Fixed blade knives are valuable tools that can be applied to everyday carry, various occupations, and a whole host of outdoor activities. There are a huge amount of tasks that a fixed blade can tackle, but this does not mean every knife is suited for every job.
This article will cover a few different fixed blade categories as well as some of my favorites to help you pick the right knife for your particular needs. While the knives mentioned in this article represent a small cross section of the wide array of excellent knives out there, it was important to me that I give you recommendations based on true usage experience - every knife mentioned is a knife I own and use on a regular basis.
Custom Vs Production Fixed Blades
If you are new to the expansive world of fixed blade knives, something that you will see come up a lot is the word "custom", which can mean one of two things:
- A handmade knife made by a smaller maker, where each knife tends to be unique or allow for some input from the customer
- A one-off knife made to the specifications of the individual buyer.
The handmade nature of custom knives means there is often a substantial lead time from the time of order to the time you receive your knife.
Production fixed blades are knives that are made by larger companies in a mass production facility. While there are still sometimes variations available, the buyer is limited to the options that the company offers. The benefit of production knives is that they are usually readily available with little to no lead time.
I'd like to point out that production is not better or worse than custom and is truly a matter of personal preference. There are many phenomenal production fixed blades on the market, just as there are many fantastic custom makers out there. As you will see from the example I list below I have quite a bit of each in my personal rotation!
Everyday Carry Fixed Blades
Also known as EDC, everyday carry fixed blades are designed to be a substitute for your typical folding knife. These knives tend to be smaller and slimmer than the larger belt knives you see in many outdoor situations.
The small size allows for these fixed blades to be easily stowed in a pocket or more discreetly on your belt. Despite the smaller size, the knives mentioned below pack a tremendous amount of practical function and can easily handle all your day-to-day tasks.
Bradford Guardian 3
Bradford Knives is a premium US knife maker that makes high-quality production knives with a wide range of customization options. The Guardian 3 is offered in a variety of blade steels, blade shapes, handle materials, and even offer both leather and Kydex sheath options, truly allowing the buyer to get a knife that suits their needs.
The overall length of the Guardian 3 is 6.75 inches, with a blade of 3.5 inches. The blade has a large finger choil, offering a full grip on the knife when needed for detailed work and blade control.
KPaw Custom Knives Stowe Away
The Stowe Away is a design collaboration between outdoorsman Rick Stowe and custom knife maker Jason of KPaw Custom Knives. This is an EDC knife with outdoor activities in mind; while it is certainly well suited to cut open boxes and cut food products, it also excels at cutting plant materials, cordage, or cleaning fresh-caught fish.
Being a custom knife, you’ll have your choice of blade grinds and handle materials, and it comes with a custom leather sheath that can be made for either belt or pocket carry. The overall length of the knife is roughly 7 inches with a 2.75-inch blade, allowing for a full grip on the handle for superior blade control. These are typically offered in a variety of high carbon steels, but there are also stainless AEB-L steel options available.
Neck Knives are designed to be super minimalist EDC knives or backup knives. Being worn around the neck they tend to be very small, slim, and lightweight, being comfortable to wear and easy to conceal. While these are not typically designed to handle any kind of prolonged hard use, they pack a ton of convenience and utility into a small package.
White River Knife and Tool Knucklehead II
White River Knife and Tool is a US-based production knife company known for producing a variety of outdoor knives. The Knucklehead II is one of their neck knives that is truly a joy to carry and use.
Made from a solid piece of premium CPM S35VN stainless steel, the Knucklehead II is 6 inches overall with a 2.87-inch blade. It weighs in at a mere 1.7 ounces and comes equipped with a well-fitting Kydex sheath.
The rings in the skeletonized handle offer superb grip for serious use and the rear ring provides a very functional bottle opener - just in case you need to pop open a cold one!
PL Knives Tundra Vole
Paul Lackey of PL Knives is known for making some pretty incredible outdoor fixed blades, and the Tundra Vole design collaboration with @swiss.ross is no exception!
Despite its small package - 5 inches overall with a 2 inch blade - this knife is built for outdoor adventure. It is made from tough 8670 tool steel, and the spine of the harpoon portion of the knife has a 90 degree angle for striking a ferro rod or scraping some tinder. The whole package is rounded out with a custom kydex sheath.
Anytime you head to the great outdoors you should have a knife available - it is the one tool that can accomplish a ton of different tasks. When you are out for a hike you probably don't have much of an expectation that you will have to use your knife, but you never know when an emergency may spring up (or in my case come across some wild plants to harvest!).
Many people try to keep their load as light as possible when hiking, especially in that ultralight hiking crowd, so here are two light weight options that punch well above their weight class!
Morakniv Light My Fire Knife
Morakniv is one of the most well known names in the outdoor community, and are known for producing reliable tools at a price that will not break the bank. The Light My Fire Knife is an excellent multi purpose tool, with a 3.9 inch blade, an overall length of 8 inches, and a sheath weight of just 4 ounces. What is even cooler is that the handle stows an included ferro rod so that you can easily make a fire in a pinch!
Knives by Nuge Chickpea
Knives by Nuge is known for making an array of outdoor and kitchen knives. While he has quite a few fixed outdoor fixed blades in his line up, the Chickpea is his smallest offering.
With a blade length of 3 inches and an overall length of 6.5 inches, this compact fixed blade still packs quite a punch. It comes in two versions: the standard, which includes a handle scale of your choosing, and an ultralight that is wrapped in hemp cord that weighs just about an ounce.
Currently you can get these in stainless Nitro-V steel or tough high carbon 1095, and have the option of either scandi or saber grinds. The spine on the Chickpea is a sharp 90 degree angle allowing for scaping tinder and striking a ferro rod, making it an ideal outdoor tool. Although this is the hiking knife category I must say the Chickpea also serves very well as an EDC option.
Bushcraft and Camp Knives
While bushcraft and camp knives come in all shapes and sizes, the focus in this section is going to be full-sized fixed blades. If you're spending an extended time outdoors or plan on doing some heavy bushcrafting tasks (such as batoning through wood), you’ll definitely appreciate having a full sized knife.
Reiff Knives F4
The best way to describe the Reiff Knives F4 is as an all purpose outdoor knife or, in short, a survival knife. When we think of survival knives we often think back to those cheap hollow handled Rambo knives from the 1980s, but I assure you that the F4 is about as far from that as it gets!
The F4 has an overall length of 9 inches, a blade length of 4 inches, and its total weight is 7.7 ounces. The blade steel is premium CPM 3V tool steel and has some of the best in hand feeling G10 scales I’ve ever had the pleasure of using.
This knife has absolutely no issues being batoned through wood, processing kindling, cutting rope, processing food materials, or skinning game, and it is built to do a lot of all of the above and more! These come in 3 different G10 scales colors and an option of leather or Kydex sheaths.
TOPS Knives Brakimo
The Brakimo holds a special place in my heart as it was my first large outdoor knife and has been in service for quite some time. It was designed by Joe Flowers of Bushcraft Global and produced by TOPS Knives.
Like most of the TOPS line up this is made from 1095 High Carbon Steel and is built strong to handle the rigors of frequent hard use. Coming in at 10 inches overall with a 5.25 inch blade and a weight of 9.4 ounces, this knife is an absolute beast! The Brakimo can easily serve as a backup machete and is a "do it all" wilderness knife. I’ve done some serious chopping, brush clearing, batoning, and large scale meat cutting with my Brakimo and it has never let me down.
Compact Outdoor Knives
While full-sized bushcraft knives are great, there are some situations where you might not want to carry and use a large blade, but that doesn't mean that you can’t get a hard use compact fixed blade that will accomplish many of the same tasks! The below elections are small in stature, but big in function.
ESEE Izula II
The ESEE Izula II is probably my longest running outdoor knife and for very good reason. This compact knife is 6.75 inches overall with a 2.63 inch blade, and it weighs in at a whopping 3.2 ounces. Despite being small it is made from thick 1095 high carbon steel and will hold up to some hard use tasks that you normally wouldn’t expect a knife of this size to handle.
This little guy has seen more than its fair share of tinder processing, batoning, digging out roots, and cutting through green wood branches!
LT Wright Knives Frontier First/Valley
LT Wright is a name that outdoors people are very familiar with, as some of the best outdoor knives come from LT’s shop. The Frontier Valley and the Frontier First are no exceptions to this.
Both are small knives, with the major difference being the longer handle length and slightly longer blade length on the Frontier Valley. Both blades are roughly 2.75 to 3 inches long, and the Valley allows a full 4 finger grip whereas the First has a 3 finger grip.
All LT Wright knives are made by hand and can be found in a variety of blade steels and handle material options. The spines on both these knives are exceptionally good at ferro striking and tinder scraping, as they are on all LT knives. These both come standard with leather belt sheaths made by JRE industries.
No matter what type of fixed blade you use, Knife Shield will keep rust away with its corrosion preventing properties, and will clean off all the gunk that accumulates on your blade. Don't forget to use code "BLACKFLAG" for 10% off your purchase!