The best neck knife – what you should look for?
Neck knives can sound almost sinister the first time you hear the term. And they are indeed often meant for combat and self-defense. The term simply means “a knife hung from the neck on a cord”, however, nothing more.
In other words, any knife with a string or cord on its sheath can technically count as a neck knife. Of course, we won’t be talking about kitchen knives but about specialized survival neck knives.
Why would you need a neck knife, however? What are their uses? Are there different types of neck knives? We’ll answer all that and more below.
What is a neck knife?
While the basic definition is pretty broad, when it comes to good neck knives, there are certain specifics you should look for. Sure, you can hang a kitchen knife from your neck on a paracord and call that “a neck knife” but how useful would that be?
Dedicated neck knives are meant to be your first and best friend in a lot of different situations. Survival in the wilderness, self-defense, urban survival, fishing, or an outright apocalypse – the neck knife should always be there for you. As such, it should be of extremely high-quality, as durable as possible, and with a design that’s tailor-made for your needs.
But why would you even bother with such a contraption? Isn’t it risky to carry a knife on your neck? Let’s go over the pros and cons next.
Why should you carry a neck knife? Are there any drawbacks
Most people hesitate when you suggest that they should get a neck knife. And neck knives can look menacing indeed. Then again, that’s often part of the idea. And if not, there are designs that can seem pretty unthreatening. Either way, let’s go over the various pros and cons of neck knives:
- No need for pockets or backpacks – neck knives are the true EDC (Every Day Carry) knives. Many people are overly enthused about carrying a knife on their belt, in their vest or in a boot. But while those can look cool in a Hollywood movie, none of them are as practical as neck knives. A knife carried on your neck is all but guaranteed to always be with you. It doesn’t matter which backpack you have, what jacket you’re wearing, or where you are. You can change gear or lose a part of it and the knife will still be with you.
- Excellent survival tool. We’ve talked about all types of survival tools and gear, all suited for different situations and circumstances. One item that’s ever-present, however, is the knife. That’s because knives have near-infinite applications in survival situations. We’ll go into more detail below but suffice it to say that a knife is always useful.
- Quick access. In most survival situations it won’t matter how quickly you can access your knife. In self-defense, however, even just a second can be precious. Fortunately, neck knives offer the fastest access time of all EDC options. As long as your knife is hanging freely over your clothes in front of you, it’s a matter of just one movement to grab it.
- Works as an intimidation tool as well. Speaking of carrying your knife over your clothes for protection – a neck knife will get you out of most fights before they’ve even started. It almost doesn’t matter if it’s a big Crocodile Dundee-style knife or a small tactical knife. The moment most would-be-attachers see it, they’ll start having second thoughts about approaching you.
- It’s a badass accessory. Last and least but definitely not insignificant, neck knives look cool. Why wear a necklace or a pendant when you can wear a knife?
- Keeping it in the open can attract unwanted attention. While one of the perks of neck knives is that they’re noticeable and intimidating, that can be a con too. After all, you don’t always want to be seen with a knife around your neck. Fortunately, in those situations, you can just hide it under your clothes. On the other hand, that eliminates another of the main perks of neck knives.
- Keeping it underneath your shirt will make it less accessible. The whole “Where do I keep my neck knife?” dilemma is similar to the “Where should I store my self-defense gun?” question. If you keep it where it’s easily accessible, it’s not always safe. But if you make sure it’s extra secure – it won’t be as accessible in emergencies. Still, it’s better to have that dilemma and wonder where to keep your knife than not have it at all.
- It can be easily accessed by an opponent. One of the main uses of neck knives is for self-defense. In those situations, you should be able to draw your knife before your attacker has got the chance to get into touching distance to you. If not, however, they may grab it from you first which would be unfortunate. That’s why most good neck knives mitigate the danger by having a lock/unlock security mechanism on the sheath.
- If the knife isn’t securely attached to the sheath, it may fall. This shouldn’t be a problem with any good neck knife. If you make the mistake of buying a low-quality knife, however, it may be. Similarly, if your knife is old and your sheath is getting dodgy, you’d want to fix or replace it. Needless to say, you definitely don’t want your knife falling off while you’re doing something.
The different types and uses of neck knives
Theoretically, neck knives can be anything you want them to be. However, depending on their use, there are several main types they come in.
Types of blades
You’ll find many specialized types of neck knives on the market. Curved blades, serrated blades, tanto blades, multi-tool knives, combat knives, drop point blades, and others. However, unless you know how and for what you’re going to use them, the differences between them are meaningless.
Possible uses of a neck knife
Neck knives are usually oriented either toward self-defense or toward survival.
Self-defense knives are typically military types or guerilla-style. They are short and lightweight, but also incredibly sharp and with great cutting potential. They are designed around the idea of small but precise strikes that are either lethal or maiming.
Survival knives, on the other hand, are usually made to be used for various crafting tasks. Cutting and carving wood, prying things open, etc. Being knives, they can still be used for self-defense, but that’s not their primary function.
There are also multi-task or “hybrid” knives. These are Jack-of-all-trades type of knives that can be used for various tasks but aren’t 100% ideal for most of them. These types usually have multitools or other accessories incorporated into the knife’s handle or its sheath.
These are the main categories you’ll encounter when browsing for neck knives:
- Wildlife survival. These are usually meant for batoning and carving wood, as well as to make arrow shafts or to whittle makeshift wooden whistles. These are large, sturdy knives with heavy, double-edged, and thick blades. Durability is essential with these knives they are supposed to last for months or years in crises.
- Hunting & camping. These are typically meat for skinning large game after a kill. Most of their side or additional purposes are to double as wildlife survival knives.
- Expert fishermen will typically prefer to have a dedicated fishing knife in their gear. However, there’s nothing wrong with having a spare fishing knife hanging around your neck. Fishing knives are meant for gutting and descaling fish as well as other minor tasks while fishing. As such, they are usually thin, sharp, and lightweight.
- Urban survival. Knives like these can be used for various cutting tasks in an urban survival situation. They can also be used for alternative goals such as a pry bar, for example. They will usually double as self-defense knives. These will often come with multitools and are often regarded as multi-task knives.
- Self-defense. This is the most common reason for getting a neck knife. Self-defense knives are small, sharp, and deadly.
- Multi-task. Any knife with more than one specialized purpose can be defined as a multi-task knife.
- Of course, you can also just get a neck knife as a sort of “jewelry”. That’d be a waste of a good knife as far as we’re concerned but some knives do look cool.
How to choose the best neck knife for you?
So, now that we know what we’re dealing with, let’s go over the main criteria you should look for. We all have different needs and preferences so you’ll want to find the best neck knife for you.
- Choose a knife that’s well-suited for your needs. Are you a hunter or a camper? Are you looking for a nice addition to your survival kit? Or, are you looking for an urban survival or self-defense knife? While any good knife is better than no knife in any of these situations, it pays to be prepared. If you’re 100% certain that you’ll only need your neck knife for self-defense – get the best self-defense knife. If you’re a hunter – get the best hunting knife.
- Prioritize quality over all else. Whichever type you choose, you should always go with the best quality you can find. That goes for any survival item or gear but is especially true for knives. Getting a sub-par quality knife just a bad idea.
- This should go without saying but we’d be remiss not to mention it. Yes, you can get a dull knife and sharpen it yourself. However, you can usually view the sharpness of the still-on-shelf knife as an indicator of the quality and attention to detail that’s been put into it.
- Durability is key. Every part of the knife must be extra durable if it’s to be useful in survival situations. This means looking for an extra thick and durable blade from stainless steel or another great material. It also means a powerful and strong grip that holds the blade perfectly well. The sheath best be durable as well since if it is damaged you’ll have to find a suitable replacement for it. Remember, a neck knife without its sheath is not a neck knife at all – it’s just a knife.
- Compact design. Neck knives can come in lots of shapes and sizes. However, even a big survival neck knife should still feel good on your neck. After all, being saddled with something needlessly large and cumbersome is just uncomfortable.
- Speaking of comfort, regardless of how big the knife is, it should be as lightweight as possible. There are lots of great materials for the sheath and handle these days so that’s usually not a problem.
- A secure sheath. There are two main security precautions you’ll want to check for with the sheath. First, make sure the knife will be secure in it with a 0% chance of ever falling off. Second, it should also be safely locked in place so that attackers can’t steal it from you.
- Additional accessories. While all a knife needs to be a good neck knife is a sheath with a string, it may have other accessories as well. A sharpening tool is one thing that comes with some neck knives. Other good accessories include a built-in compass or a signaling mirror in the sheath. Ferro rods hanging together with the sheath are also a nice accessory. They can be used with the knife to start a fire.
The handle of the knife can have certain accessories on or in it too. Things such as a screwdriver or a mini-crowbar are common for survival neck knives.
- Don’t’ forget to pick something that looks cool. Looks and style are typically the last things you should think about with any survival gear which is why we mention it last. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t look for them at all. Neck knives are an accessory as well as a survival tool so it pays to get one that looks great. Even if you plan on keeping it concealed most of the time, there’s no reason why it shouldn’t look good.