There is no tool more useful in the backcountry, than a knife.

There is no tool more useful in the backcountry, than a knife.
Ray Mears, The Survival Handbook

The Back country traveler needs to be able to rely on their knife. Choosing the right knife is extremely important, a good Knife will never let you down and must be able to perform all the tasks you ask of it.

Sog Seal Pup Elite
The Sog Seal Pup Elite

Knife in a log

Bush Knife

Surviorman Les Stroud holding a knife
Some of these knives, are only posted here because I like knives, I have received a couple emails from people annoyed with me for putting up pictures of the Rambo knife…… Yes, I realize that the Rambo style knife in not an ideal survival tool, but it sure does look cool. If you’re looking for a really good survival knife click on the first picture for our review of the SOG Seal Pup Elite.

Resident Evil Knoves

Rambo Knife

John Rambo holding knife

Shirts of Liberty

OFFGRID Survival book



    • Hello,

      I don’t blame you at all for posting the Rambo knife in here! After all, the First Blood knife is the grandfather of All survival knives. And the real FB knife, made in the USA by the late great exceptional knife maker Jimmy Lile, was/ is actually one that could really be used. Knife makers like Ray Matton and Andrew Cliffordm whom if anyone knows Andy and his awesome work knows that he does Not make exact copies of the FB knife. He creates his own patterns and designs, and then he makes his own FB type survival knives, and Gil Hibben, all make survival knives and FB knives that are extremely useful in survival situations. I am not talking about those cheap $100 United Cutlery/ Master Cutlery wall hangers-only knives. I am talking about knife makers who make FB and survival knives that are built to use and made to last. I just bought an Andrew Clifford (ACK) survival knife which he made about 8 or 9 years ago and made it for a US soldier in Iraq. And he made it to use and he created a Beast of a knife! And it is hollow handled, but the way it is made is unique and is not the typical cheaply made and looking hollow handled knife. It is solid and when you hold it you Know you are holding a knife that would stop a tank and just about slice right through a cinder block! Neely’s Timberline survival knives are also hollow handled and made to use. The Iconic awesome Buckmaster 184 that is now long discontonued but still is available through Ebay at incredibly high prices, is a hollow-handled knife, and it is such a good and awesome made knife that the US SEAls used it briefly back in the day! So yes, you Should put the Rambo knife pics in here. After all, that is the knife tha started the survival knife world. And a real USA-made Rambo-type survival knofe, whether it is hollow handled or not, is very useful and very solid. I’d trust my awesome ACK survival hollow-handled knife with my life!

      • Hello,

        I have a SOG SEAL Teams S37 knife, aka SEAL Teams 2000, that was used by a good friend of mine who is an actual Navy SEAL. He specifically bought it for me, but took it on several of is deployments Including the one with the killing of the murderer Osama Bin Laden, before he gave it to me. He said that he wanted to have it see some live action before he gave it to me. I will cherish that knife for as long as I live. I also have the SOG Tigershark Elite knife that I bought, and the SOG Super Bowie knife that I also bought. All three of those are very rugged high quality knives (esp my S37). I also have the Cold Steel Trail Master knife that I had bought, but I plan to get a 2nd one as well. And then I have my awesome handmade survival knives! I tell you, a handmade knife that is made right and made with experience, wil beat a production manufactured knife hands down, but SOG Knives and Cold Steel Knives sure give those handmade knives a run for their money, in my opinion!


      • To state that the Rambo, First Blood knife is the grandfather of “all” survival knives reveals your profound ignorance and naivete with all things pertaining to survival and sharp.

        • For all practical purpose it is the first Survival Knife to bear the name, although hollow handles bearing that name, or the “Survival Attack” name, existed before on a commercial basis, it is that knife that made the name widely known and understood as a generic name.

        • …maybe he simply wanted to explain that BECAUSE of Jimmy’s First Blood Part I-II knives he helped the custom industry a lot ! The custom industry was almost dead when the mass audience seen the first knife in 1982 , that was a punch in the face that never stop growing since…

  1. Sorry, I like Knives and I like to have a little fun sometimes….

    On a serious note the Rambo knife is not an ideal survival knife, but i like the way it looks so I put it up. Even when taking about survival a little bit of humor and entertainment can be a good thing. It’s good to take time to be a little goofy……

    • LOL…exactly, sometimes you gotta go there, especially with his mug. My Ka-nife is the Les Stroud pictured knife. and it’s a beaut. Love it. Not to heavy, not to light, you can get a sheath with pockets to stuff little things in, like fishing ling, sharpening stone (small one), can opener, whatever you what. Mama like.

      • Dusty: Good thinking. The assorted items can become very necessary in a survival-type situation. I like to carry a magnesium and flint fire-starter among my pocket or pouch possibles.. Water, fire, shelter, food.

  2. While I am a big fan of several different knife manufacturers or craftsmen; ML Knives, TOPS, Walter Brend,FallKniven,Ontario,Bill Moran, Becker-Both Orig and Ka-Bar versions, Bark River, and many others I couldn’t resist adding the most recent Rambo knife to my collection. Amazing..It only took 4 movies to create a knife that could actually be used in the jungle setting it is shown in. I carried three knives in the service and continue to do so every time I am in the field. Only rarely would I consider an axe an essential tool, though VERY useful. Otherwise a Parang or machete would due every where else a big knife is required.

  3. The only knife you actually have labeled is the seal pup elite. You should label the other ones. I like the Kukri a lot so far (if you can get the real ones the Gurkha used made from leaf springs collected from recycled truck suspensions) and Randall Adventure Training has some knives that hold up pretty well to abuse. I prefer knives with a plain edge that I can sharpen without hassle.
    I would recommend reviewing more knives and also links to places that teach good sharpening techniques. Hopefully more people post reviews.

  4. I like Gerber knifes like the LMF 1 or the Gerber MK II another tool everyone should get is Gerber MP 600 multi purpose tool its like a leather man on steroids.

  5. the fifth and sixth knife shown would probably offer the best range of options and one problem i have with the sog is that it is in reality too small to be used in batonning or any real chopping and good luck sharpening serrations in the field without a dedicated sharpening rod

  6. “The more dangerous a knife looks, the more likely you should leave it on the counter.”

    I don’t collect knives, I _use_ knives, and honestly if wasn’t for the reviews, I’d never look twice at the SOG knife. It’s painted/coated, it has serrations, it has a plastic handle, and it just screams ‘Ninja Turtle cheap bad knife’.

    Still didn’t buy it and can’t recommend it. I live in a iron hot red desert, where anything black or dark colored burns, blisters or melts; rivets can get hot enough to burn your hand; blaze orange is almost cammo; and everything sun rots bad. I need UV resistant stuff in tan, sand, oyster white, turquoise, or hot pink.

    • HAHAHAHA ….”ninja turtle cheap knife”

      you dont know SOG history isnt ? do somes research about it before spitting anything you dont know a iota at ! I dont talk about SOG made in china or taiwan stuff (even made with AUS-8 tempered steel) but i point the early Seki Japan stuff made of SK-5 (Seki High Carbon V steel)

  7. Love the picture of Les Stroud and his knife turned spear. Survivorman has a lot to teach you if you pay attention to what he says and does. He uses his knife a lot, so that says something about the importance of a good knife. I know he has used the Buck 119 special, and that seems to be a good knife. Another knife to consider is the Buck Nighthawk, or maybe the Buck Short Nighthawk. Either way, I know Buck and Gerber make excellent knives that are worth investing money in.

  8. As far as Machetes go, my favorite is the Ka-Bar Kukri Machete Knife. One well designed tool and in most cases can replace the need for an axe!

  9. I have been using and carrying knives for nearly 50 years from a kid on the farm to a surveyor and a marine. I own carried and used a couple of really good knives in my time. I of course had a KBar, but I used a Camilus Navy knife for many years, I have a real Bali song which can shave a peach or cut through copper pipe, and an SRK, Cold steel knife in powder coat black. All excellent effective blades. In the bush I had a Gurka Kukri which would split skulls and firewood very well. I don’ think I have ever left my home since I was 12 years old that I did not have at least one good blade and usually more than one. I do not believe you can over blade you might be redundant but My Camilus got me out of more than one jam that my gun got me into. I believe in full tang, carbon steel, very sharp thick blades for everything but removing splinters and I have small blades for that. A knife is my best friend and is like my shadow with me always. It is not the knife but the willingness to use it.
    Semper Fi
    Jack Fallin

    • Jack said:”I don’ think I have ever left my home since I was 12 years old that I did not have at least one good blade and usually more than one. I do not believe you can over blade”… My thoughts, experience, and policy likewise. Each knife has it’s purpose and possible usage… and use them I do.

  10. If you notice Les carries more than one knife. The use of a Rambo knife has more to do with the fact that he puts it through tough use…many wouldn’t want to do that with an expensive knife. The way the cheap Rambo knives are made renders it as dangerous of a tool as cracked Chinese crecent wrench in the fact that they are poorly made. The handles are made from spelter recycled aluminum, a cheap form of aluminum CAST. The 420 S.S. blade is tough and if you KNOW how to sharpen a knife it will work, hold up to medium use. The fact is all the cheaply made, cheaply priced hollow handle knives give the hollow handle knife a bad rap! In my line of work I see well made, all out tough hollow handle knives that will hold up just the same as a tough full tang and if you are skeptical it’s probably due to the fact that you are not well educated in the way a REAL hollow handle knife is made and i’m betting price is an issue. The PRICE of a well made hollow handle by an experienced maker could cost anywhere from $200-$5,000. If you have the money to blow I would suggest giving several a try.

    The Randall #18 made by Randall knives is by far one of the best there is that has been proven from the Korean war to the battle fields of Iraq/Afghanistan today. Most notibly the Vietnam war. There are plenty of stories out there regarding the Randall #18 and the harsh environment, hard use they can handle. IF they weren’t well made they would not be selling on ebay, at knife/gun shows for the prices they do nor would they still be around in one piece looking like they survived the end of the world! The blades are 1/4″ thick and it comes in 7.5″ & 5.5″, the 5.5″ being the most practical.

    The biggest problem with production knives is the tempering/heat treating process which these companies use to treat the blades, the lack of corrosion protection of carbon steel and design flaws where COOLNESS is put in place of praticality. This is where the Buck 184 fails miserably, though a great knife, during hard use the first 1″ of the tip may or may not survive as the type of steel and heat teating leaves the blade brittle. This is why the U.S. NAVY didn’t purchase them at the end of testing in the field. I have broken several and no longer attempt to use the 184 for that reason.

    ANY leather stacked handle knife isn’t built to stand up to hard use regardless of whether the U.S. military has, does issue, use them. The idea behind them was for utility and hand to hand combat, with the exception of the P.S.K. (pilots knives), which didn’t see actual use unless the pilots were downed.

    The SOG Seal Pup is a good 2nd carry knife but never, and I express NEVER, would I got into the climates I have gone with just the SOG Seal Pup! Don’t care about the price or whether it raving reviews! My experience trumps %98 of those posting those “raving reviews”!! After you’ve been in this game a while you tend to go with your common sense rather than what some 17 year old says in a Youtube “review”!

    Other well known hollow handle makers include Jimmy Lile, Vaugh Neely, Blackstar Knives, Colin Cox, Andrew Clifford, Greg Wall, Ray Matton, FARID, Jack Crain and those are about all I will, would use (Ray Matton & Blackstar Knives being Rambo I & II style knife producers however, they have other style more practical-both well proven makers). I’m sure there are others out there. Andrew Clifford makes a full tang survival knife that only looks like a hollow handle when in fact is a much more complicated full tang design that isd also well proven and I can vouch for that. Think of the M9 bayonet design and by that I mean BUCK 188 M9/PHROBIS M9 OR LANCAY, ONTARIO, again, NOT the cheaply made Chinese copies. If you have never cracked open an M9 bayonet buy one and give it a try, you’ll see what I mean. I have a damascus version of Andrew’s which I have had for going on 7 years. Took it with me to Alaska, Canada and Australia and nearly every camping hunting trip in between, never had one problem with it. Though, he does make a great hollow handle as well I like the full tang hollow handle style knife.

    A full tang survival knife is a glorified kitchen knife and nothing more. That’s not saying they aren’t any good because they are, depending on how they are made and by who. Before anyone knocks a hollow handle without ever having used a REAL, well made hollow handle survival knife, whom bases their opinion off a cheap $70 knife made in China, do your reseach, spend the money and put it to the test. That is the only way you’ll ever know!

    Most people who bash hollow handles can’t afford to buy a well made one. The hollowe handle knife didn’t get a bad rap until the kiddie Rambo movies came along which is why Stalone/Gil hibben opted for a 1095 high carbon steel machete type of knife. If you read the regurgitated reviews on cheap hollow handles try not to put them in the same category as the top dog USA custom knife maker’s hollow handle survival knives. There simply is no comparison!!

    I haven’t purchased a production knife in years. I ALWAYS carry three knives and a Gerber multitool! My large survival knife does see use just not for tasks better handled with a good folder or 3″-5″ fixed blade. For chopping tree limbs, making shelter I have a 15″ damascus survival knife with 10″ long 1/4″ blade that serves many purposes where a hatchet or axe isn’t within reach.

    • Very well said, J! I am a big fan of the real actual high quality hollow handled handmade survival knives, and I just absolutely LOVE my Andrew Clifford handmade full round tang survival knives. I love my Steve Voorhis hollow handled handmade survival knife as well.

      You are right, my friend! Those people that knock the nhollow handled knives and make fun of them must not of seen or had anything other than the cheapo Chinese ripoff hollow handled knives. I am a big fan of Andrew Clifford and a good friend to him! He is one of the best knife/ sheath makers of his time.

      I just won a handmade hollow handled survival knife which wa smade back in 1985 by some guy whose initials are JWB. I looked it up and his name is John W Budgeon or James W Budgeon. The knife is made with D2 steel and I cannot wait to get it! It is older and used but a little polishing and some Duracoat and handle re-wrapping and I will have one awesome handmade knife!

      Plus, there’s just nothing like those old handmade survival knives that were made in the 80’s. Anyway, still, Andrew Clifford or ACK and Steve Voorhis are my top guys for those high end awesome handmade knives. I have 2 ACK knives.

      I hope to have a Martin handmade Apparo knife in the coming future. That is, unless ACK decides to continue making knives. I think he plans to take a break from it, not sure.

      But thank you so much, John, for what you said here. Like you said, those guys that knock the hollow handled knives just have not had or experienced a real, high quality handmade hollow handled knife.

    • Thank you J. WELLS… I was just searching on GOOGLE and came Back to this site. I read everyone’s posts who has posted.

      And I agree with your post 1000%!! Plus, I see that you like a lot of the knifemakers, and their hollow handles, that I do!!

      Anyway, very well said bro!!

    • i still have a numbered FARID First Blood i commissioned years ago , i will keep it for my entire life , best blade i ever bought !

  11. Lest I forget Robert Parish & Mike England, also great hollow handle knife makers. Mike England is deceased and Robert Parish has since dropped out of the knife maker race. J.W.

  12. I don’t know why the hollow-handled survival knives are mocked like they are. Sure the cheapo production Master Cutlery and United Cutlery Rambo knives are a joke and are actually just novelty items or wall-hanger souvenirs. I mean, 420J2 steel isn’t even really a steel in my book. However, I have 2 solid handmade Andrew Clifford (ACK) survival knives that are real beasts of knives! And their quality, I think, is even better than Jimmy Lile’s famous handmade First Blood and rambo Mission knives! I also have an exceptional Steve Voporhis handmade Rambo knife which has characteristics of the First Blood, Mission, and the Sly II survival knives! I tell you right now, that knife is a real monster, and it is Not to be taken lightly or joked about!! I am a big fan of the hollow-handled spine-serrated survival knife styles. But I am only all about the handmade ones, not the cheapo Chinese knock-off production ones! If I am lucky, hopefully soon I will have my 3rd ACK survival knife And I am also looking into getting either the Arapaho survival knife by Martin or the Timberline SA9 survival knife, both high quality handmade knives. I am also looking into getting a Ray Matton handmade Rambo knife hopefully in the future! But right now I am quite happy with what I have gotten so far!

  13. You can believe this or not, but my Dad who died on january 1, 2010, was a US Army Special Forces and spent several different tours in both Korea and Vietnam. The knife that he carried with him on all of those times was/ is a hollow-handled handmade knife. His father made it for him just before he went to Korea. When my Dad ided in 2010, I inherited his US Army issued footlocker where he kept the few things that meant the most to him. In that locker was his old 2-blade XX case pocket knife, a Vietnamese small bayoney (as you know, Vietnamese and Koreans always just sharpened their knives on one side, not both like we do). And lo and behold, that hollow handled knife was in there. I remember playing and holding that knife whenever dad was home or when he would get it out, when i was just a tyke! And dad always promised me that knife, just like His dad made it and gave it to him. I now have that awesome 8 3/4 inch blade. It does indeed have serrations on top of it. And through all those years, it is still solid as ever! No looseness whatsoever. I took it a few weeks ago and had the blade special cleaned and then had it sand-blasted. I also had someone take a tool and split the serrations just like the FB movie. I also wrapped the handle with para cord. All that care and work makes the knife look MINT! The blade is just over 1/8th of an inch thick at the spine. The blade was handforged by my granddad and is one of the strongest blades ona knife I have ever seen. That knife has been used to pry open doors, baton kindling wood, skin fish, cut up deer, and I even used it to make a fort to sleep under when I would camp out. The fort had 3 sides and a slant-like overhang for a roof! Was all tied together with para cord and tons of leaves and straw and more leaves and straw was put on top for the roof! Anyway, I am getting off-topic. Dad taught me everything he knew as as Special Forces US Army personnel, Anyway, like i said, and I know this story might be hard to swallow for some people, but it is true. I am just so proud and honored to have the wonderful Dad that God blessed me with! Thanks for reading!! Ohh, FWI– I also have several handmade hollow handled survival knives as those types of knives are my favorites. I would pit them up against heavy use any day of the week! Believe me when I say they are Not toys nor are they that Chinese crap! Zmade in the good OLE USA with 440C steel, 5160 Spring Steel, hand forged impossible-to-break steel, and AUS 10 and SK-5 high carbon steel!

  14. I am a beginner prepper and a hobby blacksmith and have made my own carbon steel knives and also flint striker knives are a great tool. just my two cents worth

  15. Hello to all! I love the hollow handled knife concept! Always have! My handmade hollow handled knives that I own are just as strong and high in quality as any full tang knife out there! Ad one of my hollow handled knives actually saved my life. It was used heavily during time of serious need, and the items I had stored in the handle of my awesome knife also played a major part in saving my life. And guess what folks? It Didn’t Break!!! So do not kncok hollow handled knives until you have actually had to depend on one with your life and it has failed you. When that happens, then talk to me and maybe I will listen. but until then, keep your mouths shut (your fingers too) about something you just know absolutely Nothing about! Not unless you want to Refine your negative comments about hollow handled knives, and instead of using the word All hollow handled knives, just say All China and Japanese-made cheapo hollow handled knives such as what United and Master Cutlery dish out…. are wastes of time and money and are truly pathetic knives! But Never Ever Ever diss on an awesomely made Randall Model 18 or Steve Voorhis, Jimmy Lile, Ray Matton, or Andrew Clifford hollow handled handmade knife ( there are many more too). But now with Gil Hibben endorsing his pathetic pupp knife company called United Cutlery’s Chinese Cheapo knives, I wouldn’t trust his handmade knives as far as I can throw one of them. If he was all about high quality instead of the Almighty dollar, then he would Never endorse or approve the cheapo Chinese crap makers to make his designs! just my personal opinion and nothing personal against Hibben at all! I just seriously disagree with his cheating money making scheme that he has with United Cutlery tin can blade knives! They both really rip folks off, esp those that don’t know any better!

    • I have a Steve Voorhis knife its hollow handle seems to be made with a very tough piece of aircraft hi end Aluminum.Then the tang is threaded and locked in against the guard and blade with some kind of high strength epoxy. Very well made in the Lile,Randal type knifes. The only downside is that he polishes the blade to a super shine. I think if you were to bead blast this and then polish and protect the finish that this would be a Great knife. Just seeing someone pull this out on you would change my idea of bothering the person holding it. And after all isn’t that a better idea than having to use it on someone!!

  16. Choosing a knife to fit your situation or enviroment is important. Knives made with good quality steel properly heat treated and tempered is very important. Pick a good all around size that will do the tasks you ask of it. Having a knife with a 4 to 6 inch blade will take care of most jobs in the outdoors. I like to have a small knife (3 to 4 inch blade) paired up with a larger knife (7 to 10 inch blade). Depending on the time of year an axe is a must especially in the winter. Don’t forget a good saw folding or fixed.

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