When it comes to combat knives, function and form are far more important than aesthetics. The form? Combat knives used by militaries around the world all share one thing in common: they have a fixed blade.
A fixed blade is strong and reliable. Simplicity, including lack of moving parts is a good thing when your knife might make a life-or-death difference when used.
Not in the military? Not interested in military surplus shopping? No problem. Knife manufacturers have studied military knives and created great look-a-like knives for us civilians.
Better yet, there are plenty of models that not only take a nod from a military knife, but improve upon it, too. Below we’ve compiled a mix of real-world combat knives designed by the world’s top knife brands.
Best Combat Knives
1. Gerber Prodigy Combat Knife – Our Pick for Best Combat Knife
Gerber knife company specializes in making some of the best hunting knives, EDC knives, and now combat knives. The Gerber Prodigy takes inspiration from some of the best military knives on the planet and packaged it in a sleek, no-nonsense knife.
This fixed blade is 9.75 inches in overall length, with a 4.75 blade length. The blade is made from 420hc stainless steel. With the black oxide finish, the knife has a slick tactical look. The edge has staggered serrations just above the neck guard. Along with the prodigy’s fool tang build are two over-molded handles. The handles have soft-grip technology that provides optimal grip and security. The pommel has a lanyard loop in case you want to hang this monster from your neck.
If hanging a nearly 10-inch knife from your neck is not your forte, the Prodigy comes with a ballistic nylon leg strap sheath. The sheath is designed to sit as close to your body as possible for concealment. The Prodigy is 100 percent MOLLE and MIRS compliant. So if you need a regulation knife, the Prodigy has got it handled. In our opinion, The Prodigy is one of the best regulation combat knives available for purchase.
2. KA-BAR 1282 D2 Extreme Fighting Knife – Iconic Knife With a Modern Flare
Ka-Bar Knives Inc. takes their namesake from the classic 1942 combat knife, the Ka-Bar. Today they manufacture hundreds of different knives and cutlery. They still specialize in making the Ka-Bar and have a few variations of it, including the D2.
The D2 is a 12-inch knife, with a 7-inch blade made from D2 steel, which has a higher carbon concentration than other steels. With more carbon, the steel is stronger than other metals. A black epoxy coating protects it against rust and gives the knife a no-nonsense look.
It has the classic Ka-Bar shape with a clip point and a serrated edge near the neck guard. The handle is made from the synthetic material Kraton g. The synthetic handle is made to be more resilient than the traditional stained wood handle of the original knife.
The D2 comes with a glass-filled nylon sheath for safe and easy transport. The D2 is a modern take on a classic knife that is built to last and one of the best military knives that you can get.
3. Ka-Bar BKR7-BRK Combat Utility – Sharp With a Solid Build
This fixed blade knife is 12.75 inches in total length. The blade is 7 inches long and made from 1095 cro-van steel. Cro-van steel is made to be strong but light and easy to sharpen. Unlike other hard steels that are much more of a pain to sharpen. With a clip point shape and black epoxy coating, the BKR7 has a clean tactical look.
The handle is a little over 5 inches long and is made out of Ultramid nylon. This material is very rigid, it can take a beating and some heat too. The pommel has a large lanyard hole and hammering surface in case you need to pound into something.
If you plan to use this blade on a daily basis or in the outdoors, no need to worry about wearing it down, it is built to take a beating. Whether it is the cro-van steel blade or the fiberglass-nylon handle, the BKR7 can handle almost anything. With this being one of the best combat knives, utility knives, and fighting knives, look no further, the BKR7 is the blade for you.
4. SZCO Supplies M-9 Bayonet – Versatile Design
The M-9 is 12 inches in overall length and made from stainless steel. The spine of the blade has a saw back lining that can be used to cut through wood or other materials. With a clip point tip and straight edge, the M-9 will have an intimidating presence whether that be in your hands, or at the end of a barrel.
For the handle, you have one of the most durable plastics to exist in your hands. The ABS plastic used to make the handle can handle extreme temperatures, hot or cold. So there is no need to worry about your barrel melting through over time. The M-9 also comes with a canvas and metal sheath that can be connected to a belt loop or backpack. Attached to the sheath is a grindstone so you can sharpen the knife while out in the field.
Now, most people will not need to use their M-9 as a bayonet, but having that option is a plus. The more uses we can get out of our knives makes them more and more dynamic With the bayonet and saw back spine, the M-9 is one of the best combat knives, and most versatile.
5. Ka-Bar Full Size US Marine Corps Fighting Knife – Classic Design with a Modern Build
This classic Ka-Bar design comes in at 11.8 inches in total length. The blade edges out at 7 inches with the classic clip point look and shape. The 1095 cro-van steel blade is extremely strong, with that, it can still be easily sharpened, unlike other steels that are equally as hard. If you are a veteran of the Marine Corp, you’ll appreciate the USMC stamp just above the neck guard.
The handle is made from stacked leather giving it that classic look straight from 1942. The pommel is made from the same 1095 steel making it very tough. You can use it to hammer in tent stakes or whatever you see fit.
The Ka-Bar comes with a tan leather sheath that gives it an antique look. If you are a collector, a veteran, or a newbie to the knife world, the Ka-Bar is a classic combat knife that is just as effective in a contemporary world.
What to look for when choosing a combat knife
Those are the 5 best combat knives that we could find. Each knife has unique qualities that are all capable of just about anything you will need a knife to do. Hopefully, you found something that will suit you well. That said, if you are still on the fence and not sure what knife is best for you, do not worry, we will now cover the basics of combat knives. Everything from the blade, the handle, and overall design will be examined. We hope to help educate you on what makes the best fighting knives, combat knives, and utility knives. So, Let’s get started.
The anatomy of a combat knife blade will differ from knife to knife. Some are pretty basic, like the number 5 knife on our list the Ka-Bar USMC combat knife. It has a clip point face, a straight edge, and a straight spine. Even if you think this is a boring design, it was the most popular combat knife during WWII and is still popular to this day. Sometimes simplicity is all you need in a knife.
If you are on the hunt for something a little more ambidextrous, there are plenty of knives that offer much more. Combat knives can have partially serrated edges, completely serrated edges, or different types of knife points. A knife’s point is actually one of the most important aspects of the blade. Each type of knifepoint is specifically designed to complete a specific task. Some knife points like the clip point or the drop point are good for multiple uses. Although, they are best at piercing and slicing. While other knife points are pretty specialized for one purpose. The talon point is a perfect example of this. A talon point is shaped, well, like a talon. It is designed to slice through fabrics like carpet or the belly of a fresh hunting kill.
The blade of a combat knife is ultimately the most important part of the knife. Knife blades do all of the heavy lifting when cutting, slicing, or piercing. As we learned, some knife blades are pretty universal. While others are designed for a more specific function.
While the blade will be doing most of the work, the handle is of equal importance, because without it, a knife would be useless.
A knife’s handle is in some ways it’s Achilles heel. If it functions the way it is designed, you will not notice. Only when the knife handle fails or is off balance is when a user will notice. To understand the anatomy of a handle you first need to understand the difference between a full tang knife and one that is not. A full tang knife is one solid piece, both the blade and the handle are one piece. This gives the knife increased structural ability. When great pressures are applied you will not have to worry about the blade snapping off of the handle, because the blade and the handle are one.
Typically a full tang knife will have two pieces that cover the steel handle portion of the knife. These can be made from several different types of materials. The most common materials used on contemporary knives will be synthetic. Synthetic materials like nylon or polyurethane are much more resilient than more traditional materials like leather or wood. Not only can they take more of a beating, but it also holds a better grip. The ability to mold with these materials makes it easier to add textures to them, increasing the overall control a user has over the blade. Materials like wood and leather are still popular amongst many knife enthusiasts today. They just need more care and attention than synthetic handles. Partial tang knives on the other hand only extend partially into the handle. While they are not as solid as a full tang, if they are built correctly they are just as sturdy. They use the same materials as full tang knives, only their construction is different.
Now that we have a better understanding of the blade and the handle, let’s talk about knives overall design.
The overall design of a knife is essential to its function. The best combat knives have the perfect balance between blade and handle. A knife’s handle should be ergonomic, fitting naturally in your hand. While the blade should only feel like the extension of your hand, not like a foreign object. Weight is an all-important factor in knife design as well. Both the handle and blade should be perfectly balanced. One should not outweigh the other. If a knife does happen to be off-balance, a user will be conscious of it, ultimately this imbalance will alter a user’s movements and work.
Another aspect of a knife’s design is its overall size. Smaller combat knives will be easier to carry, transport, and control in the hand. The way they are built is essentially the same, just less material. Larger knives can be a bit comedic depending on their size. A bowie knife can be up to 18 inches in length with a knife face as wide as a dinner plate. While the Bowie knife is iconic, a knife half its size can do the same things, if not better. Ultimately the knife design you favor will be up to you to decide. Usually, it is wiser to go with a size that is practical for daily use, but a lot of this will come with trial and error.
With the understanding of the blade, handle, and overall design, we can talk about the extras that oftentimes come with the best combat knives.
The word utility is defined as “the state of being useful, profitable, or beneficial.” A combat knife can provide all of these things. It is useful in combat situations. It can be profitable in terms of dressing animals and selling their meat or hide. Lastly, it can be beneficial to everyone that uses it. Combat knives or knives in general usually have added features on a knife that can be used in ways that a normal straight edge knife could not. This is due to a combat knife’s increased size, giving blade smiths more room to work with.
Some added feature includes gut hooks, partially serrated edges, and saw back spines. These additions take on capabilities that a normal knife would struggle to do. Increasing its usefulness and profitability, ultimately benefiting the user. All in all combat knives are a great utility to the user.
Now that we have covered the basics of combat knives, we need to talk about their legality. Because oftentimes people find themselves in trouble when it is easy to avoid.
The legality of a combat knife will depend on a lot of different factors. Where you live in the largest determining factor of all. If you are in the United States, it will depend on state and city ordinances. Some cities will allow civilians to carry large combat knives as long as they are in plain sight and in a sheath. Other cities or states only allow up to a certain blade length. We highly advise that you are up to date and aware of your local laws before you walk around with your Ka-Bar.
What knife do Navy Seals use?
The Navy Seals use several different knives while out in the field. The two most common are the seal pup 2000 and the SOG combat knife. The Seal Pup is 7 inches in length with a partially serrated edge.
What is the best tactical knife?
The best tactical knife will be discreet, simple, and easy to use. The Gerber Prodigy, the number one knife on our list is a great example. The best tactical knives are the ones that can’t be seen. They are a little smaller than combat knives and often have straight edges.
What is the most dangerous knife in the world?
Frankly, every knife is dangerous. To expand on this, the most dangerous knife in the world is one in the hands of a user that treats it as a toy. There is not one specific knife that is most dangerous. It’s the one that is handled without care or importance.
Do soldiers use knives in combat?
Short answer, of course, they do. That being said, knife fights are rare in modern combat. You need to get face to face with your enemy and are typically fighting one on one. These circumstances do happen, but not often.
What are the most badass special forces?
The most badass special forces have to be the Navy Seals. Often times they are conducting some of the most important missions on the planet, including the assassination of Osama bin Laden in 2011.
Do Navy Seals use SOG knives?
Yes, they do. While they do use SOG knives there are many other knives they use as well.
What knife to Army Rangers use?
Army Rangers carry the Ka-Bar, one of the best combat knives in the world!
What knives do Marines use?
Marines carry the most popular knife in the U.S. armed forces, the Ka-Bar.
Best-selling combat knives
- Heavy Duty Tactical Knife
- 12" Tactical Survival Hunting Knife with Sheath and Fixed Blade
- 4.9 INCH AUS-8 STAINLESS STEEL FULL TANG KNIFE BLADE: The SEAL Strike fixed blade knife is a field-tested combat knife, camping knife, boot knife and belt knife; measures 9.6 inches in total length
- 5.6 OUNCES W/ GRN BLACK KNIFE HANDLE W/ STAINLESS STEEL: A tough outdoor knife handle for fixed blade survival knives with sheath; glass-reinforced nylon offers great grip and stainless steel reinforces
- Dimensions: 9 inch (22.9 centimeter) overall length with a blade length of 4.7 inches (12.1 centimeter) and a weight of 7.7 ounces
- Durable: Blade is made of reliable 7Cr17MoV high carbon stainless steel with a black rubber wrapped handle
- AJBLADES 326: Overall Length: 9" - Blade Length: 5" - Handle Length: 3.75" Sharp - 3CR13 Stainless Steel - ABS Cross - Grip Handle Full Tang Construction - Nylon Sheath
- DK Survival Neck Knife 1794: 5 1/2" Overall Length - 3" Black Stainless Steel Blade - 2 1/2" Handle Length - Plastic Sheath with String
- Edge Angles - 20 Degrees
- Overall length 11.875 inches