When in combat, there are times where you may need to defend yourself hand to hand with a knife! The main goal in this situation is to defend yourself while driving back or killing your opposition. To do this you’ll need a combat knife you can use correctly, depend upon, and entrust with your life.
We have created a guide below to help you choose the best combat knife for you in any given combat situation.
You will find many places that will tell you what knife they’ve chosen, and why it’s the best for combat, but there are not many places that give you ALL of the information you’ll need to choose a combat knife for yourself. We have and we are here to assist you with your decision.
Combat Knife Comparison Guide and Key
|Combat Knives||Overall Length (Inches)||Blade Length (Inches)||Weight (ounces)||Blade Material||Tang||Price|
|Ka-Bar Full Size US Marine Corps Fighting Knife||11.8||7||11.2||1095 Cro-Van Steel||Full||$$|
|SOG SE-37-N SEAL Team Elite||12.3||7||10.03||AUS-8 Stainless Steel||Full||$$|
|Columbia River Knife and Tool A.G. Russell – 2020 Sting||6.9||3.1||3.9||Hot Forged 1050 Carbon Steel||Integral||$|
|Leatherman Wave Multi-Tool with Nylon Sheath||4 closed||2.9||8.5||Stainless Steel||Multi-Tool||$$|
|Fallkniven A1 Army Survival Knife||11||6.3||12||VG10 Laminated Steel||Full||$$$|
|ESEE-5 Plain Black Blade with Olive Drab Canvas Micarta Handle||11||5.25||16||1095 High Carbon Steel||Full/Extended||$$$|
|Cold Steel OSS||8.3||12.8||9||Japanese AUS-8A Stainless Steel||3/4 Tang||$$|
|Leatherman Sidekick Multi-Tool||3.8 closed||2.6||7||Stainless Steel||Multi-Tool||$|
|Ka-Bar Becker BK2 Companion||10.5||5.25||16||1095 Cro-Van Steel||Full||$$|
|Fallkniven G1 Fighting Knife||7.5||3.54||3.53||VG10 Stainless Steel||Full||$$$|
In our matrix you’ll find 7 columns:
- Knife brand, name, or model and their pictures.
- Overall Length – Full length of knife handle and blade.
- Blade Length – In inches
- Weight – Total weight in ounces
- Blade Materials – types of metal used in blade.
- Tang – Tang of knife such as full tang (running all the way throughout the knife), partial tang (partially running into handle), etc.
- Price – These prices may vary from Amazon.com because of availability, promotions, and special offers. Typically they are as follows: $ = under $40, $$ = $40 to $100, $$$ = $100 to $200, $$$$ = $200+
Looking For More Combat Knives? Click Here to See Our Full Combat Knife Comparison Guide
There are many countries, military regiments, and people that use all different knives for combat so we could not possibly list them all. We have taken those knives that are the top choices based on their overall design and quality for combat and compiled them into our guide. While most combat knives are affordable there are those that rise above the rest in quality and price, so we have included a range of them all for you to choose from.
The ideal knife for combat has a fixed blade and full tang so we’ve included many of these into our chart. While the fixed blade is chosen overall, we have also included folding knives and those with a partial tang as these are great knives to carry with a combat knife. Some folding knives can even be compared to those with a fixed blade, while we do not recommend carrying only these, they are still a great choice.
What is a combat knife?
A combat knife is designed for fighting during hand to hand combat and close quarters fighting. A proper knife for combat is one that has also been designed to use as a tool for clearing brush, chopping limbs (tree and body), opening boxes and food containers, trimming fabric for bandages or clothing, cutting food, and many other uses.
We do not want to see soldiers going to war or on assignments with knives that are labeled “tactical” because they are painted or made with materials that are black. Any soldier, or person for that matter, should have a Combat Knife whether it has the word “tactical” in the title or not that will provide you with the performance and adaptability for any type of combat/survival situation.
Full Tang and Partial Tang
Knives come in many types and styles some which are full tang and some that are partial tang. Full tang knives have the blade metal running throughout the knife all the way to the tip of the handle without breaks in the metal. Partial tang knives have the blade running into the handle but not all the way through to the handle tip. Partial tang knives are also known as “stick tang” because the blade only sticks into a portion of the handle.
Partial tang knives and folding knives are not as strong as a full tang knives and will give you less leverage when using them during combat or as tools. They give less leverage and strength because they do not have the blade metal running throughout the handle. Folding knives also are generally weaker because the blade is separate from the handle and is held in place with screws or bolts.
Fixed Blade and Folding Blade Knives
Fixed blade knives have the blade fixed in its place and do not fold or move in any way. Because this type of knife does not move it is the only type of knife that has a tang where folding or sliding blade knives do not.
Folding, sliding blade, and multi-tool knives are those that fold in half or slide up out of the handle. While these knives are not as strong as a fixed blade knife it does not mean they cannot be used in combat. This type of knife is the ideal companion to the fixed blade and in some circumstances it can even be more useful for non hand to hand combat needs.
Finding a knife that suits your needs
Our comparison chart above will help you choose the combat knife that is best for you by giving you its metrics and design factors to guide you in your decision. No two combat knives are alike, unless of course they are the same make and model, so we have provided this guide to give you the information you need to make the best decision based on the knife itself.
We always recommend you analyze what you’ll be using your knife for and choose the one that best suits that need. Knowing your knife and the situations you will be using it in can influence the type you should arm yourself with. Full tang knives, while stronger, are less concealable where a folding blade knife or multi-tool can be easily concealed, carried, and deployed with ease.
Use our comparison guide above to help you find the combat knife that will have your back when the person next to you also has their hands full!
Top 6 Best Combat Knife Reviews
Each knife we have featured above and in our full comparison guide are great combat knives; but there were a few that really caught our attention and we would like to bring special notice to them. The knives that caught our attention have been reviewed below as our choice for best combat knife and we have included a more in-depth review of each of these. So let’s get started!
Ka-Bar Full Size US Marine Corps Fighting Knife
Okay, okay, we know this is probably one of the most popular combat knives known to man but the Ka-bar USMC fighting knife just had to make this list. This knife is probably one of the best combat knives you can own when it comes to durability, reliability, and effectiveness. Not to mention the maker, a manufacturer like Ka-bar who has been around since 1898 and continues to make some of the highest quality cutlery to date.
The Ka-bar Full Size US Marine Corps Fighting knife weighs in at 0.70 pounds which is 11.2 ounces and hardly a weak knife. Not only does this knife have enough weight behind it to be effective but it also has an overall length of 11.8 inches and a blade length of 7 inches. More than enough to take down your average opponent and finish the job.
As for defending yourself the blade is long enough to deflect incoming assaults while there is enough weight behind it to withstand heavy impacts. With a fixed blade and strong 1095 Cro-Van steel this fighting knife is good for offensive and defensive assaults that will not fail because of a shoddy knife or poor steel.
Blade thickness is not an area Ka-bar felt should be skimmed over so they made the blade 0.165 inches thick which is not something that can be bent easily if at all. Also the clip shape blade makes it an effective punching, cutting, and stabbing knife that can get into broad and hard to reach places.
With a leather handle and powdered metal butt the Ka-bar USMC Fighting knife is an excellent choice to put your trust in during combat.
SOG SE-37-N SEAL Team Elite
Here is the SOG SE-37-N SEAL Team Elite partially serrated combat knife. When it comes to knives made for heavy duty combat situations the SEAL Team Elite has raised the bar to another level.
This knife has a fixed blade and full tang that extends slightly out of the handle to be used for breaking glass or hammering pretty much anything. Not to mention a blade that is partially serrated and good for general cutting and the tougher sawing actions sometimes called for in the field.
The overall length of this knife is 12.3 inches and it has a blade length of 7 inches for optimal reach on offensive and defensive protection. With a blade thickness of 0.24 inches and AUS-8 steel you can bet that this knife will stand up to any other in a hand to hand combat situation.
A knife with a solid blade and a decent length is nothing without some weight behind it to throw around (from you and the knife itself). SOG knows this and gave it a solid 10.03 ounces which is 0.66 pounds and is heavy enough to withstand heavy impacts while being light enough to wield at a deadly pace.
With a partially serrated blade you can cut through those heavy objects and materials standing in your way while the smooth, sharp portion of the clip shaped blade can be used with surgical precision.
With a price around 90$ you cannot beat the reliability this combat knife will give you and the peace of mind you get knowing its got your back.
Columbia River Knife and Tool A.G. Russell – 2020 Sting
Columbia River Knife and Tool is an Oregon based knife company that takes pride in every knife they have created since their founding in 1994. While this company has not been around for decades like Ka-Bar they still have come out with combat knives that are just as trusted and of no less quality. This is proven again with the A.G. Russell 2020 Sting.
The 2020 Sting is a fixed blade, Integral tang, boot knife made for defense. With Integral tang, meaning the whole knife is made out of one piece of steel, you don’t have to worry about any weak areas in a tight situation. As for the blade itself it’s hot forged 1050 carbon steel, a process that makes an already strong steel even stronger.
With a blade length of 3.1 inches and an overall length of 6.9 inches this knife is maneuverable and concealable. Weighing in at 3.9 ounces the A.G. Russell Sting is light for an Integral combat knife and that makes it quick and deadly. The blade is a double edge spear point and it’s made for penetration and accuracy. The Sting is created for those stealthy precision situations and will perform under pressure.
One of the features that make this knife a great addition to your arsenal is that it’s not limited to fighting situations because it’s also strong enough to be a handy tool. CRKT has included a Cordura sheath with a Zytel insert that allows this knife to be carried in multiple ways that suit its use and owner.
Fallkniven A1 Army Survival Knife
Fallkniven has been making quality knives for combat since 1984. They are a company based in Sweden and create a range of knives that are all made from the finest materials.
The Fallkniven A1 was created as a military survival knife. This type of combat knife is made for situations in direct hand to hand combat and for general uses as a survival tool in between.
Knowing this design would be used for fighting and survival it has been made with VG10 Laminated Steel. With and overall length of 11 inches and a blade length of 6.3 inches you should have no trouble hitting your target. In fact this knife is so strong the blade can even be used pry open things and as a hammer.
Although the picture does not display this very well, the full tang of this knife actually extends partially out of the back of the handle. The total weight is about 12 ounces and while this is one of your heavier combat knives it certainly packs the punch to justify its weight. It is also able to penetrate most surfaces with ease because it’s very sharp and solid.
The sheath that protects the A1 is made out of zytel. Zytel is a very strong water resistant material and that is a must when in combat because the last thing you need is to reach for a knife that used to be there but fell off due to elemental corrosion. From a blade protected from extreme heat and cold by its lamination to a sheath that is almost as strong as the knife itself the A1 is a companion you can trust.
ESEE-5 Plain Black Blade with Olive Drab Canvas Micarta Handle
While ESEE knives have come out with their model 6 version of this knife, the model 5 is the military friendly under 6 inch blade version. The model 5 is still one of the best ESEE combat knives on the market because the blade length is 5.25 inches so it can be carried without any risk of removal due to codes or confiscations.
At an overall length of 11 inches this knife is the perfect sidekick to serve with you. The blade is forged out of 1095 high carbon steel and is built to last and outlast most other knives of its caliber and greater. You won’t find any breaks in the steel because it has a full/extended tang meant for strength, stability, glass breaking, and hammering.
At a weight of 16 ounces this knife has the strength needed to punch through heavy metals and most other materials. Its intended use is for breaking out of a downed aircraft so it has been made to survive and heavy enough to punch through hulls. The weight of a knife is used as leverage and while it’s heavy it’s also light enough to wield at a deadly pace. When looking for an all around best combat knife you will find the ESEE-5 somewhere on that list.
Fallkniven G1 Fighting Knife
Last but not least is the Fallkniven G1 Fighting Knife. We have mentioned previously that blades over 6 inches may be frowned upon in certain units and by command. With that being said the Fallkniven G1 is a combat knife that does not need a huge blade to make this list.
The G1 has a blade that is forged from the strongest VG10 stainless steel. This knife is the strongest in its class and it has the best ability to be concealed with an overall length of 7.5 inches. While the blade is not huge the 3.54 inches it does have are more than enough to effectively dispatch any enemy with frightening accuracy.
It’s light enough to carry on lengthy assignments yet strong enough to depend your life on the G1 weighs in at 3.53 ounces and each one is as strong as any other knife. This blade also features full tang all the way through the length of the handle.
The blade itself is coated to protect it from the elements and prevent rust and corrosion. It is easily kept sharp and will remain protected and reliable. It also typically will come with a zytel sheath that allows it to be carried any way that you see fit and keep it in your possession. The zytel sheath also provides additional protection from corrosion and damage.
Now It’s Your Time
We’ve now gone over all of the features we look for in a combat knife and so, it’s your turn to choose what the best one will be for you based on your situation, price range, and what you will be using it for.
Many combat knives, new and old, are being updated and redesigned to suit today’s combat situations. Because of this we will be sure to update our comparison table above when needed to keep you informed and ahead of the rest. If there’s a knife we have missed that you feel would be a better addition please let us know.