Choosing the Best Survival Knife

Survival knives are for survival, camping, emergency situations, and taking on heavy duty tasks. When you are in any of these situations, you want a good sturdy knife. One that can take a beating and still maintain its quality. A good survival knife should be able to cut, slice, hammer, split wood, self-defense, food prep, prying, hunting, and to help build a shelter. Survival knives started to come around during the 19th century, but they really started to evolve during World War Two. Now you can find almost any style, brand, and size of survival knives. But which of these survival knives is the one that will be perfect for you? Today I am going to go over the characteristics of your survival knife that you should seek out while researching and shopping.



For starters, when you are looking for a survival knife, you should be looking for a full tang blade. The tang of the knife is the part of the blade that extends down into the handle of the knife. When looking at knives, you can choose between a partial tang or a full tang. However, there is truly almost no advantage to choosing a partial tang for your survival knife. A full tang is considered the best quality knife for your surviving needs. This means that blade is made from one continuous piece of steel and it continues all the way into the handle. The handle is then made out of scales or grips that are attached onto the bottom portion of the steel piece. If you are using a knife with a partial tang, the blade can come loose from the handle easier. When this happens, the knife becomes hard to use properly, and it actually can be dangerous to use. If you have a full tang knife and the handle happens to break, you still have the full shape of the knife. If this should happen, you can wrap the bottom of the steel with cord, especially ParaCord, or even tape to create a more comfortable grip. One of the advantages to having a full tang knife is that it is hard to break because it is one continuous piece of metal, there is no welded areas that can break down. An easy way to look for a full tang is to look at the handle. If it is a full tang knife, you will almost always see the metal sandwiched between the knife scales or grips.

You also want to avoid purchasing a knife with a narrow tang. A narrow tang is when the part of the steel that extends into the handle is much narrower than the blade part of the piece of steel. You do not want a narrow tang because it is more prone to breaking than a thick tang, especially if you are hammering or prying with your knife.



The next characteristic that you should be looking for in your ideal survival knife is the handle. Really, most handle will suffice and be great, a lot of it is just based on personal preference. But, you should be avoiding a hollow handle for two reasons. First of all, if it is hollow, then it is not a full tang knife, which is one of the most important aspects. Second, you do not want to store things in your knife handle. When I first heard about knives that you could store things in, I was confused, then I was intrigued. It seems like a great idea at first; you have your knife on you, and you can be storing things in it. In a survival situation, you do not want to be weighed down with lots of things, so yes, this seems like a good idea. However, if you happen to lose your knife, you will have also lost everything that was stored in the knife. Double bummer. Never buy a survival knife with a hollow handle.

Another thing that you should not be getting with your handle is a compass. Again, this seems like a neat feature on paper. But, because of how it has to be built into it, it will mess up your grip. In a survival situation, a solid grip on your knife might be the difference between life and death.

A thing to consider, which really just comes down to personal preference, is whether or not you want finger grooves on your knife. There are times when having finger grooves are going to provide excellent grip. Finger grooves might even be a necessity depending on the handle material; if you choose a material such as Micarta, you are going to want to consider having finger grooves, because Micarta doesn’t have the best grip. However, you don’t need finger grooves. And if finger grooves drive you crazy, don’t get finger grooves. Get what you love and what you are used to using.



There are tons of different blade features that you are going to need to take into account.

Blade Metal:

Steel makes a very big difference in your survival knife. There is steel strength, toughness, sharpness, and durability. The two main categories of survival knife steels are either carbon or stainless steel. This is a massive, ongoing debate. Which one is actually better? It’s hard to get two people to agree to that answer, so I’ll just go over what the main differences between the two are.

Stainless steel is obviously stainless. This means that it isn’t going to get spots, it’s going to be more resistant to rust and corrosion. Stainless steels can take a pretty good beating and have been considered almost indestructible. If you are going to be in a wet environment, you are going to want to choose a stainless steel option.  However, stainless steels can be more brittle and more difficult to sharpen. Plus, they lose their edge much quicker than a carbon steel. If you are going to choose a stainless steel, make sure you know your stainless steels. Some of the best stainless steels for survival situations are S60V, BG-42, S90V, CPM S30V, CPM 154, or 440C.

Carbon steels on the other hand hold a better edge for longer periods of time and are easier to sharpen when you need to. These steels are tougher steels and less likely to chip. However, it will be harder to maintain because it is easier to rust. Some of the best carbon steels for your survival blade are D2, A2, O1, Carbon V, and CPM 154.

Blade Design:

The blade design is whether you want a straight blade or a serrated blade. Serrated edges are great for cutting through thicker materials because you can saw. However, they are much harder to sharpen in the field, which is where you are going to be sharpening your blade in a survival situation. You can sharpen a straight edge with a really smooth stone if that’s all you have. Straight edges are better for chopping wood, batoning, or carving. A straight edge is much more versatile. But, if you love serrated edged knives, get a serrated edged knife. Just know what you are going to have to deal with if you are in the field.

This also includes a fixed blade or a folder blade. Always pick the fixed blade for a survival knife. The joint of a folding knife is a weakness. A fixed blade is much more durable and can take a heavier beating. Fixed blades can pound, they can chop, they can thrust, they can pry, and they can cut.

Blade Size:

The blade size includes the length and the thickness of the blade. Hollywood has painted a picture that to survive you want the biggest knife you can possibly get. This is not true. The ideal length of the blade is 9-11 inches long. Any longer and you are going to lose control over your blade. If the blade is longer, you are going to struggle with small game, detail work, and shaving wood to get tinder. But, you still want a long blade. If you choose a small blade, you are going to struggle chopping. You need the weight of the longer blade.

The thickness of the blade is where it gets a little bit trickier. This is not as common knowledge as the length of the blade. A good thickness is between 3/16-4/16 of an inch. With this thickness, your knife will be able to stand up to the heavy duty tasks, but it still won’t have too much flex in the knife.

The Tip:

The tip of the knife is what determines what the knife can ultimately do. The blade is shaped a certain way to let you perform a specific task. You want a sharp, pointed tip. You do not want curvy tips, you do not want a rounded tip, and you do not want a hooked tip. With these mentioned tips you won’t be able to stab things as well. In survival situations, you are going to want to have a knife that can act as a self-defense weapon. Some highly recommended tip shapes are the drop point and the clip point shaped blades.

The drop point shape is the most versatile shape of blade. The dull edge of the knife slopes downward at a slight angle about half way to the tip and then meets the tip.

The clip point shape has a slight concave curve at the top. This tip is strong but this shape is also more prone to breaking if you are chopping heavier materials like wood.



The pommel of a knife is the bottom of the handle. If you have a sturdy pommel, you are going to be able to hammer and pound. Some knives have a rounded pommel or a hooked pommel, but those aren’t going to let you hammer well. If your pommel is well designed, if it is sturdy, you are going to be able to accomplish a lot more with your knife. Not only will you have a knife, you will have a well-rounded survival tool. Why wouldn’t you want to get as much out of your knife as you possibly can?



A lot of times, the sheath is forgotten, it is almost an afterthought. The companies put most of the funding towards the blade and the handle. And really, most people don’t mind. The sheath is where you store your knife and that’s it, right? Wrong. The sheath is how you are going to carry your knife. The sheath affects how you draw your knife. You want a sheath that will keep your knife snugly and securely. This means that you sheath will fit closely to your knife. There are three things that you should be looking for in a knife.

A lower attachment. This is a hole or attachment piece that sits at the tip end of your sheath. This is used for strapping your knife to your leg, belt, or backpack strap.

A belt and lanyard attachment. This is a loop that allows you to hook it through your belt. You want to be able to tie a cord through the lanyard hole to let you carry it in different ways.

Strap. A crossover strap is so that you can carry your knife cross body.

A good sheath is versatile. It will let you carry your knife however you prefer to.



You are never going to be able to predict what survival situation you might encounter. And each survival situation is going to be different than the one previously and different than the coming one. With each varying situation, you are going to need a knife that can take on a variety of different tasks. You aren’t going to be able to predict exactly what task your knife is going to have to stand up to, so why wouldn’t you get one that can stand up to any situation? Look for a full tang, look for a familiar handle, look for a strong and sharp tip, look for a quality metal, look for a well-designed blade, look for a solid pommel, and don’t forget to look for a quality sheath.








Now introducing….Survive! Knives

SKGSO5.0TBKCSurvive! knives have quickly become one of the most popular and highly sought after knife brands on the market today. Specializing in high-end fixed blades and neck knives, Survive! knives have quickly caught the attention of many knife enthusiasts, but especially those who are big proponents of outdoor/survivalist knives.

SKGSO4.1BMM390CYBased out of Pennsylvania, Survive! knives owner Guy Seiferd stands behind his products 100% and offers a lifetime warranty just like many of the big manufacturers today. These elite fixed blades offer a wealth of options including bow drill divots, ferro notches, different micarta handle colors and even sheath colors. For blade steel they are utilizing mostly CPM 3V and even CPM 20CV–both offering superior edge retention, corrosion resistance and great impact strength for even the toughest of applications–just like a true fixed blade should be.

SKGSO5.1TBRBRThe most recent knives to hit our shelves has been the 6.75″ blade 7/7 model which is only just the 5th production model to be released from Survive! knives. Previously we have seen the necker knife, the 4.1 model, the 5 model and finally the 5.1 model. The model numbers due in fact correlate with the blade size so make sure you keep an eye out for future models such as the necker II, the 3.5 model, the 6 model and even the 10 model.

SKNECKBLKSKGSO7.7TBKBKAll in all, Survive! fixed blades have without a doubt earned their place in the knife industry and its exciting to see the demand grow for these almost on a weekly basis. To find out more information on Survive! knives feel free to visit them at and to check out the lastest selection here at BladeOps, make sure to click here

Tips for Choosing Your Survival Knife

Benchmade Bushcrafter 162
Benchmade Bushcrafter 162

If you walk into a room of knife enthusiasts and ask what is the best survival knife, you are certain to get as many answers as there are people in the room.  The choice of a survival knife is very personal and has as much to do with the specific needs, strengths and preferences of the individual as it does the materials in the knife. There are several things to consider when choosing the best survival knife for you, because, regardless of which survival knife is best for you, there are certain characteristics that nearly every good survival knife shares in common.

Nearly every survival knife will be a fixed blade knife with a full tang.  Fixed blade knives are generally beefier than their folding counterparts.  With thicker blades and bigger handles that aren’t designed to be stuffed into a pocket, a survival knife is big enough and tough enough to handle cutting branches and small trees and then chopping these into pieces of firewood.  A well-built survival knife can handle being banged on the spine with a heavy log or rock to chop through a thick piece of wood while most pocket knives would succumb to such abuse.

Also, fixed blade knives have no moving parts, which increases their strength and durability under harsh conditions.  Along these lines, a full tang is almost an absolute necessity when choosing a survival knife.  For some reason, there is a certain subset of “survival” guys that insist a hollow handle is the way to go–they like the storage compartment found in some so-called survival knives.  Let’s put that idea to rest.  A hollow spot is a weak spot.  A weak spot is a future broken knife, and in a true survival situation, a broken knife spells catastrophe.  I know the ESEE lovers are going to come out with their knives drawn because I said this–and I will admit, there are a few knives out there that seem to have figured out how to create a very strong skeletonized survival knife, put some scales on it for more comfortable use, and then use the spaces in the skeletonized handle for storage.  But they are few and far between.  And these knives aren’t necessarily what I am referring to anyway.  I am talking about the “rambo”esque knives that have a hollow handle with a little compass on the butt.  Those knives look neat, and definitely have their place.  But they are not survival knives, no matter what Rambo says.

Your survival knife must have a good blade made of good steel.  Choice of steel will vary.  So will choice of blade shape.  ESEE makes some great survival knives and they use 1095 steel for all of their blades.  Benchmade just came out with their Bushcrafter knife and it has S30V.  SOG uses AUS-8 for most of their military survival knives and Fallkniven uses laminated VG-10 in their extremely popular line of survival knives.  Gerber uses 420HC in their best-selling LMF knives.  And so you see, even the knife makers don’t agree.  What you want is a knife that you can work with.  For some people, S30V will be the best choice because they want a blade that will keep an edge for a long time–even though when sharpening time comes, it will be a bit more tough for them than for others.  Other people will say, give me 1095 any day of the week for my survival knife, that way, if the knife gets dull when I am out in the wilderness, I can resharpen it in just a few minutes.  Whichever knife steel you choose for your survival knife, just make sure you understand the properties of the steel and how to sharpen your knife.

Most survival knives have an extra thick blade so they can be used for heavy cutting and chopping.  You should even be able to set the blade in a big chunk of wood and then bang on the spine of your blade with a small piece of wood to help “chop” the wood.  A blade that is 1/4″ thick is not uncommon in the survival knife arena.  How about length?  Most survival knife blades run from about 4 inches all the way up to 6 inches long, although there are many that are even longer than that and some that are a bit shorter that do just fine.  Once again, before you make your survival knife choice, make sure you understand what you are going to use your knife for.  If you anticipate needing to chop a whole lot of wood, the ESEE Candiru is not going to be a good choice for you.  But if you need a utility survival knife that can get you through some rough spots and doesn’t take up much storage room in your gear bag, then the Candiru could very well be the very best choice for you.

A good full tang, fixed blade knife should also have a pommel that can handle being banged on.  While you are banging on the pommel, let your eyes wander over to the handle.  A great survival knife will have a handle that is comfortable in your hand.  It will also allow you to get a good, solid grip and keep that in inclement weather and conditions.  Here is where a whole lot of the debate arises as to which survival knife is best.  Everyone has different size hands.  What may feel great in my hand, could feel terrible in yours.  Just because your buddy has a knife that he insists is the end all, be all survival knife, which it may well be for him, but it doesn’t mean it will be for you also.  Consider the material used for your knife handle.  Micarta and G-10 are common choices because they have good weight to strength ratios and are durable enough to handle heavy use.

Most good survival knives will have a lanyard hole at the butt end so you can tie a lanyard on your knife and then slide the lanyard over your wrist for extra security.  That way, if on a particularly hard chop, you lose the grip on your knife, it isn’t going to fly off into the underbrush and be lost forever–leaving you in the wilderness without a tool.

Whichever survival knife you choose, remember to consider these points.

  1. Full tang
  2. Blade Steel
  3. Blade Thickness
  4. Blade Length
  5. Steel Type
  6. Handle Material
  7. Handle Shape

The choice of a survival knife is personal.  If you are comfortable with your knife, you are going to get the production you need out of it.  Make sure your survival knife is the very best there is. . . for you.

Now Carrying Ontario Knives

You asked for it so here it is, we just started carrying Ontario Knives.  Ontario Knife Company has been around for over 100 years and has been producing American made quality knives ever since their inception.  Today, they are widely known for producing and supplying knives to various branches of the military as well as building some of the most durable and tough survival knives you can find on the market. 
Some of their most popular knives are their Ranger Series, their U.S. Military Knives, their Gen II Series, as well as many other lines of knives that are extremely functional.
Their Ranger Series are designed for those who serve.  They also function extremely well as survival knives.  Built with Micarta Handles and 5160 Steel or 1095 Steel with black texture coating, there are many different style knives to choose from including the Afghan, the RD4, the Night Stalker 6, the RAK Assault Knives, the Little Bird Knives, as well as the Ranger Shiv and the Ranger Shank knives.  Each one of these knives is built tough.  Check out the Ontario Knives we have in stock and watch for many more to come in over the next few weeks. 

TOPS Knives Tom Brown Tracker Fixed Blade Knife

The TOPS Knives Tom Brown Tracker Fixed Blade Knife is a very large combat knife.  Built with a curved a drop point blade, this middle of the blade has an interesting modification that gives you a big strectch of straight edgte that can be used for a multitude of purposes.  The extra thick spine on the blade also sports a saw.  This isn’t a wimpy little saw that you see on lots of “survival knives”.  This is a heavy duty saw section with offset teeth for more aggresive cutting. If you are looking for a big, beefy survival knife that can do just about anything, the Tracker is just what you are looking for. 


Blade Length: 4 1/4″
O/A Length: 11 7/8″
Draw Knife: 2 1/8″
Saw: 2 1/2″

Thickness: 1/4″

Weight: 1 lb 12oz
Blade Steel: 1095 High Carbon Alloy RC-58
Blade Color: Black Traction Coating
Handle Material: Black Linen Micarta®
Sheath: Kydex With Two Rotating Steel Spring Clips
Mfg. Handcrafted in the USA
*Each knife individually numbered with a serial number

TOPS Knives Idaho Arrowhead

The TOPS Knives Idaho Arrowhead is a true lifesaver. This little fixed blade knife is all set up so you can use this as a survival knife, but it definitely works great as a knife to get a job done in an urban setting also.  The knife comes with two holes in the handle so you can attach it to a stick if you are looking to build a small spear.  It also is thick enough to be used for a wide variety of cutting jobs.  This is the perfect little knife to carry in your bug out bag or in a survival kit.  It comes with a Kydex sheath and also comes with a bead chain so you can carry it on your neck if you want.  


O/A Length: 3 3/4″
Blade Length: 1 7/8″
Thickness: 3/16″
Steel: 154cm RC 58-60 Cryo Treaded
Blade Color: Sand Blast Finish

SOG Field Pup Fixed Blade Knife

SOG has created an absolute winner with the Field Pup Fixed Blade Knife.  This fantastic camping, hunting, survival, or all around outdoors knife has a high gloss satin finish blade made of AUS8 stainless steel.  Just the right size, this all purpose knife has a full tang blade with a standard edge.  The jimping on the back of the blade gives you all the control you need out in the field.  This knife also comes with a nylon sheath.  This is a great knife to give as a gift to the outdoorsman in your life. 


Blade Length 4″ x .13″
Overall Length 8.5″
Weight 4.0 oz.
Edge Straight
Steel AUS 8
HRC 57-58
Handle Kraton
Finish Satin
Sheath Nylon
Country of Origin Taiwan
Price $60.00

TOPS Knives Hoffman Lite Hunter

The TOPS Knives Hoffman Lite Hunter is one of my new favorite “emergency” knives.  Made form 154CM stainless steel, the blade has a very useful drop point shape to it that makes it perfect for outdoor activities.  This knife can be used as a mini skinner knife, it can be used for nearly any cutting or small chopping jobs, and it is a great all around knife.  The knife is light and easy to carry and it is small enough that it is going to fit nearly anywhere I stow it.  This is a perfect knife for a small Bug Out Bag or emergency kit you have ready for who knows what may come situations.  For me, having one of these TOPS knives or even one of the ESEE knives is imperative in an emergency kit.  If you aren’t in love with the Hoffman Lite Hunter, a few other good choices for an emergency kit would be the TOPS Idaho Arrowhead or the ESEE Izula knife.  I like all three of these for that purpose.


O/A Length: 5 7/8″
Cutting Edge: 2 3/16″
Thickness: 1/8″
Steel: 154cm RC 58
Heat Treat: Paul Bos
Blade Color: Stone Wash
Sheath: Top Grain Leather

Tactical Knives, Survival Knives, and Combat Knives

Lately survival knives have become an extremely hot topic.  Often we get a call from a curious customer asking us what we think is the very best survival knife.  As you may expect, around here at BladeOps the opinions vary.  Some of us like a knife that is more along the lines of a tactical knife that will function as either a combat knife or as a survival knife.  Others of us like the straight up survival knives.  To set up the conversation, we want to make a few clarifications. 
For us:
Tactical Knife:  a knife that is all black, most probably designed for combat.  A great example of this would be the Blackhawk QDC Mark I folder.
Survival Knife:  a knife that is designed to help you out in the wild.  If you are stranded and lost, this should be a knife that will help you survive in whatever situation you may find yourself.  An example of this would be the ESEE Knives Rat 3 or Rat 4 knife.
Combat Knife:  a knife designed specifically for military and police applications.  Often these knives feature more narrow blades and may be “tactical” or they may have stainless steel blades.  In this genre–think the Mark II by Gerber.
As with any set of definitions, there is quite a bit of crossover within each definition.  For instance, the Mark II is a combat knife and is also a Tactical Knife.  Some people may even classify it as a survival knife.
The purpose of this blog entry is to find out what are your favorite Tactical and Survival knives?  Let us know which knife and why.

SOG Knives

SOG Knives come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes.  One basic thing about an SOG knife that you can always count on is the craftmanship, workmanship, and usability of the knife. 
One of my favorite lines of SOG Knives is the SOG-TAC automatic series.  This line has been in production for well over a year now and has a couple of things that I think are really great.  First, the knives are extremely thin.  They are some of the thinnest auto knives you will find on the market.  Second, the action is incredibly quick.  You can get the SOG-Tac autos in two sizes and several different variations including black or stainless steel blades, tanto point or drop point, and part serrated or plain edge.  This year, SOG even introduced the new 05 and 06 which are a bit larger and have a modified drop point style blade. 
SOG is also well known for their fixed blade knives which function well as combat knives (for which purpose the majority of them were originally designed) or as survival knives.  One of their newest fixed blade knives is the Creed knife.  You can find an earlier post about the Creed combat knife here.  The Seal Pup series by SOG is also incredibly popular. 
Regardless of which style of SOG knife you choose, whether it is an an automatic knife, a fixed blade knife, a folding knife, or even a survival knife, if it is an SOG–it is going to be good.

NOTE:  Pictured is the SOG GovTac fixed blade knife.