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Dexter Ewing

Best Clip-Point Knife: Picking The Sharpest Of This Classic Profile

Clip-point blades are one of the most common profiles you will see throughout custom and production knives. You likely know the style, the familiar drop-off of the blade spine to a curved or linear transition that terminates at the blade tip.

The earliest noted clip-point blade style dates back to the Macedonian era. Flint-knapped stone blades in a clip-point shape were discovered from this time period. Today, clip points are found across a lot of knife genres from tactical to EDC to pocket knives to fixed blades.

Pros Of Clip Points

Due to its highly streamlined and optimized blade tip, the clip point has excellent puncturing capabilities. There is more of a true point that helps to penetrate thicker materials with ease. It is more aerodynamic than a drop point and even a spear point. Think of an arrowhead and how it penetrates, and you will get the idea. Clip points are also favored among the tactical crowd because of this characteristic.

The 5.4-inch clip-point blade of the Kizlyar Supreme Caspian provides plenty of sharpened real estate to process camp tasks. Overall length: 10 inches.

The defined point also makes great scoring cuts because placing pressure on the blade tip results in the tip cutting through aggressively on the first cut. So, this blade shape is also one that is favored among those who use their knives for the trades, where having a good knife is imperative to the work at hand.

Cons Of The Clip Point

Conversely, the blade tip being tapered also results in a blade design that has a weaker tip. You cannot have everything, I guess! With a smaller clip-point blade like those found on pocket knives, refrain from any sort of prying with the tip because it will bend or break off entirely.

Clip-Point Styles

It’s interesting to note that there are different variants of the clip point blade. Two of the most recognizable are the California clip point and Turkish clip point.

California: Exhibits a long taper, which originates almost to the blade tang and gradually and progressively tapers down to the blade tip.

Turkish: It has a long taper as well (but not as dramatic as the California style) but also incorporates a little bit of a blade belly as well. The Turkish clip looks very stylish and eye-catching when done right.

You’ll see other variants like a saber ground clip point with a pronounced swedge, and even some fixed fighters with sharpened clip sections for added bite and powerful penetration.


For general-purpose use, nothing beats a clip point for its versatility. You cannot go wrong by selecting a knife with this blade shape. Chances are high that if you are reading this, you already own a few knives that have a clip-point shape. If you don’t have any yet, here’s a rundown of 10 clip point blades knives that you should be on the lookout for and add one (or more) to your collection.

Among The Best Clip-Point Fixed Blade Knives Available Now

Kabar USMC Fighting Knife

Kabar USMC Fighting Knife

This iconic fixed blade has seen action on battlefields the world over. This knife first saw action during WWII and it still is going to this day.

The 7-inch long blade is made from 1095 carbon steel, making it easy to maintain in the field. It’s fuller adds style and strength to the blade. The iconic stacked leather washer handle is both handsome as well as very practical with its deep grooves that enhance grip and the flat metal pommel which is useful for light hammering and crushing tasks. The double guard prevents your hand from sliding up on the blade. As a bonus, each USMC Fighting Knife comes with a leather sheath.

MSRP: $135 Origin: USA

CRKT Minimalist Bowie

CRKT Minimalist Bowie

Designed by custom knifemaker Alan Folts, the Minimalist Bowie is one of Folts’ best-selling custom knives. It is available to the masses in the form of the CRKT version which sports a 2.1-inch long Bowie-style clip-point blade, made from 5Cr15MoV stainless steel.

Its prominent swedge adds style with function, permitting the blade easily penetrate most materials. The deep finger grooved handle has resin-infused fiber scales for light weight and strength. The entire knife is super comfortable to hold and it feels like the knife melts in your hand and remains very secure.
It’s a small fixed blade without the bulk.

MSRP: $45 Origin: China

Schrade Uncle Henry Golden Spike

Schrade Uncle Henry Golden Spike

This one is an older design still manufactured today.

Its 5-inch 7Cr17MoV stainless steel clip point blade is a good example of what we call a California clip point, with its long taper to the blade tip. The handle is faux stag in Delrin, with finger grooves for security and control.

It is capped off at both ends with a brass guard and pommel to offset the overall appearance. This knife will fit the fill of an outdoor knife perfectly and not blow the budget. Each Golden Spike comes shipped with a leather sheath for easy portability.

MSRP: $46 Origin: China.

Cold Steel Trailmaster Bowie

Cold Steel Trailmaster Bowie Clip-Point Knife

This knife commands attention with its sheer size and heavy-duty build.

The Trailmaster Bowie is one of Cold Steel’s most recognizable fixed blades. The impressive 9 ½ inch long clip point blade is made of CPM 3V tool steel for toughness and edge holding. The unsharpened swedge gives the knife its attitude, and a full flat grind allows the Trailmaster to be an effective slicer and chopper as well.

The textured Kray-Ex rubber handle helps the Trailmaster remain in your grip and a double guard up front keeps your hand in place during use. The Trailmaster is adept at chopping and other hard-use outdoor tasks for the campsite.

It is the knife to have with you and instills user confidence when tackling tough cutting and chopping chores.

MSRP: $540 Origin: Taiwan

Condor Tool & Knife Little Bowie

Condor Tool & Knife Little Bowie Clip-Point Knife

Little knife…big attitude! That’s exactly what you get with the Condor Tool & Knife Little Bowie.

The 4.6-inch long blade makes it compact enough to carry comfortably on the belt. Overall length is just over 9.5 inches, making this knife about as long as some of the higher-end tactical folders when open. 1075 carbon steel was selected for the blade, making this knife both tough and easy to maintain. The bead-blasted finish adds a subdued finish for low reflectivity.

The ergonomic-shaped handle has black Micarta scales for a comfortable, all-weather grip. If you like Bowie fixed blades but don’t want to carry a full-size Bowie on the belt, the Condor Little Bowie fits the bill nicely. Each knife is shipped with a sewn leather belt sheath to keep the knife close at hand.

MSRP: $123 Origin: El Salvador.

Among The Best Clip-Point Folders Available Now

Benchmade Crooked River

Benchmade Crooked River Clip-Point Knife

The flagship of their outdoor folding knife line, the Benchmade Crooked River is built tough for the outdoors, with a 4-inch clip point S30V stainless steel blade, anodized aluminum bolsters, and Dymondwood handle scales. The handle has a slight contour to it, making it lay in your grip that much easier.

The knife also features Benchmade’s own Axis Lock crossbar lock system for a safe and secure lockup. The Axis Lock is a Benchmade innovation that allows the blade to rotate smoothly and locks up tight, with very little blade play.

At over 9 inches overall, the Crooked River is a formidable folder that is ready to help tackle your field dressing or camp utility tasks. A steel pocket clip allows for easy carry. A Mini Crooked River is also available, scaling down the Crooked River model to a 3.4-inch blade length, and making it more EDC-friendly.

MSRP: $380 Origin: USA



You want big and brawny? You got it with the SOG SEAL XR! Its 3.9-inch long Bowie style clip point blade is flat ground from premium CPM S45VN high-performance stainless steel. A blade hole and a flipper tab are present to offer two distinct methods of one-handed opening. The handle design is very similar to that of the SOG SEAL fixed blade. The build of the handle is definitely robust and heavy-duty, there’s weight to this knife that you notice when you pick it up.

Weighing in at a healthy 8.2 ounces, the handle has two steel liners, a steel handle spacer with an integrated extension that can be used as a blunt strike tool, and grooved, textured, and traction notches all around. The handle design is made to keep your hand in place. There is an integrated lower hand guard that prevents your hand from sliding forward. The blade lock is SOG’s own XR crossbar lock that offers true ambidextrous operation.

A beefy, wide steel pocket clip rounds out the SOG SEAL XR package. The clip won’t be sprung for sure, even with rough carry. This is by far an EDC folder due to the size and weight but if you need a knife for rough use and outdoor use, the SOG SEAL XR is it.

MSRP: $224.95 Origin: USA

Case Large Stockman 10375

Case Large Stockman 10375

Clip points are found on many different patterns of multi-blade slipjoint knives, such as this Case Large Stockman pattern, model 10375. The main blade is a 3.3-inch long clip point, and two smaller blades – a 2.3-inch long sheepsfoot blade as well as a 2.2-inch spey blade. The blades are ground from Case’s proprietary Tru-Sharp surgical steel, and the handles are of black and green canvas micarta phenolic synthetic for long-lasting durability.

The beauty of knives like these is they are handy to have with you at all times as they sit in the pocket perfectly and they are low profile enough that using them in public won’t raise any eyebrows. These knives are used by everyone from farmers, ranchers, plumbers, electricians, carpenters, warehouse workers, and countless individuals who just want a good solid pocketknife. The main blade does well with opening packages, mail, cutting tape, stripping wire, cutting up cardboard, and any sort of utility or mundane cutting task that tend to pop up in daily life.

The clip point blade is ground fairly thin so it has really good performance characteristics and easily cuts whatever you need to. The Tru Sharp stainless sharpens up quickly and holds an edge fairly well. The stockman pattern is very handy due to the three distinct blade shapes, it’s the perfect pattern to have if you use a pocketknife frequently.

MSRP: $96 (Micarta Handle) Origin: USA

Buck 110 Folding Hunter

Buck 110 Folding Hunter Clip-Point Knife

This knife perhaps is the signature clip-point bladed folder. Its design was innovative back in 1963 when it was released, and its quality and build have withstood the test of time.

Even today, the 110 Folding Hunter is still made and enjoyed by many. The 3.75-inch long blade is of a Bowie shape and is hollow ground from 420HC stainless steel. The handle is of a robust build, with double brass bolsters and a Crelicam ebony, stabilized hardwood handle. The handle definitely has weight to it, and it’s this exact heavy-duty build that has allowed the 110 Folding Hunter to withstand hard use over time, and still hold up beautifully. The lockback design secures the blade in the open position with a satisfying audible click.

The clip-point blade is ideal for field dressing as well as general cutting tasks. The 110 Folding Hunter originally was designed for hunters as an alternative to a fixed-blade hunting knife. But the knife also found favor with those who are in agriculture, the military, law enforcement, and countless knife enthusiasts as well. For all intents and purposes, it was the predecessor to what we know now as the modern tactical folder.

Still produced to this day in the Buck Knives product line, the 110 Folding Hunter has a few variants including a lightweight budget version, a pro-grade modern version with high-end blade steel and handle material, an automatic opening version, as well as countless collector variants available through the years from Buck as well as select Buck Knives retailers as exclusives.

MSRP: $88 (original 110) Origin: USA

Spyderco C81GP2 Paramilitary 2

Spyderco C81GP2 Paramilitary 2

Spyderco’s Paramilitary 2 folder – better known simply as the Para2 – is a downsized version of the company’s popular C36 Military folder.

The Para2 offers the same cutting prowess of the full-size Military model with its full flat grind clip-point blade but in a more compact, pocket-friendlier form factor. The Para2’s blade measures 3.4 inches long and is ground out of premium CPM S45VN blade steel that is known for its enhanced edge-holding capabilities. The handle is textured black G-10 and mimics the ergonomics found on the C36 folder that make this one of the most comfortable and handy midsize folding knives on the market.

With an overall length of 8.2 inches, the Para2 is still large enough to tackle sizable cutting tasks. The blade is secured open by Spyderco’s own Compression Lock system, which permits easy one-hand opening and closing. It also allows the blade to have such smooth, silky-like action. The Para2 is a slender knife and carries well in the pocket.

The large blade hole allows for easy one-hand opening with either hand, even while wearing work gloves.

Performance-wise, this is one of the best in high-end folders as the flat grind clip-point blade sails through thick and tough materials easily. Spyderco engineers its blades to be some of the most efficient cutting tools on that market by paying attention to blade shape and blade grinds and optimizing both to create a cutting tool that is unmatched in both performance and value.

MSRP: $265 Orgin: USA.

Check Out More Buyer’s Guides:

Seven Excellent Drop Point Knives

The Drop Point Blade Is One Of The Most Utilitarian Blade Styles. From Outdoor Knives To EDC Folders, The Drop Point Is The Way To Go.

The drop-point blade is perhaps the most useful shape for outdoor knives. It’s an excellent cutting tool and the point makes it good at puncturing too. Whether it’s cleaning a kill or just opening up a gift box, the drop point is an excellent all-rounder that any knife lover should have.

Ka-Bar/Becker Knife & Tool BK16 Short Becker

Ka-Bar/Becker Knife & Tool BK16 Short Becker
The wide drop-point blade of the KA-BAR/Becker BK16 has the ideal edge geometry to handle precise tasks like whittling.

It is a midsize knife that is easy to carry, handle and use. The 4-inch blade of flat-ground 1095 Cro-Van steel can hold a respectable edge and sharpens quickly in the field. The black textured epoxy coating is non-glare and corrosion-resistant.

The Zytel handle is a typical Becker design—highly ergonomic with a palm swell that fills the hand nicely.  The handle edges are rounded to eliminate hot spots. Part of the tang is exposed for the lanyard hole. There’s also traction notches on the spine to choke up for added control. When you hold the BK16, notice how solid it feels. Even though one of the smaller knives in the line, it still feels capable of handling most cutting or camp tasks.

The sheath is a ballistic nylon with a rigid plastic liner. An accessory pouch holds a small lockblade folder or sharpener. The knife secures in the sheath via two button-snap nylon straps. The BK16 holds snugly inside the sheath with no rattling. Made in China, the sheath is of very good quality.

The BK16 is a workhorse. The drop-point shape is utility friendly and covers a broad range of general camp chores, from food prep to field dressing. The flat grind ensures optimum slicing.

The handle shape is classic Becker. A forward finger recess forms the lower guard and a palm swell mid-handle seats the hand comfortably. All edges are rounded for maximum comfort during prolonged use. The BK16 comes with two sets of scales: black Zytel and coyote tan. I opted for the tan. I love the contrast with the black blade.

I successfully batonned the knife through wood. The knife shrugged the task off and repeatedly came back for more. Whittling was easy. The ergonomic grip is comfortable and you’re able to use the exact pressure needed. The BK16 handles food prep with confidence.

If you need a compact fixed blade capable of tackling large tasks, the BK16 is it. Made in the USA, it has an MSRP of $132. 

Fallkniven F1 Pro

Fallkniven F1 Pro
The Fallkniven F1 Pro’s blade geometry makes baton work almost effortless.  

The Fallkniven F1 Pro features an extra-heavy-duty build and ELMAX high-performance stainless blade steel, which offers enhanced edge holding and toughness. With a 4-inch, convex-ground blade and 8.5-inch overall length, it is a formidable knife, weighing in at 6.1 ounces. 

The blade stock thickness is .19 inches, fairly thick for a knife this size. The full tang extends through the Thermorun rubber handle and is exposed on the butt for excellent torsional rigidity.

The handle sides feature a heavy checkering pattern for an excellent grip with wet or dry hands. The Thermorun material has a sort of a grip-you-back quality, similar to Kraton. The oblong handle shape rests in your grip comfortably so that you feel in control of the knife.

The sheath is well made of heavy-duty Zytel with a nylon webbing belt loop and button-snap retention strap. At first, the nylon webbing may seem a bit cheap but in reality it’s very smart. 

Why? The webbing allows the sheath to move freely at your side in case it gets snagged by branches, or to self-adjust when you are seated in a chair or a vehicle. Most rigid sheaths do not allow for this. Not to mention, the nylon webbing material is weather and moisture-resistant. 

The knife locks into the sheath via the guard as it engages a spring-loaded tab in the sheath’s side. This alone is enough to hold the knife inside, but securing the handle with the snap strap guarantees the knife stays put until you release it. The sheath’s bottom is open to allow moisture to escape and resist blade corrosion.

The F1 Pro and the BK16 are the heaviest-duty ones of the test bunch. The F1 Pro easily completed baton work. The thick blade stock and flat grind split wood like a wedge. For whittling, the convex edge has a ton of bite. It shaved off thick chunks of wood as I carved multiple stakes to a point. It made fast work of the task but, at the same time, was controllable and made precise cuts when needed. 

In some respects it worked as hard as a larger knife. In the kitchen, don’t dismiss the F1 Pro due to the thick blade. It slices vegetables with precision, proof this beast of a knife can handle delicate tasks as well.

There were no problems with the Thermorun handle. My hands got a bit sweaty during outdoor use and the handle never felt like it was going to slip in my hand. The checkered texturing is the right amount and not overly aggressive to your skin.

With an MSRP of $407.95, the F1 Pro ELMAX is one of the most expensive knives you will find in this class, but the chosen materials and highest quality of build offset the cost. You get what you pay for and this is a high-quality tool.

White River Knife & Tool Hunter

White River Knife & Tool Hunter
The blade of the White River Hunter is flat ground for optimal cutting performance, and the steel offers toughness and high edge-retention qualities. 

The White River Knife & Tool Hunter is a simple design, with a 3.5-inch drop-point blade paired with an ergonomic handle.  Blade steel is CPM S35VN high-performance stainless, and the handle comes in several material options. The 8.25-inch overall length is well-suited for field dressing and possible bushcraft use, too. 

The blade is flat ground for optimal cutting performance and the steel offers toughness and high edge-retention qualities. A polished finish makes the blade a snap to clean and also seals micropores, thus helping prevent rust. It’s kind of unusual to see a mirror polish on such a blade due to it being a labor-intensive finish; most such blades have either machine satin, stonewash, or even bead-blasted finishes.

A large finger recess helps index your grip, and a significant palm swell rests the knife in your hand comfortably. The butt has a bird’s beak pommel to prevent your hand from sliding backward.

As for handle material choices, they include three Micarta® flavors: natural burlap, black burlap, and black/OD green. Micarta is an excellent choice for an outdoor knife, as it is dimensionally stable and impervious to the elements and absorption of fluids. It also has a tactile feel that aids in grip retention in all conditions. 

We selected the natural burlap for the test, as it has a very organic appearance, almost a wood tone. The feel is akin to that of canvas Micarta. The sheath is formfitting Kydex, with a molded Kydex belt loop that accommodates belts up to 2 inches wide.

The cutting performance is superb. The knife is efficient and simple to maneuver. The flat-ground blade sails through meat and vegetables. Being a smaller fixed blade means it can be used for more delicate or intricate cutting.

I like the burlap Micarta. It’s very durable, looks great, and has a great in-hand feel. Burlap micarta isn’t common in production knives, so this is a bit rare—for now.

The shorter-length blade handles kitchen utility tasks well. Who knows—this knife might wind up in your kitchen pulling permanent duty when it’s not out with you in the woods. The White River Hunter retails for $180 for any of the handle material options. This is a really good price for a USA-made fixed blade with premium blade and handle materials. If you like refined fixed-blade hunters, the White River Hunter is for you.

Chris Reeve Knives Backpacker

Chris Reeve Backpacker
The Chris Reeve Backpacker handles like a dream. The knife is balanced perfectly and feels like an extension of your hand. It’s very predictable in use and is a slicer by nature. (Dexter Ewing image)

The newest fixed blade from Chris Reeve Knives, the Backpacker is for outdoorsmen and backpack hunters who want a fairly lightweight sheath knife that is quite usable with a smart design and high-end materials. 

It features a 4-inch drop-point blade hollow ground from CPM Magnacut, the latest of the high-performance stainless super steels. Magnacut reportedly has the best edge retention of any high-end blade steel. The Backpacker will go the distance with edge holding. A stonewash finish gives the blade a slight industrial look. Stonewash finishes do a good job of hiding scratches that occur during use.

The handle has a hollowed-out full tang, which helps keep weight to a minimum (3.8 ounces) and improves balance. The scales are canvas Micarta in black or natural. The Micarta is sculpted to provide placement of the hand and fingers, enhancing user comfort and blade control. 

Canvas Micarta has a grippy nature and seems to get better when your hands are wet, unlike other materials that may feel less tactile when wet. Two pairs of hex-head bolts secure the scales which are removable, resulting in a skeletonized fixed blade to further reduce weight and bulk. 

The integral guard formed by the blade’s height is a smart design I really like. It allows you to choke up on the handle for precise control, as well as keeping your hand in place.

The Backpacker comes with a Kydex sheath which locks around the lower portion of the exposed tang that forms the guard. It does not encompass the handle scales as most fixed-blade Kydex sheaths do. This is done on purpose so if you do decide to remove the scales and use the Backpacker skeletonized, the sheath will still work and lock on the knife for safe carry. 

A flat-head screw at the end allows you to fine-tune how tight the sheath locks onto the blade. Not many sheaths have this feature. The rivet spacing allows use of a large Tek-Lok belt fastener (the knife does not come with a provision for belt attachment, so it’s up to the buyer to supply such).

The Backpacker handles like a dream! The hollow grind slices easily. I used the knife to cut meats and vegetables. The cutting performance is predictable, efficient, and precise. It’s like driving a nice European sports car. 

Handle comfort is first class; I love the way the Micarta feels in-hand. It’s light as a feather for a fixed blade of its size, and no doubt the minimal weight does a lot to improve handling. When you choke-up on the handle with your thumb placed on the blade spine, you can feel how the ergonomics work to lock your grip on.

The Backpacker is a high-end, USA-made hunting/camping fixed blade. MSRP: $300. A CRK knife for $300 is a great price, actually, and you get a lot in return, including high-end materials and the company’s design and manufacturing/engineering expertise.

Buck 112 Ranger

Buck 112 Ranger
Buck 112 Ranger

Buck makes great knives, and this folder certainly is one of their best. The Ranger is a variation on the famous 110 Folding Hunter with a drop point instead of the original’s clip point.

The knife is beautiful with an ebony handle and ethically-sourced Crelicam ivory. While the handle is stunning, the star of the show is still the blade. Made from 420 HC stainless with a satin finish, the 3-inch blade is everything you would want in an EDC. With a thick belly and thick tip, the blade slices and punctures confidently.

The heat treat imbues the blade with excellent corrosion resistance and durability. It’s hardened to an HRC 58 so the knife can handle the wear and tear of everyday use with ease. This is a classy knife at a great price.

MSRP: $63.99

Benchmade Bugout

Benchmade BK-2
Benchmade BK-2

When it comes to drop point EDC knives the Benchmade Bugout is one of the most iconic. It was designed for outdoor use which makes it overpowered as an EDC for so many reasons.

There are many versions of the Bugout, and all are excellent, but for this piece we chose the BK-2 for its affordability in relation to other knives in the line.

The BK-2 is a fully blacked out version of the Bugout with a CF-Elite handled married to the CPM-S30V blade. The steel comes in a black Cerakote finish and is treated to a 58-60 HRC. The knife shines in large part thanks to its weight. At just 1.8 ounces, the BK-2 is so light and nimble in the air that it can feel like cutting with air.

It’s the Bugout. It’s great. It’s one of the highest-quality drop point knives on the market.

MSRP: $190

Kizer Drop Bear

Kizer Drop Bear

This knife was released over the summer and it is excellent. We have already written an in-depth review of the Drop Bear, and it’s worthy of a second mention.

The 154CM steel blade is meted to an aluminum handle. At 3.8 ounces it’s a substantial little knife that can handle the day-to-day tasks asked of it and can even be used as a kitchen knife in a pinch. 

The knife’s clutch lock, Kizer’s newly-adopted Axis-style lock, is fun to use and keeps the blade secure at all times. This is an excellent new addition to the world of drop point pocketknives.

MSRP: $158

Editor’s Note: Mike Abelson provided content for this piece.

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You Ought To Auto

This Quartet Of Automatic Knives Open In A Flash And Run The Gamut When It Comes To Their Versatility

Automatics fascinate many knife fans and non-knife fans alike.  Deploying the blade rapidly regardless of the situation is very important. There’s no fumbling around for the thumb stud, thumb disc, or blade hole—press the button and you’re ready to rock and roll. 

Pro-Tech Terzuola ATCF Folder

Pro-Tech Terzuola ATCF
The Pro-Tech Terzuola ATCF marries a tough working blade with an ergonomic handle design and an integral guard. 

Pro-Tech won a record-tying three BLADE Magazine Knife-Of-The-Year® awards at BLADE Show 2022 (September BLADE®, page 12), one of them Knife Collaboration Of The Year with Bob Terzuola for the Pro-Tech Terzuola ATCF Folder. The ATCF—short for Advanced Technology Combat Folder—is Bob T’s signature custom design and has been around for many years.

The 3.5-inch drop-point blade offers a high degree of utility. The handle features an integral guard and an ergonomic gripping area that is both comfortable and secure and works in conjunction with the blade spine thumb ramp. The blade material is CPM MagnaCut, a relatively new stainless steel that reportedly has the best edge holding of all high-performance blade steels.

The knife has an aluminum frame with an integral bolster, various handle material options such as G-10, Micarta®, and carbon fiber, and hardwoods like ironwood and maple burl. The push button inlay matches the handle material. Each knife comes with a distinctive, milled titanium pocket clip designed by Bob T. It screws to the handle from the inside for a clean, no-screw appearance. The downside is in the unlikely event you break the clip, you will have to return the knife for repair since it requires disassembly to get to the screws.

For this article, I selected Pro-Tech’s tuxedo configuration of the Terzuola ATCF. The handle consists of a black bolster with ivory paper Micarta. The firing button has an inlay of ivory Micarta to match.

Don’t let the upscale appearance fool you—the Pro-Tech ATCF can get dirty. The blade cuts easily and has the right amount of belly to facilitate slicing. The swedge on the spine enables the tip to penetrate and provides a slightly aggressive look. The handle has an integral forward guard. Along with the blade spine thumb ramp, it allows you to choke up for extra control.

MSRPs vary depending on handle material. All-aluminum-frame models are around $600, and the custom shop 416 stainless steel handle ones go for four figures.

“Bob and his wife Suz have been an absolute pleasure to work with,” noted Dave Wattenberg, Pro-Tech founder and president.  “I’m forever grateful that he shared not only his iconic design with us, but took the time to share his love for knifemaking with my entire team here, and gifted each of us with a signed copy of his book.”

Microtech Brachial

Microtech Brachial
The Brachial is very effective as a slicer due to the blade shape. Food processing made easy! (Dexter Ewing image) 

Designed in conjunction with Bastien Coves, aka Bastinelli Knives, the Brachial by Microtech is an exciting mix of tactical ferocity and sex appeal.

 “Bastien is extremely talented,” observed Tony Marfione, Microtech co-founder and president. “His designs are not only works of art but are original and purpose-driven.” Marfione and Coves have been good friends for a long time, which is extremely important when it comes to collaborating on a knife design.

Boasting a heavy Persian influence, the Brachial’s 3.25-inch blade is premium M390 stainless steel for enhanced edge holding. The handle is machined T6-6061 aluminum for strength and minimal weight. Pockets machined inside the handle further reduce weight, making the Brachial a pleasure to carry and use. 

A rugged steel pocket clip totes the closed knife blade tip up and right-handed. A frag pattern machined in the surface of the handle’s left side enhances grip traction, and there’s a small patch of frag on the clip side, too. The steel spacer adds strength to the handle, which has an integral lanyard hole.

Once you grip the handle, it’s quite evident the Brachial’s curves are not merely for show. The curvature seated the handle inside my hand as if it were made for it. The curved blade slices with great effectiveness. The flow of the blade from the handle enhances a sweeping cutting motion, with the edge presenting itself prominently to the target.

Microtech bills the Brachial at home hunting and outdoors equally as it is tactical. The upswept blade serves well at field dressing/processing game and food prep. The flat grind permits the blade to sail through media and presents a very aerodynamic profile.

I like the Brachial’s action. Once you press the button, the blade rockets out of the handle to the open and locked position, so hold on tight! I appreciate the shape of the firing button. Most companies use a round one and that works just fine, but a non-round shape is rarely seen. Microtech does this type of button on the Stitch auto as well. Once the blade locks open it is locked for sure. There’s no play in any direction, so the knife can be used with confidence.

The pocket clip carries the Brachial comfortably, and the curved grip allows the closed knife to sit in the pocket perfectly. Hence, as large as the folder is, you barely know it’s with you. While the size may not be ideal for EDC for a lot of folks, take comfort knowing that in case you do EDC it, the knife carries like a smaller folder. The clip is also heavy-duty—you’re not going to snag this one on obstacles or break it.

The Brachial sliced fruit and vegetables well. Outside the kitchen, it made very quick work of cutting cardboard boxes. I even took it into the woods to see how effective it would be as an outdoor knife. It did surprisingly well, including whittling points on sticks for makeshift tent pegs. The blade had plenty of bite into the wood and generated large shavings. The Brachial is an effective all-around cutting tool. Made in the USA, it has an of MSRP of $500. 

Heretic Knives Wraith

Heretic Knives Wraith
The Heretic Wraith offers the option of a partially serrated blade that can power through such tough materials as nylon webbing.

Heretic Knives won the Manufacturing Quality Award at BLADE Show ’22, a solid testament to the company’s commitment to excellence in its entire line. An example is the Wraith, a full-size side-opening auto. There are two blade options: a tactically oriented tanto or a more utilitarian clip point. Both are 3.6 inches and complete larger jobs easily. Blade material for the base model Wraiths is ELMAX, a high-end particle steel of European origin. It has very good edge holding and muscles through tough media.

The auto has a lack of assembly screws in the traditional locations. That means the aluminum grip is machined from one billet. Since it’s integral, it’s quite strong. A carbon fiber bolster simplifies final assembly by allowing full access to the pivot. The clip side of the handle has no bolster. This is the Wraith’s signature look. The handle’s left side features a checkerboard pattern for traction.

A press of the large, rounded/rectangular firing button deploys the blade. The button has a matching checkerboard texture to provide a sure grip. The blade pivots on caged bearings for a velvety opening. Blade lockup is secure. 

Even the pocket clip is nice—one-piece-milled titanium that features a single ball bearing pressed into the end to help hold the knife on the pocket. The clip is attached using a single hex-head screw, and the clip’s base sits inside a machined pocket to prevent the clip from rotating and working loose.

Everything about the Wraith clicks. The fit and finish is superb, the blade sits dead center when closed, the action is buttery smooth and the handle is a one-piece billet. The knife is chockful of cutting, piercing power. The serrated part of the edge will chew through most anything, and the plain edge portion does well with general cutting tasks.

The tanto blade’s secondary angled edge can be used as a light-duty scraper. The handle is plenty comfortable thanks to the chamfers and contours in the right places.

There are no problems with the Wraith in the performance department. The model in the two-tone black ELMAX tanto blade, billet aluminum handle, carbon fiber bolster, and the battle-worn pocket clip has an MSRP of $385. Prices vary slightly depending on the configuration. All Heretic knives are made in the USA.

Hogue Knives Ballista

Hogue Knives Ballista
The Hogue Ballista is a straightforward working design that makes a great utilitarian folder. The 154CM drop-point blade accommodates a wide variety of cutting tasks. Note the finger groove just before the choil that results from the junction of blade and handle that the author mentions in the story.

The Hogue Knives Ballista is a straightforward working knife with a 3.5-inch drop-point blade of 154CM stainless steel. The blade lends itself well to a variety of cutting tasks with the generous belly and a defined point with the ability to pierce if necessary. The handle is T6-6061 aluminum for light weight and strength. 

A series of traction grooves milled into the handle enhance grip in all weather conditions. Available in anodized colors of black and blue, the Ballista is also available in a 3.5-inch tanto blade. Either blade comes in a stonewash or a black Cerakote finish. A partially serrated model is available in the all-black tanto version only. The stonewash finish blades come with the blue anodized handle and the black Cerakote blades have black handles.

Blade deployment is sure and quick with the press of a button. A sliding button safety prevents accidental blade deployment.  Whichever version you choose, the Ballista comes with a nice, highly functional clip. It’s a fold-over deep-carry style and has louvers on it. They look cool and provide a no-slip grip when pulling the knife from the pocket. 

As a nice visual touch, a USA flag is laser engraved at the top of the clip, proudly stating country of origin. Two T6 Torx screws secure the clip to the handle, which switches easily to accommodate lefties.

It may not have the tactical edge in appearance, but this is a no-nonsense working knife. The 154CM has long been an industry standard for high-end blade steels. While the newer CPM steels dominate today’s high-end factory knives, 154CM has the advantage of not being as persnickety when it comes to resharpening. It’s easy to maintain, especially in the field.

The handle fit my hand comfortably and is flat to maximize portability. I love how the juncture of the handle and blade form a finger groove when the knife is open. I find myself using the groove to steady the knife during cuts that require it. The flat grind, a great choice in general for working folders, allows the blade to be thin yet have enough meat for strength. The Ballista excels at general work and maybe even as a folding hunter. MSRP in the stonewash, drop-point, plain-edge blade, and blue anodized handle is $189.95.

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East Beasts: Four Parangs Built To Last

This Quartet Of Knives, Inspired By The Parang Of The Malay Archipelago In Southeast Asia Are Tough, Rugged Fixed Blades.

There’s something about large blades with an Eastern flair, an exotic look, and that offer devastating function. They generally are built stouter and able to complete multiple hard-use tasks beyond those of a machete. Such knives clear vines and weedy vegetation, take out small saplings, and split wood for campfires. They are equal parts tool and, if necessary, weapon.

Condor Tool & Knife Pack Golok

Batoning the Condor Tool & Knife Pack Golok is easy. The convex edge bites right in and tackles the task with gusto.  

Originating in the Malay Archipelago, the golok is used primarily in Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines. Varying in size and weight, it is typically anywhere from 10 to 20 inches long. Often shorter and heavier than machetes, the golok is used for bush and branch cutting. Cutting edges tend to be convex, preventing the blade from being stuck in green wood. Carbon steel is often the preferred blade material, usually with a softer temper for ease of sharpening.

A good modern production example is the Condor Tool & Knife Pack Golok. The 11-inch upswept blade is 1075 carbon steel with a convex edge great at not sticking in green wood. The handle curves down near the butt and flares out a bit to prevent the knife from sliding out of your hand while chopping. The rich brown appearance of the walnut handle material elevates the Pack Golok’s appearance. Three large brass rivets secure the walnut slabs to the tang. A thong tube provides a hole for a lanyard.  The overall length is 17 inches, long enough to tackle heavy work but not too long for belt carry or easy storage.

In use, the Pack Golok feels very sturdy and comfortable. The large diameter of the rounded walnut handle turns down a bit to help keep your hand in place. The generous diameter makes the handle easy to grip and fills the hand nicely. You feel in control of the knife at all times.

The solid convex grind puts a maximum amount of meat behind the edge for durability and helps resist chipping and rolling through heavy chopping.  The edge is very sharp and easy to maintain so the knife serves well in the field.

The Pack Golok performs like a larger knife without being one. Of the test bunch, it’s the best chopper. It also excels at baton work. Conversely, it works just as well for finer tasks such as whittling.

The leather sheath is extremely well done. It features two button snap closures to secure the knife. Unsheathe it by simultaneously lifting the handle and pulling it out. There’s a large loop for belt carry. 

MSRP: $107

DPx Gear HEFT 12 Chop

Chopping is what the DPx Gear HEFT 12 Chop does. It’s like an axe—swing up, let gravity take the blade down and it strikes with plenty of inertia. Chopping is almost fun with the HEFT 12.

DPx Gear’s HEFT 12 Chop is a serious piece of kit. Robert Young Pelton, aka RYP, is the founder of DPx Gear, a noted journalist, and a documentary film director who spent considerable time in Iraq and elsewhere covering various conflicts. Based on the parang, which also is a favorite in the Malay Archipelago, the HEFT 12 Chop is optimized for cutting woody growth. Sporting a sweet-spot belly for chopping and forward-weighted balance, the parang is a multi-use cutting tool that can be quite handy in the wilderness.

In the HEFT 12 Chop, RYP wanted a tool that would serve as a machete, hatchet, and large survival knife all rolled into one. As a result, one knife can be carried instead of several. This is especially beneficial on long treks—the old “less is more” maxim. 

The 12.5-inch blade is flat-ground D2 tool steel, a proven and highly consistent performer for hunting and survival knives. A black mil-spec blade coating enhances corrosion resistance and low reflectivity. The green G-10 handle is 3D machined and contoured for comfort with no hot spots to speak of. The grip turns down and flares out somewhat to act as a catch and prevent the hand from sliding backward. Three large Torx-head screws fasten the G-10 slabs to the full tang. There’s also a lanyard hole in the exposed tang. A single guard keeps the hand from sliding forward.

At 18.6 inches overall, the HEFT 12 Chop is a formidable cutting tool. Made in Italy by Lionsteel, it looks great with the black blade and OD green handle. When you lift the HEFT 12 Chop, you immediately notice the heavy blade-forward balance. This enhances chopping, building momentum, and using gravity to your advantage as you swing the blade. If you go into it with all muscle, trust me, you will get tired. Relax and let gravity do the job.

Rest the guard on your hand as if you are choking up and let the handle pivot a bit in your paw for additional power. A semi-loose grip works best—or at least it did for me. As you chop you can feel the power with each blow and where the blade’s sweet spot is (just behind the angled tip). The HEFT 12 takes out smaller and thinner vegetation with abandon—a testament to RYP’s design vision.

This is a wonderful blade for baton work. You can use the length for leverage as you pound the spine. The full flat grind is like a wedge, splitting wood effectively and quickly. The HEFT 12 Chop does not come with a sheath. It’s a bit on the pricey side but the design is backed by RYP’s years of real-world experience.

MSRP: $375

APOC Chop House

The APOC Chop House is a good chopper, though the author indicated the handle does raise some hot spots. Wearing gloves is a way around that.

Boasting a flared reverse-tanto-style tip, the Chop House from APOC Survival Tools is based on the dao, which originated in China as a single-edge sword primarily used for slashing and chopping. The blade’s moderate curvature and angular tip are effective for thrusting. A 12.75-inch blade and overall length of 18 inches puts the Chop House right in the middle of machete territory. It boasts 9260 carbon blade steel, full-tang construction, and a black G-10 handle. A black oxide coating reduces glare and enhances rust protection.

Featuring 3D-machined and contoured facets, the handle is certainly one of the knife’s most interesting elements. Three sets of Torx®-head screws fasten the G-10 slabs to the tang. A prominent finger groove trails a recessed grip area, and the handle flares out to create a catch for your hand, stopping rearward sliding. 

An integral double guard provides additional protection. Wrap your hand around the handle and feel your fingers nestle in and lock into place. Depending on your hand size, you might feel some hot spots around the palm. In fact, those with bigger hands might find the grip objectionable.

The Chop House feels agile and has more of a neutral balance than the rest of the test bunch. As a result, it excels more at such machete tasks as cutting tall weeds, grass, vines and maybe taking out the occasional sapling. To be an effective chopper, the balance must bias toward blade-heavy, something the Chop House does not do. It has a balance more typical of a standard machete. This isn’t bad, it just means carefully selecting what you use it for.

The factory edge did not last long out of the box and I wound up resharpening the blade to my liking. It might be wise to apply your own edge before putting the knife to use as well. 

MSRP: $159

Fox Knives Parang

Don’t let the Fox Parang’s short length fool you. It chops quite well, with plenty of bite to the blade.

The Fox Knives Military Division (FKMD) Parang is an outstanding example of a compact fixed blade that serves as a chopping, camp, and kitchen knife while remaining easy to manipulate and carry. Taking design cues from the traditional parang with the forward-weighted feature, the 7-inch blade has a bulbous, rounded tip great for slicing and as a skinning knife if need be. 

The N690 stainless blade steel has a layer of black Cerakote® for additional corrosion protection. N690 is higher-end steel that exhibits an excellent balance of edge holding, corrosion resistance, and sharpening ease.

The ergonomic handle is Forprene, a molded thermoplastic tacky to the touch. Several large scallops on the grip section accommodate the user’s fingers comfortably. Along with the main groove, the largest scallop seats the index finger. This locks in your grip and the rest of the fingers fall naturally into place. The tang has a choil and gimping ahead of it to promote a secure choke-up grip for finer cutting tasks that require additional control. Though the handle is boxy, the edges are rounded to soften things up.

In action, the Parang—one of this issue’s cover knives—is impressive. As a chopper, the blade bites in deep and hard. The flat grind and excellent edge quality out of the box help make this possible. The Fox entry can give some larger knives a serious run for the money in terms of chopping effectiveness. When you choke up, tasks that require control like whittling are as easy as chopping. The knife feels comfortable and balanced in the choke-up grip. The large blade belly slices very well and the grip is no slip.

The Forprene handle mitigates some shock from impact when chopping. Its slightly tacky quality makes for a good grip with wet, dry, hot, or cold hands. Some may think the handle material looks cheap but the Forprene offers function rather than aesthetics—crucial when considering an outdoor blade for hard work. I wear gloves when using big fixed blades and even with gloves, the Forprene still felt very secure.

The Parang seems the most useful of the review models as it serves well as a chopper/camp and kitchen knife. If you stash a chopper in your vehicle, the compact length makes it ideal for the role. You can do the same with the other test knives but their additional length may pose an issue.

A very nicely made ballistic nylon sheath with Kydex liners for rigidity and protection from blade puncture comes standard. A wide dual-snap retention strap fastens around the handle. A smaller strap secures the knife at an additional point below the main retention straps. 

This might seem redundant but when wearing the Parang on your belt in the wilds, you don’t want it to exit accidentally! A loop accommodates a variety of belt widths. There are MOLLE attachment points and a leg tie, too.

One drawback: the sheath is OD green and the Forprene handle is tan. I’d prefer the handle color to match the sheath. An aluminum box with a snap-on lid that contains common assorted survival items is included. 

MSRP: $365

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Bowie Beauties: Three Quality Factory Bowie Knives

The Bowie Is A Beloved, Historic Knife That Continues To Inspire Makers Today. This Trio Of Factory Bowies Stands Out. 

Perhaps no other pattern in knife history has as rich a legacy as the bowie. It is a highly recognizable design featuring a large blade in a variety of shapes, some of which have a prominent swedge, and handles of varying designs, often with a guard.

The pattern dates back to 1827 as a knife given by Rezin Bowie to his legendary brother, BLADE Magazine Cutlery Hall-Of-Fame® member Jim Bowie, the famous American pioneer who participated in the Texas Revolution and who was killed in the Battle of the Alamo on March 6, 1836. Jim Bowie was a principal in the Sandbar Fight of Sept. 29, 1827, a melee that established the bowie’s reputation as a fearsome combat knife that lives on to this day.

Boker Magnum Giant Bowie

Whittling is easy for the Giant Bowie. The knife is well balanced and agile in hand.  

The bowie remains a widely sought-after pattern for knife collectors and users alike. Its commanding stature attracts attention. A striking example is the Boker Magnum Giant Bowie, Magnum being Boker’s more affordable knife line made in China.

Boasting a stacked leather-washer handle with integrated finger grooves, polished double guard and pommel, and clip-point blade with a pronounced swedge, the Giant Bowie looks all business. 

The 8-1/8-inch blade is 440A stainless steel. The handle is comfortable and the finger grooves index your grip nicely. The leather is covered with a clear coat that prevents moisture from soaking in and ruining the handle. The buttcap screws down to compress the washers.

One drawback is I cannot find any evidence that the handle is of a full-tang construction. It doesn’t have the balance of such in hand, as it is slightly blade heavy. As a result, use this one with caution—meaning no use bordering on abuse.

The black leather sheath has a single retention strap with a button snap. A small accessory pocket also has a button-snap closure and contains a sharpening stone. The stone is too small for major resharpening but can be used for quick field touch ups. 

MSRP: $65.95

Spyderco FB44GP Respect Bowie

The Respect chops with controlled reckless abandon and makes chunks of wood fly. The massive stock thickness gives a blade-heavy feel, an excellent trait for such tasks

Spyderco’s FB44GP Respect Bowie pays homage to classic bowie design, hence its name. Sal Glesser, company founder and BLADE Magazine Cutlery Hall-Of-Fame® member, designed this beast to be his version of the bowie executed in modern materials and manufacturing techniques.

Incorporating massive .3-inch-thick CPM 154 stainless steel, the 7-inch blade is fully flat ground. While the blade is massive, the distal taper of the spine lightens it progressively toward the tip and makes it feel agile in hand. The ergonomic G-10 handle has rounded edges, which make for a very comfortable grip. 

A stainless steel double guard provides ample protection from your hand sliding up on the blade, and acts as a positive stop for choking up for additional control. You can move your grip rearward on the handle to shift the balance point to where the feel is blade heavy for chopping tasks. Torx® screws fasten the scales to the full tang securely.

The Respect makes an excellent expedient chopper, with the flat-ground blade providing excellent bite into saplings. It aggressively eats away at green wood, sending chunks flying with each blow. Toning it down, the blade makes a great slicer with the graceful curve of the cutting edge that terminates at the tip. It sliced foam blocks easily, an indication that the cutting edge quality and blade grinds are spot on. There is enough of a defined tip to perform scoring jobs if needed. The blade can do some serious penetration as well. There were no problems with cutting performance.

The heavy-duty sheath is sewn leather. A brass frog helps secure the leather retainer strap over the guard to prevent the knife from falling out of the sheath. A belt loop on the reverse side provides further ease of carry should you opt for it. 

The Respect is a high-end production knife through and through and very well engineered at that. Made in Golden, Colorado, at the Spyderco facility, the bowie comes with a zippered padded storage pouch.

MSRP: $616

A.G. Russell Knives California Bowie

Though the knife is not blade heavy, chopping with the California Bowie is possible. The edge quality and flat grind make the blade bite into green wood easily. You will have to use more deliberate muscle action than relying on a heavyweight blade.  

Built in the A.G. Russell Knives shop in Rogers, Arkansas, the California Bowie is based on an English-style pattern popularized by knifemaker D.E. Henry in the 1960s and ’70s. Henry was thought by many to be the best at the time in crafting this style of bowie, the end result being a handmade knife of meticulous fit and finish that garnered him fans worldwide. ]

The 8.5-inch clip-point blade is 154CM stainless steel with a full flat grind. Stock thickness is .185 inches, thick enough to handle the heavy work but not so thin as to be fragile. The stainless steel guard fits tight to the tang with no gaps.

The handle is beautiful wild African wild olivewood, and there is also a version with African Ironwood scales as well. The material is a blonde color with a highly contrasting grain for a stimulating visual effect. Red fiber liners give a pop of color, something seen more in custom knives than production. 

The wood scales are pinned to the full tang, and the inward curved handle lines make the knife sit in your grip very nice and secure. It may be a boxy style handle but the way it is executed makes for a comfortable feel. There is no lanyard hole.

The sheath is done right: brown leather with contrasting white stitching and a simple button-snap retention strap. The shade of brown complements the color of the scales quite well. Knife and sheath are a “10” in overall appearance. Another nice touch is the satin finish throughout, including the blade, double guard and tang, so there’s that continuity.

The California Bowie is a real slicer. The knife is balanced in proportion to the hand and feels agile and very controllable, though it is not much of a chopper due to the lack of a blade-heavy feel. If you are primarily slicing, this knife is for you. It may be a looker but it’s also a really nice user. 

MSRP: $395

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BEST SURVIVAL KNIFE: These 10 Blades Could Save Your Skin

Survival Knives Need To Be Versatile, Durable, And Strong. These 10 Blades Are Everything You Could Ask For When In A Sticky Situation

A survival knife is most often a heavy-duty fixed blade built to withstand hard use in multiple roles, generally in the wilderness. It must be able to whittle, carve, chop, slice, and maybe dig. It also holds down the regular duties of a knife and assists in all cutting chores. Additionally, if your back is up against a proverbial wall, it should have the chops to serve as a weapon. 

Survival Knife Features

When looking for a quality survival knife there are four key things you need to look for: the quality of the steel, handle material, the robustness of the guard, and the caliber of the sheath.


As with all knives, it all starts with the blade steel. Carbon steel and stainless steel are both used with survival knives, both have their pros and cons.

Carbon steel requires a bit more diligence to maintain and keep from rusting but offers ease of in-field sharpening. Stainless steels are more resistant to the elements and, if you spend the money, the higher grades offer enhanced edge-holding capabilities. 


Next, you want to look for a knife that has a comfortable handle. This is key, given you’ll use the knife for extended periods of time.

What you need to consider is:

  • How is the handle contoured?
  • Does it feel good in your hand?
  • Is it made of synthetic or natural handle materials?

Personally,  I would stay away from leather because of its nature to soak up moisture. I would look to some sort of synthetic like G-10, micarta, or reinforced thermoplastic.  These synthetic materials are dimensionally stable and are not affected by changes in temperature, humidity, and exposure to UV. 


The guard keeps your hand in place by preventing any forward movement while the knife is in use. You might be able to wrap a finger around the guard to further choke up on the handle for extra control during cutting or whittling. 

Given survival knives are tasked with a number of rough-and-tumble duties, it’s wise to consider an ample guard—at least for the sake of safety.


Not as sexy, sheaths are equally as important as the knife itself. Essentially, the accessory helps protect the knife when not in use, as well as provides a means of portability. Most attach to a belt or MOLLY field, in the case of a backpack. 

Materials such as Kydex provide the best options. Why? The thermoplastic is light, form-fitted to the knife blade, and impervious to the elements. What more could you ask for?

You might also notice some sheaths are made of ballistic nylon with a hard plastic liner inside to prevent the knife from destroying the sheath. These are also a good alternative and are more cost-effective along with being fairly weather resistant. 

Leather and other natural materials on the other hand, generally ware out quickly with active use. Worse yet, they retain moisture, which can be hell on a blade—especially a carbon-steel blade.

What To Avoid When Buying A Survival Knife

Yes, survival knives come with a host of features but there are some that are useless or worse. These three features aren’t worth the price.

Spine Serrations

Ugh … serrations on the blade spine. Admittedly, some like having serrations as a cutting option for certain materials. However, generally blade spine serrations offer limited use at best and are more of a hazard because of how close they are to your hand.

Honestly, if you need serrations, bring along a serrated folding knife like a Spyderco Delica or Endura. Problem solved.

Blade Holes

Alright, these serve no function at all, except they make the knife look cool. That might be alright for a collection novelty, but not a wise course when in the wilds.

Worst of all, the holes in the blade do nothing but weaken it. Stay away from them. 

Odd Blade Designs

Like blade holes, they may look cool but rarely do they enhance the function of a survival knife. We’re striving for utility here, not unique looks.

Stick with the traditional blade styles—spear point, clip point, and drop point. These are proven and do the job perfectly.

10 Best Survival Knives

There are countless makers producing dozens of different survival knives. These 10 stand out from the pack for either their features, their toughness, or their price.

Mora Garberg

Survival Knife Mora

Mora is the king of value when it comes to inexpensive survival knives. Most come in at less than $50, but you are hardly compromising in quality.

I personally favor the Garberg, which has a 4.3-inch carbon-steel blade with a Scandi grind and a full tang through the handle. 

The blade spine is at 90-degree, designed specifically for use with a ferrocerium fire starting rod. The dual-molded handle is made from weather-resistant polyamide. Its unique Multi-Mount sheath is included and fastens the Garberg to an ATV or snowmobile, as well as a belt.

It’s a tough too, so you are getting a lot of knife for your money.  It’s made in Sweden and sold worldwide.

MSRP: $111.99 

Cold Steel 49LCK-DTBK SRK Survival Rescue Knife

Survival Knife Cold Steel

A long time classic of the Cold Steel product line, this knife is a proven, solid performer in the outdoors. Its 6-inch clip point blade is made of SK-5 carbon steel and attached to a textured desert tan Kray-Ex rubber-like handle that is textured for a great all-weather grip. 

The blade has a black, epoxy-coat for low visibility and high weather resistance. And its single lower handle guard indexes to the grip.

The SRK is suitable as a hunting knife, survival knife, or even a fixed blade for military use. It’s a very handy design that excels at camp utility and food prep.

MSRP: $61.95

Gerber Ultimate Survival

Gerber Ultimate Survival

This is an all-business design from Gerber Gear.

The stainless-steel blade provides ample resistance to the elements and holds an edge well. Its drop point design has plenty of belly for slicing and the partial run of serrations adds a bit more utility to the knife. 

The handle material is rubber for an excellent non-slip grip. The large finger recess indexes your grip and allows for maximum user comfort. The butt cap of the handle is steel and can be used as a light-duty hammer when needed. 

The hybrid nylon webbing and molded plastic sheath is durable and includes a fire starter and blade sharpener.

Superior handle ergonomics paired with a useful blade shape and partial serrations are what makes this one a winner. 

MSRP: $62

Benchmade Anonimus 539GY

Benchmade Anonimus 539GY

This is Benchmade‘s new high-end fixed blade, with some excellent features. First and foremost, high-end CPM CRUWEAR tool steel, which provides ultimate wear resistance and edge retention. 

The flat ground, 5-inch long drop point blade offers plenty of belly for effective slicing and cutting. Notches on the blade spine provide a secure non-slip grip for your thumb or index finger, and the single, lower guard keeps your hand in place. 

The Anonimus is secured by a molded Boltaron belt sheath very similar to Kydex. The G-10 handle sports machined-in texturing for a non-slip grip. 

MSRP: $290

CRKT Catchall

CRKT Catchall

Designed by custom knifemaker Russ Kommer, the Catchall by CRKT is on the heavy-duty side of things.

This broad chopper-style blade measures 5.5 inches in length and has a sheepsfoot-style blade. The blade is made from 8Cr13MoV stainless steel, which holds a decent edge and provides excellent corrosion resistance.

The ergonomic handle features finger grooves for a secure hold, and the handle material is rubberized glass-reinforced nylon. The Catchall might not be the type of knife for lighter cutting jobs but rather more intense tasks, such as chopping and baton work for splitting kindling for firewood. 

The Catchall would be great paired with a lighter duty survival knife dedicated to finer chores. The sheath is a glass-reinforced nylon variation with ballistic nylon webbing belt loops. A single webbing strap with button snap holds the knife inside the sheath securely

MSRP: $79.99

Buck Knives 119 Special

Buck Knives 119 Special

This is one of Buck‘s signature fixed blades. Sporting a 6-inch-long Bowie-style clip point blade made from 420HC stainless steel, the 119 Special has found its home in the outdoors with hunters and outdoorsmen alike. 

The handle is a black phenolic resin, which is durable and highly weather resistant. And the knife comes with a black leather sheath. The handle butt cap and double guard are made from aluminum. The 119 Special is capable of handling both camp utility chores like whittling and baton work. The piece is also balanced enough to handle food prep.

MSRP: $96

Condor Knife and Tool Pack Golok

Condor Knife and Tool Pack Golok

The Pack Golok from Condor Tool And Knife is a devastatingly effective chopping tool, with its 11-inch long, convex-ground 1075 carbon-steel blade attached to a rounded walnut wood handle that adds tons of user comfort and control. 

The upswept blade profile adds forward weight to the balance, which is key to the performance of this knife. It can take down saplings with ease and slay its way through weedy growth like a machete. It also handles baton work like a champ.

The Pack Golok is much more than just a machete and more useful than one, and it comes with a leather sheath and swivel belt loop for portability. 

MSRP: $101

White River Knives’ Firecraft FC3.5 Pro

Survival Knife White River Knives' Firecraft FC3.5 Pro

The Firecraft FC3.5 Pro from White River Knives has a 3.5-inch-long spear point blade ground from high end CPM S35VN stainless steel. The handle is coarse-textured G-10 and comes in a choice of orange, black, or OD green. 

Regardless of which handle color you choose, you are getting a no-nonsense fixed blade able to handle a wide variety of  tasks at the campsite or out in the wilderness. 

The notch in the blade spine allows for easy use with a ferrocerium fire starter rod. The wide blade can handle food prep chores and camp utility tasks. The finger ring allows you to dangle the knife from the pinky finger, keeping it close at hand, while retaining the ability to use your hand to grab or hold items. 

The S35VN steel holds an edge well and is able to power through tough cutting. Each knife comes with a molded Kydex belt sheath.

MSRP: $160

RMJ Tactical Combat Africa

Survival Knife RMJ Tactical

The RMJ Tactical Combat Africa is one serious piece of bladeware that can serve as a survival or military knife. It’s 7-inch-long blade is made from 80CRV2 tool steel. The .25-inch thick stock means this knife can withstand some serious use and some prying as well. 

The clip point shape allows for optimal penetration, with some belly for slicing applications. The 3D machined G-10 handle has diagonal flutes, adding hand traction and channeling water away for a comfortable grip. 

Furthermore, the lower hand guard and blade spine thumb ramp help to keep your hand safe from sliding forward. The knife is capable of chopping, prying, batoning, and slicing.

The knife is a bit on the steep side when it come to price. But in return you receive the superior engineering and craftsmanship for which RMJ Tactical is known. 

MSRP: $395

TOPS Brakimo

Survival Knife TOPS

The TOPS Brakimo was designed by noted survival expert Joe Flowers, who owns and runs Bushcraft Global, a  renowned survival school.

Flowers designed this knife to be a backup to a machete or a main camp knife. The 5.25-inch drop point blade is made from 1095 carbon steel. It is wide and sports a Scandi grind for optimal edge geometry for camp tasks. As a bonus, the carbon steel is easy to sharpen in the field. 

The knife is rather weighty for its size at 9.4 ounces. The sculpted handle is made from OD green canvas micarta for a comfortable and nonslip grip. The handle’s downward turn at the butt allows you to choke up at the end of the handle during chopping. Each Brakimo comes with a molded Kydex belt sheath with large metal clip for easy belt attachment. 

MSRP: $224.95

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D2 Tool Steel Knives: Four That Make The Cut

D2 Delivers In Edge Holding, Overall Performance, And Affordability. These Four D2 Knives Are Emblematic Of The Toughness Of The Material

Even if you haven’t used a knife of D2 tool steel, you’re no stranger to it if you have been into knives for any length of time. Many knife manufacturers use D2, as have numerous custom knifemakers.

Why is D2 so popular? Two reasons are it offers the best bang for the buck in terms of edge holding and overall performance. D2 is regarded as a step up from basic, low-grade stainless steel and is often found in entry-level to mid-grade production knives. One drawback: D2 is not a stainless steel so it will require a bit more care. Still, the performance advantages outweigh that drawback and you get a knife with enhanced edge-holding power that handles tough cutting chores. 

D2 comes from the metalworking industry. There it is primarily used to make steel cutting dies, so that tells you all you need to know: It basically is a steel used to cut steel. Think about that for a minute. D2’s chemistry in percentages is 1.4 to 1.6 carbon, .7 to 1.2 molybdenum, 11 to 13 chromium, and 1.1 vanadium. It can be hardened past 60-61 HRC on the Rockwell scale without being brittle. BLADE Magazine Cutlery Hall-Of-Fame® members Jimmy Lile and Wayne Goddard used D2 a lot in their knives, as does Bob “Dr. D2” Dozier extensively in his outdoor models. Top production knife companies such as CRKT, Kershaw, SOG, A.G. Russell Knives, Ontario and KA-BAR are but a few that have multiple offerings using D2.

CRKT Fawkes

 The CRKT Fawkes is an excellent choice for a stylish EDC folder, featuring flipper operation and IKBS pivot bearings for smooth opening and closing.

Maker Alan Folts designed the CRKT Fawkes to be a stylish, colorful EDC linerlock folder. The knife’s name is derived from the Harry Potter movie franchise, specifically the phoenix that appears in the series. 

With a closed length of just 3.76 inches the Fawkes carries comfortably, and the blade deploys fast and easy thanks to the IKBS-ball-bearing pivot and assisted-opening spring. The two work in conjunction to provide swift, smooth deployment, and the assist helps detent the blade in the closed position.

The multi-layer orange G-10 handle generates visual excitement and a splash of color. The ergonomic design provides a comfy grip for cutting tasks. The 2.74-inch, clip-point blade is flat ground and sports a swedge as well as a milled-in fuller, which creates a bit of attitude. A flipper tab helps initiate blade deployment. The knife carries securely thanks to a deep carry, fold-over-style clip that holds the closed Fawkes blade tip up and as low as possible in a pocket.

The handle shape is striking. A pronounced finger groove near the pivot helps index your grip, while chamfering eliminates harsh edges and hot spots. The matching orange G-10 handle spacer sports a series of large notches that help seat the knife in your grip. Blade action is quick and authoritative. The linerlock engages the tang with zero movement. CRKT will make the Fawkes a regular production knife model this year, with the only change being a switch to 1.4116 stainless for blade steel. 

Made in Taiwan, the MSRP for the Fawkes is $89.99.

Kershaw Endgame

The high flat grind of the Kershaw Endgame makes it a great choice for a working utility knife.

Kershaw‘s Endgame flipper folder features a highly usable modified drop-point blade, along with an ergonomic handle featuring modern design elements, all translating into a classy EDC that opens easily via the flipper tab.

The 3.25-inch flat-ground blade incorporates a distinctive humpbacked swedge for an aggressive look. A notched rest on the spine allows comfortable thumb placement for greater blade control. A stonewashed finish seals the tiny pores of the steel’s surface to fight corrosion as well as give the blade an industrial look. It also hides scratches from use pretty well and reduces glare.

A stainless steel framelock ensures solid lockup. The large finger recess at the pivot end helps index your grip. The handle curves aid in secure purchase every time.

The handle’s aesthetics are interesting. There’s bronze PVD (physical-vapor-deposition)-coated steel accents, textured FRN (fiberglass-reinforced-nylon) scales and a window cutout. The multi-layered visual adds more subtle color to the otherwise gray blade and handle. I do not care for it—it seems too busy. I don’t mind one type of overlay or even some machined-in grooves on the handle surface—both achieve function along with a sensible appearance. A deep carry pocket clip positions the closed Endgame nice and low in the pocket away from probing eyes.

While ergonomic and comfortable, the handle is a bit lacking in the midsection. For extended use, I would not recommend this knife. My hand grips the handle tighter to make up for the lack of bulk in the midsection. The answer is to redesign the handle and give it more mass. However, for tasks requiring choking up on the blade and handle for extra control, such as wire stripping, the Endgame is ideal. I felt in full control of the blade and was able to make precise cuts easily. If you do a lot of detail cutting, this might be the knife for you, or even if you need a folder for mundane slicing tasks. It’s got a great blade shape that is stylish. 

Made in China, the Endgame has an MSRP of $107.99.

Medford Knife & Tool 187DP

At 5 5/8 inches closed, the biggest knife of the test bunch is the Medford Knife & Tool 187DP. Its hollow-ground drop-point blade makes short work of most any cutting task. The half-titanium/half-G-10 handle is equipped with a framelock.  

Medford Knife & Tool specializes in manufacturing hard-use knives in the USA. These are not safe queens—they are engineered to hold up in real-world survival situations. The 187DP heavy-duty framelock folder is a representative example. The hollow-ground blade is 3.75 inches and comes in a utilitarian drop-point pattern. Closed length: 55/8 inches. An oblong hole facilitates easy one-hand opening. Dual thumb studs function as the blade stop in the fully open and closed positions.

The blade is 3/16-inch thick. Make no mistake, the 187DP is quite a chunk! The grip is ⅝-inch thick, and you will know when it’s in your pocket. A milled titanium clip carries the closed knife blade tip up but is not reversible. Any company using milled clips gets bonus points in my book. Regular stamped steel clips do a very good job at holding your knife at the top of the pocket for easy access, but, in my opinion, are not much on style points. Milled clips look more stylish and also hold the knife securely to the pocket lip.

If you are a rough user and use your knives outdoors or just plain beat them up, the 187DP is for you. Its rock solid build and bulk stand up to the heaviest use. I like the way the handle tapers toward the butt end, enabling you to get a secure hold. A series of traction notches machined close to the butt further assist in obtaining a solid no-slip handhold. It feels fixed in your hand and instills confidence in controlling the large blade. The steady grip allows you to bear down on the blade to power it through cuts.

Many who favor tactical folders will tell you a framelock is best for hard use. The 187DP’s framelock engages quite securely and disengages with a firm push. A milled-out section on the lockbar accommodates a thumb to disengage the lock—nice touch by the Medford crew. The blade cuts aggressively and dispatches most any material and food with aplomb.

Out of the box I really liked the factory edge. The ultra-strong lockup makes the knife feel like a fixed blade. Consequently, user confidence is high and you don’t have any reservations about putting it through the toughest jobs. While a large tactical folder, it can easily be tamed for precise cutting by making use of the choil to choke up on the blade and handle. 

There’s also about an inch-and-a-half-long run of traction notches on the spine just above the blade hole. Your thumb rests comfortably there and you can execute controlled cuts easily—a very nice touch and positive attribute.

The only complaint I have about the 187DP is the size and, therefore, the weight, both of which exceed the limit for what I consider an EDC folder. You can feel its bulk and presence in the pocket, especially when you bend over. 

MSRP: $475.


The SOG Stout FLK is definitely stout! Don’t let this compact folder fool you—it’s built for heavy work. It can get down to precise work as well, such as stripping wire.

The SOG Stout FLK is configured in collaboration with Danish maker Mikkel Willumsen. In appearance, the framelock folder lives up to its name and has a 2.62-inch drop-point blade. Closed length: 3.38 inches.

If you’re looking for an inexpensive work knife, the Stout FLK is it. It’s big enough to handle most cutting chores but not too big to be in the way or too cumbersome to carry. With its flat grind and short swedge, the blade shape is utility friendly. An oblong hole permits you to thumb the blade open as you would any one-hand folder, or you can use the flipper tab instead. 

A pronounced choil enables choking up on the blade for more exact control and works with the large finger recess in the handle as well. Spyderco does this sort of thing, too. It’s a way to make smaller knives feel large in the hand and provide more blade control.

The handle is in the familiar half-and-half framelock construction, using textured G-10 on the presentation side. This saves weight as opposed to having an all-metal handle and also adds traction for sure handling. A matching steel spacer provides balance as well as structural rigidity. 

The deep-carry pocket clip is ambidextrous and holds the Stout FLK low in the pocket while keeping it easily accessible. The clip is attached to the butt end and comes over the side. SOG calls it a bayonet-style clip, a style used quite a bit in the company’s line. 

Made in China, the MSRP for the Stout FLK is $54.95. Finally, SOG will release the knife as a slip joint this year.

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