Looking for your next Tactical and Every Day Carry (EDC) knife purchase? You can’t go wrong with a fixed blade.
Knives in general are divided into two categories – folding and fixed blade. Each has different benefits, but fixed blade knives are straight-up simple to use with no faffing around. Simply pull it from its sheath and get to work with cutting, chopping, or slashing.
In this article, we’re reviewing our favorite fixed blades and discussing their uses for hunting, EDC, survivalist, and tactical purposes. All you have to do is choose one of these suggestions, and you’ve got yourself a high-quality fixed blade knife for any purpose.
Best Overall: ESEE-6
5.75 inch Blade
11.75 inch Overall
12 oz Weight
1095 Carbon Steel
Black Sheath Included
- Smooth black powder coating
- Comprehensive warranty for returns
- Durable blade steel
- Made in the USA
- Some say it doesn’t arrive sharp
- User reviews indicate a tight sheath, which can impede drawing
ESEE-6 is a standout knife for us, for just about all purposes. From a hog hunt, to cutting someone free from their seat belt after an accident, to opening an envelope, this’ll have your back. It has a comfortable, ergonomic handle and a durable carbon steel blade that will retain sharpness for months, even with consistent use. The length of the blade and its durable carbon steel construction makes this knife great for tactical, camping, and EDC use.
The blade’s black powder coating creates a smooth, aesthetically-pleasing finish. The attention to aesthetics does not compromise blade integrity, though – it is extremely rugged and durable and will maintain its edge for an extended period, helping you perform any EDC task.
Blade and Handle Materials
The ESEE-6 has a 1095 Carbon Steel blade, which has a carbon content of 0.95%. This means the steel is hardened to reduce wear and tear over time. It holds the edge very well and sharpens with ease. If not cared for properly, the carbon steel will rust, but a maintenance routine will prevent that – wash and dry your blade after every use. We find that if you also oil the blade properly, you’ll add years to its lifespan.
The Micarta handle is similar to the G-10 of the Bradford model. Micarta is made of organic materials like cloth or paper that has been pressed and dried in resin. This type of handle construction is known for creating a solid grip, so the ESEE-6 rests easily in the hand.
Carving wood, opening bottles, cutting rope, gutting fish, peeling potatoes, and much, much more is made easy with a high-quality, multi-functional blade like this.
Despite nearing a foot in total length, the ESEE-6 remains balanced and lightweight. It has a rounded pommel that is comfortable to grip. Its 1095 Carbon Steel makes it a very durable blade. It’s got everything you need in a long-lasting knife.
Overall, you’ll have a tough, non-nonsense tool that was made for real use and not just a pretty addition to a knife collection. From a carpentry studio to a jungle, this knife is the perfect all-rounder.
Best EDC: Buck 119
6 inch Blade
10.5 inch Overall
7.5 oz Weight
420 HC Steel
Phenolic or DymaLux Handle
- Lifetime warranty
- Made in the USA
- Easy to resharpen and keep fresh
- Not made for skinning or blunt work
The blade is a clip design, which means the crescent tip is thinner than the rest of the blade and provides a sharp point. This makes for a great aide for precision engraving and controlled cutting. It’s the perfect blade to reach for if you need to quickly cut another hole in your belt or carve a piece of wood.
If you’re curious about the history behind this brand, the Buck 119 comes from a long-line of respected Buck craftsmanship, originating from World War II. This knife comes from Hoyt Buck, a long-time knife maker in the USA who made his first knife in 1902. In 1942, Buck began making knives for the U.S. Government in response to World War II. This tactical start has led to a legacy of quality and craftsmanship found here in the Buck 119. There’s no better EDC knife than a Buck blade.
Blade and Handle Materials
The Buck 119 uses 420 HC Steel that operates as a budget-friendly blade choice in many popular knives. The High Carbon construction creates a hard blade, but the steel is still a bit soft compared to some other steels.
There are two handle options – phenolic or DymaLux. The phenolic handle may look familiar and this is because it is the same construction as cookware handles; and will last as long as them, too. The DymaLux is a resin infused, dyed wood laminate option. It gives a classic wooden handle look without actually being made of wood.
Reach for the Buck 119 fixed blade knife whenever you need to trim, strip, carve, or complete delicate cuts, this Buck knife is the one to choose. It’s super handy in a warehouse or craftsman’s environment where you need to cut plastic, carve wood, or strip twine.
We personally like the rustic-looking Dymalux version, but both that and the black handled model function just the same. Make sure to add a Buck 119 precision blade to your EDC collection today.
Runner-Up Best EDC: Bradford Guardian 3
3.5 inch Blade
6.75 inch Overall
3.43 oz Weight
N690 Stainless Steel
G-10 (CF or G-Wood) Handle
Leather Sheath Included
- Made in the USA
- Easily concealed
- Leather sheath can crack with wear and tear
- Not great for self-defense or survivalist use
The Bradford Guardian 3 is also one of the best fixed blade knives for EDC for its 3.5 inch blade with a full tang, which is easily concealed in a belt. Whether you need to cut meat or you work in a warehouse, this EDC knife has you covered. It’s ultra lightweight, so you won’t feel any burden when carrying around this tool – you can just about your day.
The N690 Stainless Steel Blade is durable so it can be heavily used before you’ll need to sharpen it. Its reliability and compact size make it perfect for pretty much any EDC need.
Blade and Handle Materials
The Bradford Guardian 3 is constructed with a N690 Stainless Steel blade – a common, wear-resistant steel found in many durable knives. It’s composed of a mix of cobalt, molybdenum, and vanadium, meaning it’s sure to last years of use and will be good value for money.
The handle is a G-10 design that comes in CF or G-Wood. This makes for a nice grip, but sometimes the wood version can snag on clothing. Our recommendation is to make sure you keep it sheathed to prevent snagging, or just opt for the CF handle. If you’re set on the G-Wood version, you can also smooth it to resolve the snagging issue.
The durable, short blade made from N690 Stainless Steel is strong enough to stand up to most everyday carry needs like cutting boxes or twine, making it popular in warehouse work. It also has a nice aesthetic with the stonewashed blade and green handle, making it an attractive addition to a collection.
It is not a flashy knife, but is a smart, functional one that will get the job done. If you need something compact with no frills, but will get done what you need it to, this little EDC knife is a great call.
Best Self-Defense: Ka-bar USMC
7 inch Blade
11.875 inch Overall
11.2 oz Weight
1095 Cro-van Steel
Leather Sheath Included
- Proud history, and made in the USA
- Arrives razor sharp
- Great price for the value
- Tendency to rust
- Heavier knife
When you picture a fixed, straight edge, tactical blade, the Ka-bar USMC is a textbook example. This legendary blade was issued to Marines in the second World War and remains popular today. It is still the first choice of many servicemen and women, with a reputation as the best tactical fixed blade knife. If the Marine recommendation doesn’t sell you this knife, we don’t know what will.
This blade is durable and rugged, withstanding corrosion while holding onto its straight-edge sharpness. It was designed to handle battlefield use, so it makes sense for us to recommend this knife as the best for fighting and combat. You might not want to skin an animal with it, but you can split wood or defend yourself with the Ka-bar USMC.
Blade and Handle Materials
This knife’s 1095 Cro-van Steel may make you think of 1095 steel, but these are two different constructions. The steel of the Ka-bar USMC is formed from a different composition of chromium, nickel, vanadium, and molybdenum. These elements improve the metal’s strength, edge retention, and corrosion resistance. We cannot stress how important corrosion resistance is in a good blade. We have seen first-hand how a cheap blade can rust in no time, and during combat, you’ll need a knife that stays in good shape after weeks of use. This Ka-bar model does just that.
We love that the Ka-bar USMC is still as iconic today as it was nearly 100 years ago. It’s even still made with the original leather handle design. Leather can form to your grip over time, creating a lifelong knife that fits perfectly to you.
The Ka-bar USMC has earned its reputation as a legendary combat knife. This iconic blade has been around so long because it delivers. Its 1095 Cro-van steel blade is durable, tough, and strong. Whether you have a practical use for it or just want to give a memorable gift to a veteran, the Ka-bar USMC is one purchase you will not regret.
We know a good Ka-bar blade will be sharp enough to shave the hair off the back of your hand. For a strong knife that stands the test of time, the Ka-bar USMC is the choice for you.
Runner-Up Best Self-Defense: Blackhawk! Nightedge
5.9 inch Blade
10.9 inch Overall
6 oz Weight
1085 Carbon Steel
Injected Molded Nylon Sheath
Serrated Blade Edge
Black Epoxy Coating on the Blade
- Lightweight, easily carried
- Carbon steel, versatile sheath
- Nylon sheath construction
- Not suited to humid or wet climates
Blackhawk! Nightedge is a reputable serrated fixed blade knife for both utility and combat use. It has a reinforced carbon steel point for penetration and strength. The weight is focused toward the end to help deliver a solid chop. Its epoxy blade coating creates a non-reflective surface, something one might expect from a knife called Nightedge. It is also corrosion resistant, creating a durable blade.
Other cool features include a curved handle, so you always know which direction the blade is – even in the dark. The small blade won’t add a lot of weight, so remains portable in any situation. The serrated edge eliminates the need for frequent sharpening, so you know it is always ready to go. Its sheath has a drop-leg attachment or it can strap onto your belt. Either way, it remains handy and easy to access. If you have the budget for just one blade, this one’s your fine choice for regular EDC and good self-defense use.
Blade and Handle Materials
The Blackhawk! Nightedge is made from 1085 Carbon Steel, which is the same steel found in farm implements. If it is good enough for heavy use equipment like farm tools, it will stand up well as a knife steel – which it sure does.
The thermoplastic handle is made from various synthetic materials. It is a nice, clean matte black finish that makes for a great look. Aesthetically, we like how the sheath matches the all-black knife for a monochromatic look. The only downside might be dropping it in the dark.
This highly versatile knife is a must-have with its durable, epoxy coated blade. The serrated blade edge makes this a different option in the fixed blade market. Serration makes for increased utility and cutting uses while maximizing combat potential. The top is reinforced for penetration and strength, which is also great for precision work. Aesthetically, it has a cool design too.
Whether you need to hit the woods or defend yourself, this knife will not disappoint.
Best Survival: Gerber StrongArm
4.8 inch Blade
9.8 Inch Overall
7.2 oz Weight
420 HC Steel Blade
Ceramic Blade Coating
Versatile Sheath Included
- Versatile carry options
- Lightweight and easy to conceal
- Resists abrasion
- Blade finish wears over time
Need an infantry knife without shelling out big bucks? Check out the Gerber StrongArm. This small but mighty blade will serve you well in tactical settings. With some sharpening, it can be used for stripping wires, cutting paracord, slicing fabric, and loads more. The rubberized grip is comfortable in your hands and you can use it for an extended period without cramping.
We like the versatile sheath that can be stored in a number of ways. You can attach it to your belt loop in a horizontal style or strap it to your MOLLE mount with ease. It also has a drop-leg attachment to keep it at your side. The sheath doesn’t snag and holds well.
Basically, this is a nifty, crafty knife for all sorts of purposes that won’t break the bank.
Blade and Handle Materials
The 420 HC steel of the Buck 119 makes a reappearance in the Gerber StrongArm. Given that this blade is built on a budget, it makes sense that the cost-effective steel is used here. It can still resist abrasion fairly well and maintain the edge, so don’t think that this means the knife is bad quality; it may just need sharpening every so often. Keep it dry and clean, and you’re all set.
The handle is a straight rubberized diamond-texture grip. While this handle is not flashy, it is functional. It is a little bit on the shorter side, so keep this in mind if you need ample room for gripping. The diamond-texture grip is comfortable, making you feel secure as you wield the blade.
The Gerber StrongArm is an affordable blade that you will want to keep at your side. The lower price point makes this a great starter blade for a new hunter. It would make a great gift for a first-time blade owner or a son going on his first hunt.
Runner-Up Best Survival: Fallkniven F1
3.8 inch Blade
8 ¼ inch Overall
5.3 oz Weight
Laminated CoS Stainless Steel
VG10 Supersteel Blade
Zytel Sheath Included
- Will last ever if you keep it in good nick
- Short blade follows most urban area blade restrictions
- Zytel sheath
- Made in Sweden
- Not made in the USA
- Does not arrive razor sharp
- Not conducive to wet or snowy conditions
The Fallkniven F1 makes for a nifty survival tool, even when the blade is shorter than the others. Its compact size means you can carry and conceal daily for whenever you need to use it. Its zytel sheath construction creates little friction when withdrawing, so you can unsheath easily in a tense situation. It also has a belt loop attachment, meaning your knife is always at hand when it’s necessary.
One drawback to this knife is that its stainless steel construction cannot withstand wet and snowy conditions. So, if you live in a climate like this or you need a knife for an expedition, you might want to invest in a corrosion-resistant blade. Unless you’re worried about being attacked by a polar bear, this knife will only do you good in the woods.
Blade and Handle Materials
The G in VG10 Supersteel stands for “gold,” as in the gold standard level of stainless steel found in this blade. As such, this creates a top-of-the-line blade that has a hefty reputation to live up to. Unsurprisingly, it manages to do this in the Fallkniven F1.
The handle is a composition of copolymer of ethylene and propylene known as ethylene-propylene rubber. This is a scientific way of saying a durable, grippy rubber that works well as a knife handle. The handle is as essential as the blade, because if you cannot wield with confidence, you can quickly find yourself making mistakes on the other end of the knife. Luckily, with the Fallkniven F1, you’ll easily keep your grip.
We like the clean look coming out of Sweden. The full tang blade made from VG10 supersteel is one of the most durable steels on the market. This makes for a small blade that packs a big punch.
This knife has been called the quintessential companion blade, built for defense, camping, backpacking, day hikes, and hunting. We recommend this blade for any outdoorsman.
Best Budget: Cold Steel SRK
6 inch Blade
10 ¾ inch Overall
8.2 oz Weight
Sk-5 with Black Tuff-Ex Finish
Secure-Ex Sheath Included
Sleek Black Coating
- Molded plastic sheath
- Durable, conducive to harsh weather conditions
- Easily concealed
- Being fairly long
- Black coating comes off easily during use
Survival knives need to stand up in a number of extreme conditions, but not all blades can do this. Enter the Cold Steel SRK: the most bang for the buck knife designed for survival and rescue operations.
This is a Survival Rescue Knife and we hear a lot of positive feedback on it from tactical law enforcement and military personnel. It can withstand extreme weather and even underwater conditions. Any survivalist knows they need a blade that can handle unforeseeable conditions, and this blade does just that. Need to cut through forest in a storm, or spear fish to survive? The Cold Steel SRK is the blade you want in these situations.
This knife has a thick kraton handle, which is a durable high density rubber common in survival knives. The heavy texture allows for a secure grip that can absorb shock. The handle is non-slip, even in sweaty or wet hands. The blade slips easily into a secure-ex sheath, which is a high-quality molded plastic. The included belt loop on the sheath is removable and has a quick-release.
Blade and Handle Materials
Made from SK-5 steel, which is 0.80% carbon and a maximum of 0.90% manganese, this tough steel blade holds its edge. Retaining sharpness is integral to a survival knife, since you don’t know when you’ll next get to sharpen it.
The Kraton handle comes from the Kraton Corporation, a company known for producing high-quality elastomers and polymers. The Cold Steel SRK’s handle is comfortable with a nice, grippy surface for a secure hold.
We love the all-black blade and handle that looks the part for keeping you alive in extreme, survivalist conditions. As well, you don’t want a silver blade to reflect light and alert an enemy of your presence, or scare away prey. An all-black blade is perfect for stealth and concealment.
The Cold Steel SRK is well-built to handle wilderness tasks like fire prep, hammering, skinning game, building shelter, and more. It can become handy in close quarters if survival turns to combat. With over 100 reviews on Amazon, there is plenty of positive input on this blade. It can certainly take a beating and the edge holds up very well due to the strong construction.
Essentially, anyone needing a low-cost, multi-function blade has no reason not to grab the Cold Steel SRK. We whole-heartedly recommend.
The Ultimate Fixed Blade Knife Buying Guide
Trying to pinpoint the perfect fixed blade knife? It’s a tough choice, but we hope our reviews gave you some food for thought. The most important thing to nail down is what you need it for – this will help you narrow down the features you’ll need in a blade. This buyer’s guide is going to help you with that!
We focus on the following features when buying a fixed blade knife:
- Fixed vs Folding
- Type of Blade
- Stay Sharp
- Resist Corrosion
- Blade Length
- Handle Construction
- Tang Type
First, let’s look at why a fixed blade is a good option:
Fixed Vs Folding
Before diving into the various types of fixed blade knives, let’s discuss the difference between fixed and folding knives. As the name indicates, a fixed blade does not retract into a fold. Folding knives do.
Deciding between the two types simply means determining what you need the knife to do. Do you want a blade to trim or open packages? Do you need something durable that can cut through hide or process wood? Hard-use tasks like hunting and wood cutting are better served with a fixed blade. Lighter tasks like food prep or package opening can be done with a folding knife. This rule of thumb is helpful when deciding between the two options.
Knives are often used for self-defense, camping, or survival purposes. Some knives are designed with just one function in mind while others can handle multiple functions.
While you might think a knife that can do it all is the right choice, you might want a function-specific knife. Need one with a reinforced point for precision carving? It makes great sense to get one of those rather than a multi-use.
Fixed blade knives typically have one or more of the following uses:
So, check what a specific knife is best for before taking it home.
Type of Blade
Other than fixed vs folding, blade type also includes the type of steel being used. Most are some form of stainless steel or high carbon. Stainless steel is easier to sharpen, but will need to be sharpened more often.
High carbon blades will hold the edge better and retain durability. They are a little more difficult to sharpen. This can be a tad frustrating when you need to sharpen on the go or while out in the field. Carbon blades are also pricier than the stainless steel counterparts.
Steel type is characterized by three factors: hardness, toughness, and corrosion resistance.
Hardness is the capacity to resist bending and the edge holding ability. Hard steels will produce cleaner cuts and slicing actions because it takes an acute edge.
Toughness is the ability to bend without breaking. This is essential for high impact tasks, like chopping wood.
Corrosion resistance deserves its own section, so we’ll get more into that later. For now, it is how well the steel can resist discoloration and rust.
The most common steel types are:
- 420HC – High carbon steel that is stain resistant, tough, and easy to sharpen
- 1095 – High carbon steel that is often coated to prevent staining. This steel type has been in use since World War II
- AUS-8 — decent steel that is low-cost and found in cheaper blades
- VG-1 – non-powder steel made in Japan with good corrosion resistance
- 1.4116 – this is the steel found in the classic Swiss Army Knife
A knife is not much use if the edge dulls quickly, especially if you are out in the forest and don’t have the time or tools to stop and sharpen it. It makes sense that one of the most important features is the ability to retain the edge and stay sharp.
The steel type design and manufacture will play a role in the ability to retain sharpness. The shape of the blade is another factor for edge maintenance. You will have to sharpen the blade at some point, but it should not be a constant chore.
On that same note, the blade should be able to withstand heavy use. The blade should have some give, but not enough to shatter – any high-quality blade will be shatter resistant, so be sure to invest. The blade should remain intact even if it hits a rock or other hard surface.
Steel type is a factor in corrosion-resistant blades. Certain stainless steel grades will not stand up well in tough environmental situations. Hot and humid conditions or salty air can also cause corrosion for lower-grade steel.
If you plan to use your knife in adverse weather conditions, search for blades with 410 stainless steel. This grade tends to perform well in humid or salty conditions and resist corrosion.
Keep in mind that it is not just water that can stain a blade. Acidic foods like tomatoes can also damage blades. Keep your knife clean and dry and it should stay fresh.
Deciding what you need to use the fixed blade for will help you decide the best blade length for you. Length can make the difference between getting the job done safely and quickly, or getting frustrated with knife performance.
Some functions, like EDC, won’t require long blades. In tactical or survivalist situations, shorter blades will help cut down firewood or carve wood while longer ones are preferred for cutting down brush.
If you plan to use the knife for hunting, different blades work best for different prey. Consult an expert to learn more about hunting blade lengths for certain animals.
Not all blades grip the same, and you want a handle that fits comfortably in your grasp. After all, you want to feel secure as you wield the blade. The best way to find the right handle is to test it out and confirm you like the way it grips.
Handles can be constructed from a variety of materials, as you’ve seen in our reviews. This can be a blend of rubberized components, metal, wood, or other materials. It all depends on what you prefer in your hand!
The tang of a knife is the unsharpened, unexposed portion of the blade that extends down the handle. If a blade is full tang, as most of the blades reviewed here are, this indicates that the solid metal blade runs down the handle.
If it is a partial tang, the blade will only extend a portion of the way through the handle. It normally thins out within the handle. A full tang knife is reliable, robust, and steadfast. Since most fixed blade knives are meant for survivalist functions, you will mainly find full tang knives here.
Fixed Blade Knives FAQ
Still have some questions? We’re here to help!
Below are a few frequently asked questions to help clear up lingering questions as you decide on the right knife for you. We recommend taking the time to have all of your questions answered before committing to a purchase – that way, you’ll end up with a knife you’re sure to love.
Can I Cut Wood with a Fixed Blade Knife?
Yes, you can use certain models to cut through wood or plant materials. If you are out in the field, you may need this knife to help cut wood for shelter or fire. You won’t be able to use it to cut down a grown tree, but you can cut and split saplings with most of these knives.
Remember durability as a buying guide factor? Well, if you use the knife and a rock to hammer through a tree, the blade should be able to withstand this pressure.
What Type of Sheath Material is Best?
Unlike a folding knife, you cannot tuck away this blade. This means you need a sheath to cover the blade while moving around.
The sheath material is a matter of personal preference. Most knives will come with a manufacturer sheath, most likely made from nylon. If you don’t like the included sheath, you can find your own. The best sheaths are made with synthetic materials like zytel.
Overall, you want a sheath that is durable and will allow for quick withdrawal without friction.
Can I Use a Fixed Blade Knife for Hunting and Skinning?
Hunting is one of the main functions of these knife models. You can use it to bring down an animal and while skinning it. The long blade and hilt provides ample room for leverage as you skin.
For hunting, choose a thick and sharp blade, allowing for easy cuts through hide and tissue.
What is the Difference Between a Folding Knife and a Fixed Blade Knife?
These models differ in a few ways. The fixed blade will be longer and thicker than traditional folding or pocketknives. They are designed to withstand pressure in a way folding knives are not.
Fixed knives aren’t always ideal for precision work. They’re best for heavy lifting. You also have to afford them proper respect because they are easy to mishandle. This is a big difference from the folding knife that can be tucked away.
Do these Knives Have a Warranty?
This answer depends on the brand and model. Most will have some type of warranty. But, you will be hard-pressed to find warranty on lower-grade steel construction models. These are typically not guaranteed against corrosion, especially in humid climates.
Knives with expert craftsmanship and high-quality construction materials will most likely have a lifetime warranty. The warranty is likely to only cover manufacturing defects. It will not cover expected wear and tear due to extended use or improper handling.
Do I Need a Sharpener Right Away?
Some of our recommended knives are a hefty investment. You may be considering purchasing the knife now and the sharpener later. This is understandable and it might be wise to space out your purchases.
However, some of these knives will need sharpening right away. As such, you might need the sharpener sooner rather than later. There are also multiple types of sharpeners to choose from. If you plan on being on-the-go a lot, you might want a portable sharpener you can take out in the field or camping with you.
If you want to head out into the field, camping in the middle of nowhere, or just need to get rid of pesky mail packaging, you’ll know the value of a good knife. These fixed blade options we’ve reviewed go beyond the typical pocket knife and bring something new to the table.
From handle to tip, every part of the knife is important. Determining the intended use and evaluating each brand will bring you one step closer to finding your match.
We hope these reviews help you decide on your next fixed blade knife purchase. We know our blades, and are happy to share that knowledge in our guides. If you’re a fellow knife enthusiast looking for a solid edge and durable product, you know where to come.