The Bear Grylls name on a Gerber product is a little bit of a marketing angle. Whether or not you’re a fan of the TV personality, shouldn’t be a factor in choosing this high-quality, versatile survival knife. Afterall Gerber has spent years cultivating a strong reputation for providing high-quality tactical products at reasonable prices. You see this in the features of their model 31-001901 Pro Knife.
The 4.8-inch blade has a sturdy full tang that extends all the way down into the handle which has a non-slip rubber grip. The pommel also doubles as a hammer, which is nice for pounding in tent stakes.
The Gerber 31-001901 Pro Knife also comes with a sheath made from mildew-resistant nylon, which also has a built-in pull-through carbide sharpener. It also has a waterproof holder, with a ferrocerium fire starter rod.
Bowie knives have long been popular for their overall size, and utility. Mossy Oak is an American company that started out selling high-quality camouflage products. In more recent years they have evolved into other niches including survival and hunting knives.
This knife by Mossy Oak has an impressive 10-inch blade is made from 440 C hardened stainless steel, which provides its superior edge retention and rust resistance. The blade also has a set of saw back serrations and a clip point.
The 5-inch handle has a full tang for maximum blade stability as well as a comfortable non-slip rubber grip. This will certainly help to minimize hand fatigue if you need to use it as an improvised machete for clearing light brush around the campsite or stalking a blood trail.
Celtibero is a high-quality Spanish manufacturer that borrows some of its brand image from the Celtic people of Spain’s hardy Basque region. The Celtibero Cocobolo has a 5.8-inch blade made from a special MOVA stainless steel, which is in an alloy with Molybdenum – Vanadium.
This gives is superior corrosion resistance as well as making it less likely to chip or suffer a damaged point. It also has serrations on the back of the blade which are primarily meant for striking a fire steel rod.
It has a full tang which seats into the comfortable Cocobolo wood handle giving it a total length of 10.8-inches. This package includes a leather belt-worn sheath as well as a sharpening stone and fire steel included in the purchase.
How We Picked
There are a few things that make a quality survival knife stand out from the rest of the pack. Keeping a keen eye out for them can make a world of difference between a knife that lasts you for years on end, and one that leaves you with nothing more than buyer’s remorse.
This is a term indicating the depth that the base of the blade goes into the handle. It’s exclusive to fixed blade knives and doesn’t occur in folding bladed units. With fixed blade knives, we always looked for a full tang, which provides you with a long-lasting, firm blade. A partial tang blade is increasingly prone to looseness, failure, and even injury as time goes on.
Blade length has a little bit of personal preference to it, based on how you intend to use the knife. What’s important is that the blade length is reasonable to the handle length. You don’t want a long blade that fixed into a tiny handle when clearing a light brush.
The larger the knife and the longer you are likely to use it in a single application, the more important the grip becomes. For example, a Bowie knife that needs to serve double duty clearing brush needs to have a comfortable non-slip grip to lessen hand fatigue while also keeping a simple case of sweaty palms from becoming a major safety problem.
Many survival knives can also double as tactical knives. This makes things like MOLLE compatibility handy. Especially if you use a MOLLE compatible tactical backpack for camping, hunting, and hiking. Still, there are some people simply want a knife with a pocket clip or a simple belt sheath that hangs at their hip.
Compared to many other types of outdoor equipment knives are relatively easy and inexpensive to make. This invites lesser manufacturers to flood the marketplace with units that look nice in a display case and gleam with marketing phrases, yet end up lacking in long-term quality.
Whenever possible, we tried to keep an eye out for manufacturers who have at least a few decades of experience and a well-earned reputation for quality in the industry. These manufacturers have invested a lot in making sure that they stay near the top of the market, which gives them far more staying power than a fly-by-night newcomer who just wants to grab your money before moving on to inventing the next new can opener.
Gerber Bear Grylls 31-001901 Ultimate Pro Knife, Fine Edge
- 4.8-inch blade length
- 10-inches overall
- 13.7-ounce weight
- Full tang
- Nonslip rubber grip
- Pommel doubles as a hammer
- Mildew resistant sheath
- Pull through carbide sharpener
- Firestarter rod made from Ferrocerium
- Lifetime limited warranty
- Comes with a matching pocket knife
There are some people who will besmirch putting Bear Grylls name on a knife. If you are one of these people, you might want to look past the marketing aspects of this knife and focus on the manufacturer. Gerber has spent years developing a strong reputation for providing high-quality tactical products at reasonable prices. You see this in the features of their model 31-001901 Pro Knife.
It has a sturdy full tang, with a handle that ends in a pommel which can also double as a hammer. It also has a non-slip rubber grip. The stainless steel blade measures in at 4.8-inches, which makes it a legal carry knife in states where 5-inches is the legal maximum.
The sheath is made from mildew-resistant nylon and has a pull-through carbide sharpener. There’s also a waterproof holder, which includes a ferrocerium fire starter rod.
Gerber also includes some added extras with this knife. The initial purchase includes a small pocketknife as well as a lanyard with an emergency whistle.
What We Liked
The full tang with a hammer pommel is certainly a nice touch that ensures the knife is sturdy, while also giving you the ability to do things like hammer in tent stakes. The 4.8-inch blade length also makes this a legal carry knife for personal protection in states where 5-inches is the legal maximum.
Regardless of what you feel about the Bear Grylls merchandising name, this is still a high-quality knife that will take care of you when you’re in the bush. It has a lot of the added extra features that add to its an overall utility, while also including some optional extras. The lifetime limited
SOG Trident Folding Knife Pocket Knife TF101-CP
- 3.5-inch folding straight-edge blade
- Small serrated section
- Cordage cutting slot
- Stainless steel with black titanium finish
- Open one-handed
- Lightweight 4.5 ounces
If you haven’t heard of them before SOG is a United States company based out of Seattle, Washington. They have been working to establish a brand reputation for quality tactical items since 1986. This includes focusing on superior customer service.
The SOG TF101-CP Trident Folding Knife Pocket Knife was designed to be useful in the bush as well as serving as a personal protection tactical knife. To that end, it has a 3.5-inch folding blade that can be opened with one hand.
It’s made from cryogenically hardened stainless steel and has a black titanium finish for a stealth look. At the back of the blade, there’s even a small serration, for those who prioritize it.
It only weighs a very light 4.5-ounces. The handle also has a small groove that helps the user to quickly cut cordage.
What We Liked
The fact that you can quickly open this folding knife with a single hand is certainly a nice feature. The cordage cutting groove on the back is also very thoughtful. Especially if you like to use paracord when you are out in the bush.
This is a lightweight folding pocketknife that is arguably geared more toward the tactical end of the spectrum than the survival. That’s not to say it can’t support you in the bush. While you’ll never use the pommel to pound a tent stake into the ground, the TF101-CP will still come in handy for field dressing a deer and cutting the cordage to hang it.
Celtibero Cocobolo– Survival – Hunting – Tactical Knife With Cocobolo Wood Handle
- 5.7-inch MOVA stainless steel blade
- 10.8-inches overall length
- Cocobolo wood handle
- Full Tang
- Leather sheath
- Includes sharpening stone and fire steel
Celtibero is a high-quality Spanish manufacturer with roots that borrow inspiration from the uniquely hardy Celtic people of the Basque region. This knife with Cocobolo wood handle is drawn from this rich heritage to provide you with a versatile outdoor, hunting, and survival knife.
It has a 5.8-inch MOVA stainless steel blade. The trace amounts of Molybdenum – Vanadium gives it superior rust and corrosion resistance while also making it less likely to chip.
The blade also has a full tang which is seated firmly into the Spanish Cocobolo wood handle. This gives it a total length of 10.8-inches.
It comes with a leather sheath that is designed to be worn on the belt. It also includes a sharpening stone fire steel. The serrations on the back of the blade might look functional at first. However, it’s meant more for striking the fire steel than it is for say separate the connective tissue in an elk’s hip joint.
What We Liked
This knife speaks to the quality and character of Spanish craftsmanship. It looks good on the hip and comes with some nice extras to help maximize its versatility when you’re in the field. The MOVA steel also gives it superior rust and chip resistance, though its somewhat softer properties mean you will likely need to sharpen it more often.
Hand made in Spain with Muela (MOVA) stainless steel, this knife and its accessories are meant to last, while also looking good. Not only will it take care of you when you are off the beaten path, but it’s also a great conversation piece when you’re sitting around the fire at night.
Mossy Oak, 15-inch Bowie Knife With Fixed Blade
- 10-inch blade
- 15-inch overall length
- 440 C hardened stainless steel
- Sawback serrations
- Clip point
- Soft grip rubber handle
- Full tang
- Nylon sheath
- Magnesium fire starter
- Comes with sharpener
The Bowie knife shape harkens back to 1838 when it was wielded by James Bowie as an impressive hunting knife. The overall design might seem overstated, but it plays to the overall functionality of this knife, which has kept it popular for nearly two centuries.
Mossy Oak is an American company based out of the state of Mississippi. While they are thought of more for their camouflage line of products, they have spent decades earning a reputation for other high-quality outdoor products like their 15-inch Bowie knife.
The impressive 10-inch blade is made from 440 C hardened stainless steel. This gives it superior edge retention as well as improved rust resistance. It also has saw back serrations, with a clip point.
The 5.125-inch handle has a full tang with a comfortable non-slip rubber grip. This gives you the ability to improvise the Mossy Oak Bowie knife as a small machete, with minimal long-term hand fatigue.
This package also includes a durable nylon sheath, as well as a magnesium fire starter and a sharpener stone.
What We Liked
Okay, the blade is impressive, and it conjures up Paul Hogan “Crocodile Dundee” clichés. Still what’s really worthy of an extra gold star is the comfortable, non-slip rubber grip handle with a full tang.
It lets you deal with things like light brush as if carrying a machete with you. Which is great for times when you might be tracking a blood trail or needing to clear the perimeter of a campsite.
If you are in the market for a well-designed Bowie knife that doesn’t break the bank, the Mossy Oak Bowie knife deserves a good hard look. Unlike other Bowie knifes the handle won’t leave you with massive hand cramps and fatigue when you need to use it as a small machete. The fact that it comes with some added extras is a nice bonus and not something you see in some of its direct competitors.
Kershaw Blur Black 1670BLK Folding Knife
- Folding knife with a 3.4-inch blade
- 7.9-inches when open
- 4.5-inches closed
- Drop point tip
- Thumb button with lock
- One-handed operation
- Lightweight open handle construction
- 4.2-ounce weight
- Limited lifetime warranty
Folding knives are very popular for people who want one that they can carry every day, while also being able to handle life in the bush.
Kershaw is another highly-trusted manufacturer in this niche and carry through many of their brand styling cues with the Blur Black 1670.
The blade itself measures in at 3.4-inches with a drop tip point. The total knife length when open is 7.9-inches. Yet it’s also a comfortable 4.5-inches when closed. There is a thumb button with a lock built into the handle which allows you to deploy the blade one-handed.
The handle itself was designed with open construction and aluminum inserts to spare weight. All told it only rings in at a surprisingly light 4.2 ounces. It has tack and tec inserts as well as a hold to accommodate a lanyard. There’s also a reverse pocket clip.
What We Liked
This is a great knife for times when you want a discrete pocketknife that is also just the right size for things like field dressing a deer or gutting a salmon for the cooler. The lightweight construction with an open handle and aluminum inserts, along with a reverse pocket clip means you will barely feel it as you walk.
The fact that a trusted name like Kershaw also backs this knife with a limited lifetime warranty is a nice touch, that you shouldn’t overlook.
This knife arguably rides the line between a tactical knife and a survival knife. It’s not the sort of thing you are going to bring with you if you need to split some kindling, but it has the utility to help you field dress animals, and take care of knife work around the campsite.
KA-BAR Becker BK2 Campanion Fixed Blade Knife
- Military-grade knife
- Handcrafted in the USA
- 5.25-inch blade
- Drop point tip
- 10.5-inch total length
- Non-slip Ultramid handle
- Full tang
Ka-Bar is arguable one of the most trusted knife manufacturers in the United States. Their history as a company traces its roots back to the turn of the last century. However, they really rose to popularity in World War Two when the US Marines turned to the Ka-Bar as their preferred knife of choice in the Pacific Theatre of Operations.
While their military contracts hold strong today, Ka-Bar also recognizes the need to provide tactical, survival knives at the consumer level. This includes their Becker Companion knife, which is handcrafted by skilled craftsmen in the United States.
It has a 5.25-inch fixed blade with a full tang, set into the non-slip Ultramid handle. The Becker has a drop tip point. The total length measures in at 10.5-inches.
The sheath itself is made from a plastic composite and is MOLLE compatible. This makes it a great choice is you use a tactical backpack for hiking and camping.
You shouldn’t let the military background and MOLLE compatible sheath give you the impression that this is only a tactical knife. In truth, Ka-Bar designed it to do things like split wood, skin game, field dress, and quarter animals, as well as simply cut vegetables at the camp kitchen.
What We Liked
The strong history and the attention to quality in manufacturing are very appealing. Indeed, these factors alone draw many people to the Ka-Bar brand for life. The MOLLE compatible sheath is also nice for people who use a tactical backpack for their outdoor interests.
This is a very well-made knife from a very trusted US-based manufacturer. It’s easy to take with you and very versatile. You could argue that for the price point, you should get a few other bells and whistles like a fire starter or a sharpening stone. Still, these minor things are hardly “Missing” when taking into account the overall quality of the product.
SOG S-37K SEAL Team Fixed Blade Survival Knife
- 7-inch fixed blade
- 12.3-inch total length
- Cryogenically hardened stainless steel
- Partially serrated edge
- Full tang
- Glass-reinforced nylon handle
- MOLLE compatible sheath
- 10.3-ounce total weight
SOG stands for Studies and Observations Group, which traces its origins back to the Vietnam War. They have a broad line of high-quality knives geared for tactical and survival purposes. While many of their more popular knives have folding blades, they do have some high-quality fixed blade units like the S-37K SEAL Team Survival Knife.
The S-37K has an impressive 7-inch blade that almost has you mistake it for a Bowie knife. Yet, it has a partially serrated edge and a clip point tip. It’s made from SOG’s proprietary cryogenically hardened stainless steel.
The blade has a full tang which extends down into the glass-reinforced nylon handle. Not only does this material save weight, but it also adds to the durability and firm grip. All told the SOG S-37K SEAL Team Fixed Blade Knife weighs in at only 10.3 ounces. Which is surprisingly lightweight considering its impressive overall size of 12.3-inches long!
The sheath that comes with it is also MOLLE compatible. This makes it a good option for those who hike, hunt, or camp with a tactical backpack.
What We Liked
The overall lightweight of 10.3 ounces is astounding for a knife this large. It really reduces the hand, and wrist fatigue that can sometimes play a factor when using a large knife for laborious jobs like quartering an animal in the field.
The SOG S-37K SEAL Team Fixed Blade Knife looks like a Bowie knife, while not really being a Bowie knife. It’s maybe not the best choice if you want a knife that can split kindling. You certainly can’t legally wear it in public for personal protection. Still, it’s a perfect fit for large game hunting trips.
Gerber Strong Arm Fixed Blade Knife
- 4.8-inch blade
- 420 high carbon steel
- Ceramic blade coating
- 9.8-inch total length
- 7.9-ounce weight
- Full tang
- Glass-reinforced handle
- Rubberized diamond grip
- Striking pommel
- Made in the USA
Gerber is another trusted US knife maker. Their primary manufacturing facility is located in Portland Oregon, though their products are available around the world.
The Gerber Strong Arm’s blade measures in at 4.8-inches, which makes it a legal carry knife in states that allow up to five inches. It’s made from 420 high carbon steel with a ceramic coating for corrosion resistance. It also has partial serrations.
The blade has a full tang that extends into the glass-reinforced handle. There is also a striking point in the pommel, which isn’t meant specifically to be used as an impromptu hammer. The grip on the Strong Arm features a rubberized diamond pattern.
The sheath can be adjusted in multiple ways to hang on the hip, or a horizontal belt carry. It’s also MOLLE compatible for mounting on a tactical backpack or vest.
What We Liked
The versatile MOLLE compatible sheath is certainly a nice touch, which gives this survival knife a tactical edge. The striking pommel is also handy for breaking open hard surfaces, including things like ice or glass.
This is another survival knife that leans toward the tactical side of the spectrum. Yet it still has all the characteristics you want in a knife that can support you throughout long camping, hiking, or hunting trip.
The versatile MOLLE compatible sheath is very nice. It just would have been nice if there would have been a few other bells and whistles included in the initial purchase.
There’s an old mountain man saying that states “You should never go into the woods with less than a knife.” This is age-old wisdom going back to before the pioneering days of North America. While there isn’t a lot of wilderness left to be truly conquered, this sentiment still holds true today.
Of course, modern-day knives have evolved from the crude blacksmithing roots of their forebears to become truly innovative solutions that not only come in handy, but they can also save your butt in an emergency.
There are a lot of materials, characteristics and special features that go into a quality survival knife, as well as the type of knife that is best for how you are most likely to use it.
Blade length plays a variety of factors depending on how you plan to use the knife. For instance, if you plan to use the knife to split kindling or quarter an animal in the field, then chances are a 2 to 3-inch blade simply isn’t going to do suffice.
A knife that you intend to carry for personal protection might need to be a fraction less than 3-inches, as most states won’t allow you to legally carry a knife over 3-inches. Though there are some that allow up to 5-inches in a public space.
Blade Shape, Point, And Characteristics
There are different blade shapes to consider. Some are perfectly symmetrical with an equally sharp edge on each side. While this gives it superior penetration power, it doesn’t have the utility of a single-sided blade that can be used to split kindling.
A “Drop Point” blade is typically thicker and the blade itself widens as it gets closer to the handle. This type of blade is better for prying things open without breaking off the tip. It also has the structural integrity to support serrations.
A “Clip Point Blade” has a narrow tip, which helps with maximum penetration with minimal effort. Though it is also more likely to break off when prying on something.
Serrations are often hotly debated characteristics. They certainly add to the utility of the blade, allowing you to saw small pieces of wood, or break down joints. For some, they are an absolute “Must-Have” yet there are others who feel they are inconvenient. Especially for those who want to use their knife for splitting kindling and want to tap on the back of the blade with a mallet or piece of wood.
Choosing Between A Folding Or Fixed Blade
Fixed blades tend to be more popular survival knives for times when you need a blade that helps support you out in the field. This is due to them often be able to host a longer, sturdier blade. Most require you to carry some kind of sheath on your hip, and depending on the state you live in, they might not be legal to carry in public for personal protection.
On the other end of the spectrum, folding blade knives are easy to carry and are often very discrete. This can be the kind of knife you might carry with you for personal protection, yet it also gives you a sharp tool to use in the field for cutting cordage or field dressing a whole animal.
This is a technical term used to describe how deeply the base of the blade is inserted into the handle. Of course, with a folding knife, there technically isn’t a tang. With a fixed blade knife, you want the tang to travel through or nearly through the entire handle. A “Partial Tang” blade might start out feeling firm, but as time goes on it will likely start to loosen and could cause a very serious accident while you are using it.
The Pommel Or Butt
Most folding blade knives simply have handles, though there are a few with other utility features that let you use the butt as a rudimentary mallet. A fixed blade knife with a full tang allows for a more-stout butt or pommel. Some designs allow you to use it as an improvised hammer, which is a nice feature if you need to drive things like tent stakes.
Handle And Grip
Of course, your ability to use the knife effectively is going to be influenced by the type of grip and handle characteristics. Things like a textured grip allow you to hold the knife securely even in wet conditions or times when your hands might be sweaty.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Does Overall Weight Matter?
A: When it comes to a smaller folding knife, weight is only really a factor if you are going to be taking long hikes where every ounce on your hip or pack can matter. When it comes to a larger knife, such a Bowie knife that can double as a miniature machete for clearing brush, weight becomes a bigger factor.
With these knives, you want to look for something that is less than 12-ounces. Even if the manufacturer doesn’t specifically mention the weight you might want to look for weight-saving measures such as aluminum inserts or glass-reinforced nylon.
Q: What Is The Legal Length To Carry A Knife In Public?
A: In the United States legal blade to carry a knife in public is determined by state law. Most states limit it to 3-inches. Which prompts some manufacturers to produce personal safety knives that measure in at 2.75-inches or some other fraction that is a shade less than three. However, there are some states like Alaska, Alabama, Arizona, and Hawaii that allow you to legally carry up to a 5-inch blade in public places.
Of course, a short knife limits utility when it comes to “Survival” purposes in the bush. So, if you want a knife that suits you in the woods and can double as a personal safety device, you should double-check the legal limits afforded in your state, and any states where you might carry it on a hunting or hiking trip.
Q: How Important Are Serrations?
A: Serrations are most often found on the back or near the base of a single-bladed knife. There are some knives where the serrations are little more than an aesthetic. However, most quality survival knives that include serrations intend them to be fully functional to some degree. Sometimes this is just to give you a convenient way to cut difficult cordage, or to cut through tough joint sinews when quartering a large animal in the field.
Ultimately, how you will use the knife will directly influence just how much you prioritize the presence and characteristics of a serrated section on a blade. Narrow serrations tend to be better for cutting tough cordage without leaving an overly frayed end. Wider serrations with sharp tips tend to be more appealing for people who need to separate tough, thick connective tissues in joints.
Q: Do I Need A Knife With A Blood Groove?
A: The term “Blood Groove” is a carryover from older times. Today if it appears in a knife’s description its purely as a marketing term. In reality, what some people call a Blood Groove, is really a “Fuller.” This is a blacksmithing term that describes a gutter-like rounded bevel in a blade. Its true purpose is to reduce blade weight to make using it easier and more nimble. It has no functional ability to somehow divert blood away from a wound.
Q: Is There A Difference Between A Striking Pommel and a Hammer Pommel?
A: A striking pommel tends to have a point to it, which is handy for things like breaking skim ice to get water, or breaking glass in the event that a vehicle slides into a lake. However, this point isn’t meant for doing things like pounding in tent stakes, which is meant more for a hammer-style pommel.
Q: Is A Partial Tang OK?
A: The term “Partial Tang” essentially means that the base of the blade only extends a short distance into the handle. If you’ve ever received a box of free steak knives as a gift, you’ve probably noticed out they started out feeling firm, then the blade started to wobble loosely.
While you might be able to live with this while cutting into a pork chop at the kitchen table, it’s not the sort of thing you want when you are quartering an elk in the field!
Finding the right survival knife for you starts with carefully analyzing your needs. If you are a backpack or still hunter who needs to track your prey after a distant shot, then a longer blade length like a Bowie knife might be preferable, as it allows you to also clear small brush. Then you get to the animal, it can then also help you field dress and quarter it for easy transport back to camp.
On the other end of the spectrum is a survival knife with a folding blade. This might be the preferred option if you are a fly fisherman going after trout or salmon and you need a knife to gut them before sliding them into a cooler on the shore. This type of knife can then play double duty back at the camp kitchen.
Of course, using your survival knife as personal protection, a tactical knife is also a nice way to maximize your investment. Just make sure you are clear on what the legal carry length is in your state as well as any other states you might travel to.
When it comes time to weed out your options, you should only consider a full tang for a fixed blade knife. Pay attention to the type of grip, as well as the overall weight of the knife in general. When in doubt, try to put your highest priorities on manufacturers with a trusted reputation instead of some fly-by-night discount knife maker, who probably won’t be able to honor your warranty a year later.
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