In an emergency situation, the right defensive tools are essential. The best boot knife are frequently used by hunters, fishers, and survivalists as well as military personnel. If you frequent the outdoors, a boot knife can be helpful for preparing food or making a shelter.
Besides their use in the outdoor industry, they can be used for day-to-day self defense. Many military and law enforcement personnel wear boot knives, as well as civilians who prefer some extra security.
With so many boot knives on the market, it can be difficult to determine which is the best for your needs. To help narrow the field, we’ve compiled a list of 10 of the best boot knives to help you determine which tool is right for you.
Benefits of the Best Boot Knife
- Small and discreet
- Useful for hunting, fishing, and other outdoor activities
- Helpful in emergency situations or for self defense
How to Choose the Best Boot Knife
Size (Blade Length and Handle Length)
One of the first considerations when choosing a boot knife is its size. It needs to be small enough to carry comfortably and discreetly, but large enough to be effective. Typically a blade length between 3-5″ is ideal for a boot knife. Handle length varies based on personal preference and the size of the user’s hands. The overall size should be small enough to easily conceal the knife in your boot or on your belt.
Durability and Materials
Just as important as the size of the knife are the materials used to make it. Consider the construction of both the blade and the handle, since a knife is only as good as both of its parts combined.
Since the blade of your knife is what will be doing most of the work, look for a quality steel. The right steel is hard enough to hold a sharp edge and tough enough to withstand bending or breaking. High carbon stainless steel is commonly used for knife blades as it resists rusting and sharpens well. 440C is considered a very high-end stainless steel and is used in some of the best boot knife on the market today.
Also consider the handle material. You want something that is not only durable but comfortable to hold and easy to grip. Slip-resistant material is essential. Look for something texturized for superior grip.
Most boot knives are double-edged with a spear point, ideal for stabbing if needed. Some, however, are single-edged with what is known as a clip point. While it is a matter of personal preference, the majority of users prefer a double-edged blade for a boot knife. This is a helpful article for learning about the different blade designs and their best uses.
A good sheath is absolutely essential for your boot knife. While you are carrying the knife, the sheath will be your skin’s only source of protection, so choose wisely! Sheaths made of hard plastic or tough leather are most common and tend to work quite well.
The sheath should be well-fitted to the knife and not too loose. Also look for a quality strap to make unsheathing the knife convenient, and a solid clip to keep it locked in place.
Besides the material, the handle needs to be shaped in a way that is comfortable for you to hold. Typically, a handle that is wider in the middle facilitates the most comfortable and secure grip. The handle that fits your hand most comfortably will depend on your hand size.
Top 10 Best Boot Knife
Smith & Wesson H.R.T. SWHRT9B Full Tang Spear Point Fixed Blade Knife
It should be no surprise to any seasoned outdoorsman or survivalist that Smith & Wesson H.R.T SWHRT9B tops our list. From their firearms to their knives, their products are known for sturdy construction with quality materials. Their H.R.T. SWHRT9B is no exception, with a dual edged steel blade crafted from high carbon 7Cr17 stainless steel.
The blade is power coated black, which adds aesthetic appeal but was an annoyance to some as the black tended to flake over time.
Most users found that this knife’s blade was sufficiently sharp and durable. If desired, it can easily be hand-sharpened to achieve razor sharpness.
This knife is full tang which further adds to its durability. The handle is made of understated black rubber and was reported by most users to be comfortable to hold. A few reviewers with larger hands said that it felt somewhat small, but for the most part they were able to hold it comfortably.
A plain black leather sheath is included with the knife. The sheath’s clip is sturdy and stays in place when withdrawing the knife, and the metal button comes undone quickly when unclasped.
Some users found this knife to be somewhat larger than what they are used to, but it’s an acceptable size for most, especially when worn with tall boots.
Blade length: 4.75″
Handle length: 4.25″
Overall length: 9″
Old Timer 162OT Boot Knife Full Tang Fixed Blade Knife
Old Timer’s 162OT Boot Knife is a classic, no-frills tool also made of 7Cr17 high carbon stainless steel. Unlike the Smith & Wesson model, this knife isn’t power coated, giving it a somewhat more classic feel.
The single-edge blade itself is robust and sharp right out of the box. While most users found that it was fairly durable, some claimed that it didn’t hold its edge well over time and required more frequent sharpening than expected.
The full tang construction of this knife makes it a sturdy choice. A classically designed handle backs up the no-nonsense design of the 162OT, outfitted with sawcut handle slabs and nickel silver bolsters. In terms of comfort, the handle comfortable and well balanced.
The included leather sheath is where the 162OT hits a bit of a snag. Although its design is well done, made from a mahogany-toned leather, its performance left something to be desired. The knife fits somewhat loosely inside the sheath. The snap tends to come undone unexpectedly, allowing the knife to fall out easily.
Blade length: 3.8″
Handle length: 4″
Overall length: 7.8″
Ka-Bar BK11 Becker Necker Neck Knife
Our next pick isn’t exactly a boot knife, but it’s made our list as a useful alternative. A neck knife is just what it sounds like: a knife that can be concealed and worn around the neck. The Ka-Bar BK11 Becker Necker Neck is a solid choice for anybody who prefers a neck knife to a boot knife.
Made with what Ka-Bar refers to as 1095 Cro-Van steel (a bolstered up version of 1095 steel), the single-edge blade is sharp and holds its edge exceptionally well even through tough work.
The metal handle is outfitted with two large and three small holes, allowing the user to wrap the handle with paracord if desired. Paracord improves the grip on the knife is also helpful to have in case of an emergency situation. As an added bonus, the end of the handle has its own bottle opener (a must for any camping trip).
An injection-molded black plastic sheath is included with the BK11. The sheath is compatible for both neck wear and for wearing on a belt clip if you prefer not to wear the knife around your neck. Some users found that the knife was slightly too large to wear comfortably on the neck, but they enjoyed wearing it on their belt.
Blade length: 3.25″
Handle length: 3.5″
Overall length: 6.75″
Gerber Ghoststrike Fixed Blade Knife Deluxe Kit with Ankle Wrap
A top choice of military personnel, the Gerber Ghoststrike Fixed Blade knife kit comes complete with a sheath and neoprene ankle wrap. If the cool name isn’t enough to convince you to take a look, its impressively crafted 420 high carbon steel blade should. Although 420HC is considered a softer metal than 440, it is known for its toughness and high resistance to corrosion.
The blade is coated with black ceramic for additional protection against corrosion and minimal reflection. Its fine edge drop point blade is impressively sharp right out of the box.
The Ghoststrike is exceptionally light, especially for a full tang knife. Designed to be ultra low-profile, this knife was said by some users to be “so light it’s easy to forget.” Whether you wear it in your boot, on a belt or around your neck, you never have to worry about it feeling bulky.
For superior grip, Gerber has outfitted this knife with a diamond texture rubber handle. Its skeletonized design adds further to its low profile and lightweight construction. Users found the handle to be comfortable to hold.
The sheath is exceptionally low-profile and can be mounted directly to the included ankle wrap or worn on a belt horizontally or vertically.
Blade length: 3.3″
Handle length: 3.6″
Overall length: 6.9″
MTech USA Xtreme MX-8059 Series Fixed Blade Tactical Knife
Our first serrated blade on the list is the MTech USA Xtreme MX-8059. The double-edged blade is smooth at the tip and gives way to a serrated base, making it a versatile choice. Made of 440 stainless steel, the blade was found by most users to be sharp and resistant to corrosion. However, it didn’t hold its edge particularly well through regular use and most users suggest regular maintenance to keep it sharp.
The two-toned design on the blade gives the MX-8059 a distinct appearance. The handle comes in three different trim colors: blue, green, and tan. A few users noted that the handle itself is heavier than the blade, which was preferred by some and disliked by others. Its full tang design adds to its durability and solid construction.
A leather sheath outfitted with a 2 inch metal clip is included. A snap button holds the knife in place. Overall the sheath is acceptable and durable, but not exceptional.
Blade length: 5″
Handle length: 4″
Overall length: 9″
Cold Steel 17T Kobun Tanto Fixed
Cold Steel’s 17T Kobun Tanto Fixed knife uses a flat blade grind for ultimate resistance against chipping. Don’t let the flat tip fool you, though; the pointed edge is exceptionally sharp. Made from Japanese AUS 8A stainless steel, which is comparable to 440B steel, the single-edge blade is sharp and corrosion resistant.
As with many knives, most users recommend sharpening it right out of the box. Overall, it holds its edge well but does require some maintenance to keep sharp.
The most unique feature of the Kobun is its point. Reinforced by the full thickness of the blade, the tip is highly resistant to breaking and bending. Unlike traditional points, the flat edge makes it incredibly durable.
Wet or dry, the nonslip Kraton handle provides exceptional grip with minimal bulk. Users with large hands might find that the handle’s diameter is a bit smaller than they would prefer, but overall it is comfortable to hold.
The sheath itself is solidly constructed, but the clip is somewhat poor. The end of the metal clip is flared out, and many users found that it did not clip securely to their boot. When pulling the knife out of the sheath, the clip tended to come off with it. However, it is removable and can be replaced with a clip of your choice.
Blade length: 5.5″
Handle length: 4.375″
Overall length: 9.875″
Schrade SCHF19 Small Boot Knife
A solid black blade and handle coupled with an understated design lend the Schrade SCHF19 Small Boot Knife a stealthy feel. The blade is constructed from the same 7Cr17 high carbon stainless steel as the first knife on our list. Similarly also to the Smith & Wesson knife, the SCHF19 is powder coated to a black finish.
Though it is double-edged, the blade isn’t as sharp as many of the others on our list. Even when sharpened, it tends to lose its edge fairly quickly in comparison to the others. However, in a self-defense situation, it is certainly sufficient for puncturing as needed.
The rubberized and textured handle provides a solid grip and is outfitted with a lanyard hole so it can be worn around the neck. Although the handle proved a bit narrow for those with larger hands, the majority of users found it comfortable to hold and were able to adjust to the size.
Made from black leather, the sheath is somewhat loose but overall fits the knife well. It comes with a boot and belt clip similar to that of the Kobun clip, which flares out at the end. However, nobody face any issues with the clip coming out of their boot when unsheathing the knife.
Blade length: 3.6″
Handle length: 3.4″
Overall length: 7″
United Cutlery UC2724 Combat Commander Mini Boot Knife
The smallest knife on our list, the United Cutlery UC2724 Boot Knife lives up to its “miniature” name. Despite its small size, it is impressively sharp and makes for an easily concealed tool. The stainless steel blade is constructed from anodized AUS-6 and coated in matte black. Anodizing increases steel’s durability and resistance to corrosion.
One edge of the blade is smooth while the other is serrated. Right out of the box, the blade is impressively sharp and can be further sharpened as desired. Both the smooth and serrated edges held their sharpness well during regular use, although the smooth edge tended to wear out faster than the serrated.
Even when wet, the grip on the handle is excellent. Made of TPR (thermoplastic rubber), it is weather resistant and handles extreme temperatures well. Grooves along the length further increase grip.
The sheath is made of hard plastic and comes with a nylon lanyard to allow the user to wear around the neck if desired. Created with friction resistance, the blade can be withdrawn smoothly and quickly with no resistance. Some users appreciated this feature, while others stated that they preferred a bit more resistance. Overall it is a solidly constructed sheath and holds up well over time.
Blade length: 2.5″
Handle length: 2.5″
Overall length: 5″
Kershaw 4007 Secret Agent Fixed Blade Boot Knife
True to its name, Kershaw 4007 Secret Agent has a sleek and minimal design. Solid black from handle to tip, the 4007 is an understated but powerful knife. The blade is made from 8Cr13MoV steel, which is a mid-range stainless steel. Black-oxide coating gives it its black coloring.
It’s important to note that the blade is single-edged. It is possible to sharpen the other edge, but some users felt that given its shape it should be dual-edged to begin with. Reports on the steel’s durability varied, but for the most part users found that it held its edge fairly well through regular use. Regular maintenance is needed to keep it optimally sharp.
In terms of comfort and grip, users across the board found the handle to be exceptional. The handle is constructed from glass-filled nylon with a textured rubber overmold. The rubberized texture and shape provide excellent grip, wet or dry. Unfortunately the knife is not full tang, which may lend it to being somewhat less durable than its full tang counterparts.
In keeping with the minimalist design of the knife, the sheath is discreet and low profile. Made of hard plastic, it is designed to be carried either in a boot, on a belt, or around the neck with a lanyard. The sheath is well-fitted to the blade, and the knife does not move when sheathed.
Blade length: 4.4″
Handle length: 4.3″
Overall length: 8.7″
Rothco Raider II Boot Knife
Rothco’s Raider II Boot Knifeis the smaller version of their Raider I. At 6″ in total length, it is a small but useful tool. Designed in a classic dagger style, it’s simple and understated, perfect for the no-frills outdoors man.
Though the manufacturer specifies that the blade is made from stainless steel, they do not specify the exact type of steel. It comes out of the box with a very sharp point, but the double edges will require additional sharpening to reach optimal sharpness. Some users say it struggled to hold an edge with regular use.
The handle is made from a hard plastic that although somewhat texturized is overall smoother than many users liked. Despite this, it is shaped well and was comfortable for most to hold, if somewhat small.
Unfortunately the sheath is somewhat cheap in construction, made from faux leather with a somewhat flimsy clip. However, its flaws do not make it unusable, and many users found it satisfactory.
Despite a few drawbacks, the Raider II is an excellent budget knife for somebody who wants a simple defense mechanism or a knife for small tasks while camping or hunting.
Choose the Right Boots
Many experts recommend wearing steel toed boots when wearing a boot knife. Additionally, the boots you choose should be comfortable to wear for long periods of time even with the added bulk of the sheath. Ankle boots tend to be a popular choice, as they allow the knife to be fitted comfortably against the boot.
To ensure that you can access the knife quickly, place the boot on your dominant side (if you are right-handed, place it in your right boot.) Using the sheath’s clip, attach the sheath to the outside of your boot. It should feel steady and secure. If your sheath does not have a clip or you prefer to remove the clip, simply slide the sheath and knife into the outside of the boot.
Be sure to check with your local laws to ensure that your boot knife is legal. They are considered a concealed weapon and therefore may be illegal for you to carry depending on your state and local laws.
Crafted from high-quality 7Cr17 steel and designed for maximum comfort and durability, the Smith & Wesson H.R.T. SWHRT9B is our top choice for the best boot knife. Its full tang construction lends it to being extremely durable, while the blade itself remains impressively sharp even with regular use.
Add to that its comfortable, slip-resistant handle and high-quality leather sheath, and it’s no surprise that the SWHRT9B made the top of our list. Whether you’re an avid camper, hunter, military or police personnel or just a civilian looking for a means of self-defense, it’s a versatile and durable tool.
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