Made in America: Our Favorite Survival Knives Made in the USA

Survival knives can be any knife used in a survival situation, from a simple pocket knife to a machete. We have our favorites and describe them below based on their quality, craftsmanship, durability, and functionality. 

For our purposes, we selected fixed-blade knives made in the USA. While there are many quality knives manufactured elsewhere, nothing beats American craftsmanship. Gerber finished high on our list, with three knives hitting our top categories.

Best All-Around Survival Knife
Gerber Terracraft Fixed Blade Gerber Terracraft Fixed Blade

The Gerber Terracraft combines excellent features with a useability that (in our opinion) can’t be matched. This well-balanced tool is a great addition to your bug-out bag, hiking gear, or everyday wear. 

Best on a Budget
Gerber Principle Fixed Blade Gerber Principle Fixed Blade

Affordable and stylish, the Gerber Principle is a great fit for your kit and your wallet. The adaptable sheath allows you to carry this knife in a variety of ways to keep it ready when you need it.

Survival Knife Shopping Guide

We rated our selections based on the following criteria:

  • Style and shape
  • Suitability in survival situations
  • Durability and type of construction
  • Blade length and edge (straight/serrated)
  • Functionality
  • The type of steel
  • Handle design and materials
  • Type of sheath and material 
  • How the knife can be worn

Reviews of the Best USA Made Survival Knives

Best All Round: Gerber Terracraft


  • Blade length: 3.875 in
  • Total length: 9.125 in
  • Blade material: CPM S30V steel
  • Weight: 6.94 oz

Whether cutting kindling for a campfire or carving a wooden toy, this knife will meet your needs nicely. The Terracraft is shorter than many survival knives, but don’t let that fool you. The durability and dependability of this blade more than compensate for its smaller size.

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The Terracraft is a perfect fit for almost every hand. The shorter blade means more control while performing outdoor tasks. The drop-point blade is constructed of CPM S30V steel with a stonewash finish.

This quality blade is easy to sharpen and holds a razor-sharp edge. The back of the blade efficiently works as a fire-strike edge with a 90-degree corner.

The handle is made from G-10, which is weather- and waterproof. The ergonomic design is comfortable for use with or without gloves. A flared pommel can double as a hammer for tent stakes. You can leave your toolbox at home with a Terracraft and a multi-tool in your kit.

Check out this video from Gerber to see how versatile the Terracraft is.


  • Lightweight
  • Comfortable handle design
  • Shorter blade for better control
  • CPM S30V drop point, extra thick blade
  • Full tang construction
  • Through holes in the handle for lashing
  • Versatile leather sheath


  • Some users complained that the knife arrived needing sharpening
  • A smaller profile means your hands are closer to your work

Best Budget: Gerber Principle


  • Blade length: 3.10 in
  • Total length: 7.5 in
  • Blade material: 420HC stainless steel
  • Weight: 3.7 oz

Although not the least expensive knife we reviewed, the Gerber Principle rated as our favorite budget knife.

This blade is slightly smaller than the Terracraft but contains many of the same features and functionality. The blade has a zero-edge Scandinavian grind, giving excellent edge retention and making it easy to resharpen.

Check Prices on BladeHQ

The Gerber Principle arrives with a triple-mounting sheath that can be used for drop-leg or scout carrying or for MOLLE. The blade has a 90-degree fire-striking edge along the spine for use with striking rods.

With an ergonomic, non-slip handle design, the Principle is comfortable to work with using a variety of grips.

This video demonstrates the Gerber Principle hard at work.


  • Lightweight
  • Comfortable handle design to support a variety of grip styles
  • Shorter blade for better control
  • 420HC stainless steel, drop point, extra thick blade
  • Full tang construction
  • Lashing holes through the handle


  • Thumb release on the sheath may be difficult with larger hands
  • Some users complain that the knife falls out of the sheath

Also read our guide to the best budget survival knife

Best Heavy-Duty Knife: Ka-Bar USMC Bowie Knife


  • Blade length: 7 in
  • Total length: 11.875 in
  • Blade material: 1095 Cro-Van steel
  • Weight: 11.20 oz

The Ka-Bar USMC Bowie Knife is perhaps the most famous survival knife ever. The Marine Corps has used this knife as a standard issue item for more than 50 years. It is far and away the best heavy-duty knife we reviewed. 

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Featuring the Ka-Bar oval-shaped handle design, the leather grip offers stability. The clip-point blade is constructed using 1095 Cro-Van steel, with a seven-inch blade length to handle all your survival needs. 

This sturdy knife is made in the USA, but it comes with a leather sheath made in Mexico. The overall length of 11.875 inches makes this one of the largest survival knives on the market.

The size limits some versatility but provides advantages in other areas. The Ka-Bar will serve you well if you are tough on your knife.

Read our full Ka Bar review


  • The leather handle provides a good grip
  • Edge angles of 20 degrees hold a sharp edge
  • Blade is 1095 Cro-Van steel
  • 100% leather sheath with USMC emblem
  • More than 50 years of field-tested superiority


  • The leather sheath is made in Mexico

Best Value: G.I. Pilots Survival Knife


  • Blade length: 5 in
  • Total length: 9 in
  • Blade material: 1095 HC Steel
  • Weight: 7.7 oz

Don’t let the company name fool you. The Ontario Knife Company produces USA-made products of high quality with a lower price point than similar knives. 

Check Prices on Amazon

The G.I. Pilots Survival Knife is also known as the OKC499 Air Force Survival Knife. Like its cousin, the Ka-Bar USMC, this knife was a standard issue item for Air Force pilots and Army soldiers. It was recently replaced by a Gerber blade (government contracts change suppliers periodically but have no bearing on the reliability of this choice).

The leather-wrapped handle provides a sure and steady grip. Made using 1095 high-carbon steel with a clip-point, Bowie-style blade, this knife will provide years of service. The blade’s spine includes a serrated edge that can be useful as a saw or shear bark off twigs for kindling. 

With a leather sheath, this best-value survival knife is a great item for your bug-out bag, toolbox, camping gear, or glove box. A sharpening stone and pouch are included on the sheath for a reasonable price. 


  • Great price
  • Good overall length for versatility
  • The leather handle provides a good grip
  • Nice weight distribution
  • A hilt guard protects your hand


  • The hilt guard can make it difficult to cut kindling
  • Some users complain of poor blade quality 

Best for Fire Building: Pillar Fixed Blade Knife


  • Blade length: 5 in
  • Total length: 9.9 in
  • Blade material: CPM S35VN Steel
  • Weight: 7.4 oz

If you need a survival knife predominantly for fire-building, the SOG Pillar Fixed Blade will suit your purposes nicely.

The five-inch blade length offers plenty of cutting area and a comfortable handle. The overall length of 9.9 inches and weight of 7.4 ounces makes this a mid-sized survival knife.

Check Prices on Amazon

You can wear this blade in the belt sheath or as a boot knife. The Micarta handle offers a sure and steady grip, and the sheath offers an adjustable low-profile locking mount. SOG is confident in this product and provides a limited repair and replacement program for qualified requests. 


  • CPM S35VN steel blade
  • Full tang construction
  • Great balance
  • Limited repair/replacement policy
  • Straight-edge blade with machine-ground satin finish


  • Some users complained of poor sheath construction

Best Craftsmanship: Gerber StrongArm Fixed Blade, Serrated


  • Blade length: 4.875 in
  • Total length: 9.75 in
  • Blade material: 420 Stainless Steel
  • Weight: 7.10 oz

Gerber got the call for the best overall craftsmanship with their StrongArm Fixed Blade knife with a serrated edge. The straight-edge version of the StrongArm made our honorable mention list.

Constructed with a full tang using 420HC steel with Cerakote ceramic blade coating, the StrongArm is a beautiful knife.

Check Prices on BladeHQ

As one of the best-selling fixed-blade knives, the StrongArm boasts many features that increase its versatility. The handle includes a rubberized diamond-texture grip and a striking pommel. This knife will serve you well and look great regardless of your primary use.

The StrongArm ships with a customizable, MOLLE-compatible modular sheath that you can wear as a drop-leg carry. Detachable belt loops allow the sheath to be adjusted for horizontal belt carry if you prefer.


  • Full tang construction
  • Partially serrated edge for tough cuts
  • 420HC stainless steel black-coated blade
  • Cerakote® ceramic coating
  • Customizable sheath
  • Diamond-textured rubber handle
  • Striking pommel with lanyard hole


  • Users complain about the sheath and difficulty with conversions

Honorable Mentions

When we completed our review, we looked at many selections. It was a hard choice in some categories, so we have offered an honorable mention category.

These knives are the runners-up in the above categories, with some barely being nudged out of the top billing, presented in no particular order.

Gerber StrongArm Fixed Blade


  • Blade length: 4.875 in
  • Total length: 9.75 in
  • Blade material: 420 Stainless Steel
  • Weight: 7.10 oz

This StrongArm is identical to the serrated edge above, except that it has a straight edge. If your preference is a non-serrated edge, this knife offers the same craftsmanship.

Scorpion Fixed Blade Knife and Scorpion XL Fixed Blade Knife


  • Blade length: 4.25 in
  • Total length: 9 in/10 in
  • Blade material: 1095 HC Steel
  • Weight: 6 oz

These two survival knives from Pathfinder Knife Shop (PKS) offer identical features, but the XL model is one inch longer in the handle. Both feature full tang construction with a polished Micarta handle. The blades have a Scandinavian grind that adds to their durability and edge retention.

Ka-Bar Becker Campanion BK2


  • Blade length: 5.25 in
  • Total length: 10.75 in
  • Blade material: 1095 Cro-Van Steel
  • Weight: 15.9 oz

If you like the Ka-Bar USMC but want something a smidge smaller, the Becker Campanion is a good choice. With many of the Ka-Bar USMC’s features, this lower-profile utility survival knife is a workhorse in all outdoor situations. 


You won’t be entering a survivor’s beauty pageant with your knife, but you want it to look cool. Our selection for the best all-around survival knife, the Gerber Terracraft, offers a lot of useability at a reasonable price. If your budget is tight, the Gerber Principle is an excellent choice and a great value.

A durable, versatile blade will provide you with years of service. We can’t tell which knife fits you best—only you can do that. Evaluate your needs, determine your most common uses, and select a blade that suits you.

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