Having a good survival knife can be the difference between life and death in a survival situation. Survival knives come in all shapes, sizes and price points. Some are extraordinary and others just aren’t. This article focuses on three survival knives that we know and trust to help in just about any survival situation, and they come at three very different price points. While there are plenty of brands and blades to choose from, we’re going to take a closer look at the Mora Light My Fire Swedish Fireknife, the Esee Knives Esee 4, and the Hogue EX-F01.
The FireKnife is a collaboration of Morakniv, a tried and true camp/survival knife maker) and Light My Fire, a Swedish company founded in 1996 that specializes in fire-making products. As you might guess, the FireKnife features a built-in fire starter from Light My Fire. Light My Fire says it’s, “More than just a knife, more than just a fire starter.”
The FireKnife is the smallest of the survival knives we’ve chosen, and it’s the only knife without a full tang. This 8.5″ knife features a cold rolled Sandvik 12C27, profile ground, stainless steel blade and a high friction grip, thermoplastic handle with rubber overmold. The 3.8″ drop point blade is 1/16″ thick, but the grind really makes it feel far more sturdy. 120 years of knife making pays off with just about any Mora you choose, including this one.
The butt of the handle holds the Light My Fire Swedish FireSteel, and the 90-degree spine on the blade makes striking easy. Light My Fire says the FireSteel works equally well whether its dry or wet, has predictable performance at all altitudes, and produces a 5,400°F (2,980°C) spark.
We like the traditional shape and tried and true performance of a Mora knife combined with a built-in FireSteel. Any time we can get multiple uses out of a single tool in a survival situation, we’re happy. The FireKnife also comes with Mora’s standard thermoplastic belt sheath to keep your knife secure.
Our only drawback on this knife is its overall size and that it’s not a full tang knife. Either of these factors might be a hindrance in a survival situation, but we really love our Mora knives.
The Mora Light My Fire FireKnife is the least expensive knife in this article and comes in just under $35.
Most of us know Esee produces real workhorse knives when it comes to survival knives. The Esee 4 is no exception. This 9″ knife features a full tang 4.6″ powder coated, 1095 carbon steel, drop point blade (you can get it plain or partially serrated to suit your needs). The 1/8″ thick blade has a 90-degree spine, which comes in for fire starting and batoning would. Unlike bigger Esee knives, the Esee 4 can handle large and small cutting tasks easily, and it’s not going to weigh you down when you’re trekking out to safety.
This is a real no-nonsense survival knife. It carries easily and works well. The triple-riveted, G10 handle scales provide a secure grip in most any conditions. The Esee 4 comes with a black, impact resistant Kydex sheath. It’s molded to fit the knife snugly and securely, and its configuration really allows you to carry or mount it just about anywhere.
The Esee 4 comes in a wide variety of colors, configurations and even handle materials with minimal price differences. The Esee 4 will run you around $90 for G10 versions and just over $100 for Micarta versions.
Hogue is a relatively new player in the knife making world, but with the design principles employed by former Marine Recon and renowned custom knife maker, Allen Elishewitz, Hogue makes up for its lack of longevity in this area. Elishewitz designed the 10.5″ EX-F01 to have full tang construction and 1/4″ A2 tool steel. Hogue calls the EX-F01 and it’s 5.5″ drop point blade the “ultimate field tool.”
Hogue points out that the broad point in front of the false edge provides extra strength to the tip and a large land for batoning, and the weight of the EX-F01 makes chopping easier. There is no doubt that this is a stout knife. It’s the largest of the knives we’ve chosen for this article – and the heaviest.
The 3D sculpted handle scales are triple-riveted and do provide a pretty comfortable grip for this survival beast, which is important on a knife this heavy. The EX-F01 includes two lanyard holes at the butt of the knife and two more at the base of the blade. This makes lashing the knife to almost anything fairly straightforward.
The EX-F01 includes a built-in Torx wrench that slides into the handle and a MOLLE compatible Milspec ballistic nylon sheath. That means you can mount or carry the EX-F01 just about any way you want.
At just under $205, the EX-F01 is the most expensive knife in the mix. That’s understandable for a knife with this much quality steel and craftsmanship.
In the end, finding the right survival knife among the hundreds of different survival knives on the market is a personal thing. Any of the three knives in this article will serve you well on your next outdoor adventure, and they just might en up saving your life.