If you are the outdoorsman type, you must know that having a good quality knife in your pocket is a must have in almost every situation, regardless if it’s a fixed blade survival knife or the best folding survival knife.

Generally speaking, the best knife to have with you in a survival scenario is a fixed blade, but sometimes you don’t have that option available, because fixed blades are often big in size and not so easy to carry around. Hence, the best folding survival knife comes into play.

Even if a fixed blade is stronger and it can do heavy duty jobs, if you are careful when choosing a folding knife, you can also benefit from most of the advantages of a fixed blade.

If you have a high-quality, solid folding survival knife with a large enough blade, you can use it for various outdoor tasks, such as batoning, chopping wood, preparing food, not to mention self defense. Within this article, we will help you pick the best folding survival knife for your needs.

  1. Even the best folding survival knife will have weaknesses, due to their inherent design: the folding mechanism itself, the “joint”, where the blade folds into the handle. If the knife is not designed properly and the materials used in its construction are not of top notch quality, the knife may break under stress. One must choose a reputable knife manufacturing company when it comes to folders, and should stay away from cheap, Chinese knock-offs, they will fail on you when pushed hard, guaranteed. It’s not a question of if, but when.

  2. Another thing to look out for when it comes to the best folding survival knife is the handle. The design must be ergonomic aka it must fit your hand perfectly, under any type of grip. I personally prefer the handles that are machined from one piece of G10, Zytel or 6061 aluminum. By the way, these are the best handle materials out there, both in folders and survival knives. They are very resistant to wear and tear, they provide excellent grip under any weather conditions and they absorb shocks and vibrations, making them ideal for heavy tasks. Keep away from handles with inlays or several pieces, it’s just a matter of time until they come apart.

  3. You should choose the best folding survival knife with a locking mechanism, which basically locks the blade when opened and keeps it locked while using it. This type of folding knife is very safe to use for heavy duty tasks, provided that the locking mechanism is solid and well designed and it is made of quality materials. I cannot stress hard enough how important is to choose a high quality, well designed folding survival knife. The locking mechanism is the most important part in a folder.

  4. The blade should be at least 4 inches long and made of stainless steel. The most common types of stainless steel used in folders are AUS8 and 440C, both are good quality steels, if they are heat-treated correctly. You can find such type of steel in cheap Chinese knives also, but I wouldn’t trust my life on these.

  5. Blade thickness is another factor to take into consideration when choosing the best folding survival knife, also the locking mechanism. A thick blade is stronger and more resistant to wear and tear, this is a no brainer. Stay away from thin, flimsy blades.

Let’s take a look at the most common locking mechanisms for the best folding survival knife:

  • The Liner Lock: This type of locking mechanism was invented by Michael Walker and it is very popular among knife manufacturers. It is basically a vertical metal lock bar that prevents the blade to get back into the handle when opened.

  • The LockBack: Also called a spine lock, this is one of the best locking mechanisms you can find in high-quality folders and my favorite one, it just feels like a fixed blade, especially the tri-ad lock version from Cold Steel. For unlocking the blade, you must push the bottom of the spine, meaning that you will have to use both hands sometimes. If you are ready to sacrifice comfort for quality, this is the one for you.

  • The Frame Lock: This is very similar to the liner lock and also permits the knife to be closed using just one hand. There are other types of locking mechanisms, basically variations of those mentioned above, like the lever lock, the clasp lock, the mid lock, the ring lock etc. Keep in mind that the locking mechanism is essential when choosing the best folding survival knife. Let me show you some of the best folders out there, which will not cost you an arm and a leg, yet they will be your best friend in a survival situation:

  • Ka-Bar Mule Folding Knife: As the name suggests, this baby is strong as a mule! Ka-Bar is an iconic knife manufacturer and besides fixed blade knives, they are pretty good when it comes to survival folders. This is a heavy duty folder, with a Zytel handle and an AUS8 blade, it’s very durable and practical for all sorts of purposes. The blade is almost 4 inches long and it weighs 7.2 ounces.

  • Spyderco Manix 2: This is a great knife, one of the most versatile folders on the market today. The blade is made of 154CM steel and the knife design is ambidextrous, including the pocket clip. Spyderco is a reputable knife manufacturer and the Manix 2 is maybe the toughest folder they ever made. Besides being rugged, this is one of the most comfortable folders to hold, it’s ideal for daily carry.

  • Cold Steel Recon 1: This is my personal favorite, I actually own one (the knife is available with 3, 4 and 5 ½ inch blades and designs). The blade is thick and heavy, made of AUS8 steel, the handle is machined from one piece of G10 and the tri-ad lock mechanism makes it feel like a fixed blade; overall, this knife is hard as a rock and it can take anything you can throw at it. I can actually say that this knife was over engineered, to be as strong as possible.Cold Steel Recon 1 Tactical Knife with G-10 Handle Clip Point and Black Blade

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