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Published Apr. 27, 2021

Looking for a new knife? There are tons of options out there — but some stand out more than others. And no matter how you plan to use your next knife, there’s one kind that’ll catch your eye: a Damascus knife. Crafted out of Damascus steel, these knives are made with a special technique that results in a wavy, mottled pattern running across the blade. Damascus knives date back to ancient civilizations, but today they’re made a bit differently. Modern Damascus knives are either forge-welded with different types of steel manipulated into a stunning pattern, or with one kind of steel that’s folded and refolded. Both methods create a unique pattern that’s unlike any other knife blade. 

You can find Damascus knives in just about every style and for any purpose. From hunting knives to folding pocket knives to chef’s knives for your kitchen, Damascus steel can be used in so many different ways. Wondering which Damascus options are the right fit for you? Check out our picks for the best Damascus knives and find the perfect fit for your style and needs.

The Bobcat Knives Damascus Steel Survival Knife looks fantastic in your hand — but the reason it’s our top choice goes beyond style. This Damascus knife offers highly valuable versatility, and its hand-forged construction puts quality in your hand any time you need it. The knife measures 10 x 2.65 x 1.65 inches in overall size, with a 4.8-inch Damascus steel blade crafted with a hammer out of 15N25 and 1080 steel. An impressive total of 288 layers of steel come together to form one seriously sturdy blade, with a sharp cutting edge that’s able to retain its capability throughout many uses. The drop-point blade has a hollow ground edge, and it’s full-tang so you can trust that the handle and blade won’t separate. The walnut wood handle and genuine leather sheath round out the quality and comfort you’ll get with this Damascus knife.

You don’t have to spend a lot to get a truly impressive Damascus knife — the Albatross 6-in-1 Damascus Folding Pocket Knife is the perfect example of this. Nice and compact so you can easily slip it into any pocket, this 6.3 x 2.76 x 0.98 inch knife weighs just 5.5 ounces and is just right for EDC. With a straight back Damascus blade that’s hand-forged with more than 70 layers, you’ll have a strong mix of both high carbon and low carbon steel. The exterior of the blade is a durable nickel layer, with heat treatment to achieve a 58 to 60 HRC. When you unfold the blade, you’ll get 3.5 inches of cutting capability. And, you’ll love all of the extras that come with this knife. It includes a built-in LED light, a seat belt cutter, a glass breaker, a magnesium fire starter, and a bottle opener for more capability.

If you’re searching for a premium knife that’s truly impressive to have in your hand, the Poshland Reg-215 Damascus Knife is just the right choice. This knife is on the pricier side, but you’ll see that it’s a work of art once you take a close look at it. It measures 5.7 x 3.5 x 2 inches in size, weighing 1.19 pounds in total. The 9-inch blade is crafted out of a mix of 1095 and 15N20 alloy steel, folded and refolded to give you 176 different layers. The Damascus steel blade offers a nicely sharp edge and great cutting ability, even after you put it to use. It’s hand-forged, and you may need to sharpen the knife’s edge to your specific liking once it arrives. It can have asymmetrical bevel grinds. A cool Marandi wood handle and set of brass spacers round out the unique style of the knife. Just keep in mind that this knife can’t hold up to heavy-duty use; it’s meant to be used relatively lightly.

Pocket knives aren’t always the sharpest tools — or knives — but the Buffalo Horn 6.5” Damascus Knife defies those odds. This compact folding pocket knife is tough, durable, and nicely sharp so it’ll suit all of your everyday needs. Great for camping, fishing, hunting, hiking, or EDC, this little knife weighs just 0.2 pounds. It offers a fold-out 3-inch knife blade made out of high carbon steel, a variety that’s impressively tough. The compound bevel blade edge along the clip point shape gives you exactly what you need to tackle a variety of different tasks. The exterior of the knife blade even features a durable exterior layer of heat-treated nickel for increased hardiness. When you’re done using the blade, it folds and locks into place so you don’t have to worry about it coming loose. A genuine leather sheath accompanies the knife in case you’d like to protect the entire package.

One reason to choose a Damascus knife is the beauty of the wavy blade — and opting for beauty over functionality doesn’t have to happen if you buy the Poshland TR-301 Damascus Tracker Knife. This product is as stunning as it is capable. You won’t want to use it when you first lay eyes on it; however, if you do put it to work, you’ll be quite happy with the results. Made out of 1095 and 15N20 alloy steel, this knife offers a blade with 176 layers of steel. The Damascus pattern is stunning. The blade has a 58 to 60 HRC hardness rating, and it’s hand-sharpened so you get a finely tuned cutting edge that really delivers. It’ll arrive at your door nice and sharp, but you can always alter it to your liking for better customization. This knife can hold its edge for quite a while. The biggest drawback is the fact that you’ll have to oil the blade well to prevent rust, which can ultimately damage your knife.

The FH Knives 10-Inch Damascus Knife is a fantastic choice if you’re hoping to find a Damascus blade that doesn’t require a ton of maintenance. It’s common for Damascus steel to require careful, frequent oiling in order to stay in the best possible shape; otherwise, rust and corrosion will appear with use. This knife, however, can help you cut back on the amount of maintenance you have to perform. The hand-forged blade made of 1080 and 15N20 high carbon steel that’s folded five times and built up to 288 layers is shatterproof and able to withstand high use. The knife measures 10 x 2.5 x 1.5 inches in overall size, with a 4.7-inch blade — and that blade stays sharp easily. But most importantly of all, the steel blade is both tarnish-proof and rust-resistant, and it arrives oiled right out of the box. The ergonomically shaped walnut wood handle offers you comfort and a good, solid grip, too.

The Knife Knation 6.5” Damascus Pocket Knife is a simple and straightforward pocket knife with all of the excitement of a Damascus steel blade. But it’s the secure locking mechanism on this pocket knife that makes it a great choice. It comes with a lock-back mechanism, which locks the blade in place open or closed. Many pocket knives don’t include this feature, exposing you to potential accidents if the blade moves or slips out of its closed position. This pocket knife, which features a 3-inch Damascus blade, measures 3.75 inches when closed and 6.5 inches when open. It includes a brass bolster and blue wood handle, plus file work with brass linings. The blade of this Damascus knife features a combination of 1095 and 15N20 high carbon tool steel blended together in 276 layers. An exterior nickel layer that’s heat-treated gives the blade extra toughness. And, it comes with a leather sheath that can protect the entire knife while it’s closed and in your pocket.

The Grace Knives Damascus Hunting Knife might technically be called a hunting knife, but it offers so much more capability than just that. This knife is shaped and constructed to work in so many settings and for so many different uses. It’ll be handy for all of your hunting needs, sure — but it’s also well-suited for camping, carving wood, and other outdoor needs. The straight back blade made out of Damascus steel features a razor-sharp cutting edge that’s durable. It features a 58 to 60 HRC Rockwell hardness rating, and it’s very easy to wield and work with thanks to the 4.25-inch blade length. Overall, the knife measures 8.5 inches with its horn handle. Well-balanced and comfortable to grip, you do have to practice proper maintenance after every use and oil this knife’s blade in order to keep it in good shape for years to come. However, thanks to the quality materials used to make this Damascus knife, you’ll have no trouble tackling all kinds of tasks with its nice weight and sharpness.

If you want a knife that’s easy to work with while you’re outdoors on a hunting trip, choose the Anna Home Collection Damascus Hunting Knife. Designed specifically for hunters, this knife is ready to tackle skinning, cutting game, and more. It measures 8 x 1.5 x 0.2 inches, making it nicely sized for carrying in a pocket, bag, or even on your belt. The Damascus blade features a clip point shape and hollow blade edge, and it measures 4 inches total in length. You’ll love the unique Damascus pattern across the blade, and the full-tang design ensures the handle and blade stay together with great sturdiness. It arrives so nicely sharp and fine-tuned that you can actually carve or shave with it right out of the box. The bone handle is comfortable and highly durable so you can easily depend on it for a long time to come.

The Radny Damascus Steel Knife is one that’s built for the long haul. It’s nicely durable and constructed to survive plenty of outdoor use under just about any conditions. It’s built to withstand it all, thanks to a blend of low carbon and high carbon steel that’s forged and hammered multiple times to create as many as 200 layers of metal. Rated 56 to 58 HRC on the Rockwell scale, this knife’s blade can hold its sharp edge over many uses. A gut hook built into the blade gives you good versatility and more capability. The bone and walnut handle rounds out the knife’s construction, giving you an equally durable yet comfortable to hold handle. Just keep in mind that you may need to fine-tune its sharpness for tougher tasks, like dressing deer, and you’ll want to oil it regularly to keep it in the best shape possible.

Related: What you should know about how Damascus steel is made

Why should you trust us

I have nearly a year of experience reviewing products for Brookline Media’s websites, including The Drive and Car Bibles. My past reviews include best ATV bags, best solar chargers for backpacking, and best waterproof tents. I’ve also written historical articles for War History Online, how-to articles for WonderHowTo, and the nonfiction book Fidget! for Adams Media.

The most common types of Damascus knives

Damascus steel knives come in so many different forms and varieties. If there’s a particular type of knife you’re looking for, it’s highly likely that you’ll be able to find a Damascus steel version of it. While Damascus knives are made in a more complex, specialized manner, they’re popular because of their stylish blade patterns. And that means you’ll find plenty of options.

All Damascus knife blades are made in a similar way. Whether a knife is hand-forged or not, the steel is layered with multiple alloys or types of steel. This typically strengthens the blade no matter how long or short it might be. You can learn more about the different types of knives made with Damascus steel below.

Fixed blade knives

A fixed blade knife is any Damascus steel knife with a blade that’s anchored to the handle. They’re essentially the opposite of pocket knives — they cannot fold the blade into the handle. The blade is always exposed, unless it’s covered by a sheath. They’re simple and straightforward, and the blade is always accessible. Fixed blade Damascus knives come in many varieties, and they’re extra sturdy. Most fixed blade knives are also full-tang, or incorporated into the handle. Some, however, are not; these knives are just attached to the handle and may be a bit more prone to breakage.

Hunting knives

Typically used for preparing game, a hunting knife is designed to make skinning and cutting game simple. Made for cutting and carving rather than stabbing, a Damascus hunting knife has a single sharpened edge with a slightly curved blade. Some hunting options will have an additional curved portion along the blade’s back made just for skinning – or even a gut hook. Hunting knives can share qualities with camping knives or survival knives too, offering you extra versatility.

Serrated knives

Serrated knives have toothed, saw-like cutting edges. Unlike the sleek and smooth surface of most knife blades, these Damascus knives are designed like saws. They’re meant to cut items using a back-and-forth motion; they aren’t made to stab, jab, or carve, and they don’t cut cleanly. Serrated knives are also more specialized. You can use them to cut through materials like fabric, rope, and textured items. They tend to work best on soft, flexible items. A serrated knife can even be handy in the kitchen for items like bread and soft fruits.

Tactical or survival knives

Survival knives, which also include or are called tactical knives, are made to help you survive in outdoors or wilderness settings. These are emergency-ready knives, built to tackle an array of different tasks like trapping, skinning, cutting wood, carving wood, and more. Typically, a Damascus survival knife is made with a thick, tough blade that can last throughout many uses. The blade is smooth with a flat spine, though some can include gut hooks or serrated spines for extra versatility. Often, this kind of knife also includes room in its handle to stash other survival tools, like matches or a fire starter. 

Pocket knives

A Damascus pocket knife is a compact and convenient little knife that features one or more blades that fold up into the handle. Meant to fit inside your pocket, these knives are easy to carry anywhere and use daily. They are small, with very short blades that don’t reach farther than 6 inches long. However, they’re quite handy — they can do everything from slicing fruit to cutting small rope or twine to doubling as a form of protection. Though these folding knives are small, they’re highly versatile.

What to look for when buying a Damascus knife

Once you’ve settled on a particular type of Damascus knife, you’ll want to narrow down your options by looking at two specific features in order to find the best fit for your needs: the type of steel and the blade length.

Damascus steel can be made with all different types of steel. Some knives made with this unique folding or blending method combine high and low carbon, or mix a steel alloy with pure stainless. Others stick with just one type of steel, folding it in different ways repeatedly in order to achieve the Damascus pattern and wavy effect. Certain types of steel, like high carbon, tend to offer better long-term durability and sturdiness than others. So, look for a mix of steel that’ll suit how you plan to use your knife.

Additionally, the blade length matters. A blade that’s too long — or too short — can seriously limit how you’re able to use your Damascus knife. You want to find the right length for your most frequent uses. For example, if you need an EDC knife, a pocket knife will likely do the trick for most daily situations. However, if you’re a hunter, you’re going to need something longer and more pointed.

Do you need a Damascus knife?

To decide whether or not a Damascus knife is the right option for you, it’s important to think about just how beneficial this kind of knife can be. Damascus blades are certainly visually appealing — when you look at your knife’s blade up close, you’ll see that choosing Damascus steel gives you more style and a totally different flair. However, that isn’t the only reason people flock to these knives.

Damascus knives are made differently than other knives, and that inherently makes them a bit special. Constructed from layers of steel instead of one single layer, one of these knives offers better durability across the blade’s length. The hard core surrounded by layers of softer steel can prevent chipping and ensure only the cutting edge — made from that hard core — is exposed while you’re using your knife. Other benefits include:

  • A nicely balanced blade, which includes a hard, sharp edge and softer steel.
  • A special design on the exterior of the blade that’s visible every time you take it out of its sheath.
  • Versatility, as a Damascus knife comes in many different forms and can be used outdoors or even at home in the kitchen, depending on the kind you buy.
  • More custom blade creation, as many Damascus knives are hand-forged or specially treated due to their unique layered nature.
  • A sharp edge that, when made well, stays sharper for longer.

Pricing ranges for Damascus knives

  • $30 or Less: Plenty of Damascus knives are budget-friendly and priced at $30 or less. You’ll find quite a few pocket knives, survival knives, hunting knives, and even chef’s knives within this price range.
  • $30 to $60: If you’re looking for a more specialized Damascus knife or one that’s hand-forged, you’ll find those pricier options in the $30 to $60 range. 

How we chose our top picks

We chose our top picks by looking at Damascus knives within every price point, then assessing which had the best customer reviews and highest ratings. We examined the durability and versatility, along with the materials used to make each knife.

Related: The best Bowie knives worth carrying

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