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11 Best Knives to Have in a Disaster (and Why)


11 Best Knives to Have in a Disaster (and Why)A tool that has been around since mankind first began chipping rocks into weapons, few items are more essential to an outdoorsman or survivalist than a quality knife.

As with any versatile tool, though, knives serve a wide range of purposes – some better than others, depending on the blade you choose. From skinning an animal to chopping up kindling for a fire to defending yourself in hand-to-hand combat, there are plenty of reasons to have a good knife during a disaster.

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In fact, since there’s a wide range of functions any given knife can excel at, it’s a good idea for serious survivalists to have a range of knives available that they can employ depending on what the situation calls for.

Below, we’ve compiled a list of the eleven best knives to have in a disaster as well as an explanation for why each one made the list. Far from the dime-store pocketknives that are so common, these quality knives are all blades that would be great to have disaster scenario.

1. Ka-Bar

Ka-Bar | Best Knives to Have in a Disaster

The ever-popular Ka-Bar is a knife that owes its fame to none other than the United States Marines. Since 1942, the Marines have trusted the Ka-Bar to be their standard issue knife, and with good reason.

This knife is razor sharp, it’s blackened so it doesn’t reflect light, and it’s tough enough to handle utility jobs as well as serve as a deadly means of self-defense.

If you want a knife that is more battle proven than any other, you can’t go wrong with the Ka-Bar, and in a disaster scenario, any knife that is good enough for the Marine Corps is sure to come in handy.

2. Gerber Bear Grylls Ultimate Survival Knife

Gerber Bear Grylls Ultimate | Best Knives to Have in a Disaster Survival Knife

Bear Grylls may be as much of an entertaining celebrity as he is a serious survivalist, but there’s nothing “for show” about the knife that bears his name.

The Bear Grylls Ultimate Survival Knife features a waffle-head hammer on the pommel, an emergency whistle, and a spark rod and striker notch all integrated into the knife as well as a quality 7Cr17MOV stainless steel blade that comes in fine-edge or half serrated.

In a disaster, the Bear Grylls Ultimate Survival Knife gives you all the functionality of a sharp, fixed-blade knife plus the ability to start a fire and signal for help.

3. Spyderco Civilian

The unique looking Spyderco Civilian enjoys a history that is just as unique as its design. In the late 1980’s, US federal law enforcement approached Spyderco with an interesting challenge: design a self-defense knife for undercover agents who could not carry a sidearm that could be effectively used by someone with little or no knife-fighting training.

The design that Spyderco came up with is one that turns a person’s instinctive self-defense motions into deadly slashing attacks. To this day, if you want a knife that gives someone with no knife-fight training the best possible chance of defending themselves, you turn to the Spyderco Civilian.

While this knife’s unique shape and needle-tip point limit its use as a utility tool, its effectiveness in a hand-to-hand combat situation is devastating. If you are in a disaster scenario and are carrying a knife as a primary or secondary means of self-defense, this knife is an excellent choice.

4. Cold Steel Recon 1

Cold Steel Recon 1 | Best Knives to Have in a Disaster

For those who want a high-quality, multi-purpose folder that is still sharp enough to use in a self-defense scenario, the Cold Steel Recon 1 is a fine choice. Cold Steel has built a reputation for producing knives that are razor sharp and built to withstand extreme torture testing.

The company’s patented Tri-Ad lock gives the Recon 1 the strength of a fixed-blade knife in a folding design, leading to this knife being billed as “sharp as a scalpel and tough as a tank”.

If you want a razor-sharp workhorse folder that is up to any task, you can’t go wrong with the Cold Steel Recon 1. In a disaster scenario, the Cold Steel Recon 1 is able to serve a wide range of functions, making it a good EDC knife.

5. SOG Seal Pup Elite

SOG SEAL Pup Elite | Best Knives to Have in a Disaster

The fact that the SOG Seal Pup Elite is often the knife of choice for Navy SEALs and other elite special forces from around the world says all you need to know about this quality blade. The Seal Pup Elite features a long, ergonomic handle, a thick blade for tearing through a range of tasks with ease, and a wicked sharp edge and needlepoint.

The result is a versatile knife that is just as at-home on the campsite as it is in a covert operation, making it ideal for a wide range of disaster scenarios.

6. Cold Steel Gurkha Kukri

Cold Steel Gurkha Kukri | Best Knives to Have in a Disaster

The Kukri knife was (and in many cases still is) the standard knife of both the Nepalese people and the Nepalese military, serving as their primary tool for jungle survival and hand-to-hand combat. Featuring an inwardly curved blade, the Gurkha Kukri is one part knife and one part machete.

Few designs over the years have been able to rival this blade’s sheer chopping power, and Cold Steel’s take on this classic knife is one of the best available.

Whether you are chopping your way through the jungle or fending off attackers, the razor-sharp Cold Steel Gurkha Kukri is up to the task, making it ideal to have around should disaster strike.

7. Victorinox Swiss Army SwissChamp Pocket Knife

Victorinox Swiss Army Knife | Best Knives to Have in a Disaster

The classic Swiss Army knife might not be the blade you turn to in a knife-fight, but for almost every other imaginable scenario, it’s a handy tool to have in your pocket.

While there is a wide range of Swiss Army knives available–from tiny minimalist versions that feature only a few basic tools, to giant bulky versions that feature hundreds of different tools–the SwissChamp Swiss Army knife by Victorinox is somewhat of a happy medium.

This knife is small enough to be convenient and easily used while still large enough to contain all of the tools you could possibly need. In a disaster scenario, you never know what tool could end up being useful, making this multi-purpose knife a great one to have around.

8. Gerber Field Dress Kit

Gerber Myth Field Dress Kit | Best Knives to Have in a Disaster

In the right hands, any decently sharp blade is capable of dressing out a kill. However, some knives do it better than others. With the Gerber Field Dress Kit, you get two knives that, together, will make quick work out of any game, big or small.

The first knife in the kit features a thick blade, curved edge, and a gut hook for tackling the toughest tasks involved with field dressing a kill, while the second blade is much thinner for tasks that require a little more finesse.

Both knives piggyback into the same sheath, a sheath that also features a built-in carbide sharpener. If you plan on hunting for game should disaster strike, you will need a quality hunting knife like the Gerber Field Dress Kit.

9. Spyderco Tenacious

Spyderco Tenacious | Best Knives to Have in a Disaster

The Spyderco Tenacious remains one of the most popular folding knives of all time for the simple reason that it’s got everything you could want out of an EDC folder: a sharp edge, quality locking mechanism, and a design that allows the blade to quickly and fluidly be opened with a single hand.

The Spyderco Tenacious is one of those knives that is good for everything a knife is used for instead of being great for one specific thing, making it ideal for having on you at all times should you find yourself caught up in a disaster.

10. Cold Steel Espada

Cold Steel Espada | Best Knives to Have in a Disaster

If you like a knife with a little bit of an intimidation factor, then the Cold Steel Espada is the knife for you. The Espada is one of the largest folders available, featuring a 7.5-inch blade that is sharpened to a razor edge. For being such a large knife, the Espada is surprisingly concealable, with a slim profile and a relatively lightweight, making it easy to carry so long as you’ve got roomy pockets.

Arguably the best thing about this knife is its wave open feature which, with a little practice, allows you to open the blade automatically the second you pull it out of your pocket, springing the massive blade into action with a satisfyingly solid click.

To top it all off, the Espada–with its polished aluminum frame, stainless steel blade, and polished G10 handle–is simply a beautiful knife. In a disaster scenario, this knife shines best as a means of self-defense, though it is sturdy enough to put to work on a number of other tasks as well.

11. Buck SELKIRK Survival Knife

Buck SELKIRK Survival Knife | Best Knives to Have in a Disaster

One of the most famous names in the knife world, Buck has a reputation for producing high-quality knives geared towards hunters and outdoorsmen. The Buck SELLKIRK Survival Knife features everything you would expect out of a Buck knife, from its wood handle to its razor sharp blade, as well as a sheath that features a removable fire striker.

A combination that offers you the quality of a Buck fixed-blade knife, as well as the ability to get a fire started, is a hard deal to pass up, making the SELLKIRK a survivalist favorite and a good knife to have around when disaster strikes.


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  1. Gary Fox on June 16, 2019 at 11:31 am

    I agree with most of the criticisms. Kbar came late into WWII. Through the bulk of the war, troops carried PAL36, Case and Cat. 225q. Better knives.

    Of the rest, the tenacious and kukri the only two worth having. Cold Steel too pricey. Condor makes a kukri at a fraction to the cost and just as good.

    To be honest, most of your lists are put together by a novice and not someone with any experience. Sorry. I usually just skim and delete..

  2. Rick Palmer on June 16, 2019 at 11:07 am

    I’ve had the same Camillus knife ( kabar type ) that I carried in Vietnam for the past 52 years. It has seen me through many hunting trips , basic keep in the truck knife , and heavy usage when I was a missionary in mexico. Too bad the original Camillus is no longer around.
    Backup edc is a Gerber multitool in a cordura pouch. Both are handy and proven reliable.

  3. Rich on June 2, 2019 at 6:53 pm

    Bear Grylls? Really? Cold Steel SRK. Falkniven. TOPS knives, ESSE. All better knives.

  4. G Rudolph on June 2, 2019 at 2:58 am

    If you want a fixed blade knife go with Bark River. They make a knife for EDC, all purpose camp & woods use and self defense. They are guaranteed forever and customer service is second to none. You won’t be disappointed. A bit pricey yes but remember..you get what you pay for.

  5. John on April 16, 2019 at 7:01 am

    Why in the world would any responsible person suggest a Bear Gyliss anything? Never, ever, buy a fixed blade without full tang. Ridiculous choice. A piece of pure crap, made to fall apart in your hand.

  6. Greatgeezer on February 23, 2019 at 3:11 pm

    Start with an ESEE 5 or 6 in. Then I’d go with a good frame lock with a 4″ blade of CPMS35V with titanium frame. Choose a drop point. Next is a good skinner from Bark River or something comparable. And last but not least, a machete, 14 to 18 inch long, made of spring steel. Dont forget sharpeners and a file for the machete.

  7. Hawk on November 21, 2018 at 9:21 pm

    Nope, who ever made this list spent 20 minutes on Amazon. Few decent blades.

  8. Anthony Clark on October 14, 2018 at 1:14 pm

    I am surprised that you didn’t include a model of some sort of Emerson or the fairbairn n sykes

  9. Stravo Lukos on March 22, 2018 at 3:02 pm

    I don’t know why folks want knives that cannot be sharpened w/o special gear. I use high-carbon knives for my needs. A few licks on a steel or back of another knife usually does the trick. In a pinch, a flat, fine-grained rock will do the trick. Our forefathers didn’t have super-indestructible chrome-vanadium tungsten vibranium steels, & they did just fine. They even shaved w/o modern metals– imagine that! And if you don’t want them rusting, just use a little grease or oil, but don’t forget to wash it off before you use the knife on food. Germs & stuff. Okay, back to the 18th century.

  10. oldguy on March 13, 2018 at 9:16 pm

    I have had Swiss Army knifes and have not been happy with any of them. I prefer older made in the USA Camillus GI Knife. Better steel and stronger knife overall. How often do you need a corkscrew in the US. I also like the Swedish army knifes as well dam good knife for the cost with a good sheath

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