Top 10 Best Rescue Knives | 2021 Reviews (Kershaw)

You can never be too careful, and you can encounter an accident at any time. There may come a time where you get stuck in your car, and you may need to cut your seatbelt and easily smash your car window for you to get free. When disaster strikes, you need a good rescue knife to get you out of a precarious situation.

Fortunately, many manufacturers have designed rescue tools that can fit in your pocket, and if you know what to look for, purchasing a rescue knife for yourself will be a pinch.

To help you, we listed down our top 8 best rescue knives in the market. And if you read on, we will guide you on what to look for in a rescue knife.

Top 8 Best Rescue Knives Reviewed

  1. Kershaw Funxion EMT 8100 – Best overall
  2. SOG Trident Elite – Best Value
  3. Gerber Hinderer Combat Life Saver Knife – Editor’s Choice
  4. Spyderco Assist
  5. Benchmade Triage
  6. Kershaw Barricade
  7. Victorinox Swiss Army Rescue Tool
  8. Smith & Wesson SWFRS First Response

#1. Kershaw Funxion EMT 8100 – Best overall

Kershaw Funxion EMT 8100

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Specifications:

  • Total length: 7.25 inches
  • Weight: 4.8 ounces
  • Blade: 8Cr13MoV stainless steel
  • Functions: cord/seatbelt cutter, flathead screwdriver tip, hex wrench, carbide glass-breaker tip, and carabiner clip

If you are on a budget but still want a good rescue knife with multiple functions, Kershaw Funxion EMT is a good start.

The 3-inch blade—with almost half of it serrated—flips open with Kershaw’s Speedsafe assisted opening technology, ensuring a smooth, secure, and fast blade deployment using just one hand. It uses a liner lock to secure the knife. The knife is designed to be ambidextrous, so it is great for left-handed people.

Its handle features a non-slip K-Texture insert, which enhances your grip, and the glass-filled nylon feature makes it more lightweight than its previous versions.

Four other features come with this Funxion EMT. On the other side of the handle, you will find a multi-tool component that includes a cord cutter (can also be used as a seatbelt cutter), flathead screwdriver tip, hex wrench, and a bottle opener. At one end of the handle, a carabiner clip is included so you can attach it to your keyring, belt, or belt loops. You can also find the glass-breaker tip on the other side of the handle when the blade is folded.

Its overall black appearance—with the blade’s black oxide coating—makes it attractive and sleek, which some knife owners may deem desirable.

Reviewers from Off Grid Web were happy with the knife overall, with several features that fare better than the rest of the test knives for an affordable price. However, most reviewers find the brand’s choice of steel to be far from heavy-duty. The 8Cr13MoV stainless steel is known to be not as durable in the long term as you would expect.

Overall, the Funxion EMT does its job as a good rescue knife for its price and its multiple features.

ProsCons
Carabiner clip; easy to storeHard-to-press thumb studs
Six overall functionsBudget stainless steel
Sleek appearanceBulky
Lightweight

#2. SOG Trident Elite – Best Value

SOG Trident Elite

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Specifications:

  • Total length: 8.7 inches
  • Weight: 3.9 to 4.4 ounces
  • Blade: AUS-8 stainless steel
  • Functions: cord/seatbelt cutter, glass breaker

SOG Knives take pride in their products as they “create style through craftsmanship.” This can be reflected in their Trident Elite Tactical knife.

If you order directly from them, you will have several options to choose from for your blade: whether you would like a plain or partially serrated edge, black titanium nitride-coated blade or satin finish, and if you want a tanto point or clip point. These choices can affect the weight slightly, which can range from 3.9 ounces to 4.4 ounces.

SOG usually uses AUS-8 stainless steel for their blades, as it is durable and of high quality. It can be flipped open on both sides with its assisted-opening feature using a thumb stud. However, the piston lock bar is only at the left side of the handle, which left-handed users may find the knife difficult to close. It also features a safety switch on the handle, preventing the blade from accidentally opening in your pocket or bag.

The fiberglass-reinforced nylon handle features rubber inserts to give you a comfortable and secure grip.

Other features include what SOG refers to as the Groove—found near the butt of the handle—which is a cutter slot that can be used to cut rope, paracords, fishing lines, and other light materials. The Groove can be used when the knife is folded since the main blade is used to cut in the slot.

The glass breaker tip is located at the front of the handle on this knife, making it different from the rest of the rescue knives, where their glass breakers are usually found at the butt of the handle.

Users found the rescue knife very useful, durable, and overall great to use. The lightweight, sharp edge and thin profile are the prominent highlights of the product. One of the issues users encountered was the Groove, as it is useful for light materials like rope and fishing cords, but many deemed it unusable when trying to cut seatbelts and fabric. Another issue some encountered was the assisted-opening feature, which was found very stiff and hard to open.

Despite some issues, most consumers use the Trident as their EDC knife, as it is not bulky on your pocket, incredibly lightweight, and sharp blade that can cut through most things when needed.

ProsCons
Custom bladesThe Groove feature can only be used in thin, light materials
LightweightAssisted opening is stiff, hard to press
Slim profile
Sharp edge

#3. Gerber Hinderer Combat Life Saver Knife – Editor’s Choice

Gerber Hinderer Combat Life Saver Knife

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Specifications:

  • Total length: 8.5 inches
  • Weight: 5.8 ounces
  • Blade: 440A stainless steel
  • Functions: seatbelt cutter, glass breaker, oxygen tank wrench, lanyard hole

More than 80 years since the company was founded, Portland-based Gerber has a global reach to millions of hunters, soldiers, and merchants. The Gerber Hinderer Combat Life Saver Knife is one of their trusted rescue knives on the shelf.

The knife features a 3.5-inch 440A stainless steel blade that is partially serrated. It flips out using an oversized thumb stud on the handle for easy opening with one hand, even if your hands are wet or wearing gloves. The thumb stud can also be found on the other side of the blade, so left-handed users are not left out.

Within the glass-filled nylon handle are several useful features. Near the butt, you can find the built-in seatbelt cutter. On the butt of the handle itself is a hole where you can loop in your lanyard and the glass breaker tip. The other side of the handle is its steel pocket clip and a slot that acts as an oxygen tank wrench.

It got some mixed reviews online due to some issues with the knife’s design. Most are satisfied with the product and carry it on their person every day. But the clip and the glass-breaker tip/lanyard hole can sometimes get snagged on places, according to some. While the brand features the knife as easy to open with one hand, many find it difficult to flip the knife out using just one hand, same with folding it back in.

You can find the knife’s price to be a bit expensive for its number of features and overall design. But some have proven it to be long-lasting—most for over a year, frequently used—so the Gerber Hinderer may still be a good purchase.

ProsCons
Over-sized thumb studs for easy accessBlade is not easy to open with one hand
Brand has been around for a long timeHeavy in the pocket
Useful tools; can be an EDC knifeHigh price point

#4. Spyderco Assist

Spyderco Assist

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Specifications:

  • Total length: 8.6 inches
  • Weight: 3.9 ounces
  • Blade: VG-10 stainless steel, H1 rust-proof steel
  • Functions: scissor-type cord cutter, retractable glass breaker, a survival whistle

Spyderco made four models of the Assist, consisting of three standard Assists and a specialized one called Assist Salt.

For the standard Assist, VG-10 stainless steel is used for the blade. The serrated edge consists of 1/3 of the blade, with a blunt nose and a thumb hole at the other side of the blade to open it up. A metal plate is included above the thumb hole, called the Cobra Hood, which gives your thumb more leverage for one-handed opening.

The Assist features three tools with it. The glass breaker is hidden at the butt of the handle. It pops out when you firmly hold the folded blade and squeeze. As for the cord cutter, Spyderco made it so you can use its blade more creatively. Slightly open the blade, insert a cord, and squeeze the blade back in to cut like scissors. However, this won’t work for thin straps and seatbelts.

One unique feature of this knife is the survival whistle. Near the butt of the handle, there are two square holes and act as the survival whistle. It is a very useful feature in case you get stuck and need someone nearby to help you. The square holes may seem unassuming at first, but many are surprised to find that it makes an immensely loud sound. You will definitely be heard from far away if you desperately need help.

The specialized Assist Salt is overall the same, including the features. The main difference, however, is the type of steel used for its blade. The Assist Salt uses a high-end H1 rust-proof steel, a special steel with added Nitrogen content, therefore making it completely immune to corrosion, according to Spyderco.

The Assist and Assist Salt are both on the expensive side, but these will be great as your EDC knife and can last a really long time if you are not on a budget.

Many users online revel at the quality the Assist rescue and have given overwhelmingly positive reviews. The only complaint is the high price point, but other than that, they find it a great, high-quality rescue knife that can withstand many elements—which is why a lot of reviewers work in the dive and marine industry.

Most users call it the best rescue knife they have in their gear or car glove box in case of emergencies.

ProsCons
Loud survival whistle attachmentOn the expensive side
Easy to open with one hand
High-quality steel
Blunt nose tip

#5. Benchmade Triage

Benchmade Triage

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Specifications:

  • Length: 8.2 inches
  • Weight: 5.1 ounces
  • Blade: N680 stainless steel
  • Functions: cord/seatbelt cutter, glass breaker

As one of the higher-end rescue knives on the list, the Benchmade Triage may be the most expensive one.

Featuring an N680 stainless steel blade, the 3.5-inch partially serrated blade has strong corrosion resistance, perfect for wet environments, including saltwater. The blade opens by either pushing on its thumb stud or pulling back on Benchmade’s signature AXIS lock bar. The known lock bar allows the blade to be flicked open and shut using one hand, even if you are wearing gloves.

You can also get a good grip with the G10’s finely-textured scales on the handle. It is also impervious to moisture and stable under extreme temperatures. In addition to opening and closing the blade, you can find thumb studs on either side of the handle, making it ambidextrous, suitable for left-handed users.

While the Triage is the most expensive knife, it only features two additional tools given its high-quality materials and components. On the butt of the handle is the carbide glass breaker. Opposite the blade, you will find its featured rescue hook—or seatbelt/cord cutter—made of 440C stainless steel. It flips out via a thumb stud and is held open by a ball detent mechanism.

A lot of users shared their glowing reviews of this product online. Many find the blade of both the knife and the hook cutter very sharp and holds for a long time. One person who has worked at Emergency Medical Services stated that their only critique about the knife is its light weight, but the knife does the job smoothly overall. Many users loved the G10 grip. It provided such a strong grip that it can be used whether you have gloves or slippery hands, according to some.

Most users highly recommend this product, proven by its high-quality materials and elegant performance on the field. However, this may hurt your wallet if you are on a budget.

ProsCons
AXIS lock makes it easy to open with one handOnly two additional functions
High-quality materials and designIncredibly high price point
Heavy-duty stainless steel
Ambidextrous function

#6. Kershaw Barricade

Kershaw Barricade

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Specifications:

  • Total length: 6 inches
  • Weight: 3.21 ounces
  • Blade: 8Cr13MoV stainless steel
  • Functions: Carbide glass breaker, cord/seatbelt cutter

When it comes to Kershaw products, you will get the great quality you need in a rescue knife in a price that won’t hurt your pocket.

The Barricade features a sharp 8Cr13MoV stainless steel blade that flicks out using Kershaw’s SpeedSafe assisted opening technology, making it easy to open with one hand. A liner lock keeps the blade secure. Ensuring it won’t rust easily, the blade is coated with black oxide. This also gives the blade an attractive, sleek look aside from its added corrosion resistance.

Two of the most important tools are included as an effective rescue knife—the cord/seatbelt cutter and the window/glass breaker. The glass breaker is located at the butt of the handle, with the built-in cord/seatbelt cutter that can effectively slice through anything.

It is a no-nonsense rescue knife, which makes it attractive to users. The Barricade is proved to be effective as many users online expressed their satisfaction with it. However, as mentioned in the previous Kershaw product, the blade’s steel is the same budget-quality steel that many deem as not highly durable. 

Its glass-filled nylon orange handle is surprisingly not too bright on the eyes but is bright enough for you to spot if you find yourself in an emergency easily. The handle is very stiff since it is made with synthetic nylon polymer reinforced with glass threads. This gives a sturdy, secure grip and can withstand extreme temperatures.

The Barricade is the shortest and one of the lightest rescue knives on the list. Easily carried with its single-position pocket clip, you can be secure and prepared in case of an emergency.

ProsCons
Budget-friendlyStiff thumb studs
Sturdy handleBudget steel
Lightweight

#7. Victorinox Swiss Army Rescue Tool

Victorinox Swiss Army Rescue Tool

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Specifications:

  • Total length: 4.4 inches
  • Weight: 5.9 ounces
  • Blade: Stainless steel
  • Functions: locking blade, Phillips screwdriver, window/glass breaker, strong screwdriver/crate opener with bottle opener and wire stripper, reamer or punch, seatbelt cutter, keyring, tweezers, toothpick, disc saw for shatterproof glass, nylon string, and pouch

While most of the rescue knives in the list are tactical-type knives, the Victorinox Rescue Tool is a Swiss Army knife type that is familiar to everybody with many functions in one handle.

Victorinox claims that they have worked with professional rescuers to design the Rescue Tool pocketknife and hopes that it is a tool that you never have to use. But, if the situation calls for it, the Rescue Tool is one you can trust 100% of the time.

Made with stainless steel blades, the Rescue Tool offers a large blade that can help you cut anything: cut your food, gut a fish or anything that requires a blade. It also features two more blades, one ComboEdge and one serrated, if you need more specialized blades for certain tasks.

It also features the usual other functions a rescue knife needs: a seatbelt cutter and a window/glass breaker. But since it is designed like the iconic Swiss Army knife, the Rescue Tool houses more functions aside from the blades.

The Rescue Tool includes both a flathead and Phillips screwdriver, a wire stripper, a reamer, and a disc saw that can remove shatterproof glass that can further help you in an emergency. Other functions may be used every day, like the bottle opener, tweezers, and crate opener, making the Swiss Army knife a more versatile rescue knife.

With its familiar design and functionality, many users are overly satisfied with the usage. It can be practical and be used as an EDC knife, but most Swiss Army knives are already for everyday use.

ProsCons
Swiss Army Knife designA bit expensive
15 overall functionsBulky
Highly durable

#8. Smith & Wesson SWFRS First Response

Smith & Wesson SWFRS First Response

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Specifications:

  • Total length: 8 inches
  • Weight: 5.8 ounces
  • Blade: 7Cr17MoV High Carbon stainless steel
  • Functions: Glass breaker tip, seatbelt cutter

Smith & Wesson makes a variety of First Response knives, and the SWFRS is one of the cheapest ones in the roster.

Made with High Carbon stainless steel, the 3-inch partially serrated blade offers high durability for an affordable cost. It is secured with a liner lock, and its thumb assist mechanism—which can be found on both sides of the handle—makes it easy to flick the blade out and in with one hand.

It features two other tools: a seatbelt cutter and a window breaker at the butt of the handle. The handle is made of stainless steel with G10 black inlays, giving you a good grip.

Reviews on the knife online are mostly positive, but some experienced a couple of issues. Generally, the knife is perfect for EDC use and is durable for first responders handling accidents every day. Some users’ issues are mostly the sharpness of the seatbelt cutter, the thumb assist, and the screws.

Some may find the thumb assist hard to use when flicking the blade out as they struggle to lock it back, and the screws sometimes loosen up after a few good uses. Other than that, many find the SWFRS knife a dependable, easy-to-use EDC knife that is worth its cheap price.

ProsCons
Sharp stainless-steel bladeThumb-assist button hard to use
Cheapest knife on the listScrews loosen after a while
Great for EDCSeatbelt cutter is not sharp

TOP PICK – BEST RESCUE KNIFE

Regarding overall functionality, weight, and durability, the Kershaw Funxion EMT is the best pick for a rescue knife.

With its multiple but practical features paired with an affordable price, everyone can purchase and store it in their cars as a rescue knife or an EDC knife since it is very lightweight.

While it does have a couple of issues—like its mid-quality stainless steel and bulky design—its overall design and functionality trump the minor issues.


A CLOSER LOOK ON RESCUE KNIVES – BUYER’S GUIDE

Throughout the article, we talked about different rescue knives and what additional functions they come with. While many designs and functions sound promising, and hundreds of different rescue knives in the market, you need to know what you are looking for first-hand.

Here is a guide on what to look for in buying 

rescue knives to know between high-quality rescue knives over underperforming cheap ones.

Blade

The main thing you should look at is the blade. The best rescue knife must have a sharp blade that can cut through anything, whether thin ropes or thick fabrics.

You will want to look for a sharp edge with a blunt tip. Blunt tips are essential in emergencies to prevent accidentally poking or stabbing someone or something that can worsen the situation. Some manufacturers offer a completely smooth edge, but it is best to find a rescue knife that is a combination of a smooth and serrated edge.

Serrated edges help, especially when cutting yourself or others loose, as the blade cannot easily slip off when you try to cut it off. 

The blades are usually sharp right out of the box, but it can wear as time goes by. To keep your rescue knife prepared, sharpening your blade is advised at least once or twice a month.

You can also learn what type of blade material the rescue knife is made of for an advanced look. It is best to go for high-quality, durable stainless steel like the AUS8 or 440C to ensure a long lifespan and not worry about the blade chipping off easily. Stainless steel is best for wet environments since it will not rust easily.

Weight

Whether you plan on carrying your knife everywhere you go or just keep it stored in your glove box, it is best to consider the knife’s weight on your hand.

You will want to work fast and easy when in a disaster situation and not worry about having to strain your hand because of the knife’s weight. Make sure you find a durable, lightweight knife that is easy to work with on your hand and that is sturdy enough to sustain an impact when using the glass breaker function without compromising the knife.

Handle

A good segue to the knife’s weight is also to consider the feel of the handle. A handle that can secure your grip is important to prevent you from accidentally dropping it or slipping from your hand. The material should feel rough enough that it won’t easily slip whether your hands are wet or wearing gloves.

While it looks sleeker and more attractive to have your rescue knife in all black, it is still recommended to get a knife with a bright colored handle. A bright-colored handle will help you spot it easier than a sleek black one if you drop your knife.

Dexterity

Not everyone is right-handed, and there will be times when your dominant hand is snagged or stuck. Make sure you look for an ambidextrous knife or a knife that can be used by both hands.

Additional Functions

A great rescue knife does not always just feature the blade. When it comes to rescuing situations, there may be times when you need to break windows or loosen up a screw or nut to escape.

The most important additional features for rescue knives are cord/seatbelt/strap cutter and a window/glass breaker. You can choose some rescue knives with more functions, as long as these two staple tools are included.

While most rescue knives are already designed to break windows (with its sturdy handle) and cut anything (with the blade), it’s still safe to have these additional tools to aid you in escaping a disaster more easily.


CONCLUSION

It is always better to be over-prepared than not at all. Even the most cautious person can get stuck in a precarious situation. Having a rescue knife in hand will always be handy, not just when emergency strikes, but even for everyday use or when you go out camping or hiking.

Knowing what to look for and how to pick the best rescue knife for you can save your life and maybe even others when the situation calls for it. Like the Kershaw Funxion EMT 8100, A sharp blade with multiple tool attachments that can be used in any situation can greatly improve your everyday tasks, not just for emergencies.


FAQs (FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS)

What is a rescue knife?

A rescue knife is a blade with added features to aid you in escaping from a dangerous situation, as well as rescuing others from it. While it is suggested by its name and most of its functions, rescue knives can also be used in everyday situations if needed.

If you frequently go outside for camping, hiking, kayaking, or go on a marine life adventure, a rescue knife is also handy in cutting cords, ropes, branches, and other things.

Is it necessary to choose a serrated blade?

When it comes to rescuing knives, a partially serrated blade is your best bet. While a smooth, fine edge is easier to sharpen, a serrated edge makes cutting woven and thick materials easier since it won’t easily slip off. Serrated edges may be a challenge to sharpen, but they are usually sharp for longer than smooth edges.

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