The best fixed blade knives worth carrying — and one you should avoid at all costs

The few, the proud, the fixed.

Top Pick

Benchmade Fixed Adamas

Benchmade Fixed Adamas

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Top Value

Morakniv Companion S

Morakniv Companion S

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Budget Buy

Ontario Knife Company RAT 3

Ontario Knife Company RAT 3

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Fixed blade knives are specialists in the knife world. I don’t typically carry one, although I own one. When I was a boot lieutenant in the Marine Corps infantry, I purchased a SOG Desert Dagger, thinking it was a marked improvement over the issued Ka-Bar in puncturing Russian-made body armor. It was well-built out of 440A stainless steel, had a cool double edge with serrations near the handle, and came with a Kydex sheath. Well folks, I never stabbed a Russian with it, and all I used it for was opening MRE boxes and slitting open plastic MRE bags. It weighed almost a pound, so I ditched it for a Spyderco Delica folding knife which served me well for many years. I did dig the SOG Desert Dagger out of retirement and took it along with me when the 1st Marine Division invaded Iraq in 2003. Again, I rarely used it, but it looked fearsome and added a bit of moral support and comfort during those very fluid days on the battlefield in March and April as we were rolling along alone and unafraid investigating “special incidents” for the division commander. Fun times.    

While I prefer folding knives, fixed blade knives exist for a reason and many of our readers use them on the job, so our trusty team of Task & Purpose gear reviewers wanted to evaluate a half dozen of them and let you know what we think. Here are a handful of fixed blade knives that made the cut — and one you should avoid at all costs.

Top Pick

Benchmade Fixed Adamas

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Best Value

Morakniv Companion S

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Budget Buy

Ontario Knife Company RAT 3

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Honorable Mention

Morakniv Garberg

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Most Oorah

Ka-Bar USMC Fighting Knife

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Dumbest

KA-BAR Space-Bar Knife

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Why you should trust us

The reviewers here at Task & Purpose test the products we review at home and in the field. We have years of experience living and working outdoors with the tools we recommend. We don’t get paid by the manufacturers and have editorial independence. Our editor leaves it to us to recommend products and prints what we write. All of this enables us to provide you, our valued readers, with our unvarnished, honest opinions on the recommendations we make. Learn more about our product review process.

Key features of fixed blade knives

  • Full tang: The best fixed blade knives are made from a continuous piece of steel from tip to pommel.
  • Sheath: Because these knives have no pivot point, like folding knives, they require a separate sheath to safely store the blade.
  • Blade design and edge: There are too many different types of blade designs to cover here. Want to know the difference between a clip point, drop point, and hawkbill? Check out this excellent primer
  • Handle: This is pretty self-explanatory. The handle is the part that allows your hand to comfortably and securely manipulate the blade.

Fixed blade knives vs folding knives: which is best?

If you haven’t been following, and I hope you haven’t, there’s a debate in the knife geek world about whether fixed or folding blades are better. I don’t partake in this nonsense. Both styles are tools that have some similarities and differences in purpose. All are designed for cutting, carving, or stabbing, and they all vary widely in design, from fish fillet knives to ridiculous cosplay zombie apocalypse waste of money blades. The main difference is that folding knives have a pivot point allowing the blade to be housed in the handle which serves as a sheath. Fixed blade knives are one continuous piece of steel from top to pommel and have a separate external sheath.

Pros of folding knives

  • Portability. Fully closed, folding folding knives are more compact than their fixed blade equivalents. An 8-inch knife can be folded nearly in half into a 4-inch handle which is more compact and easier to carry in a pocket.
  • Concealment. Being smaller and able to fit into a pocket, folding knives are typically less visible to others.
  • Safety. Because the blade is self-stored in the handle, there’s less chance that you’ll cut yourself with it.
  • Convenience and staying out of jail. Folding knives are less regulated in many parts of the country, easier to conceal, and generally permitted in most municipalities. (Check your local laws. This sure as heck isn’t legal advice.)

Cons of folding knives

  • Structural integrity. Because of the pivot point in folding knives, they are typically not as strong as fixed blade knives. While advancements in technology and knife design have made folding knives much stronger, the pivot is a point of potential breakage.

Pros of fixed blade knives

  • Strength and structural integrity. I learned in architecture school that simpler systems are generally stronger. Fixed blade knives are made from one continuous piece of metal and have no pivot point. There is no mechanism in their design that can fail and they have less probability of breaking or snapping.
  • Maintenance. Having no handle cavity sheath, fixed blades are typically easier to maintain than folding knives. (Yeah, have fun cleaning fish guts out of that folding fillet knife, buddy! So gross.)
  • Tactical and survival use. Most knife fighting instructors and survival experts prefer a fixed blade over a folding blade. Fixed blades are typically faster to deploy in time competitive situations. With a folding knife, you have to take additional time to draw and deploy the blade. Also, fixed blade knives won’t break as readily as folding blade knives when striking hard structures.  

Cons of fixed blade knives

  • Size. A fixed blade knife is going to be twice the total length of its folding blade cousin.
  • Safety. If your sheath falls off and you don’t see it, you increase the probability of getting cut.

Fixed blade knife pricing

Fixed blade knives are generally pretty affordable. You can find relatively inexpensive selections for less than $50. The better the steel and the larger the knife, the higher the price. We’ve seen premium fixed blade knives, like the Fallkniven A1 Pro, top $400.

How we chose our top picks

All of the knives recommended in this review were field-tested by your trusty crew of Task & Purpose gear reviewers. We take our time to get to know the strengths and weaknesses of each knife and also check out the reviews of other experts just to make sure we’re not missing anything. 

Joe Plenzler is a Marine Corps veteran who served from 1995 to 2015. He is a backcountry expert, long-distance backpacker, rock climber, kayaker, cyclist, wannabe mountaineer, and the world’s OK-est guitar player. He supports his outdoor addiction by working as a human communication consultant, teaching at the College of Southern Maryland, and helping start-up companies with their public relations and marketing efforts.

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Joe Plenzler

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Joe Plenzler is a communication consultant, leadership coach, and backcountry expert. He writes about leadership, communication, and also reviews outdoor equipment. When he’s not running his company, he is often found climbing mountains or hiking the Appalachian Trail. He is an Eagle Scout, 20 year combat veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps and graduate of the U.S. Marine Corps’ Infantry Officers Course, Expeditionary Warfare School, Defense Information School, Command and Staff College, and Allied Officers Winter Warfare Course in Elverum, Norway. He does volunteer work in reinforcing democracy and reducing gun violence.