We Tested a Whole Bunch of  Survival, Tactical, Kitchen And Pocket Knives To Make This Gift List.

There are so many choices these days when it comes to choosing the perfect knife to give as birthday or holiday gift. We understand that it can be overwhelming, so the writers here at Nothing But Knives chose our favorite knives from almost every knife category including tactical, hunting, survival, camping, hard use and kitchen to ensure you get the right fixed blade or folding pocketknife for the knife nerd on your gift list.

We have personally tested every single knife in this guide, so we feel pretty confident in our recommendations. This guide is broken into categories to help you make your gift buying decision quickly, so you can get on with your busy holiday schedule.

Hard Use Pocket Knives

Camping Knives

Survival and Bushcraft Knives

Tactical Knives

Gentleman’s Folders

Chef Knives

 

Hard Use Pocket Knives

These are folding pocket knives designed to take a beating and are capable of actual hard work. These knives are great for camping, hunting, backpacking, or just helping with manual labor or landscaping around the house. These knives are big tough and heavy for pocket knives.

Cold Steel 4 MAX Scout

The Cold Steel 4 MAX Scout outdoors covered in water droplets.

  • Overall Length: 10″
  • Blade Length: 4″
  • Blade Width: 4.8mm
  • Blade Steel: AUS10A
  • Handle Length: 6″
  • Blade shape: Drop Point
  • Blade Grind: Flat
  • Handle Material: Griv-Ex scales
  • Lock Type: Tri-Ad
  • Weight: 10.19 oz

This is one of the toughest folding knives ever made. At 10 oz and over 10 inches long when opened it is also pretty big and heavy. If you’re looking for a gift for someone who’s into tough and durable things you could consider you options between the 4 Max Scout and a sharpened brick. This design also has a little bit of knife history behind as it’s the consumer friendly version (or the not obscenely expensive version) of a design by Andrew Demko.

It’s AUS-10A stainless steel blade holds its edge well and can take a beating without a chipping or rolling an edge. The Griv-Ex handle scales have a nice texture and are extremely durable and Cold Steel’s Tri-Ad locking systems make this folding knife more secure than just about any other folding knife out there.

If you want to learn more about this great hard use knife check out our Cold Steel 4 MAX Scout in depth review.

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Off-Grid Rhino

Flipping open the Off-Grid Rhino.

  • Overall Length: 8.25″
  • Blade Length: 3.5″
  • Blade Width: 3.5mm
  • Blade Steel: D2
  • Handle Length: 3.5″
  • Blade shape: Drop Point
  • Blade Grind: Flat
  • Handle Material: G-10 scales
  • Lock Type: Liner
  • Weight: 6.6 oz

This is one of the best folding knives under $100 we have ever tested here at Nothing But Knives. It is not quite as tough as the Cold Steel 4 MAX Scout mentioned above, but it is a better slicer, and it is much lighter which is nice if you are looking for an everyday carry-type of pocket knife. The D2 steel blade holds it’s edge for quite a while thanks to Off-Grid’s excellent heat treatment. The handle scales are made of durable G-10 and secured to the frame with large T8 screws which is rare in folding knives under $100. The Rhino’s action is extremely smooth and it ships in a great looking storage box which so it makes for a pretty good looking gift all around.

Check out our Off-Grid Rhino review if this knife seems like it might be a good gift choice.

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CRKT Shenanigan

The CRKT Shenanigan in the opened position sitting on a tree stump.

  • Overall Length: 8.25″
  • Blade Length: 3.25″
  • Blade Steel: AUS-8
  • Handle Length: 4.875″
  • Blade shape: Drop Point
  • Blade Grind: Hollow
  • Handle Material: GFN
  • Lock Type: Liner
  • Weight: 4.1 oz

In general, it’s hard to go wrong with Ken Onion knives for a gift. Anyone who’s at least a little into knives has probably heard his name, and ever since he started designing for CRKT he’s pumped out a broad range of designs with a pretty wide appeal.

The Sheningan design has definitely been one of the most useful $30 knives we’ve ever used. The steel is tough and the it has a thin hollow grind with an incredibly slicey geometry. It’s easy to roll the edge under really hard use and the recurve makes proper sharpening a little tricky, but it responds well to a honing rod, and that’s usually all it needs. It’s also incredibly lightweight. There are a few different versions with slight variations in the handle material, but it’s also something light and cost effective. The handle overall is pretty large for a pocket knife and rounds out nicely on the sides, so it works well for people with big hands and it’s pretty easy to clean up after a long, dusty day.

We were lukewarm about the knife in our full review because of a couple annoying things with the handle, but we’re picky. This is a nifty thing to pack around for less than $40. Check out the Shenanigan Z review if you want to gander at it a little more.

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Camping Knives

The knives mentioned in this section are perfect for a weekend getaway into the mountains or a family camping trip. They are great at a lot of outdoor tasks from carving up some weenie-roasting sticks, to campfire food prep. They are generally not quite as tough as bushcraft or survival knives, but they’re a little more nimble and better for carving.

Buck Compadre

The Buck Compadre Camping Knife with it's black leather sheath outdoors.

  • Overall Length: 9.5”
  • Blade Length: 4.5”
  • Handle Length: 4.0
  • Blade Steel: 5160 w/ Cerakote Coating
  • Blade Grind: Hollow
  • Blade Style: Drop point
  • Handle Material: Micarta
  • Knife Weight: 7.285 oz
  • Weight w/ Sheath: 9.405 oz
  • Sheath: Leather

The Buck Compadre was designed to be an all around camping and hunting knife. The blade is made of tough 5160 spring steel, and it features a hollow grind that is great for carving, food prep or skinning. It comes out of the box razor sharp; a fact we know because one of us nicked their thumb on it within an hour of taking it out of the box. The black leather sheath that ships with this camping knife hangs low enough to keep the knife handle from sticking into the bottom part of your torso when hiking, which is a big improvement from some of Buck’s older sheaths. The Micarta handle provides just the right amount of grip and shaping to make one of the most comfortable knives we’ve held in a long time. If you are looking for a medium sized fixed blade knife for camping, the Buck Compadre is hard to beat.

Check out our Buck Compadre Review if you want to know more about this knife or if you just want to see more photos of it.

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Bradford Guardian 3

The Bradford Guardian 3 is a well designed fixed blade knife that is perfect for camping or backpacking.

  • Overall Length: 6.75”
  • Blade Length: 3.5”
  • Handle Length: 3.25”
  • Blade Steel: Bohler N690
  • Blade Grind: Flat
  • Blade Style: Spear point
  • Handle Material: Micarta
  • Knife Weight: 3.5 oz
  • Sheath Weight: 5.6 oz
  • Sheath: Leather

The Bradford Guardian 3 is great for camping and backpacking. The horizontal carry sheath is comfortable and ambidextrous, so this knife can be scout carried in the back, or it can be front-horizontal carried in both the left and right draw positions. The Micarta handle is short, but very comfortable and the deep choil help make this knife easy to grip even when it is wet. The Bohler N690 steel blade holds its edge extremely well which is nice out in the woods. Bradford knives has also had the foresight to make this knife in a dozen or so different colors and handle materials from blue G-10 to camo Micarta, so it should be easy to find a version that’s a little more personalized to the whoever you’re giving it to.

Check out our full review of the Bradford Guardian 3 to learn more about this knife.

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Spyderco Bill Moran Fixed Blade

Bill Moran designed this Spyderco collaboration to be a hunting knife, but it's versatility makes it a good gift choice for non-hunters too.

  • Overall Length: 8.0”
  • Blade Length: 3.875”
  • Handle Length: 401”
  • Blade Steel: VG-10
  • Blade Grind: Flat
  • Blade Style: Drop point
  • Handle Material: FRN w/ Kraton inlays
  • Knife Weight: 3.0 oz
  • Sheath Weight: 2.6 oz
  • Sheath: Boltaron

Bill Moran designed this Spyderco collaboration to be a hunting knife. It has a simple drop point blade with a razor sharp edge and a crisp geometry that can be easily honed or sharpened. It’s a great lightweight knife with a versatile sheath that can be carried both vertically and horizontally, and it usually rides easy wherever you put it. The handle is also pretty close to the Buck Compadre in terms of comfort. This knife feels pretty nice no matter how you hold it. The VG-10 steel is not a common sight on a fixed blade knife outside the kitchen, but it offers an excellent combination of edge retention and corrosion resistance. The main downside in this case is that the thin blade is not built for impact. It was made for slicing, and it does that incredibly well, but it might not handle high impact tasks like chopping very well.

Check out the Spyderco Bill Moran review for more of out gushing words about it.

Survival and Bushcraft Knives

These are fixed blade knives designed for the wilderness. These knifes can help start a fire, skin an animal, carve tent stakes and much more. Survival and bushcraft knives are similar to the camping knives listed above, but they are a little tougher and, in some cases, bigger. In short, they’re the kind of knives people think about walking in one side of a forest with the intention of walking out the other end. If you have an outdoors man or woman on your gift list we think they would be happy with any these knives.

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Gerber Principle

The Gerber Principle sticking out of a log on top of a creek in the wilderness.

  • Overall Length: 6.813”
  • Blade Length: 2.9”
  • Handle Length: 4.375”
  • Blade Steel: 420HC
  • Blade Grind: Scandi
  • Blade Style: Drop point
  • Handle Material: Rubber w/ polymer inserts
  • Knife Weight: 3.8 oz
  • Weight w/ Sheath: 6.0 oz
  • Sheath: Polymer

The Principle is a great small bushcraft knife recently released by Gerber. Its handle is really comfortable and easy to grip and the 420HC stainless steel blade is much more rust resistant than most other bushcraft and survival knives. The blade does not hold its edge as well as higher carbon bushcraft knife blades, but it does pretty well for a sub $100 knife thanks to Gerber’s impressive heat treatment. The Principle ships with a sheath that is super versatile. It is capable of both horizontal and vertical carry. It also attaches to most backpacks pretty easily, and for a small knife it manages to be pretty pleasant to hold and work with on most tasks.

Check out our Gerber Principle review to learn more about this knife.

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Forseti Steel Ironside Tracker

The Ironside Tracker sitting on a mossy tree branch outdoors.

  • Overall Length: 9.5”
  • Blade Length: 4.75”
  • Handle Length: 4.75”
  • Blade Width: 4mm
  • Blade Steel: 1095 layered with 15n20
  • Blade Grind: Flat and hollow
  • Blade Style: Drop Point
  • Handle Material: Micarta
  • Weight: 16oz
  • Sheath: Leather

The Forseti Steel Ironside Tracker is a great looking Damascus steel fixed blade knife that is plenty tough for survival tasks. The fit and finish of this knife is truly impressive. When we first tested it we were worried about ruining the look, but after several long days of chopping at logs and getting dropped in the dirt, it turned out this knife cleans up really well. It’s now sitting in our collection still looking good as new. More importantly it performs well at chopping, carving and throwing spark to start a fire. The front part of the blade’s spine has saw teeth that are great for making notches in fence stakes or other wood implements necessary for minimalist camping, backpacking or hunting. The Ironside Tracker ships with a leather sheath that is horizontal carry only, but that is pretty standard for Tracker style knives.

Like all knives from Forseti Steel, the Ironside Tracker ships with a great looking wooden box that is a nice touch if you are giving this knife as a Christmas or birthday present.

If you are considering this knife for a gift check out our in depth Forseti Steel Ironside Tracker review.

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Off-Grid Tracker-X

The Off-Grid Tracker X at work in the woods.

  • Overall Length: 9.5”
  • Blade Length: 4.75”
  • Handle Length: 3.75”
  • Blade Steel: D2
  • Blade Thickness: 5mm
  • Blade Grind: Sabre
  • Blade Style: Drop Point
  • Handle Material: Micarta
  • Knife Weight: 10.3oz
  • Knife + Sheath Weight – 12.4 ounces
  • Sheath: Kydex

The Off-Grid Tracker-X is one of our favorite bushcraft/survival knives here at Nothing But Knives. In fact it is often the knife we use to compare other survival knives we review, because it is so good at chopping, feather sticking and other bushcraft related knife tasks. The blade of the Tracker-X is thick, tough and holds it’s edge for a long time even if it is being used regularly. The edge is surprisingly capable at slicing for such a thick knife. Something that we generally attribute to Off-Grid Knives‘ ability to put a perfect grind on a blade. Also the sheath can be adjusted for vertical carry or horizontal carry in either the left or right draw positions which makes it one of the most versatile sheaths in this gift guide.

Check out our Off-Grid Tracker-X review if you want to learn more about this knife.

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Tactical Knives

These knives are primarily designed for self defense. They may be capable at survival or hunting type tasks as well, and also at making boring people feel cooler sometimes, but violence is their primary purpose.

Buck Ground Combat Knife (GCK)

The Grond Combat knife from Buck is pictured here on a weathered military backpack.

  • Overall Length: 10.6”
  • Blade Length: 5.50”
  • Handle Length: 5.1”
  • Blade Width: 4.8mm
  • Blade Steel: 5160
  • Blade Grind: Flat
  • Blade Style: Spear Point
  • Handle Material: Micarta
  • Weight: 9.9 oz
  • Sheath: Polypropylene

Buck made a name for itself as a hunting and camping knife company, but they have also made some pretty good tactical knives over the years. They took things to another level with the Buck GCK. This knife was designed for the military, and field tested by the military. While The GCK is primarily a combat knife, it is also fairly capable of survival tasks as well. These American made knives can be purchased with a spear tip blade pictured above or a tanto tipped blade. The GCK also comes in three different colors: sniper gray, coyote tan or black. The black version of the GCK has G-10 handle scales, and the coyote tan and sniper gray colored knives have Micarta handles. All the knives feature blades made of Buck’s excellent 5160 spring steel.

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Spyderco Ronin 2

The Spyderco Ronin 2 sitting on a wooden fence outdoors.

  • Overall Length: 7.875”
  • Blade Length: 4.125”
  • Handle Length: 3.75”
  • Blade Steel: CTS-BD1
  • Blade Grind: Hollow
  • Blade Style: Wharncliffe
  • Handle Material: G-10
  • Knife Weight: 3.765 oz
  • Weight w/ Sheath: 6.0 oz
  • Sheath: Boltaron

The Spyderco Ronin 2 was designed by Michael Janich who is a knife fighting instructor with a military background. He has designed many different tactical knives over the years for a variety of knife companies, but the Ronin 2 is one of our favorites due to its versatility and excellent slicing ability. The CTS-BD1 blade of the Ronin 2 is thin but durable, and the ergonomic G-10 handle is easy to grip. This knife ships with a boltaron polymer sheath that can be switched between horizontal and vertical which is a great feature for a tactical knife. It’s the kind of knife that most martial artists will at least find intriguing if not outright revolutionary. Janich has spent decades working out the ergonomics and cutting ability of his wharcliffe-style blades, and it would be an understatement to say that the Ronin 2 cuts with a terrifying precision.

Click here to read our comprehensive Spyderco Ronin 2 review and look at a lot of pictures of us cutting stuff.

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Kershaw Emerson CQC-10K

  • Overall Length: 8.50”
  • Blade Length: 3.5”
  • Handle Length: 4.75”
  • Blade Steel: 8Cr14MoV
  • Blade Grind: Hollow
  • Blade Style: Clip Point
  • Handle Material: G-10
  • Weight: 5oz

The CQC-10K is one of my favorite tactical pocketknives. It was designed by Ernest Emerson and manufactured by Kershaw. It is basically a much cheaper version of the CQC knives Emerson sells on his site. Emerson is a well respected martial artist and prolific knife designer. His Close Quarter Combat (CQC) line of knives is immensely popular for good reason.

All Emerson-designed CQC knives feature the wave opening tool which is a wave shaped hook at the end of the thumb ramp. You can see it in the photo above. The wave feature allows the blade to be quickly deployed by hooking it on the pocket as as the knife is pulled. This is a great feature if you ever find yourself in a situation where you need to open your knife fast. It is also a really fun feature which is one of the main reasons we included it in this gift guide. Plus, since it’s so recognizable, other people who own CQC’s will ask if that’s an Emerson and you can both flip out your knives and wave them around in a show of pointy camaraderie that makes everyone else leave the room really fast.

We have never reviewed the CQC-10K, because the survival blog More Than Just Surviving did such an excellent review of it, but we have used it extensively, and we feel really confident recommending it.

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Gentleman’s Folders

Gentleman’s folder knives are pocket knives that are kinda dressy looking, maybe even stylish, that are a good choice for situations where a large tactical or survival knife might be inappropriate. We have gone through great lengths here at Nothing But Knives to avoid such situations at all costs, so this is probably the category we are least qualified to give recommendations. But we have reviewed at least two folders that we liked and could maybe take to a wedding without getting weird looks, so we are gonna do it anyway.

Kizer Begleiter

The Kizer Begleiter Gentleman's folder pocketknife sitting on a metal post.

  • Overall Length: 8.17″
  • Blade Length: 3.58″
  • Handle Length: 4.6″
  • Blade Steel: VG-10
  • Blade shape: Drop Point
  • Blade Grind: Flat
  • Handle Material: G-10
  • Weight: 3.7 ounces
  • Designer: Azo

Kizer makes a lot of nice looking folders, and they’re famous for making folders that feel like silk when you open them. The Begleiter is no exception, and it makes a pretty agreeable sight with its straight lines and the understated highlight color of the washer on the pivot screw. That’s as close as I can get to describing it fashionably, but I will say that this knife comes in at least three different colors: blue, black, and titanium. You probably already guessed, but that last one is a lot more expensive. I believe Kizer is releasing a few brown and tan colors soon, though. I should also warn you that this knife might be bigger than most other gentleman folders. It’s over eight inches with a fairly thick handle. That makes very comfortable, but it can be tricky in the pocket for shorter people.

Check out the full Begleiter review here if you want to hear me flail around talking about when I think counts as a fancy knife.

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Boker Magnum Co-Operator

The Boker CoOperator is a capable budget gentleman's folder that ships in a nice metal box which makes it a good gift option.

  • Overall Length: 7.9”
  • Blade Length: 3.4”
  • 5.6oz
  • Steel: 440A
  • Style: Spear Point
  • Grind: Flat
  • Handle: Huali Wood
  • Liner Lock
  • Included Accessories: Gift Tin & Allen Wrench

The Boker Magnum Co-Operator is a little on the large side to be considered a gentleman’s folder, but its classic looks and soft steel blade have left me no choice but to include it in this category. This is probably the most budget friendly knife in this gift guide, but the price comes with a compromise in the form of budget 440A steel. In spite of the inferior steel used on this knife, I think it makes a great gift, because it is a practical design and it looks great. The Co-Operator also ships in a cool looking form-fitted gift tin. The Huanghuali wood handle is really comfortable and the spear point blade is really easy to sharpen. In fact this is a great learning knife for anyone who is interested in wet stone sharpening.

Check out our Boker Magnum Co-Operator review to see more pictures or maybe even read a bit more about it.

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Chef Knives

The kitchen is where many of use really use knives, so we figured we should include a few of our favorite chef knives in case you have a busy home cook on your gift list. We think just about any serious cook would be happy with these knives even if they already have a chef knife or two in the kitchen.

Kitsune Cutlery Chef Knife

The Kitsune Cutlery Chef Knife pictured here in it's great looking box is a great gift knife.

  • Overall Length: 13.5″
  • Blade Length: 8.2″
  • Blade Steel: VG-10
  • Handle Material: Wood
  • Blade Finish: Polished

Kitsune Cutlery is a new company that got things going with a crowdfunding campaign. We usually avoid reviewing knives from brand new companies, because the first few knives are often pretty flawed. However, we made an exception for this chef knife for the sole reason that the packaging was really creative and unique.  Each Japanese style chef knife ships in a great looking lacquer wood gift box surrounded by a Furoshiki wrap.

The unique packaging of this chef make it a good gift option.

Obviously we would not recommend this knife based solely on the packaging. Fortunately the knife has a durable VG-10 steel blade and comfortable octagon shaped wood handle. This chef knife is also really light, so it helps cut down on arm fatigue if you’re working in the kitchen for a really long time. Chances are whoever you are considering buying a chef knife for already has a Western style chef knife, so the addition of a Japanese style chef knife might be an interesting change of pace.

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Tojiro DP Gyutou F808

This versatile chef knife from Tojiro is the perfect gift for a busy home cook.

  • Overall Length: 13.2″
  • Blade Length: 8.2″
  • Blade Steel: VG-10
  • Spine Thickness: 1.9mm
  • Handle Material: Reinforced Laminated Material
  • Blade Finish: Polished
  • Weight: 5.6 ounces

The Tojiro DP F808 is one the most durable and versatile chef knife under $100. From a straight performance standpoint this knife is hard to beat at its current price point. It is full tang, sports a VG-10 blade and an ergonomic polyoxymethylene handle. It also has a great balance, excellent blade geometry and good edge retention. It’s only downside from a gift standpoint is the rather boring packaging Tojiro chose for this knife. That’s mostly a cause of the company taking a high priory of function over style, so it would make a great present for a serious home cook who will appreciate the knife’s performance.

Check out our Tojiro DP Gyutou F808 review to learn more about this knife.

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