Top Ten Survival Knives

This is a Top Ten list of society popular survival knives. Many of these knives have a long histories and are premium made knives that are built with top quality by hand and cheap prices for some. Also these knives are survival based, and are not singled out to only bushcraft knives but knives that are also for urban survival and forest survival, and that are also 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.

A tank. Enough said.

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

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.

Granted, it's not sold as a survival knife, but that's exactly what it is. What is bushcraft if not surviving in the bush?

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

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.

This is an amazing knife, built to handle so many different situations: from backpacking and hunting dangerous animals to ultimate survival in hostile areas, to daily carry in any pack. I understand some may not care for the design of the tang or the serrations, but keep in mind what may not be necessary today may be necessary tomorrow. The serrations are only partial, so you can do anything you need to do without serrations. If you need them, they are there.

As for the tang, don't count this knife out until you put it to the test and run it through the ringer. Gerber did it right - I mean really right. This knife performs flawlessly on duty in Qatar and field dressed and skinned a nice 8-point buck last year. For bushcraft duties, it performs - enough said. It's great for batoning, chopping, feathering, etc.

I used to carry two knives for everything and simply had too many. Now, I have the LMF II and a small tactical knife, and they are all one needs. All the knives on this list are worthy of a purchase and will serve you well. But in my experience, for an overall survival knife, the LMF II should be one of your first considerations. After all, survival doesn't mean one specific scenario.

The sheath is amazing and can be adapted to many different situations. If you like Kydex, there are several people who can custom-make one for you. My favorite carry option is a Kydex piggyback rig for my LMF II and the Gerber Ghost Strike. Any situation - enough said.

5 USMC KA-BAR

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 Aircrewman

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 note that well. F. LaFlamme

The KA-BAR Becker BK-10 Aircrewman features a slim yet thick blade suitable for tasks like batoning, making feather sticks, small and large whittling, skinning, and small-scale bushcrafting such as shelter construction. It closely resembles the BK-2, employing 1095 Cro-Van steel. Additionally, it comes with a glass breaker and is compatible with any custom handles that fit the BK-2. The knife could be likened to a Barbie doll in the knife world, mainly because it doesn't offer as many sheath variations for custom sheaths as the BK-2 does.

7 Mora 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

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.

Next, we have the SOG Seal Team, made of SOG's incredible AUS-8 stainless steel with excellent heat treatment and blade tempering. We beat, threw, batoned, and carved wood with this machine. What landed it so low on our list are the clip point, the tang, and the price. Coming in at around $100, it is an amazing knife.

The only problems we encountered were that the clip point cut through the batoning sticks much faster, and due to the thinness of the blade and the 3/4 rat tail tang, we managed to snap the knife. However, we called SOG and received a brand-new one for only $5 for shipping. If they offered the handle in a full tang and either made the knife a bit thicker or eliminated the clip point altogether, we would have ranked this knife much higher. On the upside, it's razor-sharp, still tough as nails, made of AUS-8 stainless steel, and light enough to take anywhere.

10 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?

It works and can take what you toss at it.

The Contenders
11 KA-BAR BK16

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
13 Schrade SCHF9

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

14 Kukri
15 Cold Steel SRK

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 Frontier 52 (SCHF52)

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 Puuko
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