Would you like some valuable information before you purchase a new survival knife for yourself or as a gift?

In this article I have done all the work for you and compiled a brief review of my top 5 Survival knives available for less than fifty bucks.

First I list the most important features to look for in a survival blade. Then I give specifications for each of the knives, so you can compare each at a glance. I have also included informative videos so you can see some of the most important aspects of each featured knife. 

The 5 Most Critical Survival Knife Features

Want To Know What's Most Important?

I have owned and used several survival knives. As I researched the latest models I began to realize that the most valuable aspects of a survival knife have been discovered by trial and error in the field.

In fact, I would be willing to bet that many of the most desired features have been discovered by people in the woods whose emergency use bayonets have failed at specific tasks. 

To save you (or the person you are buying the knife for) such an experience, I have compiled this short but important list of the 5 most essential features to look for in a survival knife.

Full Tang Construction

Full tang construction refers to the actual size and orientation of the piece of metal that composes the blade. A full tang is one that extends beyond the cutting length of the knife, and into the entire length of the handle.

There are adequate knives that feature a tang that extends sixty, seventy, or eighty percent toward the butt of the handle. However, the strongest and most reliable configuration is full tang construction. 

Spine Thickness

Spine thickness is the width of the blade when looking down upon the knife from the opposite side of the cutting edge. 

This is something that I would have never considered without the input of other experts and people who have been in situations where spine thickness is an issue. The thicker the spine, the more sturdy the overall knife (particularly when we consider how far that thickness extends toward the knife tip).

The trade off is dexterity. In a survival situation speed of fighting with a knife is usually not the most pressing matter. Chopping wood for a fire or a shelter, however, may be.

A thicker, stronger spine comes in handy when using your blade to chop a branch. It is also a welcomed feature when hammering the top of the blade in the process of splitting wood (batoning).

If you were back at the barn, you could just get the axe and split those logs with ease. Okay, maybe not with ease, but you get the point.

Imagine being in the woods when your four wheeler breaks down eight miles from camp amid dropping temperatures and a setting Sun. That is no time nor place for a flimsy blade. 

Also, a sturdy surface is better for striking a flint firestarter (another welcomed benefit to the thicker spine). 

Type Of Steel

While there are numerous types of steel used in knife construction, their are five basic qualities of steel that are important to a knife's performance.

  1. Wear Resistance (How the blade performs against abrasion.)
  2. Strength (The resistance to bending under pressure.)
  3. Toughness (The ability to take an impact.)
  4. Stain Resistance (Will it rust or not?)
  5. Edge Holding (How sharp you can get it and how long that sharpness will last.) 

The vast array of steel choices, types, and the benefits of each is a subject far beyond the scope of this article. 

My advice is to consider the list of 5 blade performance qualities above, and choose your knife based on which qualities are most important to your application. 

For example (in the category of number 2 above: strength) knives with thinner tips are considered less viable for prying, but more dexterous when filleting fish or cleaning game.

The Handle

Type, material, and shape of the handle is very important when actively using a knife in the field. 

Materials typically used are wood, plastic, metal, and even rope or cord wound around the tang. 

A good handle is one that fits your hand naturally and is textured enough to not slip away when you are swinging the knife or using it to chop wood. The handle often gives a knife much of its personality. A good, sturdy, non-slip handle is a must for a proper survival knife. 


Finally, many survival knives under fifty bucks come with accessories. A sheath to hold the knife would be considered one. A fire starter might be another included accessory.

Remember that the knife may be in a wet environment, so a fast drying sheath may come in handy. 

Some sheaths have pockets to hold small items. Most feature a way to hook the sheath on a belt (for carrying and easy access). The best sheaths should have some way to keep the knife secured to prevent it from being accidentally lost as you walk, hike, climb, or ride through the wilderness.

The materials and features of the sheath are part of the survival knife's effectiveness. 

Consider the options and specifications of each of these tools, so you can decide which one would be best for your needs.

Schrade SCHF9

The Schrade SCHF9 Specifications

  • 6.4" blade, 5.6" handle
  • 1095 High Carbon Steel
  • Kraton handle
  • 15.9 ounces
  • Includes nylon sheath

Schrade SCHF9 Video

The Schrade SCHF9 : A great deal at under $40.

Schrade SCHF9 Extreme Survival Knife with Fixed 1095 High Carbon Steel Blade and Black Kraton Handle and Sheath
Amazon Price: $66.66 $37.79 Buy Now
(price as of May 17, 2015)
A thick spine and sturdy blade make this knife well worth the money.

Buck 119

Buck 119 Specifications

  • 6-inch blade
  • Stainless Steel
  • Phenolic handle
  • Polished aluminum butt
  • Finger guard
  • Black leather sheath
  • Unconditional lifetime warranty

Buck 119 Video

The Buck 119 has an Unconditional Lifetime Warranty

Buck 119BKS Spec Hunting 6"
Amazon Price: $85.00 $46.43 Buy Now
(price as of May 17, 2015)
A classic hunting knife for the field.

Glock 78 Field Knife

Glock 78 Specifications

  • 11 Inches overall length
  • 6 1/2" Blade
  • Spring Steel
  • Integrated bottle opener
  • Cross bar hand protection
  • Polymer sheath
  • Balanced for throwing

Glock 78 Field Knife Video

The Glock 78 is balanced for throwing

Glock Model 78 Field Knife
Amazon Price: $34.95 $24.34 Buy Now
(price as of May 17, 2015)
A balanced, no-frills, solid knife that includes a plastic sheath and you can open a bottle with the hand protector.

Morikniv Bushcraft Carbon Black

Morikniv Bushcraft Carbon Black Specifications

  • Carbon steel blade
  • Anti-corrosive black coating
  • Overall length 9.3 inches
  • Blade length 4.3 inches
  • High-friction rubber grip
  • Black plastic sheath with belt clip
  • 1-year manufacturer's warranty
  • Made in Sweden

Mora Bushcraft Black Video

Mora Bushcraft Black: smaller but capable

Morakniv Bushcraft Carbon Black Tactical Knife with 0.125/4.3-Inch Carbon Steel Blade and Plastic Sheath
Amazon Price: $79.99 Too low to display Buy Now
(price as of May 17, 2015)
The Morakniv (Mora) Bushcraft Black is made in Sweden, and is known for its quality and durability. This is a no-nonsense knife designed for years of use in the wilderness. However, while it may be perfect for some applications, due to its smaller size and weight, it may not be a complete one-tool option for deep survival.

Ontario 499 Air Force Survival

Ontario 499 Air Force Survival Knife Specifications

  • U.S. Army- and Air Force-issued
  • 5-inch Parkerized blade
  • Serrated top edge
  • Comfortable leather handle and sheath
  • Includes sharpening stone with pouch
  • GSA-compliant

Ontario 499 Air Force

Ontario 499 Air Force Survival Knife is One of the best values.

Ontario 499 Air Force Survival Knife, Black
Amazon Price: $71.95 $38.94 Buy Now
(price as of May 17, 2015)
This knife compares favorably to knives that cost twice as much.


In conclusion, remember to evaluate the features that are most important for your situation so you can get the best survival knife under fifty dollars for your hunting or hiking adventures. 

Critical aspects are full tang construction, spine width, blade steel type, the handle, and what accessories come with the survival knife in question. 

Whether you are hunting, hiking, camping, or making a long journey through wilderness or wooded areas, a survival knife can be an indispensable tool. An adequate survival knife can be a welcomed tool if the circumstances call for creating shelter, making a fire, or any number of emergency outdoor tasks.