Weapons For Survival: Knives And Other Edges

Since the dawn of time man has made knives for protection, dressing animal kills, and waging war.

The first knives were made of stone. As time went on knives and other edged weapons were made of metals such bronze, iron, and finally steel. Today these tools are made of stainless steel or composite materials.

While guns serve a key purpose in any survival strategy, knives and other edged tools are also very important.  Similar to guns, you will need to check the laws to find out which ones can be owned in your area.

Folding Knives or Pocket Knives

A folding knife has a blade that rotates on a pin in the handle in such a way that  the edge of the blade sits in the handle when folded up. A locking device located in the handle keeps the knife open while using it. To close the knife, push on the locking device, and fold the blade back inside the handle. This type of knife is carried in the pocket or on a pocket clip on your belt.

My preference is the Kershaw Folding Knife.

Fixed Blade Knives

Fixed blade knives have a blade that is usually made with one piece of metal and a pair of hand grips (one on each side of the blade) to safely and comfortably hold the knife. When this knife is not being used it can be put in a leather sheath that is carried on your belt.

I prefer the Ka-Bar.  It is a tried and true knife that has been carried by the military and survivalists since WWII. This knife will not let you down when you need it the most.


Bowie Knife

This is a heavy duty working or fighting knife. The Blade is made of thick heavy steel, usually from 8 to 14 inches long. The grips are made of deer, elk antlers, bone, or wood. The Bowie knife is carried in a leather sheath or composite sheath.

Even though there are commercial bowies available, I prefer custom made by Johnny Z, an up and coming custom knife maker with a growing national reputation.  I have carried this particular bowie knife for years and it is much better in comparison to others I have handled.

Spear Point/ Knife Hybrid

This is basically a fixed blade knife with a handle that unscrews from the blade. The blade point can be mounted onto a broomstick or threaded wooden or metal shaft.

Recommended Knife: SOG Spirit. While fairly new on the market, it is an ideal multi-purpose tool for your bug-out kit.


Machetes, or jungle knives have a blade ranging from 18“ to 24“ long. It is used to chop a path through vegetation.

Recommended knife: Cold Steel Machete.

Hatchets or tomahawks

Hatchets or tomahawks are used for chopping and hacking. They can chop wood or other housekeeping duties.  They can also be a very dangerous weapon in skilled hands, or when paired with a bowie knife.

Recommended Tomahawk: SOG.

Sickles and Curved Blades

These tools date back to the beginning of man’s agricultural pursuits. They are generally used to work the fields.  From biblical times forward, the sickle was a very dangerous weapon that could cut off a man’s limbs or his head. While the Romans outlawed other knives, Celtic peasants and others were still allowed to keep their sickles for farming purposes.

Recommended Sickle: Custom made by Johnny Z.  Commercial sickles are available, however I have had this one from Johnny Z for several years now. Custom sickles make a great gift for the survivor fan or herbalist among your family and friends.

Folding Saws

These saws are used cut through wood, bones while dressing game, or even metal that needs to be cut.

Recommended Folding Saw: Ruko.

Compact Folding Tool Kits

Folding tool kits are designed as an easy and compact way to carry tools like pliers, screwdrivers, knife blades, to sewing needles.  More elaborate kits may contain scissors and other fold out tools.

Recommended Tool Set: Leatherman.

Game Dressing Sets

Game dressing sets usually have all the cutting and sawing tools required to field dress animals or fish used for food.  A good kit also includes an instruction books on how to use, clean, and store each tool.

Recommended Game Dressing Set: Ruko

As with the perfect guns for survival needs, you can always find something cheaper than the tools listed in this article.  In the end, penny wise becomes dollar foolish no matter whether you are talking about knives, guns (such as the WASR-10 AK which is known for rattling after firing about 400 rounds and slowly self destructs after that – just had to add this for all the WASR fans out there!), or even bows and arrows.

You are better off spending a few dollars more for reliable knives and dressing kits than have them fail when you need them most and have no way to replace them.


This article has been written by Fred Tyrell for Survivopedia.

Written by

Fred Tyrrell is an Eagle Scout and retired police officer that loves to hunt, fish, hike, and camp with good friends and family. He is also a champion marksman (rifle, pistol, shotgun) and has direct experience with all of the major gun brands and their clones. Fred refers to himself as a "Southern gentleman" - the last of a dying way. He believes a man's word is his bond, and looks forward to teaching others what he has learned over the years. You can send Fred a message at editor [at] survivopedia.com.

Latest comments
  • “Custom made”…………….why not just say buy the most expensive there is?

  • Hello Fred, You did a great job. Thanks for mentioning the list with chart, it’s useful to us. The best survival knife is the knife you have on your person when things head south. Survival knives that are portable and easy to strap to your person and gear. Survival knives can be used for trapping, skinning, wood cutting and other uses. Hunters, hikers, and outdoor sport enthusiasts use survival knives. Some survival knives are heavy-bladed and thick; others are lightweight or fold in order to save weight and bulk as part of a larger survival kit.
    @ Fred, “What do you recommend for self protection, in rural homes”

    • Hey Tony…get yourself a kukri. It does everything. All around best survival blade made, and self defense. ..puh! You’ll be be able to lop the intruders head off with one swipe. Fred’s suggestion for a Cold Steel machete is a good one,..get the Kukri Machete for $18-$28 depending on where you look. It’s got a 12″ blade that’s forward balanced to hack chop and strike your enemy at a safe distance. If you’re willing to spend more and get the best knife PERIOD… get the Cold Steel Gurkha Kukri. $160-$200, it’s more than a quarter inch thick and will last a lifetime of extremely extreme hard use. It’s 1080 high carbon steel that holds an edge and is easy to sharpen. I have one of those and three older models (with varying blade lengths for different uses) made with 1095 steel…one is the LTC Kukri. If you can find one of those (it’ll say “CARBON V” on the blade) SNAG IT UP!! You won’t be sorry. Trust me on this, for I am, a kukri king…lol. Check out some of the YouTube vids with Lynn Thompson (Cold Steel pres.) and crew chopping up sides of beef and whole pigs. You’ll be amazed at the ability of this knife. Also , a good backup knife would be a double edge dagger or boot knife…very effective for self defense. CS Safe Keeper ll & the Urban Edge are excellent push daggers… Even the very lightweight Hideout neck knife is very effective.
      Anyway, hope these suggestions help…and stay safe….live long…prosper…and ΜΟΛΩΝ ΛΑΒΕ ! God bless you Anthony.

  • Everyday carry: swiss army knife and leatherman. (also always have my knife sharpener and my large size firesteel (on my keychain).

    B.O.B. : K-Bar and cold steel trench hawk. Also i have a good quality japanese made folding bow saw.

    i have several B.O.B.’s…think redundancy. i have a few very good ones…including webbelts…and am always looking for expediant load carriers…that still have the basics.

    think light weight backpacking…
    practice carrying all your items on a medium hike. you will find after hauling
    a ammo/rifle/water/food/camp gear outer wear…that only the essentials can be carried…
    get in shape…experiment with loads…

    you will not be able to carry that much for that far…so ALSO learn to cache items to replenish.

    as heavy as it is though i still carry my hawk and K-bar…(and always practising self defense.

    one last thing…cold steel makes good throwing knives…

    practice practice practice…

    remember soldiers are in top shape….
    and they usually always have 5 or 10 people supplying them and caring for their needs.

    pre set up a cache system…carry less…go furthur.

    keep get things down to the basics and practice using less.

  • You forgot to mention the venerable Swiss Army knife. The surgical stainless steel in the blades is soft enough to take an edge rapidly, yet it creates an edge sharp enough to use in surgery (experience speaking here, albeit minor surgery in the field). Affordable, and easy to transport depending upon the design and model you opt to use. A true pocket knife, good for everyday use and survival use.

    • Most Swiss Army knives are just ok at best. Any multitool would be a much better choice. Wenger/Victorinox still use mostly cheap plastic handles that break very easily and that soft steel you speak of (as easy to sharpen) does not hold that edge very long at all. Leatherman has a Sidekick and Wingman and are super values at $28-$38. They are an amazingly high quality kit that you can really rely on…spend more on a Wave or a Charge and you’ll have a MT that will last generations. Put that in your pocket, but remember to strap on a Kukri for ultimate survival.

  • When it comes to your survival knife, less is typically more–despite what you may see on TV. Hang the cool movie prop knife on a wall and embrace the simplicity of a skillfully designed survival knife. Function trumps styling–always. Your first priority is performance.


  • If you are considering a knife for fighting, then get one with a significant guard, unless you intend to bleed…By the way, don’t plan on getting into a knife fight…it’s a great way to get injured badly or just plain dead..painfully.

  • Being somewhat of an expert on blades. I would suggest to always have a knife that is made of strong steal. Damascus IS ONE OF MY TOP PICKS FOR THE SIMPLE FACT IT IS VERY STRONG AND KEEPS AN EDGE NO PROBLEM. also PICK A KNIFE THAT IS FULL TANG. Full tang can get a heavy job done without the handle breaking on you. I prefer knives that include a smooth edge as well as a serrated one. The serrated edge comes in handy when cutting firewood or processing game. Works well for scaling fish as well.. Always keep your knife sharpened and well oiled. Your knife is a tool and you do not want it to fail when it really matters.

    For a Great Knife at a great price visit below:

  • I often use a pocket knife for self-defence, Becuase it is easy to hold, It is easy to carry out.

  • you probably did a tremendous task. thank you for mentioning the listing with chart, it’s beneficial to us. The first-class survival knife is the knife you’ve got to your character while things head south. Survival knives which might be transportable and smooth to strap in your character and tools. Survival knives may be used for trapping, skinning, timber reducing and different makes use of.

  • I made a conclusion, that your knife should be like a multi-purpose-tool. If you are going to survive it should be usefool for hunting, defence and even for cooking. I don’t think that a pocket knife can help you. BUT, a huge blade knife will also constrain you