Because the right knife can make such a difference, you need to be careful when choosing yours. That said, although many of these products are expensive, you don’t need to pay a fortune. Today, we’re going to compare the best budget survival knife options so that you can be productive without hurting your wallet. Here is what you need to know.
When it comes to survival, nothing beats a high-quality knife. While you will need other materials and gear to handle various situations, a knife will be one of the most versatile and useful tools. You can use this device to hunt, make shelter, craft weapons, defend yourself, and build tools.
Best Budget Survival Knife – How to Choose a Survival Knife
Since there are so many options available, it’s easy to assume that a knife is a knife. However, some crucial elements can separate the top-tier models from those that will break under pressure. Before making a final decision, be sure to compare these features and specs.
If you’ve ever spent time looking at knives, you’ve likely noticed that they come in a wide assortment of shapes and styles. Blades can be pointed, curved, serrated, angled – you name it. However, while many of these designs are built for a specific purpose, a survival knife needs to be as versatile as possible. You’ll be doing many varied tasks, so you don’t want to limit your options.
Ideally, your survival knife will have a drop point blade, which is curved on both sides. The top is dull so that you can get leverage with your fingers. Never buy a double-edged knife as it could be as dangerous to you as anyone else.
Another option is a clip blade knife, which has a slight curve at the tip, creating a fine point. The benefit of this style is that it’s easier to puncture various materials, and you can pry pieces open more easily. That said, a sharper tip can break faster, so there is a trade-off.
Overall, you want to avoid knives that come with sleek or “cool” designs. For example, while a curved knife with a hooked blade might seem badass, it won’t do much good in survival situations. You want a workhorse, not a show horse.
Fixed vs. Folding
When it comes to a knife for everyday use, a folding blade can work well in many different scenarios. However, when talking about survival, a folding blade is going to be more of a liability. The primary downside of this type of knife is that it will be flimsier. In worst-cases, you could potentially snap the whole thing in half while working, which could be a significant hazard.
Fixed blades are better because they are more durable and can withstand much more abuse.
If you’re unfamiliar with the term, tang refers to the length of the metal piece that inserts into the handle. Half-tang knives are lightweight, but they are not as rugged. A full tang model is necessary if you’re using your survival knife for chopping or batoning (splitting wood). Otherwise, the handle could break off, and you’ll wind up with an unusable piece of metal. Even if the handle fractures with a full tang knife, you can replace it and keep on going.
For the most part, synthetic knife handles are going to withstand the elements better. Wood can absorb water and rot from the inside, meaning that it’s not ideal for all situations. Even if the handle is treated to prevent absorption, that layer will wear off eventually. Natural materials can also break down faster than synthetics, meaning that you might have to get a new model sooner than later.
Another point to consider is whether to buy a survival knife with extra supplies in the handle. These models might seem better because they’re more versatile, but you’re sacrificing strength in the process. Overall, you want a thick, solid handle that allows you to work harder.
Finally, when choosing a survival knife handle, you may want something with a flat end (the pommel). If this piece is flat, it’s much easier to use as a hammer. That said, pointed or curved ends can be more agile and comfortable to handle, so you may have a different preference.
While the other factors we’ve discussed are important, nothing is as vital as the knife’s metal composition. Carbon steel is the best option since it will retain its edge for longer and maintain its structural integrity. The only downside is that it can rust, but if you take care of your knife, that won’t be an issue. Stainless steel may look cool, but it’s harder to stay sharpened and can be more brittle by comparison.
Best Budget Survival Knife – Comparison Guide
Now that you know how to choose the best budget survival knife, here are our top picks for the budget-conscious. We based on our decision on the features listed above and chose knives with high ratings. None of these models are over $100, so you can stay safe in the field without breaking the bank.
As a rule, bigger is better, but not necessarily when choosing a survival knife. You want something long enough to be hefty but short enough to be agile. The SCHF57 falls on the smaller side of the spectrum, but it is rugged and easy to use.
This model comes with a 2.6-inch drop-down blade and a fiberglass synthetic curved handle. A thumb indent gives you more control while cutting, making this an ideal tool for carving or skinning. The handle also comes with a lanyard hole, so you can tie it to your pack if necessary.
The SCHF57 has a high carbon steel, full-tang blade, and a leather sheath. The sheath also has grommets so that you can fasten it more securely to yourself or your bug-out bag.
- High carbon steel blade
- Synthetic handle with a lanyard hole
- Full Tang
- Small and lightweight design
- May be too small for some survival uses
- Blade is thinner than others, so it could fracture more easily
When comparing survival knives, you’ll notice that some models come with extra supplies in the sheath. This model from Morakniv is excellent for bringing on your next excursion, thanks to its fire-starting flint. Now, you don’t need to worry about bringing matches or a lighter – the flint can catch a spark almost immediately for up to 7,000 strikes.
The knife itself is also impressive with a 4.3-inch carbon steel clip blade. This particular design is ideal for stabbing, slicing, and prying. Even better, the blade comes with an anti-corrosive coating to ensure that it lasts even longer.
The handle is both curved and synthetic. Fortunately, the knife comes with a flat pommel, meaning that you can use it as a hammer when necessary.
- Anti-corrosive carbon steel blade
- Built-in fire starter in the sheath
- Flat pommel for hammering
- Rugged synthetic edge is built to last
- In rare cases, the knife may be hard to sharpen
- Sheath is not feasible for left-handed users
Best Budget Survival Knife – Schrade SCHF36 Frontier
If you liked the features of the other Schrade knife but wished it were longer, you’ll appreciate the SCHF36. This model has many of the same benefits but comes with a five-inch blade to help you accomplish more tasks. Batoning and carving are much easier since you have more surface area and weight behind each strike.
While the knife itself is worth your attention, the sheath also offers a Ferro rod (fire starter) and sharpening stone. Now, you can keep your knife in good condition while out in the field. Never worry about having a dull knife when it matters most.
- Rugged five-inch blade
- Powder-coated stainless steel
- Extra handle grips for better control
- Sheath comes with a Ferro rod and sharpening stone
- Blade may be too thick for some applications
- Heavier than other models
Bushlore Camp Knife
Although synthetic handles are typically better suited for survival, there is something to be said for an all-natural wooden version. Since you’re out in nature, why not have a knife that fits in? This camp knife has a full walnut handle that provides a smooth yet robust grip.
Beyond the handle, this knife has all of the standard hallmarks you’d need in the field. It comes with a drop-down blade, high carbon steel metal, a full-tang body, and a full black leather sheath. It even has a flat pommel for hammering (if necessary). Get back to your roots with this camp knife.
- Full tang carbon steel
- Walnut handle
- Leather sheath
- Lanyard hole
- Flat pommel
- Metal is softer than others, so it requires more sharpening
- Blade can stain more easily than others
Best Budget Survival Knife – MOSSY OAK 11-inch Full-tang Fixed Blade Knife
While the camp knife above offered some all-natural benefits, this model from Mossy Oak kicks things into high gear. This is a clip-blade knife, making it ideal for stabbing, prying, and slicing. The wooden handle is built tough and comes with curved edges to give you more control.
This is one of the longest knives on the list, coming in at just over 11 inches. You can work more efficiently at this size, and the clipped edge offers excellent versatility with finer details. Overall, you can do a lot with this best budget survival knife, and you’ll look good in the process.
- Beautiful walnut handle
- Clip-blade edge
- High carbon steel metal
- Anti-corrosion coating
- Blade holds its edge for longer
- Handle can get scuffed relatively quickly
- Edge can get dinged more easily than other knives
Best Budget Survival Knife – Bottom Line: Survival Doesn’t Have to Be Expensive
Whether you’re going camping or planning for the next natural disaster, having the right best budget survival knife can be the difference between life and death. Fortunately, with any one of the models listed above, you can conquer nature without having to spend a fortune.