How to Choose a Combat Knife

Top: SURVIVE! Knives GSO-5.1
Bottom: USMC KA-BAR
While operating in a forward deployed area your equipment selection plays a vital role in your survival. We aren't necessarily talking about wilderness survival here (although you may have to depend on it for that as well). A Combat Knife fill's many roles and selecting a quality piece will make a world of difference when your life may depend on it.


USMC Bayonet Training 1953
MCRD, San Diego
Troops have carried knives since the first piece of metal could be sharpened. Fundamentally they were designed for one reason- to kill. From swords to bayonets; edged weapons have long been used by soldiers for combat and are still used today.


 I can speak from my own experience from serving in the Marines that edged weapons still has their place in the Corps. We still have the NCO and Mameluke sword on inventory; although for ceremonial purposes. With the implementation of MCMAP (or Marine Corps Martial Arts Program)- edged weapons are taught to every single Marine. Marines spend tons of hours training in Bayonet and Knife fighting techniques. The Marine Corps went as far as developing their own hybrid Combat/Survival/Bayonet knife to be used in the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program as well being carried by Marines all over the world. This bayonet knife is the Ontario 6504 OKC3S Marine Bayonet . The Marine Corps realized that the previous bayonets didn't function well as knives and would be useless in a utility or survival function. Many Marines would purchase their own combat knives and carry along with their bayonets.
Andrew Jordan Commander: Combat Knife designed for the
British Royal Marine Commando's 

OKC3S Marine Bayonet Knife

While the OKC3S is a vast improvement to the previous bayonets, I still find flaws in the design. Its a 1095 steel knife that sometimes has edge-rolling issues under hard use. The bayonet lug makes usage somewhat aggravating. It doesn't feature a true full tang design. Oh, and it doesn't have a lanyard hole, and you guys know I hate that. Would I choose this over a standard KA-BAR? Absolutely. However, just as I stated above- my life may depend on my gear and I want the absolute best equipment I can get my hands on.


Choosing a Combat knife differs from selecting a Survival knife. Typically deployments last a year and sometimes longer. The Combat knife will need to be tough enough to handle daily utility use and be there in the case you have to go "close quarters" on some bad guys.
My recommendations:

  • A fixed blade that is in the 5-7 inch range. If you have to go "hands on" you want more than 3 inches of cold steel to sink into the enemy.
  • A knife with comfortable grips that can be used with gloves. Most of the time I was deployed I wore gloves as most warfighters do.
  • A high quality steel. You don't want to have to constantly be sharpening your blade in country.
  • A full tang construction. It's very difficult to snap a full tang high quality steel knife. 
  • Something that can be easily cleaned. Handles can usually be removed on full tang knives. 
  • Double edged daggers are great for strictly combat knives but don't serve well in the utility/survival arena. Clip points work well in combat as well as utility functions. You most likely won't be batoning wood into kindling in a tactical environment. 
  • I love leather sheaths but they don't fair well in most tactical environments. I carried a knife in a leather sheath for a few years. Being an amphibious Marine- leather and constant submersion in water don't go together. Kydex sheaths are extremely durable and can be easily cleaned. They can be attached to tactical gear fairly easily with MOLLE clips. 
  • If your a Operator conducting covert operations, you may want a subdued blade to aid in light discipline. If not then it's not necessary. 
  • Lastly- a lanyard hole.
Here is a few links of some knife makers I recommend:


For the absolute best hand forged option that will never fail you:



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  4. Those are fine looking combat knives! This is a wonderful post since I'm enthusiastic about these blades and trying to build a good collection. I've been looking at the blade styles and I'm gearing towards the gut hook and the straight back since I do go hunting and camping for long stretches of time. I also prefer a comfortable handle so it can be easily grasped. Have you heard of the Karambit? Is it good? I've seen some reviews in this site and thinking of getting some new ones. Take a look here http://myoutdoorslife.com/gear/camping-and-hiking/best-combat-knives.html

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