One of the most popular questions in conversation games is the classical “Name three things you would bring with you on a deserted island”.

And while many say books, their favorite movies, their partner, their dog or pictures of their loved ones, we say one of your three choices should definitely be a survival knife.

Books and pictures are alright, but a survival knife can really make the difference between life and death in a tight spot while outdoors.

But how do you choose? The possibilities seem endless, so we’ve put together for you a list of the best 20 survival knives, taking into consideration criteria such as their reliability, multi purposing or how much they cost.

Here they are.

1. The Tool Logic SL Pro 2

Tool Logic SLP2The main word defining this knife is ‘multi-purpose’.

It has a 3 inch 50/20 serrated blade, but it also doubles as a signal whistle, spark rod and LED flashlight. These extra features make it ideal for an outdoor situation where you are required to do more than one thing, because it gives you the opportunity to pack lightly. 

2. The Buck Hoodlum

Buck HoodlumIt has quality and legacy on its side. It’s has been left to us by the great Ron Hood, a respected figure in the field of survival.

The first thing you observe with this knife is its length. It has a 10 inch steel blade, complete with powder coat finish, to make it rust resistant.

Apart from that, another great thing is its shock absorbent Black Linen Micarta handle, which means you can attach the knife to a pole and use it as a spear. 

3. The Bear Grylls Ultimate Survival Knife from Gerber

Bear Grylls Ultimate Survival KnifeApart from the fact that it comes via the famous Bear Grylls, the knife itself has a stainless steel blade which is almost 5 inches long and a waffle head hammer on the pommel.

It’s sturdy and great for difficult jobs, because of the short, resistant blade and its gripped handle, complete with a spark rod and a whistle. 

4. The Ontario SK-5 Blackbird

Ontario SK-5 BlackbirdCompletely US made, this particular knife said no to embellishment and yes to multi-purposing.

You can use it to split wood and for carvings, as it has a fine 5 inch high-grade stainless steel blade and black Micarta handles. 

5. Army and Air Force Issue Survival Knife

sharpening stoneThe first thing you need to know about thins knife is that it was made for and used by professionals.

The second thing is that it comes with its very own sharpening stone, which assures you it will be sharp at all times. It’s made of carbon steel and its finish is rust resistant and made of zinc phosphate. 

6. The CRKT M21 Aluminum Folder

M21 Aluminum FolderAs the name suggests, it’s a folder, which comes with two safety locks, a short, 3 inch blade and it can be opened with one hand, which makes it very easy to use.

Also, it’s very light, just 3.2 ounces, which means you can carry it in your pocket at all times.

7. The Swiss Army Knife Adventurer

Swiss Army Knife AdventurerThis is the classic everyone knows and loves and every little boy wants. If you want the king of multi-purposing, this is it.

It has a blade, a can and bottle opener, tweezers, toothpick, screw drivers and it only weighs 2.9 ounces.

8. The Cold Steel Recon 1 Spear Point

Cold Steel Recon 1 Spear PointIts best feature is the fact that it is thin and light, which makes it perfect for carrying around in an unfriendly environment.

It weighs 5.3 ounces and has a stainless clip, which means you can attach it to your belt or pocket, giving you freedom of movement and easy access.

9. The CRKT Ultima

CRKT UltimaThis knife takes you back to your roots, because it was designed after the Bronze Age daggers dating some 4000 years ago. Its beast feature by far is the handle, which has 70 triangle separated segments.

This allows not only for a far better grip, but for water, debris and gunk to slip away as well.

10. The SOG Force

SOG ForceRazor sharp by default, this particular knife allows you to break glass easily using its handle’s point. It has a contoured shape molded after the human fingers, which allows for a perfect in-hand grip.

Pay attention to meat related issues, as this one is more for filleting than for butchering.

11. The Fallkniven A1

Fallkniven A1It has often been called the number one survival knife, because of its level of performance. Its blade has been especially designed to operate as a spear as well and it has a satin finish.

It’s very easy on the eye with a futuristic design and ergonomic grip.

12. LMF II, courtesy of Gerber as well.

LMF IIIt’s extremely popular, having Bear Grylls to support it. The blade is almost 5 inches and it has a glass-filled handle, which will greatly reduce fatigue.

Also, this one insulates from electrical shocks via its handle. 

13. The Frost Mora Knife

Frost Mora KnifeIt’s a very beautiful piece of weaponry, it comes from Sweden, has an elegant wooden handle and, the most important thing, it’s very cheap.

It usually costs between $12 and $17.

14. The Helle Temagami

Helle TemagamiThis one is Swedish as well, but it costs more than the Frost Mora. It presents superior quality, a 4 inch blade, birch handle and it was designed with the aid of famous survivor-man Les Stroud.

15. The Spyderco Bushcraft G-10 Plain Edge

Spyderco Bushcraft G-10 Plain EdgeIt’s famous because it can cut through wood as well as game with ease and elegance. It has a full tang, which permits it to be abused, making resistance its top quality.

Its edge angle is so sharp that slicing will require no effort at all.

16. ESEE-4

ESEE-4If you are looking for something durable, your choice should be this knife. It’s made from high-carbon 1095 steel, it has a full flat grind and a rounded pommel.

It’s definitely a tactical knife made to last. 

17. The Ka-Bar Becker BK2 Companion

Ka-Bar Becker BK2 Companion
It’s a loved knife because of the amazing pairing between lightweight and durability it brings to the table. It’s most used when it comes to chopping or skinning game or for making kindling.

18. The Ontario RTAK II Fixed Blade Knife

Ontario RTAK II Fixed Blade KnifeIt has as its main quality versatility. It’s the product of combining a fighting knife with a survival blade and a workhorse.

They all come together into a 10 inch blade with a Micarta canvas handle and a Molle sheath with built-in utility pouch. 

19. The Ka-Bar Mule Folder

Ka-Bar Mule FolderThis one was designed as a heavy-duty tool. This means you can treat it as roughly as you want. It has an almost 4 inch blade, a hollow grind and a 15 degree angle, making it very sharp. 

20. The KA-BAR Full-Size Black, Straight Edge

KA Bar Marine Corps FIghtingThe last on the list is this amazing piece of weaponry used by the US Marine Corps. The 7 inch blade is made of 1095 chrome-vanadium steel. The Marines call it their one and only knife, because it’s dependable and will see any job done.

Here are your top 20 choices when it comes to survival knives. Sometimes it’s difficult to choose, because your options are so many, but remember to take into consideration your needs, your purposes and your budget.

Figure out if you want a folder or a fixed blade and you’re good to go.


This article has been written for Survivopedia by J. Thomas Roberts from Knifeista.

Written by

J. Thomas Roberts is an outdoorsman at heart and in life. Thomas enjoys exploring the outdoors with his 8 children and wife. From an early age Thomas has researched and used many survival knives. He has a vast knowledge of all types of survival gear and is and expert is survival knives. Thomas thrives on sharing is knowledge of the outdoors and gear with young and old alike, on his site - Knifeista.

Latest comments
    • Any knife becomes a ‘survival knife’, hell even a rusty nail could become the difference between life or death. Captain Cooks, crew would ‘trade’ nails from their ship for a native gal in the 1700’s. LOL

  • I am not sure of what parameters you used in choosing yor survival knife list. Most of the knives on your list I wouldn’t even carry as a backup. The first and most important part of survival is fire. A high carbon steel blade large enough to process wood for fire yet small enough to carve, make holes, and very important that it be full tang. The first knife that meets this is number 5 air force survival knife.

    • You are spot on on that on that list there was only two that I would carry .knives714ok

    • Hey ROY , What all are your favorite survival knives?

      • My comment about these knives was very basic. Yes there was only 2 on the list I would consider being 5 and 20. Even those would be at the bottom of my list. I touched the basic parameters for a survival knife. Keep in mind that you really should carry more than 1. Survival rule #1 carry 2 knives at least, 2 is 1 and 1 is none. I am cheap at heart and follow the motto “best bang for the buck” Ontario knives are damn good and prices very reasonable from amazon. This is my do all survival knife set. I have two both full tang that I carry. Add a good pocket knife or neck knife and your in there. We can have a whole discussion on the third knife but its really not as important as it shouldn’t be relied on for survival. For other information or more check out wilderness outfitters on youtube.

  • I’ve owned a couple of these knives,as a civilian and in Armed Services.I have to say they were and are the best knives I’ve ever used!

  • #5 should be stricken from this list.

    These knives came with my survival vest (which, if you can find one fully stocked, makes an excellent BOB all by itself) and is the only knife I have ever used that BROKE! It broke right at the hand guard so it was completely junk at that point. The next problem was the other TWO which also broke at the same point. These knives were designed to punch a hole in the canopy of an aircraft that would not open any other way. For that, they do work, but any knife that breaks that easily should never be relied on for survival.

    Three more knives missing from this list are an original Bowie knife (short sword), Kukri knife, and the G.I. issue Machete in the issue hard scabbard with the built-in sharpener. These are fine blades which I have used personally and have saved my bacon on numerous occasions.

    #20 on this list is by far the best survival knife in the world. It has been used in combat for over 70 years and has proven itself under all conditions of environment and use under stress.

    My current EDC knife is a Holliman/Richter 3.5 inch folder, which I prefer even over my Buck 110. I have carried the Buck for over 50 years but the H/R has already proven itself to be much simpler to operate, more compact, more utile, lighter in weight, and maintains its edge far longer than the Buck. I didn’t even see it on this list. Maybe its just a matter of taste, but it should be mentioned.

    Semper Fi!

    • If you broke that pilots survival knife you must of been using it as a pry bar or something. I have had one since ’67 in Nam, those things, were tho one thing that every one that left the wire wanted. Most of the knives, were good choices, except those made in China, any thing made in China & I don’t care what name you paint on it, or powder coat it is just a bunch of flatten beer cans, not worth my dime. Ontario makes some of the better knives, I’ve been ‘gathering’ knives for years & one of my favorites, is the Ontario, U.S Army Quartermaster fixed blade. Looks pretty close to the K-Bar, but has a shorter & thicker blade. Quite frankly some of the best real survival knifes can be found n your grandmothers kitchen counter.

      • Greg, if you’ve had good luck with your knife, then by all means keep it. Or as Ovmit would say, “If you like your knife you can keep your knife”. I don’t remember too well what happened 50 years ago, but the same thing happened to me three times which made that particular kind of knife sour my memory.

        When I was getting ready to take the Freedom Bird home I made sure my Ka-bar was secure because that is the one that everybody else wanted.

        I definitely agree with you about your Grandma’s kitchen knives. Since I was her favorite, she did leave them to me. For that I will forever have her in my life.

        I also agree about the Ontario knives. They are some of the best I’ve seen.

        I still would rate #20 up and #5 to the bottom of the list at least. After all, there is no accounting for taste.

        Semper Fi bro!

        • The Army wasn’t big on issuing ‘extra’ knives, “, hell, you’ve got a bayonet & an Etool, what the hell else do you need?” LOL” That was pretty much it, We did have the WW2 small pick mattox, a machete, or the “woodsman Pal” some Air born units had Tomahawks. But an issued fixed blade, Nope ! Carry another Claymore or more ammo. Ain’t life grand !!!! LOL

  • Thank you for this great and in depth knowledge of the survival knife. I personally look for survival knives that come with a finger guard else there’s a huge chance of getting cut by mistake and that’s the last thing you would want to happen when you’re out in the wild.
    survival tool would have to be a good knife. Your will to live and wit are good but without the proper physical tools to use your skills you can only do so much. No matter if the blade is made of stone or steel you need a proper cutting tool to start fire, clean and prepare food, as well as cut branches and cordage to make shelter.. I”m glad that you just shared this useful information with us.

  • Very informative post, I loved especially how you explained the honest reviews of these survival knives. Thinking to buy Fallkniven A1 this week.

  • These knives are great for survival as long as people can learn how to properly use them. Most people make the mistake of buying them because they are highly rated but end up damaging them due to being negligent.

  • The helle is not Swedish it’s Norwegian!!!

  • Hey!
    I’m visiting you for the very first time. I really enjoyed the sneak peak review of cutting edge and sharp weapons. And all are one of my favorite. Thanks for sharing your words and informative post. Keep on sharing.

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    Exceptional blog

  • Nice post! Good read.
    that’s quite a lot of information. Thanks for the post and sharing your experience
    particularly useful information for me.

  • This is very informative and interesting article and i hope it will be essential for all readers to get knowledge about kinds of knives..
    Along with it all the survivors also needs some other useful things that help them in survivor.. for exampl,. helmet ect…

  • This article is very helpful for all civilians and in Armed Services.. All of these 20 survival knives are looking very wonderful..
    Thanks for sharing this article to us..

  • Wow this is an amazing and interesting article and I really like the lovely reading of this article it is very useful and interesting..
    Thanks for sharing this article to us…

  • Hey,

    This is the first time I landed on your website. I am searching for information on knives. Your blog post really helped me a lot. You choose those survival knives very carefully.
    Thanks a lot.