(This site is reader-supported and we earn commissions if you purchase products from retailers after clicking on a link from our site.)
An emergency can strike at any time and any place. Your car may get stuck amidst heavily falling snow, or your dress may get stuck in a fence suddenly while running away from a nearby danger. In any such situation, a knife proves to be the best savior.
While just any knife can save you from the doom, the knife manufacturers have grabbed the opportunity to design knives that are specially meant for rescue work. These are available as rescue knives.
When it is an emergency, you may have to break the glass of your car or cut through thick materials. These rescue tasks are something that you cannot do using your bare hands. This is where a rescue knife comes into the picture.
A rescue knife, either in your pocket or at your home, can solve any issue. Its rugged design and razor-sharp edges help in performing the rescue work successfully. It is simple to use a rescue knife. It can perform tasks that other knives cannot, such as cutting through bulky cords, leather belts, dense fibers, and solid glasses.
However, it is a great mistake to think that rescue knives are only for rescue purposes. In reality, it is a versatile tool that even outdoor enthusiasts such as hikers and campers can rely upon.
Rescue knives are sadly underrated, but their efficiency is their biggest selling point. Thus, they are amongst the most reliable knives in the market. This guide focuses on why it is essential to have one such knife and how do you buy the best rescue knife by comparing its features.
Why Have a Rescue Knife?
The market is filled with different varieties of knives such as EveryDay Carry (EDC), survival, chef’s, and tactical. When utmost durability and versatility are top priorities, rescue knives rank first. During fires, accidents, or any other adverse situations, having a rescue knife is crucial for saving your life.
Many of us are not aware of the fact that rescue knives are perfect glass breakers. They have a stiff design for this purpose for shattering glass immediately. There is also no need to put much force.
Similarly, rescue knives are also ideal seat belt cutters. An emergency can call for instant cutting of your seat belt. This is where the design of a rescue knife just proves to be flawless. The serrated edge ensures excellent traction due to which there is no risk of slipping at the time of cutting.
Most experts feel that a rescue knife is the only option for professionals when it comes to cutting thicker fabrics without supervision or control. The best rescue knife is both rugged and portable. Professionals can carry such a knife all the time without any hassle.
2021’s 3 Best Rescue Knives Reviewed
Gerber Hinderer Rescue Knife
This is the knife made by Rick Hinderer, a knifemaker and a firefighter. Thus, you can expect the most critical features. It is recommended for emergency medical services and firefighters.
Made for outdoor campaigns, this knife has its weight distributed so well, such that it contributes to optimal stability and comfortable carrying. The strong design makes this knife durable. Even in the most adverse situation, you can expect a good impact.
The 3.5-inch long serrated blade is sharp enough to cut through almost anything in the field, including webbing, cardboard boxes, and ancient turnouts. The knife also has an oxygen tank opener and a window punch. You also get a nine-piece toolkit that included hex bits, a bit adapter, and a handle in L shape.
- One-hand operation
- Cutting through everything
- Stable performance
- Survival toolkit included
- Some time in getting used to opening
- A bit pricey
Victorinox Swiss Army Rescue Tool Pocket Knife with Pouch
This is a compact version of the classical Swiss Army model that needs no introduction. It is perhaps the most versatile tool in terms of the tools it has and, consequently, the tasks it can handle. There are 15 tools and a blade, which can handle rescue or EDC tasks.
This rescue knife is your pocket toolbox. The tools are made up of stainless steel and are within nylon scales, ensuring shiny durability. You can rely on it while inside a car or on an outdoor adventure trip.
- Easy to fold and unfold
- May not be sharp out of the box
Spyderco Rescue Assist 3.69 in Comboedge FRN Handle
This is another versatile rescue knife with the sharp and rugged blade. However, it is different from other models, as it works reliably in marine environments for cutting underwater materials underwater. It does not matter even if the water is too salty.
This lock folding knife features COMBINATIONEDGE, which means a blade with a plain edge and partially serrated one. The handle is made up of Fiberglass Reinforced Nylon (FRN) polymer that ensures a safe grip and is lightweight and strong.
There are bevels ground with a hollow radius. In the end, the glass breaker helps in breaking most glasses in one go. This is sufficient for escaping quickly.
- Reliable even underwater
- Ergonomic grip
Factors to Consider for Finding the Best Rescue Knife for You
The applications of a rescue knife have no bounds. However, it needs to be well-built. Otherwise, you may never be able to rely upon it again. To know whether a rescue knife is well-built or not, you need to know it inside out.
You will come across many promising rescue knives while looking for them. This can confuse as to which one is the best option for you and your requirements.
To prevent this confusion, the following are the factors or features you need to analyze and compare to know which promising rescue knife best fits your requirements, including the budget:
A rescue knife is a tool that you will be keeping most of the time with you or will be carrying with you. This is essential so that you can use it instantly. Keeping this in mind, it is essential to select a light version that is known for its top performance no matter how many times you use it.
It should be as light as possible if it comes with some tools such as a belt cutter and a glass breaker. Compare such knives that have got top ratings and see which one is lighter and yet does not compromise performance.
The best rescue knife is the one whose blade is sharp like nothing else. Sharpness is an integral part of a rescue knife, as it should be able to cut thick as well as thin fabrics or materials such as ropes, attires, and heavy items.
A rescue knife should come sharp right out of the box. Further, it is required to sharpen it regularly, which is at least one or two times a month. It is advisable to use a sharpening stone or some type of a lubricant so that the knife’s lifespan increases beyond your expectations.
Most rescue knives come with a sharp edge and a blunt tip, of which the former remain sharp for a longer time than usual. The blunt tip is essential to keep stabbing people at bay while releasing them from the danger.
While sharp, the blade edge is rugged enough to keep accidents at bay. It is essential to retain the sharp edge, or else the blade material will start chipping in some time.
It is true, too sharp items need to be handled with care. However, they are the ones that save you in an adverse situation. Thus, it is wise to choose a rescue knife with a sharp serrated edge.
Ease of Use
A rescue knife should be easy to use irrespective of whether you are left- or right-handed. This is possible if there is an ambidextrous thumb knob. Ambidextrous itself indicates that both these people can use the knob easily.
In any stressful situation, you need a knife that is easy to use. It should be easy enough to deploy it through its locking mechanism. Once the desired job is done, the locking mechanism should safely keep the blade in a firm position.
So, a locking mechanism does contribute to ease of use. While performing something immediately or while in a hurry, the rescue tool should provide a liner lock. This lock ensures that the blade is firmly in place regardless of the type of move made. This is also how a slipping accident is kept at bay.
Without this feature, no rescue knife is actually a rescue knife. Professionals such as firefighters and police officers have been using these knives for a long time. This indicates that these knives are adaptable to harsh environments and extreme conditions, ranging right from fire to snow.
Thus, the best rescue knife is the one that endures these abuses and yet resists their effects, namely, rusting, corrosion, or contamination. After all, no one will be interested in getting a tool that is likely to stop working after some time.
This aspect significantly contributes to durability. It is ideal to look for a blade that is made up of sturdy stainless steel, such as AUS8 or 440C. These build materials ensure that there is no easy chipping and that a decent edge is retained.
It is wise to go with a stainless steel material instead of a high carbon steel material. This is because the latter will quickly get wet when exposed to fluids.
At the time of application, the handle of a rescue knife should facilitate a secure grip to do the desired job. This is mandatory for ensuring safety as well as productivity. Thus, the safe grip is another critical factor that you should look for while searching for a rescue knife.
Further, the handle should be clearly visible if you accidentally drop it while coming out of an emergency. Thus, it is wise not to choose a black handle, as it is going to be tough to find a knife when it is needed. However, if you can find it easily after using a few knives, it is fine. In short, look for an ergonomic handle.
A rescue knife is likely to come with some more tools attached to it just as a Swiss Army knife. An ideal model will come with all useful tools such as the window breaker, belt cutter, and LED light.
However, you should be wise enough to choose here. Not all the tools will be useful for you. So, you need to select a rescue knife that comes with only those tools that are useful. More tools indicate that you will be using the knife for different applications. So, you can identify the applications and then choose the knife accordingly.
The extra tools can also mean more knife weight. In that case, just ensure that it is not too heavy. It should easily fit in your pocket and come out when in need.
Is it necessary to choose a serrated rescue knife?
Choosing a sharp or a serrate knife depends on how often you will be sharpening your rescue knife. When it comes to rescuing knives, it is good to keep a serrated one, as you do not have to sharpen it often.
It is true that people do not prefer partially serrated knives. Nevertheless, for rescue knives, partial serration is a boon. This is because serrations are ideal for cutting woven and thick materials as well as stay sharp. It is also fine to get a fully serrated model, as many prefer it for rescue operations.
Should I buy a rescue knife with a window breaker and belt cutter tools?
No, it is not mandatory. For those who do not know, a large handle can break the glass, while a sharp edge can cut the belts. It is wise to invest more than your budget if the blade is truly sharp.
A rescue knife is just not any standard knife. It is specially designed for emergency or adverse occasions in which it can save your life. For this, it should be ergonomically made, which even ensures a perfect fit. You should choose a rescue knife as per your requirements, not as per the popularity.
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.