Taving the best folding survival knife is one of the most essential tools if not the most essential tool to have alongside a survival fire starter for survivalists or outdoor enthusiasts. Whether you are going off the grid, building your survival tool kit or simply preparing for camping, scouting or out on a hiking expedition, this tool should be on the top of your list of essentials.
However, not all survival folding knives are made the same. Depending on the type of folding survival knife, the materials used, your needs, as well as a few other things to put into consideration, choosing the right survival folding knife, can be a daunting task (though not at first glance for some). In the effort to make this process a bit easier, we’ve compiled a list of the best folding survival knives out on the market today.
1 Kershaw Blur Folding Survival Knife
The Kershaw Blur, Olive/Black Survival Knife is the knife for anyone seeking absolute reliability. With its secure locking system, reversible pocket clip, stylish yet secure design and SpeedSafe Assisted Opening, this knife is the essential tool for both outdoor recreation enthusiasts and survivalists seeking reliability and security.
Secure Locking System
The Kershaw Blur, Olive/Black Survival Knife features a superior secure locking system ensuring the user the utmost security.
SpeedSafe Assisted Opening
The SpeedSafe Assisted Opening system integrated into the knife’s design allows for an easy one-handed safe opening operation.
Cost and Value
Not only is the Kershaw brand the top of the line, additional features such as high-performance steel, a reversible pocket clip, and durable handle ensure that you’re getting the best folding knife for your money.
2 Smith & Wesson SWMP4L Folding Knife
The Smith & Wesson SWMP4L 8.6in High Carbon S.S. Assisted Folding Knife packs a major punch. This folding Survival knife is durable, dependable and secure, incorporating additional quality features such as a safety lock and glass break.
Rest assured that the Smith & Wesson SWMP4L 8.6in High Carbon S.S. Assisted Folding Knife will never slip due to the security from both the lineral lock and safety lock.
The additional feature of the glass break situated at the bottom of the Smith & Wesson SWMP4L 8.6in High Carbon S.S. Assisted Folding Knife is an extra bonus, setting this folding survival knife apart from others.
Cost and Value
The Smith & Wesson SWMP4L 8.6in High Carbon S.S. Assisted Folding Knife is a folding survival knife of a high standard. With the M.A.G.I.C assisted opening blade, ambidextrous thumb plate, safety lock and glass break, this folding survival knife ensures the best value for buyers.
3 Outdoor Edge Razor-Lite Replaceable Blade Tactical Hunting EDC Folding Survival Knife
With its non-slip grip and one-handed operation, the Outdoor Edge Razor-Lite Replaceable Blade Tactical Hunting Everyday carry Folding Survival Knife is the perfect tool for outdoor enthusiasts and survivalists. This survival knife is effective and easy to use, operating with a push of a button.
One Hand Deployment
With a push of a button, the Outdoor Edge Razor-Lite Replaceable Blade Tactical Hunting EDC Folding Survival Knife blade deploys immediately with absolute ease.
Featuring a lightweight yet sturdy Grivory handle with rubberized TPR inserts, the Outdoor Edge Razor-Lite Replaceable Blade Tactical Hunting EDC Folding Survival Knife proves itself to be both reliable and durable.
Cost and Value
Not only is the design and it’s features to that of a high standard, the Outdoor Edge Razor-Lite Replaceable Blade Tactical Hunting everyday carry knife also features a replaceable blade ensuring the best value for buyers (six additional blades come along with the purchase).
4 Benchmade - 940 EDC Manual Open Folding Tactical Knife
Small enough to be slipped into the tiniest of pockets, the Benchmade – 940 EDC Manual Open Folding Knife, Reverse Tanto Blade folding survival knife is best suited for outdoorsmen and survivalists in search of a portable, reliable and durable folding survival knife.
Everyday Carry, All-Around Utility
With its sleek and efficient design, the Benchmade – 940 EDC Manual Open Folding Knife, Reverse Tanto Blade is the perfect survival knife everyday use, carry and all-around utility.
Accidents happen and in a situation of this folding survival knife failing, buyers of the Benchmade – 940 EDC Manual Open Folding Knife, Reverse Tanto Blade are ensured to never be without a survival knife. With this limited lifetime warranty, you are guaranteed the most value of your buck!
Cost and Value
For its top quality and stylish design, high-grade material, portability, and inclusive use, the Benchmade – 940 EDC Manual Open Folding Knife, Reverse Tanto Blade is a must-have essential for any and all outdoor enthusiasts.
5 Elk Ridge ER-A003 Series Spring Assist Folding Knife
Elk Ridge ER-A003 Series Spring Assist Folding Knife packs a punch! With its stylish black stainless steel black and dark brown pakkawood handle, this is the perfect folding pocket knife for anyone seeking a powerful, yet stylish everyday carry knife.
Spring Assisted, One Hand Deployment
The Elk Ridge ER-A003 Series Spring Assist Folding Knife is spring assisted, operating through one hand deployment. Once deployed, the blade is safely secured in the body, locking itself into place without worry.
The black stainless steel blade and dark brown pakkawood handle compliment one another wonderfully, creating a sleek and handsome design. Not only are both the blade and body beautiful, they’re durable as well.
Cost and Value
For its top quality, sleek and stylish design, high-grade material, and spring assisted one hand deployment, theElk Ridge ER-A003 Series Spring Assist Folding Knife is a must-have for anyone seeking a stylish yet durable knife.
6 SOG Tactical Folding Knife
The SOG Tactical Folding Knife is the emergency folding knife to buy. It features a serrated blade, one hand open and lockback, cord-cutting groove, and more. This folding tactical knife is ideal for survivalists wanting to ensure the utmost usability and utility.
One-Hand Open + Lockback
The SOG Tactical Folding Knife operated with a one-hand open and lock back. When using this knife, the thumb studs serve to access quick deployment, while the lockback ensures that the blade is secured.
Cord Cutting Groove
Perhaps one of the best features of the SOG Tactical Folding Knife is the cord-cutting groove. This is perfect for emergency situations. This groove too functions as a glass breaker, wire stripper, and extra line cutter.
Cost and Value
For its smart design, reasonable price, portability, and ease of use the SOG Tactical Folding Knife is a must-have addition for your next outdoor expedition or everyday carry.
Folding Survival Knife Buying Guide
Portability is a key factor in determining which survival folding knife is best suited for your needs. Both outdoor recreation enthusiasts and survivalists alike know that having a portable folding survival knife is an essential tool for outdoor recreation or survival tool kits. This portability ensures the increased possibility of survival in case of emergencies.
There are differing opinions in regards to defining portability and this should be taken into consideration when purchasing a survival folding knife. Because of this, it’s important to consider where you’ll be storing the knife as well as when you’ll be using the knife. If you are purchasing an EDC or everyday carry survival knives, portability for you may simply mean having a standard knife at your disposal at all times.
Ease of Use
The ease of use is another vital factor to consider when purchasing a survival folding knife. Having a folding knife that is difficult to use, jams or lacks proper deployment can defeat the purpose of purchasing this product. It is important to purchase a folding knife with quick deployment, a standard locking mechanism (for blade security) and if desired, an assisted spring.
The worst-case scenario is if you find yourself in need of the folding knife yet cannot manage to get it to properly deploy. This is a safety hazard and could cost you your life if in an emergency or unsafe situation. This is why ease of use is another vital factor that is important to consider when purchasing a survival folding knife.
A quality folding knife should always be manufactured with top-grade materials. This concerns both the blade, pocket clip and body (as well as the body’s grip) of the folding knife.
You want to find a folding knife with a sharp blade, secure in its body no matter the duration or amount of use. If the blades can be replaced, then that is a plus, however, if not, ensure you purchase a high quality, durable folding knife.
The typical modern-day industry standard is a steel blade (keep in mind however that the steel varies between primarily stainless steel and high carbon tool steels) and oxide coated or aluminum body. Ensure that the pocket clip also is made of quality material as this pocket clip serves for enhanced portability and increased accessibility.
Having an effective folding knife is by far essential. In regards to effectiveness, this is defined by the blades quality, the deployment of the blade from the body as well as the locking mechanism of the blade.
A high-quality spring assisted folding knife is best in terms of effectiveness. A spring-assisted mechanism allows for quick deployment, ensuring your knife is both effective and easy to use.
The locking mechanism ensures that the blade is properly secured in place upon deployment. It too ensures that the blade is secured while being in use. Not all folding survival knives have this feature of effectiveness. Be sure to put this into consideration with choosing your folding knife. Think of your primary intended usage when purchasing.
Regardless of the type of folding knife (be it tactical, traditional or modern), the last thing you need is to purchase a cheaply made folding knife that breaks upon immediate usage. Alongside ease of use, materials, and effectiveness, durability is an incredibly important factor to consider.
A cheaply made folding pocket knife means that it will lack a durable design. Everything comes into play in the design of a folding pocket knife. Each mechanism works in cooperation with the next, that said, the slight malfunction due to a poorly made design or lack of quality material, will result in a null device.
Don’t be steadfast in choosing your next folding pocket knife. Take time to access both the material and effectiveness to ensure that the knife of your choosing is durable. These two components or factors determine the durability of the knife.
Traditional vs. Modern
The type of knife to purchase depends on your intended usage of the folding knife. There are two main types of folding survival knives that are to be put into consideration. A traditional folding survival knife or a modern folding pocket knife.
Traditional Folding Survival Knife
The traditional folding knife serves a purpose for users with specific needs, in particular, to meet the needs of people in specific professions. Certain brands and designs cater to the needs of farmers while certain cater to the needs of white-collar professionals. When purchasing your pocket knife, you will see a clear distinction of this knife through either its model, design or label (and sometimes the brand).
Modern Folding Knife
Modern folding survival knives are just that, modern! Their usage is mainly everyday carry (or EDC for short). They are not particularly designed for high maintenance or laborious tasks. However, these knives when designed with high quality, grade A material, can serve as and even surpass the design quality of traditional knives. Experts recommend modern folding survival knives for the everyday person; someone looking to have a reliable knife always at their disposal.
Considering Your Choice of Steel
It is important to take into consideration which type of steel best suits your needs. Stainless steel and high carbon tool steels both have their own purposes and specific functions. They are both composed of different material so they each have their own pros and cons.
In general, stainless steel blades are not as tough or durable as high carbon tool steel blades. Unfortunately, blades made of this type of steel are most likely to break while under extreme duress in comparison to blades made from high carbon tool steels. Moreover, stainless steel blades are more difficult to sharpen than their counterpart steel, high carbon steel. This is due to them not being as durable. However, stainless steel blades are wonderful at avoiding corrosion as they are significantly less prone to it. They too hold their edge longer than high carbon tool steels.
High Carbon Tool Steels
High carbon tool steels are known and proven to be significantly tougher than stainless steel blades due to their material being that of grain structure. They too can be sharpened if required. However, because of this grain structure, they do not retain their edge as long as stainless steel blades do. Moreover, high carbon tool steels are more prone to corrosion when exposed to the elements.
Other Factors to Consider
This one may sound silly, but a water resistant folding pocket knife is another factor you may want to put into consideration. While stainless steel blades are wonderful at avoiding corrosion, other blades made of different steel material differ. For example, high carbon tool steel blades are prone to corrosion. Depending on your intended usage and or environment, this is a factor to put into consideration.
Keep in mind the type of steel used in the blade’s material and understand the different types of steel. If you are not an expert or new to the survival knives market, settle for a knife with a stainless steel blade to avoid purchasing one prone to corrosion.
Always purchase a high-quality, grade-A material survival folding knife whether it is a traditional, modern or tactic pocket knife. You are always guaranteed to get your money’s worth when choosing quality. Cheaply made folding survival knives or knock offs (be wary some online vendors try to pass off their knock-offs as the real deal) are both not durable and highly ineffective, guaranteed to fail at some point.
We should always remember that not all folding survival knives are made equal. Keep this in mind when purchasing your chosen knife. It is not worth taking the risk of purchasing a cheaply made folding pocket knife with a defective deployment or opening/locking mechanism. This defeats the purpose of having a survival folding pocket knife.
It is important to consider the brand when purchasing your folding pocket knife. Do a quick search on the brand online if you’re wary of their reputation. The online survivalist and outdoor recreation enthusiast communities are very vocal about their favorite and most trusted brands.
Also, keep in mind that there are countless knockoffs posing as popular brands so do be aware of this when making your purchase. If you are unsure of a particular online vendor, it is best to buy the folding pocket knife in-person versus online upon completing your research.
The size of the blade and the blade holder are two more factors to put into consideration before making your purchase. Smaller folding knives, normally have a blade size of about 2.75 inches. Medium folding knives brandish a blade 2.75 to 4 inches, while large folding knives are anything above 4 inches. Depending on your intended use, the size of the blade should be put into consideration.
The blade holder or the body should also be large enough for the user to comfortably hold the pocket knife without issue. It too should be of a large enough size to ensure that the user also has a secure and firm grip on the pocket knife while in use.
As always, accessories are never entirely key factors but they do provide additional benefits and can serve as determiners when making your decision. Some folding knives come equipped with a glass breaker, some a safety lock, some a cod-cutting groove and some with additional blades (if applicable).
On this list, there are several folding knives with said additional accessories or features. These could be your determinants. Nonetheless, in any given situation of emergency, being fully or overly equipped is always better than having nothing at your disposal. You never know when you’ll be in need.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Who makes the best folding knives?
A: Deciding on which brand is best is always subjective to the buyer or user as this varies depending on your intended usage of the pocket knife. There many great brands serving a variety of needs to their buyers. However, the most trusted brands in the market for modern folding knives are Benchmade, Kershaw, and Spyderco. For traditional, refer to Buck or Case Cutlery.
Q: Do you need a permit to carry a pocket knife?
A: The need for a permit in order to carry a pocket knife depends on your state’s law. Do your state-specific research first before purchasing your knife.
Q: What is the best folding knife?
A: The best pocket knife is subjective depending on the user’s intended usage or needs. Traditional pocket knives and modern knives serve different purposes. Know which knife you need first before determining the best knife for you. From there, refer to the brands to make your decision.
Q: What is the best steel for a survival knife?
A: The best knife steel is also subjective as this answer varies depending on your intended use. However, if you are seeking an EDC pocket knife, consider purchasing a knife with a stainless steel blade as they an industry standard for EDC knives.