In terms of everyday survival items, a reliable combat knife should be at the top of your list. You won’t always be able to carry a self-defense firearm with you, which means that a combat knife will be your only means of protection.
Many state and national parks and other government properties don’t allow handguns on the premises. Still, combat knives are usually acceptable if you have the proper documentation and the blade is within the legal size.
If you’re thinking about investing in a secondary means of self-defense, this article will look at the best combat knife available and how to choose the best combat knife for you.
Our Top Picks
Ka-Bar 1282 D2 Extreme Fighting Knife
GERBER StrongArm Fixed Blade Knife with Serrated Edge
Best Budget Option
Cold Steel 49LCK Srk SK-5
Keep reading for details on these and all 6 of the best combat knife choices for survivalists.
Types of Combat Knives
Before you can choose the best combat knife for you, it’s important to understand the different types of combat knives available.
Fixed-blade knives are the most popular type of combat knife. Technically, many of the different categories of combat knives listed below fall into the broader category of fixed-blade. Fixed-blade refers to the type of blade you have on your knife rather than the knife itself. It simply means that the blade doesn’t fold down like a pocket knife but stays in place like a kitchen or butcher’s knife.
The Bowie knife was made famous by David Bowie, who died while defending the Alamo in the 1800s. Bowie’s were the best combat knife available for hundreds of years until manufacturers started making different options and alternatives in the early to mid-1900s. Still, the Bowie knife is one of the most popular combat knife options today.
If you want your combat knife to double as a camping knife or alternative use knife, then a tactical knife is the best combat knife for you. Tactical knives are designed for more than self-defense and are often used by hikers or hunters who spend excessive time in the woods.
Tactical knives can be either fixed-blade or folding, and the Swiss Army Knife is one of the most popular types of tactical knives. Tactical fixed-blade knives often have bonus features built into the handle or incorporate a partially serrated blade for sawing purposes.
Karambits are knives with curved blades similar to a tiger claw, which was the inspiration for the original design. Karmabits are meant only as defense or combat knives as their unique shape makes them impractical for anything else. However, learning how to use a karambit has a bit of a learning curve, so make sure you practice or take formal lessons before sporting one.
Finally, there are folding combat knives. These knives aren’t as popular for actual combat or self-defense as fixed-blade knives, but they certainly have their place in the combat knife world. This is especially true for situations when larger knives and guns are prohibited. Having a folding knife as a trusty backup is an excellent option that every survivalist should incorporate.
Things to Consider When Choosing the Best Combat Knife
As with most knives, the blade is one of the most important things to consider when making your purchase. The quality of the blade, the length, and whether or not it has a serrated edge are all important components to keep in mind.
The blade’s handle is just as important as the blade, if not more so. If your knife doesn’t have a handle that you feel comfortable with, it will be next to useless in your hands. For this reason, it’s important to test out different knives by holding them in your hand to get a feel for what you like. Make sure to physically try them out while choosing which is the best combat knife for you.
For a knife to be a quality combat knife, it has to be designed properly. Combat knives are meant to slash, stab, and swing easily and smoothly. If the blade or handle design won’t allow for this, you should consider a different knife.
If you’re looking for a multi-use combat knife and not strictly for self-defense, utility is also an important consideration. Utility combat knives often referred to as tactical knives, have additional features outside of only self-defense. Utility combat knives are popular with hikers, hunters, and outdoors people, making them one of the best combat knife options for survivalists.
Just as with guns, there are a number of laws, ordinances, and regulations that you should be aware of before purchasing a combat knife. It’s important to know if your state has limitations regarding the length of the blade, the type of knife, or where you can carry it on your person.
Overall Best Combat Knife
1. Ka-Bar Extreme Fighting Knife 1282
It only seems fitting that the overall best combat knife on this list comes from a company specializing in combat gear for the United States military. Ka-Bar is a brand that made its name producing knives, protective gear, and so much more for our troops, and the Ka-Bar Extreme Fighting Knife 1282 is an example of one of their finest products.
Unlike other Ka-Bar knives with a blade of 1095 steel, the Ka-Bar Extreme is made of D2, a vast improvement over 1095. D2 steel stays sharper for longer and is much more durable than 1095, which gives this knife an edge over many of its counterparts.
The Ka-Bar Extreme 1282 is also a knife designed almost exclusively for combat and self-defense. Where other types of knives on this list will have additional features and capabilities, this bad boy is meant for one purpose: combat. The blade is seven inches long, and the totality of the knife weighs only twelve ounces.
The Kraton handle is easy to grip, and the ballistic nylon/Cordura sheath is durable and protective. Whether you’re looking for your first combat knife or want to upgrade your current one, the Ka-Bar Extreme Fighting Knife 1282 is one of the best combat knives you can find.
- The D2 steel blade and composition are durable and reliable.
- The extended blade length makes for the perfect self-defense weapon.
- This knife is trusted by the military and military veterans.
- While the long blade is ideal for self-defense, it’s too long for certain states without having a permit.
2. Gerber Strongarm
Gerber is a brand becoming synonymous with quality outdoor gear, and the Gerber Strongarm is no exception. It’s considered by many as the best combat knife when it comes to utility because of its versatility, durability, and price point.
The Gerber blade is partially serrated to aid in practical bushcraft activities outside of combat, and it’s also ceramic coated. The blade coating of ceramic means that the blade will last longer, look better and stay sharper. This is extremely important for both combat and tactical purposes.
The blade is 4.8″ long, razor-sharp, and made of 420 HC steel that’s full-tang and built to last. Weighing in at just over 10 ounces, the Gerber Strongarm is also very lightweight and easy to wield. The handle is coated with rubber and extremely grippy and even features a pummel on the bottom for pounding purposes, making it one of the best combat knives for survivalists.
- Versatile as the serrated edge and bottom pummel make it usable as a saw or a hammer
- The blade is the perfect length as it’s long enough for most uses but not so long as to be unwieldy.
- The ceramic coating of the blade makes it durable and sharp.
- High-quality steel that’s meant to last.
- Very grippy handle that’s easy to use.
- The solid price point at between $75 and $90.
- The blade is a good length but might be too short for certain combat applications for beginners.
Best Combat Knife on a Budget
3. Cold Steel SRK
The fact that the Cold Steel SRK is as affordable as it is should be considered a gift to everyday civilians. This best combat knife is traditionally used by military members, including Navy Seals, and is one of the most durable and sharpest combat knives in the world. The fact that Navy Seals use it also means that the knife is rust-resistant and great for use in wet or watery conditions.
The blade is six inches long and made of SK-5 steel, which is good but not great, which is likely what makes for the affordable price. While not being a super-steel, SK-5 is a material you can depend on. You just might have to resharpen your knife more often than you’d like. If you want to take things up a notch, you can purchase this same knife with a CPM-3V steel blade.
Regardless of which blade and knife you choose, you’re in for a real treat with the Cold Steel SRK.
- Multiple blade material options to accommodate any extreme.
- The knife is rust-resistant and waterproof, ideal for fishing or scuba diving.
- Kraton handle composition is easy to grip and slip-resistant.
- With a blade that’s six inches long and a weight of ten ounces, this knife is extremely lightweight and easy to use.
- The blade is good but not great compared to the CPM-3V steel option.
Easiest to Conceal
4. Kershaw Secret Agent Boot Knife
Not all combat knives are meant to be intimidatingly large and obvious. If you require something easy to conceal and allow for alternative carrying options, the Kershaw Secret Agent Boot Knife is a solid choice. While the name makes this best combat knife sound like something James Bond would sport, it’s a multi-use knife that can be worn around your waist or attached to your boot.
Despite being small and compact in design, this knife has a 4.4″ blade that’s razor-sharp and surprisingly durable in spite of its skinny design. There are few combat knives as easy to conceal and carry as the Kershaw Boot Knife. Throw in the fact that it only weighs three ounces, and you’ve got one of the smallest and deadliest combat knives at an affordable price.
- The polymer handle is very grippy and easy to use.
- The steel blade is surprisingly durable and heavy-duty.
- At three ounces and a versatile sheath, the Kershaw is extremely easy to carry and conceal.
- Very affordable at $25.
- While the blade might surprise you in durability, it’s fairly thin and prone to damage.
Other Best Combat Knives
5. Ka-Bar 1211 to 1214
Ka-Bar is one of the best combat knife producers in the United States and around the world. Many of their products are trusted by the military, which means that they should be trusted for everyday self-defense use by civilians.
The Ka-Bar 1211, 1212, 1213, and 1214 are all excellent options from one of the top combat companies in the world. The blades for each are made of 1095 Cro-Van steel, the handles are made of Kraton, and the sheath is made of Kydex or leather, depending on which one you choose.
No matter what type of combat knife you’re looking for, one of these options from Ka-Bar will fit the bill. Whether you’re looking for a true combat knife or a one with a partially serrated edge for tactical use, Ka-Bar will get the job done. And with a blade that’s seven inches long and razor-sharp, you will feel safer than ever when you’re holding a Ka-Bar.
- The long blade is ideal for self-defense and combat use.
- Multiple options to choose from in the Ka-Bar 1200 line.
- Very lightweight and easy to handle at just 12 ounces in weight.
- The 1095 steel is good but not great for a Ka-Bar knife.
6. CRKT Provoke
The CRKT Provoke is a karambit combat knife and one of the finest on the market. It’s also one of the most unique karambits available and includes the first-ever Kinematic forward-opening knife blade. This bad boy also has a swiveling feature that allows you to move the blade to different positions based on your needs.
The design allows for a fast, one-hand opening, and the handle is unique and easy to grip. The blade itself is nearly 2.5″ long and made of high-quality D2 steel. The handle and composition of this best combat knife are aluminum, and its total weight is just over six ounces. Though the blade is short, it’s razor-sharp, dangerous, and a force to be reckoned with in the right hands.
The CRKT Provoke is the first of its kind for karambits, and we hope to see more designers learn from its ways.
- Unique design allows for quick, one-handed opening and defense.
- A high-quality blade that’s durable and razor-sharp.
- The aluminum handle is easy to grip and rust-resistant.
- Includes a low-profile pocket clip for easy carrying.
- The design is unique and practical but makes the knife slightly bulky for everyday carrying.
- A bit on the pricy end at around $200.
Wrapping Up the Best Combat Knife
No matter what type of combat knife you’re looking for, there’s a great option on this list. The main thing to remember with combat knives is that they’re designed for fighting and self-defense. Any additional features are a bonus but aren’t a necessity. You should carefully consider what you’re looking to get out of a combat knife before choosing which is the best combat knife for you.
A boning knife is another important knife for survivalists. You can read all about them, what they are used for, and which are the best ones in this Best Boning Knife article.