The world of knives and blades is vast. One could fill up a whole room with them without even trying. The type of blades that you need depends on your situation and any plans you may have for leading a different life during a long emergency.
Over the years I have written many different posts on knives. In the article you are about to read, Matt and I have picked out two options for each knife or blade style that you may want to have. We made an effort to include a budget or modestly priced option as well as one that costs more.
Sometimes you can get very good quality for a modest price but we both know that some people want to get a higher-end version because they are going to use it a lot or they have experience with that particular brand.
That being said, at the end of each section there will be a link to an article that offers more options in that category and goes into more detail about that particular blade style whenever possible. If you want to know a lot about bowie knives, for example, this will allow you to easily explore their history and more options with just a click.
Deciding What You Need
The two knives that everyone should have no matter if they live in town or country are a good every day carry knife, a multi-tool, and a few kitchen knives. This allows you to do a lot of tasks and the everyday carry knife can double as a method of self-defense if needed. If you are just starting out in the world of preparedness, I would say that is a good place to start.
After that, you may find that you want a good hatchet. Farmers, hunters, and homesteaders may want almost all the styles of blades offered on this list. Knives and blades have far more uses than many imagine until they start doing a lot of things for themselves like cooking and chopping firewood.
I have featured this combo quite a few times in knife articles because it has held up to 14 years of abuse. We have butchered entire animals with little more than this and a few small knives to supplement. The main butchering can be done with just this combo. I have to say that when I bought this for Matt in Ketchikan, Alaska, I was hopeful but when I saw that a magnet was used to keep the knife in and how easy it would be to leave the knife out, I was not sure how long it would stay together so to speak. Turns out the magnet is actually strong enough that the knife has never just fallen out randomly. I keep this hatchet and knife combo in a drawer in the kitchen for quick and easy use.
This hatchet and knife combo comes with a nylon sheath for the head that is easy to take on and off. I want to point out that this sheath is still going strong after 14 years as well which says something.
Traditionalists that love a quality blade will enjoy the craftsmanship of the Gransfors. A strong wood handle with a hole for a lanyard stands out. The head is a classic design. The back is useful for use as a hammer when needed.
SOG has a good reputation for quality and value. This machete features a classic smooth blade but on the other side, you get serration that spans most of the length of the blade.
You get a good non-slip grip handle and a blade guard when you buy this machete. It is good to see that since machetes are often used out in the bush and the last thing you want is a blade to slip out of your hand or to experience a major cut or laceration. If you’re looking for one to use for wood, check out this list of the best machete for chopping wood.
This is a beautiful and formidable-looking machete from the infamous Condor Tool and Knife. This just looks like it would be super comfortable to use. The smooth walnut handle is shaped to feel natural in the hand and helps you maintain a good grip during extended use. This is a well-balanced blade and something to consider if you are a bit bored with traditional machete styles and designs and want to see how something else swings out in the bush.
For even more options, check out “Best Machetes For Survival”.
Hen and Rooster have been a go-to brand for a lot of knife aficionados for many years. The handle is textured and ergonomic. It seems to just mold to your hand. The blade is wide and substantial. It came with a sheath that has held up over time as well. If you want a knife for regular use at a good price, this is a good option.
Ka-Bar is pretty famous for the various bowie style knives that they make. Fans of made in the USA should check out Ka-Bar for their next knife. This full size bowie is over a foot long and comes with a nice sheath for wearing on your belt. Full tang construction and a handle designed with comfort and grip in mind round out this solid knife choice for the collector or everyday user alike.
For more information on bowie knives, check out my post, “Exploring The Bowie Knife: 12 Examples of The World’s Most Famous Knife”
EDC (Every Day Carry)
The Kershaw Brawler is popular and it has been around for a long time. In the competitive world of knives, especially modestly priced everyday carry, that says a lot.
CRKT is a brand that the Biggers’ household goes back to time and time again both for our own use and if we want to gift a solid EDC knife to anyone. This knife style is based on a classic river guide knife style that made CRKT famous.
While this is not a spring-loaded knife, it is easy to open fast and can be opened one-handed. Like any knife the more you practice the faster and easier this will become.
For more every day carry knives, check out “Best Everyday Carry Knives”.
Wood Splitting Axe
I like this style of handle on an ax because it kind of mimics a lot of the quality hammers I have used over the years. I like that this ax is a good compromise in terms of length. At 26″ it is twice the length of some hatchets but it is still shorter than a large splitting maul like the next option.
This ax is Made in the USA from solid forged steel with a shock reduction grip added in. You get a nylon sheath for the head. Estwing products really are made to last a lifetime and they are priced more than fairly in my own opinion.
I would probably faint to see all the firewood that Matt and I have split over the years stacked in a huge pile. Even when I was in college I sometimes split firewood for hours each day. That can happen when you attend a work college. A good wood splitter is essential for those of us that have wood stoves. A smaller version may work if you just get out in the woods once in a while and can haul things in.
Wood splitting axes come in different handle lengths and head weights. You may prefer a lighter weight wood splitter if you are smaller person. You can always get a heavier one later as you gain strength.
Hand Saw/Bow Saw
This is a basic larger bow saw from a company that has been around a long time. Around the farm, we use a large bow saw regularly for small jobs or if we have been working and a bit tired and want to avoid power tools but still keep working. Although a bow saw blade will last for quite some time, you may want to just keep a replacement blade or two on hand in case one gets bent, broken, or gets extremely dull. They are fairly inexpensive.
This is one of the neatest compact bow saws I have ever seen. If you want something that stores well and you can use anywhere, this is the saw to get. I know that this is going on my list of future blades to buy. I had to include the video because I wanted you to see just how this saw works. For those that don’t know much about Gerber, I want to say that they have some good products if you pick carefully. They definitely have some very cheap products on the low end but they have more expensive tools and blades that perform very well over the years.
Skinner With Gut Hook
This is another case of a gun manufacturer getting in on the knife business. While this is an inexpensive knife, the reviews show that it holds up when used by a very discerning audience. The blade is stainless steel and appears to be full tang. We have a Mossberg shotgun that is another example of a product that they make that comes in at a modest price but gets the job done. This knife would make a good gift for the new or experienced hunter or homesteader that does a bit of butchering themselves.
Buck Knives stand for quality blades that have always been made in America. This is a beautiful rosewood handled skinner with a gut hook. The lanyard loop features a brass reinforcement. You get a sheath with this fine knife. If you hunt a lot or butcher at home, this is a tool that will come in handy. I know Matt and I have used some knives with gut hooks over the years when butchering large hogs.
By large I mean as big as 800 lbs. When you have a source of milk that is free as long as you pick it up, you can grow some big pigs for not much money. That was the good old days. That deal was bound to go away at some point but we did alright with it for a while and it helped feed us while we built our cabin. See this is what knives do sometimes, they make us reminisce about times past.
This is a brand to look for when it comes to kitchen knives. If you like the paring knife you may find that you want to get a whole block of them. This classic little paring knife will be your go to in the kitchen.
The Mercer paring knife is about the right size but it has a more substantial handle than a lot of paring knives. Those of us with above-average sized hands are bound to appreciate this feature. The shape of the blade guard goes above and beyond when it comes to protecting you from slips during long hours of use.
My husband’s Mom gave us this knife after she had used it herself for many years. It is am amazing blade that we put to heavy use in the kitchen. We cook basically all of our own meals and we have done a ton of butchering out our own livestock. This knife helps out in every food situation and keeps a good edge. My only complaint is that the white handle has grooves that can catch dirt and grime so that part can be a little cumbersome to clean.
Matt and I also keep this knife at hand in the kitchen. This knife was given to us by a fellow named Cowboy Dave. He was an honorary member of the Biggers’ family that is no longer with us. Dave was an outstanding cook and chef and worked at a lot of resorts and camps out west.
He would winter over in North Carolina and spent quite a few holidays with us. Dave appreciated a good chef’s knife. This Mercer stays super sharp and it blends in well with other black-handled knives you might have in your kitchen. We have used this knife during many butcher days.
Rada is one of my favorite knife companies when it comes to kitchen knives. They are extremely affordable but they are also made in the USA. I have to admit when I first ordered a Rada blade I was a little skeptical because the price point seemed a little too good to be true. Well, they fooled me. This is an excellent fillet knife that we use in our kitchen on a regular basis. It is fully up to the task of “laying out a loin”, our term for cutting a boneless loin off of a carcass.
Doesn’t just the name Wustof sound kind of neat? Well, this is a high-end fillet knife designed for a professional chef or someone that cuts a lot of fillets. I imagine the folks at the E.C. Phillips and Son fish processing facility I worked at would have appreciated this blade. It was amazing how they could perfectly fillet hundreds and hundreds of pounds of wild-caught salmon in the course of a shift.
The fillet room was always a calmer and more laid back atmosphere than some areas of the processing facility. To get a good fillet, it took a bit of skill and it wasn’t something that could be rushed. I was surprised that they could do it as fast as they did.
Leatherman produces a lot more products than they used to. The Sidekick is their solution to a smaller pocket-sized knife that is suitable for those of us that never quite got over the original PST multi-tool. I missed the original Leatherman enough to actually get in a bidding war and get one on Ebay from 1994 with the box and all.
As you can see from the picture, the Sidekick offers all the basics except for scissors which, let’s be honest, most of us can do without scissors on a multi-tool. A lot of the time I would rather just have the saw blade.
On the higher end of the spectrum is the multitool from the same folks that made the favorite Swiss Army Knife that many of us have owned at one time or another. This multi-tool has about everything that you could ever want in a multi-tool. If you have read any of my other multi-tool posts, you know how I feel about some of the overloaded multi-tools that are on the market today. It is good to see that Victorinox has an option that sticks to what you actually need and use the most. Oh, and you get a leather sheath too!
I have a few good multi-tool articles to help you out. The links are below.
Damascus steel is just pretty on top of being tough and durable. This karambit is modestly priced and comes with a nice leather sheath. A good thumb hole provides a solid grip when you need it the most.
I like the idea of a folding karambit. It is so much easier to conceal this knife and not call a lot of attention to yourself. It doesn’t look that much different than the CRKT Guppie multi-tool that you can use as a keychain. Karambits can look pretty formidable but this one doesn’t look as imposing as many. The karambit comes with a handy pocket clip for every day carry use. Fox is well known as a maker of quality high-end karambits. If you thought that all karambits were fixed blade, then you should explore the world of karambits a little more and see all that it has to offer.
I kind of like that this karambit has a bottle opener on the back as well. Not that I drink out of a lot of bottles anymore but it is nice to have an extra function that doesn’t get in the way during the course of regular use.
Knife brands that you were once familiar with may have changed over time.
Some people reading my knife posts have fond memories of a particular brand or style. I always say that you should read the fine print when it comes to any blade because even brands that you never would expect to have switched production to another country or changed the quality, have done so.
Some makers also have two different lines so to speak. Just look at Puma. They have knives that are made in Germany and knives that are made in Spain or China. Of course, the cost reflects that.
There are a lot of quality blades out there at reasonable prices but it can be easy to get caught up in collecting a lot of different blades. Start out with what you will use the most and then add blades as you find the need.
At the same time if you run into a good deal on a blade that you have been pondering getting, snatch it up if finances permit you to do so. Knife deals don’t always last long. Check out stores that are going out of business or Amazon Daily or Lightning Deals. I was amazed over the holidays how inexpensive some good brands such as Mora were. I bought a Mora for someone and it was only $11.
Over the years it may be that your needs change a lot. Some that are in urban areas may move out to the country and suddenly realize they need more blades than they thought.
What are your favorite blades? Got any good stories about them?