11 Best Tactical Combat Knives for Survival and Fighting in 2023

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By Lora Blandon

A combat knife is helpful for many purposes. You can get a combat knife for self-defense. You could also have one to help you in emergencies, like when you need to cut something or break an object.

But as simple as a combat knife can be, it can also be tough to tell some of them apart. This guide will help you find the best combat knife for your use.

What Is a Combat Knife?

A combat knife is a knife designed for self-defense purposes. The knife works for combat or hand-to-hand fighting.

The concept of the combat knife originated in military use, particularly in trench warfare. But over the years, the combat knife has been designed to work with many utility needs in mind.

A Comparison of the 11 Best Combat Knives

Defender Xtreme 12” Tactical Bowie Survival Hunting Knife
  • Overall Length (length for retractable
    model is for when it’s open) :
    12 Inches
  • Weight : 12 ounces
  • Blade Type : Clip point
  • Blade Length : 7 inches
United Cutlery USMC Combat Fighter Pocket Knife
  • Overall Length (length for retractable
    model is for when it’s open) :
    8.75 Inches
  • Weight : 16 ounces
  • Blade Type : Clip point
  • Blade Length : 4 inches
Ontario Knife Company 8679 Sp-1 Combat Knife
  • Overall Length (length for retractable
    model is for when it’s open) :
    11 Inches
  • Weight : 16 ounces
  • Blade Type : Clip point
  • Blade Length : 6.75 inches
CRKY Shrill Fixed Blade Knife
  • Overall Length (length for retractable
    model is for when it’s open) :
    8.75 Inches
  • Weight : 4.3 ounces
  • Blade Type : Spear point
  • Blade Length : 4.75 inches
Gerber Hinderer Combat Life Saver Knife
  • Overall Length (length for retractable
    model is for when it’s open) :
    8 Inches
  • Weight : 5.9 ounces
  • Blade Type : Drop point
  • Blade Length : 3.5 inches
Smith and Wesson SWHRT9B 9in High Carbon Fixed Blade Knife
  • Overall Length (length for retractable
    model is for when it’s open) :
    9 Inches
  • Weight : 7.7 ounces
  • Blade Type : Spear point
  • Blade Length : 4.7 inches
Mtech USA MT-20-39 Fixed Blade Knife
  • Overall Length (length for retractable
    model is for when it’s open) :
    14 Inches
  • Weight : 18 ounces
  • Blade Type : Clip point
  • Blade Length : 8 inches
Glock Perfection OEM Fixed Straight Blade Field Knife
  • Overall Length (length for retractable
    model is for when it’s open) :
    11.4 Inches
  • Weight : 8 ounces
  • Blade Type : Clip point
  • Blade Length : 6.5 inches
Ka-Bar Full Size US Marine Corps Fighting Knife
  • Overall Length (length for retractable
    model is for when it’s open) :
    11.875 Inches
  • Weight : 11.2 ounces
  • Blade Type : Straight back
  • Blade Length : 7 inches
Benchmade Nimravus 140 Knife
  • Overall Length (length for retractable
    model is for when it’s open) :
    9.45 Inches
  • Weight : 6.4 ounces
  • Blade Type : Drop Point
  • Blade Length : 4.5 inches
Rothco Raider II Boot Knife
  • Overall Length (length for retractable
    model is for when it’s open) :
    6.5 Inches
  • Weight : 4.8 ounces
  • Blade Type : Drop Point
  • Blade Length : 3 inches

A Closer Look At Best Combat Fighting Knives

1. Defender Xtreme 12” Tactical Bowie Survival Hunting Knife – Lasts For Years

The first choice to note is this Defender Xtreme knife. The design has a functional layout that is easy to follow and use. The knife features a 12-inch length with a 7-inch black stainless steel blade. The design features a serrated top for a perfect saw body.

The knife’s double-edge design provides a good design that lets you make secure cuts from either direction. You can keep the two halves sharp simultaneously for a more consistent cut while being flexible.

The curved grip provides a comfortable feel. You’ll notice a grooved body on the grip to help keep your hand intact. The design lets you have more control over your cutting experience.

At 12 ounces in weight, the knife provides a good body that works. The design fits well along your belt.
The knife does well for peeling wood for tinder use. It can also work alongside a steel rod to start a fire. The grip can be easy to follow.


  • Comes with a striking black body
  • The grip provides a solid hold
  • The curved point is sturdy and will not shatter


  • Hard to tell when there’s lots of dirt and other things on it
  • The included sheath may not work as well when protecting the body

2. United Cutlery USMC Combat Fighter Pocket Knife – A Smaller Choice

United Cutlery makes this smaller pocket knife with a body inspired by the Marines. The traditional Marine fixed blade knife influences the layout. Everything on the knife produces a sharp look that will stand out in a crowd. But the general functionality of the knife is also essential to note.

The TPU handle features a 3D-printed body that looks like the leather handle that the Marines use in their knives. The design has a few grooves to produce a better hold for your fingers.

The pocket knife has a retractable body that lets you move the blade into the handle compartment when not used. The locking mechanism ensures that the blade doesn’t come out unless you use the proper trigger movement. It is also easy to move the blade back into the compartment without potentially harming yourself. The positioning on end is easy to follow and control.

The stainless steel blade is about 4 inches in length. The handle is slightly longer, which is necessary to keep the blade functional. The non-reflective finish on the body provides a distinct look that isn’t overly distracting.


  • Opens and closes fast
  • The handle doesn’t feel too hard or worn
  • The finger grooves fit well in most hands


  • The locking mechanism could accidentally open if you are not careful enough
  • Weighs a little more than most other models

3. Ontario Knife Company 8679 Sp-1 Combat Knife – Compact and Firm

The carbon steel body on this next combat knife from the Ontario Knife Company is worth exploring. The firm layout of this clip-point knife provides a body that lasts for years and will not wear out or weaken over time.

The high-carbon steel blade lasts for years. The whole tang body also features a comfortable hold and grip that provides a better connection that works well. You will appreciate how stable the blade is and how it will not weaken or wear out with regular use when you manage it accordingly.

The handle features a small series of grooves for the fingers. The handle also has a slight array of points at the ends to create a border around your hand. The layout prevents the knife from slipping off and possibly hurting someone. More importantly, the arrangement works in either hand for comfort and functionality.

The shoelace feature at the bottom will help you affix the knife to your hand while in use. The shoelace attachment won’t take up much room, nor will it add lots of weight.


  • Sharpens fast
  • The pointed end works for piercing thick items
  • Light for its length


  • Hard to remove the shoelace on the bottom
  • Only one half is truly sharp

4. CRKY Shrill Fixed Blade Knife – Features a Powerful Spear Point

The spear point blade on this CRKY combat knife features a titanium body that resists rust and adds a radiant silver look. The spear point is also fully sharpened to create a better cut on either side.

The dual-edge design provides an even cut on each half. The knife is also relatively thin, at about 0.15 inches in thickness. The slim body keeps the weight on the blade minimal and adds a bold look all around. The knife is a little over four ounces in weight. The sheath doesn’t add much outside of that.

The handle features a resin body. The infused fibers provide a better hold that won’t wear. You’ll also notice a slight curve in the middle part to produce an even look that works in moments.

A leather sheath appears with this knife. The sheath features a boot clip for convenient storage and concealment.

The full tang feature on the knife provides a one-piece body. The design requires little maintenance outside the traditional cleaning and sharpening efforts you’d have to complete.


  • The sheath only adds about two ounces alongside the knife
  • The finish on the blade feels very smooth
  • The handle has enough grooves to keep a sturdy hold


  • Hard to get a string added to the bottom hole area
  • The bolts on the handle might stick out a little too much at times

5. Gerber Hinderer Combat Life Saver Knife – Helpful For Many Purposes

The general functionality of a tactical combat knife can be critical for its use. You’ll need a knife that can handle multiple things, particularly for life-saving needs. This Gerber knife features a sturdy stainless steel body and a helpful serrated end, but there are a few additional features on the handle. The handle comes with a seat belt cutter and a slight curve at the front to help you carry and wield the knife. A liner lock release feature also appears in the curved area. The layout lets you get the knife ready for use in moments. The array works well for emergency purposes. The component appears on the side of the handle. You can open the spot to allow the cutter to stay open.

The back end has a pointed spot that works as a window punch tool. While many knives already have handles that work well for breaking glass, the window punch on this one has a small and concentrated body. The arrangement lets you puncture a window for fast access when you need it the most. 


  • The pocket clip on the back part doesn’t obstruct much
  • The stainless steel does not tarnish easily
  • Does not produce a distracting shine


  • The serrated spot is small and may be tough to use
  • May be tough to sharpen every bit of the blade

6. Smith and Wesson SWHRT9B 9in High Carbon Fixed Blade Knife – Comes With a Great Handle

Smith and Wesson have been one of the world’s top firearms companies for generations. The company also makes combat knives like this model. This nine-inch fixed-blade knife has a carbon steel body, but the handle makes this one so valuable.

The handle features a rubber-wrapped body that sticks to your hand quite well. The wrapping features a few grooves in the middle. The grooves match up with the user’s fingers in most situations. You’ll also notice a slight series of curves on the top and bottom parts of the handle. The design adds a good touch.

A handguard appears on the top near the blade part. The guard provides a border between the two halves to keep you safe. A lanyard hole also appears near the end to add a secure space for use. The 4.7-inch blade features a spear point body that cuts through many things well. The even blade allows you to cut through many things in moments. The knife also features a belt or boot sheath for storage. The sheath features a black leather body. The black tone matches up with the color of the blade and handle.


  • Does not produce an annoying shine
  • Easy to clean off
  • Does not slip out of your hand


  • Takes a bit to dry when wet
  • The lanyard hole may be too small

7. Mtech USA MT-20-39 Fixed Blade Knife – Comes With An Extended Blade

The clip-point blade on this Mtech USA fixed blade knife is eight inches long. The extended length lets you cover more room while cutting or skinning items. The design also works with many angles and cutting patterns in mind. The stainless steel body is easy to sharpen and provides a better cut.

You’ll note a lanyard hole at the back end. The hole is suitable for most string types, especially when aiming to get a better hold of your knife.

The slight bend at the end of the handle also adds a good grip. The bend helps with breaking glass or other sturdy items. You’ll also see a few grooves on the top part of the handle to help you keep a better hold all the way through.

The point you’ll notice on the end of the blade features a significant edge that provides a better hold for cutting. The point ensures you can puncture through more items quite well.


  • Very slim at about 5mm
  • The handle is also slim at 17.5mm
  • The blade has enough bends without being hard to wield


  • Weighs a little over a pound
  • Too lengthy for some users at 14 inches total

8. Glock Perfection OEM Fixed Straight Blade Field Knife – A Useful Saw-Like Body

You will appreciate how well this Glock knife works. The Perfection knife comes from the same company also known for making firearms. The Glock knife comes with a clip-point blade, but the serrated end on one half makes for something useful.

The serrated end on the bottom part provides enough room for the knife to work as a saw of sorts. The design provides enough help with cutting through materials, especially if you’re trying to work with rope or wood materials. Coating the steel blade also ensures that corrosive materials will not harm the blade.

The other end features a traditional knife blade. The plain edge helps when trying to open items or slice open some thicker materials. But the saw is best when you have something a little more stubborn and need extra traction and support.

The firm handle is strong enough to puncture through the glass but smooth enough to give you a comfortable hold. The body features a better grip that works fast and adds a nice touch.


  • The blade does not rust or corrode easily
  • The handle has a curve for support
  • Includes guards on the ends of the handle for protection


  • The included sheath is fragile
  • Too long for some at about 11 inches

9. Ka-Bar Full-Size US Marine Corps Fighting Knife – Inspired By Tradition

This next tactical knife from Ka-Bar features a design inspired by the US Marine Corps. The layout comes with a handle similar to the traditional leather body you’d find on a Marine knife. But the design features a slightly more complex tone than what the Marines use. The added openings around the handle provide enough support for your fingers.

The straight-edge design produces a distinct point for direct cutting purposes. The body works faster and gives you the best possible cut you could experience.

The seven-inch length of the straight blade gives you enough room to make a thorough and complete cut. The handle is a little under five inches long, thus giving you more control. The lightweight body also gives you a better hold.

A leather sheath also comes with a knife. The design has a belt buckle extension on the top to help you carry the knife around well. Everything you get with this knife is about giving you a protected and helpful body that lasts for years.


  • The weight is balanced well between all parts
  • The steel will not tarnish
  • Does not produce any bothersome shines


  • The endpoint isn’t all that pronounced
  • Takes an extra bit of time to sharpen

10. Benchmade Nimravus 140 Knife – Provides Enough Balance

The balance you’ll get out of the Benchmade Nimravus 140 knife ensures you’ll have better control over the model. At a little over six ounces in weight, the knife provides an arrangement that is easy to hold.

The stainless steel blade stays firm and will not rust. The design also holds its edge well, so you don’t have to sharpen it as often as you might assume you would.

The aluminum handle is about half an inch thick. It would help if you didn’t have much trouble getting a firm grip. The design also works on either hand. The grooves in the middle produce enough room for holding the knife without it being at risk of slipping out.

A nylon sheath adds extra protection. A clip works on the sheath for added security. The sheath is about the same weight as the knife, thick enough to create enough protection.
The drop point body produces a tip that goes well through most items. The small serrated part near the tang adds an extra touch for cutting purposes.


  • Useful for tactical and rescue purposes alike
  • The thin blade is about a tenth of an inch thick
  • The fixed body produces a secure layout


  • The bolts for keeping the blade intact can come apart if you’re not careful
  • May chip if you’re not cautious enough

11. Rothco Raider II Boot Knife – For Compact Needs

Your last choice to note is this boot knife from Rothco. The Raider II knife features a 6.5-inch body with about half that length going toward the drop point blade. The small and slim layout helps fit around a boot. The included sheath has a boot clip to help affix it to your footwear without slipping off.

The stainless steel blade lasts for years and will not develop rust or wear. The body is also sturdy enough to keep from chipping.

Another feature to note is its handle. The smooth body provides a good hold, although the best part is that it has a good handle that features a light bend. The bend has enough room for a good hold that keeps the blade intact.

The knife is also one of the lightest you’ll find. The knife weighs close to five ounces when outside its sheath. You can carry it along on a bootstrap without it bothering you.


  • Simple to control
  • The edges are sharp enough to cut through most items
  • Does not glare or shine much


  • May be tough to remove from the sheath depending on its positioning
  • Can be hard to sharpen when necessary

How to Choose the Best Combat Knife?

Below are some critical factors to consider before buying a combat knife.

Handle Design

The handle on your knife entails more than how you’re going to grip the knife. The handle should also be easy to grip.

The handle can come with a slight curve. The design should be easy to grip without losing control.

Some bolts may also appear on a handle. The bolts help in securing the body of the knife. It will help if you are looking for something that fits well in your hand without being distracting or otherwise tough to grip.

Length and Weight

The length and weight of the knife cannot be understated. A shorter one will require extra pressure, but it would be easier to swing and move around. A longer model will be more challenging to turn but can be more consequential.

The weight is also critical to note surrounding how well you can grip and use the knife. The knife should not be too heavy to where you can’t handle it well enough. There should also be enough balance around all parts so that one side doesn’t feel heavier.


The tang is the spot on the knife that connects the blade with the handle. In many cases, the tang will be a one-piece or complete layout that does not require added bolts or fasteners.

There would be a few bolts for a partial tang to keep the two parts together. The partial tang layout works on retractable models. You’ll need to ensure the bolts and other fasteners are secure and aren’t coming loose.

General Uses For a Knife Beyond Combat

You can use a combat knife for many intentions. While the tool is generally made with self-defense in mind, there are many other things you can use the knife for:

  • Cutting branches, rope, and other thick items
  • Breaking glass, particularly in a vehicle
  • Trimming fabric, particularly for first-aid use
  • Skinning or cutting animals and other things you might hunt
  • Fighting off any live animals that might threaten you
  • Prepare tinder for a fire

The functionality of the knife is strong, but the layout can also dictate what works. The physical design may feature a body that is more capable of handling certain tasks than others. Take a look at what your knife of interest can do when finding something suitable.

Straight or Folding?

Your combat knife will come in one of two forms. First, it may be a straight knife. This knife comes in one piece and sticks out from the handle. You’d use a protective sheath to guard the blade when not in use.

Second, it could be a folding knife. The retractable design lets you secure the blade in its compartment when you’re not using it. The compartment would be inside the handle body.

You should look for a knife that is easy to use and handle for your use. The design should be flexible and useful.

Types of Knife Blades to be Consider For Combat Knife

There are multiple combat knives you can consider when finding something for your use. Part of what you should do is look at the blade type you’re getting. You have to find a blade type that fits the needs you have when using your knife. There are many common blade types to note:

1. Drop Point

The drop point blade features a cutting edge that curves up to a point at the end. The design is useful for almost anything you need.

2. Spear Point

A spear point features a symmetrical pattern. A convex curve appears near the tip. The curve produces an asymmetrical look that makes it easier for you to cut through items. The spear point should be sharp on both sides.

3. Clip Point

The forward part of the clip point blade features a slight curve. The tip moves upward to create a slanted edge. Some of these blades feature two sharp parts, one that is straight and a second that is curved. The tip works well when slicing through items.

4. Leaf

A leaf-style blade has a concave curve with a convex curve afterward. The design produces an asymmetrical shape. The design works for hacking purposes.

5. Needle Point

The needlepoint blade is thin and features a long point. The model works mainly for piercing items. You’d be more likely to use this when trying to stab an animal that might be charging at you.

6. Hawkbill

A hawkbill blade has a hooked body where the point goes down from the top of the body. The deeper curve is ideal for cutting rope.

7. Trailing Point

The trailing point blade is the opposite of the hawkbill. There is a curve on the body, but it goes upward. The blade works for slashing and skinning.

8. Straightback

The straight back blade is also called a straight-edge blade. The design has a straight spine with a curve on the bottom. The bottom part will gradually curve up to the spine. The array creates a firm point.

General Features To Note In Your Knife’s Blade

Regardless of the specific blade you choose, you may find various things in your design. These include the following points:

1. Curve

The curve on the blade is a bend that will increase the general cutting potential on the knife. A curve may be convex or concave.

A convex curve places the force on one part of the blade. The blade can go a little deeper into something and produce more pressure.

A concave curve allows the force to spread out to many parts of the blade. But the item that goes inside the curve may be trapped. You’ll have to plan your cuts and other motions accordingly.

2. Recurve

The recurve appears when a blade curves in one way and then curves in the opposite direction. The design combines the convex and concave curves together for a distinct cut.

3. Serrations

Serrations are small jagged cuts orbits that you might find on the sharp edge of your knife. These serrations allow the knife to work as a saw when cutting things. It may be easier to get through some of the toughest fabrics or items you need to cut when there are enough serrations.

4. Shine

A shine might appear on your blade. The shine might make a knife look flashy, but it could do more to make it hard for people to see things when there’s a glare. You should look for something that doesn’t produce as much of a shine. It would be easier for you to see what you’re doing when there isn’t much of a shine.

What Metals Are Used In the Blades of Knife?

Your blade may feature one of many metals. The metal material should help keep the blade intact and sharp. Some of the more common metals you’ll find in your model include:

1. Stainless Steel

Stainless steel is an alloy with carbon, iron, and chromium. The added chromium produces a reflective finish, although a slight coating may go on top to prevent a distracting shine. Stainless steel will not corrode or stain.

2. Carbon Steel

Carbon steel also features carbon and iron. But the carbon content is much greater in this form. The added carbon produces a lower melting point for construction purposes. As a result, the material is more durable than something lighter. Carbon steel also distributes its energy well. You may also notice a matte finish on the carbon body, as it will not create much of a shine.

3. Titanium

What makes titanium unique for knives is that it is very strong but also lightweight. Titanium is a low-density metal with a better strength-to-weight ratio than most other metals.

Keys For Knife Maintenance

By using these points, your combat knife can last for years to come:


Be aware of how well the knife has to be sharpened. Depending on its blade type, you should sharpen multiple parts of the knife. Also, knives with serrated features are often harder to sharpen.

The good news is that sharpening a combat knife is easy to follow. You would need a sharpening tool such as a whetstone, honing stick, or a stationary sharpener. You’ll have to sharpen the blade to ensure it stays functional occasionally.

sharpening combat knife


It would help if you looked at how well you will clean off your combat knife. There are a few things to note:

  1. Apply masking tape on the edge before you start.
  2. Use a compressed air blower to clear out any bits of dirt or other debris off of the knife.
  3. Wash the handle and blade with warm soapy water. Do not immerse the knife in the water. Use a sponge to clean it off instead.
  4. Use a toothbrush to clear off any grime or other things that aren’t coming off well.
  5. Apply more compressed air to dry off the knife.
  6. Remove the tape from the edge after the knife dries off.
  7. Use a cotton swab with rubbing alcohol to clean off the blade. Do not touch the blade yourself.
  8. Apply compressed air to the blade once again to dry it off.

You can also use baking soda or white vinegar to clean off any rust spots. You’d have to let the blade soak overnight while keeping the handle out of the solution. After the rust wears off, you’ll need to clean off the knife, as listed above. By doing so, the knife will feel new again, with the rusty bits coming off the body.

Storage Points

It would help if you stored your knife well enough to ensure its blade stays strong and does not chip. The best idea is to store the knife in a dry and dark spot to ensure the blade won’t be influenced by anything unusual.

The great news is that many combat knives are sold with protective covers. It will be acceptable to keep your knife in its sheath when not in use while out in the field. But after you get home, remove the knife from the sheath and place it in a dry spot. Keeping the knife in the sheath for too long can cause moisture to build up. The knife could develop rust.

A sheath cover may also feature a clip. Depending on the layout, you can apply the clip on a belt or boot. You’ll need to keep the knife pointed to where you can easily access it, not to mention so it will not accidentally slip out of the storage spot.

Carrying Lanyard

A small lanyard hole may appear on the end of a knife. The lanyard hole lets you fit a string or other item in the body to carry the knife around wherever you go. The feature is helpful when you need quick access, but you should also watch for what you’ll use here.

Which is the best combat knife in the world?

The best combat knife in the world is the Defender Xtreme 12” Tactical Bowie Survival Hunting Knife. The knife is long enough to produce enough room for cutting, while the handle gives you enough room to secure a firm grip. The knife is also light to create enough control over the cutting experience without adding lots of weight all around.


A combat knife can be an indispensable tool for your use, but it helps to see that you know what you’re finding. Combat knives are available in many forms, and you’ll find different choices that fit your needs. You have to find something that is easy to use and works with your specific intentions. Finding an ideal item for use always makes for a great experience.

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