There are a great many types of gear that make up a well-rounded bug out bag (BOB) but few are as versatile and reliable as a good knife. Finding the best fixed blade knife is frequently at the top of the list when building your survival kit for good reason. A quality fixed blade knife can be used for many survival applications, it doesn’t take up much space in a pack, and is simple to take care of.
There are a lot of options out there and to get you started we have done testing and research to save you time and money when finding your own fixed blade knife.
In this article, not only are we are going to share our top picks of the best fixed blade knives, we’ll also explain the the anatomy of a knife and the different factors that may impact your decision.
Our Picks For The Best Fixed Blade Knives
Best Overall Fixed Blade Knife: KA-BAR Becker 22
The KA-BAR Becker 22 is a solid, heavy duty field utility knife that can be used in any environment. Its medium size (10.5”) is a great compromise between the heft of a larger knife and the control afforded by a smaller, lighter blade.
The KA-BAR Becker 22 is proudly made in USA, highlighting the commitment to quality that Ka-Bar is known for. It has a full tang and integrated glass-breaking tip in the pommel. The Becker 22 uses a drop point and flat ground blade to maximize versatility and edge retention. This is a knife that will stay sharp as you use and abuse it in real-life survival scenarios.
The Becker 22 has a Grivory (glass reinforced nylon) grip that is nearly indestructible and a quality MOLLE compatible nylon sheath that features a cargo pocket for storing a sharpener or magnesium fire starter.
The KA-BAR Becker 22 is a fantastic, high quality knife that is designed with versatility and hard use in mind. It will faithfully serve its owner for many years to come.
Best Fixed Blade Bushcraft Knife: Tom Brown Tracker
The Tom Brown Tracker is the most versatile bushcraft knife that I have come across. It is extremely well made and features a multifunction blade that has a two stage front edge and a serrated spine. This makes it highly versatile for bushcraft tasks including cutting rope, chopping branches, skinning, butchering, hunting, and shelter building.
The Tom Brown Tracker is a large knife (11.9”) that is heavy enough (1.75lbs) to split wood, butcher game, and perform light chopping duties. The micarta handle includes a lanyard hole to ensure tool retention when swinging the blade. Its wide belly makes the Tracker excellent for accurate slicing and pushing cuts. The knife’s serrated spine allows for rapid slicing of rope, plastic, and many other manmade materials.
The Tom Brown Tracker comes with a kydex sheath that is secure enough to be worn horizontally or vertically, allowing for rapid deployment as you see fit. This is an awesome knife that will get you through your wilderness survival scenario with flying colors.
Best Urban Survival Fixed Blade Knife: Ka-Bar Becker BK3 Tac Tool
The Ka-Bar Becker BK3 Tac Tool is the ultimate in urban survival. It is large enough (12.5”) to be an effective pry tool for forcing doors and levering debris out of your path. The Becker BK3 has enough heft (1.3lbs) to chop through most materials and the glass breaker in the pommel doubles as an effective hammer for pounding nails or anything else.
The Ka-Bar Becker BK3 Tac Tool has a feature rich blade that greatly multiplies its versatility in the field. It integrates a partial serration, rope cutter, and pry tip, none of which feel like they were thoughtlessly tacked on. Each of these options mesh well with the overall design and make this a tool that can assist with nearly any urban survival task.
This knife screams quality, it is made in USA and features a full tang and indestructible Grivory grips that offer fantastic control over the 7” blade. This is a heavy duty knife that can pry, hack, split, cut, and hammer equally well. The Ka-Bar Becker BK3 Tac Tool is a perfect choice for urban survival or search and rescue applications. Its wide versatility would even make it a great addition to any tool kit.
Fixed Blade Knife Practical Uses
A fixed blade knife is one of the most versatile tools you can add to your survival kit. Its uses are not limited to bushcraft or wilderness survival either, there are a great many urban tasks that can be simplified by having a great knife at your disposal. Some of these tasks include:
- Prying doors and windows
- Breaking glass
- Cleaning game
- Lash onto a stick to make a spear
- Shelter building
- Self defense
- Cutting rope
- Chopping wood
- Batoning through branches
- Opening containers and cans
- Preparing food
Fixed Blade Knife vs Folding Knife
You may be asking “why a fixed blade knife instead of a folding knife?” It is a valid question. After all, folding knives are generally more compact and lightweight than a fixed blade knife, which is usually preferable for a survival kit you will need to carry with you. There are however some big advantages that a fixed blade brings to the table in a survival situation.
Fixed blade knives are generally far stronger
This is essential if you are going to be putting your survival knife through hard use such as the majority of the applications listed above. The hinge that a folding knife pivots around is a major point of weakness in its design. This is OK if you are using it for fine, detailed cuts or general every day use. However, if you are intending to use your knife to force a door open or split wood you will want the strength of a fixed blade.
Even a small fixed blade knife will generally be longer and heavier than a folding knife. This is an advantage again for hard use work. Longer length will allow for greater leverage when prying and additional range in self defense or hunting.
The small additional weight will not significantly impact your ability to carry your BOB but will come in handy if you need to chop or hammer anything.
Ease of maintenance
This is another weakness of a folding knife that is eliminated by choosing the best fixed blade knife that you can find. The hinge and locking mechanism in a folder can be prone to clogging by dirt and sand or corrosion. These problems can make a folding knife difficult if not impossible to use. A fixed blade has no hinge or lock to fail on you. Simple is better in this case.
Folding knives do have a place in many survival and EDC kits. I would recommend picking a folding knife for your secondary or backup blade in a bug out bag (see our folding knife guide here). For your primary workhorse you will want the best fixed blade knife that you can find.
Fixed Blade Knife Handle Options
When finding the best fixed blade knife your handle options can be split into two categories – tang and grip. I will break these down for you to help decide what is best for your particular environment.
Knife Tang – What is it and why is this important
The tang is the part of the knife that extends from the base of the blade guard to the butt of the knife, it is commonly covered with the knife’s handle or wrapped with paracord. There are 3 varieties of tang in all knives, which are the Full Tang, Partial Tang, and Hollow Handle.
A full tang knife will have a solid piece of metal that extends from the hand guard all the way to the butt of the knife. Generally full tang knives are a single piece of steel comprising of both the blade and tang. A full tang will make your knife far stronger than any other option. This is the best choice for a heavy duty knife that will be used for tasks such as hammering, prying, chopping, batoning, and butchering animals.
A partial tang is when the blade steel extends only part way down into the handle. This is generally sign of a cheap knife as manufacturers often use this approach to cut costs. This can be OK if you are looking for a blade to display in your home. However if you intend on using and depending on your fixed blade knife in a survival situation leave partial tang knives on the shelf.
There is much debate among the survival community about the utility of hollow handled survival knives and whether it is worth the trade off. A hollow handle will always be weaker than a full tang option but some people think this is worth having as it allows them to carry some of the gear mentioned above. To make this judgment you would need to first assess what you will be using your fixed blade knife for. You can get away with light duties with a hollow handle knife but if you are going to be hammering or prying anything you will want a full tang for sure. As survival is a highly dynamic and unpredictable environment by nature I recommend playing it safe and going with a full tang when finding the best fixed blade knife for your kit.
A hollow handle allows you to store items in the cavity such as:
- Fishing kit
- Fire Starter kit
- First aid items
Fixed Blade Knife Grip Options
There are a great many materials that can be used for knife grips. Some of them are as old as recorded history and others are cutting edge technology. Here are some examples of commonly used knife grip materials:
You can go traditional or flashy but the most practical and cost effective in my experience are made from Micarta, Glass Reinforced Nylon, G-10, or Zytel. The overwhelming majority of modern day fixed blade knives will come in one of these options and for practicality they can’t be beat.
The other big factor in finding the best fixed blade knife grip is how it actually feels in your hand. Is the grip (regardless of material) designed with finger grooves to give you good purchase? Can it be used easily both bare handed and with gloves on? Is the knife comfortable in your hand when used for longer periods? Does moisture affect your hold? Look for a good guard and a healthy choil on the fixed blade knives that you are considering. Maintaining a good grip in wet conditions is also essential. Getting these elements right are vital to finding the best fixed blade knife for your kit. Getting them wrong will have serious consequences, turning your ultimate tool into a liability. Take the time to research carefully and read up on your choices.
Size & Weight For The Best Fixed Blade Knife
First off, there is no “perfect” length or weight for a bug out bag knife. The ideal size for you will depend on what you intend to use it for and assessing this is all part of the process of finding the best fixed blade knife for your survival kit. Let’s take a look at how knife size impacts your choices:
A longer fixed blade knife (one greater than 10” in overall length) will be heavier and take up more space in your pack. However, longer knives are better at hacking, chopping, splitting, prying, and self-defense. A shorter knife by comparison is better at finer detail work such as skinning, carving, scraping, and will be lighter and take up less room. As you can see it comes down to what you intend to use your knife for. Weigh these costs and benefits when identifying what knife is best for you.
It is important to find the right balance when assessing knife weight. No one wants to carry around more gear than they need and this includes choosing a heavy knife when you could use a lighter one. As with longer vs shorter blades finding the best weight comes down to what you will be using your knife for. A lighter blade will cause less fatigue both while carrying it in your bug out bag and when actually using it. It is also generally better for detail work. A heavier blade will impart greater force when hammering, copping, or breaking glass. Make a careful assessment when choosing your fixed blade knife. Look for one that weighs less than 12oz for lighter work and more than that if you will have a lot of brute force tasks ahead of you.
Fixed Blade Knife Blade Options
There are countless blade options in modern fixed blade tactical, bushcraft, and hunting knives. This wide selection is a great additional way to customize your knife to perfectly suit your particular needs. Here are some blade options and their typical uses:
A drop point blade is a great all around option for a multipurpose knife. Drop point knives typically have a gradual curve along their spine and a wide belly, which makes them easy to control and highly versatile.
Full or partial serration on a knife will allow for faster cutting of rope, cloth, plastic, and other man made materials. Serrated blades also typically stay usably sharp for longer.
A gut hook is a special type of blade where the back of the blade (also called the “spine”) has a sharpened indentation or hook. This is designed to be used when opening the abdomen of an animal when field dressing. Once inserted into an incision in the belly and pulled through the skin this acts like a zipper on the carcass. A gut hook is a popular option for a fixed blade hunting knife for this reason.
A tanto blade has a flat (rather than a curved) edge that comes to a triangular point. This design gives tanto blades superior strength when piercing tough materials. This increased penetration potential makes tanto points popular among people looking for a good tactical fixed blade knife.
A chisel tip is a flat tip that has been sharpened to allow for digging cuts. This wide tip option is also very strong in situations where the knife is being used as a prying tool, making it a popular choice for search and rescue or urban fixed blade knives.
A clip point has a curved or straight section running from mid-spine to the tip of the blade. This cutout allows for maximum control in the point when cutting as well as good piercing potential. The clip point in another popular option for people looking for a bushcraft knife or fixed blade hunting knife.
What Are The Best Fixed Blade Knife Sheath Options?
I have spoken at length now about every detail of finding the best fixed blade knife for your bug out bag except what you will be carrying it in…the sheath! Many people focus their search on finding the perfect knife and then just assume that the sheath will take care of itself. While most quality knives come with a reliable sheath it is worth considering some options to look for when finding a great sheath for your ultimate fixed blade knife.
How do you intend carrying your knife? Are you going to keep it in your BOB? Attach it to the outside? Are you going to clip it to your belt or strap it to your body? Any of these can be good options but it is important to find a sheath that can accommodate whatever style you intend to use. Most good knives come with a sheath that has more than one carry option. Look for a sheath that has multiple options or MOLLE integration to keep your choices open.
The most common materials used in sheath making are:
- Kydex – This is a type of plastic that is molded to fit the shape of the knife. It is lightweight and nearly indestructible. Kydex sheaths generally come with straps to attach them as you see fit.
- Nylon – This is a woven material that is lightweight, inexpensive, and very durable. Nylon sheaths often come with MOLLE integration and either Velcro or snap-secured straps for attachment to a belt or bag.
- Leather – This is a classic style of sheath material. Leather is typically very tough but not as lightweight as nylon. A leather sheath should come with straps and buckles for attachment.
Although not a necessity many higher quality sheaths have a secondary pouch integrated into them. This is most frequently used to store a sharpening stone, fire starting kit, or folding knife.
Make sure to check your local Ownership and Carry Laws before making your purchase. Either contact your local police department and/or refer to this wikipedia page which summarizes knife legislation around the world.
Finding The Best Fixed Blade Knife For YOU
As you can see there are a lot of factors to consider when finding the best fixed blade knife for your bug out bag or survival kit. Remember to focus on the basics that we have discussed and to take into account the particular tasks you are most likely to use the knife for. Will you be in an urban environment where you will be prying open doors, containers, and windows? Will you be in the wilderness where a fixed blade hunting knife will serve you best? Do you anticipate using it as a self defense tool? If you do, maybe you should consider a fixed blade tactical knife with a tanto tip. Best of luck finding the best knife for your needs, feel free to take another look at our recommendations above to get you started, thanks for reading!
Do you have a fixed blade knife that you love? Is there anything else you would look for when finding your best fixed blade knife? Please let us know in the Comments Section below, thanks again!
22 comments on “How To Pick The Best Fixed Blade Knife For Your BOB”
Fixed blade knives have a big advantage over folding ones in matters of durability, especially those that have a full tang. I share your opinion about the best options.
According to my experience the Ka-Bar Becker 22 is one of the blades that offers most value for the buck, and a great option for anyone looking for a sharp, sturdy knife.
Thanks Roy. The Becker 22 is an all around great knife. One of my friends even bought a few for all the guys in his wedding party as a thank you because he thought so highly of it!
i honestly can’t believe you’d include the tom brown tracker in this list. sure it does a lot, but does none of it well enough to warrant spending almost $310 on ($210 from amazon). starting off with, it’s too thick! it’s too short to be an effective chopper, the edge transition makes it difficult to polish and the saw on the spine is nothing short of aesthetic with a ridiculous tooth design. not to mention it weighs more than the ontario marine raider bowie! the entire thing is born from, surrounded, and supported, by hype from the movie for which it was designed. even the condor hudson bay butcher knife would outclass this overpriced chunk of steel.
Sorry to hear that you don’t like the knife but the alternatives that you suggest are great options. Thanks for your feedback, it is most appreciated.
I love my small version of the same knife, the Boker Mini Tracker. It’s one of my top choices for first line outdoor gear.
i have a very good knife in my hands, that most american people, i can say, don’t like. i am from greece. i am a lonely (exept my three dogs) hunter of wild boar. many times when i go hunting i need something ”more” than just a knife. i will not tired you with a lot talking. it is the schrade schf 37. thick and heavy.(maybe too heavy for hunting but i found myself many times in hard survival conditions) if i had this heavy knife instead of kabar 7” us marines, that is very good knife also, but not heavy enough for me, i would save too much energy and time. it is a new one on the market but i used it enough to see that is beyong my expectations. it can chop-batoning like a litlle axe or tomahawk, it can skin a wild boar and cut it to pieces, not good with firesteel, a litlle heavy attach to the belt, not very comfort in hand that i would prefer a litlle thicker. i am waiting a new model of it, schf 50 with hand more like bk. and i would like to see it also in 9” blade in that thickness of the blade, without the choil. thank you for your informations, keep it that way. i like all this and i hope i help someone to try it. you will not loose from this bargain.
Thanks for sharing your real-world experience with us, it is most appreciated. Sounds like a great knife that can be used in a lot of situations, I will check it out.
I own a kabar and a becker bk2 and love them both. Tough and razor sharp,that’s good enough for me.
Hey Bill, thanks for letting us know, real world feedback is always appreciated!
Nicely organized and thought out coverage of what features/construction aspects to consider when selecting a BOB knife. However, I would differ with the writer’s actual suggestions for knives. I have used many of the models indicated (the notable exception is the Condor blade), and I definitely think there are better choices in the same price range as those selected. The Ka-bar Campanion (BK-2) is probably the toughest knife out there for less than 150 bucks, but it’s thickness renders it minimally acceptible for many chores likely required in a survival scenario. Having used both, I think the Ka-bar BK-10 (Crewman) model with its slightly thinner, but still very tough, blade will outperform the Campanion model in virtually all functions, with the possible exception of an extreme prying scenario. The Crewman sure does a better job with typical woods chores! The Tom Brown Tracker, in my view, is a quasi “gimmick design” when it gets down to how it performs against other traditionally designed outdoor use blades. And for the money….well, let’s just say there are better values out there than the Brown Tracker The Ontario Spec Plus Gen 2 knives offer a whole host of blades that will out perform the Tracker at a third of the price! Ontario’s Gen 2 line knives have impressive heat treating on their 5160 steel, which is arguably better than most 1095 steels for a true survival situation (less likely to break). I guess a lot of knife selection depends on whether the user is likely to have to perform bushcraft or urban chores, but I think it best to have a knife that can at least do some of both if it’s going into a BOB. For instance the Ka-bar Tac Tool’s lack of a point at the end of the blade renders it far too much of a “one trick pony” for me to choose that as my only fixed blade tool.
I guess I should share my background here. I spent a career in urbal law enforcement in the Los Angeles area, and after retiring volunteered on a Search & Rescue team for a sheriffs dept in the Sierra Nevada mountains of CA. I also wrote the novel EMP LOS ANGELES.
Thanks for sharing your knowledge and experience. You suggest some great knives, thank you again. You mention 5160 steel, I suggest you also check out Niolox, I tried out some knives by DPX and it performed impressively. You can see pics and impressions of the steel here: https://www.thebugoutbagguide.com/dpx-knife-review/
Thanks again for sharing your knowledge and experience.
Hollow-handled knives do have a weak point at the grip/blade joint. The way around that is to invest (if you can find one) in one of Chris Reeve’s excellent hollow-handled knives, which are made from a single piece of D2 oil-hardened tool steel. No weakness there!
That looks like an awesome knife, Dave, thanks for sharing your knowledge!
Hi Chris………great site, well put together, and informative. I’m in the UK, and prepping is quite hard to do in terms of self defence, firearms and knives because of strict laws. Its legal to own them……and thats it……you CAN’T carry them, not even in a BOB or EDC kit and leave your home. I own a couple of knives…….but its HARD to be able to keep them with my BOB/ EDC when I know that I’m looking at 4 years in prison if I get caught. So I have to keep them indoors and locked away safe. That’s why reviews such as yours are important to preppers in countries like mine. Your experiences are educational and serve as reference guide when we can’t try out in our own country. Field testing a knife in your back garden isnt quite the same as testing it out in the type of terrain you’d likely find yourself , when its all gone pete tong. All the knives you’ve reviewed here are fine examples. Keep up the high standard on a great site.
Until it does all go wrong here though, we’ll have to make do with anti Rape Alarms and a whistle.
Hey Paul, thanks for the kind words and I am glad you find the site useful. 4 years in prison for carrying a knife! Sounds brutal.
Take care and good luck prepping!
Thanks for the good info.
1. Always consider the legalities of the knife that you are carrying in your particular location…you do not want to stand out.
2. Stay away from the “tactical” looking knives for the above reason.
3. Always carry 2 knives.
The esee 4 I find is perfect for 90% of of survival tasks.
When it comes to picking a fixed blade knife you can never go wrong with going with a custom knife maker. Yes they can be on the pricey but with a custom maker you can pick what steel you want, handle material, length of blade, and exactly what style of blade. There plenty of custom knife makers that will work with you to get your perfect knife and keep the cost down as to your budget. I’m not trying to say that your commercial knives are not good they are great knives but when it comes down to your exact desires and specifications, your custom knife makers is the way to go.
Maybe because I just plain ‘ol love knives that I have so many. I’ve been carrying some sort of knife for about 60 years. Being old doesn’t necessarily make you better at handling a knife. Shucks, I got a bandaid on my finger right now from doing something stupid.
Case makes a pretty good pocket knife. I musta carved up around a hundred ball and chains using one, not to mention small critters and fish. In a pinch, I could dress a deer about as quick as with a regular skinning knife.
I got a few Christmas presents in past years that if, my life depended on it I’d go with one o them. TOPS B.O.B. Fieldcraft Fixed Blade Knife, Fallkniven F1, Karesuando Elk. The BOB is a heavier knife but slices thru a deer like nobodies business. It could easily handle chopping if necessary. Fallkniven knives are all great knives. The F1 is a very good all around knife that’s tough as nails. I think the Swedish military uses it as a survival knife. The Karesuando Elk darn near skins a deer by itself. Most Scandinavian knives a flat grind. The better, more expensive knives are laminated. There’s several brands with lots of options. It just depends on how it fits your hand and what you want to do with it.
Mora knives are hands down the best deal on the market. I’d recommend stainless over carbon. I have both and the carbon blades takes a lot more care. For $10-15, I have one in my vehicles, packs, boat, kitchen fishing tackle boxes. I’ve never broken one and with a flat grind, it takes seconds to make it razor sharp again if dull.
Enough talk. I gotta get outside while I still can, before the zombies or comies show up. 😎
On the subject of knives, there are a lot of good choices. I don’t own any Esse, Becker or even Ontario blades, but I have good ones. There are knives in many price ranges.
This article was very informative and well-written.
My only thing to add is to consider carrying a well-made dive knife as a survival blade.
I live and work in Florida, so my knives get exposed to a lot of humidity and (occasionally) salt water.
My Aqualung brand dive knife has a six inch blade, a bowie-style clip point, and is partially serrated. Its overall outline resembles a Ka-bar Marine utility knife.
The grip is solid, chemically unreactive black plastic (with a raised texture that aids in maintaining a grip), and it fits in any standard after-market knife sheath.
In an urban environment after a disaster, there is likely to be short-circuits and compromised power lines. The plastic grip gives an slight extra margin of safety when using this knifeunder these conditions, as the grip won’t readily conduct electricity.
Also, being chemically resistant (the knife was made for use in salt water) is important in an urban disaster, as this knife is unlikely to be damaged by oil, gasoline, antifreeze, pool acid, or any of the other nasty substances that are sometimes encountered in an urban disaster.
Also, this knife is easier to explain away if you have snorkling equipment with you (like in your car), as if lets you justify the knife’s presence.
Just remember–a dive knife is for cleaning trash off the reef, or using it to cut yourself free if you get trapped in fishing line or fishnet underwater. Explain this to the cops, as you’ll be sunk if you tell them that the knife is for sharks.
The Aqualung brand dive knife isn’t made anymore, but you can find many excellent examples on Ebay for a pittance.
Have always owned and carried a knife since my cub scout days!!! If im in the woods camping I always carry a SOG bowie with the7 ” tini coated blade. Thick back bone and holds an edge, mine has the leather spacer handle and very comfortable…I also have a small folding gut hook skinning knife for convenience and close up control.