On September 19, 1827, a fight broke out on a Mississippi River sandbar. What started as a formal duel between two notable Louisiana families ended in a skirmish in which Jim Bowie, originally just a supporter on the sidelines, was shot and stabbed before drawing out a large knife and killing a man named Norris Wright. Bowie survived his injuries, took up the knife as his trademark weapon and became an American folk hero.
The fixed-blade knife has been steeped in hyperbole ever since. Large blades loom massive in pop culture — Rambo’s massive serrated spine knife and Crocodile Dundee’s giant clip-point are two notable examples. Such slabs of steel present a satisfying flash in front of a camera lens but don’t offer more in the way of utility. In fact, their unwieldiness probably makes them less adept at performing the simple, everyday tasks that a fixed blade is most commonly used for.
When used to its best purpose, a knife is a multipurpose tool. (Who really wants to be in a knife fight anyway? Bowie barely survived his first one). A sharp blade is near limitless in its functions, from filleting a freshly caught fish to making an emergency repair on a ripped tent.
This guide provides information on the nine top fixed blades for a variety of activities and applications. In it, we break down each model based on key features like length, weight, materials, price and more.
BEST FIXED BLADE KNIFEGerber Terracraft Read More
BEST UPGRADE FIXED BLADEThe James Brand The Hell Gap Read More
BEST SMALL FIXED BLADEBenchmade Hidden Canyon Read More
HIGHEST RATED ON AMAZONESEE-4 Read More
BEST WOOD HANDLED FIXED BLADEHelle Utvaer Read More
What Makes a Fixed Blade?
Historically speaking, the original knives made by mankind dating back to long before recorded history were all fixed blades. In fact, folding knives weren't even invented and developed until around the rise of the Roman Empire; and they weren't normalized until less than a few hundred years ago. The difference between them, as you may have guessed, is that folding knives can actually fold in half for transport and storage, whereas fixed blades are, you guessed it, stuck (or fixed) in a single position.
When compared to everyday carry folding knives (and even multi-tools), fixed blades are often more sturdy, tough, durable and usually larger than their collapsible counterparts. The trade-off is that they're less portable and pocketable, less convenient for everyday usage and even illegal to carry with you in certain places/circumstances (before you carry any knife, you should always bone up on the local and federal laws).
There's no specific rule for what makes a fixed blade other than the fact that they do not have any folding/pivot point — they are always extended/deployed and ready for usage. For transport and wear, they also often come with a sheath, just as do swords and certain axes and hatchets. There are also a lot of sub-types of fixed blades, including Bowie, tanto, fighting knife, survival/bushcraft knife, neck knife, boot knife and more. While they may vary in size, purpose, etcetera, fixed blades are all non-folding, without exception.
Terms You Should Know
While, at first glance, a knife might seem like an utterly simple tool, there's a lot more to them than meets the eye. If you want to ensure you've got the knowledge to pick our the right one, you may want to become a bit more versed in the vocabulary surrounding these time-tested tools. The terms below should set you off on the right foot.
Blade: The large, forward portion of a given knife used for cutting, stabbing, etc.
Bolster: The point between the blade and handle, usually where a knife should balance. Not all knives have bolsters, but they are very common among kitchen knives.
Butt: The back/bottom of the handle, sometimes equipped with other features like a glass-breaker tip or an integrated fire starter.
Edge: The sharp portion of the blade used to cut, usually stretching from the tip to the bolster.
Guard: Often positioned between the blade and handle, a guard usually extends wider than both and is used to protect the user and their fingers.
Handle: The back portion of a given knife. This is the part that a user holds.
Jimping: Often appearing on the spine (or back) of a blade, these are small notches cut, filed or machined into the lower back of a blade and are often used for additional grip and/or leverage and to prevent your hand from slipping up the blade.
Scales: The portion of a handle that surrounds the tang of a blade, sandwiching around it. These are the pieces that a user's hand wraps around to grip. Some skeletonized knives do not have handle scales.
Serration: As appears on saws, this is a type of edge marked by tooth-like points and are typically used for quick slicing. Some knives have full serrations, others partial, and others still may have no serrations at all.
Steel: The metal alloy material out of which a knife blade and tang are crafted.
Tang: The part of a knife blade that extends into the handle, giving the blade strength and durability. Some knives have a full tang, some have a half, and others (like folding knives) might not have one at all.
The vocabulary used to describe a pocket knife may not be as complex as that which speaks to mechanical watches or automobiles, but if you want to sound like an expert, there are a few that you should commit to memory.