As a person who loves planning ahead, we guess you’re in need of the best survival knife for the money. While it’s impossible to have ALL knives at your side, choosing the right one for your demands is paramount. The list below will give you a better idea of which to go for:
Here are the best survival knives for the money (Sep 2021 Update):
- Best Overall: SOG Survival Knife FK1001-CP
- Best For Camping: Morakniv Craftline Basic 511
- Best For Hunting: Elk Ridge ER-300CA
- Best Overall: Kershaw Cinder (1025X)
- Best For Rescue: The Atomic Bear Folding Knife
- Best For Self-Defense: Kershaw RJ Tactical 3.0 1987
|Top 6 Best Survival Knives For The Money|
|SOG Survival Knife FK1001-CP||Read Our Review|
Best For Camping
|Morakniv Craftline Basic 511||Read Our Review|
Best For Hunting
|Elk Ridge ER-300CA||Read Our Review|
|Kershaw Cinder (1025X)||Read Our Review|
Best For Rescue
|The Atomic Bear Folding Knife||Read Our Review|
Best For Self-Defense
|Kershaw RJ Tactical 3.0 1987||Read Our Review|
Best Fixed Blade
Best Overall: SOG Survival Knife FK1001-CP
- Made of heavy-duty material and full-tang design for extra durability and strength
- Come extremely sharp right out of the box -> you can use it right then
- Feature a clip point on the blade for more comfortable hand-feel when piercing or cutting something
- The sheath rides high on the hips
- The sheath doesn’t hold the knife tightly to carry inverted
No moving parts. No frills. The SOG FK1001 is a beefy, versatile fixed blade survival knife made for life’s most cutting tasks.
The blade itself is crafted in stainless steel with full tang and comes exceptionally sharp right out of the sheath – always a big bonus. It holds excellent edge retention which can stay sharp longer than other knives, implying less sharpening yet more cutting.
The biggest selling point lies in its shape. There is a thumb grip area on top of the blade for extra force when you have to pierce something and a metal pommel with teeth for pounding on tent stakes.
We also like the rubber handle. Despite the 1/2” longer than the standard fixed blades, it’s still comfortable and grippy on hand, giving the joy to work with.
|SOG Survival Knife FK1001-CP Specifications|
Piercing, cutting, pounding
8. 5 inches
Full-tang stainless steel
Measure 8. 5 inches in overall length
Have excellent edge retention and resist rust
At a mere $25, the SOG FK10001 is a true bargain. It packs with many high-end features, giving you a chance to experience the world-class survive knife without breaking your wallet.
Best For Camping: Morakniv Craftline Basic 511
- Made by superior materials for an extremely beefy blade and grippy, impact-resistant handle
- Shorter than other Morakniv fixed blade knives -> more pocket-friendly
Not many survival knives made by a well-known Sweden brand and even including a lifetime warranty, like the Basic 511, can offer at such an affordable price point.
The most outstanding is its materials – high carbon steel and impact-resistant TPE rubber which are known for superior durability and strength. In combination with an ergonomic shape, it is a perfect all-around knife for most common use.
Things like wood carving, camp kitchen tasks, and tinder processing for a campfire are all in its sweet spot.
Besides, compared to the Morakniv companion fixed blade, we found this one had a more pocket-friendly design, making it a good choice for campers or hunters.
|Morakniv Craftline Basic 511 Specifications|
Wood carving; camp kitchen tasks; processing kindling
high carbon steel
3.6-inch fixed blade
High carbon steel utility knife
For high hardness
Easy sharpening and exceptional toughness
If you’ve been waiting for a fantastic knife (also at a fantastic price!), then wait no more. This Morakniv Basic 511, part of the Mora Craftline Series, will give you the best of both worlds.
Best For Hunting: Elk Ridge ER-300CA
- Include a gutting knife and a skinning knife for multiuse
- Built with many add-on features for convenience, like finger grooves, lanyard hole, finger hole, camo patterned to match with wilderness scenario, and a secure sheath
- Not to sharpen right out of the box before usage
- Rather small -> not suitable for big games.
As a matter of fact, there is no “universal” knife for all tasks in the field. That’s why we prefer to choose a set of (at least) two packs when it comes to hunting knives.
Out of many redoubtable competitors, this Elk Ridge gains the highest scores from our testing.
It includes a 7” straight knife featuring an ultra-long handle with finger grooves for skinning games and a 6 ½” wider knife with a gut hook and a finger hole. This one is ideal for opening and gutting.
Both of them are crafted from 440 stainless steel and as containing more carbon, they are superbly stiff and strong while the edges are ultimately sharp with good retention.
|Elk Ridge ER-300CA Specifications|
Skinning, opening, gutting games
One 7” straight knife
One 6 ½” knife with a gut hook
The straight knife: 3 ½”
The gutting knife: 3-7/8”
440 stainless steel
Set of two hunting knives includes 7-inch straight edge
Blades made of 440 stainless steel for excellent hardness and edge retention
For guys who spend the most time in the field or like to hunt, look no further than this hunting knife set.
Best Overall: Kershaw Cinder (1025X)
- Offer a very pocket-friendly size but balance hand-feel -> perfect for daily use
- The blade contains extra chromium for better endurance, strength, and corrosion resistance
- The secure locking system effectively prevents unwanted blade closure
- The handle can resist slipping, heat and daily abuse quite well
- For ladies with long nails, closing this knife is a bit challenging
- The pivot rivet is prone to pop -> easy to break
This folding survival knife might make you peek-a-poo by its “adorable” size, however, this is what makes it ultra-practical for everyday carry.
As crafted from value-priced high-chromium stainless steel that enhances the steel’s corrosion resistance and endurance, its blade is superbly tough. With extra vanadium in the metal mixture, the handle scales are also added with strength.
For daily use, it’s good at opening and breaking down boxes, stripping small wires, cutting zip ties and so on.
Besides the functionality, it is designed with safety in mind. The secure locking system of this unit highlights two steel plates on the interior of each handle scale so that it can efficiently avoid unwanted blade closure.
The last bonus lies in its handle. While giving an extended length for balanced hand-feel, it’s made of glass-filled nylon material for more strength and stiffness with a stable grip to resist heat and slipping like a dream.
|Kershaw Cinder (1025X) Specifications|
opening packages, cutting zip-ties, breaking down boxes, removing bottle caps, stripping small wire and more
3Cr13 stainless steel
Made of high-performance 3Cr13 stainless steel with good corrosion resistance
Capable of accomplishing many everyday basic tasks
As everyone should equip themselves with a good knife for everyday carry, this Kershaw with highlights on compact size and non-threatening cutting edge is the best candidate.
Best For Rescue: The Atomic Bear Folding Knife
- Feature a plain-edge blade with serrations and good length to satisfy multi-tasks
- Built with a black oxide layer for better wear and impact resistance -> lower maintenance
- Easily open it by one hand while ensuring to meet most national and international two-hand opening regulations
- The deployment is a bit slow
This Atomic Bear folding knife is a great combination of the serrated and the plain-edged blade in addition to a moderate blade length, making it perfect for mission versatility.
While the serrations allow you to cut through rough materials like ropes and seatbelt, its belly is praised for slicing precision that you can pierce through anything. From wood, hunting games, cardboards, to fishing lines and fish.
The blade itself is specifically crafted from 420B stainless steel with an additional black oxide layer for extra durability and impact resistance. Hence, unlike the HC steel, this isn’t easily corroded while lasting much longer.
The dual-sided thumb studs built in this unit, on the other hand, will help you open it by one hand with no difficulty. And it also meets almost national and international two-hand opening regulations.
|The Atomic Bear Folding Knife Specifications|
cut through cardboard, rope, wood, fish, fishing line, deer, seatbelt
420B stainless steel
Built to last
Altered to satisfy many national and international two-hand opening regulations.
Preparing the best for in-case situations is always a must for one’s safety and others’. If you’re in need of a qualified survival knife for rescue, this is the best to go.
Best For Self-Defense: Kershaw RJ Tactical 3.0 1987
- It can be opened smoothly and quickly by one hand
- With black oxide coating, it’s ultra-durable and attractive for style and functions
- Low maintenance and easy to clean
- The belt clasp on its sheath is too tight to use
- Maybe too small for big handed guys
- When the blade is in the locked open position, it’s a bit wobble
Unlike The Atomic Bear folding knife above, this one from Kershaw bolds a torsion bar to deploy in a second. It is also integrated the Kershaw’s revolutionary SpeedSafe Assisted Opening system to let you easily open by one hand with security and smoothness.
In addition to the blade which is specifically designed with less nickel, more carbon to be harder and sharper, this is a good contender for self-defense.
Regardless, the RJ Tactical 3.0 1987 is built to last.
While its 8Cr13MoV steel is praised for excellent durability that can resist both adhesive and abrasive wears, the heavy-duty glass-filled nylon handle highlights increased strength. It can hold up well heat and deliver better grippy hand-feel to the palm, even with wet hands.
|Kershaw RJ Tactical 3.0 1987 Specifications|
Opening easy in any type of tactical setting
Come with a sleek look
Easy to clean
According to the weight, deployment, and ergonomic design, Kershaw RJ Tactical 3.0 1987 has won our Best Self-Defense Knife Choice award.
How To Choose The Best Survival Knives For The Money?
Type of Blade
As it requires better control for survival knives, you should opt for a blade design that positions its tip closer to the centerline. According to this requirement, there are 3 reasonable types of blade to choose from:
Length of Blade
- Different purposes of use will require different specific blade lengths. For example:
Purpose of Use
3.5 – 5
5 – 8
Splitting with bacon; chopping
8 – 10
10 – 14
The handle of a survival knife should be water-resistant (to prevent rot) and tough. Two most common types of materials for a survival knife handle are:
Textured rubber: It is known for superb durability and impact resistance capability to be a good choice for heavy-duty chopping tasks
Fiber-reinforced plastics: These are softer to the hand-feel with better shock absorption but won’t be as tough as the rubber.
Which Brands Make The Best Survival Knives For The Money?
- SOG is a US company specialized in tools and knives, founded in 1986 and based in Seattle. It’s one of the most dependable brands that has been named in honor of the Military Assistance Command, Vietnam - Studies and Observations Group. SOG is short for MACV-SOG
- This Sweden brand has been into the survival knife industry since 1891 – known for manufacturing only the highest-quality knives in Mora. Furthermore, its price range is quite budget-friendly.
- Founded in 1982, Elk Ridge has now been one of the largest wholesale knives producers in the USA. It’s part of Master Cutlery (if you know) – a reliable, long-standing family-owned business specialized in knives.
- Kershaw is known for making high-performance with exceptional quality pocket knives. While trying to provide products at the most cost-effective price range, they also strive to develop many exclusive advanced technologies and innovations, making them stand out in the industry.
The Atomic Bear
- We appreciate that The Atomic Bear even invest for an online Academy to get an insight about practical needs, hence, making only the most functional tactical knives.
Can I use a survival knife for everyday use?
A functional, high-quality survival knife can be with you to work on multi-tasks both indoors and outdoors. That’s why it’s best for everyday use, at least better than the regular folding pocket knives.
Can I use everyday carry knife for survival?
As the tasks for survival are much more complex, not all everyday-carry knives are suitable for this purpose, especially when the needs are different from person to person.
When choosing a survival knife, you can first determine what you want from it and then consider which features can satisfy such requirements. You can consult our buying guide above to learn more.
How sharp should a survival knife be?
Keep the angle between 25 to 30 degrees.
Is a tanto blade good for survival?
Tanto Blades highlight a strong, sharp tip that’s best drilling or making a good chisel so it’s fine for survival, particularly in the wilderness.
Which is better tanto or drop point?
To know which is better for you, it’s essential to learn more about each’s pros and cons:
Extremely strong & ultra-powerful
Quality & functional pommel
No snapping when cutting through a material
Efficiently absorb impacts from piercing -> hard to break
Easy to sharpen, especially in wilderness
Offer extra accuracy when cutting
As the tip is lower, you’ve got better control over it
Have a large belly -> easy for slicing
Straight back helps it a good choice for batoning
Don’t have the belly -> Slicing is harder
As it has a double bevel, which is a bit hassle when sharpening
A bit impractical for daily use
Too broad point to stab
Cutting or stabbing through harder materials
Best for self-defense and survival
Best for hunting and everyday carry
As we all have our own standards when choosing the best survival knife for the money, hopefully, this guide is informative and helpful enough for you. Thanks for reading!