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A knife is certainly one of the most useful and versatile tools to have regardless of whether you are in a deep forest, a military training camp, or a metropolis. If the situation is of self-defense or combat the best knife for this can be any you have available with you, it is better to have a knife meant for fighting if you get into such situations often.
This guide lists the top pure fighting knives to consider and reveals the different types of fighting knives so that you can make an informed decision.
What are Fighting Knives?
A fighting knife is designed to inflict injury in a short-range physical confrontation most effectively. The important thing is these knives must not be short.
A lot of people recommend 6″-7″ knives as ideal, while others say 8″-9″, and others favor 11″-15″. The type of fighting knife should match the type of knife fighting you plan for.
Fighting Knives vs Tactical Knives vs Combat Knives
Most people refer to tactical and combat knives as fighting knives, while others feel that they are three separate types of knives.
Fighting knives are special-purpose weapons, On the other hand, a tactical knife is principally designed to be used as a utility tool, not as a weapon. Given a choice, one should not use a tactical knife in combat situations.
Lynn Thompson, CEO of Cold Steel knives says “most tactical folding knives are too short to be of use in a knife fight and that even though he manufactures, sells, and carries a tactical folder, it is not ideal for fighting.”
On the other hand, combat knives are field utility knives used by combat troops mainly for prying, cutting, pounding, etc., first, and fighting as a secondary purpose.
All these definitions can be argued as very subjective, but this is what we believe in.
What to Look for in a Good Fighting Knife
Fighting knives can be of various types. Some people prefer slashing over stabbing knives.
Below are some features one should be looking for in a fighting knife. You will not find it all in one single knife. Some of them might be even incompatible.
- Good for stabbing or slashing
- Thick blade for strength in stabbing/thrusting
- Thin blade for easier penetration of thick clothing
- Heavy enough for devastating cuts
- Lightweight for speed
- Small guard to keep the hand from sliding onto the blade while stabbing
- Large guard for blocking
- Knucklebow for blocking and punching
- Long blade for parrying and outreach smaller fighting knives
- Short blade for easier use while wrestling
- Short blade for easy carry and concealment
- Very low profile guard to avoid snagging on clothing
- Lightweight and small guard for easy carry
2023’s Best Pure Fighting Knives
Now that you know what a pure fighting knife is, let’s dig deeper into our top choices of fighting knives you can purchase.
Randall Model 1 All-purpose Fighting Knife
Made popular by the second world war’s Allied combat troops, this knife is considered the most classic fighting knife. This semi-Bowie is still admired by the trained servicemen and is still being made.
The hand-made Model 1 is a hefty knife made using ¼-inch stock, either the O1 carbon tool or the 440B high-carbon stainless steel. If made up of stainless, S is engraved on the blade next to the standard stamp of manufacturing.
O1 tool steel is hard and is admired for its better edge retention ability than its stainless counterparts. It is more wear-resistant than other carbon equivalents. However, it rusts swiftly if not maintained. The steel is used for tasks where alloy steels fail to prove strong and hard.
However, Randall states that its stainless-steel blade is more resistant to staining and corrosion. Thus, it is also reliable in salt water and humid climate. The 440B steel has good strength, wear resistance power, and moderate corrosion resistance. This steel is chosen for abuse endurance and toughness over optimal edge holding. This makes significant sense for a fighting knife.
We still do think that there are much better premium knife steels they can make use of for the modern versions.
Model 1 comes with a hollow-ground blade that can be 5″, 6″, 7″, or 8″ long. It has a 20-degree micro bevel edge, which is the brand’s preferred negotiation for cutting skin and muscle. The 4-3/4″ to 5″ leather handle ends with a butt cap secured using a nut on the end of the tail tang.
It is really hard to get your hands on this knife. The waiting time at the manufacturer for this knife is 5-6 years which is a huge bummer. If you are lucky you will find some reseller. AG Russel says they can get this in 6-8 months.
Fox Fairbairn Sykes
The Fairbairn Sykes fighting knife was made famous during World War II when issued to British Commandos, the Airborne Forces, the SAS, and many other units.
Designed for fighting or hunting purposes, Fox Fairbairn Sykes, the modern take on the classic is one of the most versatile knives out there and makes an excellent choice in all kinds of situations. The knife has a dagger style and a flat blade. It is based on Bohler N690 steel, which is both rust and corrosion-resistant. The blade measures 6.75 inches in length. It is relatively thin at just 0.2 inches in thickness, which adds to the knife efficiency.
The handle is not to be overlooked either. It is based on aluminum, so it will last for ages. It is about five inches in length. It is covered in a solid PVD coating that prevents slipping, even if your hands are wet or sweaty. The ergonomic handle also comes with hand guard protection.
It is important to know that the knife comes with its own leather sheath. It is razor-sharp out of the box and can be used straight away. In terms of cleaning it, do it manually and never in a dishwasher, or you could damage the edge.
Kizlyar Knife KO-2
Made famous in various combat fields that Russia has been involved in, Kizlyar’s knife is not a toy. Instead, it represents a solid combat dagger that will work wonders in all kinds of applications – from hunting deer to actually going to war. It is the type of tool that will not let you down, regardless of the situation.
The cold weapon certified knife has a serial number for each unit. The blade is based on stainless steel – about 58HRC – that is rust and corrosion-resistant. It measures just under eight inches in length and has a stonewash black finish.
The handle is based on wood for durability but is also covered in stacked leather. It is ergonomic and has a pommel at the end, but it also features good handguard protection. It will never slip out of your hand, ensuring good reliability in combat. It measures four inches in length.
The unit has its own genuine leather sheath with an ABS plastic insert for durability. The edge is razor-sharp out of the box. Apart from combat and hunting, the knife can also be used for camping, tactical training, and survival adventures. Clean it manually and never in a dishwasher.
Cold Steel OSS
Featuring incredible strength and literally perfect balance when in use, Cold Steel’s knife is likely to support you anytime, anywhere. It features a solid Japanese AUS 8A stainless steel blade, as well as a nonslip handle and its own sheath for a perfect match.
The blade is 8.25 inches in length, while the handle is suitable for both small and large hands – just over five inches. It is covered in a textured surface to prevent slipping out of your hands, but it also has proper handguard protection – as well as more support for the index finger.
Mainly appreciated by hunters, the knife has become a solid choice for military users as well. The combative tool has a dedicated profile, and its double-edged blade makes it suitable for any situation. The knife can deliver an almost instant slash in any direction – twin edges.
Edges are razor-sharp, so you can use the knife out of the box. There is no need to sharpen it first. Sharpening implies using a stone or a sharpener. In terms of maintenance, avoid cleaning it in a dishwasher – always do it manually and dry it completely before storage or you risk dulling the edges.
Why Don’t We Consider the Karambit as a Pure Fighting Knife?
If you are a knife aficionado, you must have noticed that we have not included any karambit knives into our list of top pure fighting knives, despite the popularity.
Like any weapon, the karambit has its share of pros and cons.
Most of the Karambit available today are easily concealable because of their small size or they feature a folding blade. Most folding and fixed blade Karambits are fairly easy to draw as well. The safety ring at the bottom makes it difficult for an opponent to make you drop it, or take it away from you. The safety ring can also double as a ‘knuckle duster’ for a quick distraction and set up for a follow-up slash.
On the other hand, Karambit knives are effective only in close combat situations like push daggers, and can easily be defeated by weapons with longer reach. Because of its shape, the Karambit is limited to slashing rather than stabbing and hence is relatively less lethal compared to the knives in our list. Compared to other knives the learning curve is much higher as well.
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.