Best Karambit Knives in 2021
They’re ultra functional and bad-ass, a step-up from a standard pocket knife or a Spyderco blade: karambits are curved knives that hail from western influence, resembling a claw. These excellent blades come in handy for their invented purpose, being used as a utility knife, but can also be used during hunting, fishing or in your EDC lineup as a means of self-defense. No matter which way you slice it, a karambit knife is a sleek blade that’s been missing from your personal collection. Let’s remedy that, shall we? Check out the best Karambit knives on the market today.
The Best Karambit Knife
The top dog on our list comes from Emerson Knives. This is the definition of a quality karambit knife, decked out in every way possible. It’s not just about the price, it’s about the quality craftsmanship. For one, you get a G10 grip along the hilt, which is the very best that you can possibly get. High-quality steel stays razor sharp through extended use, while the air slat in the blade itself makes for faster swiping. Titanium locking mechanism and liners, and two different sizes available so you can comply with your local laws. Combat SF Karambit is a newer product from Emerson, arising from their long line of karambits and quality blades of other varieties. If you want to go all-in and get the best karambit money can buy, this is what you’re looking for. Be sure to also check out our Ka-Bar knives review for more great items like this.
Available in 2.4 inch and 3.4 inch blade to comply with local laws
G10 grips (best in the business)
Titanium liners and locking mechanism
Made in the United States
High-quality steel retains sharpness for extended periods of time
- BrandEmerson Knives
- Weight5.3 ounces
Coming hot on the heels of Emerson, Masalong brings in a fierce blade with a lot to talk about. First of all, they give you a high-quality leather sheath to store your karambit, which also has a bracketed leather strap to affix to your boot or pants. Masalong Outdoor Survival Tactical Karambit Knife comes made of D2-grade stainless steel with an average 58-60HRC hardness rating. In short, it’s not going to give up on you, no matter what you’re doing. The blade itself measures just over three inches, falling in line with many laws throughout the United States. Along the top of the blade is a serrated edge, useful as a tool, for fletching or cleaning tough game out in the middle of the wilderness on a camping trip. If you enjoyed the idea of the Emerson but can’t afford the price, this is the closest you’re going to get to it for a reasonable price under fifty dollars. For more tactical knives options, check out our essential guide.
Includes high quality leather sheath
Full-length hilt at 7 inches, blade 3.1 inches
D2-grade stainless steel blade material
Serrated blade top
Includes an ergonomic zig-zag design grip for maximum hold
- Weight15.2 ounces
Our best value is surprisingly inexpensive, a karambit that you’re certain to have for years without much sharpening required. Vulcan Gear drops this four-inch stainless steel blade, which is actually sharpened from the tip nearly down to the hilt, giving you a wide contact area. Perhaps one of the most excellent things about this karambit apart from the rock-bottom price is the ergonomic grip along the hilt. Separate areas for your fingers, a sturdy protrusion ring for your index finger, and a lightweight yet balanced feel from the top to the bottom. You won’t be able to get into this space for cheaper. Our handy guide to the best boot knives features more great products like this.
Four inch stainless steel blade
Includes a sheath w/ mounting strap
Ergonomic hilt grip w/ durable protrusion ring
The most inexpensive way to get a karambit knife today
Fixed blade with a razor’s edge covering 95% of the interior blade length
- BrandVulcan Gear
- Weight5.6 ounces
Fox Emerson Wave Karambit is truly tactical, a weapon and tool used by hunters, fishermen, and hikers/campers who prepare for absolutely anything to land in their path. You get the very best grip that money can buy, the G10, ensuring that no matter how tough the use is, your hold isn’t going to falter. Match that with the top-notch clasp along the backside of the hilt, as well as the large protrusion ring, and you’ve got a truly maneuverable weapon in your hands. When you go to actually retract the blade, there’s a large divot in the metal giving you a perfect spot for maximum control with your thumb. You can have this at-the-ready in no time at all, putting you in control of your own fate. Last but not least, it’s all crafted of corrosion-resistant stainless steel, a coated in Teflon for a smoother glide and use. This is an ideal gift for fishermen.
Features G10 grips (best you can get)
Large protrusion ring and wide finger slots
Good sized pull tab when retracted
Blade measures three inches long, excellent to comply with local laws
Teflon-coated corrosion-resistant stainless steel blade
- BrandFox 479
- Weight4.6 ounces
Hosana brings us an incredible inexpensive karambit blade with a ton of excellent aspects to it. First and foremost, the blade measures at 3.5 inches, which is the cutoff length for many different counties in America. That means the most power you can wield within the statue of the law (areas vary). Hosana is a lightweight blade that feels fantastic in your hands, thanks to the ergonomic finger grips dotting the hilt. There’s a diagonal pattern carved into multiple areas along the hilt, allowing you to have maximum grip no matter what’s happening around you. You’re also going to get a plastic sheath that comes with it, curved perfectly for the fixed blade, and including a nylon strap to attach to your boot or leg. Love this product? Check out our review of the top Benchmade pocket knives for our top picks.
3.5 inch blade length
Extremely lightweight and maneuverable
Includes a tough sheath w/ attachment strap
Ergonomic handle w/ finger grips
- Weight5.4 ounces
Smith & Wesson isn’t just making their steel into firearms, they’ve taken to blades as well. It’s a little known secret that S&W make some of the best blades on the planet, and among the most affordable. You get a built-in cross pattern design on the hilt to provide maximum stability while using it, which comes in handy with the elongated hilt and wide protrusion ring. Along with your blade purchase, you also get a nylon sheath designed to hold onto your fixed blade. While you might run into some issues with local laws (this blade is 3.75 inches), Smith & Wesson will make an excellent hunting knife or boot knife for your hiking trip. You should always do your best to expect the unexpected.
Comes with a nylon sheath
Blade measures 3.75 inches long
Stonewashed carbon blade material
Built-in cross pattern in the hilt acts as a sturdy grip
- BrandSmith & Wesson
- Weight3.84 ounces
Schrade is one name that’s synonymous with quality, especially when you get into cutlery. They spared no expenses at making this extremely cost-effective Full Tang Fixed Karambit Blade absolutely cutting-edge and optimal for multiple uses. You get a TPR grip that runs from the base of the blade to the protrusion ring, giving you maximum grip no matter what situation you’re in. That protrusion ring is wide enough to fit your index finger and provide a base to perform basic martial arts maneuvers. The blade length here is 5.21 inches, crafted of high carbon stainless steel for a sharper edge, and a longer distance between sharpening sessions, prolonging the life of your blade. A perfect survival knife you will want to have handy at all times.
Blade has a length of 5.21 inches
Includes a thermoplastic knife sheath designed to fit on your belt
High carbon stainless steel blade
Grip runs from the base of the blade to just around the protrusion ring
- Weight13.4 ounces
We’ve covered a full guide on nothing but the best Spyderco knives in existence. They really blew us away with Karahawk Blade Knife, and while it’s got a shorter blade length at 2.35 inches, you should be able to use this just about anywhere without issues. Spyderco spares no expenses, putting a G10 grip along the entire hilt, as well as an aerodynamic slat in the blade material, which folds into this hilt. You’ll be able to perfectly store this as a boot knife or along a belt loop, and though it’s a highly durable stainless steel blade, you won’t need to sharpen it for quite a while. Spyderco does offer a mail-in sharpening service that adheres to their strict and rigorous quality control, and it’s wildly inexpensive.
Stainless steel construction
Blade length measure a t 2.35 inches
G10 grips on either side
Folding blade w/ aerodynamic feature in the blade
- Weight3.68 ounces
There’s a whole lot to love from the official Karambit brand. Fox 599 Emerson Wave measures 2.25 inches long, adhering to a very wide array of US laws and regulations in various municipalities. That blade is crafted out of high-quality stainless steel, featuring a corrosion-resistant property that allows this to be dragged through the muck and the mud, and come out pretty on top. The extra-wide protrusion ring allows you to have full mastery and control over this lightweight, maneuverable knife at all times. Utilize the ergonomic grip and buckle along the hilt for quick access, and the Emerson Wave technology to bring this out in full force at the drop of a hat. Find more great products like this by checking out our guide to the automatic knives.
Ergonomic finger holds along the hilt
Extra wide protrusion ring
2.25 inch blade
Includes the patented Emerson Wave for fast deployment
Corrosion-resistant stainless steel finish
Cold steel ensures maximum density and some serious slicing power through the thick of whatever’s standing in your way. This high-quality karambit also features an ergonomic hilt, which includes finger holes, and a bead pattern design along the hilt’s remaining surface to provide maximum traction against the skin of your palm. Along the protrusion ring, you get a one-inch diameter, which allows you to utilize its full space for martial arts moves, as well as quick maneuverability in a pinch. You get a 4.75-inch blade, and while you may run into problems with some local laws, Cold Steel Tiger Fixed Knife is renowned as one of the best karambit knives for the budget-conscious collector. If you are looking to upgrade your knife collection, then make sure you read our Swiss Army knives review.
High quality cold steel construction
Ergonomic finger holds + bead pattern grip along the hilt
Blades measure 4.75 inches long
Wide one inch protrusion ring for martial arts use
- Weight9 ounces
Claw isn’t just in the name, it’s in the game. The top of the blade features a sharp serrated edge, while the bottom comes full form to showcase a razor-sharp edge that runs from the hilt to the tip without skipping a beat. Masalong uses nothing but high-quality D2-grade stainless steel for all of their knives, offering a hardness rating of 60HRC, which basically means you won’t have to worry about driving this into some timber and bending the blade. You’ll be good no matter what. Masalong Survival Claw measures 3.1 inches in total, making it an excellent knife to use for multiple purposes while keeping it tucked away inside of your highly durable plastic harness. This fixed blade won’t fail you. Don’t forget to also check our pen knives collection.
Includes a serrated blade top
Wide protrusion ring for maneuverability
D2-grade stainless steel blade construction
Blade measure 3.1 inches total
Fantastic grip from ring to the blade’s base
- Weight14.7 ounces
Straightforward and right down to the point, just like we like it. Tac Tops Karambit blade comes with a staggering 7.125 inches of total length, turning you into a force to be reckoned with under just about any circumstance. The carbon stainless steel construction is simple, yet provides a longer lasting sharpness to the blade, and maintains properly when hitting the whetstone. You also get a Kydex belt sheath along with your purchase, and apart from that, there’s not much to tell. Right to the point, down to the need-to-know’s, 45GM doesn’t mess around. You can find more great knives in our Bushcraft knives guide so check it out.
Blade length measure 7.125 inches total
Carbon stainless steel construction doesn’t lose sharpness easily
Includes a Kydex belt sheath with purchase
- Weight15.5 ounces
Spyderco puts the pedal to the metal (literally) when it comes to excellent design. We dubbed this the Stubby Karambit when we were testing them, partially because of that very large hilt where it meets the protrusion ring. As always, you get an Emerson opening system for a fast strike and quick access. Along the entire body of the hilt, you get that luxurious and reliable G10 grip to ensure maximum staying power throughout use. Last but not least, Spyderco Karahawk Plain Edge is made of a highly durable and 60HRC hardness rating VG-10 steel, giving you less sharpening sessions, and a longer lasting blade. If you need a smaller knife, check out our keychain knives review.
VG-10 stainless steel construction
Wide protrusion ring along the hilt
Emerson opening feature for fast access and use
G10 grip along the entire hilt
- Weight3.84 ounces
One of the least expensive karambit knife models on the list, you get a real bang for your buck. Not only do you get a deadly serrated edge along that two-inch blade, but it’s also crafted of highly durable stainless steel. When you grasp this fixed blade in your hand, you’re able to feel the advanced G10 grip along the hilt as your fingers slide into their designated holds. Last but not least, Mtech Usa Fixed Blade Karambit includes a paddle holster to keep it close by at all times. Gents, if you don’t know which karambit knife is absolutely perfect for you, check out the buying guide below to get educated, and circle back here to select your favorite from our list.
Extremely inexpensive karambit knife
Paddle holster included
G10 textured handle
2 inch blade total length
Stainless steel construction with serrated edge
- BrandMTECH USA
- Weight5.8 ounces
Karambit Knife Buying Guide and FAQ
If you’ve always wanted to expand your knife collection but don’t know where to start, we’ve got a killer guide to flood you with some history knowledge, and every which way you can use your karambit knife. Let’s break down instances where you’d use it, break into the martial arts aspect behind them, and maintenance.
How We Chose Our Selection of Karambit Knives
Quality - This usually has to do with materials and the brand, though it is a culmination of a bunch of different aspects. Karambits have a long history, as as such, there’s a ton of knock-offs. We were actually shocked at how many different knives we had to dig through before shipping our final selection to be tested.
Brand - Brand is big on quality and determining if it’s worth the money spent. The brand’s dedication to quality knives, mail order sharpening services and warranty policies are all going to take a part in your final decision. The karambit knife brand you go with actually makes a huge impact on the longevity of your product.
Reviews - User reviews help us determine what’s going to be wroth our time before we make the purchase and get it shipped out. We went for a lot of knives that have a tall list of reviews that showcase the quality of the product. It’s the voice of the people, and it’s one of the best indicators you’ve got when it comes to grabbing the right knife.
Price - Price always plays a part, but if you’re going for a quality karambit, it’s going to cost you a pretty penny. Since these are straight-cut narrow knives, the engineering and weight displacement aspects of your karambit are a lot more difficult to achieve, which is why quality brands charge more than you’d expect to see with straight knives.
Features to Look for in Karambit Knives
Blade Material - Most of the time, you’re going to encounter high-grade iron, stainless steel (sometimes surgical grade), or refined carbon. Karambits that are made out of less dense, less durable materials are easy to spot when you look at user reviews. Because of the curvature of the blade, you need a highly durable material, otherwise it’s going to buckle if you attempt to use it for any reason.
Blade Length - We cover more in this guide about blade lengths and laws (as best we can), but the blade length is a major thing you need to be on the lookout for. Ensure that when you’re looking at the sales page for a karambit, that you take the blade length into consideration, not just the overall length. You could have a hilt that’s 14” long and not break any laws, but your local government may have different laws regarding the blade length.
Handle - The handle has the protrusion ring, which helps for your grip, but also needs to have a good grip on its own along the materials and texture. Since the blade is already curved, there are a lot more ergonomic handles out there to ensure you have a steady grip.
Protrusion Ring - This little number is part of what makes a karambit, a karambit, and not just a curved blade. You have plenty of historically-known blades that have curvatures along the sharpened edge, but the protrusion ring makes this unique. You’ll see in a video we posted blow that you’ll be able to do all sorts of martial arts tricks and moves with it. Look for the overall width so you know it’ll be a good fit for your fingers.
Types of Karambit Knives
Fixed Blade Karambit - These don’t fold in like other types of karambits. The blade rests in the same spot, removing the foldable mechanism, which makes them better for martial arts due to the lessened chance of mishaps and/or cuts. Fixed blades are usually not the go-to for hunters or fishermen looking to get use out of a karambit.
Manual Folding Karambit - Similar to your existing folding knife, these fold inside of the hilt for better storage, and work well as a self-defense weapon (so long as local laws allow). You won’t have any spring-loaded features with this, so you’ll have to master quick access and pulling back the clasp to release the blade. These aren’t to be used for martial arts as they’re slightly less reliable, and you’ll be pushing the limits of the clasp further than it should be.
Butterfly Karambit - Similar to a switchblade, this opens right out of the top, but there’s a bit of a catch. Since the blade is still curved, making it a traditional karambit knife, you have to deal with the curvature as an obstacle when trying to open it.
Benefits of Owning a Karambit Knife
- No-Slip Grip: Karambit knife manufacturers know just how dangerous these can be, and as such they put no-slip grips along their hilt. While it only helps so much if you’re doing martial arts, it still helps when you're holding it sturdy and handling it for various purposes.
- Safety: Karambit knives are actually very safe to wield, so long as you know what you’re doing prior to attempting any crazy maneuvers. It’s far easier to predict movements based on the weight distribution and curvature of a karambit, giving you more reliable handling.
- Maneuverability: As you’ll see in the video we’ve linked below, you can maneuver with some pretty insane moves with one of these. It’s more than that, though; it’s being able to maneuver swiftly in a self-defense scenario.
- Self-Defense: That brings us into self-defense. Karambits are sharper and offer more cutting power should you need to use them in a pinch. If you have a butterfly-open karambit, you can inflict enough damage on an assailant to escape.
- Multiple Strikes: If that assailant won’t go down with a single blow, the swift aerodynamic nature of a karambit allows you to do what’s necessary in order to properly bring them down, and locate a police officer or escape to safety.
- Ready for Emergencies: A car crash where you need to cut the belts, being trapped in a specific situation; there’s a ton of emergency situations that would be far easier if you had a sharp blade handy, and karambits fit the bill.
Karambit Knife FAQ
Q: What is a Karambit Knife?
A: A karambit knife, more commonly just called a karambit, is a curved blade from ancient descent. It’s used in hunting, martial arts, and features a loop along the hilt to encase your index finger, also known as a protrusion ring. These knives have historical significance, but also function as tool items for fishermen, hunters, and hold a place in modern-day martial arts.
Q: Is a Karambit Used for Tactical Purposes or as a Tool?
A: It’s definitely up to the user. Karambits are excellent because they can be used for either, depending on what situations you find yourself in most often. If you’re thinking about grabbing one of these for the garage or tool shed, you’ll be happy to know that their usual materials, being steel or carbon, are going to hold up well against the test of time.
Q: What is an Emerson Wave Feature?
A: This is a patented, high-quality opening system for your karambit knife. It’s the most simplistic and powerful way to release the blade of your folded karambit knife, which is useful in high pressure situations, and just for the day-to-day handling of your karambit knife. If a knife has Emerson or Emerson Wave technology built into it, it’s a classic sign that a brand knows what they’re doing, and works alongside the best in the business as means of validating themselves among consumers.
Q: Who Should Consider Purchasing a Karambit Knife?
A: There’s a few different types of folk that come to mind when you’re talking about buying a karambit knife for yourself. In modern days, even as collectors, there’s an entirely different market for ancient (and astronomically priced) karambits, but that’s a whole different side of things.
- Collectors: There’s nothing wrong with just wanting a sick collection of knives. You want some killer karambits to put on display? We encourage that. There’s double-edged, single-edged, various handle materials and blade lengths to collect.
- Historians: Love studying the ancient ways of civilizations past? When you get into the history behind karambits in grave detail, it’s fascinating to look at the odd curvature of the blade, the loop for your index finger and so on, and picture situations where karambit users would be forced to wield it.
- Hunters: We’ll go over all the benefits in detail in a few moments, but hunters are among the most probable who would benefit from carrying a karambit knife.
- Martial Arts Enthusiasts: Karambits have their place in martial arts. There’s a fantastic channel called Union Martial Arts that knows their stuff when it comes to martial arts maneuvers, flips, and all sorts of stuff. Karambits have a wide application in this area, and have a form of art when you look closely.
Origins of the Karambit
Karambit knives originated in the Philippines and Indonesia as a form of a utility knife. These aren’t something new; they’ve been around for nearly a millennia (as far as concrete historical evidence suggests). They were used in larger form as a mercenary blade, and smaller versions would be tucked away and concealed for means of escape should they be captured.
Karambits didn’t make their way over to America until the early 1900’s, and were seen more as a novelty than anything else. Plenty of American lads began collecting them, obsessed with the historical relevance and the tales behind the types of men and women who used to wield these types of blades.
Karambits are often misinterpreted in film and television as scimitars, which are of different geographical decent and vastly different in size and use. Seen as the equivalent of a concealed sidearm in today’s standards, many Indonesians would carry small to medium-sized karambits during times of war, as a means of self-defense.
Application of the Karambit
Karambit knives were originally invented as a form of a utility knife. Nowadays, there’s a ton of uses for them, including but not limited to this little list we’ve conjured up.
- Fishing: If you don’t have a paring knife, a karambit could be the next best thing. Depending on how sharp and fine the blade is (the tip doesn’t matter here), you’ll be able to use it and clean up those fish before throwing them in the electric cooler and heading home. This also works wonders if you’re fishing on a camping trip.
- Camping: Whether you’re cutting rope, fletching in your spare time while your buddy’s on his hike, or you’re just looking for a means of defense if an animal comes along, a karambit is an excellent extension of yourself. You always want to have a knife or hatchet nearby, and this provides you quick access in case of emergencies.
- Hunting: Just think of your last hunting trip and how many applications a blade would have come in handy for. Folding pocket knife karambits come in handy in a multitude of situations, so you’ll be ready for anything, no matter what.
- EDC: A ton of instances call for a tougher hand, and having a karambit as a pocket knife in your EDC pouch could be the solution to a series of problems. For a lot of us, it just makes us feel safer knowing we have a means of escaping a potentially dangerous environment, cutting through a seatbelt in a car crash, etc.
- Self-Defense: In the face of danger, you don’t want to be left unarmed. There are plenty of gents who have reservations about carrying a gun on themselves at all times, and we can’t blame you. Having a legal karambit knife for self-defense is the next best thing.
Q: Is Carrying a Karambit Legal?
A: As with standard pocket knives and EDC blades, a karambit is mostly seen as a concealed weapon for self-defense. Whether or not that’s your intent with it, you should take the proper precautions into play before venturing out the door with this bad boy tucked into your back pocket.
As a general rule (though without much specificity), there’s this four-finger law for the length of your blade. That’s more of a Boy Scout thing, and truth be told, it has stipulations if a serrated edge or a curved blade is the one in question. We like to put it like this: if you were stopped for speeding or something arbitrary, would having this on your person make you feel nervous as the officer approached your window? For most of us, yes it would.
There are specific laws that govern different states, cities and towns. Just because your state says there’s a base federal law for a specific length and style of blade, doesn’t mean that your county is as forgiving. Your state might say a 4” blade or under is acceptable, while your local municipality says they don’t tolerate anything over 3.5”. Check with your local laws above all else.
As a note, if you’re taking this camping or hunting, or you’re just heading anywhere outside of your usual zone, take travel into consideration. We’re most likely to be stopped on a highway we’re unfamiliar with, somewhere that we don’t know the speed traps and area. Plan ahead and determine your path, and the local laws in those areas you’ll be passing through. If you enter an area where the county has a ban on all concealed knives, then that’s the law, and you’re stuck adhering to it.
Check your local laws, consider getting a permit regardless, and if you’re stopped for speeding, or anything at all for that matter, be intelligent and notify that police officer. If you keep your hands on the wheel and calmly state what you have on you that may be considered a weapon (karambit), and where it’s located on you, you’re going to avoid a whole bunch of unnecessary friction. Be transparent, and you’ll be fine.
Disclaimer: Gear Hungry has produced this buying guide, curated product list and information solely for informational and entertainment purposes. Under no circumstances are we responsible for anything that you do with your karambit knife, whether purchased through discovery on this website or otherwise. Any actions performed with any item from this list is up to you, and Gear Hungry and its associates are not responsible for anything you may do with your purchase, under any circumstances.