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Best Folding Survival Knife

Last Updated: January 21, 2020
Terry Daine
Product Review by Terry Daine

A knife is undoubtedly an important tool to have on hand for survival. However, for serious survival purposes, the best folding survival knife will be a convenient way to always have a useful weapon at your disposal.

You could use a folding survival knife as a backup in case you can’t use your larger blade, rather than as your prominent knife of choice. However, some folding survival knives are such high-quality that they could take the place of your main knife and be used as a significant part of your survival kit.

Survival knives are a multipurpose tool, and when they can fold, their functionality increases even more. If you’re serious about your survival, then you should definitely consider finding the best folding survival knife to add to your kit.

There are several features to consider when choosing the best folding survival knife, and that’s why we’re here to help. We’ve chosen five of the best products so you can find the best folding survival knife for you. Let’s take a look!

Our Reviews
1

Elk Ridge ER-A003 Folding Knife

The Elk Ridge ER-A003 Folding Knife is spring-assisted, so it is easy to use even if it’s your first time working with a folding knife.

This is because it uses a liner lock mechanism, so you can be sure that the blade will lock securely in place and be safe to hold. Simply press the liner lock towards the left side of the knife, and push the blade closed, and your knife will be folded down to a compact size.

It measures 4.75 inches when closed, which is ideal for storing comfortably in your pocket or backpack for easy access. However, it is surprisingly quite heavy given its small size, weighing 7.2oz. At this weight, you’ll definitely feel it in your pocket even if it will inside.

It is a 440 stainless steel blade, so it should hold up well against potential corrosion and rust after prolonged use. The blade is a thick 3.2mm, so it will slice through many obstacles sharply and accurately.

At a budget-friendly price, this folding survival knife is a great choice that will perform well in a variety of survival situations. Its durability and design gives you good value for money and is definitely a product to consider.

Pros

  • Spring-assisted liner lock mechanism is easy to use
  • Budget-friendly
  • 440 stainless steel blade prevents corrosion and rust
  • Thick blade can cut through tough materials
  • Small and compact when closed

Cons

  • Heavier than other folding knives, despite its small length
2

SOG Tactical Folding Knife (FF25-CP)

SOG has developed a sturdy and durable tool with its SOG Tactical Folding Knife (FF25-CP).

The blade is designed from black stainless steel, so it has excellent edge retention and can resist corrosion.

In a survival situation, this knife could be your best friend. It comes with a one-handed opening mechanism and Lockback, which helps to keep the blade secure. The knife has an ambidextrous design, so you can easily defend yourself or escape in either hand. It is discreet in a defensive situation too, as it features a reversible low carry. This clip allows you to make sure your knife won’t fall into the wrong hands, or be seen when you need to disguise.

Despite being a tactical and heavy-duty knife, it is lightweight and easy to carry. Measuring at 4.8 inches when closed, you can comfortably store this knife in your pocket, making it a great choice for an everyday carry.

In addition to its durability, the knife also doubles as other tools. It can be used as a line or strap cutter, a glass breaker, and a wire stripper. Even as an everyday carry, you’ll be getting more than just a standard cutting knife with this product.

Pros

  • Black stainless steel blade prevents corrosion
  • Reversible low carry makes it discreet in survival situations
  • Compact when closed
  • Versatile with three other key functionalities

Cons

  • Not spring-assisted, so some customers have found issues with the opening system
  • The safety lock can cause issues with getting the knife open quickly
3

Smith & Wesson SWMP4L Folding Knife

If you’re looking for more than just a basic survival folding knife, then the Smith & Wesson SWMP4L Folding Knife offers a tactical edge that gives you more for your money.

Made from 4035 black oxide carbon steel, the blade is highly durable and can handle tough materials and conditions. Because of its sharpness, it will also work well for piercing through materials or items, or even enemies. With the right level of maintenance, this knife is designed to last you a long time and be reliable in all kinds of survival scenarios.

The blade is 3.6 inches long, but the knife itself is not the smallest overall. It is 8.6 inches in total, but is still compact enough to fit into your survival backpack or be attached to your pocket. However, it may be too large for pocket carry, which you may find inconvenient.

It uses a rapid-release M.A.G.I.C assisted opening mechanism, so you can open it with only one hand, making it easy and convenient to use in any situation. The M.A.G.I.C mechanism is paired with a liner lock style of opening. It also comes with a safety lock; however this isn’t essential as the liner lock system should work well without any additional locks.

Pros

  • Durable 4035 black oxide carbon steel blade can cut through a variety of materials
  • Rapid-release M.A.G.I.C assisted opening requires only one hand to use
  • Comes with a safety lock
  • Can be turned into a double-edged blade due to the secondary bevel on the knife's spine
  • Includes a pocket clip and a thumb flipper for convenience

Cons

  • Will require regular maintenance and sharpening after prolonged use
4

Voltron V21 9Cr18Mov Blade Survival Knife

The Voltron V21 9Cr18Mov Survival Knife is a reliable and sturdy knife, with a high carbon 9Cr18Mov steel blade. Despite not being stainless steel, this kind of steel has good corrosion resistance, and can keep its cutting edge. It is a heavy-duty knife, and this is reflected in its razor-sharpness straight out of the box.

The G10 handle is high-quality and provides a good grip. It measures at around 5 inches, so while the handle is quite long, this means you can use it for a variety of purposes and not just precision cutting.

As for the folding mechanism, this knife uses a built-in copper ball bearing system. It opens reliably, and you can trust that it will lock securely with the liner lock.

However, this knife is quite long compared to other folding survival knives. While it contains a sturdy and durable blade, you may find that you won’t have as much control when cutting due to its overall length. It weighs around 8.5oz, so it’s not the most lightweight option either. If you find that this size and weight are suitable though, then this knife won’t let you down when it comes time to survive.

Pros

  • Blade is high carbon 9Cr18Mov steel, so it is not only powerful, but can also resist corrosion
  • Reliable liner lock system
  • High-quality G10 handle
  • Razor-sharp blade

Cons

  • Not the most lightweight or compact folding knife
5

Pro Iron Assisted Opening Survival Knife

The Pro Iron Assisted Opening Survival Knife features a stainless steel drop point blade, so it can withstand damage and has great edge retention.

This is ideal when you’re in the outdoors, as you never know what weather conditions you’ll face or what tough materials you’ll need to cut through.

If having a multipurpose knife is a priority for you, then this folding knife is worth considering. It features a glass breaker, a can opener, a rope cutter, and a belt clip, so it can do more than just cut and slice. These tools will come in handy in the outdoors, and the belt clip can be used as a great way to attach the knife to your waist, so you’ll always have it within reach.

With a spring-assisted opening, you can expect a fast and smooth deployment, which is exactly what you need from a folding survival knife. It comes with a thumb stud and an opening assist lever, and features a liner lock design for a reliable and safe unfolding.

It weighs around 3.6oz, and is 4.75 inches when closed, so you shouldn’t have any trouble carrying this knife around in your pocket. It is as lightweight and compact as you’d expect a great folding survival knife to be.

Pros

  • Durable stainless steel blade
  • Multipurpose and includes other features, such as a rope cutter
  • Belt clip can be used to attach the knife to you for easy access
  • Liner lock design is reliable and secure
  • Lightweight and compact

Cons

  • Can lose its sharpness after only a few uses
  • Some customers have found that the belt clip is stiff and inconvenient if you need to pull the knife off it quickly

Multipurpose Features

A folding survival knife should be a multipurpose tool that can come in handy for a variety of situations. You’ll need to consider the features that a folding survival knife offers to assess whether it would work for you.

One particular feature that adds to the versatility and convenience of a knife is whether it has a one-handed opening. If you can open the blade by just using one hand, you’ll not only save time, but you’ll also save yourself a free hand as well.

Your folding survival knife may come in a similar form to a multi-tool pocket knife, but in this instance, be wary of unnecessary gadgets that may weigh your knife down.

It is worth noting that if your knife is full of additional features, and can double as a screwdriver or a bottle opener, for example, then those features may not be the highest quality.

However, attachment points are useful features to have on your survival knife. For example, some folding survival knives will feature clips that allow you to attach your knife to your pocket’s opening. This gives you convenient access to your knife at all times.

Blade

Arguably the most important component of any knife is the blade. High-quality steel will give you the best chance of having a long-lasting folding knife, that can hold its own against all kinds of obstacles.

Many survival folding knives will have a stainless steel blade. Stainless steel is a great option for a survival knife, as it will resist corrosion and rust, and therefore last you a long time and won’t require much maintenance.

However, high carbon steel blades are typically more durable and can cut through tougher materials with ease. This makes them an excellent blade for survival situations, as you never know what materials you might need to chop through.

High carbon steel, although strong and robust, will need quite a bit of maintenance. It can’t resist rust and stains in the same way that stainless steel can, so bear this in mind if high carbon is your steel of choice.

Locking Mechanism

With folding knives, it’s essential that you think about how it folds down and locks. It would be a bad situation if you’re faced with an obstacle that you need to cut through and your knife closes down on you unexpectedly.

There are several different types of lock mechanisms that your folding knife could have, each with their own different benefits.

Lockback Knife Systems

Lockback mechanisms are quite common, particularly in classic American models. Lockback systems use a spring on the spine of the handle. When pulled open, the spine locks on to a notch at the tang of the blade.

To close the knife, you need to push down on the exposed spine in the middle of the handle, which breaks the lock and closes the knife.

This simple locking system ensures that your survival knife is sturdy and not flimsily when fully opened. It is also a safe way to lock your knife, as it is positioned at the rear, which prevents you from cutting yourself when you’re trying to close the blade.

Liner Lock Knives

This locking system is generally the most common type of mechanism you’ll find on a folding survival knife.

Liner lock systems use a spring bar termed liner, which forms a spring effect by cutting out and bending part of the spring bar, so it clasps onto the tang of the blade when contact is made.

The bar then spreads from the tang of the handle to the end of the blade, which ‘lines’ the handle material. Some models will feature a stop pin and a detent ball, which helps to align the locking system and makes it safer.

When closing the knife, the bar will tense up. When pulled open, that tension will push the liner so that it moves inward, and then locks to the tang of the blade.

If you are new to folding knives, then this is a good locking mechanism to consider. Because it uses two handle sides, and you can close and open it without having to change hands, it provides an easy user experience.

Frame Lock Knives

Frame lock knives are easy to use and can be unlocked with one hand while still maintaining stability.

This locking mechanism works similarly to the Liner Lock system. However, the frame is thicker and tougher than a liner lock, despite using the same tension mechanism when closing and opening. By pushing down on the spring bar, you can effectively disengage and close the knife.

There will generally be a hole at the bottom of the blade, in which the detent ball will slip into to keep the blade in place. Many frame lock survival knives will feature a titanium frame. However, a stainless steel frame will be more durable.

Handle and Grip

Some survival folding knives will feature a hollow handle, which allows you to store small survival gear inside. While this may seem like an excellent multipurpose feature, a strong handle is crucial, and this could cause serious issues.

A hollow handle means that the knife will have no tang, so both the blade and the handle will be constructed from two different pieces of metal. Because of this, the point at which they join will be weak, and therefore prone to breakage.

Although folding knives may seem like a flimsy alternative to fixed blade knives, they can work just as well providing they are well-made. That’s why your knife should have a full tang, or a partial tang, so you can rely on it during intense survival situations.

Correlating to the handle, having a strong grip is essential, and will give your knife optimal performance levels.

A badly designed grip will cause irritation or pain on your hand, and could also be a safety hazard. You’ll need a knife that offers a comfortable yet sturdy grip, so it won’t fall out of your hand if it gets too hot or you go to cut through something aggressively.

Size and Weight

As this knife is for survival purposes, it needs to be small enough to fit comfortably in your pocket or backpack, while still performing well against obstacles.

Many survival folding knives will have blades that are around 3 to 4 inches in length. A knife with an overall length below 5 inches, however, will be ideal for carrying around in a survival situation where you’ll need to conserve as much space as possible.

Save the bulkiness for larger, more tactical knives.

If your knife is small, it’s typically going to be lightweight as well. However, make sure not to choose something too heavy and bulky that’s overstuffed with unnecessary features. Knives like these will only create extra weight for you that will be a nuisance in a survival situation.

Recap

Folding survival knives are a great addition to any survival kit, and can be used as an everyday carry item, so you’ll always have protection from tough terrains and enemies.

As a result, folding survival knives continue to grow in popularity, and with many to choose from, it can be overwhelming to find the best folding survival knife for you.

However, my pick for the best folding survival knife would be the SOG Tactical Folding Knife (FF25-CP).

This 4-in-1 knife proves itself as a durable and reliable tool, complete with other features to help you no matter what situation you might face. It combines durability with reliability, as the SOG brand produces consistently high-quality survival gear. For a lightweight EDC folding survival knife, you can’t go wrong with this tool from SOG.

Thanks for reading, and we hope that our reviews have helped you to find the best folding survival knife! Please leave any feedback in the comments section below, and if you have any suggestions for future topics, please get in touch with us via our social media pages, which are linked below. We’d love to hear from you!

Good Luck and Happy Survival Prepping!

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