Arguably the most important attribute of a survival knife is its reliability. You need to be able to trust a survival knife to see you through nearly any situation, with exceptional strength, durability, and the ability to hold an edge.
For that reason, it’s important to choose not just the best knife, but the best knife brand you can.
Great knife companies often serve law enforcement and military customers, making knives built to the highest standards of quality and reliability.
When you are looking for a survival knife, look for knives from these 6 top survival knife brands.
6 Survival Knife Brands
Benchmade was originally founded in the 1980s, in a small shop in California. A few years later, unable to control the price and quality of their imported knives, the original company was dissolved and re-formed, making knives in the US with precision hand crafting.
In 1990, the company relocated to Clackamas, Oregon, and adopted a series of technological advancements in their new facilities.
Today, Benchmade knives are manufactured in a sprawling 144,000 square foot facility in Oregon City, Oregon, making world-class custom knife designs, supplying military units and customers with knives of incredible quality and craftsmanship.
Benchmade knives are backed by a limited lifetime warranty, which many people feel make them worth the higher price tag.
Best survival models: Benchmade 162 Bushcrafter, Benchmade Leuku, Benchmade Freek,
Spyderco is famous for their tactical knives, and is legendary for their innovations. They were an early pioneer in folding knives, with innovative and patented locking mechanisms, serration techniques, and edge and handle designs.
Based in Golden, Colorado, the company now has a global manufacturing and distribution network, and continues to design and create groundbreaking knives, working with next-generation techniques and materials to supply the best possible knives to fire and rescue personnel, law enforcement, and private citizens.
While Spyderco is best known for their folders, a new generation of fixed blade Spiderco survival and outdoor knives has garnered praise and rave reviews from customers. Their knives are backed by a limited lifetime warranty, and they offer fantastic value for the purchase price.
Best survival models: Spyderco Bushcraft G-10, Bradley Bowie Knife, Spyderco Paramilitary 2
Cold Steel was founded in 1980, dedicated to making the strongest, sharpest knives in the world. Cold Steel is most famous for the distinctive design and incredible looks that frequently get their knives and swords featured in TV and film.
Many of their design advances, including their innovative checked handles, new blade steels, and tanto points have gone on to become industry-wide standards.
Cold Steel makes some of the strongest, toughest survival knives on the market, able to withstand up to two tons of pressure. They are a favorite among people who want a strong, thick, rugged survival knife at a reasonable cost.
Best survival models: Cold Steel Recon Scout, Cold Steel Recon 1, Cold Steel 49LCKD SRK
SOG Specialty Knives Inc. was launched in 1986 with their famous reproduction of the Vietnam-era SOG knife.
The original SOG knife was designed by the Deputy Chief of the US Counterinsurgency Support Office during the Vietnam war, designed for use by covert Studies and Observations Group personnel.
SOG Specialty Knives also replicated the Recon Bowie, and has replicated other US combat knives. SOG has updated many of these original military designs with modern, next-generation materials and techniques, making knives that respect tradition and field-proven designs with cutting edge improvements.
Today, SOG makes the Navy SEAL knife of choice, along with lines preferred by US Special Forces and other military and law enforcement professionals. Their knives are covered by a limited lifetime warranty, and are a great value for the quality.
Best survival models: SOG SE38-N Force, SOG Super Bowie Knife, SOG Seal Pup Elite E37T-K
ESEE knives are manufactured in Idaho Falls, Idaho by Rowan Manufacturing. Their knives are inspired by real-world experience in the Peruvian Air Force’s School of Jungle Survival, and focus on practical, field-proven designs and materials, with an aim to overcome the hype about “survival gear”.
After years of training and operations in South America, founders Jeff Randal and Mike Perrin launched ESEE to produce the field-grade knives and gear you need to survive in the most rugged environments.
Today they supply exceptional quality knives to rescue personnel, law enforcement, special operations, border security, and professional adventurers.
Their experience and their gear have been featured in media around the world, including the Travel Channel and the Discovery Channel. Randall and Perrin pride themselves on founding a company where the team lives the lifestyle and backs their products with hard-won experience and expertise.
Their knives are virtually indestructible, and backed by a lifetime warranty.
Best survival models: ESEE 5, ESEE 6P, ESEE LSP Survival, ESEE 4
Ontario Knife Company/OKC
No list of the best survival knife brands would be complete without the legendary Ontario Knife Company. Founded in 1889, the company has been supplying knives to the US military for generations.
OKC is currently manufacturing the Aircrew Survival Egress Survival Knife, selected by the US Army for inclusion in the Air Warrior Equipment System.
The ASEK currently in production is continuation of yet another tradition: the 1958 US military issue pilot’s hunting and survival knife was also made by OKC, and is still being used today.
Ontario Knife Company knives are made in the USA, reasonably priced, and known for their exceptional ruggedness and durability.
OKC knife models that are made in the USA are backed by a limited lifetime warranty, while those that are made outside of the US have a one year warranty.
Best survival models: Ontario 499, Ontario SP2 Air Force Survival Knife, Ontario Rat-7
When it comes to choosing a survival knife, brand matters.
Our top survival knife brands have been making knives with incredible design, quality, and workmanship for decades, and their knives have been tested and proven in the toughest survival conditions in the world.
You need a survival knife you can count on, and these knife brands deliver.