Must-Have Fixed Blades
Fixed blade knives are one of humanity’s oldest tools, dating back nearly 2.5 million years, and they are still among the most used tools today. Not a day goes by where most people do not use some form of fixed blade, particularly in the kitchen.
Fixed blades have long been popular with outdoor folk; hikers, hunters, and bushcrafters rely on fixed blades to handle some of the heavy tasks that are not always well suited for the modern folding knife.
Fixed blades are also popular among many people in the everyday carry community due to the ease of maintenance, utility, and in many cases more lenient laws for smaller fixed blades.
I am what can be considered a fixed blade enthusiast. As an avid outdoorsman, I spend most of my days walking in the woods, foraging plants and fungi, processing wood, and building fires.
I rely on the strength and utility of my fixed blade knives to help me through all these tasks, and when I am done working with them, I am grateful for the easy clean up and maintenance of these knives.
While I can give you a list of 30 or 40 fixed blades that are exceptional, I narrowed it down to six knives that I believe are absolute must haves!
Must-Have Fixed Blades
Full-Sized Fixed Blades
Full sized fixed blades are well suited for heavy tasks and outdoor use. They are not designed to be carried discretely and are often carried on your belt or lashed to your pack.
In most cases they are not practical for EDC use, but are right at home on a hike, hunt, or camp.
LT Wright is a name that most outdoors folk are very familiar with, and that is because they make some of the best outdoor knives in the game.
LT Wright makes a variety of bushcraft knives, hunting knives, and even some kitchen knives.
All LT Wright knives are made by hand and have an exceptional fit and finish. With a variety of different steels and handle materials, you are sure to find something that suits your tastes.
The most iconic of LT Wright Knives is the Genesis, made famous because of its popular choice with the contestants of the wilderness survival competition "Alone".
This knife is ready to handle anything that you can throw at it. The Genesis is a full-sized knife featuring a 4.25-inch sharpened edge and an overall length of nine inches.
Standard models feature tough A2 tool steel in a full flat or Scandi grind and micarta handle scales, though special editions have been produced with more exotic handle materials and different blade steels.
The Genesis was designed for bushcraft; featuring an ergonomic handle with thumb scalloping toward the blade for better control, the spine of the knife is 90 degrees which makes it excellent for striking a ferrocerium rod or scraping materials that your may not want to use your blade edge for.
A2 Tool steel is tough, allowing you perform a variety of tasks without worrying about breaking your blade, as well as providing excellent edge retention. The drop point blade is an excellent choice for any piercing and drilling tasks.
If I could have one dedicated bushcraft knife in my collection, the LT Wright Genesis would be my choice.
Reiff Knives is new in the knife scene but their first offering, the F4 Field knife, is making quite the impression on those who have been fortunate enough to get one in hand. Reiff Knives strives to make a high-end production knife from premium materials that is designed to be used.
This knife features a 4-inch drop point blade with a saber grind made from premium CPM 3V steel.
3V is one of the best steels on the market for fixed blades. It is tough, holds a great edge, is relatively easy to sharpen, and while it is not considered a stainless steel, it has far more corrosion resistance than many other tool steels out there.
The spine is 90 degrees, allowing for scraping and ferrocerium rod striking. The blade stick is 5/32 inch thick, making this a solid knife that you will not hesitate to use for hard use tasks. The overall length of the knife is nine inches and has some of the best handle ergonomics out there.
The handle scales are currently offered in black, od green, and coyote tan G10, making them durable, able to maintain grip ability when wet, and look great.
The F4 is a capable bushcraft knife, but it finds its place in the survival knife space. It is an overbuilt knife that requires very little care and maintenance, which allows it to truly serve its purpose in even the most adverse conditions.
I have used mine in the rain, snow, and humid wetland swamps with no issues. The edge retention is fantastic, which allows for extended use without the need for sharpening. The tough thick blade has helped me baton through wood to make a fire and prep food immediately after.
The F4 is truly a jack of all trades type of outdoor knife that I would recommend to any outdoors person, especially those who do extended outings and do not want to worry about constant maintenance and upkeep.
Compact Fixed Blades
Compact fixed blades are great for EDC carry due to their ability to be carried discretely. They often have blade lengths like commonly carried folding knives but allow for some heavier use.
Small fixed blades are also great when working in the outdoors, especially for tasks that require finer blade manipulation.
The Bradford Guardian 3 has been in my rotation for quite a few years now and has proven itself to be an exceptional everyday carry fixed blade. The Guardian 3 is compact fixed blade with an overall length of just 6.75 inches, with a very capable 3-inch sharpened edge.
The handle is long enough to give you a three-finger grip, but the large choil on the blade allows you to get a full grip on the knife. What is cool about the Guardian 3 is the ability to customize them when ordering them directly from Bradford.
There are a number of different blade steels available, including M390 and 3V, as well as some others from time to time. You can pick the color, materials, and style of handle scale from a large list of choices as well as having a few different blade styles to choose from.
The Guardian comes with a leather belt sheath that sits vertically on your belt, allowing for easy concealment and ease of access, and if you are not into leather then there are kydex options available.
Bradford’s approach to offer a highly customizable knife made from top quality materials with exceptional fit and finish, while still making them very reasonably priced, makes this an absolute must have in my collection.
In addition, the Guardian series has larger knives available, so if you like what the Guardian 3 brings to the table but want something a little or a lot bigger, Bradford has you covered.
It is my opinion that every knife owner should own an Izula II, which should not be a surprise to any of my regular readers because it has been mentioned in my best budget knives and my best neck knives articles!
The Izula II is an absolute work horse of a knife in a compact package, featuring tough 1095 Steel, micarta handle scales, and super durable blade coating. With a 2.63 inch cutting edge and an overall length of 6.75, the Izula II provides a great grip and enough cutting edge to serve you well in both EDC and outdoor tasks.
Like everything from ESEE, it is absolutely bomb proof and just keeps on working. 1095 is tough steel, but also very easy to sharpen.
Like any other tool steel corrosion resistance is low, but the blade coating and a little care will keep this knife serving you for many years!
This little work horse can typically be had for well under $100 dollars and has a ton of after market support when it comes to sheath options. If you want a small fixed blade that will not break the bank and will not fail on you, the Izula II is the way to go.
Custom Fixed Blade Knives
Custom knives are a big part of the fixed blade community. While not as fast or as simple as buying a production knife from a major dealer, custom knives often offer the ability to really create a unique knife that is truly tailored for you.
Most custom knife makers offer regular models, but as the buyer you get free rein to choose you handle materials, blade finishes, in many cases blade steel, and a host of other small touches.
These are not instant gratification purchases as it can be weeks or sometimes months between ordering and receiving, but what you get is something that is truly made for you.
KPaw custom knives makes knives that are designed to be as aesthetically pleasing as they are functional.
The Stowe Away is a compact knife coming in at around 6.75 inches, with the sharpened portion of the blade being around 2.5 inches. The large handle allows for a full grip and making this knife perfect for tasks that require fine manipulation. The style of this knife is non-aggressive, making it one of my go to “dress knives.”
The size makes it well suited for EDC use, however being made from tough tool steel it has helped with some of my lighter outdoor tasks, especially when foraging.
These are offered in a few different tool steels and will soon be available in a stainless AEB-L steel option.
When it comes to handle materials, the sky is the limit! Provided the materials are readily available and you are willing to pay the cost on it, you can get just about anything your heart desires.
The Stowe Away is one of my favorite knives, and if you are looking for a compact custom knife at a very fair price it is one to check out. If you are looking for something larger and better suited for hunting or fishing activities, KPaw has quite a few models available.
You will not find these at dealers, but you can contact KPaw directly on Instagram to discuss options and pricing.
PL Knives is a custom knife maker specializing in making outdoor knives working exclusively with high carbon tool steels. He recently partnered with a well-known bushcraft enthusiast known as swiss.ross on Instagram to create the Tundra Vole.
The Tundra Vole is a unique neck knife as it is designed to assist in making fires. The spine of the harpoon portion of the blade is ground at a 90-degree angle, making it perfect for scraping tinder and striking a ferrocerium rod.
The Tundra Vole is a very compact knife with an overall length of just five inches and a 2-inch blade. It is made from 8670 tool steel which is exceptionally tough and takes a great edge.
The knife comes fitted in a kydex sheath that can easily hung with some cordage around your neck. For a few dollars more, though, PL Knives will send it to swiss.ross to have the handle wrapped in jute and the sheath strung with survival paracord that can act as tinder and a ferrocerium dongle, providing you with a compact fire starting kit around your neck.
The Tundra Vole is so light that you'll almost forget it’s around your neck, making it great for everyday use as well as for its intended purpose of being a compact fire kit that you never are without!
PL Knives offers a wide variety of knives and different shapes and sizes so if you are looking for something bigger there are options available.
There are a ton of fixed blades to choose from, and this is a very small sampling from my personal collection that I really think fill their roles exceptionally well. I have carried and used each of these knives extensively and personally recommend each of them.
As always this is a guide to help point you in the right direction and is not meant to be the “end all, be all” of your decision making.