WellRigged.com is devoted to sifting out the most durable and time-tested products on earth. Today, I’d like to introduce you to the most iconic knives from around the world.
You don’t even have to be rich to own some of these iconic knives. Many can be had for under $40!
Did I miss a knife? Feel free to send me your suggestions via the contact form.
Rambo’s First Blood (FB) Knife
Price Range: ~ $2000
Everyone knows Rambo’s knife. Its huge, scary and ridiculously impractical…but who cares! It’s awesome!
Only 13 original First Blood knives were ever made. Recently the #8 knife was unsuccessfully auctioned with a suggested price of between $25-35,000!
Take heart though, if you still want a close relative to Rambos knife, Jimmy Lile who made the originals still produces similar First Blood knives for $2000 a pop. Good luck!
Kabar USMC fighting/utility knife
Price Range: $80-120
The 1217 KA-BAR USMC Fighting/Utility knife is, by far, the most iconic fixed blade of this century.
For more on the KA-BAR check out my full in-depth review of the KABAR USMC knife.
The 7-inch bowie blade and stacked leather handle was a fearsome thing to behold especially for Japanese infantryman in WW2. This knife was carried onto the beaches of Iwo Jima and many other theaters of action including Korea.
In fact, this knife model has actually eclipsed its own brand name. When you say “KA-BAR” most folks will assume you to mean USMC fighting/utility knife.
The KA-BAR is so hard-baked into the US Marine DNA that many still carry it on deployment and use them in ceremonies like cake-cutting.
Swiss Army Classic SD
Price Range: ~$15-20
The tiny Swiss Army Classic SD has won the heart of millions just like the Volkswagen Beetle once did. It’s small, affordable, and far more practical than you’d ever think.
Without exaggeration, I use my Classic SD at least 5 times more than any other knife I own. Why? Because it is always with me and can still handle 90% of the mundane daily tasks I need it too.
You’ll never notice it on your keychain until the next time you open an Amazon package.
The Classic SD is, by far, the best selling and longest running Swiss Army knife and it is also the smallest. The Classic SD only weighs .74oz, but comes with a blade, scissors, screwdriver, toothpick and a nail file. (see my full review)
Price Range: ~$100
The Leatheman Wave is, by far, the best-selling plyer-based(and most loved) multi-tool ever made…period. I’ve owned two(lost my first.) With an impressive 18 onboard tools, the latest version of Wave would even make Batman blush with envy.
The Leatherman Wave’s success has a lot to do with hitting the sweet spots of size, function, and precision build quality. It is the benchmark by which all other multitools are measured.
I reviewed the previous generation, here, but it has since been refined and upgraded in a few minor ways.
Buck 110 Hunter
Price Range: ~$80
Behold an all-American legend. The Buck 110 is the original hunter folding knife. Since its inception in 1964 millions upon millions of Buck 110s have been sold.
The Buck 110 solved a problem. It was the first mass-produced locking folder able to handle the heavier-duty work usually reserved for larger fixed-blades. Hunters no longer had to carry a big knife on their belt.
To own a Buck 110 Hunter is to own a genuine piece of Americana.
Price Range: ~ $35
Picasso himself apparently used an Opinel knife to carve his statues. France has even included “Opinel” in the official french dictionary for the generic term for “pocket knife.”
The French-made Opinel #8 is a legend in its own right.
The design has been around since the late 1800’s . In 1985 this humble peasants knife was even featured in the Victoria and Albert Museums “100 most beautiful products in the world” exhibit alongside the likes of Rolex and Porsche. (source)
The Opinel #8 features a 3-inch stainless steel clip-point blade and a simple yet elegant beach wood handle. Opinel knives are noted for their unique viru-bloc twist lock mechanism located at the hilt.
The wonderful thing about this knife, is that it still only costs around $20 so peasants like us can still afford one!
Price Range: $15-$250
The Higonokami is “Japan’s Pocket knife.” There is only one Higonokami guild and it is the one official brand still producing these iconic knives since 1894.
The Higonokamis have a unique thumb tab blade release called a Chikiri, a reverse tanto blade, a slight upward sweeping spine along with the iconic metal handle.
Today you can get Higonakamis in tons of variants but one of the finest is the Higo 16 with the iconic a brass handle, and razor sharp Damascus (Aogami blue paper) steel.
Price Range: ~$25
The Douk Douk is another French legend but with a much darker, shall we say, “murdery” history. It gets its name from the creepy Melanesian spirit depicted on the handle.
Most notoriously, the Douk Douk was used by assassins and terrorists during the Algerian FLN revolt in the 50’s and 60’s. Apparently, many a nose was cut off with the Douk Douk if you made the FLN angry.
The Douk-Douk is quite a rudimentary folder. The blade is of a softer, easily sharpened carbon steel, and the handle scales are made of sheet metal. There is no locking mechanism for the blade…it’s not exactly safe.
Price Range: ~$350+
The Laguiole is a style of knife not a brand but it is still worth listing as one of the most iconic knives in the world. This knife gets 10 points for style. It’s a gorgeous folder!
The design was developed in 1829 for cattle herders along the French-Spanish border. Legend has it that, Napoleon Bonapart designated his Empirial symbol of the bee(found on all Laguiole knives) to honor the citizens of Laguiole for their valor shown in battle.
The long slender folding blade nests inside a narrow handle with graceful sweeping curves often called a “ladies leg.” The blade is semi-locking and features a bee/fly emblem on the end of the back spring.
The real-deals are made in the cutlery towns of Thiers and Laguiole, France such as Forge Laguiole.
Buck 119 Special
Price Range: ~$95
I skinned my first rabbit with a Buck 119 special. This is a very beautiful knife.
The Buck 119 special was the first knife Hoyt Buck ever made. The founder of Buck knives actually fashioned the 119 prototype from a worn-out piece of file blade in 1902.
Since then, the 119 Special has become an American icon. The shiny 420 HC clip point contrasts against the pinstriped smooth phenolic black handle. It’s still made in America today and makes an eye-catching must-have for any fixed-blade knife collector
Kershaw 1660 Leek
Price Range: ~$85
The Kershaw Leek, a Ken Onion design, took the American cutlery industry by storm. This knife is the definition of a viral success that is constantly selling out online. It has become a benchmark definition of an EDC knife and is now available in tons colors and variations.
Why is it so popular? Because it hits so many sweet spots for an EDC knife:
- a comfortable pocketable profile( 4″ when folded)
- weighs only 3 ounces
- Very fast assisted open
- Excellent quality Sandvik 14C28N steel
- one of the best warranties in the knife industry
Price Range: $~130
The American-made Benchmade Griptillian family of folding knives is another viral success. The Griptillian comes in standard or a smaller EDC size which competes directly with the aforementioned Kershaw Leek.
Many-a-couch potato passes his evening flipping his beloved Griptilian open and closed while watching TV.
The Griptillian is among the mostcustomizable mass-produced knives available. You can choose from any number of blade profiles, steels, custom engraving, and handle scales.
Price Range: ~$190
The Spyderco Military is perhaps one of the most copied folding EDC designs every. The iconic high-quality (CPM-S30V) 4-inch blade can deploy quickly with a single hand by gripping the unique large round hole with your thumb and flipping it open.
It’s a refreshingly different design for an EDC knife but it is no less practical. Throngs of adoring fans testify to the Spyderco Military’s everyday usefulness.
Price Range: ~$60
Finally, a quality EDC folder that’s easy on the wallet! You can often get this attractive little knife for only $30! No wonder it has been hit!
The Cryo makes an excellent first EDC knife or gift.
The knife features single-hand assisted open and a secure frame lock. The beefy drop point blade is 2.75 inches long and made from good quality 8Cr13MoV steel.
Basically, you’re getting 90% of what you would ever need in a folder for 20% of the price of premium ones.
The Cryo is a screaming good deal.
Price Range: ~$130
The Gerber MKII is a fearsome and brutally efficient tactical knife. The design is an homage to the Fairbairn-Sykes fighting knife first issued to British commandos in WW2.
Gerber began producing the MKII 1966 for use in Vietnam. Its gritty, fearsome look is a reminder of the brutality of trench warfare.
The MK11 remains one of Gerber best selling knives of all time. Millions of these knives have been produced and its unique, aggressive profile stands apart from the crowd.
Morakniv Mora Campanion
Price Range: ~$25
Morakniv is the pride of Sweden’s cutlery industry. The area of Mora is to Sweden what Sheffield is to England; the heart of the nation’s cutlery industry.
Moraknivs offer some of the best value knives money can buy. They make extremely practical and durable blades.
When someone says, “Mora” they are most likely referring to the Morkniv’s modern Companion line of bushcraft knives. Morakniv makes extremely strong yet very affordable blades making an excellent first bushcraft knife to own.
Price Range: ~$45-250
The Case Trapper has an absolutely massive cult following. This little two-blade jacknife is available in far too many colors and handle materials than you can shake a stick at.
Every decade Case introduces a new tang stamp with 10 dots around it. Each year a dot is removed. Thus, you can always know what year your Case Trapper was made.
Collectors, of course, love building their Case trapper collection by buying every year of each decade.
D.H Russel #1 Canadian Belt Knife
Price Range: ~$110
D.H. Russell’s belt knife has been an icon among Canadian hunters, trappers, and woodsmen since 1957.
The knife’s unique profile with an offset rosewood handle and the elliptical blade has often been copied but the original is still hand-made by Grohmann knives in Nova Scotia, Canada.
British Standard Issue(BSI) #1 Kukri
Price Range: $65-90
The Kuki is the fearsome weapon of choice wielded by the Nepalese Gurkhas.
The most iconic Kukri is arguably the British Standard Issue #1 Kukri because of its close lineage to the line of kukris issued to the British Gurkhas units over the past century.
According to Kukrihouse.com,
“From the formation of 1st Gurkha unit in 1814 to the Great Indian Mutiny in 1857 to the Great War in 1914-18 to 2nd world war in 1944-45 to Borneo Confrontation in 1962-66 to Falklands war in 1982 Gurkhas have been issued with various types of service kukris amongst which Service No.1 is probably the most famous because its a modern-day standard issue with very close ties with legendary British Gurkhas militarily and emotionally.”
KA-BAR Becker BK2 Companion
Price Range: ~$85-130
When someone says, “survival knife,” there’s a good chance the Becker BK2 will part of that conversation. It’s easily one of the best-selling survival knives out there. It’s main claim to fame is that it is practically indestructible(see my hands-on review)
Ethan Becker, the designer, has a legendary reputation in the bushcraft knife industry. The BK-2 is one of his oldest and best-selling knife designs.
Chris Reeve Sebenza
Price Range: ~$450-750
Chris Reeve’s Sebenza is one of the highest precision folders you can possibly buy. It is also one of the most expensive!
The Sebenza 3.6’s inch blade and frame-lock mechanism is machined to very tight tolerances and the action is silky smooth.
The first Sabenza was created in 1987 and carefully refined ever since. The latest Sabenza 31 offers a new Ceramic ball lock bar interface which provides dependable lock up and reduced wear over-time.
To Buy a Sabenza is to buy a true legend
Okapi Big Sable (South Africa)
Price Range: ~$14
The Okapi Big Sable is Africa’s most iconic jack knife. Made in South Africa, it is widely sold by street vendors all over the continent. I bought my first Okapi from a roadside stand in Niger, West Africa.
The Okapi has a darker side too. In South Africa, it has earned the dubious nickname of, “The Saturday Night Special” among petty criminals.
The Okapi features a simple carbon-steel blade, cherry wood handle and attractive stainless steel inlay. The affordable sub-$20 price point is a big reason why the Okapi has become “Africa’s jack knife.”
Price Range: ~$125-201
It’s been the standard-issue survival knife of the Swedish airforce since 1995. While it is a relative youngster on this list, the F1 has carved out a very large following especially amongst bushcraft enthusiasts.
It holds a very keen edge, is well balanced, and is just the right size for precise control when carving.
The F1 is a utilitarian blade but don’t be fooled by its plain looks. This is a premium knife. Simplicity is often the mark of an enduring design. This knife is available in three very tough steel options: Lam. VG10, Lam. CoS and 3G steel.
I realize that building a list of the most iconic knives ever made is sure to stir up some controversy. That’s ok. I’m eager to hear suggestions from all of you knife aficionados.
Feel free to send me a message via the contact form…just be nice..LOL.