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.
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.
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.
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.
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!