Knives come in various sizes, shapes, and uses – from the basic butter knife kept in the silverware drawer all the way up to combat and tactical knives used by members of the U.S. Marine Corps. If you want to be prepared for hiking the backwoods, living in the wilderness, or dealing with the dangers of the urban jungle, you’ll want and need the best combat knife on the market.

Having a high-quality tactical knife will be invaluable if you come across another person wishing to do harm via hand-to-hand combat. Or maybe when you are trapped in a corner by a big bear looking for you to be the next meal and you don’t have time to load a shotgun – which is another reason a combat knife is a smart thing to carry out in the wild forests.

The market offers a variety of knives with different blade styles, handle grips and other accessories that can benefit various levels of outdoor enthusiasts or defense needs. We have put together this comprehensive guide to help you choose the best combat knife for the money and for your needs.

Comparison Chart of the Best Tactical Knives for the Money

The following knives compose the list of the top 10 combat knives on the market that will meet outdoor, self-defense and other survival needs –including marine combat knives, fighting knives and other fixed blade models that have a variety of useful features.

PictureModelProsConsPriceOur Rating (out of 5.0)
Ka-Bar US Marine Corps Fighting Knives- Blade edge is customizable.
- Stainless steel straight blade
- Durable leather sheath for handle.
- Military grade
- Issues of blade grind dullness
- Need to apply oil for water, moisture resistance.
$$4.8
Ka-Bar Becker Combat Bowie- 1095 Cro-Van carbon steel blade
- Ergonomic handle reduces fatigue
- Bargain price compared to market
- On the expensive side$$4.8
Benchmade Contego- Rugged handle
- Dependable clip
- Great value against similar models
- Smaller hands may struggled handling it$$$$4.8
Buck Knives Tops/Buck- Great price.
- Various ways to attach sheath
- Forever warranty
- Comfortable, ergonomic handle
- Unsharpened, poorly finished blade
- Blade rattles within the sheath
$$$4.9
Kershaw Tanto - Smooth, one-handed opening
- Able to resist corrosion
- Non-slip handle material
- Sandpaper-like material for handle grip
$4.8
Gerber Trident- Double-edge clip point
- Highly hardened steel
- Handle resists heat, UV, chemicals
- A little more expensive$$$$4.7
Columbia River Big Dog M16-14ZSF- Durable blade
- Built strong for long-term durable use.
- Blade is very sharp.
- Affordable price
- Easy to open, close.
- Can be used as weapon, tool and other uses while out on the field.
- Requires high maintenance
- Rusts without proper care
$$4.6
SOG Seal Pup- Blade includes noticing, filing, edges
- Ergonomic handle for comfort, grip
- Nylon sheath with loop attachment
- Might be sharper than expected
- Lifetime warranty is only limited
$$4.4
Recone One Tactical Knife- Blade heat-treated, cold quenched
- Resists rust, reduces glare
- Held together with fasteners, anchors
- Locking lever needs breaking in$4.6
MTech USA Xtreme- Stainless steel, Tanto-style blade
- Nylon sheath for easy storage
- Great value for the market
- Plastic sheath may fall apart
- Blade doesn’t hold edge well
- Blade might rust after use
$4.1

Top Combat Knife Reviews

Ka-Bar full-size US Marine Corps Fighting Knife Review

#1The Ka-Bar brand has established itself as one of the most popular fixed blade knife designs in the world and this U.S. Marine fighting knife is a perfect example of the quality the brand has produced since before 1900. For this fighting knife model, the seven-inch straight blade is made of 1095 Cro-Van carbon steel that is easy to sharpen.

This steel composition allows knowledgeable knife owners to have the option of creating their own angles to their preferences instead of utilizing a common factory edge. The stainless steel is one that can be sharpened using any type of rock, useful for those who might be out in the wilderness and use this knife for survival.

The Ka-Bar US Marine Corps Fighting Knives are considered a dependable fighting knife with the military specifications that have been used for several generations of U.S. military service members, which includes those currently serving. But that shouldn’t stop anyone who wants to purchase this model for when they go camping, hiking or do any other form of outdoor non-military activity.

The leather sheath that comes with the knife dependable, strong, and functional. It works best when first soaked in neatsfoot oil, or an olive oil, which will make the sheath waterproof and will prevent any rusting of the blade.

Pros:

  • Blade edge is customizable.
  • Stainless steel straight blade
  • Durable leather sheath for the handle.
  • Military grade

Cons:

  • Issues of blade grind dullness
  • Need to apply oil for water, moisture resistance.

>>Check Price and More Reviews <<


Ka-Bar Becker Combat Bowie Fixed Blade Knife Review

#2Like the earlier mentioned model from Ka-Bar, this bowie knife also features the 1095 Cro-Van carbon steel knife that is designed for use in combat, as well as in various types of camping, hiking and hunting chores. The nine-inch blade features a 20-degree angle on the edge with a flatter grind.

The Ka-Bar Becker Combat Bowie fixed blade knife also comes with an ergonomic handle that is a trademark design of Becker. What makes these handles unique is their ability to maintain a high level of performance without wearing out over time.

There is a lot of strength that this combat Bowie knife comes with, including the ability to chop wood and perform other necessary camping and hiking chores. Some campers prefer not having to carry around an axe that weighs more and prefer the lightweight option of the Ka-Bar Becker Bowie Knife.

Pros:

  • 1095 Cro-Van carbon steel blade
  • Ergonomic handle reduces fatigue
  • Bargain price compared to market

Cons:

  • On the expensive side 

>>Check Price and More Reviews <<


Benchmade Contego Folding Knife Review

#3This is a quality folding knife for the price, being listed within the $175-215 range – while many other brands mark theirs closer to the $400 benchmark.

A little bit different than the earlier mentioned fixed blade knives, Benchmade Contego is a folding knife that can be stored in a pocket and provides a lot of benefits in terms of storage space and transportation. The clip is sturdy and dependable for those who like to move around during activities, especially for those users who might have to crawl through tight spaces where other models may fall out of a pocket very easily.

Once again, the straight blade allows for easy sharpening by those who enjoy the flexibility to have their preferred angle on the knife. The handle is described by many customers as sturdy and strong that doesn’t hurt the hand due to the jimping – notches designed into the back part of the blade to provide better thumb control.

Pros:

  • Rugged handle
  • Dependable clip
  • Great value against similar models

Cons:

  • Smaller hands may struggled handling it

>>Check Price and More Reviews <<


Buck Knives Tops/Buck Fixed Blade Tactical Knife Review

#4There aren’t many too many models around the $100 price mark that aren’t as rugged, dependable and durable as this Buck Knives fixed blade tactical knife, especially those that can offer a lifetime warranty.

The Buck Knives Tops/Buck knife features a black oxide stainless steel blade that might be a little thicker than some like, but offers a good length and functionality. The blade is very similar to models like the Nighthawk with utility notches to provide a lighter blade during use, but there are some who wish they had the extra steel instead.

Despite the concerns with the amount of steel, all users enjoy being able to utilize the comfort of an ergonomic handle that fits perfectly with those who have larger hands. There are also rave reviews for how versatile the knife’s sheath is – which allows it to be attached in different ways to a gear bag, belt, backpack or other items.

Overall, this is a durable knife for the price paid – a good choice for those thinking economically and for the long term.

Pros:

  • A great price.
  • Various ways to attach sheath
  • Forever warranty
  • Comfortable, ergonomic handle

Cons:

  • Unsharpened, poorly finished blade
  • Blade rattles within the sheath

>>Check Price and More Reviews <<


Kershaw Tanto Knife Review

#5There are a lot of customers who are happy with this serrated knife that features a curved blade useful for outdoor jobs like skinning, cutting and slicing. While being a strong blade, the Kershaw Tanto serrated tactical knife includes a dependable composition of 13C26 stainless steel that is known for its strength and ability to resist rust and water damage.

This knife also comes with SpeedSafe, which provides the ability for one-handed opening of the folded knife that is spring operated – unique from what is considered a switchblade. It is also a lightweight knife with a sturdy aluminum handle that is designed with a rough material from Trac-Tec to provide a non-slip handle.

Some have described that material that covers the handle as feeling like gritty sandpaper that is glued on. But it’s not too much of a concern, yet some might not like that kind of rough feeling on their hands at first – an opinion that could differ between the different customers who purchase this knife.

For the value of the price that can be found for less than $100, it is a fearsome looking knife that can be used in a pinch for a variety of outdoor camping, hiking and hunting needs. But it also could be used if there was ever a need for self-defense, which hopefully isn’t going to be the case for any customer – making this one of the best combat fighting knives for the money.

Pros:

  • Smooth, one-handed opening
  • Able to resist corrosion
  • Non-slip handle material

Cons:

  • Sandpaper-like material for handle grip.

>>Check Price and More Reviews <<


Gerber Silver Trident Knife Review

#6While this knife’s price goes up a bit from the last few on the list, it is a lightweight sheath knife that features a double-edge clip point on the blade that includes a non-reflective black blade coating for a sleek and stealthy “special operations” style that attracts various types of customers who like that type of tool.

The blade is also heat-treated for an HRC 59-61 hardness rating that allows an edge that will retain its form through years of use while also remaining strong and flexible for a longer period of time. These are why several different military and police departments prefer to use this knife for training and work on the field of duty.

The handle is also as impressive as the blade as it is designed to resist heat, UV lights, and various chemicals. It is also a co-molded handle with two versions of Hytrel – a rock hard strong performance polyester elastomer inside the handle and a softer textured material on the outside for a better grip and control.

In addition to a top-rated blade and handle, Gerber Trident also comes with a striker pommel that is perfect for tasks that range from driving a stake into the ground to help set up a tent for camping or having to break out a window in an emergency situation.

Pros:

  • Double-edge clip point
  • Highly hardened steel
  • Handle resists heat, UV, chemicals

Cons:

  • A little more expensive

>>Check Price and More Reviews <<


Columbia River Knife Big Dog M16-14SF

#7With plenty of weight and heft, this tactical knife offers a dual grind Tonto-style blade that is modified to be perfect for a Special Forces desert camouflage handle that provides the ability to make opening and closing possible with the use of only one hand. The opening and closing are a lot easier because it comes with an automatic mechanism for better safety and will not allow the knife to open up after it is locked up by the user. In fact, it’s just about 99 percent impossible for the black to be released by accident in your pocket or bag because of the AutoLAWKS lever being used as the blade is adjusted correctly.

The camouflage is designed to blend in well with your desert surroundings if you are on a mission overseas, which makes this a top-quality knife for tactical military service members involved in Special Forces. The knife is very durable with a titanium frame that will help provide a complete product that will last you for a very long time. The Big Dog M16-14ZSF also features a stainless steel blade with a bead blasted coating along with triple-point serration on the edge of the blade. The handle is composed of glass-filled nylon and provides thumb studs to make the knife easy to use whether you are left- or right-handed.

Pros:

  • Durable blade
  • Built strong for long-term durable use.
  • The blade is very sharp.
  • Affordable price
  • Easy to open, close.
  • Can be used as a weapon, tool, and other uses while out on the field.

Cons:

  • Requires high maintenance.
  • Rusts without proper care.

>>Check Price and More Reviews <<


SOG Seal Pup Knife Elite Review

#8This knife includes a near five-inch straight edge fixed blade that features high-performance steel that is more than just a knife, but also carries a tradition of being used by the best in the U.S. military – like the Navy Seals.

The hard case black TiNi blade features a racy shape that features a long cutting edge and a spine rasp designed for notching, filing and placing your thumb during use. But just like the blade, the handle also includes several features that make this model worth buying.

The handle for SOG Seal Pup knife is made of a glass-reinforced nylon material that provides quality comfort to fit a majority of hand sizes. There’s also a nylon sheath the knife goes into that offers a belt loop attachment for connecting to a belt, backpack or another bag to keep close while on the move.

In addition to all of the above, the handle also features scored lines to provide a better grip for the user. And while it’s a very low priced knife that has a lot of features to like, it also provides a limited lifetime warranty.

Pros:

  • Blade includes noticing, filing, edges
  • Ergonomic handle for comfort, grip
  • Nylon sheath with loop attachment

Cons:

  • Might be sharper than expected
  • Lifetime warranty is only limited

>>Check Price and More Reviews <<


Cold Steel Recon One Tactical Knife Review

#9Not a bad price value for one of the top tactical knives. The knife features a stainless steel blade that is not only vacuum-heat-treated but also goes through a sub-zero quenching process to guarantee a transformation from austenite to martensitic grain structure for a low-cost style that does get the job done.

Cold Steel also applies a durable and dependable Teflon finish that can fight against any type of rust or corrosion, prevents glare from the sun and can slip through various types of tough material with minimal friction – which provides deeper and longer cuts than a blade that isn’t coated with Teflon.

What also highlights Recone One Tactical Knife is the handle that offers a G-10 laminate scales that are scaled to provide a top-notch grip that won’t slip out of your hand. What is also unique is that the handle is also attached to the blade through mechanical fasteners that are extremely strong, as well as a heat-treated spacer acting as the anchor.

Other features include a pocket clip that is ambidextrous which means it can be connected in a variety of ways, a smaller design that allows keeping the palm comfortable with protracted use and a Tri-Ad locking system that prevents any locking failure – although the lever should be broken in over time.

Pros:

  • Blade heat-treated, cold quenched
  • Resists rust, reduces glare
  • Held together with fasteners, anchors

Cons:

  • Locking lever needs breaking in

>>Check Price and More Reviews <<


MTech USA Xtreme Fixed Blade Knife Review

#10This might seem like an extremely cheap model, but this made the list because of what it is able to do within a 12-inch fixed blade that is composed of a Tanto-style black-coated 440 stainless steel meant for durability and strength. The thick blade is also about as long as some above mentioned Ka-Bar knives.

The MTech USA Xtreme knife also provides a nylon sheath that provides an easy transport that can contain this larger and thicker knife perfect for those who like to go out into the wilderness and need to cut vines, brush and other bushes. In addition to the sizeable sheath, the black ABS molded handle on the knife also offers a lanyard hole for wearing the knife around your neck.

The sheath is also able to be strapped to your leg or belt, which is usually for a variety of outdoor activities – hiking, riding horses and driving. The designed features are meant to provide a lot for the low cost that is only a few dollars, but there are some flaws that can be expected to be repaired with minor fixes.

Minor rusting only requires a little WD-40 and if the sheath falls apart, it can be glued back together before going back out.

Pros:

  • Stainless steel, Tanto-style blade
  • Nylon sheath for easy storage
  • Great value for the market

Cons:

  • Plastic sheath may fall apart
  • Blade doesn’t hold edge well
  • Blade might rust after use

>>Check Price and More Reviews <<


Guide to Choosing the Best Tactical Knife

There are different aspects to consider when looking for great tactical knives that will work for your needs. In this guide, we will show you the main ones to consider when deciding what combat/tactical knife will work best for you.


Knife Type

  • Assist-opening – Not the same as a switchblade, but the assist opening knives will open up using a spring system. While the opening requires some manual initiation, the spring mechanism flips the blade out from within the handle.
  • Bowie – These larger sheath knives have enjoyed quite the popularity since being debuted by American pioneer Jim Bowie in the 19th What makes this type unique is the cross guard, a carrying sheath, and a clip point to attach to belts and bags.
  • Clip folder – This folding knife comes with a mounting clip on the handle that allows for easy attachment to any belt loop or pocket, which provides the best access while moving around. While it’s an extremely popular knife type for those who like to carry their during someone’s everyday life, this is a model considered by many a “must-have” for outdoor enthusiasts.
  • Dagger – With a double-edged blade, these knives offer a central spine and full-length sharp edges. Not necessarily meant for the outdoor use and meant more as a combat fighting knife, although there aren’t many places you can carry this type because of the lack of clip attachment.
  • Machete – This is a much heavier blade with more length than the typical knife. It’s not going to do well for stealth or fighting. This is a model sometimes called the “pocketknife of the tropics” where these are usually carried by most workers. It’s not going to do well with detail work, but it can easily cut through brush and branches while hiking.
  • Pocketknife – There are various types of this style that having different ways that the blades can be folded, as well as other tools. The pocketknife has a long history as generations have used it to whittle wood into different tools and items.
  • Fixed blade – These are used primarily as survival knives while out in the wilderness and useful for tasks like cutting firewood and helping prepare shelter. While some have a hollow handle that contains other survival items, others have a solid handle that can be used for hammering in stakes for campsites.
  • Swiss Army – One of the oldest versions of the multitool that dates as far back as the late 1800s, the Swiss Army knife provides different items that can be folded within the handle, including a file, scissors, and a bottle opener.
  • Throwing – Maybe not the most concealable knife type on this list, but is designed for spinning in the air for use in hunting. There is also a blunt-end handle and a solid construction through to the blade’s tip.

Blades

  • Fixed blade – You may have noticed that the majority of the blades in the top 10 were fixed blades. That’s because they are considered more dependable than folding knives and other styles. Blades that have any kind of joint have a weakness. There’s less risk of damaging a resource because it’s better for pounding, chopping, cutting and prying.
  • Full tang – These mean the blade is able composed on one single and continuous piece of metal that reach from the very tip of the blade and within the handle. Not all full tang knives will have the full metal exposed, but it is certainly an option for you to create your own handle using rope or other materials.
  • Pointed tip – Among the several reasons a survival knife shouldn’t have any tips that are angled, round, hooked or are cut flat. The first is being able to defend yourself against a threat that includes man, bear or any wild beast. That sharp point also helps in hunting, while also helping cleaning fish, acting as a hand drill and removing splinters.
  • Single edge with flat spine – These are usually for those stranded in the wilderness who need to strike a fire that is just about impossible with rounded or beveled spines. A single edge is also able to not only cut larger pieces of wood but also split firewood and help construct a potentially necessary make-shift shelter.

Handles:

  • Comfort – Especially when needing to use your knife for longer periods of time or in a fight. Although it’s perfectly normal to build up some callouses on your hand, you don’t want the handle to be the cause of any pain like blisters or cuts. If your hand hurts, it can be a distraction during a deadly fight with another human or animal.
  • Grip – This one goes without too much of an in-depth discussion. Obviously, a slippery grip wouldn’t be particularly useful in a fight, and the last thing anyone wants is for the knife to slip out of your hand while working, which could easily injure yourself. Many knives come with a textured handle that provides both comfortable and dependable grip.
  • Solid pommel – Sometimes this is called the “butt” of the knife, but has the ability to be an extremely helpful feature for survival – driving in stakes for shelter or helping drive a blade through the ice for fishing. The best kind of pommel for a knife is one that is flat because rounded and hooked pommels are not as ideal for hammering items.

Hopefully, our informational article has given you a better sense of the different styles of combat and tactical knives for various outdoor and self-defense needs and introduced the best tactical knives that the market has to offer for those who may need a dependable knife in their daily lives or in the outdoor wilderness.