The Backdoor Survival Holiday Knife Guide

Avatar Samantha Biggers  |  Updated: November 30, 2021
The Backdoor Survival Holiday Knife Guide

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A good knife is a welcome gift for a lot of people, regardless if they are a prepper or not. I wanted to take some time this holiday season to celebrate the gift of the blade and highlight 25 knives from different categories so that there is something for everyone.

25 may sound like a lot but the truth is that there are so many great knives out there that it actually is a struggle to narrow choices down to 5 knives in 5 categories. Even if you don’t care for a lot of the knives on this list, I bet you find at least a few brands that are worth exploring next time you want to buy a knife for yourself or others.

Note on Laws

Knife laws vary quite a bit. Check your local laws before purchasing a knife. While some rules may state that you can own any type of knife, it may not be legal to carry all of them.

Read the details about any knife before buying.

There are a lot of things to know about a knife before you buy it. Manufacturers have many different lines that are made in different places and that vary in cost a lot. Just because you had a brand 30 years ago doesn’t mean it is made in the same place or even the same quality.

Fixed Blade

The most famous fixed blade design is probably the Bowie Knife. I did an article entirely dedicated to this style quite some time ago. It has been used by a lot of people for a good bushcraft and survival knife. The size of a fixed blade knife or Bowie can range a lot. Don’t go too big. A blade that is 6-7 inches is plenty for most tasks and people.

KA-BAR Full Size US Marine Corps Fighting Knife, Straight

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  • 1095 Cro-Van Steel with Powder Coating
  • Made In USA (Note: Not all Ka-Bar products are made in USA. Check each product you are considering if this matters a lot to you.)
  • Overall Length: 11.875”
  • Blade Length: 7”
  • Weight: 11.2 oz

This is the knife used by a lot of military forces. Ka-bar is a trusted knife manufacturer that still makes their knives in the United States, an increasingly rare characteristic. This is a knife that is made for military use so it is quite tough and a big step up from the plethora of cheap fixed blade knives on the market today.

The knife features a stacked leather handle designed for a sure grip under tough conditions. It comes with a nice leather sheath for easy carry on your belt or if you want to keep it safely tucked away in a bag.

Buck Knives 120

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  • 420 HC Stainless Steel
  • Made in USA
  • Overall Length: 12”
  • Blade Length: 7 3/8”
  • Weight: 8.3 oz

This is a classic fixed blade knife that has a strong following of fans. This is one of Buck’s best selling knives and for a good reason. The metal is strong and it keeps an edge. Also, let’s be honest, the sky is the limit when it comes to what you can pay for a knife. The Buck 120 is good looking and a great deal for your dollar if you want a basic fixed blade knife for regular use.

This knife features full-tang construction for maximum strength. Not only do you get a good blade guard you get a thumb guard too. The handle is comfortable and ergonomic.

Cold Steel Wild West Bowie

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Overall Length 16″

  • Blade Length 10 3/4″
  • Steel / Material 1090 Carbon
  • Handle – 5 1/4″ Long with Rosewood Scales

Another go to brand is Cold Steel. This bowie is in the larger size range which can be nice for some people. While 7 inches is plenty for a fixed blade knife, just over 10” makes this one look quite hefty. If you get a chance to see the Ka-Bar Marine and the Cold Steel Bowie side by side you will see what I mean.

There is a substantial handguard. The size of this thing makes me think of a short sword rather and a fixed blade knife. Personally I would get a smaller bowie but if I was a big guy, I might think this is a good knife to have.

Puma SGB Coyote Stag Hunting Knife with Leather Sheath

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  • Overall Length: 8.3″
  • Blade Length: 3.8″
  • Weight: 4.5 oz
  • Solingen, German Steel

This is one of Puma’s more affordable fixed blade hunting knives. The real stag handle is a nice touch at this price point. I like that this fixed blade knife is a bit on the smaller size which can be hard to find.

I like a substantial handguard. It also has a hole for a lanyard if you like to have something to hang it on or to secure it when using it.

If you don’t want to drop serious cash on a Puma White Hunter or you wan to stick to a smaller and lighter weight fixed blade knife, this is a good choice.

Marttiini Condor Bowie Knife

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  • Overall Length: 9 1/2″
  • Blade Length: 4 7/8″
  • Blade Material: 420 Stainless Steel
  • Blade Style: Clip Point Blade
  • Handle Material: Black Textured Polymer

I have been impressed with Marttiini knives for many years. This brand offers exceptional quality at a price that seems too good to be true until you get them and use them. Matt and I have used Marttiini knives for many butchering projects and they always perform very well. At the moment we have the bowie and the fillet knife.

I highly recommend any Marttiini knife you can find, especially if you want something that you can use often and that won’t let you down. They also include a sheath that holds up well too.


Even those that do not really care much about carrying just a blade around can appreciate a multi-tool. From apartment dwellers to those that are out in the woods a lot or in a manual labor field, the multi-tool is something nice to have on your belt. I cannot tell you how many times I was grateful to have a set of pliers and wire cutters right there when I needed them.

Some Notes On Specific Brands of Knives


This is my go-to brand for multi-tools. I carry the original PST from 1994. I like the old style but there are so many more choices at Leatherman now compared to when I was younger. The Wave is a good choice for those that want a multi-tool that has a lot of tools and function without a hefty weight to go along with it.

When deciding which Leatherman to buy I always recommend that people consider what tools will really be the most appreciated and used by the person that is receiving the gift. For some people, the more basic multi-tool is more than enough while the tinker or the craftsman may appreciate larger and more complicated tools.


Sometimes people have some negative things to say about Gerber but I think that at least part of the reason for that is that they have several lines of product. If you go for the least expensive in Gerber’s line up then don’t expect to get a top-quality tool. That doesn’t mean it won’t last for a bit of time or that it is not worth owning, it just means you cannot compare a $60 Gerber to a $20 one.


For those that are not familiar with CRKT, I want to tell you that they are one of the knife companies that it is always fun to check out and see what they have that is new. They support a lot of different knife designers from all over the United States so you get a lot of innovation and expertise at one knife company. I can honestly say that CRKT knives will last for decades even if you carry them a lot and use them moderately. The older Kit Carson Style River Guide Knife was built very tough. Matt still has the one he got as a teenager even though he used it a lot.


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I am not discussing any Mora knives specifically in this article because I think you should just check them out for yourself. They offer a big variety of Swedish made knives at a great price. This brand is found in a lot of preparedness stores.

For a complete selection of what they offer, follow this link.

Victorinox Swiss Army SwissTool Spirit Multi-Tool, Includes Leather Pouch

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  • Stainless Steel
  • Made in Switzerland
  • Length: 4.13″ (105mm)
  • Height: 1.22″
  • Weight: 9.8oz

This is a premium multi-tool made by the famous maker of the Original Swiss Army Knife. You get 27 different tools in a multi-tool that weighs in at a modest 9.8 oz. It is worth noting that you get a leather sheath included. Some multi-tools may be easier on the pocketbook but you are probably paying for just the tool. I see this as an alternative to the Leatherman Wave Plus that is now being offered instead of the original Wave.

Each tool can be accessed on the outside of the handle, making this design a bit unique compared to tools that usually just offer a few tools available on the outside. Each tool will also lock into place for safety and stability. For those that are always looking for a screwdriver, you will be happy to know that the Victorinox features 2mm, 3mm, and 6mm screwdrivers; and a phillips head screwdriver.

Gerber Diesel Multi-Plier, Stainless Steel

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  • Stainless Steel
  • Assembled in USA of USA and Imported Components
  • Length: 5.8”
  • Weight: 8.5 oz

This multi-tool is part of Gerber’s more premium line. If you like the modestly priced Suspension and Dime, then this is a step up and more in line with some of the moderately priced Leatherman’s. While this version is Stainless Steel for slightly more money you can get a version that has a black oxide coating if you prefer. People report that the coating holds up well which is good to hear because some of the black-coated knives I have used seem to start losing their coating fairly fast with regular use.

The Diesel has all the basic tools you could want. It is a bit longer than the Victorinox for those that appreciate more to hold on to.

Those that feel that some multi-tools are a bit cumbersome to open will appreciate the attention to detail that Gerber has taken to design their tool to open easily even with a single hand.

Victorinox Swiss Army SwissTool Spirit Plus Ratchet Multi-Tool

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  • Stainless Steel
  • Made in Switzerland
  • Length: 4.13”
  • Height: 1.81”
  • Weight: 14.24 oz

I cannot help but add this tool in because it is so unique. This is really toolbox for your belt. While this variety of tools may not be the best choice for a lot of people for the person that works on a lot of different things, it might be quite nice to have.

The SwissTool Spirit includes a small ratchet set for a total of 38 functional tools for the handyperson. Also, remember just how important tools can be that allows for repairs during SHTF or a long emergency. At over 14 oz, this is a heavy multi-tool but that is to be expected considering the extra functions. This model comes with a nylon pouch and holster rather than leather.

Like all Victorinox products, there is a lifetime guarantee.

Leatherman Wave Plus

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  • Stainless Steel or Stainless With Black Oxide Coating
  • Made in USA
  • Length: 4”
  • Weight: 9 oz

If you can get an Original Wave then go for it but they are getting harder to find. The Wave Plus is a solid and updated version that offers a lot of function. While I carry a Classic Leatherman there are a lot of people that are crazy over the Wave and feel the way about it that I do about the Classic.

I have always seen the Wave series as a good choice for people that want more function than a basic multi-tool but also don’t want to wear the whole kitchen sink on their belt everyday.

One of the major differences in the Wave and Wave Plus is the newer, Wave Plus features wirecutters that are replaceable. This is a nice touch for those that find they use the wirecutter and pliers part more than anything else. As someone that has assisted with a lot of fence building over the years, I can really appreciate this feature.

You get a nylon sheath with the tool but you can always buy a leather one separately if you prefer. Leatherman doesn’t charge extra for the black oxide coated version like some multi-tool companies.

I always have to mention just how good the customer service is at Leatherman as well. They stand by their warranties with no questions asked. They are even careful to ask when you file a claim if the knife has sentimental value in case it is easier for them to just send a replacement product. The turn around time is excellent. Most people never have to return a product but around here we use our knives more heavily than some and keep the same tools for many years.

SOG Multitool – PowerLock EOD Heavy Duty Multitool

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  • Stainless Steel
  • Made In USA (Note: Not all SOG products are made in USA. Check each product you are considering if this matters a lot to you.)
  • Length: 4.6”
  • Weight: 9.6 oz

I am not experienced when it comes to SOG products but they seem to have a strong following of loyal customers. I have heard from plenty of people that they are a company to buy from. I discovered that they have started making multi-tools similar in function and price to those offered by other major brands.

SOG has a propitiatory Compound Leverage system that is featured on the Powerlock. This allows for around twice the force to be applied when you use this tool compared to other multi-tools in its class.

You also get a ¼” magnetic ratchet drive and a hex bit for added utility.

The Powerlock comes in either a satin stainless steel finished or a black oxide coating. As usual, there is a higher cost for the black oxide coating.


Most everyday carry knives that are not multi-tools fall into the category of folder. The differences that are most common are size and the number of blades. For most people a single bladed knife is fine. I prefer one that has a locking mechanism to prevent accidents. Some knives are actual lock backs while others have locks that you have to disengage in the front by pushing down and then folding the blade. Either one is a fine choice for a good everyday carry knife.

Case Chestnut Bone Trapper Pocket Knife

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  • Closed Length: 4.13″
  • Weight: 4 oz
  • Blade Length: 3.25″

Case is a great brand to look to for everyday carry knives if you like more traditional designs. There is a good chance that if you have been a knife person for very long, you have carried a Case in your pocket a few times. The classic yellow folding knife series and their jagged stag and bone handles often stand out at stores where there is a knife display. Even our small hardware store has a display filled with Case designs.

The Lock Back Folder

This is the first style of knife I ever got to run around with when I was a kid. It was a great starter knife and good for whittling and other kid projects that I had going on when running the banks of the Skagit River or dragging limbs into the yard. Kids did stuff like that a little more before the internet and at the time I didn’t even have a television or a phone in the house so there was books and the great outdoors.

Buck Knives 110 Famous Folding Hunter Knife

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  • Closed Length: 4 7/8″
  • Blade Length: 3 3/4″
  • 420 HC Stainless Steel
  • Weight 7.2 oz

This knife is the same style as the little Boker I used to have but much larger. Like all Buck Knives, this one is still made in the USA. It comes with a leather holster that looks good on any belt.

This lock back has a longer blade length than a lot of knives which can be nice for some tasks. At just under 5 inches closed, it is small enough to fit in a pocket if necessary but I would just carry in the holster if I was using this for just everyday carry around the farm.

Puma SGB Warden with Saw Jacaranda Wood Lockback Folding Knife

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  • Overall Length: 8.5”
  • Blade Length: 3.7 “
  • Weight : 7.2 oz

Puma is a big knife company with many different lines of products. While all of the knives that I know of feature Soligen Germany steel, Puma knives may be put together in Germany, Spain, China, etc. From what I can tell the quality is still good no matter which line of products you buy. The knife above is put together in China but features German Steel. I chose this folder because it is affordable and offers some nice features. For starters, you get a small functional saw as your second blade. I always liked knives that had a blade and saw because they are so simple yet so useful.

If you are not on a smaller budget, then I encourage you to look at the other Puma folders that are out there. There are some that feature stag handles for example.

I do want to point out that this knife is a bit heavy which you might expect considering the overall length and how much of that is taken up by blade.

Boker Congress

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  • High carbon stainless steel blades
  • Jigged brown bone handle
  • Closed length: 3 ⅝ in.
  • Weight: Just under 2 oz

For those that want a lot of blades on a single knife, the Congress is a classic that will deliver. Congress is what my Dad said a lot of the farmers and working men carried in these mountains. That says a lot to me about their usefulness.

As far as I can tell the steel in this knife is German but it is put together in China. I am sure that Boker makes this knife in a version that is made elsewhere if you want to look around and pay more.

The steel is high carbon stainless that holds an edge well without being too hard to sharpen when needed. The handle is bone while the bolsters are nickel.

Spyderco Tenacious Folding Knife 

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  • Closed Length:4.38″
  • Overall Length: 7.77″
  • Blade Length: 3.39″
  • Blade Steel: 8Cr13MoV
  • Weight: 4.1 oz

Spyderco makes a solid knife or at least the ones I have owned have been. Like many knife companies, I think their manufacturing locations may have changed for some models.

The stainless steel blade stays sharp. The handle is made of G-10. This is a pretty basic everyday carry folder with a long and wide blade.

Quick & Assisted

Disclaimer: There are legal issues associated with assisted or automatic knives in some areas. I encourage you to check your local and state laws before purchasing or carrying. While it may be technically legal to own this type of knife in some areas you may not actually be legally able to carry it wherever you want. Some people with disabilities may also be exempt from laws that apply to others.

Boker Kalashnikov Automatic Knife


I have been carrying this knife for a while now. While I do have to say the black coating wears off in places with regular use, the knife is otherwise solid and very fast.

The clip is strong and it will even work in the pockets of a lot of women’s pants (they make our pockets small and ridiculously impractical). This is an affordable knife that comes in a fun case for gift giving. The spring-assist is fast and makes a satisfying click.

I did an in-depth review of this knife awhile back. Here is the link for those that want to know more. Note: The version I have cost far less than the one that is featured in the Boker Plus line. The problem I had with the coating rubbing off may not be an issue if you are paying more for better materials but the same design. If you are buying this knife online and see a lower cost, you are still getting a Boker just not from the Plus line.

This knife comes in many different blade styles and there is a mini version too. I advise checking out this link to see the different options.

Gerber 06 Fast Knife Tanto Blade

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  • Overall Length: 8.75
  • Blade Length: 3.75
  • G-10 Handle
  • 7Cr17MoV stainless steel
  • Made In China

This is an affordable forward spring-action knife from Gerber. Some of their knives are made in the USA but this one is made in China and priced accordingly.


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  • Overall Length: 7.5
  • Blade Length: 3.2
  • Weight: 3.9 oz
  • 4034 Black Oxide High Carbon Stainless Steel Blade
  • Aluminum handle with Trac Tec inserts

Smith and Wesson have been in the knife game for a while now. They are an affordable everyday knife manufactured in Taiwan. Customers report that it comes out of the box very sharp. If you want a recognized brand but don’t want to spend a ton, then the Smith and Wesson is something to consider.

Buck Knives QuickFire Assisted Opening Folding Knife

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  • Closed Length: 4.25″
  • Blade Length: 2.75″
  • Weight: 3.6 oz
  • Made In USA
  • 420HC Steel

You would think it would be impossible to find a knife Made In The USA with a lifetime warranty and a spring assist for this price. The blade locks into place after the dual springs provide a smooth and fast deployment. The blade will stay sharp longer thanks to the carbon content of the stainless steel it is made from.

The textured handle provides great slip resistance under tough conditions. I would say that for value and quality for your money, this is the best spring assisted knife featured in this post. Buck Knives have a lifetime warranty as well.

CRKT M4-02W EDC Folding Pocket Knife

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  • Blade Length: 3.25″
  • Steel: 8Cr13MoV
  • Closed Length: 3.75″
  • Open Length: 7″
  • Weight: 3.7 oz
  • Handle: Stainless Steel Bolster w/Burl Wood

This knife doesn’t look tactical or like it would have an assisted opening. It can be nice to have a knife to carry that is fast but doesn’t look extremely tactical. The Outburst assisted opening allows for one-handed ambidextrous opening.

The blade is practical for regular tasks but still useful for defense. I am glad to see that CRKT is taking on designs like this when so many companies are concentrating their efforts on mostly black tactical knives.


Although I have written a decent amount about karambit, I don’t carry one. These are mostly for those that like to have a knife that is formidable for self-defense. They are an eye-catching design making them popular with a lot of knife collectors.

The Karambit is a design from the Pacific. It is not hard to see that it is based on a design for a farm tool for cutting down crops like sugar cane. This is a case where the tool of the peasant had another use as a weapon. You see the same type of dynamic with things like hatchets and axes.

For a longer article on karambits, follow this link.

Cold Steel Tiger Claw Folding 3″ Karambit

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  • Overall Open Length: 9″
  • Blade Length 3″
  • 6″ G-10 Handle
  • Metal: Carpenter CTS® XHP Alloy
  • Weight: 5.1 oz

I like this because it is a folder. I am more likely to carry a folder on a daily basis and they are easier to conceal when you don’t want to be strutting around with a karambit hanging off your belt or neck. This serrated karambit from Cold Steel is made to last.

This looks like it would be a more comfortable karambit to use, especially if you are more familiar with folding knives. Plenty of people carry a hawkbill knife. Those that do will mostly notice the differences are that the blade is wider and that there is a finger loop. This is a quality karambit that would be suitable for carrying every day. It is a bit bulkier than some knives due to the wide blade but it has a sturdy clip to help it stay in your pocket.

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  • Steel: SK5 high carbon steel with increased levels of manganese so it is very strong but still holds an exceptional edge
  • Blade Length: 5.095”
  • Overall Length: 9.625”
  • Weight: 9.3 oz

This is a pretty large karambit. A lot of people are used to smaller and more concealable versions but I think it is good to show a larger option made by a trusted brand. The Du Hoc is the design of Austin McGlaun of Columbus, GA. It is named in honor of his uncle who won a Silver Star at the Battle of Du Hoc.

The handle is G-10. The textured pattern of the G-10 provides a nonslip grip under rough conditions. A glass re reinforced nylon sheath is included and can be strapped most anywhere.

This is a karambit for someone that wants a larger style that can handle the toughest conditions you can throw at a knife. For those with larger hands that find a lot of karambits awkward, this may be the solution. You might want to reconsider your past notions of what a karambit can be.

United Cutlery Honshu Karambit with Shoulder Harness Sheath

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  • Overall Length: 8.75″
  • Blade Length: 4″
  • 7CR13 Stainless Steel
  • Over Molded Rubber Non-Slip Handle
  • Made In China

This is the only karambit that I saw that came with a harness for concealed carry. United Cutlery is another brand that has been around a long time so I am not surprised to see that they have a few karambits in their catalog of knives. This is a classic smooth blade rather than the serrated and tanto points that are so popular in the USA.

The included harness is kind of neat but I am not sure what size person would be most comfortable wearing it. The sheath is made of ABS Plastic.

Ka-Bar TDI Law Enforcement Knife

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  • Overall Length: 5 5/8″
  • Blade Length: 2 5/16″
  • AUS-8A Stainless Steel Blade
  • 7 oz (I believe this includes the sheath as well)

Ka-Bar makes a few karambit style knives in metal and in plastic. The TDI Law Enforcement Knife is designed to be a self-defense backup for law enforcement officers. It someone attempts to take an officer’s gun or they cannot reach it for some reason, this is the backup that could save their life. You might consider this karambit for the exact same purpose. There are times when a gun is not going to work well or may not be accessible. This karambit comes with a sheath for belt wear.

Fox 479 G10 Emerson Wave Karambit

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  • Folded Length: 5″
  • Open Length: 7.5″
  • Blade Length: 3″
  • Clip for easy carry.
  • NC690co Stainless Steel

Fox is made in Italy but distributed in the USA. This is a very fine crafted folding karambit for everyday carry and defense. Customers report that it is very sharp and feels comfortable in your hand.

The opening features the patented Emerson Wave that makes it easy to get this knife out and open when using your left or right hand.

Fox Karambits come in different sizes. It is important to read the description to make sure that you are getting the right one for your hand size. The one in the link above is sized for those that wear a large or greater in a glove. There is a smaller version for those that wear a small or medium typically. At the same time remember that this is just a recommendation. You may want to have several sizes.

Remember there is no knife that suits all purposes. That is why people wind up with so many!

If you are new to the world of blades then I recommend starting out with a good everyday carry knife and then seeing how it goes. Pay attention to the size of the knife you choose initially, especially if you have particularly large or small hands.

While price is something to pay attention to, I have to say that there are a lot of knives under $60 that offer very high quality. Just look at the Buck folder and buck assisted spring knives featured in this post.

Tactical looking knives can draw more attention than a classic looking pocket knife. This is something that is important to keep in mind when choosing what to carry every day. It may be harder to explain carrying a concealed karambit than a Case Congress pocket knife.

A knife can only take so much.

The way you care for, store, and use your blades is going to play a big role in just how long they last. Rough use will show on even a well-made knife. If you are given a knife you may want to consider if it is intended to be a collector’s item or used. While I like the Puma White Hunter, I would actually rather have a less expensive knife for everyday use so I wouldn’t be worried about the knife getting messed up.

Sometimes people get handed down knives that they do not realize the value of until it is too late and they have used it roughly.

Knife Bargains

The decline of retail has led to people being able to pick up some exceptional deals on knives sometimes when stores are closing or liquidating. I advise keeping an eye out when retailers are going out of business. They sometimes even offer the same type of bargains online.

Remember that you don’t have to pay a lot for every knife that you use to get good performance. For example, I use Martiinni and Rada knives in the kitchen when I could easily pay quad quadruple the price for kitchen knives and not necessarily get a knife that performed any better than the less expensive ones.

Buying in sets can sometimes save money too. CRKT has a tactical set that includes a ton of knives and tools at a discount.

What is your favorite knife for everyday carry? What do you like to carry in the woods or when camping? If you had to pick one knife and one multi-tool for your bug out bag what would you choose?

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One Response to “The Backdoor Survival Holiday Knife Guide”

  1. Hi Samatha great knife article!
    Not ALL Buck knives are made in USA
    Some of the less expensive, but good quality, knives are made overseas

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