Updated March 20th, 2019
A fixed blade knife is an ideal camping, hunting and survival knife. A fixed blade knife is an essential tool to have in any of these environments, the multi use capabilities of a fixed blade knife make it one of the most used and sought after tactical tools you can have. The versatility of these types of knives is almost endless. You can use it for cutting, chopping, digging, hunting, hammering, splitting, food preparation, first aid and self defense to name a few, the durability and toughness of a good fixed blade knife make it one of the best tools you can have.
So What is a Fixed Blade Knife
The two most common types of knives you will encounter are fixed blade knives and folding knives.
A fixed blade is a solid knife where the metal runs from tip of the blade to bottom of the handle and is one solid piece that has no moving parts. They are longer, wider and just generally larger than a folding knife / pocket knife
The tang is the lower portion of the knife that extends into the handle, the tang is what the handle is attached to. You will come across some different tang types like full-tang, partial-tang and stick tang.
For the purpose of this article we will be referring and reviewing only full-tang knives. Full-tang refers to the extending the full length and width of the handle, you can also have a hidden-tang where the tang is fully covered by the handle material. They are above and beyond the best way to make a fixed blade knife, it makes the knife much stronger and more dependable. The weakest part of a fixed blade is where the tang meets the blade and because of this having a full-tang increases the strength dramatically compared to a partial-tang knife.
Best Fixed Blade Knives Reviewed
1. SOG Fixed Blade Bowie 2.0
This Bowie knife was inspired by a Vietnam era Bowie and comes in at 11” of total length. The blade length is 6.4 inch’s and is a black tini aus-8 stainless steel blade. The black titanium nitride coated full tang blade gives it added durability and serves as a great camping, hunting knife or as a rescue and self defense knife. This knife comes with a top-notch 100% leather sheath and sharpening stone and the sheath has a built in holder for the sharpening stone which is a really cool added touch.
What I like most about the Bowie 2.0 by SOG is the balance and the size it feels really good in the hand when you are using it and I personally like a 6-7” blade when I am camping and this blade comes in nicely at 6.4”. Also at 11.2oz this knife is a good weight for chopping but still not to heavy for other uses.
2. Gerber StrongArm 420
This fixed blade comes in at 9.8 inch’s overall with a 4.8 inch blade and weighs 7.9oz. It is built with combat and survival in mind you can get it with a straight edge or partially serrated and it comes in with a black or coyote brown handle. The handle is a glass filled nylon handle that has a rubberized diamond texture grip. The bottom has a striking pommel that can be used for breaking or striking during rescue or self defense situations.
One of the best features of this knife is its modular sheath system which allows it to be used vertically on a MOLLE system on your tactical backpack. (Check out more on MOLLE and tactical backpacks here). Also can be used horizontally and vertically on a belt or in a drop leg fashion.
The Gerber StrongArm is a great fixed blade it is that has a very comfortable handle that gives some of the best grip I have ever used. It’s a well balanced knife that seems to cut well after we put it through a multitude of different cutting jobs. I really just like how the StrongArm just feels when I’m uses it stays put in the hand, it’s balanced well and I just feel like I can accomplish any job easily with this knife. The sheath has so many options and is truly one of the best sheaths you will come across in a sub $100 knife.
3. ESEE 4P Survival
The ESEE 4P is 9 inch’s long with a 4.5 inch’s blade length and the blade is 1.25 inch wide. This is a drop point style blade that weighs 7.8 oz. and is made with 1095 carbon steel. You can pick this blade up in 3 different color variations with a really cool what they call sawtooth design. Comes with a reliable polymer sheath with a metal clip.
ESEE knives are some of the best knives you can buy they are extremely well-made and they use the finest and best materials and have excellent craftsmanship. The best reason to pick up a ESEE knife is the warranty they truly believe in their knives and they stand by them with a 100% unconditional warranty that stays with the knife for its life!
4. SOG E37T-K Seal Pup Elite
This fixed blade comes in at 9 inch’s in total length with a 4.75 inch black tini aus-8 stainless steel blade. It’s a full-tang knife that is great for survival and general outdoor situations. The weight is 5.4 oz so it is lightweight and has a partially serrated blade and a glass reinforced nylon handle that is virtually indestructible. It also comes with a molded kydex sheath and the blade has an added spine rasp for notching.
What I like most about the SOG E37T-K Seal Pup Elite is its versatility, you have a blade that is equipped with a straight edge, partially serrated edge and a spine rasp which all lead to a knife that can accomplish many tasks and becomes useful in many situations. Also, if you want a good knife that is lightweight you found it in this fixed blade.
5. Buck Knives 119 Special
The 119 Special is 10.5 inch’s overall with a 6 inch clip point 420HC steel blade. It is very strong has excellent edge retention and corrosion resistance. The handle provides a good blend of grip and balance and it looks awesome and classic. With a weight of 7.5 oz. this Buck knife is an easy and convenient carry fixed blade with high quality protective leather sheath that has a snap fastener.
This is one of Buck’s top selling knives and it is made in the USA. It comes with Buck’s forever warranty which is one of the best in the industry. Buck has been making fixed blade knives since 1902 and they have figured out how to make some of the most rugged and capable knifes around.
I love the way the 119 feels in the hand very comfortable like it was meant to be there. What I like most about this knife is the edge retention and the fact that it takes an edge well and is easily sharpened. Also, the look this is a classic looking fixed blade that can and should be handed down through to the next generations and I can’t wait to give this knife to my son. This knife is well-made, strong, durable and makes easy work of almost any task I give it. I have never had a problem with it yet but I know if I do Buck will be there waiting to fix it.
Camping, Hunting, Survival – What You Should Consider When Choosing Your Fixed Blade Knife
There are certain things to consider when choosing your fixed blade knife such as where and how you plan on using it and what tasks you want your knife to perform.
There are many features and qualities that will affect how a knife will perform and below we are going to look into some of the most important things to consider like blade design, material, length and handle.
There are several types of blade design like straight tip, drop point, clip point, khukuri, tanto, and spear point to name a few of the most popular styles. There are many knife designs you can choose from, some are great multi taskers like drop point, clip point, spear point and many design styles are better suited to more specific tasks.
Designs like the clip point, drop point and spear point are the best design styles for multi use purposes and activities like those of which you come across in the wilderness while hunting and camping or in a survival situation. These blade designs keep the tip of the blade close to the center of the blade and they have lighter tip which give you more control and a better user experience, especially for a novice user.
Decide what you are looking for before you purchase a fixed blade knife are you looking for the best all around style that will provide you with the most bang for your buck. Are you looking for a specific fixed blade like one for self defense and survival, or just one to help you carve up a beautiful buck you just downed while out hunting.
The blade length is also an important factor to consider when choosing your knife. Different lengths are best suited for different purposes just like blade design. Length is also a factor when it comes to usability and control and also even take into consideration how you will be carrying your knife, if you are going to be carrying on your hip you may or may not want a large knife. (8″-14″+)
Larger blades usually 8″ or bigger are great for chopping, slashing, splitting but they are heavier and harder to control and are more difficult for small tasks.
Blades ranging in the 3 – 5″ range are very handy and are great for small tasks and provide easy handling, however at this length I recommend a folding pocket knife as they are lightweight, compact and perfect for smaller lighter tasks.
The perfect multi use fixed blade is between 5 – 8″ this is a sweet spot from my experience. They are heavy strong blades that can perform many chopping and splitting jobs and they are still light and functional enough for small tasks, especially if you get a clip point or drop point design and they are the perfect length for survival and self defense scenarios.
Blade steel is a common choice you will have to choose between when it comes to selecting your fixed blade knife. Generally knife steel comes down to 2 types, non-stainless carbon and tool steel and then stainless steel.
Carbon and tool steels are hard steels made for rough use where toughness and durability are critical. These steels take a sharp edge well and are also fairly easy to re-sharpen. Of course there is always a trade off of sorts as carbon steel has a low chromium content which makes the blade more prone to corrosion. A very common carbon steel you will find is 1095.
Stainless steel on the other hand is basically carbon steel that has chromium added to it which then gives it fantastic corrosion resistance and increased performance however this is at the expense of toughness. Stainless steel blades are easily the most common steel types you will find due to relatively good performance and price points.
There is no perfect steel choice as there is a trade off between them. What steel is best for you will depend on what you’re using you fixed blade knife for and what you’r willing to spend. Carbon and tool steels are great for large survival knifes and machetes they will be tough and durable and can take a sharp edge. On the other hand stainless steel is much more affordable and very corrosion resistant. Still, a decently strong knife for most tasks it is great for pocket knives and smaller fixed blade knives. Take into consideration you intended goals and budget when deciding in what steel material to go with.
Full-Tang vs Partial-Tang
The tang refers to the portion of the knife steel that extends down and becomes apart of the handle. The weakest part of your knife is where the tang meets the blade and having a full length and full width full-tang will give the greatest amount of strength.
When it comes to fixed blade knives there really is no alternative to full-tang. Partial-tang knives are just not as strong and durable as full-tang. A partial-tang can still extend the full length of the handle but it is usually much thinner and will not be the full width of the handle.
Full-tang on the other hand is the full length and width of the blade which aids in giving the greatest amount of durability and strength.
Whether you are going camping, hunting or you just want a good survival fixed blade knife the 5 that we have reviewed here will suit you well. There are many choices available when it comes to fixed blade knives and I wish I could spend time and review them all but instead we narrowed down our list to include 5 of the best fixed blade knives that we think would do the job right.
No product is perfect and some are better than others we all no this but what I look for most in any product is a company who believes in their knives enough to stand behind them when something goes wrong. A good warranty makes all the difference.
A good fixed blade is a tool that we should all have in our tactical toolbox whether your are a survivalist or a general outdoor enthusiast a good fixed blade knife will play an important role in your adventures. Don’t get me wrong I never leave home without a folding pocket knife but when I enter the outdoors I add a fixed blade to my tactical gear as well. Currently I take the Gerber StrongArm 420 with me because I like the multiple carry options I use it on my tactical backpack MOLLE system.