How to Choose a Survival Knife – Let Us Show You How to Get the Right One for You
There’s no question that a survival knife is one of the most important things you can pack when hiking, camping or hunting. But finding the right knife isn’t always an easy task – especially when you consider how many different types of knives and blade materials are available.
BlizeTec Survival Fixed Blade Knife: 3-in-1 Full Tang Hunting Knife with Magnesium Fire Starter
Our favorite for 2017
GANZO G801-DY Hunting Survival Knife Tactical Fixed Blade Sharpener & Fire Starter 440 Stainless Steel
A great value option
Schrade SCHF3N Extreme Survival Fixed Blade Knife
A great blade from Shrade
Stainless steel is one of the most popular choices for survival knife blades (and most knife blades in general). Made of at least 11% iron, chromium, carbon and molybdenum, stainless steel is resistant to rust and corrosion. But there are different types of stainless steel and several things that you should consider before you buy. Here’s what to look for in a survival knife:
- Type of stainless steel: There are several different types of stainless steel available, and the different grades typically reflect the amount of carbon in the steel. With survival knives, 440 steel is usually the preferred option because it’s highly resistant to rust and doesn’t require as much sharpening. However, you’ll find many models made of 420 steel, which is just as resistant to rust, but requires more frequent sharpening.
- Full tang: Ideally, you want to choose a blade with a full tang design, regardless of whether you buy a stainless steel or carbon knife. A full tang blade extends all the way to the end of the handle in one, single piece, which makes it more durable.
- Sturdy grip: What good is a survival knife if it slips out of your hand in wet conditions? Look for a knife with a rubberized or textured grip, so it will stay in your hand even if you’re sweating or it’s raining.
Remember, not all stainless steel survival knives are created equal. If you’re having trouble finding the right model for you, we’ve rounded up five of the best-rated knives on the market to help you find one that suits your needs.
These five survival knives are manufactured by some of the most well-known brands in the industry and are rated highly by users.
BlizeTec Survival Fixed Blade Knife – BlizeTec offers one of the best stainless steel survival knives in the budget range. This 3-in-1 fixed Blade knife features a 420 stainless steel, full tang blade. The sharp 30° blade has a partially serrated edge, and extends 4.17”.
This stainless steel survival knife comes in a belt loop pouch. Inside the pouch, you’ll find a mini fire starter and LED flashlight. The LED flashlight will provide you with up to 30 hours of use, and the firestarter delivers 12,000 strikes.
The knife is 8.46” long and weighs just 4.6 ounces. The Pakka Wood handle is very easy to grip, and features an ergonomic design so it feels good in your hand.
GANZO G801-DY Hunting Survival Knife – Featuring a 440 stainless steel blade, the Ganzo G801-DY features a 115 mm blade and weighs 356 g with its included sheath.
The spine of the blade has a 90° angle that allows for easy scraping of the ferro rod and bark from trees.
The sheath’s intelligent design provides you with extra survival tools without compromising on its overall look and feel. The fire starter is situated on top of the sheath for easy access. A convenient sharpener is at the end of the sheath for quick and easy sharpening on the go. Underneath is a cord cutter, so you don’t have to pull out your knife for minor cutting tasks.
Overall, this is an excellent survival knife, and it comes with extra tools to help you start a fire and keep your blade sharp.
Schrade SCHF3N – A simple but effective survival knife, the Schrade SCHF3N features a 6.4 inch blade and 5.6 inch handle for a total overall length of 11.10 inches. Weighing just 10.1 ounces, this knife is incredibly lightweight considering its size.
The SCHF3N’s blade is made of 8Cr13MoV high carbon stainless steel and is full tang for maximum durability. With its generous size and durable blade, you can use this knife to chop, cut, slice and baton. The drop-point tip is ideal for piercing and drilling, and the Micarta handle is both easy to grip and weatherproof.
The SCHF3N even comes with a convenient sheath that includes storage space for all your critical survival gear.
Morakniv Bushcraft Stainless Steel Survival Knife – The Morakniv Bushcraft stainless steel knife features a fixed, 1/8” thick blade made of durable stainless steel. With a 4.3” blade and overall 9.1” length, this knife is both practical and portable. And at 7.5 ounces, it won’t weigh you down.
The orange rubber handle is easy to grip, and matches the included black and orange sheath. The sheath is designed with a diamond sharpener and also include a fire starter. The all-weather fire starter delivers 7,000 strikes and can produce 3,000 degree sparks. It even works when wet, so you can start a fire in any weather condition.
Backed by a limited lifetime warranty, Morakniv’s Bushcraft knife is one of the best stainless steel models out there.
Schrade SCHF9 – Another favorite model from Schrade, the SCHF9 is made with 1095 high carbon steel and features a full tang blade design. The knife’s handle is made with TPE rubber scales for easy handling and features a lanyard hold, so you can always keep your knife close at hand.
The SCHF9 also comes with a ballistic nylon sheath that features an outer pocket, so you can store your vital survival supplies. It also comes with a nylon cord like strap, so you can keep your knife with you at all times.
With a 6.4” blade and a weight of 15.9 ounces, this knife is a little bit longer and heavier than other models on our list, but its durability and versatility is hard to beat.
Buyer’s Guide – Stainless Steel Versus Carbon Steel Which Is the Best Option for You?
When searching for survival knives, there are two primary blade materials available: carbon and stainless steel. Which one is the right choice for you?
- Carbon: High carbon steel knives are usually the preferred choice of survivalists because they’re stronger and throw a better spark than traditional stainless steel. With that said, carbon still requires a lot more maintenance. It’s not as resistant to rust, so most manufacturers apply a coating to the blade to prevent corrosion. Carbon is more expensive, too.
- Stainless steel: Stainless steel has come a long way over the years. It holds a good edge and is more resistant to rust and corrosion. However, it’s not quite as strong as a carbon blade. That said, it’s the most affordable option, and typically what you’ll find when buying a survival knife. There are different grades of stainless steel, too, with the 440 series being the most durable and rust-resistant.
Should you choose carbon or stainless steel? That really depends on your personal preference and budget. If you’re on a tighter budget and prefer a knife that isn’t maintenance-intensive, stainless steel is the better option. If you can stretch your budget and don’t mind extra maintenance, carbon may be the better choice for you. Ultimately, both are nearly on par as far as usage and durability goes, although carbon has a slight edge in the strength department.
We can talk about the difference between carbon steel and stainless steel until we’re blue in the face. But it’s all just theory. Choosing a knife is a personal decision, so it may be best to test both out to see which one you personally prefer.