The Best Folding And Fixed Blade Knives with AUS-8 Steel

These great knives from CRKT. SOG. Callimus, Cold Steel, Ontario and Cima.

AUS8 Stainless Steel Is An Underrated Steel That is Perfect For Budget Knives – Here Are A Few of Our Favorites in 2021.

In the world of stainless steel, AUS 8 offers a great compromise between quality and price in 2021. It can take an incredibly sharp edge. It won’t hold that edge as well as something like 154CM because it’s a lot softer, but that also makes it tough enough to be a good working knife, and it will almost always make a knife more affordable than if you used any other decent quality stainless steel. Make no mistake, if you’re putting an AUS-8 blade under consistently heavy use, you will spend a fair bit of time maintaining the edge, but all that sharpening will be done with a lot less effort than VG-10 or AUS-10, and it usually makes a knife cheap enough that a chipped edge doesn’t really feel like a huge loss.

So as knife makers become increasingly obsessed with super steels, and I find myself having to choose more often between a new knife and eating for a few weeks, I thought it was time to showcase some of the better knives made with AUS-8 on the market right now.

Here’s a breakdown of AUS-8 steel composition for the knife nerds according to CRKT:

AUS-8 Steel Composition
Carbon0.70 – 0.75
Chromium13.0 – 14.5
Manganese0.5
Molybdenum0.1-0.3
Vanadium0.10 – 0.26
Nickel0.49
Phosphorus0.04
Silicon1

Here are our top picks for best folding and fixed blade knives with AUS 8 steel:

Folding Knives with Aus-8

Fixed Blade Knives with AUS 8 Steel

Rockwell hardness for AUS-8 usually runs from 57-58, which is just about perfect for most EDCs where I’m concerned, but you will see some people cooking it as soft as 56 or as hard as 59.

As with any steel, the quality depends highly on the heat treatment, so I’ve tried to compile a list of knives from companies that seem to have a good handle on cooking a decent folding or fixed blade knife with AUS-8. You’ll see SOG featured pretty heavily in this list because they seem to have one of the better heat treatments for it. I’m not a huge fan of their designs and manufacturing quality overall, but they know their way around a semi-budget steel. It’s worth noting, though, that I see a lot of companies slowly shifting from steels like AUS-8 and 8Cr13MoV to D2 right now, so an increasing number of the knives you’ll see here can probably be found in D2 as well. That’s not a bad thing, but it’s a difference worth paying attention to.

Folding Knives with Aus-8

Folding knives are the natural home for AUS-8 steel. At least, any time you do find an AUS-8 knife, it’s more likely to be a folder than not. For better or worse, this is the categories with the most options.

Ontario RAT-2

The Ontario Rat 2 is an excellent camping knife with AUS-8 steel.

Specifications

  • Overall Length: 7.0”
  • Blade Length: 3.0”
  • Blade Style: Drop point
  • Grind: Full flat
  • Handle Material: Nylon 6
  • Open System: Manual thumbstud
  • Carry System: Pocket clip (all 4 directions)
  • Lock Type: Liner
  • Price Range: $20 – 27

Someday I might think of a listicle of folding knives that doesn’t include one of the OKC Rats, but today is not that day. It’s just hard to ignore a folding knife that’s as tough and usable as this design. It’s one of the few folders that can reliably work in survival knife territory, which means it could work reliably in almost any other category besides tactical. It might look kinda funny, but it’s easily one of the best pocket knives you can get in any category.

I’ve personally used the D2 version the most, but the design remains essentially the same in AUS-8 with the obvious difference in edge retention and a bit of increased corrosion resistance.

Ontario actually makes both the Rat 1 and 2 in AUS 8, but it seems excessive to put both on here. If you want a Rat 1 in AUS-8 that bad you can go find it yourself.

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Esee Zancudo

The Esee Zancudo is a popular EDC folding knife.

 

Specifications

  • Overall Length: 7.0”
  • Blade Length: 2.94”
  • Blade Style: Drop point
  • Grind: Flat
  • Handle Material: G-10 scales
  • Open System: Manual Flipper
  • Carry System: Tip-down pocket clip
  • Lock Type: Frame
  • Made in: Taiwan
  • Designer: Jeff Randall / Mike Perrin
  • Price Range: $27 – 30

I’ve personally put a lot of miles on this knife. It’s actually the knife that made me a little biased toward AUS-8 in the first place. I’ve beat it to hell in every kind of dirty field and tree you can imagine and it came through whole. It did not come through entirely sharp, but it held up for months with a decent edge before it needed some serious care. The Zancudo is just a good simple design that rides easy in the pocket. I think of it as a decent alternative if you don’t like the look of the Ontario Rat family.

If you want a little more detail, check out my full review.

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Off-Grid Seadog V2

The Off-Grid Sea Dog V2 is a great pocket knife with AUS8 steel.

Specifications

  • Overall Length: 7.65”
  • Weight: 6.5oz
  • Blade Length: 3.1”
  • Blade Style: Reverse Tanto
  • Grind: Hollow
  • Handle Material: G-10
  • Open System: Flipper
  • Carry System: Tip-up Pocket Clip
  • Lock Type: Liner
  • Made in: China
  • Price Range: $75 – $85

The Off-Grid Seadog sports a fun pirate style design that also happens to be pretty practical. It has a super grippy textured G-10 handle, a built in glass breaker and an ambidextrous pocket clip. The manual flipper blade has an incredibly smooth action thanks to it’s ceramic ball bearings, and the beefy blade is capable of handling some serious hard work. If you like reverse tanto style blades the Sea Dog is a great hard use EDC option.

At 6.5 ounces the Seadog is not an especially light pocket knife, but it is extremely tough. Off-Grid Knives are known for their excellent heat treatment and the Sea Dog is no exception. It’s blacked out AUS8 steel blade can take a beating, but is has better edge retention than just about any other knife in this article.

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Camillus 7.5 with Marlin Spike

The Bamboo Handles Marlin Slike Knife from Camillus is a practical folding knife with AUS-8 Steel.

 

Specifications

  • Overall Length: 7.5”
  • Blade Length: 2.88”
  • Blade Style: Sheepsfoot
  • Grind: Flat
  • Handle Material: Bamboo
  • Open System: Nail Nick
  • Carry System: Lanyard loop
  • Lock Type: Liner
  • Made in: China
  • Price Range: $30 – 35

This is a neat knife if it’s the kind of thing you’re into. I don’t know if there are a lot of people out there who use both sheepsfoot blades and marlin spikes enough to need them in one tool (I mean besides all you uppity boat owners), but if you do then Camillus is your man, because they make two knives like that. This is the slightly larger alternative to the Camillus 6.5” folding knife with a marlin spike, which only comes in G-10 scales and VG-10 steel.

The bamboo version looks a little more rustic and the blade has an odd incline going in toward the handle, which I assume is supposed to make it better at cutting rope since these were designed primarily for sailing. I’m not a sailor myself, but I do appreciate the uniqueness of these knives. Camillus also makes a big deal about their titanium coating, which is pretty tough, just maybe not quite what everyone seems to think it is. Check out our guide to Camillus titanium coated folding knives if you’re wondering what the hell that means.

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SOG Twitch II

The SOG Twitch 2 is a great AUS 8 stainless steel knife.

 

Specifications

  • Overall Length: 6.2”
  • Blade Length: 2.65”
  • Blade Style: Drop point
  • Grind: Flat
  • Handle Material: Aluminum
  • Open System: Assisted thumbstud
  • Carry System: Tip-up pocket clip
  • Lock Type: Lockback
  • Made in: USA
  • Price Range: $45 – 50

I’m not an assisted open fan, but props have to be given to the Twitch II. It’s a tough design with a clean aesthetic that makes it look like it should be a lot more expensive than it is. Between the metal scales, the lockback design, and the flat grind of the blade, this knife is unusually tough for an assisted open EDC. SOG fans get this knife and end up counting on it for years, so it’s one of those things where I have to put personal bias aside and say it’s worth getting. It says something when a knife design has been around as long as this one.

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CRKT CEO

The CRKT CEO folding knife with AUS8 steel on a white background.

 

Specifications

  • Overall Length: 7.54”
  • Blade Length: 3.1”
  • Blade Style: Standard
  • Grind: Flat
  • Handle Material: GRN
  • Open System: Flipper tab
  • Carry System: Tip-up clip
  • Lock Type: Liner
  • Made in: Taiwan
  • Price Range: $40 – 60

It’s normal to see the CEO in the $80 range, but this is one of those crazy populare designs that warranted a million variations. So CRKT has seen fit to make this nifty gentleman folder in every material they can reasonably get their hands on, including Micarta scales and S35VN steel.

If you want the design at the lowest possible cost, though, the AUS-8 version is the way to go. It still has all the same sleek lines, it just doesn’t have the same edge retention. On a knife that clearly wasn’t made for hard work regardless of what the blade is, going with a softer stainless steel makes a lot of sense. That’s not to say that the D2 steel with a black stone wash version isn’t the coolest one you can get, or that the satin finished S35VN steel isn’t the fanciest. It’s just that you’ll get a long just fine with the AUS-8 version and still have $40 – $70 left over.

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Ka Bar Dozier

The KA-BAR Dozier is an extremely popular work knife.

 

Specifications

  • Overall Length: 7.25”
  • Blade Length: 3.0”
  • Blade Style: Drop point
  • Grind: Hollow
  • Handle Material: Zytel
  • Open System: Right-hand thumbstud
  • Carry System: Tip-up pocket clip
  • Lock Type: Lockback
  • Made in: Taiwan
  • Price Range: $18 – 20

The Dozier is another simple, work-ready design like the Zancudo or the Ontario Rats, but usually runs a little cheaper thanks in part to the handle material. They also use the variant AUS-8A steel, which is basically just AUS-8 cooked to be a little harder. The Dozier should have a better edge retention, if a slightly higher chance of chipping. That’s in keeping with their decision to make it a hollow grind. This was clearly meant to be a slicey folder, so while the cutting ability is likely better than than the Zancudo or the Rat 2, it might not be as tough.

The difference I really like, though, is the extreme drop off of the blade at the end. Technically this is a drop point, but it borders on a  spear point that offers a slightly different range of usability from the other knives you see on here.

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Cold Steel Finn Wolf

Cold Steel Finn Wolf shown in the open and closed positions.

Specifications

  • Overall Length: 7.875”
  • Blade Length: 3.5”
  • Blade Style: Standard
  • Grind: Scandi
  • Handle Material: Griv-Ex
  • Open System: Thumb stud
  • Carry System: Tip-up clip (ambidextrous)
  • Lock Type: Lockback
  • Made in: Taiwan
  • Price Range: $40 – 60

Everything designed by Andrew Demko is worth getting, but the Finn Wolf is probably one of the most accessible of his designs. For the price of dinner for two you get stout blade with a fantastic grind and a solid lock up.

The Finn Wolf might be one of the most pure examples of a hard use knife I’ve ever handled. Everything from the thickness of the spine to the heavy click with the lockback seats into place gives an incredibly satisfying feeling of security. This is a beater knife through and through, but it still rides light in the pocket.

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CRKT Shenanigan Z

This well designed folding knife from CRKT as an AUS-8 steel blade.

 

Specifications

  • Overall Length: 8.25”
  • Blade Length: 3.25”
  • Blade Style: Drop point
  • Grind: Hollow
  • Handle Material: GRN
  • Open System: Manual flipper
  • Carry System: Tip-down pocket clip
  • Lock Type: Liner
  • Made in: Taiwan
  • Designer: Ken Onion
  • Price Range: $25 – 35

Ken Onion made this to be a workhorse knife with a light handle material and a fairly simple blade edge, but he couldn’t help but make it at least look a little more interesting with some handle contouring and that false edge on the blade. This might also be one of the comfiest knives of the folding bunch, though. That’s pretty common among all the knives Ken Onion has been designing for CRKT, where he’s actually made some pretty wide use of AUS-8 steel. I’d put more of them here, but we already did a thing on Ken Onion knives a while ago, so you should just go look at that if you like this design.

Meanwhile, you could also check out our full review of the CRKT Shenanigan Z.

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Fixed Blade Knives with AUS 8 Steel

It’s a little harder to find fixed-blade knives in AUS-8, and I’m not sure I could explain exactly why except that maybe it’s a little too hard to safely put in large models. That’s not to say it can’t be done well, though, so here’s what I’ve found that looks promising.

Camillus ST6

The Camillus ST6 features a titanium coated AUS-8 Steel blade.

 

Specifications

  • Overall Length: 6.75”
  • Blade Length: 4.0”
  • Blade Style: Drop point
  • Grind: Hollow
  • Handle Material: Rubber w/ steel bolsters
  • Sheath: Nylon
  • Made in: China
  • Price Range: $30 – 60

This is a nice budget skinning knife from Camillus. I’ve brought it up before in our fixed-blade Camillus knives blog, and it’s worth bringing up again here. Mostly because it’s hard to find fixed blade knives in AUS-8 steel, and I really need to balance this list out more. Don’t let that distract you from the cool look of the knife, though. The contoured handle should be pretty comfy to hold in both traditional and reverse grip, and the drop point and big recurved blade are nicely optimized for skinning. It’s also reasonably priced, like most Camillus knives. I see it fluctuate quite a bit, but it’s almost always hitting the below-50 category.

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Cima G20

The Cima g20 fixed blade knife has a well designed AUS 8 steel blade.

 

Specifications

  • Overall Length: 8.26”
  • Blade Length: 3.86”
  • Blade Style: Drop point
  • Grind: Full flat
  • Handle Material: G10
  • Sheath: Nylon
  • Made in: China
  • Price Range: $19 – 24

We’ve played around with this knife a bit and the general consensus was “better than it looks, because it looks really ugly.” It really is a good budget survival knife, though. The knife itself is tough, and the handle is actually comfortable. There are some issues with the sheath (at least with the one we tested). The retention isn’t great, but it can strap to your leg and feels pretty secure so long as you stay upright. It’s certainly not the best survival knife out there, but it’s pretty hard to beat the amount of versatility you get with it for the cost.

Check out our Cima G20 review here if you want our fuller, tastefully inebriated opinion of it.

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Cold Steel Mini Tac Tanto

This neck knife from Cold Steel has an AUS 8 steel blade.

 

Specifications

  • Overall Length: 6.75”
  • Blade Length: 3.75”
  • Blade Style: Tanto
  • Grind: Full lfat
  • Handle Material: G10 Griv-Ex
  • Sheath: Neck sheath
  • Made in: Taiwan
  • Price Range: $28 – 30

The Mini Tac is pretty usable as far as neck knives go, especially in its tanto style. It’s a little beefier than your typical neck knife and actually has some decent ergonomics. True to AUS-8 form, this knife is really made to be abused. A full flat grind with a thick spine make it pretty easy to bring back from whatever horrors you visit on this knife, and even though it’s probably heavier than most people would want to wear around their neck, it’s great for traveling.

Read our full review here if you aren’t tired of our words yet.

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Ka Bar TDI

The Ka-Bar TDI knife is a popular law enforcement knife that has AUS8 steel.

 

Specifications

  • Overall Length: 5.63”
  • Blade Length: 2.31”
  • Blade Style: Drop point
  • Grind: Hollow
  • Handle Material: Zytel
  • Sheath:
  • Made in: Taiwan
  • Designer: John Benner
  • Price Range: $30 – 40

This was designed as a close quarters tactical knife for law enforcement, which is pretty far outside the range of knives we usually feature on this site, but John Benner did a good job designing this knife with a clear purpose in mind.

We brought the TDI up in our horizontal-carry knives blog, but it only loosely fits in that category thanks to the severe curve of the handle. It kind of begs the question of what actually counts as horizontal when you’re wearing this knife. The TDI doesn’t exactly fit cleanly into any category, though, which is one of the cool things about it. It’s small, it’s neat, it’s easy to carry. I’m not sure why anyone who isn’t law enforcement would carry it, but if the TDI is your kind of thing, who am I to judge.

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SOG Seal Pup Elite

The Seal Pup is a versatile fixed blade knife with AUS 8 steel.

 

Specifications

  • Overall Length: 9.0”
  • Blade Length: 4.75”
  • Blade Style: Clip point
  • Grind: Hollow
  • Handle Material: GRN
  • Sheath: Nylon
  • Made in: China
  • Price Range: $50 – 80

As much as I disapprove of knives trying too hard to be tactical, I do appreciate knives with big comfy handles and a large range of options for carrying. The Seal Pup is actually the smaller version of the SOG Seal team knife, which is also in AUS-8, but also gigantic and usually riding over the $100 mark. The design of the Seal Pup itself is okay, but the price and MOLLE-compatible sheath are what really make it worth checking out. It’s easy enough to learn to use and take care of any slab of AUS-8 after that.

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SOG Bowie 2.0

The SOG Bowie 2.0 is a great AUS-8 steel survival knife.

 

Specifications

  • Overall Length: 11.0”
  • Blade Length: 6.4”
  • Blade Style: Clip point
  • Grind: Hollow
  • Handle Material: Leather
  • Sheath: Leather
  • Made in: Taiwan
  • Price Range: $150 – 180

It only seemed fair to put at least one expensive knife on here, and a Bowie is as good a style as any to do that with. I’ve tried to include this knife before, but it’s not made in America and isn’t under $50, so it’s kind of an awkward model to include.

The Bowie 2.0 is almost as much about the style as it is anything you would actually use it for. It comes in a nice leather sheath with a pouch for the sharpening stone. It’s just a neat thing to pack around. That being said, SOG does do a good AUS-8, and they put a strong coating on the blade so this is genuinely a tough survival knife. It’s not horizontal carry, but this would definitely be fun to take into the woods for a few days.

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