There are many ways you could go with this. For my first, I went with a simple basic classic design and got a Buck 119. Now its handle isnt for everyone, but its a good material and wont break. The blade on it is nice as well and sharpens easy. Now if I had to do it over again, Id probably scour the internet for a 5 1/4" Kabar which CAN be had for under $50 if you know where to look. I only say that because for some things, I found the Buck to be a bit big and the 5 1/4" is my favorite blade length for survival stuff.
But if you didnt necessarily want a knife and just looking for a survival blade, you could go with a small Khukri blade of a machete. Both of which can EASILY be had for under $30 and still be much higher quality than any knife youll find around $40 to $50 bucks (sounds odd yes, but somehow its true). A slew of Ontario military models (good stuff, but watch the quality control on these), Condor (which is my favorite for quality and build reason), Cold Steel (not great, but cheap and perfectly serviceable), and imports can easily be found for like $8 or $10. A popular thing to do with these is use the part of the blade up by the handle and re-sharpen a section about 3" or 4" to be VERY sharp (like your knife would be), and then use the rest of the blade for chopping trees for shelter and the life. Also the sheaths are big and can be modified for all-in-one survival kit type thing.
Yes on Mora, like some said, and I would add Glock 78 to the mix. The Glock knife is made out of a respectable 1095 spring carbon steel. With those two awesome and lightweight knives you cover all your bases from fish filleting to deer skinning to cutting down a small tree to combat fighting to spear hunting. Oh, and both will set you back by less then $50.00. Mora is about $15.00 and a Glock is about $25.00
I know you asked for 1 knife and I gave you 2 of them but look at it this way, together they weigh about 10 oz., and like they say "one is none two is one".
Or just get two Mora knives, one in carbon and the other in stainless steel.
For a fixed blad knife, I'd go with the Mora, but the Buck M-119 special is very good too. I have and use them both.
The SAK Trekker or the Leatherman or Gerber multi-tools are great for folding knives.
Well first thing you have to do is define what the Hell a Survival Knife is!
Then you have to define what your specific needs are!
Are you a pilot (size restrictions), combat infantryman, backpacker vs. a drive up camper (weight restrictions), kayak or canoe?
Will you need it to construct a shelter and/or build a fire and/or dress game and/or eat with?
Will you be carrying a hatchet or axe, folding or roll up saw or a machete/kukhri with you as well?
After that is all done, then you can decide which knife will suit you the best in the interim may I strongly suggest you search the Internet for articles on survival knives and read them.
Just so you know--there is no such thing as a best knife! That is totally subjective...There are knives that address the most needs within a price range, that's it!
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