Best Karambit Knives – 2019 Buyer’s Guide

Are you looking for a karambit knife? If so, then you’re in the right place. Having a knife on hand for self-defense is essential and usually preferred for any hand to hand or weapons-included situation. A karambit knife is designed to be a devastating force to be reckoned with if you tend to use it properly for its intended purposes.

If you don’t know what a karambit knife is, you’ll find out more of the specific details about its design and how it came about. To help you find the best karambit knife for your use, we’ve managed to put together a list of the five best karambit knives that are currently on the market. Before we get to the list, we’ll be talking about what a karambit knife is, whether or not if they’re all the same, and how you can choose one for your purpose.

Comparison Chart of the Best Karambit Knives

Product

Rating

Price

MASALONG Outdoor Survival Claw

Best Overall

Cold Steel Tiger Claw

Runner-up

Vulcan Gear Tactical Hawkbill

Best for the Money

Emerson Knive

Best Karambit Folding Knife

Mantis Vuja De

Best Karambit Butterfly Knife

What is a Karambit Knife?

One of the things that you’ll notice when you first look at a karambit knife is the design. It has a scythe-like looking design also forms a curved blade. It was developed in Southeast Asia during the 11th century as a tool that was used for farming.

MASALONG Outdoor Survival Claw

However, it grew a bit in popularity over the years as a weapon of opportunity. Especially when you find yourself in a must defend yourself situation. The karambit knife is curved so it makes cutting and slicing a lot more effortless compared to a straight blade.

Are All Karambit Knives The Same?

The short answer: no. To make it more detailed, most karambit knives are different in some aspects. One such example is the blade design. While the overall design is curved (or scythe-like), the blade design may differ from knife to knife. At the same time, a handle on one knife may be made from one thing of material, while it may be different on another knife. 

How to Choose a Karambit Knife?

Finding a karambit knife for your personal use will be a challenge. But luckily for you, we’ve put together this brief guide on how you can be able to choose one for yourself. It’s important to know what sort of characteristics and features will make a knife stand out better than the ones that are considered poor in quality and performance. Here’s what you need to look out for:

Price

It would be wise to include the price on the list as a way to find out which knife will work better for you. The thing is, you’ll need to find a knife that is affordable for your budget in terms of quality and performance. You should not sacrifice quality in the slightest as a way to save yourself some money. You can find something that is sharp, durable, and reliable within your budget. Even if it means spending a little more than you expect.

Materials

The materials that are made into these knives are usually made from high-quality materials. For example, the blade may be made from some kind of steel that is proven to be durable and sharp while it is forged. The stronger the steel, the better the chance that it will last you quite a while. Whether it’s years or decades, it entirely depends on how well you take good care of it.

What Purpose is it For?

While most of the karambit knives will be used for almost any general-purpose, there will be some that will excel at some application of another. If you have a good idea of what your purpose is, consider some of the knife's features and abilities so you know it will be the perfect fit for your intended purpose. Is the knife sharp? Does it boast a certain design where it can excel at said purpose? These are some things to consider.

Quick Take | Best Karambit Knives

Before diving into our review of the best karambit knives, here is a quick take of our top 3 picks:

Review of the Best Karambit Knives

The following is a list of the five best karambit knives that are currently on the market. As you look through the list, you’ll need to be able to note some of the characteristics and features of each one. If you know what a karambit knife is and how they work, you can find one that will match your ideal description of your “dream knife”. Once you do, you’ll know that it’s a winner in your hands. Now, let’s take a look at the first knife on our list -- the “best overall” choice:

Pros

  • Durable and tough all over
  • Fits on most tactical belts no problem
  • Fits most hand sizes without any issue
  • The protective sheath is nice and tough
  • The blade is super sharp right out of the box

Cons

  • The sheath can cover up the blade a bit more
  • Made need to be sharpened more frequently than regular knives

What Recent Buyers Report

Most recent buyers were quite satisfied with the knife. They were able to cut through soft materials like butter and were able to use it for even the most unlikely activities -- cleaning their big game kills. One user said that he forgot his usual knife and decided to use this karambit knife instead. Surprisingly, the cleaning out process turned out to be a great success.

Why it Stands Out to Us

This knife has two things that stand out: a sharp blade and an ergonomic handle that will make every use comfortable. The curved design makes this knife look more sinister and intimidating. So the sharp blade is just the icing on the cake. The handle is made from high-quality material that allows for better grip so the knife won’t slip out of your hands even when they’re sweating.

Who Would Use This Most


This will make an excellent knife for hunting if you have another knife that somehow won’t get the job done. It will also come in handy for purposes like self-defense (if need be). If you want a knife that has an unusual enough design for some good uses, this might be the knife you’ll want on hand.

Bottom Line

The MASALONG Outdoor Survival Claw Tactical Teeth Knife is sharp, curved at the right angle, and can be used for multiple purposes. If you need a knife that will stand out in your collection and can be reliable in the most unexpected ways, then you might want to give this puppy a closer look.

Pros

  • Super durable all over
  • Sharp right out of the box
  • Folds out and retracts easily
  • Blade locks in without any wiggle room
  • Works as both a great tool and an excellent self-defense knife

Cons

  • You may need to wear gloves while wearing this knife
  • May need to be sharpened more often than some knives
  • May rust if not taken care of properly in a short amount of time

What Recent Buyers Report

Most of the recent buyers were quite happy with this knife. They were quite satisfied with the overall design and managed to use it for a multitude of cutting abilities. They were able to use this for cutting and cleaning out their freshly killed hunting targets. Even one user said that he uses his knife for EDC purposes and menial tasks like cutting open Amazon packages.

Why it Stands Out to Us

This knife is great for both right-handed and left-handed users (as evident by the ambidextrous design). So no matter which hand is your dominant hand, you’ll have an easy to use knife that will cut through almost any soft material that you can think of. The handle and blade are both durable and built to last you quite a long time.

Who Would Use This Most

This will likely be used by the following types of users: hunters and EDC carry users. Hunters may need an extra knife to carry in case the cleaning out process tends to be tough while using a standard knife. EDC users will also be pleased with this knife since its sharp enough to take on almost any task where a knife is appropriate.

Bottom Line

The Cold Steel Tiger Claw is perhaps the best possible knife that you can use for any task. Yes, it may seem unusual at first due to the design. But you can make sure that it has a hard to match reliability compared to all other knives on the market. If you want something that will be great for any knife-related application, the Tiger Claw will not disappoint.

Best for the Money:
Vulcan Gear Tactical Hawkbill

Pros

  • Sharp right out of the box
  • The sheath is quite strong
  • Affordable for most budgets
  • The grip is super solid and allows for ergonomic use
  • Super durable. Has the potential to last you a long time

Cons

  • Sheath wiggles around with some tactical belts
  • May wear down over time if not sharpened regularly

What Recent Buyers Report

This knife was a hit with many new users. Despite it being affordable for most budgets, it also proves itself to be sharp right out of the gate. And yes, it’s reliable in most applications where a knife is appropriate. One user said that he was able to get a lot done with this knife (like EDC tasks).

Why it Stands Out to Us

This knife includes a sheath that is hard to cut open or tear apart. So in short, you have the total package at an affordable price. It stands out as a really good knife that goes well beyond a user’s expectations (including those who are budget shoppers). Since it’s a tactical style karambit knife, it will be tougher and easier to use than most knives on the list. Especially when you need something tough and sharp enough to get you through the direst situations.

Who Would Use This Most


This knife will stand out for those who want to start using karambit knives. Yes, they may look intimidating at first. But once you get the hang of using these knives, you’ll know exactly what to do in any given situation. If you want a starter karambit knife, this might be right up your alley.

Bottom Line

If you want an excellent karambit knife that will be great to start with, the Vulcan Gear Tactical Hawkbill Karambit Knife might work to your advantage. It’s sharp, durable, and doesn’t knock your bank account into the red. This knife might be your best friend in the long run if it stands up to the challenge of many applications that go great with knives.

Best Karambit Folding Knife:
Emerson Knive

Pros

  • Folds and unfolds with ease
  • It can fit in most durable sheaths
  • Super sharp right out of the gate
  • Excellent for EDC and combat purposes
  • Super durable finish. Doesn’t scuff or bang around

Cons

  • None

What Recent Buyers Report

As expected, one of the best features of the knife that new buyers reported was the folding feature itself. It was quick to deploy and quick to retract without any kind of issue. Not only that, it proved itself to be a sharp knife right out of the gate. They said cutting through soft materials was quite easier than any pocket knife they’ve ever used.

Why it Stands Out to Us

The knife is available in two different designs. The Super Karambit blade is slightly longer than the combat version by a few centimeters. But both can stay sharp for a long time. Both knives are proven to be the best in the biz when it comes to self-defense and EDC carry. No matter which one you use, it’s good to know that you have something that will be reliable and can cut through just about anything soft (and maybe some tougher materials) like a butter knife through hot butter itself.

Who Would Use This Most

If you want a knife that is easy to fold and easy to deploy, this would be the ideal karambit knife for you. Especially when you need to put a knife like this to good use in the quickest time possible. You can make quick cuts and put it away fast by the time you are finished. If you want a knife that will save you time and a whole lot of frustration, this knife will stand out as the best choice.

Bottom Line

If you need a folding knife that will get the job done quickly, the Emerson Folding Knife might be right up your alley as far as karambit knives go. It’s folding and unfolding ability is quicker than most knives on the market. Don’t be surprised if the knife is a lot more reliable than expected.

Best Karambit Butterfly Knife:
Mantis Vuja De

Pros

  • Fits in most knife sheaths
  • Ergonomically friendly grip
  • Super sharp right out of the box
  • Great for many uses, including EDC and self-defense use
  • The knife is easy to lock in place while the blade is deployed

Cons

  • The lock may be a little stubborn at times
  • May need to be sharpened more often than some knives

What Recent Buyers Report

This knife was a hit with new users, it was easy to deploy and easy to retract once all was said and done with use. It’s also sharp and allows for EDC use (especially self-defense applications). One user said that he uses it for general purposes, but knows that if and when the time comes, he will be ready to use it for self-defense purposes should an opportunity present itself.

Why it Stands Out to Us

The knife is compact and the blade is quite an interesting design for an EDC/self-defense knife. But the stainless steel blade proves itself to be reliable in many ways right out of the box. Sharp enough to cut through soft materials and sharp enough to leave some nasty gashes into your attacker so you can escape a life-threatening situation safely.

Who Would Use This Most

This will likely be used by those who carry a knife for EDC purposes. While the uses will probably be menial tasks, it will usually excel in the self-defense application, if you need a knife that will work hard and get you out of some dire situations, this knife will go above and beyond the call of duty to make sure your out of harm’s way and on with life.

Bottom Line

The Mantis Vuja De is probably the most intimidating butterfly knife that bears the karambit design. Whether you’re in a dangerous situation where defending yourself is a must, you should have a knife that will help you out. The Mantis Vuja De might be your best sidekick in any given self-defense situation. Especially with a knife that is sharp and can do some serious damage.

Types of Karambit Knives

There are a few different types of Karambit Knives that are currently on the market right now that are considered the most popular. Knowing which one is best for you is essential. Because one type might excel in some purposes better than another. Here are the following Karambit types:

Folding Blade

It’s simple and straightforward. The blade pops out and retracts. It’s the kind of knife that will work well if you’re in an EDC situation and want to carry a knife that is concealable and ready for action if and when you need it. Since it’s so small, you can carry them just about anywhere.

Fixed Blade

Unlike the folding blade, the fixed blade stays in place. It doesn’t need to be folded to make it look smaller. Nor is it useless for an EDC knife. All you need is a carrying sheath to ensure that you can use it and quickly draw it if and when you need to.

Safety Ring

These karambit knives include a safety ring on the handle that will allow you to have a better handle of the knife. This way, you won’t have to deal with slippage. If a knife slips out of your hands, it may lead to some nasty gashes and cuts on your hands. 

How to Sharpen a Karambit Knife?

Sharpening a karambit knife will be challenging at first. But knowing how to sharpen one will take some time and skill. Just follow the instructions below so it will be easier every time you have to maintain and sharpen the blade for long-lasting use:

  • Place the sharpener on the blade. Make sure the bevel is on the blade’s edge.
  • Set the knife at a bit of a downward angle with the bladed side up. Then move the sharpener fast.
  • Check the sharpness by slowly slicing a piece of paper.
  • If the cutting blade is starting to shine a bit, you’ll know that it’s getting sharper. 
  • Be sure to flip over and sharpen the other side of the cutting blade. Make sure the cutting edge is facing upward while the blade is at a 38 to 45-degree angle.
  • Be sure to polish the blade a bit. Be sure to flip each side with one pass each (i.e.--one pass, flip, one pass, flip, repeat until desired).
  • Be sure to sharpen each side for about 60 seconds each. Be sure to check the sharpness by cutting through a piece of paper. If it’s cutting through with little pressure, then you’re done. 

Conclusion

A great karambit knife will always come in handy in most situations. Whether it’s for self-defense or daily use, having a knife that is sharp, reliable, and tough as nails will be an important part of your arsenal. Be sure to take the best care of it so you can use it as much as possible for many years or even decades.

People Also Ask

If you need some additional information regarding karambit knives, consider the following questions below. These frequently asked questions will give you a better understanding of how these knives work. Here are the following questions:

Does Every Knife Come With a Jimping or Hand Groove?

Not every knife has a jimping or gimping on the handle. Some will as a way to give you additional grip. However, deciding whether or not you’ll need one will be entirely up to you.

Is a Karambit Illegal?

A karambit knife is legal at the state level. However, there may be laws that will either restrict use or outlaw them completely (it will depend on the jurisdiction). To get a good idea of whether or not a karambit is legal in your state, please research your local, state, and even federal laws before purchasing a knife. This way, it will save you any legal headaches that you don’t want to deal with. 

Are Karambits Legal to Carry Concealed?

Once again, the laws vary from state to state. For the most part, these knives are legal to conceal carry. Most states will require you to have a permit to ensure that you have the legal paperwork allowing you to conceal carry a karambit knife. Once again, please consult with your local, state, and federal laws for any information on concealed carry.

How Do You Carry a Karambit?

The safest way to carry a karambit knife is to make sure it is packed in a sheath. Since the blade is usually sharper than most pocket knives, there’s a good chance that you’ll need a sheath that will be made from high-quality materials that won’t allow for the blade to easily cut it. 

What is the Function of the Ring in the Knife?

The ring’s intended function is to allow for better gripping and handling for beginner users. This way, it will prevent any slippage from happening. Any kind of slippage can and will result in some cuts since the blade itself is quite sharp. 

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