice and sharp. Good VG-10 stainless steel. Oh, and the full tang protrudes out of the end of the handle slightly so you can pound on it in a pinch without breaking the handle. This is a practical sized fixed blade--small enough that I might actually have it with me when I need it.

David Rock
For me it would be the grohman survival knife. An unsual but very practical shape. Well done slightly soft (Aus 8 equivalent) steel. This is easier to sharpen if you have nothing other than a flat river rock. It is also plenty thick and tough.
Whatever I happen to be carrying when it hits the fan!

Walk in the Light,
I like big blades, so when I'm out in the woods, I either have my Busse Mistress or Simonich Nordooh. Between the SRK and Ka-Bar, I too would have chosen the SRK. I have at one time or another owned both of these, and the SRK is the one I want back
What do you mean with "survival knife"? A knife you can use to withstand every task you can find in a wild environment, or a knife you can easy carry with you just in case something goes wrong?

For instance, during some survival courses with Army, the instructors said to look for a blade not lesser than 12 inches, quite heavy. This blade is not intended for combat tasks, but only to be used to build, to hack, to cut branches and the like.

Nevertheless, you'll need a small knife (they suggest Original Victorinox SAK, this is not to be intended as advertising), very sharp, to care very much and to use only in very few occasions. Moreover, this knife gives you a good woodsaw (a little small) that you can use instead of chopping.

When I go wandering, I carry with me a kukhry (made in 1916), a medium knife (like an SRK or a lighter fixed blade) only because I am fond of knives, and a SAK.

This when I can plan what I can take. When I go to some place where it is not planned to use knives or go trailing, I carry with me one or more knives, according the situations I can imagine. E.g. a SAK, a SAK and an heavy folder, a SAK and a SRK or a KA-BAR (but in these two last cases I have planned something). I always carry a SAK because it has a lot of uses and I have the same since 1983 and it never failed, it is quite like new.

IMHO, I think SRK or KA-BAR are good knives, but they haven't enough "belly" if I have to make a fire or build a refuge.

Trail Master or Battle Mistress (THIS IS NOT A COMPARISON) should be a good choice, but they could be too big to carry everytime. It depends what kind of Survival Kit are you creating: for your pocket, your camper or your backpack.

This is a realy good question. I have to think it over until tomorrow. But if the situation would occur right now it would be my spyderco terzuola (C-15), because it is with me right now.
How about we try to answer the question "Assuming that you have the time to pick the right knife, which would you want in a survival situation.". I would want a blade that was large enough to do the heaviest task I would need to be doing. A heavier blade can always do the lighter tasks it will just be a bit clumsy at them. A lighter blade cannot do the heavier tasks by itself and might not take the strain if you try to assist it. So if I had to take one I would go with the heavier. But odds are I would have more than one as I can't remember the last time I left the house with one knife on me anyway. Stainlessness is not much of a problem nor is sharpening as I usually carry the means for both on me and neither are that difficult to locate naturally. Well there are some exceptions. Trying to sharpen a ceramic blade might be a bit difficult - but then again not nearly as difficult as trying to blunt it.

What would I want? Well what I currently carry. A small folding knife for delicate cutting (Micra, Calypso Jr.), a larger folder or small fixed blade for more general cutting work (Military, custom D2 drop point), a heavy duty folder for dirty tough work (MPF), a decent multi-tool (Leatherman ST), and finally a nice big blade for the most taxing jobs (HI khukuri, Busse BM).

A couple of these I don't have yet but are either on order or on their way. The only ones out of that list that I don't have on me at any given moment is the last type. I don't wear it to work or when I go to town for shopping (but it will be in the car). Any other time I wear that as well.

One thing you might want to consider if space saving / ease of carrying is a concern is the Uluchet :


It has a D2 blade that has high edge retention and is very, very tough. It is small enough folded to fit in your pocket and when unfolder can do a significant amount of chopping. It can also be used to handle a variety of slicing tasks when it is folded. The thin edge cuts well.


[This message has been edited by Cliff Stamp (edited 16 April 1999).]
Well as some of you may or may not know I won a Fallkniven F1(Right here) and used it camping last week..Its a great knife!! And as Dave Rock said very stout and a great size...Did some wood carving with it(lazin around the camp) and pounded on it..(tang comes out of handle)with a large piece of wood, like a chisel. Vg10 is a pretty good steel! Stayed sharp all week end. Did some kitchen(well outdoor kitchen) stuff, handy size. Very Ergonomic handle. All in all, a great knife, I wouldn't hesitate to take far into the OUTBACK..wherever yours may be? AND A great price to boot! Get yours today at Chai Cutlery!!! 818-353-4734

I wouldn't steer you wrong..The Bartman

I've got a SOG Government. It is a good quality knife with a good sheath. 6.5" blade
of 5/32" 440a steel.

It is very comfortable knife, but I think it is a little blade light for "survival". "Survival" to me means making shelters and getting food and water. "Urban survival" is another matter.

You might check out the Spec Plus line. Real good knives for under $50.00, and loads of models to choose from.
For the money, I dont think you can go wrong with a SRK or KA-BAR.

If money is not a concern, I would pick-

Brend #2, 8.5" in D-2.
Bauchop Makulu Bowie.
Broadwell MLR in D-2.
R.J. Martin Combat Fighter.
Simonich "Nardooh".
T.H. Rinaldi's New Y2K.
Larry Harley Combat Bowie.
Chris Reeve (any 7" or so blade)

These are a few that i would consider as "the best" of the combat/survival type knives.

Well this is a pretty wide-open subject. When I hear "survival" I think wilderness survival in the wilderness I most often frequent (heavily-wooded conifer forests), and in a civilian rather than military context. Of course, survival could be anything from urban to desert to arctic environments. Also, survival strategy changes depending on how long you'll be doing it. For me, it's a "stay safe for at most 1 week until I'm found" thing, as opposed to going out into the woods and surviving there for months at a time.

For most wilderness survival, I'll go ahead and state what I've been claiming on another thread -- that the military-style mid-sized fixed blades (say, 6"-8") are NOT a particularly good choice for this type survival if you had the chance to plan ahead.

Once in a survival situation, you can make any knife work with the know-how. However, since we're "planning ahead for survival" in this string, I think it's worth calling out the kinds of things we might need to do for wilderness survival. Jobs tend to be either very big or small. From preparing kindling to cutting wood for a shelter for the big jobs. From food prep to making other tools to (unlikely but possible) dressing out game.

The mid-size fixed blades don't do particularly well at any of these jobs, though you can make do with them. Rather, big-job/small-job cutlery is what really works here. For the small jobs, a folder or small fixed-blade. For the big jobs, something that's big enough to do any chopping you might need: machete, Battle Mistress, kukhri. Or if you're economizing on space, a lightweight folding saw. I think folding saw + folding knife easily beats just having a mid-sized fixed blade; machete + small fixed blade blows it away.

Remember also, you have other tools. Provided you can build a fire, you can use that fire to section pieces of wood. If there's lots of wood lying on the ground, you can use it to build a fire, then use the fire to size other wood to meet your needs.

Anyway, just my thoughts. I think anyone considering those mid-sized fixed blades should consider a folding saw and small fixed blade (or folder) as well. Or replace the folding saw with a machete or something even bigger if possible. I see those mid-size fixed blades camping all the time, and at least while camping, those mid-sized fixed blades never get used because there's usually a more efficient tool around.

In a military context, where you're prying and busting open ammo crates and the like, the mid-sized fixed blades make much more sense to me.

I tend to agree with Joe and those who feel a slightly smaller knife is most useful. I have come to realize from being a volunteer for many years with "OUTWARD BOUND"(www.ncobs.org) located here in Asheville NC. Over the years of working in the Wilderness Educators Program?(instructor development/practicum courses)As Joe said time factors,not only the length spent, but the time of the season and terrain, all play changeing roles in wilderness survival. After spending many days in the Appalachians and a 49 day jaunt at the bottom of the Grand Canyon(brite angel)Surviving and hiking over 350 miles, with a 4 1/2"(aus8) CS Master hunter, a folding saw and a SAK. Beleive me, this is some of the most desolate terrain in the world! And when it comes to all around usefulness, a 4-5" stout fixed blade rules! The only complaint I had was the handle, it got beat up from pounding..This is why I mentioned the usefulness of the Fallkniven tang exposed!! This is one very important feature. A smaller blade is also much easier to maintain in the wilderness. One gentleman had a rather large bowie..I remember him spending alot of trying to keep it sharp and was very awkward to carry, must have weighed 4lb. Have also seen small axes toted, not needed, beleive me!!
Their are many senarios, and I have been exsposed to many...these would be my choices.Of course I would also carry a folder, Sebenza of course!
Just my nickels worth

I would choose the Chris Reeve Shadow IV

maybe go for a bigger blade but 5.5 inch is very compact.


Chris Reeves knives are real State Of The Art in survival !

Also gigve a try to the FALLKNIVEN !!!
The F1 and the A1 are sooooooo great !
They have been made with survival mind !