Table of Contents
1. Gerber StrongArm (Fine Edge)
The Gerber StrongArm is a knife that has been in my collection for a long time. While the Gerber name doesn’t carry the same weight as Ka-Bar or Microtech etc, Gerber makes a solid lineup of knives that are both durable and affordable and the StrongArm is one of their best. Featuring a full tang design and a comfortable overmolded grip, the StrongArm is a capable and solid combat knife that can also make itself right at home in a deer camp for a variety of cutting and slicing tasks. A close second to the StrongArm would probably be the LMF II which is also made by Gerber and is my current go-to knife for outdoor activities.
Pros/Durable blade with a ceramic coating and rubberized diamond texture grip
Cons/A bit heavier and bulkier than other combat knives
Bottom Line/A great budget friendly option that is still insanely capable
2. Glock KB17281 81 Field Knife
Glock does a lot of things well – mostly handguns, but it’s not unfamiliar for the Austrian Born firearms manufacturer to make bladed tools as well (they make one of the best E-tools on the planet). The Glock Field knife is one of those other lesser-known tools that Glock makes that still carries Glock’s legendary reputation with honor. Featuring a full tang 11.4-inch HRC55 Phosphate Treated blade, and featuring a saw edge on the spine of the blade, the Glock Field knife is equal parts weapon and tool.
Pros/High quality blade with extreme durability and versatility
Cons/Blade might be excessivley long for some people
Bottom Line/Probably one of the best combat knives for the buck
3. KA-BAR 1281, D2 Fighting/Utility Knife
Ka-Bar is probably the first thing that came to your mind when you read “combat knife” well known for its expertise in developing combat-proven knives, Ka-Bar has the 1281 D2 Fighting/Utility knife which can serve its lethal combat purpose well with a 7-inch D2 steel blade which terminates in a classic clip-point tip and also features 20-degree blade angle. D2 steel is extremely dense and is easily sharpened so keeping this blade in fine shape at home or out in the field is a breeze.
Pros/Classic Blade design and easily sharpened
Bottom Line/Can’t go wrong with the Ka-Bar name
4. SOG Seal Pup Elite
Made from AUS-8 steel with a shorter 4.75″ blade, the Seal Pup elite is a handy little fixed blade knife that I think barely makes its way into the combat/tactical knife category. If you didn’t catch it by the name the Seal Pup Elite is a miniature-sized version of the SOG Seal Pup and the little blade lives up to its big brother’s name and even takes a few liberties with the design. The Seal Pup elite features strong AUS-8 blade steel which is used by many modern knife makers for its durability and hardness. The Seal Pup Elite comes with its own ballistic nylon sheath and weighs in at just 5.4 ounces.
Pros/Compact, Durable, and Affordable, extremely sharp out of the box
Cons/Not well suited for heavy duty use such as splitting wood or hammering
Bottom Line/This is light duty done right and at a great price
5. Fox 479 G10 Emerson Wave Karambit
This last entry departs from the theme we’ve had here a bit. While the rest of the knives on this list clearly can be used for camp life and other types of handiwork that don’t involve killing things, the FOX 479 Folding Karambit is designed almost purely for lethality. Karambit knives are not exactly easy to use and they are primarily made for defensive purposes. However, The Fox 479 features a Bohler N690 Blade, a G10 (or Carbon Fiber) handle, and measures just 3 inches in length. The blade also features a fast deployment hinge which makes it quick and easy to deploy in a defensive situation.
Editor’s note: As a long-time karambit user, I can attest to their great utility in farm work (as a mini-sickle). The blade geometry also allows for extremely precise use of the tip of the blade.
Pros/Purpose built for defense and combat with high quality materials
Cons/Difficult to use and master (suggest consulting use videos before carrying)
Bottom Line/A great defensive knife purpose built for combat
Are “Combat Knives” legal to carry?
Generally yes, Combat knives are completely legal to carry around on your person in most states. Most of the time a “combat knife” will simply be referred to as a hunting knife as they share a lot of the same outward appearances but the best practice is to know your local laws and ordinances regarding the carrying of knives and other bladed weapons. In general,
What is the best length for a fighting knife?
Most combat-oriented knives need to be at least 3-inches or longer (three inches is considered to be the minimum lethal length) but also less than 12-inches. While shorter knives on this list such as the Karambit are good for close-in fights, they do have shortcomings when it comes to reaching and leverage. Longer knives like the Glock Field Knife can suffer from concealment and maneuverability issues but generally, give you more leverage for cutting and stabbing. I tend to prefer combat knives that are around 3-6-inches in length and have a full tang construction.
What is the best blade steel for a combat knife?
I’m not a certified metallurgist but I can tell you what the most popular blade steels on the market are for combat-oriented knives. AUS-8 and 154CM which are both stainless steel are very popular blade steels and feature excellent edge retention. Another popular steel is 1095-HC carbon steel which also has excellent edge retention but can also be easily re-sharpened. AUS-8 is popular mostly because it is very rust-resistant and can hold an extremely sharp edge – the biggest downside with AUS-8 is its difficulty with sharpening due to the relatively thick blades that result when made from AUS-8.
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