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When it comes to bushcraft you need a reliable knife. Knives are truly one of the most versatile and useful tools. Some of you may have read my other knife articles and know that I have a hard time narrowing down the choices so that I can write articles and recommend some of the better examples.
There are a lot of bushcraft knives that run the whole spectrum of cost that can meet your needs in a survival situation. The difference between an ok bushcraft knife and a more expensive one may not be initially apparent but over time and heavy usage, you will see a difference.
Uses For A Bushcraft Knife
- Constructing shelters
- Carving blazes for trails
- Butchering small game
- Cutting rope
- Can be tied to the end of a pole with paracord and used as a spear if needed
- Carving wood and notching
- Creating shavings for starting fires. Small tinder is a major blessing when you really need to get a fire going.
Like any knife, there are exceptions to the price=quaulity equation. There is no doubt great values out there but you have to seek them out. Oh and before we dive in and look at the knives I wanted to mention knife weight figures.
If I could not find a figure for actual weight, I used the shipping weight and made note of it in the description. Remember that shipping weight is always considerably higher than actual weight. Blade thickness is included if I could find it. Unfortunately even some manufacturer websites do not list this for their knives.
So without further words, let’s look at some great Bushcraft knives that offer outstanding value and quality.
Morakniv Bushcraft Carbon Steel Survival Knife
Blade Thickness: 0.126″
Blade Length: 4.3″
Total Length: 9.1″
Net Weight: 5.4 oz.
Morakniv has quite a reputation. This knife is made of carbon steel that has been coated for corrosion and rust resistance. The steel is hardened to HRC 56-58 so that it can withstand batoning. The blade has what is called a Scandi Grind that is designed to dig in and not slip out. The hard sheath also houses a firestarter, a nice bonus and welcome addition to any prepper’s collection. A non-slip handle is comfortable to use under a variety of circumstances. The firestarter is rated to 7,000 strikes.
JEO-TEC Nº31 Bushcraft Survival Hunting Knife
Blade Thickness: 0.2″
Blade Length: 4.52″
Total Length: 9.44″
Net Weight: 15.5 oz shipped weight.
This is one of those knives that is just hard not to love. I love the handle although I know that wood has its disadvantages if not properly taken care of. This model is crafted in Spain. I have come to appreciate Spanish made knives. There is a reason that companies like Puma have chosen Spain as an alternative to Solingen Germany for a place of manufacture.
The full-grain leather sheath includes a quality fire starter. This is a snazzy design for a bushcraft knife. One side of the blade features a small serration area. A loophole in the handle allows you to attach a lanyard if desired. The blade is Stainless Steel Molybdenum-Vanadium 58 (MOVA-58) with a hardness rating of HRC 56-58.
Browning Ultra Bushcraft Knife
Blade Length: 4″
Total Length: 9″
Net Weight: 11.5 oz shipping weight
While many are familiar with Browning firearms, they might also be pleased to know that Browning makes a good bushcraft knife. This is a very basic knife featuring an easy to grip handle, lanyard hole, and a smooth wide blade. The blade itself is made of flat ground, brushed finish 7Cr17MoV stainless steel while the handle is G-10 laminate with anti-skid grooves built in so you have a sure grip under trying conditions. For those seeking out a basic bushcraft knife, this one is budget friendly and even comes with a full grain leather sheath.
Condor Tool & Knife Bushcraft Basic Camping Knife
Blade Thickness: 0.125″
Blade Length: 4″
Total Length: 8.5 ”
Net Weight: 0.53 lbs
Condor Knife and Tool offers some amazing and beautifully made knives. I used to butcher a lot of hogs with my husband and this knife reminds me of some of the old carbon steel blades we were given by some older members of our family. You could do just about any part of the butchering with those blades. They kept a good edge and had wood handles.
Carbon steel can take a lot of force so it is the choice for those that plan on using their knife for a lot of high impact activities. In this case, Condor has used 1075 Carbon Steel. It gives a little whereas stainless steel can be quite hard and brittle for some tasks.
While the description mentions a nylon sheath, the picture indicates a leather sheath so I expect that is actually what you are getting. The overall opinion of this knife seems to be that it is quite a workhorse for the money and it sharpens and keeps an edge well. It is recommended that you keep the blade oiled as this grade of carbon steel is a little more prone to corrosion.
Buck SELKIRK Fixed Blade Survival Knife
Blade Thickness: 0.125 ”
Blade Length: 4 5/8″
Total Length: 9.5″
Net Weight: 7.6 oz
I find the handle of this knife hypnotizing. Buck Knives is another one of those brands to add to your memory because they make a lot of good blades and have been doing so for a long time. This is a modestly priced bushcraft knife that will stand the test of time.
The blade is drop point 420 HC steel. There is an included 2 1/4 firestarter with an integrated whistle. I don’t really care if a bushcraft knife comes with anything extra but it seems a lot of companies are including firestarters that ride along in your sheath. In this case, the sheath is injection molded and made so that you can wear it horizontally or vertically on a belt for easy access.
Ontario Knife Company Bushcraft Woodsman Knife
Blade Thickness: 0.25″
Blade Length: 9 7/16″”
Total Length: 15″
Net Weight: About 17 oz
For those that want a heavier duty bushcraft knife, there is this beast from Ontario Knife Company. The blade is made of 5160 carbon alloy steel. A black nylon sheath is included. I do want to point out that this knife weights as much as 3x what a lot of the bushcraft knives on this list weigh but for that, you get metal that is twice as thick. The composite hardwood handle is comfortable and sturdy. This is a really wide blade. Sometimes this knife is listed with some additional accessories but if you already have firestarters and lanyards you can save some money by just clicking on the link above and buying the knife and sheath.
KA-BAR Full Size US Marine Corps Fighting Knife
Blade Thickness: 0.165″
Blade Length: 7 ”
Total Length: 11.875″
Net Weight: 11.2 oz
This is a very classic design. It is claimed to be the most famous fixed blade knife design in the world. This kind of reminds me of a knife that my dad gave me called a Vietnam fighter once. My point is that this design has been used by a lot of different manufacturers. This particular knife is made by KaBar which I consider a good modestly priced brand. The blade is made of 1095 Cro-van steel. A full grain leather sheath is included. The knife is made in the USA but the sheath is made in Mexico which confuses some customers that are otherwise satisfied. While this knife can stand up to some hard conditions and bushcraft it is also an excellent knife for self-defense. Since it has been in use for 70 years, there are a lot of people that will use nothing else when out in the bush.
Schrade Stainless Steel Fixed Blade Knife
Blade Thickness: Around 0.25″
Blade Length: 5″
Total Length: 10.4″
Net Weight: 12.4 oz
Schrade can be a bit controversial with some knife collectors. Like so many makers, they have changed where they are made over the years. Personally, I still think the quality is very good for the money. The blade is made of 1095 powder coated high carbon stainless steel.
The handle is textured and made of TPE. This knife includes a sheath but on top of that you get a ferro rod and a sharpening stone. I like that they included a sharpening stone. A lot of bushcraft knives have a ferro rod and sheath. For me the stone would be more useful for getting out and doing some bushcraft.
Puma SGB Bowie Commando Stag Hunting Knife
Blade Thickness: ”
Blade Length: 6.1″
Total Length: 11″
Net Weight: 7.2 oz
I had to include a Puma. I am a big fan of Puma Knives. Every Puma Knife I have owned to used has been exceptional and a lot of them cost far less than what I feel they are worth. That is a rarity with any product in today’s day and age. The blade on this knife is 1.4116 German Cutlery Steel Manufactured In Solingen Germany.
Some Puma Knives are made in Spain but I think the quality is great regardless of if you have one made in Spain or Germany. You get a certificate that your knife is 55-57 Rockwell Hardness Tested and a limited lifetime warranty. I have actually never heard of anyone wearing out a Puma so I doubt you will have to use your warranty.
That stag handle is simply beautiful and comfortable to grip. I like that this knife has a good guard on it. Getting cut out in the bush is something you want to avoid and having a good guard can be a big help.
Szco Supplies M-9 Bayonet
Blade Thickness: Around 0.25 ”
Blade Length: 7 3/4″
Total Length: 12″
Net Weight: Around 14 oz
Choosing Your Knife
A lot of the knives in this post are very similar but I encourage you to consider the materials they are made of and what type of conditions you are going to be using it for. If you are in an area where you are exposed to the corrosiveness of salt water then you either need to get stainless steel or pay a lot of attention to the maintaining your knife properly.
Wood handles can dry out and split if you let them get and stay wet. You can get mold growing on them even. For wet and corrosive conditions, a synthetic handle and stainless steel may be the best choice for you when you are really out in the bush. Stag handles are pretty strong too and I personally prefer them to wood.
What is your favorite bushcraft knife? Do you have any tips for maintaining carbon steel?
10 Responses to “Top 10 Bushcraft Knives For The Practical Prepper”
Military speak can be somewhat confusing. The M9 bayonet is actually for the M16 family of rifles. The M9 pistol doesn’t use a bayonet, even though they are both designated as M9. When you are issued an M9 pistol, you are also issued a fighting knife, commonly called a K-Bar regardless which company held the contract to build them when they were made. The K-Bar was adopted in 1942, and there are many variations with modern grips and sheathes and blade enhancements.
Some of the choices are debatable of course, but at least the knives on the list are good knives. I’ve seen lists like this that included cheap junk knives that could cost you dearly if you staked your life on them.
Cool knives! Most of all I liked Schrade!
Thanks for the article. I think there is no one knife that suits all situations. You would need 2 or 3 different ones.
Also I would be reluctant to tie a knife to a stick and use it as a spear, you may end up without your knife better to just sharpen the stick.
I have to say it’s ironic that every link in this article points to Amazon. If enduring a survival situation has become more likely of late, we can thank little Jeffie Beast-Oh’s and his band of billionaires. Let’s declare his $12BILLION a “wind-fall” and he can send everyone in the US their pick of the above. That might make a small dent in the $1.50/pkg subsidy he gets from the USPS…
They are also available on ebay and most online knife stores, the prices will vari higher and lower depending on the seller. Amazon seems to be a “line in the sand” type of seller for most articles.
I’m sure you will get a lot of “personal favorites”, but here a a couple of mine…
First, you missed the Ontario line particularly their Spec Plus line (the SP-2 survival knife is my favorite): //ontarioknife.com/
You also missed the excellent line offered by Camillus: https://www.camillusknives.com/
CRKT also offers many fine bushcraft/survival knives: https://www.crkt.com/
As to the KA-BAR, I love their knives also, but I would have gone with their:
Full Size KaBar with the serrated edge, Kraton Handle & Kydex Sheath
I find the Kraton handled knives (offered by Ontario & KA-BAR) are a much better grip, particularly in cold, wet and/or bloody conditions.
I like the old Air Force survival knife. Built like a tank with sharpenstone on the sheath. On ebay you can find them for about $30 used and 50+ new.
Ontario Knife Company 499 Air Force Survival
I started carrying a folder clip starting back in 1993. I was 30yo. That changed with my first fixed blade purchase in 2009… I’d always known that a belt knife with full tang was the ticket but thought i was going to have to spend a fortune for a custom fitted one for my hand. Nope!
Im fond of nothing less than a 1095 carbon steel, no less than 4″ edge, 90°spine for Ferro rod. I prefer flat grind, no secondary edges for ease of sharpening. I try to touch it up before bed each night.. My knife life started with; spyderco endura, bhk-woodsman, plskII, currently using a Jeff White BUSH ONE…
Giving the Mora a go before too much longer…
Stay sharp&thanks for the article!
Very nice article but I would have added the Becker and Esee line of knives as well. Just my opinion mind you…. J.J.