Best Karambits: Ferocious Southeast Asian Fighters

du hoc

The Karambit Is A Historic Utility and Combat Knife From Asia That Has Grown In Popularity Around The World In Recent Decades.

The karambit looks unlike any other knife. The short, swooping curve of the blade dates back nearly a millennium in Indonesia and throughout Southeast Asia. First used mainly as a tool for farming and planting rice, the karambit evolved over time into a combat knife. The curve became more pronounced and became a main weapon in pencak silat, an indigenous Indonesian martial art, and Filipino martial arts.

Legend goes that as the knife became more combat-oriented, its shape was inspired by a tiger’s claw. The knife’s tight curve and finger ring allow it to stay securely in the hand in close-quarters combat.

Why Should I Use A Karambit?

The karambit today is very much a self-defense tool. Yes, it can still be used for outdoor tasks, but there are more practical blades available for such purposes. The karambit is a strong, durable combat knife used by law enforcement and militaries around the world. 

If you’re looking for a high-quality knife to keep on your person as protection, you can’t get much better than the karambit. The finger ring provides a natural, secure traditional grip or reverse grip to generate more power with each swing. 

The folks at Emerson Knives, Inc., have made a great video showing how to use a karambit.

Do I Need A Karambit?

Simply put: no. A karambit is a refined self-defense tool. If you live a life where life-and-death close-quarters combat is an extremely minute possibility then you can probably pass on a karambit.

Additionally, the sharp curve of the blade means it can be difficult to handle without experience or training, even with the finger ring. If it’s uncomfortable to use then don’t use it.

Best 5 Karambits That Will Keep You Safe

These five knives are excellent examples of what modern karambits have become and show why you should invest in them as protection tools.

Emerson Wave Karambit

Emerson Wave

As seen above, the Emerson Wave Karambit is a prime example of a modern version of the knife. Featuring a blade made from chisel-ground 154CM stainless, the Wave is 6.8 inches long when deployed and the handle is designed with ease of use in mind. The G-10 scales are sturdy, and the titanium lock keeps the blade open securely. 

The steel is treated to a Rockwell hardness of 57-59 HRC for excellent durability, and, at 3.6 ounces, the Wave is hefty enough to feel robust in your hand without feeling too bulky. Yes, the price is high, but you’re paying for a high-quality piece that can last for decades.

MSRP: $285.95

TOPS Devil’s Claw 2

Devil's Claw 2

This tactical karambit from TOPS Knives looks mean and feels great. The Devil’s Claw 2 doesn’t have a blade as sharply curved as the Wave, but a karambit it still is. The blade is 1095 carbon steel with a black traction coating that’s been treated to a 56-58 HRC. The jimping on the spine provides an additional level of grip when using the knife.

The blue and black G-10 handle has a futuristic, almost sci-fi, look to it that makes this knife visually striking. The fixed blade is 7.38 inches long and weighs 5.6 ounces and comes with a kydex sheath and beta-loop sheath clip. 

MSRP: $175



Sometimes bigger really is better, and that might be the case with the CRKT Du Hoc. This fixed blade designed by Austin McGlaun is a whopping 9.63 inches in length and 9.3 ounces in weight. McGlaun designed the knife to honor his late uncle who earned a Silver Star at Point Du Hoc.

The 5.1-inch blade is made from powder-coated SK-5 carbon steel. The G-10 handle provides an excellent grip, and the included thermoplastic sheath comes with mounting options and makes for easy transport. 

MSRP: $113

Fox Knives 479 

Fox Knives 479

We return to folders with this piece from Fox Knives. The 479 is a large flipper that can handle whatever you throw at it. The 2.95-inch blade is made from N690Co stainless with a black Idroglider coating and a G-10 handle. The blade has been treated to 58-60 HRC, making it the hardest blade on our list. 

When opened, the knife is 7.48 inches long, and it weighs 4.58 ounces. The finger ring is made from aircraft aluminum to keep weight down without sacrificing toughness. The reversible pocket clip makes for easy carry no matter where you go.

MSRP: $155.46

Boker Magnum Spike

For a budget karambit, there is the Magnum Spike by Boker. This fixed blade is made from 440A stainless steel with a desert tan G-10 handle. The whole piece is 8.46 inches long with a 4.02-inch blade and full tang. At 7.36 ounces, the added weight is great when additional force is needed. The included kydex sheath is light and keeps everything secure in transit. 

The most inexpensive knife on our list by quite a bit, Boker offers a karambit that is anything but cheap. 

MSRP: $62.01

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