Best Japanese Survival Knives

5 Best Japanese Survival Knives of 2021 [Unbeatable or Not?]

(Last Updated On: July 26, 2021)

In case you don’t know what a survival knife is, this is a type of knife designed to keep you alive in tough situations. First and foremost, survival knives are designed to keep you alive when you get last out in the woods or the wilderness.

The main point of survival knives is to be a multi-functional tool that can serve many different purposes, all of which can save your life in one way or another. A good survival knife can of course be used for hunting and trapping, for foraging, for self-defense, for making fires, for digging for water, or building shelters, and for so much more.

If you are somebody who likes to go out into the wilderness and have a lot of adventures, then you also need to have the right tools on hand to keep you safe and alive when things get tough. Well, this is exactly what a survival knife can do, keep you alive.

Sure, there are plenty of brands of survival knives out there, but with that being said, some of the best ones out there are Japanese survival knives. Japan has a long and storied history of being a country full of top-quality swordsmiths and knife smiths. They definitely know how to make awesome blades, as can be seen by the various Japanese survival knives.

With that being said, there are actually so many different Japanese survival Knives out there that choosing a single one can be quite difficult. Well, this is what we are here to help you with today to take a closer look at five of the best Japanese survival knives out there so you can make an informed decision as to which one you want to purchase. Let’s get to it and figure out what is the best Japanese survival knife that your money can buy.

Best Japanese Survival Knives: Comparison Chart

Spyderco Dragonfly Signature Folding Knife

Higo no Kami 10 Pocket Knife by Nagao Seisakusho

KA-BAR 2-1233-8 Sheath Knife

Spyderco Endura 4 Lightweight Signature Folder Knife

Masano Skinner Knife Walnut Wood Handle110 Super-Blue Steel

5 Best Japanese Survival Knives: Reviews in Detail

What we want to do right now is to figure out exactly what the best Japanese survival knife out there is. Keep in mind that there are various factors that we will be keeping an eye on, including blade length and thickness. the style of blade, whether it is a fixed blade or a folding knife, what kind of metal was used in the construction of it, what the handle feels like, and more. Let’s get right to it and take a look at the five best Japanese survival knives out there at this time.

1. Spyderco Dragonfly Signature Folding Knife

If you are looking for an extremely small and compact folding knife that is perfect to have on your person when on the go, then this is a fantastic option to keep in mind. Indeed, one of the main benefits of this particular knife is the fact that it is so small and compact. Yes, this is a folding knife, which is of course very convenient in terms of portability.

When the knife is folded, it is just over 3 inches long, which is more than small enough to fit into any of your pockets. On that same note, this particular knife is also very lightweight, which is yet another bonus when it comes to portability. Seriously, thus knife barely weighs anything at all.

OK, so this is definitely not the largest knife out there which can be beneficial in terms of portability, but with that being said, it is of course not a knife that you can use for very large or heavy-duty tasks. The blade of this knife is just over 2 inches long, which as you might be able to tell is quite short.

However, this is a knife that you can use for practical self-defense purposes for digging small holes for cutting fishing line and for doing other such small tasks. It’s just a nice compact knife to have on your person in the event that you need a small blade.

What you may like about this particular knife is that it is made out of solid stainless steel that contains a minimum of 12.5% chromium. In other words, the blade here is actually quite durable, it is not likely to crack or chip, and it is also resistant to corrosion too. That being said, it is not 100% rustproof, so do dry it off after each use. Let’s keep in mind that the blade does come quite sharp, and it features pretty decent edge retention too.

In terms of comfort, the Spyderco Dragonfly Signature Folding Knife does come with an ergonomically design handle that is designed to be comfortable to hold. However, do keep in mind that the handle is quite small, so it can be difficult to hold securely, particularly if you have large hands.

Pros

  • Convenient folding design
  • Lightweight and portable
  • Ideal for small and basic tasks
  • Quite durable
  • Very sharp
  • Super portable
  • High quality handle and blade materials

Cons

  • Too small for large or heavy duty tasks
  • Small size may make it hard for some to hold

The Bottom Line

The bottom line here is that if you need a very small knife that is easy to carry around with you, something that works well for emergency situations and for very small and basic tasks, then the Spyderco Dragonfly Signature Folding Knife is a perfectly fine option to consider.

2. Higo no Kami 10 Pocket Knife by Nagao Seisakusho

What you are looking for is a historic knife made by a truly historic brand and this is a fantastic option to consider. This particular knife is made by Nagao Seisakusho, which happens to be the last remaining licensed manufacturer of this trademarked knife, so you know that it is quite special.

This is another one of these survival knives that is very convenient due to its folding design. The fact that it folds down to half its original size definitely helps in terms of portability. When folded, it’s only a few inches long, which makes it a perfect knife to stick in your pocket.

Moreover, although it is not a featherweight, especially for its size, it is still more than lightweight enough to be considered portable. Speaking of the folding design, the Higo no Kami 10 Pocket Knife features an easy thumb lever that will cause the blade to unfold. There is a locking mechanism to keep it open securely during use. There is also a lever designed to unlock and close the blade.

When unfolded, the Higo no Kami 10 Pocket Knife is close to 7 inches long, with a 3 inch blade and a 4 inch handle. Although it’s no massive blade by any means, it should be enough to handle basic survival tasks, as well as for camping, fishing, and other such outdoor activities. No, it’s not a huge blade, so it is limited in terms of what it can do, but this somewhat limited functionality is the tradeoff you get for lightweight portability.

We do like how the Higo no Kami 10 Pocket Knife features a Warikomi steel handle, which is a special type of Japanese alloy steel that is known for its great hardness and durability. This is definitely a long lasting knife that can handle some serious punishment, although beware that both the handle and the blade are not particularly resistant to corrosion and rusting, so do try to keep it dry whenever possible. In terms of the handle, what you get here is a durable and elegant brass handle, although it does not appear to be the most ergonomically friendly handle.

Pros

  • Small and compact
  • Folding design for portability
  • High quality levers and folding mechanisms
  • Good blade material
  • Sharp and durable
  • Really cool handle
  • Very good price

Cons

  • Susceptible to rusting
  • Handle could be more ergonomically friendly

The Bottom Line

The bottom line here is that if you want something small, convenient, and durable, something that is ideal for a variety of small tasks, but also won’t cost you a fortune, then the Higo no Kami 10 Pocket Knife is a good Japanese survival knife to consider.

3. KA-BAR 2-1233-8 Sheath Knife

If what you are looking for is a very nice fixed blade survival knife, one that is made by a very popular American company, then this is a great knife to go with. Ok, so we know that this is supposed to be list of Japanese survival knives, but the American KA-BAR brand is so well respected, that we would not dare leave it out. That being said, the style of the blade is definitely Japanese, so although it’s an American company, we would say that the KA-BAR 2-1233-8 Sheath Knife does still qualify as a Japanese survival knife.

In terms of the size, this is definitely the largest knife on the list so far today. And yes, this is because as opposed to the two other knives which were folding knives, this is a fixed blade knife. Now the big time advantage that you get with a fixed blade knife is the fact that it is far more durable than a folding knife. The center part of the hinge on folding knives is always inherently weak and that is a problem that you don’t have to deal with when it comes to a fixed knife left like this.

Sure, this knife may not be quite as portable as a folding knife, but the added advantage is of course that it is much more durable, plus it also has a larger blade. With all of that being said, this knife is still only 8.25 inches long, which does make it fairly portable, not to mention that it is also not all that heavy. Moreover, this knife does come complete with its own sheath that you can easily hook onto your belt loops, which does also help in terms of portability.

In terms of the size of the blade, it is over 4 inches long, which means that it is ideal for most hunting and survival related tasks, as well as for fishing and camping. Moreover, the rear of the blade also features a small serrated section which can come in handy for a variety of tasks. Keep in mind that this blade is made with stainless steel, which is known for being quite durable, and of course, rustproof too.

It is also worth noting that the handle on this knife is made out of wrapped leather. In other words, various layers of leather have been wrapped around the tang in order to create a handle that is comfy and easy to hold, not to mention that it has an ergonomic design with finger divots, that make it easy to hold on to, even when wet.

Pros

  • Good size for most applications
  • Very durable
  • Rustproof
  • Looks very cool
  • Very comfortable handle
  • Not slippery when wet
  • Comes with a nice sheath

Cons

  • Wrapped leather handle is not the most durable

The Bottom Line

If what you are looking for is a high-quality fixed blade survival knife that looks elegant yet intimidating, is razor sharp, tough as a tank, and can be used for virtually an survival, hunting, or camping purpose, then the KA-BAR 2-1233-8 Sheath Knife is an investment worth making.

4. Spyderco Endura 4 Lightweight Signature Folder Knife

If what you are looking for is the ultimate in lightweight durability, sharpness, and convenience, then this Spyderco Endura 4 Lightweight Signature Folder Knife is definitely something to keep in mind. It’s like a bigger and upgraded version of the very first Spyderco knife that we looked at.

Right off the bat, something worth mentioning about this particular knife is that it is made with a fiberglass reinforced nylon handle. This means that not only is the handle very lightweight, but also extremely durable and even totally waterproof. You may also like how this handle features in the ergonomic design with special finger grooves so you can securely hold onto it. The handle here even features a very rough texture that makes it ideal for holding onto even when wet. It’s definitely a very ergonomically friendly knife.

It is also worth noting that in terms of its size, this is also one of the lightest survival knives out there. It is designed to be extremely lightweight, which helps in terms of portability. Speaking of portability, this is of course a folding knife, which means that it can fold down to about half of its original size and therefore makes it very easy to fit in your pocket.

When unfolded, the overall length of this knife is nearly nine inches with a 3.8 inch blade. It’s not the biggest blade in the world, but it should still be good enough for most basic hunting, camping, and survival purposes. What is also worth mentioning here is that half of the blade is flat, whereas the other half is serrated, thus effectively doubling its functionality. Both flat answer rated edges have their own specific purposes, thus making this particular knife extremely functional and versatile.

Let’s not forget the fact that the blade is made out of VG-10 high carbon stainless steel, which is about as durable and knife material as you can use. This knife is very sharp, it is very hard, it retains its edge for a long time, and it certainly won’t rust either. In terms of sharpness, durability, hardness, and performance, this has to be one of the best survival knives out there at this time.

Pros

  • Plain and serrated blade
  • Very versatile
  • Lightweight, foldable, and portable
  • Superior durability
  • Good edge retention
  • Very comfortable handle
  • Rustproof

Cons

  • The folding hinge is an inherent weak spot

The Bottom Line

If what you want is a relatively small and convenient survival knife that you can fold up and put in your pocket, one that features both a plain and serrated edge for amazing versatility, then the Spyderco Endura 4 Lightweight Signature Folder Knife is an investment worth making.

5. Masano Skinner Knife Walnut Wood Handle 110 Super-Blue Steel

If what you are looking for is a beautiful fixed blade knife, one that looks absolutely stunning, then the Masano Skinner Knife is a great product to consider. What you get here is an 8.85 inch long knife, complete with a 4.33 inch long blade, thus making it a pretty decent size. Did we mention that this knife is 100% handcrafted?!?

We think that this is more than long enough to take care of most hunting, fishing, camping, and survival related tasks, but not so large that it becomes unwieldy and hard to transport. It’s the rather perfect size for a survival knife. Moreover, the Masano Skinner Knife comes complete with a super cool wooden sheath, as well as leather straps to attach it to your person. The wooden block sheath is definitely the most unique sheath that we have ever seen, not to mention that it’s durable and helps protect the knife too.

On that note, the blade here is also quite thick, which is nice because you know that it won’t snap from a bit of heavy duty work. The Masano Skinner Knife is made with so called 110 Super Blue Steel, which is a very special type of steel known for its excellent durability, rust resistance, and edge retention. All in all, this might just qualify as the number one most durable blade on the list today. Now, the knife is half tang, which means that the tang of the blade extends halfway down through the handle, but not to the bottom, yet it is still more than durable enough for most jobs.

The handle on the Masano Skinner Knife is also worth talking about, because it is made out of 100% real and genuine walnut wood, with walnut of course being extremely strong and durable. It has also been treated for water resistance, although we recommend drying it off quickly if it gets wet. We do really like both the shape and texture of the handle, as it is very ergonomically friendly, comfortable to hold, and it features a good texture for secure gripping too.

Pros

  • Looks amazing
  • Super cool wooden sheath
  • Great durability
  • Hard and sharp steel
  • Good edge retention
  • Comfy handle with good grip
  • Handcrafted

Cons

  • Handle is not 100% waterproof
  • The wooden block sheath is not exactly overly ergonomically friendly

The Bottom Line

The bottom line here is that if you want an excellent survival knife of Japanese origin, then this super unique and elegant model is well worth a second look.

How to Choose the Best Survival Knife

Before you go out and buy any old Japanese survival knife, there are a few important factors that you need to keep in mind. Let’s provide you with all the information that you need in order to choose the best survival knife for yourself.

1. Blade Material

One of the most important things to keep in mind when choosing a survival knife is what the blade is made out of. Generally speaking, for survival knives, some kind of steel alloy, such as high carbon stainless steel, AUS-8 stainless steel, or VG-10 stainless steel is best. A survival knife needs to be durable and rust resistant, so stainless steel is the way to go.

2. Blade Size

You also want to pay close attention to the size of the blade. Generally speaking, a survival knife should not be overly short. However, it also doesn’t need to be too long. You don’t need some kind of John Rambo killing machine. What you need is something functional.

For a good survival knife, we recommend going for a blade that is between three and six inches in length with somewhere around five inches probably being best. Moreover, don’t go for a very thin blade because survival knives are designed for hacking, chopping, and for some fairly heavy duty work. So, if the blade is too, thin it is going to snap on you.

3. Folding vs Fixed

The next thing to consider here is whether you want a fixed blade knife or a folding knife. Of course there is one big tradeoff to keep in mind here. Yes, folding knives are much more portable than fixed blade knives, but with that being said on a folding knife, that middle part of the hinge where the folding happens, is an inherent weak spot. Fixed blade knives are inherently much stronger than folding knives.

4. Portability

It’s survival knife should be portable, so even if you get a fixed blade knife, which is inherently much larger than a folding knife, at least get one that is not overly large and heavy. Having something lightweight on your person is always beneficial when it comes to being outdoors and on the go.

5. Edge Type

Something else to consider when purchasing a survival knife is what type of edge you wanted to have. You can get either a plain edge or a serrated edge, with both being ideal for their own specific tasks. What we recommend doing is going for a knife that features the best of both worlds, so a partially plain and partially serrated edge.

6. The Handle

You do also want to look for a survival knife that has a very comfortable hole handle. Specifically, you want to look for a handle that has an ergonomic design complete with finger grooves, as well as a fairly rough texture. Survival knives can and do often get wet, which means that they need to have a good texture so you can easily grip them without slipping, and on that same note, the handle should also be waterproof.

7. The Tang

If you are going to go for a fixed blade survival knife, make sure that it is a full tang knife, because this will allow for the greatest durability.

FAQs

1. What is the Best Metal for a Survival Knife?

Most experts agree that some sort of carbon steel is the best material to use for knives because of its great ability to take on and hold an edge as well as its ability to resist damage and corrosion.

2. Is Stainless Steel a Good Knife Material?

When it comes down to it, all sorts of stainless steel are great materials to use for knives. Stainless steel does not require all that much maintenance, but is still very functional and dependent, not to mention durable, corrosion resistant, and more.

3. What Kind of Survival Knife did John Rambo Use?

What is interesting to note is that the massive knife used by John Rambo in the Rambo movies was actually specifically designed for him, and today are known as Rambo knives. Generally speaking, these are bowie knives.

4. What is Better for Survival, a Folding or Fixed Blade Knife?

If what you are going for is convenience and portability, then it is a folding knife that you want. However, if what you need is a tactical advantage and a knife that you can have ready at a moment’s notice, then it is a fixed blade that you want.

Bottom Line 

At the end of the day, there are plenty of great Japanese survival knives out there, but the five that we reviewed today are by far the best. If you really want a good survival knife, we recommend looking much closer at any and all of the knives reviewed here today. We hope that we were able to bring you one step closer to making a final decision!

 

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