Premium ChoiceCheck Price on Amazon
Claim your FREE USMC Neck Knife (with S&H)
American Gunner USMC Neck Knife
Check Price on Amazon
Columbia CRKT Minimalist Neck Knife
What is a Neck Knife?
Do you need a quick-access, discrete knife? Then check out some of the best neck knives on the market. These EDC (everyday carry) blades are perfect for wearing on a chain around your neck, ensuring you feel safe in any situation. They’re also excellent as bushcraft knives. One common survivalist saying is “the best knife is the one you have on you” – and the great thing about neck knives is that (obviously) you wear them around your neck. Which means that you’ll always have a knife with you even in a unexpected bushcrafting situation.
A little, high-quality neck knife could be the only thing between you and an aggressor. Or, it could just be a handy tool to have around base camp. I’d definitely recommend throwing one in your glove box, or just wearing on as a necklace as designed. A neck knife is the very definition of a great EDC item.
Like all survival and self-defense gear, there are millions of options out there when it comes to EDC and neck knives. From premium carbon steel knives to budget-friendly blades to toss in the truck or into your backpack and leave there, there’s every kind of knife out there.
Whichever knife you go for, make sure to take a close look at the specs as each neck knife is a little different. I’ll outline a few key factors to keep in mind when you’re comparing the knives, plus a list of the top 10 best neck knives out there. I’ll give a quick outline of each knife’s specific features as well as the pros and cons of each.
Key features of a neck knife
To find the right neck knife, take a look at the following key features. Whether it’s blade style, length, steel type, or sheath material, neck knives vary between models. Keep an eye on each knife’s specs to guarantee you get the right one for you.
One of the features that varies the most in neck knives is the length of the knife. Because neck knives are designed to be concealed under clothing, most of the knives you’ll see are under 5” long. Some are barely 4” while you’ll see a couple 6 inchers.
Make sure you look out for overall length, blade length, and handle length. If you have bigger hands, I’d recommend getting a longer handle. Shorter blades are less versatile, so if you want an all-rounder, keep an eye out for longer blades.
There are literally hundreds of knife designs and blade styles out there. When it comes to neck knives, you’ll mainly see drop points, though there are some cleavers, Tantos, and daggers.
The blade design determines the knife’s effectiveness at certain actions. For example, daggers are better for stabbing, while cleavers work better for chopping. Drop points are the most popular as they’re the best all-rounders.
Most neck knives have smooth blades, though there are a few serrated edges out there. Smooth blades are better at slicing and stabbing, while serration gives an edge a better sawing capability.
You’ll see every kind of steel being used to make knife blades. Essentially, you can ignore all the different numbers and letters. All you want to make sure is that your knife is at least stainless steel, to ensure corrosion resistance.
If you want to splash out, get a high-grade carbon steel blade. If not, there are plenty of straight-up stainless steel neck knives out there that will get the job done.
Some neck knives are simple single slabs with cut-out metal handles. It’s up to you whether you wrap the handle in tape, paracord, etc. to increase grip or not. If you want extra discreteness, you can keep it with a super low profile.
Some of the knives you’ll see have polymer, plastic, or nylon handles. There’s ergonomic handles with finger cut-outs to aid strength and grip. A few neck knives have jimping to reduce slide.
Most neck knives come with a sheath either on a lanyard or chain to wear around the neck. Some of the sheaths are plastic, while others are leather, and some are fiberglass-reinforced nylon. Most sheaths can be clipped on the belt or a vest.
A few of the sheaths have security features, to ensure safety and ease of deployment. There’s even one neck knife with a state-of-the-art magnetic sheath!
Neck knives are pretty simple tools. All you want is a full tang blade a couple inches long with a half-decent handle. The low-key design of neck knives doesn’t leave much room for extra features.
Some of the knives have a wider edge to use as a striker against a fire steel, and a couple of them have bottle opener features at the end of the handle. Apart from that, a neck knife is pretty much just that.
The 10 Best Neck Knives for EDC, Self Defense, and Survival
Out of all the neck knives out there, these ten are the best of the bunch. They’re all good knives, though, and they could all save your life in an emergency situation.
You’ll see a decent variety of prices, lengths, and qualities, and I’m sure one of them is the right neck knife for you.
- Razor-sharp blade
- Partial blade serration
- 4” long
- Quick-access neck chain
- Blade cover
- Stainless steel
The Neck Knife from American Gunner is an awesome EDC blade, combining style with substance. Even though it’s 4” long – making it discreet – it feels sturdy enough to give you that extra feeling of reassurance.
The best thing about the American Gunner Neck Knife is that they’re giving them away for free – you just pay S&H. That’s right. For a limited time, these knives are available for free. You just cover the cost of shipping and handling.
The 4” blade is super sharp out of the box, and has partial serration, good for sawing, cutting rope, and wood. The tip is unbelievably sharp, and is best-suited for stabbing, slicing, and slashing, providing plenty of self-defense potential.
American Gunner throws in a nice blade cover to keep the blade sharp and out of the elements, as well as keeping you safe while wearing it around your neck. The stainless steel blade is rust-proof, so your American Gunner USMC should last a long time.
The quick-access neck chain is comfortable to wear, plus the knife is so lightweight you’ll barely notice it’s there. If you’re looking for a perfect, all-rounder neck knife, then look no further. American Gunner also offers a 60-day money-back guarantee on the USMC neck knife.
Once again, for a limited time, they’re actually giving away USMC neck knives for free. That’s why it’s at the top of this list – this is pretty much an unbeatable deal.
Claim your FREE USMC Neck Knife
- Super sharp out of the box
- Half-serrated blade
- Stainless steel
- Feels sturdy
- Comfortable to carry
- Plastic blade cover
- 2” blade
- 5” overall
- 1.8 oz.
- Stainless steel
- Bead blast finish
- Resin-infused fiber handle
- Glass-reinforced nylon sheath
- Limited lifetime warranty
The CRKT from Columbia River Knife & Tool is a great simple and effective neck knife for a great price. The CRKT comes in a variety of blade shapes, suitable for any task, including Bowie, Cleaver, Drop Point, and Tanto. All their neck knives measure between 4 and 7 inches and have 2” blades.
The contoured handle is made from resin-infused fiber, giving it good grip even when it’s wet. The ergonomic handle also helps reduce weight and profile, keeping the CRKT nice and discrete. The handle also includes a nylon fob for extended grip.
Instead of a chain, Columbia gave the CRKT a sheath and paracord to carry it discretely around your neck. It’s comfy and light, and if you’re looking for a good value neck knife, then the Columbia CRKT is perfect.
Check price of the Columbia CRKT Minimalist Neck Knife
- Great price
- Multiple blade shapes
- Ergonomic handle
- Stainless steel blade
- Fob for extended grip
- Belt loop and paracord
- Resin handle doesn’t feel as sturdy as others
- Not as good a deal as the (limited time) offer on the USMC Neck Knife
- 1095 CroVan steel
- Drop point blade
- 3-1/4” blade length
- 6-3/4” overall length
- 0.15 lbs
- Nylon sheath
- Bottle opener
Ka-Bar’s redesigned BK11 Becker (or the Necker), is a perfect example of an excellent all-around neck knife. The 1095 CroVan steel is super-sharp and easy-to-sharpen carbon steel that keeps its edge. The drop point blade makes for easy slicing and stabbing.
The BK11 Becker is made from one piece of steel, giving it extra strength, durability, and longevity. The cut-out, ergonomic handle reduces weight without compromising on grip or comfort. There’s a nice little bottle-opener feature integrated into the end of the handle.
The BK11 comes with a black plastic, injection-molded, glass-filled nylon sheath, which is pretty robust, though maybe not the quality you’d expect for the price. The sheath means you can mount the BK11 to a belt, boot, or tactical vest with ease.
If you’re looking for a sweet neck knife and don’t mind splashing out a little, the BK11 Becker Necker from Ka-Bar is perfect. It leaves most of its competition behind and, once you’ve put it in a new sheath, it’s a perfect neck knife.
Check price of the Ka-Bar BK11 Becker
- Excellently designed
- Ka-Bar is our favorite knife brand
- One-piece steel
- Holds its edge well
- Black coating
- Good balance
- Plastic sheath is big and bulky
- Not the cheapest neck knife on this list
The 12152 Bolo from Sheffield is a nice 5.4” fixed-blade neck knife that doesn’t break the bank. While the materials aren’t as high-grade as some of the competition, the Bolo is a consumer favorite. The basic, but solid drop-point, fixed-blade design makes it as tough as the rest of them.
The 420 stainless steel blade is 2.15” long with a satin finish, and the black nylon fiberglass handle is 3.25”. The deep finger grooves give the Bolo good grip and are big enough to accommodate most hand sizes. The nylon handle is relatively durable, and super grippy even when it’s wet.
The Bolo comes with a black plastic injection-molded sheath hanging on a metal lanyard. It weighs 4 ounces, so is by no means the lightest or smallest neck knife, and therefore not the most inconspicuous. It’s also a little tricky to deploy quickly.
The best thing about the Bolo is the price. Even though it’s one of the least expensive neck knives on the list, it doesn’t feel cheap. With a full tang, it feels strong and dependable, and you can always change out the plastic sheath for something more comfortable and reliable.
Check price of the Sheffield 12152 Bolo
- Full tang
- Stainless steel
- Ergonomic handle
- Super grippy even when wet
- Flimsy/cheap feeling sheath
- Tricky deployment
The Ark from Spyderco is a nice and simple little fixed-blade neck knife that gets the job done. A simpler design than many knives, the Ark combines comfort with cutting ability. It’s probably not the flashiest knife on the list, but its 2.5” H1 steel blade is as good a cutter as the rest of them. The main attraction of the Spyderco Ark is the premium steel – Spyderco is well known for its high quality products, and the Ark is the neck knife version of that. This H1 steel will never let you down.
One of the best things about the Spyderco Ark is how light it is. Even with the sheath and chain, the Ark only weighs 56 grams, which is lighter than a lot of other neck knives. The Ark is small, with a 2.5” handle, and may be too small for larger hands.
The ark is flat and short and easy to hide, even wearing it around the neck. It’s relatively easy to deploy using a special locking tab that has to be pressed to get the knife out. The locking mechanism feels sturdy, and you can rest assured that the knife won’t fall out.
If you want a small, lightweight neck knife that will get the job done then the Spyderco Ark is a perfect choice. It’s definitely more of a premium product (as most of Spyderco’s products are), but if you have the budget then the Ark is definitely an excellent choice if you want a super-high quality neck knife.
Check price of the Spyderco Ark
- H1 steel is highly rust-resistant
- Small, lightweight, and comfortable to wear
- Safety tab on sheath
- Super-sharp out of the box
- Extremely high quality
- Premium product (with price to match)
- Mastering the safety tab might take some practice
- 12C27 stainless steel
- Locking sheath
- 5.6” overall
- 2.2” blade
- 2.8 oz.
- Polymer sheath
- 1-year warranty
Morakniv make awesome knives, and it’s no different with the Eldris, winner of 2016 Scandinavian Outdoor Award for functionality, quality, innovation, design, and sustainability. The high-grade 12C27 stainless steel is sharp, tough, and corrosion-resistant.
The 3.4” handle is nice and grippy, as well as longer then many competitors, giving users a better sense of control. The 2.2” blade is short and sharp, with a square-edged ground spine that can be used as a striker with a fire steel.
The Eldris is a top-quality knife for camping and DIY, though because of its size, it might be a little too big for surreptitious self-defense. While it’s not too big to wear on the belt of a vest, it’s a bit bigger than a lot of neck knives, and would be difficult to conceal under a t-shirt. Interestingly, this isn’t because of the length of the blade or anything – it just “feels” bulkier than some of the other choices here (even though the blade itself is very compact).
Made in Sweden, the Eldris is an awesome neck knife with superior design and materials. If you’re looking for a top-quality neck knife, then look no further. Morakniv offers amazing value and low prices, and the Eldris won’t break your bank account.
Check price of the Morakniv Eldris
- High-quality build
- Award winner
- Different color options
- Striking capabilities (ferro rod not included)
- “Feels” bigger and bulkier than other choices
- 6.3” overall
- 2.6” blade
- 4 oz.
- 65Mn high carbon stainless steel
- Belt sheath
- Thumb rest jimping
- Full tang
- Lanyard hole
Shrade is one of the world’s most-reputable knife companies, and with knives like the Schrade-SCHF57, it’s easy to see why. The full-tang, fixed-blade SCHF57 isn’t the smallest neck knife on the list, but it’s definitely one of the best.
Measuring over 6” overall, it’s one of the longer knives, though most of that length is in the handle – it’s blade is only 2.6”. With G-10 handle slabs and thumb rest jimping, it has one of the best grips in the game, and if you want a knife that feels secure in your hand, then the SCH57 is perfect.
The 2.6” blade is 65Mn high carbon stainless steel with a nice black finish. It’s super sharp out of the box, easy to sharpen, and corrosion-resistant. The sheath is pretty average, made from thermoplastic, and easy to attach to a belt.
Check price of the Schrade SCHF57
- High-quality, high carbon stainless steel
- Good value
- Reputable company
- No-slip thumb rest jimping and G-10 handle slabs
- Large handle for comfortable grip
- Bigger than most other choices
- Difficult to conceal
- Sheath is nothing special
The Cold Steel Secret Edge was inspired by the Scottish Skean Dhu knives, though updated with modern materials, like the Japanese AUS-8 stainless steel blade. With a narrow tip and wide base, the dagger-style Secret Edge has peak cutting and penetrative power.
The cut-out design of the handle shaves a few grams off the overall weight, and it’s comfortable to hold and the grip feels firm. The Secret Edge may not come with the sharpest blade out of the box, it’s super easy to sharpen up the high-grade stainless steel to peak cutting performance.
With a 6.5” overall length, it’s a little harder to conceal the secret edge under just a t-shirt. The sheath is easy to attach to your belt or vest, and it’s a better-than-average, aggressive-looking neck knife that might just save your life.
Check price of the Cold Steel Secret Edge
- Japanese steel
- Light handle
- Great balance
- Needs sharpening out of the box
- Relatively big and bulky
- 3.4” overall
- 1.3” blade
- 1095 stainless steel
- Black-oxide finish
- Cut-out handle
- Magnetic sheath
- 1 oz.
The ESEE Pinch is pretty much the definition of neck knife – compact, fixed-blade, lightweight, and easy to conceal. With its black oxide finish, and 1095 stainless steel blade, the Pinch is pretty much perfect for concealing on a lanyard or chain around your neck.
The Pinch comes with a unique molded neck sheath with an interesting and effective secure magnetic retention system. Instead of sliding the knife into the sheath, an earth magnet keeps the blade in place, and there’s almost no chance of it slipping.
ESEE is an awesome company, and they’ve come out with a sweet low-profile neck knife that’s truly discrete and concealable. Due to its small size, it’s designed only to be gripped in two fingers, and compared to some of the longer handles, might take a little time getting used to.
- Discrete and concealable
- Reputable company
- Interesting and effective sheath design
- Relatively pricey
- Full tang
- 3Cr13 stainless steel
- Black oxide finish
- Injection-molded handle
- 2.5 oz.
- 3.8” blade
With a 3/8” blade, the Kershaw Dune has one of the longest blades on the list. If you want a slim, relatively long neck knife, then the Dune will get the job done. The black-oxide finish gives the 3Cr13 stainless steel corrosion resistance and it’s nice and low-maintenance.
The molded plastic sheath is decent and there’s a nice security feature than snaps back into place, keeping the blade secure in the sheath, but still allowing easy deployment. The handle is lightweight injection-molded nylon and is pretty comfortable and grippy.
Even though it’s one of the longest neck knives out there, it’s still for a nice and low profile, making it surprisingly concealable even just under a t-shirt. If it’s for hiking or self-defense, the Dune is an awesome, relatively long neck knife.
Check price of the Kershaw Dune
- Long blade
- Security sheath
- Black-oxide finish
- Nothing mind-blowing
- Slight rattle in sheath
- No hilt guard – be extra careful when stabbing
Picking the Best Neck Knife: A Buyer’s Guide
Take a look at these key points to keep in mind when you’re buying a neck knife. Whether it’s for hiking and camping, or safety at home, traveling, or at work, answering a few simple questions will guide you towards finding the right neck knife for you.
What’s your neck knife for?
Is your neck knife for hunting, fishing, hiking, and camping, or DIY, or self-defense? If you want to conceal your knife while on the job, you’ll want a smaller, more discrete blade than if you’re wearing it on your belt on a hunting trip.
Think about how you’ll use your knife, and let that determine which neck knife is best for you.
How much do you want to spend?
The price is probably the easiest way to narrow down the choice on anything. Do you want to splash out and get the best neck knife money can buy? Then check out some of the premium knives like the Ka-Bar Becker or ESEE Pinch. Or, maybe you want a low-cost budget neck knife like the Sheffield Bolo.
How discrete does your neck knife need to be?
If you want to wear a neck knife around your neck without anyone knowing, then I’d recommend getting a low-profile neck knife. If secrecy isn’t such a big deal, then you can get a neck knife with a larger, grippier handle.
Our Top Posts About Survival Gear
More Information about Tactical, Self Defense and Home Safety Gear
The 7 Best Plate Carriers for Tactical Protection
The 6 Best Coyote Traps, Cages and Snares
Why You Can Trust UsSecrets of Survival has been around since 2002 (almost 20 years) and our survival knowledge is the real deal. We were writing and discussing survival and prepping before people even knew what the word “prepping” meant. We also preceded the trendiness of survival media nowadays… for example, we were arround before Bear Grylls filmed his first episode of Man vs Wild.
Our contributors and writers over the years have included survival experts of all stripes – including a Green Beret Special Forces Medic, a former Navy SEAL, a leading survival instructor who’s been featured on National Geographic and PBS. Every article is either written or reviewed by someone who is an expert in either survivalism, prepping, or homesteading (or all three) and our goal is to be as practical and educational as possible.
While some of our writers and contributors use pseudonyms in order to protect their privacy (never a bad idea in these times where out of control surveillance is a growing problem), you can trust that everybody who gets to write for us has been vetted for their knowledge and passion when it comes to survival.
Click here to learn more about Secrets of Survival and our writers and contributors.
Leave a Reply