Our Guide to Choosing a Good Cheap Survival Knife after 2015
Every outdoorsman needs a good, reliable survival knife. But what if you’re on a tight budget, and don’t have a lot of money to spend? The good news is that most knives in this category are not crazy expensive anyway, but you’ll find that many of the top-rated models are very agreeably priced.
Gerber Bear Grylls Ultimate Knife
Our favorite for 2017
Morakniv Companion Fixed Blade Outdoor Knife with Carbon Steel Blade
A great value option
Kershaw 1660 Ken Onion Leek Folding Knife with SpeedSafe
A great knife if you can afford a littlle extra
The question is: how can you compare knives to find the right one? Here are some things to consider:
- Knife type: When comparing knives, you’ll find both folding and fixed blade options. It’s important to understand what type of knife you want before you start searching. Folding knives are ideal for small tasks, but are typically less durable than fixed blade knives. A fixed blade knife is a bit longer (it probably won’t fit in your pocket), but will be tough enough to stand up to most survival tasks. Determining what type of knife you want will help you narrow down your choices.
- Overall customer satisfaction: Are users leaving mostly positive or negative comments about the knife? Customer satisfaction is important. A good knife will be backed by positive reviews, but those that aren’t as durable will receive plenty of complaints. Use customer reviews as a guide to help you decide which models are high quality.
- Durability and reliability: When you’re in a survival situation, you want to make sure that you have a knife you can depend on – one that won’t break in extreme conditions. Consider whether the blade is full tang, and what type of metal is used on the blade. Full tang knives are far more durable because the blade’s steel extends all the way to the end of the handle. Blades that aren’t full tang can separate at the handle, which can leave you in a sticky situation. If the knife includes a pommel, check to see if it can actually withstand heavy use.
All of these factors are important to consider when comparing cheap survival knife models. We’re going to share five of the best models on the market to help you find the best budget survival knife for your needs.
These five survival knives all come at an affordable price, but don’t compromise on quality.
Gerber Bear Grylls – Many of you may already be familiar with the Gerber Bear Grylls knife – it was made popular by the Man vs. Wild television show. Don’t let its affiliation with the show fool you – this is an excellent survival knife.
Let’s start with the handle. It’s completely rubberized with a textured grip to make sure the knife never falls out of your hand – no matter what weather conditions you find yourself in. The drop point blade is partially serrated to allow for sawing, while the tip is excellent for screwing, flying and drilling.
Attached to the sheath is a fire starter, and on the back is a diamond sharpener to keep your blade sharp at all times. A lanyard emergency whistle is attached to the knife’s handle to allow you to attract attention if you’re lost in the wild.
For the best all-around cheap survival knife, the Gerber Bear Grylls is the clear choice.
Morakniv Companion – The Morakniv Companion is a fixed blade knife without all the bells and whistles. The 4.1 inch blade is made of high carbon steel, and is 0.08 inches thick. Manufactured in Sweden, the high-friction grip on this knife’s handle is patterned to make sure it doesn’t slip out of your hand. It’s comfortable to hold, too.
At just 3.9 ounces, this knife won’t weigh you down and is compact enough to carry in your backpack or on your belt clip. A hard plastic sheet is included to keep your knife protected, and includes a belt clip for easy carrying.
If you’re looking for a simple, reliable and sharp outdoor knife, the Morakniv Companion is a smart choice.
Kershaw 1660 Ken Onion Leek – Kershaw’s 1660 Leek series from Ken Onion is one of the brand’s most popular folding knives. Ambidextrous by nature, this knife can be used in either the left or right hand. With the SpeedSafe assisted opening system, you can easily deploy this knife with a single hand.
The handle is made of stainless steel that’s been bead blasted, and the blade is forged with 14C28N steel.
When closed, the knife is 4 inches long and weighs just 3.1 ounces.
Made by one of the most trusted brands in the knife industry, this model is backed by a limited lifetime warranty. We love its sleek look, and the fact that it holds its sharp edge.
Valtev Small Folding Pocket Knife – If you’re on a really tight budget, the Valtev small folding pocket knife may just be the right model for you. But this tiny blade is only ideal for very small tasks, like slicing an apple or opening a can. It certainly has its uses, but this isn’t a knife we’d recommend for heavy-duty tasks in survival situations.
With that said, this is a great pocket knife to have on hand for those moments when a tiny blade is all you need.
The blade measures 2 1/4” in length, and is made with 3Cr13 stainless steel with a 56 hardness rating. It’s exceptionally sharp, and comes with a handy nylon pouch for safe keeping.
Camillus Survivorman Les Stroud SK Mountain – Camillus’ SK Mountain is a part of the Les Stroud (Survivorman TV series) collection. Think of it as Camillus’ answer to Gerber’s Bear Grylls (our first pick).
The blade is forged with titanium-bonded 440 stainless steel, so it has a sleek, black non-stick surface. The drop point blade features partial serrations, which means it can handle tough jobs. Spanning 4.75 inches in length and 10 inches total, the SK Mountain is just the right size for survival tasks.
Included with the knife is an impressive sheath that holds an array of survival tools, including: a ceramic sharpener, LED flashlight, whistle, para-cord wrap, SOS signal mirror, fire starter, storage compartment, and mesh pocket to hold your trail map. And the knurled steel pommel can act as a hammer in survival situations.
The SK Mountain only comes in last on our list because the blade is a little bit smaller than our first pick, and the price is higher than most of the other knives on this list. But it’s an all-around great survival knife to have on hand when you’re outdoors.
Buyer’s Guide – How to Choose the Best Inexpensive Survival Knife
Choosing a survival knife is challenging as is, but when you’re on a tight budget, it becomes even more difficult if you want to make sure that you get a quality knife without spending more than you can afford. Here’s what to look for when buying a budget-friendly survival knife.
- Blade material: One of the most important things to consider is blade material. Stainless steel is highly durable, and resistant to rust and corrosion. It’s also easier to maintain, and affordably priced. However, you may find other models with higher-quality metals, like high carbon steel, or low-quality metals that you want to avoid. A blade made of 440 stainless steel is a good option, as it will provide you with the durability and corrosion-resistance you want in a survival knife.
- Features: Are you looking for a simple knife, or do you want a model that comes with helpful survival accessories? If you already have survival tools on hand, you can generally save yourself some money by choosing a basic (but high quality) knife.
- Blade edge: Another thing to consider is the blade edge. Do you want a full serrated blade, partial serrated, or plain edge? Plain edge is great for skinning, cleaning and shaving. Serrated blades are ideal for sawing and other heavy-duty tasks. Partially serrated blades give you the best of both worlds, but they aren’t perfect either. Decide what you’re going to use the knife for, and this will help you decide what type of blade to choose.
- Budget: You’re on a tight budget, but “budget-friendly” can mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people. Even when looking at cheaper models, always keep your budget in mind. Opt for the best quality knife you can afford – even if that means forgoing the “extras” for a basic blade.