(This site is reader-supported. When you buy something using retail links on our articles, we may earn a small commission.)
You need a survival knife as a tool for protection while on an adventurous tour or a trip to the wild. It is worth considering a folding survival knife for multiple reasons.
While the common consent is that fixed blades are perfect, folding blades are becoming more popular these days. The credit goes to the ever-enhancing joint design to reduce blade issues at the time of heavy use.
A folding knife is a handy option in the wilderness as well as in urban survival scenarios. Due to the ability to fold, such a knife is safer, more compact, and more convenient to travel with.
The best folding survival knife should be capable of getting you safely out of emergencies. Although not as durable as a fixed version with a long blade, a quality folding knife is yet reliable for outdoor tasks, especially for the intricate and rapid precision ones such as line cutting and wire stripping.
You can even use it as a backup if you cannot rely on a larger blade. Nevertheless, some folding survival models are such that they can play the role of your main knife. To be honest we always prefer a fixed blade knife as a survival knife.
This post introduces the top 6 folding survival knives apart from describing their types and functional methodologies. So, read on to find the best folding survival knives in the market.
6 Best Folding Survival Knives of 2021
When it comes to camping and other outdoor adventures, a folding survival knife can come in as a handy tool. There are lots of options to choose from out there, and most of them even come with tools like a handy fire starter. To guide you in the selection process, here are the top 6 folding survival knives that you can find in the market:
Buck Knives TOPS/Buck CSAR – Best folding survival knife
Buck Knives’s leading knife comes with a 3.5 inch tanto blade, as well as a Zirblast finish. It is excellent for scraping or piercing, but it works wonders against hard materials too. It is made of 154CM steel, so it is likely to maintain its razor sharpness overtime. The steel also resists to corrosion in the long run, so it makes no difference where you use the knife.
You only need one hand to open the knife. Moreover, you have a notch, a thump stud, and a hex tool. When closed, the unit measures five inches. You will love the G10 handle, which ensures a quality grip with its nonslip texture. To make things even better, Buck has also included a durable polyester sheath in the package.
- Durable and corrosion-resistant metal
- Nonslip textured handle
- Edge retention
- Comes with a sheath
- No ball bearing
Victorinox Swiss Army Farmer Pocket Knife – Best multi tool survival knife
Victorinox is one of the leading names on the market when it comes to knives and this model can outweigh the competition. It is made in Switzerland, so it is an authentic pocket knife designed in a compact style with multi-tool for all kinds of uses. It makes no difference if you go camping or you find yourself in a dangerous survival situation – this knife will get your back.
The unit measures 3.66 inches and weighs around three ounces. It has lots of extra tools, such as a cap lifter, a wire stripper, a screwdriver, a can opener with a tiny screwdriver and a wood saw, among others. The blade is relatively large. Victorinox is known for using quality materials in its knives – this one is based on silver aluminum.
- Lots of extra tools
- Durable materials
- Easy to open
- Lightweight and ergonomic
- Taking the main blade out may feel a bit tricky
The RAT1 model from Ontario Knife is less likely to disappoint you. Featuring a 3.5-inch blade and a five-inch handle, it comes with the ideal proportions to ensure an ergonomic and easy to use the knife. The blade is made of AUS8 stainless steel, while the handle is based on nylon 6. It is textured and less likely to slip out of your hands, even if they are wet or sweaty.
The knife provides easy access. It has a pocket clip, as well as a thumb stud flipper. It barely weighs five ounces – easy to carry around without too much hassle. You can open it within a second due to the thumb stud – it makes no difference if you are left or right-handed.
- Good looking
- Durable materials and finish
- Nonslip handle
- Easy to open with a thumb stud
- The opening mechanism is not assisted
GrandWay 6772 Pocket Knife with Fire Starter & Paracord Handle
This EDC pocket knife is one of the most efficient survival knives that you can find out there. It is spring-assisted and built with a useful thumb stud for easier access to the blade. You do not have to worry about accidental cuts, because this knife has a locking mechanism that secures the blade’s position whenever you open or close it. Apart from these, the folding knife’s handle is wrapped with a paracord lanyard, allowing you to grip it firmly without the risk of it slipping off your hands. Finally, the GrandWay 6772 comes with a handy fire starter rod. By simply carrying this survival knife, you will get to start your fires whenever you go on outdoor adventures. Simply strike the rod against the knife’s blade, and you can create a spark that can ignite your bonfires or signal someone for help.
- Made of premium materials
- Equipped with pocket clip & lanyard for easier storage
- Perfect for survival and self-defense emergencies
- It is quite pricey for a pocket knife
- The knife’s compact size kind of underestimates its intimidating design
Morpilot 5-in-1 Tactical Knife – Cheap folding survival knife
If you are looking for a cramped up adventure toolset, the Morpilot Tactical Knife is the perfect choice for you. Equipped with a Saw, Cutter, Glass Breaker, Fire Starter, and the blade itself, this knife is one of the most sought out folding survival knives out there. The 3.14” blade is made from durable, high-quality stainless that is guaranteed to last long with its anti-rust properties. To ensure protection, the knife has a safety lock that you can easily push to fold the blade whenever you are not using it. Finally, the handle of this folding tactical knife is made of waterproof material that ensures the fire starter’s safety inside it. The fire starter is also equipped with a magnetic compass, an emergency whistle, and a neck rope, making it the perfect outdoor buddy whenever you would like to go out on adventures in the wilderness. Instead of buying different tools, you could simply get this knife and your worries are over.
- The blade is durable enough to last for a long time
- With this knife, you won’t have to bring some of your other tools anymore
- Perfect for camping trips, self-defense, and trekking
- Some of the extra tools may be unnecessary in the long run (depending on your needs)
- It is not as compact as you want it to be
Master USA Hunting Knife with Fire Starter – Cheap small folding survival knife
Do not be fooled by this knife’s compact appearance, because when it comes to survival knives, size doesn’t matter. Featuring the classic look of a karambit, the Master USA Hunting Knife can fit perfectly in your pocket. Its 2.5mm blade is made of stainless steel, and it is coated with a black finish to complete its sleek design. For the knife’s handle, high-quality nylon fiber is used to ensure excellent grip despite its small size. If you are worried that you might lose the fire starter, don’t be! It is designed within the handle, securing it whenever you bring the knife outside. You only need to pull it out when you are starting a fire, and you can easily plug it back in when you are done using it. If you are looking for a more compact but efficient knife, this karambit might be the one you are looking for.
- It has a simple but efficient design
- The blade is small, but its cutting capabilities are off the charts
- You can easily slip it in your pocket whenever you want
- The knife might be too small for some people
- You might lose the fire starter with one wrong pull
Types of Folding Knives
Three types of folding knives are available in the market, regardless of whether being used for survival or as an Everyday Carry (EDC). Let’s explore them.
- Single-Blade: Is the most standard type that is compact yet significantly useful. Its main feature is its locking mechanism due to which the knife becomes more resistant as well as sturdier. Often, a single-blade knife has a spring-loaded functionality for opening the blade quickly.
- Multi-Blade: This is a versatile type featuring two or more blades. A multi-blade knife is likely to have sheepsfoot, spey, and drop-point blades. Thus, such a knife is ideal for those who need to perform many tasks in the same environment. On the flip side, it is less likely to be durable or tough as its single-blade equivalents.
- Multi-Tool: Multi-tool knives are the most versatile type featuring different tools along with blades. The popular Swiss Army knife belongs to this category. Being multi-dimensional, this kind of folding knife can assist you in various survival situations.
Types of Folding Methodologies
A foldable survival knife always comes with some secure lock mechanism to fold such that it does not snap your fingers. Different types of lock mechanisms exist, which you can spot in survival knives. Following are the most used lock mechanisms:
- Lockback: This is a part of the traditional American folding knives. It functions via a spring added to the spine in the blade’s handle. Pulling it open locks the bar at the blade’s tang. Now, you can use the knife. Once done, just push down on the revealed spine at the middle or rear section of the handle to unlock and close the blade. The spine, here, is the tang-similar metal in the handle. This locking mechanism renders more strength. As it safely sits at the rear, you are the least chances of cutting yourself at the time of closing the blade. Nevertheless, it may work slowly when both hands cannot be used to pull or push.
- Liner Lock: Is the most common locking mechanism used in pocket knives. It features a spring bar known as the liner for triggering a spring effect. It triggers this effect by bending the bar unto the tang while making contact. The bar extends from the handle’s tang to that of the blade. It resides on the side and the edge’s path. Many latest models come with a stop pin that ensures more strength as well as safety. Upon closing the blade, the bar faces tension. This same tension makes the liner go inward while pulling open such that it locks to the blade’s tang. Residing at the scales, the stop pin then aligns the blade precisely to give you a tool ready for action. For closing, push down on the bar and then slowly push down on the blunt side of the blade using the index finger. Doing so averts the bar from locking again. Once done, keep pushing the rear part of your blade (spine) until the blade closes safely. Modern models have a detent ball to prevent accidental opening. Knife fans prefer this locking system due to its two sides of the handle and the ability to open and close without swapping hands. Nevertheless, most models come with thin metal build, which is vulnerable to wear and tear. Thus, these folding knives are not ideal for heavy-duty chores.
- Axis Lock: Is the brainchild of the Benchmade company team and is commonly a part of its pocket knives. Users love this locking mechanism due to its usefulness and simplicity. The mechanism features a spring-tension bar that moves. It can go back and forth between the liners and the handle. The tension arises from the springs having an omega shape located at the bar’s sides to ensure equal tension on each side. At the tang, a notch locks into place with the bar while opening the blade. The springs push the bar towards the blade’s tang. There is also a stop pin for better reliability. To close, pull back the bar while pushing down the blade via the thumb stud. Knives with the axis lock mechanism are fully ambidextrous, as the bar is at both handle sides. It is vital to note that similar lock systems working on the same principle exist in the market but they have a different design.
- Reeves Integral lock (R. I. l.) or Frame Lock: This is an advanced version of the Liner Lock mechanism and popular among medium- and costly survival knives. This is because this mechanism allows users to use knives with one hand while rendering the strength and stability to handle any kind of heavy-duty chore. Rather than the liner as a different piece from the handle, the bar belongs to a handle’s side and protruded to lock onto the blade’s tang when opened. In the mechanism of frame lock, the frame is sturdier as well as thicker than the liner lock although the tension effect is identical. Most knives with this kind of lock have a hole at the blade’s base into which the detent ball slips to retain the blade in place. Many knives have a titanium frame, while some have a stainless steel one that does not wear and tear much.
Although not as good as a fixed blade knife, most of the folder survival knives are designed to withstand extreme weather conditions. Just make sure that you will do your research before buying them, and carefully weigh out which ones would be most useful for your purpose. If you have the budget go for the Buck Knives TOPS/Buck CSAR, you won’t regret it.
Hi, I am Jay. I am the creator of Knife Guides, your one-stop site for everything related to knives. I am a computer engineer by profession, knife aficionado by passion. Here I work with a group of people who’ve always had a passion for knives and blades. Over the years we’ve kind of become experts and decided to share our knowledge and ideas. I am also an avid hiker and enjoy offshore gamefishing.