There are a great many types of gear that make up a well-rounded bug out bag (BOB) but few are as versatile and reliable as a good knife. Finding the best fixed blade knife is frequently at the top of the list when building your survival kit for good reason. A quality fixed blade knife can be used for many survival applications, it doesn’t take up much space in a pack, and is simple to take care of. In this article we are going to take you through the crucial steps in finding the best fixed blade knife for YOUR bug out bag. There are a lot of options out there and to get you started we have done testing and research to save you time and money when finding your own fixed blade knife.
Best Fixed Blade Knife Practical Uses
A fixed blade knife is one of the most versatile tools you can add to your survival kit. Its uses are not limited to bushcraft or wilderness survival either, there are a great many urban tasks that can be simplified by having a great knife at your disposal. Some of these tasks include:
- Prying doors and windows
- Breaking glass
- Cleaning game
- Lash onto a stick to make a spear
- Shelter building
- Self defense
- Cutting rope
- Chopping wood
- Batoning through branches
- Opening containers and cans
- Preparing food
Our Picks For The Best Fixed Blade Knives
Best Overall Fixed Blade Knife: KA-BAR Becker 22
The KA-BAR Becker 22 is a solid, heavy duty field utility knife that can be used in any environment. Its medium size (10.5”) is a great compromise between the heft of a larger knife and the control afforded by a smaller, lighter blade.
The KA-BAR Becker 22 is proudly made in USA, highlighting the commitment to quality that Ka-Bar is known for. It has a full tang and integrated glass-breaking tip in the pommel. The Becker 22 uses a drop point and flat ground blade to maximize versatility and edge retention. This is a knife that will stay sharp as you use and abuse it in real-life survival scenarios.
The Becker 22 has a Grivory (glass reinforced nylon) grip that is nearly indestructible and a quality MOLLE compatible nylon sheath that features a cargo pocket for storing a sharpener or magnesium fire starter.
The KA-BAR Becker 22 is a fantastic, high quality knife that is designed with versatility and hard use in mind. It will faithfully serve its owner for many years to come.
Best Fixed Blade Bushcraft Knife: Tom Brown Tracker
The Tom Brown Tracker is the most versatile bushcraft knife that I have come across. It is extremely well made and features a multifunction blade that has a two stage front edge and a serrated spine. This makes it highly versatile for bushcraft tasks including cutting rope, chopping branches, skinning, butchering, hunting, and shelter building.
The Tom Brown Tracker is a large knife (11.9”) that is heavy enough (1.75lbs) to split wood, butcher game, and perform light chopping duties. The micarta handle includes a lanyard hole to ensure tool retention when swinging the blade. Its wide belly makes the Tracker excellent for accurate slicing and pushing cuts. The knife’s serrated spine allows for rapid slicing of rope, plastic, and many other manmade materials.
The Tom Brown Tracker comes with a kydex sheath that is secure enough to be worn horizontally or vertically, allowing for rapid deployment as you see fit. This is an awesome knife that will get you through your wilderness survival scenario with flying colors.
Best Urban Survival Fixed Blade Knife: Ka-Bar Becker BK3 Tac Tool
The Ka-Bar Becker BK3 Tac Tool is the ultimate in urban survival. It is large enough (12.5”) to be an effective pry tool for forcing doors and levering debris out of your path. The Becker BK3 has enough heft (1.3lbs) to chop through most materials and the glass breaker in the pommel doubles as an effective hammer for pounding nails or anything else.
The Ka-Bar Becker BK3 Tac Tool has a feature rich blade that greatly multiplies its versatility in the field. It integrates a partial serration, rope cutter, and pry tip, none of which feel like they were thoughtlessly tacked on. Each of these options mesh well with the overall design and make this a tool that can assist with nearly any urban survival task.
This knife screams quality, it is made in USA and features a full tang and indestructible Grivory grips that offer fantastic control over the 7” blade. This is a heavy duty knife that can pry, hack, split, cut, and hammer equally well. The Ka-Bar Becker BK3 Tac Tool is a perfect choice for urban survival or search and rescue applications. Its wide versatility would even make it a great addition to any tool kit.
Fixed Blade Knife vs Folding Knife
You may be asking “why a fixed blade knife instead of a folding knife?” It is a valid question. After all, folding knives are generally more compact and lightweight than a fixed blade knife, which is usually preferable for a survival kit you will need to carry with you. There are however some big advantages that a fixed blade brings to the table in a survival situation.
Fixed blade knives are generally far stronger
This is essential if you are going to be putting your survival knife through hard use such as the majority of the applications listed above. The hinge that a folding knife pivots around is a major point of weakness in its design. This is OK if you are using it for fine, detailed cuts or general every day use. However, if you are intending to use your knife to force a door open or split wood you will want the strength of a fixed blade.
Even a small fixed blade knife will generally be longer and heavier than a folding knife. This is an advantage again for hard use work. Longer length will allow for greater leverage when prying and additional range in self defense or hunting.
The small additional weight will not significantly impact your ability to carry your BOB but will come in handy if you need to chop or hammer anything.
Ease of maintenance
This is another weakness of a folding knife that is eliminated by choosing the best fixed blade knife that you can find. The hinge and locking mechanism in a folder can be prone to clogging by dirt and sand or corrosion. These problems can make a folding knife difficult if not impossible to use. A fixed blade has no hinge or lock to fail on you. Simple is better in this case.
Folding knives do have a place in many survival and EDC kits. I would recommend picking a folding knife for your secondary or backup blade in a bug out bag (see our folding knife guide here). For your primary workhorse you will want the best fixed blade knife that you can find.
Best Fixed Blade Knife Handle Options
When finding the best fixed blade knife your handle options can be split into two categories – tang and grip. I will break these down for you to help decide what is best for your particular environment.
Knife Tang – What is it and why is this important
The tang is the part of the knife that extends from the base of the blade guard to the butt of the knife, it is commonly covered with the knife’s handle or wrapped with paracord. There are 3 varieties of tang in all knives, which are the Full Tang, Partial Tang, and Hollow Handle.
A full tang knife will have a solid piece of metal that extends from the hand guard all the way to the butt of the knife. Generally full tang knives are a single piece of steel comprising of both the blade and tang. A full tang will make your knife far stronger than any other option. This is the best choice for a heavy duty knife that will be used for tasks such as hammering, prying, chopping, batoning, and butchering animals.
A partial tang is when the blade steel extends only part way down into the handle. This is generally sign of a cheap knife as manufacturers often use this approach to cut costs. This can be OK if you are looking for a blade to display in your home. However if you intend on using and depending on your fixed blade knife in a survival situation leave partial tang knives on the shelf.
There is much debate among the survival community about the utility of hollow handled survival knives and whether it is worth the trade off. A hollow handle will always be weaker than a full tang option but some people think this is worth having as it allows them to carry some of the gear mentioned above. To make this judgment you would need to first assess what you will be using your fixed blade knife for. You can get away with light duties with a hollow handle knife but if you are going to be hammering or prying anything you will want a full tang for sure. As survival is a highly dynamic and unpredictable environment by nature I recommend playing it safe and going with a full tang when finding the best fixed blade knife for your kit.
A hollow handle allows you to store items in the cavity such as:
- Fishing kit
- Fire Starter kit
- First aid items
Best Fixed Blade Knife Grip Options
There are a great many materials that can be used for knife grips. Some of them are as old as recorded history and others are cutting edge technology. Here are some examples of commonly used knife grip materials:
You can go traditional or flashy but the most practical and cost effective in my experience are made from Micarta, Glass Reinforced Nylon, G-10, or Zytel. The overwhelming majority of modern day fixed blade knives will come in one of these options and for practicality they can’t be beat.
The other big factor in finding the best fixed blade knife grip is how it actually feels in your hand. Is the grip (regardless of material) designed with finger grooves to give you good purchase? Can it be used easily both bare handed and with gloves on? Is the knife comfortable in your hand when used for longer periods? Does moisture affect your hold? Look for a good guard and a healthy choil on the fixed blade knives that you are considering. Maintaining a good grip in wet conditions is also essential. Getting these elements right are vital to finding the best fixed blade knife for your kit. Getting them wrong will have serious consequences, turning your ultimate tool into a liability. Take the time to research carefully and read up on your choices.
Size & Weight For The Best Fixed Blade Knife
First off, there is no “perfect” length or weight for a bug out bag knife. The ideal size for you will depend on what you intend to use it for and assessing this is all part of the process of finding the best fixed blade knife for your survival kit. Let’s take a look at how knife size impacts your choices:
A longer fixed blade knife (one greater than 10” in overall length) will be heavier and take up more space in your pack. However, longer knives are better at hacking, chopping, splitting, prying, and self-defense. A shorter knife by comparison is better at finer detail work such as skinning, carving, scraping, and will be lighter and take up less room. As you can see it comes down to what you intend to use your knife for. Weigh these costs and benefits when identifying what knife is best for you.
It is important to find the right balance when assessing knife weight. No one wants to carry around more gear than they need and this includes choosing a heavy knife when you could use a lighter one. As with longer vs shorter blades finding the best weight comes down to what you will be using your knife for. A lighter blade will cause less fatigue both while carrying it in your bug out bag and when actually using it. It is also generally better for detail work. A heavier blade will impart greater force when hammering, copping, or breaking glass. Make a careful assessment when choosing your fixed blade knife. Look for one that weighs less than 12oz for lighter work and more than that if you will have a lot of brute force tasks ahead of you.
Best Fixed Blade Knife Blade Options
There are countless blade options in modern fixed blade tactical, bushcraft, and hunting knives. This wide selection is a great additional way to customize your knife to perfectly suit your particular needs. Here are some blade options and their typical uses:
A drop point blade is a great all around option for a multipurpose knife. Drop point knives typically have a gradual curve along their spine and a wide belly, which makes them easy to control and highly versatile.
Full or partial serration on a knife will allow for faster cutting of rope, cloth, plastic, and other man made materials. Serrated blades also typically stay usably sharp for longer.
A gut hook is a special type of blade where the back of the blade (also called the “spine”) has a sharpened indentation or hook. This is designed to be used when opening the abdomen of an animal when field dressing. Once inserted into an incision in the belly and pulled through the skin this acts like a zipper on the carcass. A gut hook is a popular option for a fixed blade hunting knife for this reason.
A tanto blade has a flat (rather than a curved) edge that comes to a triangular point. This design gives tanto blades superior strength when piercing tough materials. This increased penetration potential makes tanto points popular among people looking for a good tactical fixed blade knife.
A chisel tip is a flat tip that has been sharpened to allow for digging cuts. This wide tip option is also very strong in situations where the knife is being used as a prying tool, making it a popular choice for search and rescue or urban fixed blade knives.
A clip point has a curved or straight section running from mid-spine to the tip of the blade. This cutout allows for maximum control in the point when cutting as well as good piercing potential. The clip point in another popular option for people looking for a bushcraft knife or fixed blade hunting knife.
What Are The Best Fixed Blade Knife Sheath Options?
I have spoken at length now about every detail of finding the best fixed blade knife for your bug out bag except what you will be carrying it in…the sheath! Many people focus their search on finding the perfect knife and then just assume that the sheath will take care of itself. While most quality knives come with a reliable sheath it is worth considering some options to look for when finding a great sheath for your ultimate fixed blade knife.
How do you intend carrying your knife? Are you going to keep it in your BOB? Attach it to the outside? Are you going to clip it to your belt or strap it to your body? Any of these can be good options but it is important to find a sheath that can accommodate whatever style you intend to use. Most good knives come with a sheath that has more than one carry option. Look for a sheath that has multiple options or MOLLE integration to keep your choices open.
The most common materials used in sheath making are:
- Kydex – This is a type of plastic that is molded to fit the shape of the knife. It is lightweight and nearly indestructible. Kydex sheaths generally come with straps to attach them as you see fit.
- Nylon – This is a woven material that is lightweight, inexpensive, and very durable. Nylon sheaths often come with MOLLE integration and either Velcro or snap-secured straps for attachment to a belt or bag.
- Leather – This is a classic style of sheath material. Leather is typically very tough but not as lightweight as nylon. A leather sheath should come with straps and buckles for attachment.
Although not a necessity many higher quality sheaths have a secondary pouch integrated into them. This is most frequently used to store a sharpening stone, fire starting kit, or folding knife.
Finding The Best Fixed Blade Knife For YOU
As you can see there are a lot of factors to consider when finding the best fixed blade knife for your bug out bag or survival kit. Remember to focus on the basics that we have discussed and to take into account the particular tasks you are most likely to use the knife for. Will you be in an urban environment where you will be prying open doors, containers, and windows? Will you be in the wilderness where a fixed blade hunting knife will serve you best? Do you anticipate using it as a self defense tool? If you do, maybe you should consider a fixed blade tactical knife with a tanto tip. Best of luck finding the best knife for your needs, feel free to take another look at our recommendations above to get you started, thanks for reading!
Do you have a fixed blade knife that you love? Is there anything else you would look for when finding your best fixed blade knife? Please let us know in the Comments Section below, thanks again!