Best Fixed Blade Knife Under $100
Jon Stokes 03.22.17
I was on the Gear Geeks Live podcast last night with Everydaycommentary.com proprietor and AllOutdoor.com contributor Tony Sculimbrene, and we were talking about what else but gear.
At one point in the conversation — I think during the part where I was recounting my recent gun-free central Texas boar hunt where I took three feral hogs with a fixed-blade knife — the old-school USMC KABAR knife came up.
I actually don’t have one of these, and in fact I’ve never owned one. But that’s mainly because I have a bunch of fancier blades in the same size range. Still, I’ve been around these blades all my life, and it’s my opinion that the USMC KABAR (straight edged, without the serrations) is the best sub-$100 fixed blade out there.
If you’re at a hunting camp, any guy who has one is quick to sing the praises of it. Here’s a relatively recent review of the blade that I came across, and the praise for the design and the value is typical:
Finding a more historically rich knife that has proven itself times over and is still in production today (at a VERY reasonable price) would be a challenge.
The KA-BAR Fighting/Utility line boasts a variety of options that will suit the vast majority of users. I’ll be first in line if they come out with a hybrid between the full-sized 7-inch version and the shorter 5.25-inch one. With all the variety in Ka-Bar’s lineup, I still would prefer the blade to be about an inch shorter. I’m pretty sure I’ll be happy to have their standard 7″ version by my side if I ever do run across that legendary wounded bear in the woods. That extra blade length also comes in handy when using the knife to baton firewood. Quibbles about size aside, the fit and finish of my knife is outstanding, and the construction is clearly built to take a lifetime of punishment.
For as much time as we knife nuts spend obsessing over knife steels and makers, but you could easily just buy this knife and be done with it. Everything else is “gilding the lily”, as they say.
Speaking of gilding the lily, Barry Dawson makes a high-end version of this blade, for if you’ve got $600 laying around and you just want to go completely bonkers.
I’m a big fan of Dawson’s work, but that’s a lot of money. Given his attention to detail, though, I’m sure it’s an amazing blade.
I told Tony that the KA-BAR would make close to an ideal boar sticking knife, and he suggested the Bark River Pig Sticker. I took a look at the Pig Sticker, and I have to say I think it’s just too big.
When the dogs are on the hog, and the hog is back up in a thicket thrashing around, it’s a loud, chaotic mess. As I was trying to maneuver myself into position to start stabbing (without getting snake bit, I might add), I definitely thought to myself how glad I was that I wasn’t packing one of my big 9+ inch monsters. The reason is that you don’t want to cut the dogs, and you’re working in a tight spot without much room to get around.
So for sticking hogs, you want a knife that’s big enough to get up in their vitals, but not so big that you can’t safely work it into position in the first place.
I was actually using my Fallkniven NL5, which was way shorter than I would’ve liked. But it’s what I had on me and it did the job, cutting through the boar like it was a watermelon.
At any rate, I think the KA-BAR is where it’s at for this kind of thing. If you don’t have one, and you’re in the market for a largish fixed blade, this knife should be at the top of your list.
But honestly, Moras are so cheap that there’s no reason not to have one, regardless of what kind of knife you’re in the market for. Just buy one already.