Finding quality bushcraft knives can sometimes be an expensive endeavor. Then, when you think you’ve found a good deal, you end up with a sub-par knife that not even a cub scout would be proud to bring to camp.
To break down the budget barrier on quality bushcraft goods, we put together our favorite bushcraft knives under $50. Other than the price, these knives all have some things in common. We chose them precisely because they are made with quality materials, have great field reviews, and are long lasting.
Knowing what you’re going to use your bushcraft knife for is one thing, but you should also understand the importance of the blade and handle design as well. Every aspect of your knife impacts usability and durability, so we can’t cut corners there.
After we’ve covered our best budget bushcraft knife collection, we will give you the information that you need to pick the perfect knife for your bushcraft needs. When you’re done reading this, you’ll be well equipped to purchase a quality bushcraft knife for $50 or less.
It’s also worth mentioning that it’s probably worth investing in a pair of protective gloves. When handlign this kind of equipment out in the wilderness, accidents can very easily happen. With that in mind, I’d recommend checking out our guide on the best bushcraft gloves for some solid options.
Best Bushcract Knives Under $50
Morakniv Companion Fixed Blade
- Materials: Carbon steel blade with durable plastic sheath and a handle made from plastic and rubber materials.
- Blade Length: 4.1”
- Price: $
The Morakniv Companion knife is made in Sweden and designed for durability. I’ve personally owned this knife, and it has yet to let me down. One of the major perks of this knife is the price point. It is one of the most affordable knives on the market that boasts a durable design.
The carbon steel blade is easy to resharpen and practically rust-proof. I appreciate the gripped and textured handle when carving wood or during food prep. Additionally, you have a hard plastic sheath that clips to your belt with ease.
Although the sheath does not have a buckle to secure the knife, the gripped handle and sheath shape secures the knife into place. I’ve backpacked for miles and climbed many desert cliffs without ever losing my Morakniv Companion. If you have a small budget but need a good knife, look no further.
Condor Tool & Knife Bushlore
- Materials: High carbon steel blade with a blasted satin finish and a hardwood handle held by two brass rivets. Sheath is made from leather materials.
- Blade Length: 4.3”
- Price: $$$
A bit more expensive than our first knife listing, but well worth the price. The Condor Bushslore just barely fits into our price parameters, but it needed to make the list for the sheer quality and sleek design.
As a carbon steel blade, you should learn some proper upkeep about oiling and sharpening to keep the blade in good working condition. It is lightweight and easy to handle. The sheath is made from 100% leather, so it should be long lasting and durable.
Although it is considered a budget bushcraft knife, you can expect it to handle fine cutting quite well. It may take some getting used to with the hardwood handle, but it is up for the task.
Morakniv Bushcraft Carbon Knife
- Materials: Carbon steel blade with tungsten DLC anti-corrosive black coating. Gripped handle with a heavy-duty plastic sheath.
- Blade Length: 4.3”
- Price: $$
One step up from the first Marakniv knife on our list, this model is for bushcrafters looking for the classic, durable design with a few more quality design features. There are noticeable design differences in the sheath and handle of the knife, as well as the blade.
While the sheath is made from the same durable plastic, you will notice the sheath comes to a point instead of being rounded. That, along with the tapering of the plastic, gives your knife a snug fit to keep your knife protected and sharp.
The handle has an ergonomic design giving you more control while yielding your knife and for a comfortable grip. Then comes the blade. The blade may look the same at first glance, but it comes with an anti-corrosive coating. The spine of the knife is ground down to make it usable with a fire starter to create sparks.
Cold Steel Pendleton Lite Hunter
- Materials: Blade made from German 4116 stainless steel with a high impact polypropylene handle. Equipped with a Cor-Ex sheath.
- Blade Length: 3.6”
- Price: $
If you aren’t keen on carbon steel knives, then a cold steel Pendleton will fit the bill without breaking the bank. On par with the Morakniv Companion, this knife still has its distinct advantages.
The Lite Hunter features a drop point blade made from cold steel. For the low price, you are getting a quality blade.
If you were paying more, you would perhaps be disappointed by the materials used to make the handle. Although it is a durable handle and is comfortable to hold, it is not top-notch material.
The blade itself will get the job done nicely, and if you can get past the handle, the knife is great. The sheath, on the other hand, has much to be desired. A Cor-Ex sheath is made of inexpensive nylon materials, which you can cut through with a knife. So be careful pulling the knife out and putting it back as you may damage the sheath. You can quickly get past this issue by reinforcing the sheath yourself.
Bushmaster Bushcraft Explorer
- Materials: 1095 high carbon steel blade with gray hard coating and a dark wood handle fitted with brass pins. Equipped with a leather sheath.
- Blade Length: 4.4”
- Price: $$$
The Bushmaster Bushcraft Explorer puts a new twist on a classic look. Always high-quality and durable materials, you have a carbon steel blade that will take anything you throw at it.
The gray hard coating helps to keep the blade in tip-top shape as 1095 steel is known for corrosion. Without the coating, this knife would not last long.
Although it is an inexpensive knife, this knife is not half bad. You should take care of the blade to be sure that the coating does not come off because if not cared for properly, you can be sure the knife will rust.
The sheath is made from leather but is not one solid piece. It houses the knife perfectly and has a secure holster clasp. There is a lanyard hole on the end of the knife handle that fits an oil drab paracord lanyard, but it doesn’t come with one.
Shrade Stainless Steel Full Tang Knife
- Materials: Blade is made from high carbon stainless steel with a black thermoplastic elastomer handle. Sheath made from synthetic materials.
- Blade Length: 4.9”
- Price: $$
Other than Morakniv, Schrade may make the best cheap bushcraft knives. They use materials that fit the bill and get the job done. This sleek stainless steel design not only looks good, but it is incredibly functional in the field.
You can expect this to be a mid-priced budget knife ready to be used upon arrival. The handle has a lanyard hole for those that want to add one and has solid gripping action. There is a secure feel to handling this knife as the handle is fitted to your forefinger and thumb. This stable feel comes from the addition of a thumb ramp with jimping and a forefinger guard.
The sheath is made from synthetic materials and fits the knife snuggly. It is almost too tight of a fit, and it can make it challenging to take the knife out. Once in the sheath, you can expect it to stay put, though.
Elk Ridge Fixed Blade Knife
- Materials: Stainless steel blade with a satin finish, a pakkawood handle, and a nylon sheath.
- Blade Length: 5.3”
- Price: $
The Elk Ridge Fixed Blade knife is a good fit for survivalists and backpackers. You have a good-sized durable knife that also comes equipped with a fire starter.
The stainless steel blade is attached to the pakkawood handle with screws so you can take the handle off if need be. Plus, the firestarter or a dime can be used to remove the screws when you’re away from home. Inside the handle, you will find a storage compartment with some matches. You can choose to fill this area with anything similar size to a match like fish hooks.
With the design of this knife, it is not designed to work as a carbon knife would. So, if you plan to do lateral thrusting of any kind, you may experience tip breakage. Take care not to abuse the blade for activities it is not intended for, or you may break the tip.
The nylon sheath has had complaints in the past, but the company has since added a liner to make the sheath more durable. It holds the knife quite well, although, to me, it is a bit bulky.
CIMA High Hardness Full Tang Knife
- Materials: Blade made from 7CR17MOV steel with a flax textured micarta handle and an ABS plastic sheath.
- Blade Length: 3.34”
- Price: $$$
When I need a new, non-mora knife, this will be the first one I will try out.
It is a bit smaller than many others listed, but it handles well with a textured weather-resistant handle. Some cheaper knives are made with materials that aren’t heat or cold-resistant, and they could potentially crack or break if you drop them. This handle is comfortable to hold onto and will last despite heavy use.
Moving onto the blade, you have a deeply heat-treated steel with a corrosion-resistant coating. If you are looking at this for bushcraft, then you may want to scrape the coating off a small portion of the spine to allow you to use a Ferro rod.
Although not everyone is a fan of plastic sheaths, they are rather durable and easy to keep clean. Although it fits securely in the sheath, there is room to rattle the blade around, which does make noise when you’re backpacking. The good news is that there is no dulling of the knife blade from this sheath.
Grand Way Survival Blade
- Materials: Blade made from 440C stainless steel with a mirror polish and a wooden handle. The sheath is made from a nylon fiber material.
- Blade Length: 6.5”
- Price: $
The Grand Way Survival Balde is an extremely versatile design that can be utilized in bushcraft, hunting, self-defense, and even cooking situations. You can carry it on your belt, but due to the length of 11” it is the perfect boot knife.
The sheath is a nylon Cordura with a belt loop and safety buckle to keep the knife securely fastened.
The blade is longer than most other knives listed here. It has a nice, balanced composition and a long lasting sharp edge to minimize the need for sharpening.
The sleek handle has a smooth wooden grip with a contoured design and safety guard. You will have no problems safely maneuvering this knife.
Gerber + Bear Grylls Sheath Knife
- Materials: ½ serrated high carbon stainless steel blade that folds into the plastic handle with rubber grips. It comes with a military-grade mildew-resistant nylon sheath.
- Blade Length: 3.6”
- Price: $$
The last knife on our list is a unique pick for a bushcraft knife as it is foldable. Most bushcrafting knives do not have the folding ability, which makes this one a great back-up knife to pack down small. The folding action is easy to open and close, and is advertised as “easy single-hand opening.”
This is a bit of a stretch as the folding action is easy to open, but not with one hand despite the dual-sided thumb stud.
As for the blade, you are getting a high-quality, durable blade at a budget price. It keeps the sharp edge nicely and is designed with rope cutting in mind.
The handle is mostly plastic, and the blade folds down into it and locks into place. The rubber gripping of the handle makes maneuvering the knife much safer and more comfortable.
As a compact knife option, the sheath is ideal. It is a nylon sheath but made at a military-grade to ensure durability. The best part is that it is mildew-resistant, so you can feel good about letting it live through the outdoor elements.
The sheath is meant to be kept securely on your belt and can be attached horizontally or vertically.
How to Choose the Right Knife for Bushcraft
Even though our list has some of the best quality bushcraft knives for $50 or less, you may be wondering how we picked them. Better yet, you may want to know what criteria you should be looking for when you are shopping for a new knife.
With knives, it can quickly become a budget game. Many people think you cannot get a decent bushcraft knife for less than $130 or so. That’s just not true. You can get a trusty knife for much less. Sure, you may need to modify a few things on the sheath or take a coating off, but you’ve saved yourself about $100. Plus, most bushcraft enthusiasts love a good DIY modification every so often.
Following the criteria we describe below, you will know exactly how to tell a cheaply made knife from a quality budget buy. Be sure to read through some recent, verified customer comments as well. Comments can be an excellent way to find out if the company has changed anything in manufacturing or if they have good customer service.
For me, the number one thing I look at is the blade. After all, the blade essentially defines the utility of the knife. The handle and sheath play a part, but if you have a poorly crafted blade, the knife won’t be very useful in the field.
There are a few aspects of the blade to focus in on:
- Blade size
- Blade material
- Blade design (grind and edge)
Now, some of these things need more than a summary, so for the blade material, sharpness, and design, see the next two sections. In this section, we will focus on the blade size and sharpness.
The size of the entire knife is essential, but the size of the blade itself should be a primary focus. You want a knife that will fit your needs. If you have a knife that’s too small, you may not be able to perform specific tasks. Then, if the blade is too long, it is inconvenient to carry around and difficult to maneuver.
For a bushcraft knife, you want a versatile blade size. A good range to look for is between 3-6” in length. This blade size gives you a good balance. If you want a knife specifically for finer, more delicate tasks, go smaller, and if you want something heavy-duty that can take on tough material, go a bit bigger.
To continue discussing the blade of the knife, we will take a deeper look into the type of steel and the differences that make in performance. There are two types of steel we will discuss: high carbon and stainless steel.
High carbon steel blades come in different varieties, including O1, A2, CPM D2, D2, 5190, 52100, 1080, 1085, and 1095. The advantage of carbon/alloy is that they will not dull as quickly. However, they are more prone to rusting. You can avoid rust by oiling the blade and keeping it clean.
Another distinct advantage of high carbon blades is that they will be softer than other steel. To some, this may not be ideal. However, softer steel is much easier to grind and keep sharp.
Stainless steel will also come in a few different varieties, including VG10, 440c, CPM S35V, CPM 154cm, and CPM 3v. You can kind of think of stainless steel blades as the complete opposite of high carbon. The material is much tougher, making it somewhat lower maintenance but much more difficult to sharpen when the time comes. The good news is that you don’t have to worry much about rust.
Each steel type has its advantages and disadvantages. You may need to try a knife made of each to decide which material you prefer for your specific needs.
The final aspect of the blade we will discuss here is the overall design. The design encompasses the edge and the grind of the knife. Before we jump deeper into the specifics of blade design, let’s first talk about bushcraft needs.
So, if you’re looking for a bushcraft knife, you’ll need to be able to utilize it for almost all survival tasks. This means you need a knife with the ability to do push-cuts, build a fire, drill, topping and tailing, and more. Many bushcrafters will use this same knife for cooking, hunting, and fishing as well.
With all of that in mind, the best bushcraft knives should have a defined drop point with a flat cutting edge and grind. All in all, you want a knife that can make everyday outdoor tasks more manageable.
To get more specific, you want a blade grind that fits your needs. Here are some examples of different grind options and their benefits:
- Flat grind: Mostly found on kitchen knives and suitable for chopping.
- Convex grind: Smooth transition lines give a stronger edge and cleaner cut
- Hollow grind: Incredibly thin giving a razor edge cut and making it easier to sharpen and useful for skinning and dressing.
- Chisel grind: Good general purpose heavy-duty cutting and woodcutting.
- Scandi grind: Short, flat grind on a thin blade where the primary grind is also the edge bevel. Short for a Scandinavian grind.
The most popular grinds for bushcraft knives are Hollow, Chisel, and Scandi grinds.
Other general blade aspects to notice is if it is full tang and if there is a portion of the knife that has a serrated edge. Some bushcraft purists do not like serrated edges, but some prefer them to make certain tasks like cutting wood easier. When a knife is full tang the metal of the blade funs entirely through the handle.
The handle is the next most crucial part of the knife’s construction. It is what gives you control of the blade and ensures that you have proper maneuverability. Handles are traditionally made from wood for bushcraft knives and you can find many still made from wooden materials. These handles are sturdy, tough, and will look good, but it will absorb moisture very easily.
For bushcraft knives under $50, the next most common material for a handle will be plastic and rubber. These handles are still durable and often more comfortable to hold. It will usually yield a firmer handle and give you a better grip.
There are high-priced knives that will utilize materials like micarta or G-10 (glass-filled nylon). Knife handles made from these materials will be the most durable and longest lasting. They will also be found on more expensive knives.
Another aspect of the handle other than material should be the shape. You want a shape that will fit your hand nicely and potentially have a protection guard. This is hard to know before the knife is in your hand, so if you are buying online, you may want to pay close attention to the shape and design of the handle in the product description.
Finally, we have the sheath. The sheath of the knife is what keeps the blade protected and secure when it is not in use. For knives under $50, the sheath is usually the part of the design that suffers the most. Companies will put the bulk of the money into the actual knife and then skimp on the sheath.
Materials often used to make a sheath include leather, plastic, or nylon. Some nylon sheaths will be quite durable, but others are cheaply made and will break down quickly. Some nylon sheaths will be cut gradually over time by taking the knife in and out.
Leather is a traditional material used, but it is often a bit more expensive. Some knives on our list used leather sheaths, and they are rather durable. Cheaply made leather sheaths will usually glue together scraps of leather to create a sheath. This is not ideal, and you should look for a sheath that is a solid piece with minimal seams.
Then we have the plastic sheath. Some plastic sheaths, like Morakniv, are made with durable materials and are extremely easy to clean. I am partial to plastic sheaths because of those reasons. They are minimalistic, heavy-duty, and don’t hold grime. The major battle with a plastic sheath is how it connects to you. They will use either a plastic or metal attachment, which can be somewhat annoying to wear.
As many outdoor enthusiasts know, a good knife is something that every emergency kit must-have. The best bushcraft knife should be dependable, versatile, and long lasting. It also shouldn’t have to break the bank.
There are some great budget-friendly bushcraft knives out on the market today that you will be able to use for years to come. Sure, they may not be perfect, but they get the job done. They will last you even longer if you care for them properly.
So, when you are looking for the best budget bushcraft knife, we hope we gave you some criteria you would follow as a guide. Plus, maybe we even helped you find the next knife for your collection on our list of bushcraft knives under $50.