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6 Of The Best Boot Knives For Self Defense and EDC (2020 Edition)


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Last Updated: September 4, 2020

Designed for fighting in close quarters, boot knives are traditionally a last-resort self-defense tool. (See also best knives for self defense.) While they still serve this purpose, some can also double as a survival knife or EDC.

Before you buy, you’ll need to check knife-carrying laws in your area as in many places carrying a double-edged blade is illegal. In this guide, we’ve covered both short and long knives as well as single and double-edged blades, so you should be able to find a boot knife to meet your needs.

Whether you’re in a combat situation or out on a hunting trip, it never hurts to have a backup plan.

Our Top Pick


Gerber Ghoststrike

This lightweight, versatile knife is suitable for concealed or open carry.Check On Amazon

Budget Pick

Smith & Wesson SWHRT9B Fixed Blade Knife

A great value double-edged knife that’s sharp out of the box. Check it’s legal for you to carry before buying.Check On Amazon

Best Boot Knife Reviews

Best Overall: Gerber Ghoststrike

Blade length: 3.3 in | Total length:  6.9 in | Blade material: 420HC | Weight: 4.2 oz

Designed for concealed carry, this lightweight fixed blade knife is sharp, comfortable to use and reasonably hardwearing.

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The drop point blade makes it more versatile than the traditional dagger point design of other boot knives, but this means it can double as an EDC or survival knife. 420HC steel is fairly soft which makes sharpening easy (though it’s not great at holding an edge). It’s also resistant to corrosion.

The skeletal, cut-out handle has a rubberized grip and finger groves. Unfortunately, the rubber grip has a tendency to detach from the steel, which is the only thing that lets this knife down.

It comes with a modular sheath that can be used for concealed or open carry and the short blade means it adheres to most local laws.

Pros

  • Versatile full tang knife
  • Lightweight
  • Good quality, adaptable sheath
  • Lifetime warranty

Cons

  • Rubber grip isn’t very durable

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Best Budget Option: Smith & Wesson SWGRT9B Fixed Blade Knife

Blade length: 4.7 in | Total length:  9 in | Blade material: 7Cr17MoV | Weight: 7.7 oz

The Smith & Wesson SWGRT9B has a classic double-bladed boot knife design. For the price, you can’t expect top-quality steel, but the 7Cr17MoV stainless steel is sharp out of the box.

It’ll be tough to sharpen, but if you’re using it primarily as a self-defense knife, that’s not so much of an issue.

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It comes with an excellent leather sheath that has a tight clip to hold it to your boot or belt and is easy to access.

It is more of a dagger than a knife, which may be a downside if you’re looking for a multi-purpose survival knife. The double-edged blade makes it illegal to carry in many places. As the steel is thin and hard to sharpen, we wouldn’t recommend it as an EDC knife, but as a last-resort blade for self-defense, it offers great value for your dollar.

Pros

  • Sharp, double-edged blade
  • Excellent sheath
  • Great value
  • Designed for self-defense

Cons

  • Hard to sharpen
  • Not multi-use

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Best Long Boot Knife: Schrade Needle Boot Knife

Blade length: 7.5 in | Total length:  12.8 in | Blade material: 7Cr17MoV | Weight: 5.1 oz

This slim knife is almost 13 inches in length, making it a bit impractical for carrying on your boot. However, its size makes it look pretty intimidating, which could be an advantage if you want to scare off a potential attacker rather than fighting them.

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It’s one of the cheapest blades on our list and given how much steel you’re getting for your money, it’s not surprising that the quality of construction is perhaps not top-notch. It does feel cheaper than other knives and as it isn’t a full tang knife, there may be a greater risk of weakness where the blade joins the handle.

We wouldn’t recommend the Needle for heavy use, but as an occasional hunting knife or for self-defense, it’s a popular low-cost option.

Pros

  • Low cost
  • Good for self-defense
  • Textured handle for grip

Cons

  • Long for a boot knife
  • Not as durable as other knives

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Best Survival Boot Knife: Buck Ops Boot Knife

Blade length: 3 in | Total length:  6.25 in | Blade material: 154CM | Weight: 2.5 oz

The Buck Ops knife is the most expensive on our list, but when you’re comparing steels, you get what you pay for. Most boot knives use budget steels to keep costs down, as they’re not intended to be an everyday knife.

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Buck Ops Boot Knife

The 154CM steel used in the Buck Ops knife is a mid-range steel offering excellent all-around performance. It also has a full tang construction, making it robust and better able to stand up to tough cutting.

Another highlight of this knife is the sheath which is well made and gives you lots of configuration options. Its small size makes it easy to conceal.

If you’re looking for a boot knife purely for occasional fighting use, then you can save your dollars and go for a cheaper blade. But if you want a small knife that’s durable enough to be used as a backup EDC in a survival situation, this boot knife is a worthy investment.

Pros

  • Excellent sheath
  • High-quality full tang blade
  • Durable
  • Versatile

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Handle is small for those with large hands

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Best Value: Kershaw Secret Agent Boot Knife

Blade length: 4.4 in | Total length:  8.7 in | Blade material: 8Cr13MoV | Weight: 3 oz

The Secret Agent is a great value knife that’s one of the best in its price range. The 8Cr13MoV steel contains more carbon than the 7Cr17MoV used in the Smith & Wesson SWHRT9B and Schrade Needle and should perform better at holding an edge.

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Although the blade has a dagger profile, the centerline is slightly offset and it’s only sharp on one edge. This means that technically, it’s classed as a single-edged blade, making it legal to carry in more states (though always check your local laws). If you want to turn it into a true dagger, then you could take it to a local knife sharpener or do a DIY job.

For the length of the blade, it’s very light, weighing in at just 3 ounces. The handle is larger than other knives, making it a good option if you have big hands. The textured rubber overmold gives extra grip.

The Secret Agent comes with a molded sheath that can be attached to your belt via a clip or to your boot using straps (not provided). It’s a fairly close fit, and you may find you need to thumb the blade out so you don’t end up pulling the knife and sheath off your belt.

Pros

  • Great value
  • Lightweight
  • Holds an edge better than cheaper steels
  • Good solid handle

Cons

  • Some users may find the sheath awkward
  • Single-edged blade

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Best Lightweight Boot Knife: Schrade Small Boot Knife

Blade length: 3.6 in | Total length:  7 in | Blade material: 7Cr17MoV | Weight: 2.1 oz

This small, lightweight knife is a great choice if you’re looking for an inexpensive, discreet boot knife. It weighs just a couple of ounces and is small enough to slip inside or strap to work boots or hiking boots.

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It’s a good option for women or men with small hands, but if you have large hands, you may find this knife too small to use effectively. The leather sheath comes with a clip and has a snap fixing to hold the knife in place.

If you’re wanting a solid, sturdy knife that’ll last a couple of generations, this isn’t the knife for you. But as a concealable last-ditch defense tool, it does the job and doesn’t cost the earth.

Pros

  • Very lightweight
  • Inexpensive
  • Good for people with small hands

Cons

  • Hard to sharpen
  • Some people might find it too small
  • Not multi-use

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Boot Knives — The Legal Bit

Before you buy a boot knife, you need to know whether it’s legal to carry in your neighborhood. There are four things to check:

  1. If carrying a boot knife is legal
  2. If carrying a concealed blade is legal
  3. Whether a double-edged blade is classed as a dagger (and is therefore illegal to carry)
  4. The maximum blade length you’re permitted to carry

Find out what the law permits in your state or city on the AKTI website.

Knowing what the law allows will help you narrow down your list of suitable knives.

Important Features of a Boot Knife

Full Tang vs. Half Tang

The tang is the portion of the blade that extends into the handle. With a full tang knife, the blade extends the full length of the handle. This usually makes the knife stronger and reduces the risk of the blade snapping. However, it can make for a heavier knife.

Half or partial tang knives have less material in the handle, making for a lighter handle. However, it may be more prone to breaking under extreme conditions.

Some boot knives, such as the Gerber Ghoststrike have a skeletal tang. This design keeps some of the strength of a full tang knife but reduces the weight.

Single Edge vs. Double Edge Boot Knives

Boot knives are designed for fighting at close quarters. Traditionally, they have a spear point with a double-sided blade designed for piercing and stabbing.

If you want a more multi-purpose survival knife, then you may prefer a single-edged knife with a drop or tanto point. This may also be a better option if carrying a double-edged blade is illegal where you live.

Blade Material

As boot knives are intended to be a last-resort option, they typically use cheaper steels to balance sharpness, durability and cost. However, if you’re wanting a more versatile knife then you may choose to invest a bit more to get a better quality blade.

Read: Best Survival Knife Sharpener

Blade Length and Weight

This very much comes down to personal preference. If you have large hands and big boots, then you’re likely to prefer a sturdier knife with a larger handle such as the Smith & Wesson SWGRT9B. Often a smaller knife is more discreet and easier to conceal if this is a priority.

Bear in mind that if you’re strapping the knife to your boot or leg, you don’t want a heavy blade. Ideally, your boot knife will be so light, you barely notice it’s there.

One of the reasons we chose the Gerber Ghoststrike as our top pick is because of the balance between comfort, weight and practicality.

Knife Sheath

A poor-fitting sheath might be an annoyance with an EDC knife, but with a boot knife, it could mean the difference between life and death. The sheath needs to hold the knife securely and snugly, but not so tightly that it’s hard to remove quickly.

Most boot knife sheaths are either leather or molded plastic. They may offer different fastening systems, such as a clip or straps to tie the knife to your boot. If you prefer to strap your knife to your leg, you’ll want to make sure the sheath is comfortable and doesn’t chafe.

How to Wear a Boot Knife

There are various places you can wear your boot knife including:

  • The inside or outside of your boot
  • Fitted into the lacing of your boot
  • Strapped to the inside of your ankle
  • Around your waist, in the center of your back

The length of your knife will limit where it can be worn, but how you carry your knife largely comes down to personal preference. If you want to try a couple options, then look for a knife with a sheath that has eyelet holes (for laces), slots for straps and a clip system.

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