Top 7 Best Folding Survival Knife Reviews for 2020

My Grandpa, my Dad’s Dad, was a simple man.  He was born on a dry land cotton farm in the panhandle of Texas in 1902, lived in the same area all his life and raised three children while eking out a living by farming and doing odd jobs.  He wasn’t a philosopher or well educated.  However, he did have a few rules.  One of them has stayed with me.  He insisted that everyone should carry a folding survival knife.

Best Folding survival knife in the market

To my grandfather, a pocketknife was an essential tool.  His time was long before phrases such as survival, prepping, and everyday carry were part of the vocabulary. To him, his pocketknife was a tool that he used every day for a variety of jobs.

The knife of choice for my grandfather and my father was a Case Stockman.  You can still buy them today.   I have the case knife my Dad carried every day.  I have my Case Stockman safely tucked away in a drawer.  I don’t carry that knife as an everyday piece of equipment.  It is a good utility knife and will perform a multitude of jobs very well.  It just doesn’t fit the criteria I have set for the best folding survival knife. Let’s check out our favorites below.

Written by Dennis H., former military/preparedness retail store owner

Best Folding Survival Knife: My Top 5 Picks

Here are my top picks at a quick glance:

Last update on 2020-05-26 at 19:08 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

I haven’t ranked these knives.  Given a choice, I will not hesitate to carry any of these every day.  One thing I have not considered in my choices is the price.  There are good choices in almost any price range.  A piece of my EDC that may keep me alive one day is not something that I will quibble about price.  I believe that any of the knives in my list will fill the bill as the best folding survival knife.

1. SOG EDC Knife – FLASH II Review

SOG FSA8-CP Flash II 8 in. Straight Edge EDC Knife

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The Flash II from SOG is designed for everyday carry.  SOG knives are the choice of many professionals in law enforcement and the military.  The FLASH II is just as at home in your pocket during your everyday routine as it is in the field in an emergency.  SOG quality is evident in the manufacturing and design of all the SOG blades and the FLASH II is no exception.

The standout features that get the SOG FLASH II on my list of best folding survival knives include:

  • Blade Length – 3.5”
  • Blade Material – Titanium nitride coated AUS-8 stainless steel
  • Total Weight – 3.1 oz.
  • Closed Length – 4.5”
  • Total Length open – 8”
  • Assisted opening
  • Ambidextrous opening
  • Reversible clip
  • Rear Serrations on the blade

SOG FLASH II knives come in many blade styles and options.  You can choose from:

  • Drop point blade design
  • Tanto blade design
  • Black titanium nitride blade finish
  • Satin Polished Blade finish
  • Serrated or non-serrated blade.
SOG FSA8-CP Flash II 8 in. Straight Edge EDC Knife
  • QUICK OPEN POCKET KNIVES: The SOG Flash II everyday carry knife serves as a daily carry flip knife...
  • FLIPPER KNIFE W/ LIGHTWEIGHT KNIFE HANDLE: A 3.5 inch straight edge sharp pocket knife blade makes...

Last update on 2020-05-26 at 14:28 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

2. CRKT M16 Review

CRKT M16-01KZ EDC Folding Pocket Knife: Everyday Carry, Black Blade,...

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I am a huge fan of CRKT knives, both fixed blade and folding blades.  I just think you can’t get much better in design and quality than CRKT.  I also like the fact that CRKT employs a host of outside blade experts to design and refine their knives.  This brings a fresh perspective to the game.

The CRKT M-16 is an example of that type of thinking.  This knife was originally designed by Kit Carson, one of the most famous blade designers in the world.  This new design ushered in an era of rapid change in the whole EDC assisted opening folding knife field.  With years of refinement, this is still one of the best EDC folding survival knives you can find.

You won’t find features lacking, and the M-16 design meets the criteria for an EDC folding survival knife point for point.

  • Blade length – 3.00 to 3.99 inches (Depends on blade style)
  • Blade Material – 8Cr14MoC
  • Total Weight – 2.3 – 5.9 oz (depends on blade style)
  • Closed Length – 4.07 – 5.26 inches (depends on blade style)
  • Assisted Opening (Carson flipper style)
  • Ambidextrous opening
  • Open body design for lighter weight and easy cleaning
  • Serrated and non-serrated blades

You can have the CRKT M-16 just the way you want it.  This knife comes in a variety of standard finishes and blade designs.

  • Spearpoint blade design
  • Tanto point blade design
  • Black anodized finish or bright polished finish

Last update on 2020-05-26 at 19:08 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

3. Gerber Swagger Knife Review

Gerber Swagger Knife, Serrated Edge, Drop Point [31-000594]

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Gerber has a reputation for building knives that can take and hold an edge.  Their steel is unquestionably some of the best on the market.  The Gerber Swagger knife is a purpose-designed EDC tactical blade that fits easily in your pocket.  The Gerber’s limited lifetime warranty attests to their dedication to quality and service.

There is no doubt that the Gerber Swagger knife fits into my list when you look at the features that come standard with this fine Gerber folding knife.

  • Blade length – 3.25.”
  • Blade material – 7Cr17MoV
  • Total Weight – 2.8Oz
  • Closed Length – 4.25”
  • Assisted Opening
  • Plunge type lock system
  • G-10 manmade handle material
  • Serrated Blade Design

You don’t get many choices as to blade design or finish options with the Gerber Swagger.  This folding survival knife comes as a partially serrated blade with a black finish and a drop point tip.  Gerber is not delivering fashion. This knife is meant to be a utility tool.

Sale
Gerber Swagger Knife, Serrated Edge, Drop Point [31-000594]
  • G-10/Stainless Steel Handle provides a functional grip
  • Machine Styling matching handle and blade

Last update on 2020-05-26 at 19:08 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

4. Ontario Knife Rat II Review

Ontario Knife OKC Rat Ii Sp-Black Folding Knife, 7Inches

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Ontario Knife Company has been building edged tools in the US for more than 125 years.  During that time, they have innovated continuously to raise the level of their products to an all-time high.  As part of their business, they have produced knives for the US military that have become iconic among outdoor enthusiasts at all levels.

The RAT II folding knife from Ontario Knife Company makes my list based on the reputation of the company and the design of the knife.  I love the simple, clean lines of this design.  There are no extraneous protrusions to snag on your pocket or poke into your hand.  It is a clean and visually appealing knife with all the features I want in an EDC folding survival knife.

  • Blade length – 3”
  • Blade Material – AUS-8
  • Total Weight – 2.8 oz.
  • Closed Length – 4.1 inches
  • Manual Opening
  • Liner Lock
  • Nylon Handle
  • Straight edge drop point blade design

Like the Gerber Swagger, you don’t get many choices with the Ontario Rat II.  The handles do come in several colors other than black, and you can get an anodized blade if you don’t want the satin finish.  Otherwise, what you get is a well-designed and tough EDC folding survival knife from a great company.

Ontario Knife OKC Rat Ii Sp-Black Folding Knife, 7Inches
  • ✔ SECURE: The ambidextrous handle features textured black nylon 6 scales with an open-built steel...
  • ✔ COMFORTABLE: The RAT-2 knife is a handheld size designed for comfort and performance making it...

Last update on 2020-05-26 at 19:08 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

5. Boker Kalashnikov Review

Last but by no means least is the Boker Kalashnikov line of folding EDC survival knives.  I save this one for last because it is the knife I carry every day and have for several years.  Why you ask, is this the knife I chose over the others?  There are several reasons but let’s look at the features these Boker knives include.

  • Blade length – 7.5 inches
  • Blade material – AUS-8
  • Total Weight – 3.6 oz.
  • Closed Length – 4.25”
  • Assisted Opening (convertible to automatic opening)
  • Plunge type lock with button
  • Aluminum Handle
  • Multiple blade styles and colors

This knife can be hand in many different configurations. It is almost impossible to choose which one to carry.  In fact, for those of you who are fashion conscious, you may keep several in different colors so you can coordinate your outfit with your knife.  Seriously, this is a workhorse of a knife and I carry it for several reasons.

  • Boker Quality – Boker knives are unparalleled in their craftsmanship and then attention to detail.   I have had several of these knives over the years and have never been disappointed with any of them.
  • Overall design – I love this knife design, especially the handle.  It is patterned after the Kalashnikov bayonet handle and has finder groves that fit perfectly in my hand.  It is a clean design that slips easily in and out of my pocket.
  • Materials – AUS-8 is a great steel for utility knives.  Hard enough to take an edge but with enough spring to take some abuse.  However, the big draw for me is the aluminum handle.  This is an all-metal knife and that speaks to me from the standpoint of durability. 

The Boker Kalashnikov comes from the factory as an assisted opening knife.  However, the knife can be easily converted to fully automatic opening with the installation of an aftermarket spring kit.  There are dealers who will sell you a converted knife.  Be aware that the conversion voids the Boker warranty, so look for a dealer who will match the warranty after the conversion.

If you do want a converted version, be sure that the state and local laws where you live allow the legal carry of a fully automatic knife.  Many states and cities have banned these types of knives.


The Choices and Options for Survival Folding Knives

When it comes to choosing the best folding survival knife, you are going to find that there can be a bewildering array of options and styles from which to choose.  Deciding which knife is the right on for you is a lot like picking out underwear.  You want it to get the job done dependably but be as comfortable and to fit as well as possible.  Let’s look at a few of the things to consider in a folding survival knife.

Knife Opening System

Three options here.

  • Manual – This is the simplest system to be found.  There are buttons, springs, catches, or releases to worry about.  The downside to a manual knife is that it almost always takes two hands to open and there is typically no locking mechanism to keep the blade in place once it is open.
  • Assisted – Spring assist opening knives are designed with a thumb stud, ring, or other projection that can be used to open the knife rapidly with one hand.  Most have some sort of assist mechanism that will partially open the blade.  These are legal blades in most states, but some local laws may regulate the carry of an assisted opening knife.
  • Automatic – Touch the opening system, and instantly, you have a deployed and locked blade.  Easy opening with one hand, automatic knives are a choice for many people.  You must take care.  Automatic knives are more complicated and more prone to breaking.  In some states and localities, it is illegal to possess or carry and automatic opening knife.

My preference for an everyday carry folding knife is an automatic style.  The ability to draw and deploy that knife quickly with one hand is a benefit that I can’t pass up.  Many people can deploy an assisted knife almost as quickly as I can deploy my automatic knife, but it is a complicated action that must be practiced to be effective.

The Folding Knife Locking System

Once opened, a good EDC folding survival knife should lock the blade in place so that the knife, in effect, becomes a fixed blade knife.   This prevents accidental closing, which, in the wrong situation, could end up causing severe cuts if not the loss of a finger. 

There is a wide variety of locking systems.  Some are proprietary to a manufacturer, while some are industry standards.  The most popular styles of locking systems are:

  • Liner Locks – This is probably the most common type of locking system you will find on a folding survival knife.  The metal liner of the knife is built to act as a spring.  When the blade is deployed, the spring bar portion of the liner closes in and the bitt of the blade is locked against the edge of the spring bar.  This makes a rugged, simples, and secure locking system. 
  • Frame Locks – Frame lock knives operate much like liner locks.  Instead of the liner being turned into the spring portion that acts as the lock, a cutout is made in the frame that performs the same function.  In theory, this forms a stronger lock because the frame of the knife is typically thicker than the liner.
  • Proprietary Locks Several companies have patented proprietary locking systems that just as functional and, in some cases, more reliable than either liner locks or frame locks.  All of them depend on moving a piece of the knife mechanism into place to keep the knife blade rigid with respect to the handle when in use.

Whichever knife you choose, make sure you can operate the locking system easily.  I have used knives that were great, but it was a struggle to release the lock and get the blade back into a safe position.

Survival Folding Knife Edge Design

I won’t go into a lot of detail about edge design.  Some edge profiles are adapted to specialized uses, while others are known for their adaptability to almost any use.  You need to consider the edge profile on your blade based on the uses to which your blade will be expected to perform.

Common edge profiles include:

  • Flat grind
  • Convex grind
  • Asymmetrical
  • Compound edge
  • Hollow ground
  • Chisel with or without a back bevel

For a survival knife, I prefer a simple flat grind edge profile.   These are the easiest to sharpen but do need regular attention to stay sharp.  A quick touchup with a stone or other sharpening tool is almost all that is ever needed once an edge is established.  If the edge does become damaged, it is relatively easy to repair and sharpen a flat grind edge rather than one of the edges with more complex geometry.

Functionality

Consider a list of the things a folding survival knife may be expected to do on a regular basis.

  • Cutting and Slicing
  • Batoning wood
  • Self-defense
  • Rescue

I look for a knife that is comfortable in my hand, has the strength and resiliency to perform all these tasks well without being a specialized piece of kit.  In my mind, a folding knife is a backup for other specialized tools that can do a job better but may not be available.


Hands-on Folding Knife Reviews

Our team at SurvivalCache has done hands-on reviews of various folding knives. Check them out below:


Making the Cut

These are the knives that make the cut for me as the best folding survival knife picks.  There are many more options on the market, and I encourage you to consider all of them before you make your decision.

Your folding knife is a tool and should fit your needs and be comfortable in your hand.  What I find to be my best fit may not be yours. I hope this information has been helpful and informative.  If you have other opinions, ideas, or comments, please leave them below.  Your experiences with folding survival knives are always welcome.



Dennis Howard
Dennis Howard

A life long hunter, fisherman, and outdoorsman, after surviving a devastating tornado in his home town, he saw the effects on people's lives as they struggled to cope. He built his first bugout bag a few weeks later and has been a dedicated prepper/survivalist since that time. After a career as a fireman, Dennis opened a retail store catering to the military, law enforcement, and like-minded individuals in the preparedness community. Read more of Dennis's articles.

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