This site contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn a commission from qualifying purchases at no extra cost to you. Full Disclosure Here.
The Karambit is a style of knife that came into popularity in Indonesia. It is a formidable weapon that was inspired by the claws of tigers. It was popular due to its deadliness and the many ways it could be concealed.
Women would even wear them in their hair for easy access! The karambit was also used as an agricultural tool. You might have noticed that it closely resembles some of the harvest knives used for sugar cane or tobacco.
The way a karambit is designed to be held makes it difficult for someone to get it out of your hand compared to traditional knives out there.
It is a fixed blade style of knife so you don’t have to worry about it folding up on you during a risky situation. I think that is a major plus. Even when I carry a folding knife I usually have one that locks to avoid the danger of closing up.
Karambits are simply amazing knives for those that need something solid, deadly, and easy to conceal. They make a great backup weapon when your others are taken from you or fail. There are so many places on the body where you can conceal this knife and get to it if a situation turns dire.
The Best Karambits to Own Comparison Table
Cold Steel Training Karambit
BladesUSA E419-PP Polypropylene Karambit Knife
Masalong Outdoor Survival Tactical Knife
The karambit is a favorite with many that are involved with mixed martial arts. It is used as a lethal addition to martial arts moves. Knife fighting is an art and the movements required mean that practicing martial arts will help set you ahead of the learning curve when you start training with knives. If you’re interested in more useful training tips, you should check out our in-depth prepper fitness guide.
The Importance of Being Able to Defend Yourself Cannot Be Overstated!
While we are on the subject of knives as self-defense weapons, I want to say that I feel that having a good defensive knife helped me get through my childhood and adolescence in safety. I had just a little Lockback folder and later on a hawkbill but I carried it all the time so I didn’t have to feel so defenseless.
I was one of those little girls that by the time I was 11 looked like I was 18 and I lived in Hamilton, Washington, a small run-down logging town with 300 people, a post office and liquor store that shared a building, heroin addicts camped out at old sawmills, and a high rate of hard drug use, alcoholism, and sex offenses.
A knife was one of the few approachable weapons that I had at my disposal. It gave me the confidence to not let fear rule my adolescence. I am glad I never had to use it but it sure was nice to know I wasn’t completely helpless against some creeper trying to drag me off towards the Skagit River.
Practice With a Karambit Before You Need It
Most of you that are considering a karambit are probably thinking about its function as a self-defense weapon. This is a knife unlike any other. I recommend that you familiarize yourself with how to use it during good times.
There are a ton of Youtube videos and books on the use of a karambit for self-defense. There are moves and techniques that anyone can benefit from learning about. Don’t make the mistake of thinking a knife is a knife. Just like firearms, there is a lot of variances and you don’t want to hurt yourself using a weapon incorrectly.
Karambit Blade Work With Doug Marcaida
Mastering the Curved Blade
By Steven Tarani
A good hard copy of a book for reference is worth the investment if you don’t already have experience with karambits.
Consider getting a rubber version of the karambit to practice with. Here are a few options for rubber trainers that can get you started safely learning how to make the best use of your karambit during a defensive situation.
Cold Steel Training Karambit
This training karambit is made of rubber and a rounded tip for added safety. You can get these and safely learn and hone your existing skills without the risk of using your real karambit. If you have a real karambit made by Cold Steel then this is a really good trainer to buy since it mimics the handle and blade of yours very closely. The overall length is 9 1/8 inches.
BladesUSA E419-PP Polypropylene Karambit Knife
This trainer is designed to mimic small karambits with shorter blades. It is made of plastic rather than rubber but it still makes a good option for those learning. It is worth trying out if you want to get some practice in.
So What Is the Best Karambit Knife?
The best karambit knife for you may not be the same for someone else. For example, if you are used to carrying a pocket knife, then you may only want karambits that fold up and are easier to conceal. Those that like a folding hawkbill knife may find that carrying a folding karambit feels natural.
Choosing Your Karambit
Like any knife in the modern world, there are a plethora of options in all price ranges. We have put together a list of karambit knives that offer a lot of function versus cost.
Masalong Outdoor Survival Tactical Knife
Those that are fans of serration will be happy with what this karambit has to offer. The blade measures 3 inches and the knife is an overall 7 inches. D2 Steel with a hardness of 58-60HRC means it is durable and made to last.
At just over 6.5 ounces it is not too heavy to carry regularly. The sheath comes with straps to change it from right to left-hand operation. Oh, and did I mention it is double-edged? This is a mean looking knife that could definitely come in handy for those that want a knife that is mostly just for defense.
Boker Plus K-Bit Knife
Boker offers a unique little take on the karambit. First off I find it appealing that this knife is just one solid piece. The 5 mm thick 440C stainless steel offers a corrosion-resistant small karambit that would be great to keep on hand if you live in a wet or salty environment.
While the blade length is only 1.6 inches and the overall length is a mere 3.9 inches, don’t let this little claw fool you into thinking it can’t do a lot. At a mere 1.4 ounces, it feels like it is part of you when you have to use it. It comes with a Kydex sheath and ball chain so you can wear this around your neck for easy access.
MTech USA Karambit Style Tactical Neck Knife
While this may be a budget-priced karambit, it gets excellent reviews and comes with a quality Kydex sheath. Like a lot of knives, it doesn’t come to you as sharp as it could be so some buyers have mentioned that they have put an edge on it when they took it out of the box.
The steel is 440 and durable but it is not quite the same quality as you will get with the stainless Boker that is on this list. For a general smooth blade all-purpose karambit for self-defense, it should serve you well.
For more neck knife options, check out this post.
Cold Steel Double Agent Fixed Blade Knife
Some of you might have noticed that I can’t do an article without including Cold Steel. The reason for this is that they are affordable, widely available, and made with high-quality construction and materials.
The double safety ring handle designs provide you with a lot of options for how to hold the karambit. A sheath and ball chain means you can stick this around your neck and into your shirt for good access and conceal-ability when the situation calls for it.
This knife weighs just a little over 3 ounces so you will barely notice that you are carrying it. I could see having this for wear in a bug out situation or anywhere that you want a little extra personal protection. Designed by custom knifemaker Zach Whitson, this is a bargain in the world of karambits. One factor that may deter some from this karambit is the edge. Serration is not for everyone.
CIMA Outdoor Survival Claw Tactical Knife
The CIMA has a 3.37″ blade and a 3.9″ handle making it a well-balanced karambit in the hand. The blade is made of 7CR17 high carbon steel that has been heat processed and subjected to stonewashing to increase the hardness, strength, and durability.
The handle is made of G-10 material with a pattern to prevent slipping. At just over 7.5 ounces, it feels hefty in the hand but not too much. It comes with an ABS sheath for carrying.
Hand Made Forged Railroad Spike Karambit
Well, this gets good feedback from a lot of people and it is made from a railroad spike so I am sold. This unique design is made from one piece of metal and comes with a quality full-grain leather sheath. The 3-inch carbon steel blade keeps a superior edge and the overall length of 7 inches makes this a substantial karambit. This is definitely one you are going to want to wear on your side as it is too large for neckwear.
SOG GB1001-CP Gambit Fixed-Blade Knife
This is for you SOG fans out there. My previous knife articles have led me to seek out more SOG based on reader feedback. Y’all had a lot of good things to say about SOG. This karambit has a great handle and substantial finger ring on it that seems like it would be solid and non-slip during a situation.
If you want a karambit that doesn’t have as much of a curve to it then this is one of the best options on this list. The 2.6-inch sheepsfoot blade is plenty long to take care of business but I also have to point out that this karambit has an overall 7-inch length which means it has a larger handle that might be a lot more comfortable for those of us with larger hands or long fingers.
Karambit and Huntsman Knife 2 Piece Set
This combo caught my eye due to its versatility and value for the prepper. Not only do you get a formidable and quality karambit and sheath but also a hunter knife, firestarter, and a sharpener.
The knife is made of titanium coated stainless steel and comes to you already sharp according to the description and it appears that customers agree that it is very sharp right out of the box. This is a large knife with an overall length of 11 inches and a blade length that is an amazing 6 inches long!
While not the best option for concealing, the handle and guard make it comfortable to use. The karambit is made of similar materials and comes with a sheath. I could not find the exact dimensions for the karambit but you can compare it to the hunter knife in the photo to get an idea.
Grand Way Karambit Knife
In terms of appearance, this is one of the nicer-looking karambits on this list. The full tang 440 stainless steel blade is made solid and finished with a satin finish so you don’t have to experience any glare when using this out in the sun.
The G-10 handle is textured and designed to remain solidly in your hand. A tactical nylon sheath makes for easy carry. This karambit is small enough that you could conceal it well under a shirt if needed. Grand Way backs this knife up with a 10-year warranty which is pretty good for a knife.
KA-BAR TDI Law Enforcement Straight Edge Knife
This karambit is one that is most popular with law enforcement. Ka-Bar is a company I have been familiar with for many years and they definitely make affordable quality blades. If you have been looking for a karambit that doesn’t have the finger holes, this is the one.
The overall length is about 5 5/8 inches so this is on the smaller side which can be a great thing if you want to carry it concealed most of the time. Blade length is just over 2 1/3 inches. I like the way the sheath is designed for this.
The sturdy clip is easy to attach to a belt, tactical or otherwise, and you have quick access to the Zytel handle. The rounded handle design may be more comfortable for some than the traditional karambit handles. You can also get a rig to carry this on your ankle if you want another option for carrying.
Schrade SCH112 Fixed Blade Karambit
You can’t beat full tang construction when it comes to strength and durability in a knife. Schrade has created a comfortable to use and formidable karambit with this model.
The high carbon stainless steel dual-edged blade is easier to sharpen and holds an edge better than stainless steel that has lower carbon content. So for those of you that are fans of carbon for sharpness but like stainless for its corrosion resistance out in the field, this should be on your shortlist of karambits to add to your preps.
Cold Steel 1108085 Tiger Fixed Knife
This is one serious looking karambit. The smooth blade comes to a deadly sharp and keen point but I absolutely love the heavy-duty synthetic texturized grip. I feel like I can trust this knife to not be cumbersome to use.
Cold Steel wins again with this affordable self-defense knife. This is one made for some extreme conditions and use since it doesn’t have any materials to corrode or warp. It has a substantial hand guard for safety making it a good choice for beginners as well as seasoned knife experts.
What is your favorite karambit? Have you ever had to use one? What do you use yours for besides self-defense?
10 Responses to “Top 14 Best Karambit Knives to Own in 2022”
I own 2 Masalong karambits. Both are d2. Both are really nice and affordable. Really sharp. The sheaths eveyone seems to have a complaint with is stupid. For one its an easy fix get your wife’s hair dryer and heat it up. Than smash it between 2 pieces of foam, fixed. Second they are around 40 dollars. Excellent purchases. Im buy a 3rd in a week.
I love Cold Steel Double Agent 3″ Fixed Blade Knife very much because it’s very stylish and the grip is very strong. Thanks for the list.
A weapon of choice for street toughs up north for generations was the linoleum knife, the working man’s karambit. I worked with a guy from Chicago who ran into one in a bar fight. He had a wicked 10 inch scar across his stomach. His buddies took him to the E.R., he was holding his guts in his hands on the way. You don’t need to stab, slashing is way under rated for disabling a man. A good linoleum knife has the added advantages of being cheap and legal everywhere, plus it’s a good tool to clean the mud off your boots.
If your going to carry one at least get one large enough to stab and kill. Thinking your going to cut them and they will leave you alone for cool points on the knife you carry is silly. Your wasting a lot of energy and time trying to use these in most cases.
One thing I do agree on is getting the trainer and trying it. WEAR SAFETY GLASESS. I think after you work with one a while and realize the output it takes on cuts and the limited areas that are lethal you will switch back to a real blade.
I also feel like I’m wasting my time because I know how few actually train because of the size of classes everywhere I go.
I read all the reviews on Amazon for all these knives and the all have serious deficiencies.
THEY ARE ALL CRAP!
Buy a quality weapon if it’s going to be used to save your life!
If you click on any of the knives on this email it will send you to Amazon which will give a kickback to this website so there is an incentive to encourage you to buy these knives from this website.
I would think the reviewer should have been far more honest in the review owing to the problems with ALL these knives, especially their sheaths that are CHEAP and don’t hold the knives securely and the cheapness of many of the materials made of plastic.
NEVER buy anything on the basis of a few positive reviews on a website.
DO YOUR OWN RESEARCH!
It’s not worth the hassle to pay shipping to return faulty, cheaply made products, if you can even get a refund from many of these vendors.
It’s just not worth the time and frustration.
BUY QUALITY the first time and pay what that costs!
Wow, really great article. I’m pleased to see an article on BDS that is specifically about a defensive weapon, not about a utility knife that could be used as a weapon. Very comprehensive discussion. Thank you! I have a carry knife with a curved blade. I don’t think it fits this category. I purchased it for carry compliance in my state. At a time when I was walking late at night. I removed the snap thingy on the sheath and also the belt thingy. The knife slips out of the sheath like glass. Like if you just look at it, it slips right out. So far I don’t like any of the sheaths that came with my knives and either modified them or tossed them. Anyway, I keep the knife in my right hand pocket but transfer to my left sleeve if feeling unsure about an area. It IS a sharply curved blade. And it could do serious and possibly lethal damage in the ways that I imagine using it. Too bad I can’t practice IRL. By the way I live in a state in which licensed concealed carry of firearms is not going to be approved and I actually did want my blade length to comply.
Great article and video. I have placed this article at the top of my profile page.
I was first introduced to this style of blade durning my tours in Asia durning Vietnam. Was shown an gifted my first one from a Mong fighter in Loas in 1971. I have since carried one with me as an EDC since and in all my world travels. The choices suggested in the article are all more than serviceable blades, and a few are even in my collection. I would suggest to others for equal consideration. The first is the Two Suns Hawk Bill Karambit, D2 stainless toolsteel, full tang, micarta grips, with a 3.5 inch blade. Found on eBay and inexpensive.
The other is a bit different. The CRKT Keramin of their Minimalist series. Can be found for between $22 an $26 and is very small and concealable. There is no finger ring but instead has very pronounced finger indents. Blade is only 1.5” or so but with a needle point and comes very sharp. Placed inside the fist it is very duffucult to dislodge. The small blade is nearly invisible until encountered by an assailant. It has done me a service on three occasions.
There are several others in the CRKT series that are also good choices. The “Wharncliffe” and “Tanto” blade styles have found a following among friends and team mates. They have also been well received as gifts overseas.
Great article, well done. Not enough is out there on this blade style and the art of its use. I’m pleased that a woman wrote it. It fits a woman’s natural style of fighting! Men, must work a bit harder to master them but do find them excellent CQC blades.
If you are thinking of this type of knife be sure to check the laws in your state about double edge knifes. The double edge version of this knife is a problem in the sate of Michigan and can lead to felony charge. You can legally own the knife but not take it out of your house.
When you can look at SNAG X and SNAG X Controller a utility patented tool by KRUDO Knives.
SNAG X Controller is NOT only a training tool, but an actual pain compliance tool all in one.
It is the evolution to Karambit.