It could be argued that the knife is the most important tool a person can have. Since those ancient times when cavemen chipped knives from stone, the knife has come a long, long way. Today you can find an overwhelming variety of knives with different shapes, sizes, and functions. Additionally, these knives can range in price from a couple of dollars up into the “hundreds of dollars” range which means it’s important that you get the best fixed blade knife for your budget.
No matter what your task at hand might be, a fixed-blade knife is going to be the strongest and safest option. This is because a fixed-blade knife is designed with no moving parts whatsoever. It is, simply put, a solid piece of sharpened steel with a handle. Of course, not all steels are equal – and neither are handle materials or fabricators’ skill.
As such, we combed through the hottest knives out right now and chose a few favorites. Our first pick is our overall favorite, which is followed by our picks for the best value and the most economic, respectively. First, let’s discuss the things you should look for in a fixed-blade knife.
Table of Contents
What to Look For in a Fixed Blade Knife
For a very long time, a fixed-blade knife was the only kind of knife available. Modern innovations in the engineering of steel alloys, ultra-low-friction bearings, and synthetic grip materials have ushered in a new wave of folding styles. While more convenient to carry as a pocketknife, folding knives still have a moving joint in their middle that serves as a point-of-weakness. This makes them potentially dangerous to use for heavy-duty tasks like skinning game, fieldcraft wood-carving, and other utility work.
Hardly the case with a fixed-blade knife. With no joints, there are no moving parts to wear down and cause problems. However, the steel blade of any knife requires minimal care to stay free from rust. Another knife design that gives the appearance of being a solid fixed-blade is the “rat-tang”. As opposed to a full-tang blade, the rat-tang is simply a blade with a long slender “bolt” extending from the tang end.
This allows the knife-maker to slip a handle over the bolt and screw on a pommel, completing the knife. This is a common method of producing cheap fixed-blade knives in large quantities; be careful to check that the fixed-blade knife you choose is a proper full-tang knife.
As you browse through the knives we’ve selected for review, you’ll notice a common denominator. Every one of them will have been crafted from a high-carbon steel alloy regarded for its strength, edge retention, and corrosion resistance.
While steel quality might seem like an obvious thing to want in a knife, the grip is often overlooked or neglected for the sake of aesthetics. There are a number of exotic woods, plastics, rubbers, etc. available – but make sure you choose one suited for as unforgiving an environment as you intend to use it in.
We cannot overemphasize the importance of getting a full-tang knife if you are looking at fixed-blades. The rat-tang is dangerous by design, and only suitable for ornamental or display pieces. Going full-tang may slightly raise the cost of the knife, but consider it insurance for all your bits and pieces.
Fixed Blade Knife Reviews
The S30V steel is an excellent choice for a knife blade, arguably the best. It is of a hardness that allows the blade to maintain an incredibly sharp edge, though it does take a touch more effort to sharpen. Of course, Benchmade offers the Lifesharpen service with the authorized purchase of their products (our links are all from authorized vendors).
Additionally, the Dymondwood handle material is a modern laminated wood product that results in a handle superior to wood in every way. It is more durable, easier for makers to form into an ergonomic and aesthetically appealing shape, and can be fashioned into different color schemes.
This fixed-blade knife features a “drop-point” blade with a very healthy radius to its edge. This makes the knife incredibly useful for hunting and skinning game, as one can work the knife to take advantage of its round shape without fear of puncturing hide or anything else. Its innate sharpness lends itself well to slicing, though attempts to slice thinly may prove frustrating as the blade is designed to wedge, as opposed to fillet.
A military favorite, this knife comes with a MOLLE-compatible “snap-together” sheath in Coyote Brown; perfect for sandy environments. The blade is fashioned from 420 High Carbon stainless, and then powder coated in tactical matte black. The edge is considered a fine-edge (meaning no serrations), which is best for fine slicing and self-defense.
That being said, this knife was engineered by a leading knife manufacturer to stand up to battlefield conditions. The rubberized grip is simple but is superior in function to nearly every other grip material, especially in “wet” conditions.
One thing that is important to note – all Gerber knives are hand-sharpened at their Portland facility. This means that every knife that goes out has a slightly different edge to it. Depending on your intended use for this knife, you may also consider making sure you have the means to sharpen the knife.
Featuring a 5Cr15MoV SS blade with a glass bead finish that runs the full tang, you take one look and see that this knife is solid. The handle is composed of TacHyde synthetic composite, allowing for a good grip even in wet conditions. This knife’s designed on one of Gerber’s former models that were constructed from S30V steel; a fact that gave it better edge retention, but drove the cost up with premium models. Customer feedback led Gerber to use slightly softer steel and bring one of the most popular designs for hunting to mainstream consumers.
This knife is a finely-engineered piece from a well-respected manufacturer. The blade’s drop-point and rugged features volunteer it for duty outdoors, and the softer steel will hold just as sharp an edge as its predecessor, albeit for not as long. If anything, however, the softer steel is far easier to sharpen, meaning a few quick strokes is all it takes to hone a razor’s edge. This is actually more practical in the field, where you may not have an hour to spend sharpening a harder blade that has finally lost its edge.
That being said, this is an excellent fixed-blade knife for Everyday Carry (EDC). Worn horizontally, it makes for an impressive look. The tanto blade, as mentioned, is well suited for self-defense and knife-defense due to its armor-piercing design. It is made from 9Cr17MoV High-Carbon Stainless Steel that is coated in matte tactical black. This knife will accommodate duty and uniform belts, and the tactical black look of the knife helps it fit right in with other gear.
The TPE handle is made from synthetic HL1 rubber, which provides an interesting-feeling grip that seems to ignore moisture and wet conditions. The thermoplastic molded sheath uses a friction retention mechanism that does a fine job keeping the blade snug and looks good in both civilian attire and uniform. If you’ve been looking for a knife with function, intimidating looks, and an affordable price – you found it.
This is an incredibly solid knife, though given the design it is likely a rat-tang and not full-tang. Another important thing of note is the slickness of the handle could be an issue in wet situations in the field. That having been said, this is still a pretty amazing EDC (everyday carry) knife for the price.
Despite its glossy texture, the handle does feature a swelled palm profile and deep finger grooves for better grip and control. Additionally, the 420HC steel blade goes through Buck’s proprietary heat-treatment process, giving it superior hardness and edge retention compared to other 420HC blades. This process was developed by legendary heat-treatment expert Paul Bos, and is a cornerstone of Buck’s manufacturing.
However – make no mistake, this is as fine a fixed-blade knife as you’ll find in the price range. Carbon steel may lack in corrosion resistance, but the tactical powder coating on this blade is reminiscent of a truck’s bed-liner. It’s tough. Also, carbon steel is easier to sharpen, meaning getting a razor’s edge while in the field is a simple task.
This knife is a result of Ryan Johnson and CRKT’s Forged by War program, which uses knife-making as a therapy for PTSD-afflicted veterans. Their designs get funneled to CRKT’s design team, and this is one of the outcomes. If you are a veteran or service-member, this is a really cool knife with a unique backstory that you can be proud to carry.
Well, everyone, this concludes our review for the Best Fixed-Blade Knives. We hope you found it informative and insightful, and that you go into your next knife purchase better prepared for it. Whether you need the efficient drop-point skinning efficiency of the Hidden Canyon Hunter, the tactical superiority of the Gerber Strongarm, or the sheer affordability of the Gerber Freeman – we’ve got you covered!
We had some strong runner-ups as well, though. The Smith & Wesson SW7 is another affordable option with slightly more aggressive styling, though it’s not well suited for fieldcraft. Likewise, the Buck 119 Special is a beautiful Everyday Carry (EDC) blade; one built well enough to hold up considerably well as a hunting knife. And last but not least, of course, we looked at the CRKT SiWi Fixed-Blade. This combat veteran-inspired design is incredibly well-suited for self-defense or tactical work, as well as being a comfortable EDC piece as well.
No matter which kind of fixed-blade knife you need, you definitely want it to be made of good steel, have a good grip and feel, and have solid craftsmanship. If your knife has all of these characteristics, it will have value to you – no matter what. That’s why we used these criteria as our guide for review.
We sincerely hope you enjoy your new knife for many years to come, and please stay safe. Thanks for reading!