Best SHTF Knives – 2020 Complete Round-up

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If you’re looking for the best SHTF Knife, you’re not alone. Finding the best knife for the purpose of EDC and survival is very key. And you’ll need one to get you through the toughest of situations. It should be tough, durable, and reliable for whenever you need it most.

In order to help you find the best knife for your own use, we’ve chosen five of the best SHTF knives that are currently the most popular on the market. Before we get to the list, we’ll talk about what an SHTF knife is and what types of purposes it serves. We’ll also talk about why these stand out as the best of the bunch.

Comparison of the Best SHTF Knives

  • Made in the USA.
  • Best overall SHTF knife.
  • Comes with a nylon hard shell sheath.
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  • Blade measured at 6.5 inches.
  • Features a molded polymer sheath.
  • Runner-up for best overall SHTF knife.
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  • Includes a survival guide.
  • Best SHTF knife for the money.
  • Blade measured at 4.8 inches in length.
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  • Sheath made from zytel.
  • Designed for EDC purposes.
  • Made from high-quality materials.
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  • Weighs nearly 1.37 pounds.
  • Blade measured at 5 ¾ inches.
  • Powder-coated carbon steel blade.
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What is a SHTF Knife?

An SHTF is an essential EDC tool that you can use for any given situation when it comes to survival. Likewise, it can also be an excellent knife that you can use for menial purposes like cutting up food or cleaning out your fresh catches and hunting kills. In short, it is a multi-purpose knife that can get the job done

What Purpose Does an SHTF Knife Serve?

There are several purposes to which an SHTF knife can be served. It’s important to find one that will get the job done in any given situation. The following are the top three situations you can use your SHTF knife for:

Cleaning Fish and Game

Once you catch a fish or kill a game target for meat consumption, obviously you’ll need to clean it out in the quickest time possible. There will be times when you’ll need to clean it out almost immediately to ensure that the meat quality does not spoil. 


If you’re out in the outdoors, you’ll need something that will cut through the brush. At the same time, you’ll want something that will be easy to whittle and carve so you have the perfect firewood for a nice campfire. Not only would it be a nice roaring flame to keep you warm, but something that will also serve as essential when you don’t have a stove or oven to cook with.

What Makes These the Best of the Year?

There are some characteristics and features that make these SHTF knives the best in the business. While the year’s best will usually change between now and the next year, it is important to know which one is the better option in terms of quality, performance, and reliability. Here are some things that you need to look for in an SHTF knife:


If you’re on a budget, there is a good chance that you’ll be looking at the price tag first. But rest assured, if you’re looking for something that will be affordable in quality and performance, find the best that you can afford in terms of your budget. Never sacrifice quality for the sake of saving a few dollars. 


The best SHTF knives are usually made from high-quality materials. For example, one of the most popular materials for blades is carbon steel. There are other types of steel that will get the job done in terms of making a great blade for SHTF knives. But remember the better the quality, the better the chance it will last you a long period of time.


Reliability is something that should really be placed on high importance. Especially when you’re looking for a knife that is sharp and will cut through pretty much anything. Find a knife that will always work to your advantage in any given situation (especially a life and death situation like self-defense).

Review of the Best SHTF Knives

The following is a list of the five best SHTF knives that are currently on the market. It is important for you to find one that will work to your advantage so you are able to use it if and when you need to.

Be sure to find the characteristics and features that match what you think is your ideal SHTF knife. If you find one that’s close enough, you know that it will be a winner in your eyes. Now, let’s take a look at the “best overall” choice for best SHTF knife:

Best Overall:
KA-BAR Becker BK2


  • Ridiculously sharp.
  • Great for camping and outdoor uses.
  • Super durable. Doesn’t wiggle or bend.
  • Can cut through soft materials like butter.
  • Sheath is excellent in quality. Doesn’t wear and tear,


  • Grip quality feels cheap and flimsy.
  • Tip might be not as sharp as expected.
  • May be a little pricey for budget shoppers.

What Recent Buyers Report

A lot of new users were able to use this knife for most outdoor applications. They were quick to report that it was sharp enough to cut through soft materials like butter. Even softwoods for kindling were also easy to cut.

Why it Stands Out to Us

This knife is made from high-quality materials. The blade is made from carbon steel. As expected, it’s sharp like a tack and can cut quite easily. It also comes with a high-quality sheath that won’t cut so easily like other soft material sheaths.

Who Will Use This Most

This will come in handy as an outdoor knife. If you are camping, fishing, or hunting this knife will be something you can depend on. If you want something sharp, strong, and can be your best camping buddy then consider this knife as a great option.

Bottom Line

The KA-Bar Becker BK2 is one of the best SHTF knives for all the right reasons. It will definitely get the job done in any outdoor situation and can even get you through some dire situations. Especially if you’re lost in the woods and need to set up a temporary shelter.

ESEE Knives 6P


  • Super durable knife.
  • Excellent for EDC use.
  • Ergonomically friendly.
  • Sharp right out of the box.
  • Sheath is durable. Doesn’t cut easily.


  • May be sharp enough to easily cut skin.
  • May rust over time if not taken care of properly.
  • Sheath may not fit the best on some tactical belts.

What Recent Buyers Report

This knife was a hit with new users. They said that they were able to cut through most softwoods and other soft materials easily. One user said that he uses this for camping purposes and even carries it as an EDC tool that always comes in handy.

Why it Stands Out to Us

This knife is tough all over. The blade is sharp out of the box and doesn’t bend or loosen up. So you can cut through all kinds of materials including those hard to cut materials that some knives won’t even bother cut through.

Who Will Use This Most

This might be your kind of knife if you want something that will cut through the brush. At the same time, it will also be a great knife in your tool kit that will be useful for whenever you need it most. Plus, you’ll have this on hand for those “gotta have a knife” situations (I.e- Opening up a package).

Bottom Line

The ESSE knife might be odd on favorite for those looking for a SHTF knife that can get the job done outdoors or in an everyday situation. Don’t be surprised if you are able to keep this nice and sharp (assuming you maintain it over time) and see it last longer than any other knife you own.

Best for the Money:
Gerber Bear Grylls Ultimate Knife


  • Excellent for outdoor use.
  • Sheath is excellent in quality.
  • Affordable for most budgets.
  • Solid construction. Really durable.
  • Lightweight. Doesn’t add on any additional weight on your tactical belt.


  • Black paint may chip off over time.
  • Sheath May loosen on some belts.
  • Blade may need to be sharpened before use.

What Recent Buyers Report

New buyers were quite satisfied with the knife. A lot of them were budget shoppers that were looking for a knife that was excellent in quality and affordable for most budgets. As expected, this didn’t disappoint. They were able to cut through materials like nothing. One user said once he got it sharpened, he was able to cut through a lot of brush and bushes for a campfire.

Why it Stands Out to Us

The knife is endorsed by one of the world-renowned experts in survival, Bear Gyrillis. This would be the kind of knife that he and many other survivalists would approve. The blade is sharp enough to cut through soft materials and is excellent for bushcraft as well. Plus, it’s lightweight and tough. That should give you an indication of why you should never underestimate something that is lightweight.

Who Will Use This Most

This will be a knife used by those who are interested in bushcraft. It will even be useful in EDC situations. So it will work like a charm as an affordable multi-purpose knife whether you’re in a dire situation or not.

Bottom Line

If you’re looking for an excellent knife that has the ability to be useful in outdoor or EDC applications, the Bear Gyrillis Ultimate Knife by Gerber will be exactly what you’re looking for. Plus, it’s a knife that won’t suck the life out of your bank account.

4. Fallkniven F1


  • Excellent for EDC use.
  • Sharp right out of the box.
  • Handle is ergonomically friendly.
  • Sheath is solid and provides secure storage.
  • Blade design is simple and provides straightforward cutting.


  • Steel may chip over time.
  • OK, but not great with cutting wood.
  • The handle may feel crappy in quality.

What Recent Buyers Report

A lot of new users were satisfied with the knife. They were able to cut and whittle through softwoods quite easily. What was even more impressive was the knife’s handle. One user said it was the most comfortable knife he has used so far. It hasn’t given him any fatigue from extended use.

Why it Stands Out to Us

The knife is one of the more high-quality SHTF knives on the market. The blade is made from really durable carbon steel while the sheath is made from a high-quality, indestructible polymer known as zytel. If you want a knife that is sharp right out of the box, you’ll need a sheath that will protect the blade without easily getting punctured or cut.

Who Will Use This Most

This will be used for a multitude of applications. Expect this to be a really durable EDC knife that will have the potential to last you years or even decades. As long as you keep this sharp and maintained regularly, there is no telling how long it will last.

Bottom Line

The FallKniven F1 is probably one of the highest quality SHTF knives in the business. If you’re someone that holds durability to a high standard, this knife could be exactly what you’re looking for.

5. ESSE ES6PB-BRK Model 6 Plain Edge


  • Ridiculously lightweight.
  • Sharp right out of the box.
  • Excellent for EDC purposes.
  • Cuts through soft materials like butter.
  • Sheath is high in quality. It doesn’t tear easily.


  • None.

What Recent Buyers Report

New users of this knife were mostly those who use this for EDC purposes. One user said that he uses it for just about anything like opening packages to cutting open his freshly killed deer that he got recently while hunting. As expected, the knife is sharp like a tack and sliced through even some of the toughest materials.

Why it Stands Out to Us

The knife is finished with an all-black texture that adds on all kinds of durability. In short, it can take on impact, abuse, and even some tough cutting. The knife was built for not just EDC purposes, but it can handle any high-pressure application where regular pocket knives fall short.

Who Will Use This Most

This will make a great SHTF knife for beginner users. If you are new to SHTF and need a good idea of how you should build out your EDC kit, it all starts with a few things. Of course, one of them is a knife. So why not get one that is sharp and useful in any given situation.

Bottom Line

The ESSE Model Six Plane Edge is a reliable, sharp, and solidly constructed knife that will work for almost any application regardless if you’re a complete noob or a seasoned vet. If you want a knife for those just in case moments, this might be your cup of coffee.

Benefits of Investing in a Quality SHTF Knife

An SHTF knife has its advantages and perks. But if you decide not to purchase one, you may miss out on a lot. Here are a few benefits that you’ll enjoy:

Great For Any Purpose

Your knife has to be sharp, reliable, and ready for anything. It’s important to find one that will work for any situation where a knife is appropriate. Just because it’s an SHTF knife doesn’t mean it’s for emergency purposes only.

Small Enough For EDC Use

These knives are at the right size where you can easily conceal it in a sheath. If you have a tactical belt that will give you enough space for tools, find a sheath that will be compatible with your belt of choice.

Ready to Cut at Any Time

Most of the knives on this list will either be sharp right out of the gate. If needed, they can be sharpened rather quickly. In knives that are designed for emergency and survival purposes, sharpness is a must.

Aspects to Consider Before Buying

Aside from the features and characteristics, here are some aspects that should be mulled over before you make a purchase. These will be factors that will allow you to make a more informed decision. Here are some of the following aspects you need to consider:

What Will be My Exact Intent?

One aspect is knowing what purpose your knife will be used for. Will it be for EDC purposes? Outdoors only? Regardless, your knife should excel at any given application in a variety of ways.

Should I Purchase my Own Sheath?

Most knives will come with a sheath of its own for secure storage. However, most sheaths can be easy to cut because the material is soft and flimsy. Find a sheath that will be strong and made from high-quality materials.

Should I Worry About a Warranty?

Most of these SHTF knives will have warranties that will either last a year or so. Alternatively, there are knives that have a lifetime warranty. Choose a knife that will have a warranty that will fit you perfectly.

How to Take Care and Maintain Your SHTF Knife

Caring for your SHTF is no easy task. But knowing how will give you peace of mind. Just follow these instructions below so you’ll be able to take care and maintain your knife when you need to. They are as follows:

  • Two things you’ll need are steel wool and olive or vegetable oil.
  • Put a drop of oil on the surface of the blade and spread it around using your fingertips carefully. Don’t forget the metal part located inside the handle.
  • Be sure to wipe the other parts of the blade using a steel wool pad.


The best SHTF knife is out there. And one of these five will be yours to own if you want something that is sharp, sturdy, and reliable in any given situation. Be sure to find one that fits your personal needs and preferences so you’ll have a knife that will give you a long time of reliable and faithful service (even in the direst situations you find yourself in).