Survival Pocket Knives – Our Top 10

survival pocket knives

Survival pocket knives can have many uses in a Bug Out Bag, survival kit, or as every day carry items. They are great tools that combine the nearly limitless utility of a knife with compact size and lower weight. Some people may choose to carry a survival pocket knife as a back up to a larger blade while others may choose to keep one as their main knife. Either way, having one can be a great addition to any kit.  Here we will look at a few survival pocket knives and explain what makes one great for your survival situation.

We will examine features, utility, and size, as well as take a closer look at a few that we chose as Our Picks for best in class.

Our Top 10 Survival Pocket Knives

We have created this helpful comparison chart of the best survival pocket knives out there.  Click on the images below to go to the Amazon page for more information on each of these knives.

Smith & Wesson Border Guard 2 Rescue Knife

Gerber E-Z Out Jr Knife

SOG Specialty Knives & Tools Escape Knife
Survival Pocket Knives
Wartech 8" Assisted Open Folding Tactical Survival Pocket Knife

CRKT Graham Folding Razel Knife


GERBER Paraframe II Tanto Knife

Spyderco Tenacious G

Buck Knives Folding Omni Hunter Knife

CRKT Kommer Free Range Hunter
Folding Lockback


What Are Qualities of GREAT Survival Pocket Knives?

When I am researching survival pocket knives to add to my kit I search for the following qualities:

Compact and lightweight

I am most likely going to be carrying my survival pocket knife a lot.  It will be an alternative to carrying one of my larger knives and I will want to maximize the advantages present in this type of knife.  There is no point carrying around a pocket knife that is as heavy and takes up as much space as a fixed blade knife.  Because of this I look for folding survival pocket knives that are made of lighter materials such as strong plastics or have a skeleton design to save weight.  I also will want a knife that is 5 inches or less when folded so I can fit in in a pocket or on a belt.

One handed opening

This is a big one for me, I do not want a knife that I may need to use in a hurry in a survival situation that has a NASA-level of complexity for opening it up.

I want to be able to open the blade one handed with either hand.  The knife making industry has recognized the utility of this type of feature and has attempted to answer it in many ways. There is the large thumb hole present in Spyderco knives that many people like but my favorite is the “Carson Flipper” present on CRKT knives, including my EDC choice of the M-21. This is a nub on the back side of the knife that you press with your index finger that lets the blade pivot around the hinge and snap into place with a satisfying click.  It can be done instantly with either hand.  It is so fast in fact that I have a friend that insists on calling it an “assisted opening”, although there are no springs involved.

Be sure you can open your survival pocket knife with either hand when making your choice, you never know what you may need to hold (or hold off) with your other hand when accessing your tool.

Good locking mechanism

The downfall of cheap folders is that they can fail and close on their owner’s hand at the worst possible time.

A good locking mechanism is essential when selecting a survival tool that you are planning on relying on.  Once again, this need has been addressed in many ways by the knife making industry and there are a lot of options out there.  Most of the better survival pocket knives will have multiple, redundant locking mechanisms that will basically turn your folder into a fixed blade knife while engaged.

Save your hands and make sure you have a reliable, fool-proof locking mechanism in your survival pocket knife.

High quality construction

As with any survival tool spending a little more on quality goes a long way on improving your odds.  Name brand knives from quality manufacturers such as CRKT, Gerber, Spyderco, Buck, and SOG will hold their edge longer, be less likely to have their hinge bind, and stand up to dropping and banging better than the cheap pieces of garbage you see on eBay.  Signs of quality to look for are:

  • Components are screwed or bolted on, not glued together
  • Fluid opening and closing motion of the blade
  • Easy to sharpen, holds an edge well
  • Reliable locking mechanism
  • Ergonomic grip that is comfortable and discourages your hand slipping onto the blade
  • Good quality steel or composite metal, check out a comparison of metal types here.

Survival Pocket Knives

Other Features to Consider For Survival Pocket Knives

Finding a good knife with a simple straight blade is a great start and will be a good, reliable tool to have. My EDC knife is just this and has served me well for many years.  However, if you are interested in tailoring your survival pocket knife to your particular survival situation consider these options that are available from many manufacturers:

Survival Pocket Knife Features for Urban Survival

  • Seatbelt/line cutter – This will let you get out of a vehicle faster if you enter a survival scenario during your commute.  This is frequently incorporated by way of a narrow cutout on the back of the knife that is used when the blade is folded in that lets you slide materials in but is too small to accidentally get your hand or fingers in danger.
  • Glass breaker – This will assist your evacuation from a vehicle or building in an urban survival situation.  Easily shatter the glass and go.
  • Pry tip – This is usually a flat tip (instead of a pointed one) on thicker type blades that allows you to jimmy open doors and containers.  It is a tough trade off to make as you will be sacrificing the survival pocket knife’s ability to stab and poke but may be worth it if this is a secondary knife in your kit.

Survival Pocket Knife Features for Wilderness Survival

  • Partial serration – This gives the benefits of both straight edge and serrated knives if you go for a combo blade.  Serration allows for faster cutting of rope, hide, bone, and wood, all things you may be facing in a wilderness survival scenario.
  • Gut hook – This will speed up your ability to dress wild game that you catch.  Many hunting and fishing knives have this feature but if a survival pocket knife is going to be your go-to blade, including this feature will be useful for wilderness survival.

Survival Pocket Knives

Photo credit: – scott feldstein Flickr

Our Picks for Best Survival Pocket Knives

Any of the survival pocket knives listed above would make a great addition to any survival kit as either a primary or backup blade. However, Our Pick for best in class goes to the Smith & Wesson Border Guard 2 Rescue Knife for best urban survival knife and the CRKT Kommer Free Range Hunter Folding Lockback for best wilderness survival knife.  They both combine the essential features that we discussed for their respective survival scenarios with a great basic blade and very high quality.


Although there are a great many survival pocket knives on the market, you can see here that it is not hard to find the best one for your survival situation.  Be sure to consider essential features such as size & weight, ease of opening, quality, reliability, and tailor any special features to your survival scenario.  If you want to learn more about basic survival skills check out our post.  If you are ready to build your Bug Out Bag list, click here to use our free tool.

Your Thoughts?

Have you used any on the survival pocket knives that we examined here?  Are there any features that you look for when researching survival pocket knives?  Please let us know using the Comments Section below, thanks!


Chris Ruiz

My name is Chris and I created this site to help ordinary people prepare for the uncertainties of the modern day world. I believe that a well-prepared society is the best safeguard against any natural or manmade disaster.

6 comments on “Survival Pocket Knives – Our Top 10

  1. I’m a big fan of Smith and Wesson, I haven’t looked at that knife you recommend but I’ll have to check it out.

    1. Hey, do you have a particular one to suggest? Personally I would rather have a good folding knife with a solid lock than a swiss army that has no lock mechanism and a bunch of gadgets I am not going to need (toothpick? corkscrew?).

  2. To each his own, but that toothpick can have a hole predrilled in it to become a sewing needle. That corkscrew makes a fair awl. Both work for gear repair. Take the flat head screwdriver and grind the bottom slanting edge to a 90* spine and you have a backup ferrocerium rod striker. That package hook works well for making twisted natural cordage. The tweasers are useful for minor first aid of course. The folding saw works fine on green wood wrist size diameter or less for splints or even snares. The can opener allows me to turn a discarded empty can into a wind shield for a small fire or stove. I can even improvise a small wood burning stove with it. These are just a few things off the top of my head that I can do with a SAK. True, most are not single hand operated, but with a little enginuity you can open a SAK with only one hand. For me, in 55 years of being in the woods, I’ve been in more ‘survival’ situations where I’ve had two hands, then those where I’ve only had one. As for reliability and durability, I still use the same SAK I got 45+ years ago.

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