Top 10 Best Survival Knives

This is a top ten list of society's popular survival knives. Many of these knives have long histories and are premium-made knives that are built with top quality by hand, and some are available at cheap prices. These knives are survival-based and are not limited to only bushcraft knives but also include knives for urban survival and forest survival. They are tools, not just knives.
The Top Ten
1 Becker BK-2 Campanion

I've been using this for over ten years for all kinds of backwoods work. It is still my number one.

The KA-BAR BK-2 was designed by Ethan Becker, a popular bush craftsman and cook. The BK-2 is 1/4 inch thick and comes with a glass breaker on the back. It is made of 1095 Cro-Van steel, which is slightly better than standard 1095 carbon steel, although not significantly so. The BK-2 is highly regarded, ranking number one or within the top five on 15 websites that we visited. Priced at only about $65 online, it's considered the "Barbie Doll" of knives due to its endless customization options, and it is made in the USA.

We have pried open wooden doors and a car door with this knife. We have also tried bushcraft work with it, which may be difficult for some due to its thick blade. We've dropped it, batoned wood far thicker than anything recommended, and found it to be an amazing working machine for the price of only $60 - or even cheaper if bought used.

You can purchase a variety of accessories for this knife, from leather and Kydex sheaths to custom G-10, wood, and Micarta handles. You can also stain the blade with any pattern of patina to your liking. Therefore, the Becker BK-2 ranks number one because of its price, quality, durability, steel thickness, and customizability - all in a box stamped "Made in the U.S.A."

2 TOPS B.O.B. Brothers of Bushcraft

Many people argue that there are better TOPS knives for survival than the B.O.B. However, for the price, quality, features, and the tried-and-true factor that we appreciate so much, it beats all the other TOPS knives for these reasons.

The TOPS B.O.B was designed by the Brothers of Bushcraft and features a bow drill notch on the Micarta handles, a flint striker, a grind very similar to the amazing Scandinavian grind, and a wonderfully hand-formed Kydex sheath.

I've had mine for about a year now and haven't had to sharpen it yet. I've abused it and used it many times in the field. The only downside is that it will rust pretty quickly if you don't maintain it and leave it in a leather sheath.

But aside from the steel, it is solid. I carry it alongside my small MBB.

3 ESEE 5

The ESEE 5 is a fantastic knife, second only to the BK-2 because of their similarities. Both knives are 1/4 inch thick and made of very similar steels. However, the ESEE 5 ranks second because it isn't as customizable.

While there are companies from which you can order parts, the selection is far more limited. Additionally, the starting price for the ESEE 5 is around $120 - $150, making it second to the BK-2, as you can do more with the latter for the same price.

4 Gerber LMF II Infantry

The Gerber LMF II is a wonderful knife designed by an American soldier. Many people do not like this knife for a couple of reasons. First, it is not full tang. Second, it has serrations.

The quarter tang it has is for a good reason: it allows you to cut electrical wiring without getting a shock. However, some people do not care for this feature, arguing that most who would like this knife would not be cutting electrical wires with it. It's important to remember that it was designed by a soldier, who will most likely use it throughout his deployment.

The second reason is that it was designed as a pilot's survival knife, so the serrations can cut paracord with ease. Our team couldn't care less about the serrations, and we find that the lack of a full tang is not a problem given how they've designed and addressed the knife's structural weaknesses.


KA-BAR's legendary name dates back to the shores of Germany in World War II, extends through the Vietnam era, and continues to today's soldiers using KA-BAR knives. Known for their successful design and durability, these knives feature a long Rat's Tail Tang that extends all the way to the hilt of the handle.

With a strong reinforced bolt, 1095 Cro-Van steel, a blood groove, and a razor-sharp edge, this knife is meant to be put to the test.

6 Becker BK-10 Crewman

This knife has proven to be a far more practical woods knife for me over the years than the number one pick, the BK-2 model. The BK-10 can do anything the BK-2 can, with the exception of heavy prying, which is mostly an urban requirement, not so much a wilderness one.

It also offers the ability to perform finer chores than its overly thick cousin, the BK-2. I'm talking about woods chores like making feather sticks, cutting food, and dressing game. The BK-2 is too thick to perform these tasks very easily or very well. It reminds me of using a hatchet to do these things - it works in a pinch, but not that well. - F. LaFlamme

7 Morakniv Bushcraft Black

The Mora Bushcraft Black is a very rugged, heavy-duty workhorse of a knife. With its Scandinavian grind, which is known far and wide, it can handle almost any task that the BK-2 or the ESEE 5 can. Minus the batoning, it will complete every task at an extremely affordable price, around $30.

8 TOPS Tom Brown Tracker

The TOPS Tom Brown Tracker is a beautifully handcrafted knife that deserves a spot on this list. It boasts some of the best heat treatment among the knives listed, second only to the TOPS B.O.B and the ESEE 5. The blade is a quarter-inch thick and comes with a variety of features: a hand-finished Kydex sheath, a curve on the spine for batoning, a saw, a curved front for skinning, and a squared-off blade near the Micarta handle to facilitate wood batoning.

The primary reason it ranks lower on this list is its weight, which exceeds 1 pound. Additionally, the cost of this knife ranges from about $180 to $220 when purchased new.

9 SOG Seal Team Elite

Many people would disagree with this knife being ranked so low, but there are reasons. First, the good: the knife has a razor-sharp edge and can be purchased with either a serrated blade or a plain edge. It features nicely heat-treated AUS-8 stainless steel, which is used in many of SOG's higher-end knives, and is incredibly lightweight, which is very nice for any camper, hiker, or survivor looking for a lightweight knife.

Now, the downsides: it costs around $100 and has a clip point design on the knife. It also has a thinned, almost sharp spine, which is not preferred at all for batoning. This also thins the steel, making it incapable of prying larger things open - not doors, of course, but things like small pieces of wood nailed together. In our tests over the few months we had it, near the end of the testing, we managed to snap the blade due to the far thinner clip point design.

10 Gerber Bear Grylls Ultimate Pro Fixed Blade

Now, before you whine and complain that someone put a Bear Grylls trademarked knife made by Gerber in here, listen to what we have to say. We used and abused this knife almost as much as the Becker BK-2. It is razor-sharp, made with decently heat-treated 9Cr19MoV. It's a workhorse of a knife. It comes with a decent sheath and a handy ferro rod, all for around $60 online.

What landed this knife at number 10 is that, while we were field-testing it, the orange polymer handle started to fade in color from use and from the sun. More importantly, the strong reinforced polymer chipped. Gerber sent us a new one with no problem, but in a survival situation, you can't send the knife back for a new one, can you?

The Contenders
11 KA-BAR BK16 Short Becker Drop Point

Great medium-sized knife for light- to medium-duty tasks around the campsite. 1095 carbon steel is my preferred blade material for survival and bushcraft.

KA-BAR dates back to the 1800s when it was called the Highland Knife Co. They changed their name to KA-BAR later in the 1930s.

12 Schrade SCHF10 High Carbon Steel Full Tang Fixed Blade
13 Schrade SCHF9 Extreme Survival Knife

A fraction of the price of most of the competition, but still hugely capable. A brilliant blade for the money.

14 Gurkha Kukri
15 Cold Steel SRK (Survival Rescue Knife)

We actually had a hard time deciding between this and the SOG Seal Team. We tested both adequately but chose the SOG because of the heat treatment.

16 Schrade SCHF52 Frontier

They've improved the Frontier line a lot, which should qualify it for a higher position on this list simply because other Frontiers are here. But seriously, it's an incredible knife overall.

17 Morakniv Puukko
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