This post was originally published in 2018 and has since been updated yearly to reflect newer and better models.
Disaster can strike anytime anywhere.
Your car might suddenly careen off the road before landing upside down in a creek or your clothing could get trapped in an escalator unexpectedly.
In either situation, only a knife can save you from certain doom. While any knife can save someone in a pinch, manufacturers have seized the opportunity to create models specifically designed to aid in a rescue.
So we compiled a list of 20 of the best rescue knives. These come in all designs and styles, from small folders to massive fixed blades.
Take a look and let us know your favorites.
1. Kershaw Funxion
The Kershaw Funxion EMT is an updated version of the knife with a feature-rich design. The knife comes with a 3-inch partially serrated blade that deploys with the SpeedSafe assisted-opening mechanism.
Hidden within the K-texture GFN handle is a carabiner clip, hex wrench, cord cutter, glass breaker tip, and screwdriver tip. This is a nice multitool to carry that would come in handy in the event of an emergency. This knife is particularly useful for an EMT or medic.
2. Spyderco Assist
Spyderco makes some bizarre knives, but there’s no denying they’re great at their job. The Assist is no exception.
According to Spyderco, the knife was designed for emergency, fire, and rescue professionals (as well as civilians who like to be prepared). The 3.687-inch VG-10 blade features a blunt tip and a partially serrated edge. Along with the Round Hole, the knife features a protrusion that further aids in easy one-handed opening.
The handle is also jam-packed with features, whether you’re talking about the retractable carbide tip, survival whistle, unique squeezable blade when closed, or wavy blade for a comfortable grip when breaking glass.
3. KA-BAR BK3 Becker Tac Tool
Not all rescue knives have to be folders. And when you’re talking about a fixed-blade rescue knife, few are as tough as the KA-BAR BK3 Becker Tac Tool. This knife is a real beast you wouldn’t be afraid to use to rescue someone from a burning building.
The 7-inch blade is made from 1095 Cro-Van steel and can be used to pry and scrape. The Ultramid handle is just as durable as the blade. If it’s good enough for a SWAT team, it’s good enough for you.
4. Gerber Hinderer CLS
Rick Hinderer may be a famous knifemaker, but as a former firefighter and EMT, he also knows a thing about rescues. He put his experience to use in the Gerber Hinderer CLS.
Standing the Combat Life Saver, the knife features a 3.5-inch partially serrated blade with a large thumb stud for easy opening with gloves. The handle also has a seat-belt cutter, glass breaker, and oxygen tank wrench.
5. Boker Plus Cop Tool
The Boker Plus Cop Tool is an amazing EDC. This fixed blade is not your typical knife in that it is designed to pry, chisel, hammer, and shatter glass. When you’re in a jam, this knife can do it all.
6. Smith & Wesson 1st Response
Smith & Wesson makes a variety of First Response knives. The difference between these and many others on the list is they’re dirt cheap. These are knives you shouldn’t be afraid to put through the ringer in the event of an emergency.
The S&W SWFRS First Response is a good choice at $22. It comes with a liner-locking partially serrated blade, a seat-belt cutter, and a glass breaker.
7. Benchmade Triage
From the cheap S&W, we turn toward the higher end with the Benchmade Triage. When you want something with a little more quality and features, the Triage is a good way to go. The knife has been tested by the “world’s foremost experts.”
This version has a black 3.58-inch partially serrated blade, safety hook, and glass breaker.
The blade uses N680 steel and engages with the always reliable AXIS locking mechanism. It’s technically an automatic knife, so make sure to check your local laws.
8. Colonial M-724 Paratrooper Auto
You know a rescue knife is legit when it’s the issue paratrooper jump knife.
The Colonial Paratrooper Auto has a straight-forward clip point blade at 2.78 inches that opens with the push of a button. It also has a manual-opening shroud cutter.
Its nearly indestructible glass-filled nylon handle reduces the overall weight of the knife to just 2.7 ounces. This US-made knife is something you can bet your life on.
These are all built to order, which makes them even more special.
9. Victorinox Rescue Tool
A simple Swiss Army Knife is often good enough to get you out of a jam, but Victorinox created a true rescue tool with the help of rescuers. The result is the simply named Victorinox RescueTool.
It features a seat-belt cutter, locking blade that opens with one hand, a disc saw for shatterproof glass, and a glass breaker. The handle comes in either luminescent or black.
10. CRKT M16-14LEK
There is no shortage of models of the CRKT M16. As one of the flagship lines for the brand, you can find it in a ton of different iterations, including the rescue version.
The M16-14LEK is designed for the emergency services field. It features black scales and a partially serrated 3.75-inch blade. There is a seat-belt cutter added to the flipper tab and a glass breaker at the butt.
11. Byrd Cara Cara Rescue 2
Spyderco has a line of knives that are based on many of its best-selling knives but at a fraction of the cost. The Byrd Cara Cara 2 Rescue is a repurposed Endura with a few features that make it great for rescue, such as a fully serrated blade and blunt tip.
You can get all the great things of a Spyderco for under $40.
12. Cold Steel SRK
The SRK is not your traditional rescue tool, but it performs well in more rugged rescue operations. The SRK stands for Survival Rescue Knife, and the design is no-nonsense. The 6-inch blade is made from SK-5 steel, and the checkered handle is Kray-Ex.
This knife also makes a great survival tool.
13. SOG Trident AT
The Trident used to be on this list when it was first published in 2018, but it fell off because it was discontinued. However, SOG recently revamped its entire lineup of knives, equipping most of them with a refreshed design and the new XR lock. Now, the Trident is back.
The Trident AT is a tough and quick EDC with a long 3.7-inch D2 clip-point blade. What makes this a great rescue knife are the little additions, such as a built-in cutter, glass breaker, and ambidextrous, single-handed capabilities.
14. Kershaw Barricade
Kershaw has another budget-friendly option for a rescue knife. The Barricade uses assisted-opening technology with a bright orange glass-filled nylon handle.
15. Spyderco ClipiTool
The Spyderco ClipiTool Rescue is the ultimate rescue tool with several functions geared toward saving lives. The 3.5-inch sheepsfoot locking blade has a relatively blunt point with a fully serrated edge.
It also has a hook-shaped cutter for quickly removing clothes or cutting seat belts. A non-locking screwdriver adds an extra element of usefulness.
16. Ontario SP8 Spec Plus Survival Machete
The Ontario Survival Machete is along the same lines as the Becker Tac Tool. This is a beast of a knife that uses brute force in survival situations.
Its durable 10-inch blade can scrape, pry, saw, cut, and more. When you need something big for a rescue, this is the perfect knife.
17. Gerber EZ Out Rescue
The E-Z Out is a staple of Gerber, so it’s not surprising to see Gerber create a rescue version of the knife. The blade is 3.5 inches and has a serrated blade with a blunt tip. The Kraton handle is bright yellow for increased visibility.
This isn’t the most expensive knife out there, but it does what it’s meant to quite well. It’s easy to just toss it in your glove compartment and forget about it.
18. Smith & Wesson Extreme Ops
There’s a reason this knife is the best-selling knife of all time in our existence since 2004 here at Knife Depot. It’s an excellent all-around folder to have on hand.
This is the same knife I keep in my car in case of emergencies. You can’t beat this knife for the value.
19. SOG Escape
The Escape has an apt name. The knife allows you to escape from harrowing situations with its design.
The 3.4-inch blade has partial serrations and the handle features a seat-belt cutter and glass breaker. It engages with a thumb stud and has jimping all around the handle for a reliable grip.
20. Spyderco Autonomy
When the Coast Guard needed a tool that could meet the demands of intense rescues, Spyderco stepped up to the plate. The result is the Autonomy.
The Autonomy is the ultimate rescue tool with a nearly rustproof H-1 steel blade with full serrations on the 3.7-inch blade. It’s the only automatic Spyderco knife because sometimes you need a knife in a pinch.
If you’re an EMT or pride yourself on being ready, it’s hard to beat this knife.