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Best Survival Knife Sharpener & 5 Must Have Accessories

What options for quality survival knife sharpeners do you have in the market? We review for you 7 of the best ones.

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Imagine yourself in the wilderness, hanging in a thick web of foliage into which you fell from an unnoticed cliff edge.

The only way to get out is by slicing some of the green straps to break the web.

So, you take out your fixed-blade survival knife that’s carried on your belt from its sheath, only to notice that it’s awfully blunt and can’t cut a thread!

The only thing that will save you is a survival knife sharpener, otherwise, it’s doomsday for you.

So, what would be the best survival knife sharpener in such a situation?

A good survival knife sharpener functions manually without the need for electricity, is light and made in a size that is easy to carry around, is safe to use without the risk of cutting yourself, and comes as a complete package for knife blade repair, sharpening, and honing functions.

While our thick web of foliage that traps you in a cliff may sound like an extreme movie survival situation scene, the function of a survival knife is to save your day in similar survival situations:

  • You need to skin your prey to get it ready for roasting on your survival fire.
  • You need to cut wood and branches for your survival shelter.
  • You need to slice blocks from compact snow to make snow trench shelter.
  • You need to defend yourself from a charging bear.
  • You need to split wood to keep your survival fire going.
  • You need to slice the last piece of your tough smoked salami into chew-able pieces.
Knife used in a sharpener

So, picture yourself faced with any of these tasks and having in hand a blunt knife. As they say, having a blunt knife is just as bad as not having one.

But there’s a solution to it; a good survival knife sharpener.

But why would survival knives grow dull in the first place? We tell you that in the next section.

In a hurry? If you just want to get to our conclusions, here are our top picks and recommendations!

Last update on 2021-04-16 / Affiliate Links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Why Survival Knives Go Dull

There are essentially two processes that cause your survival knife to grow dull.

The first is corrosion. If you cut acidic material that eats into the metal, your knife blade wears out gradually and will eventually need sharpening.

The second is folding. Though you will hardly notice it, a knife’s blade folds when you exact pressure to cut.

However minimal this folding is, if it is happening a bit at a time, it will eventually cause your knife to blunt.

Some uses of your survival knife that will cause corrosion and folding include:

Carving

If you are consistently using your knife to carve wood, say you are stuck in the wilderness and carving is your pass time while you await rescue, the pressure of piercing and sculpturing will eventually cause your knife to dull.

Cutting wires

Wires are tough and it’s also metal against metal which causes wear and the gradual folding mentioned earlier.

Prying

Say you went for a planned escapade in the wilderness but got stuck for some reason. You had probably brought some canned food.

Using your survival knife to open tins or force things like the bones of prey apart will also cause your knife to grow dull.

Batoning

Splitting wood by striking the spine of your survival knife to drive it through the wood may please you at a job well and quickly done.

But be ready to find a good knife sharpener because this dulls your knife fast.

Storage

We all know that survival knives should be stored in sheaths. But there are limits to this that could cause your knife to go dull.

If you are storing your knife for long, you are better off wrapping it with a piece of paper and placing it in a plastic bag and throwing in a package of desiccant to absorb moisture.

When in use, it’s good to know that leather sheaths are not weatherproof and will take in water or sweat in the heat. This will spoil your knife.

Similarly, consistently taking your knife in and out of a Kydex sheath will blunt it.

From the above, it’s obvious that your survival knife will go dull at some point, and owning a good quality survival knife sharpener is indispensable.

So, what options for quality survival knife sharpeners do you have in the market? We review for you 7 of the best ones.

Man using a manual knife sharpener

7 Best Survival Knife Sharpeners

Being in a survival situation is completely different from an ordinary life situation. From the perspective of knife sharpening, a mounted electric knife sharpener will be perfect in a home or workshop situation.

But that won’t work in a wilderness survival situation.

So, when purchasing a survival knife sharpener, ensure that it will be useful in a survival situation. We will give you a buyer’s guide for survival knife sharpeners later.

First, we review for you 7 of the best survival knife sharpeners in the market.

Our top pick: Sharpal 101N 6-In-1 Pocket Knife Sharpener

This 6-in-1 pocket knife sharpener is a comprehensive survival tool. It has a premium Tungsten carbide blade that quickly sharpens your knife and repairs any damaged blade edges.

It will also hone and remove burrs on an already sharp knife.

Apart from its 3.5ʺ (9cm) size that will fit perfectly in your pocket, the Sharpal 101N comes with valuable additional features including a tapered diamond rod that sharpens fishing and gut hooks and can be folded into the sharpener for easier carrying, an all-whether fire starter, and a super loud whistle for emergency situations.

Last update on 2021-04-16 / Affiliate Links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Key features:

  • Multi-function (sharpens, repairs, and polishes).
  • Lanyard hole for easy holding or carrying.
  • Soft rubber grip for your comfort.

Check out this demonstration of the Sharpal Pocket Knife Sharpener from the official channel.

Our budget-conscious pick: Retractable Diamond Sharpening Rod

You’ll buy this rod knife sharpener for less than $10, but that does not disqualify its functional features.

First, you’ll only need a few strokes to perfectly sharpen your knife on the diamond grit.

Additionally, with the Retractable Diamond Sharpening Rod you will have an extension for sharpening fishing hooks.

Easy portability is its greatest feature. The pen-cased rod weighs only 1.2oz and measures 5.25”. The anodized aluminum case serves as storage and carrying handle at the same time.

Last update on 2021-04-16 / Affiliate Links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Key features:

  • Easy to carry around.
  • Rust-proof.
  • Fit for both serrated and straight edge and blades.
.

Work Sharp Guided Field Sharpener

This knife and tools’ sharpener is the first of its kind, with a 5-stage sharpening experience that leaves you fully content with the outcome.

For the five step sharpening the Work Sharp Guided Field Sharpener has:

  • 2 diamond plates (1 coarse for shaping and repairing and 1 fine for sharpening)
  • 2 ceramic rods (1 with a 3-position ceramic rod that includes a coarse grit, fine grit, and fish hook honing sides, the other is a fine grit serration sharpener with a smaller diameter)
  • 1 leather knife strop (fitted with a micro-abrasive to give your knife blade a razor-sharp shiny finish)

The 3-position ceramic rod can rotate to expose a grooved surface for sharpening fishing hooks. The 5 diamond plates can be turned over for easier and safer portability in your backpack.

Last update on 2021-04-16 / Affiliate Links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Key features:

  • Repairs, sharpens, and polishes.
  • Multifunctional, for knives and other tools.
  • Can be turned over for easy portability.

Zulay Premium Quality Knife Sharpener

This handheld knife sharpener works well for both straight and serrate knives. You will have a perfectly sharpened knife in 3 stages:

Preparation: This happens on the diamond surface and is used to repair any damages on the blade and make them straight before the actual sharpening.

Sharpening: This happens on the Tungsten steel and hones the knife to restore its cutting ability with a V-shape razor-sharp blade.

Fine-tuning: This happens on the ceramic stone and polishes the blade to give it an even surface, correcting any sharpening unevenness.

The Zulay Premium Quality Knife Sharpener has an ergonomic handle that helps you hold it firmly during sharpening.

Last update on 2021-04-16 / Affiliate Links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Key features:

  • 3-stage function (preparation, sharpening, polishing).
  • Easy to carry (20 x 7.5 cm).
  • Gives you a firm grip while sharpening.

Lansky PS-MED01 BladeMedic

This blade medic will cure any knife issues. It incorporates a Tungsten carbide sharpener, serrated knife sharpener, ceramic sharpening rod, and diamond tapered rod.

These features make it work perfectly with serrated and standard blades, gut hooks, and fillet slicing knives.

With the Lansky PS-MED01 BladeMedic you get to repair, sharpen, and polish your blade.

The Tungsten carbide repairs your blade with just four strokes, the serrated sharpener touches every tiny serration, and the ceramic sharpening rod gives a fine finish in another four strokes.

You Save $4.65

Last update on 2021-04-16 / Affiliate Links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Key features:

  • Easily portable (4oz; 8.5 x 3.5 x 0.1 inches).
  • Diamond tapered is easily folded for portability.
  • Works for multiple knife types.

Smith's PP1 Pocket Pal Multifunction Sharpener

This multifunction sharpener has preset sharpening angles for course carbide blades used for setting your knife edge and fine ceramic stones for a razor-sharp finish.

Both the carbide blades and the ceramic stones can be reversed and replaced for extended knife sharpening.

With the Smith's PP1 Pocket Pal Multifunction Sharpener you also have a tapered diamond coated rod that works perfectly for both standard and serrated edges. A lanyard hole makes carrying a lot easier.

Last update on 2021-04-16 / Affiliate Links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Key features:

  • Sleek and slim to easily fit in your pocket or pack (3.5ʺ x 1ʺx 0.01ʺ).
  • Tapered diamond rod can be folded for easy carrying.
  • Multi-functional: sharpens and polishes.

Lansky Deluxe 5-Stone Sharpening System

This set qualifies as our best knife sharpener stone for survival situations. The set has five different hones with different coarseness from extra-coarse, coarse, medium, fine alumina oxide, to extra-fine ceramic.

You can select the sharpening angle from 4 options (17°, 20°, 25°, and 30°) which helps you sharpen the knife edge to suit the intended use.

The Lansky Deluxe 5-Stone Sharpening System set also includes a carrying case, knife clamp and screws, guide rods, and honing knife oil.

You can mark the coarseness of each stone using the color codes. The stones have finger-grooved holders for safe sharpening.

Last update on 2021-04-16 / Affiliate Links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Key features:

  • 5-in-1 sharpening stones.
  • Specially formulated honing oil.
  • Custom-made carrying case.

With your list of best survival knife sharpeners completed, your next key question would be what makes these your best choices when buying sharpeners for survival situations. Let’s address that in our next section.

Choosing the Best Survival Knife Sharpener: Buyer’s Guide

When it comes to purchasing, there’s nothing as frustrating as buying a product and discovering it doesn’t work for you when you need to use it.

If you are a survivalist, having a sharp knife is a top survival priority.

So, imagine buying a knife sharpener intending to use it during one of your wilderness leisure escapades only to discover that your sharpener cannot work without power.

Your off grind experience will end up ruined by a misguided choice.

So, what qualities should the best bug out bag knife sharpener have? Here are 5 of the most important ones.

1. Portability

There are two key reasons portability is our number one quality to look for when buying a survival knife sharpener.

First, it will be easier to always have it with you, and second, you do not need an extra carrying arrangement.

Portability also refers to two features in a knife sharpener: size and the presence of a feature that makes carrying your sharpener around easier.

Take for example our budget-conscious choice, the Retractable Diamond Sharpening Rod. It’s small in size and has a pen-like casing.

You can carry this sharpener anywhere all the time and confortably hang it on a belt or pocket edge without feeling its weight.

Remember, though, that size and the ease of carrying should not compromise quality.

2. Complete package sharpener

Imagine having to bring along three different tools to serve for repair, sharpening, and polishing purposes. That would be awfully cumbersome!

Purchasing a knife sharpener with features for all three functions saves you the trouble. Take as an example our top pick sharpener, the Sharpal 101N 6-In-1 Pocket Knife Sharpener, it sharpens, repairs damage, and polishes.

What’s more, it has additional features that are functional for a survivalist like the emergency whistle and the fire starter. What more could you ask for?

3. Non-electric models

While it’s possible to bring a portable power source in planned wilderness adventures, most survival situations may not be planned and even if they are, you do not want to be carrying cumbersome stuff on your back.

So, if you are purchasing a knife sharpener for survival situations, go for one that functions manually. All our reviewed products fit well in this quality.

4. Versatility

Survival knives can be of different types as explained by our article on the best survival knife. A good survival knife sharpener should be versatile enough to accommodate differences in survival knives.

For example, a sharpener that works well with standard blades, as well as serrated ones, is better than one that only works for one of the two varieties. See, for example, the Lansky PS-MED01 BladeMedic.

This sharpener has specific features for serrated knives and works perfectly for standard blades as well as other tools like gut hooks.

5. Safety

Discussing safety as our last quality does not make it the least important. In fact, it is paramount. No one wants a survival knife sharpener that will leave them with cuts in a wilderness with no medical services.

Hence, opting for a survival knife sharpener that guarantees your safety is paramount.

This could be ensured by the presence of an ergonomic handle that gives you a firm grip on the sharpener as in the case of the Zulay Premium Quality Knife Sharpener or the presence of finger-grooved holders as featured in our best survival sharpener stones, the Lansky Deluxe 5-Stone Sharpening System.

So, with the best survival knife sharpener purchased with these key selecting qualities in mind, you can be sure to reap the benefits of a sharp knife. Let’s review a few of these benefits.

Benefits of a Sharp Survival Knife

Most people think a sharp knife is dangerous. And while this can be true, what we might overlook is the fact that a blunt knife can be more dangerous than a sharp one. Here’s why.

First, a dull knife will require you to exact more pressure to be able to cut.

This increases the possibility of slipping, putting you in the danger of a cut in addition to risking an injury on your wrist.

Second, a dull knife is not precise. It will keep getting stuck on the material you are cutting and ruin both your work and your palm.

Here are 5 other specific benefits of a sharp knife.

Sharp knives allow better cutting techniques

Think of yourself having to make a survival shelter and you need branches for roofing.

With a blunt knife, you will need to hit a 1ʺ diameter branch to make it break, which will take longer and require more time and effort.

With a well-sharpened knife, you can easily slice the branch in an instant.

You don’t need to stab unnecessarily

So, you find yourself a nice young coconut fruit in the wildness and you need to slice it to have the yummy meal you’ve yearned for the past two days.

With a blunt knife, you will need to stab the shell to chance opening it. That might also mean losing the sweet coconut water.

With a sharp knife, you simply slice it at the top and recline on a smooth rock to enjoy your nature-given meal.

You don’t need to invent new handle-holding techniques

As said earlier, a dull knife requires you to apply more pressure to do the job.

At times, that means holding the knife in a vertical slant or calling on the help of your other hand, which increases the risk of cutting yourself.  

With a sharp knife, you simply use the usual horizontal position and your cutting task will be done with ease.

You have lesser chances of hurting yourself

When you have a sharp knife in hand, you handle it with care. This protects you from possible cuts.

With a blunt knife, you don’t really decide how to handle it, its dull blade dictates how it’s handled. The efforts you put in make you more susceptible to getting hurt.

Proper sharpening is part of good survival knife maintenance

A properly sharpened knife is maintained better.

If you sharpen your knife at the wrong angle and consume the edge, you’ll need to do more vigorous sharpening to put it back in shape. That means your knife wears out faster.

Bad sharpening will also fill your knife edge with dents and spoil the blade with scratches as you try to sharpen.

Using a good knife sharpener with sharpening angle control and guide will protect your knife’s blade from ruin.

This last benefit calls for a word on how to use a survival knife sharpener.

How to Use a Knife Sharpener: A Step-by-Step Procedure

Using a knife sharpener is a simple art that, nonetheless, needs to be learned. Once acquired, it becomes easy and with a good sharpener, sharpening can be done in a minute.

Your knife needs sharpening when it’s dull. When the blade is good for cutting, it might just need quick honing.

Most manual sharpeners, like those reviewed earlier have a honing setting that is fine and a coarse setting that sharpens.

So, if you have a dull knife, you sharpen first and then hone.

Before we tell you what is the best way to sharpen a knife, we tell you how to make out if your knife is blunt and in need of sharpening.

How to tell if your knife needs sharpening

You can readily tell by a glance that your knife has a dull edge. To be sure, however, you can use any of these 4 common tests for a blunt knife.

The first and last will be practical in the wilderness. But it’s worth keeping the other two in mind.

  • Try using your knife for the usual tasks. If the knife does not cut with the same swiftness as it usually does and you have to put extra pressure to get it to cut, and the cut is not fine, then it’s time to sharpen it.
  • Take a printing paper and fold it in half. Run your knife through the fold. If the knife does not slice the paper in half, it’s time to sharpen it.
  • Direct your knife to a strong light source. If the edge of your knife does not create a reflection, then it’s dull and needs sharpening.
  • Slide your thumb on the edge of your knife from right to left (not along the edge!). If your knife is blunt, you will not feel any threat on the skin of your thumb. If it’s sharp, your skin will communicate the threat without needing to get cut. Be extra careful with this test though. If you are not sure, don’t use it.

Now that you know how to test your knife for dullness, we can proceed to our step-by-step sharpening process.

How to sharpen a survival knife

We are assuming that your knife is dull and needs a full course sharpening and that you have one of the manual knife sharpeners reviewed earlier with a coarse and a fine setting.

How to sharpen your survival knife:

  1. Hold the knife sharpener firmly by its handle with your non-dominant hand so that the sharpening space is horizontally set on a straight position and your sharpener does not move during the sharpening process.
  2. If your sharpener has a flat bottom, you can set it on a piece of wood or stone and then hold it firmly.
  3. Hold your survival knife by the handle with the dominant hand, ensuring that all five fingers are behind the heel.
  4. Pass your knife smoothly through the coarse slot, exacting a little pressure so you can hear the ‘burr’ sound as the steel ‘eats’ into your knife edge. Move from the part of the knife that’s closer to the handle to the tip, sliding towards you. Do this 6 to 7 times depending on how dull your knife was.
  5. Move to the honing slot and repeat a similar movement. This time, however, do not exact any pressure and pass only 2 to 3 times. Your knife will be as good as new!
  6. To clean the knife blade, use a mild soap with water and dry it with a cloth to eliminate any residual metal particles. Your knife is now ready to use. You may not need this last step if you are sharpening your survival knife for a wood cutting task.

This video, although in a kitchen context, gives you a quick visual demonstration of these steps.

Building Your Survival Knife Care Kit

With the comprehensive knowledge about the best knife sharpeners, the buying tips, the benefits of a sharp knife, and the practical step-by-step skill to sharpen your knife, the challenge is putting it all into good use.

How do you do that? By building your survival knife care and maintenance kit.

This means purchasing a manual survival knife sharpener that’s suitable for your anticipated wilderness escapades or emergency survival situations.

However, a sharpener is not the only knife care and maintenance tool. Cleaning, oiling, safe storage, and carrying are all important.

Hence, including a few other useful accessories among your knife sharpening tools is recommended.

Here’s a quick list of other useful accessories for knife care and maintenance.

Honing rod

A honing rod takes a round, oval, or flat shape and is used to realign your knife when it’s still good to cut and does not need complete sharpening.

Two to three strokes on your survival knife will do the trick.

See this DALSTRONG Honing Steel on Amazon.

Last update on 2021-04-16 / Affiliate Links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Knife sharpening guide rods

Guide rods set the angle for knife sharpening or honing. You can get them as part of a set as in the case of the Lansky Deluxe 5-Stone Sharpening System reviewed earlier.

But you can also place an additional or replacement set in your survival knife care kit.

Honing oil

Honing oil is great for knife blade maintenance.

A 120ml bottle like the Lansky Nathan's Natural Honing Oil would fit perfectly in your survival knife care kit and can be used to lubricate with both sharpening stones and other sharpening systems. 

You can also include a knife oil to preserve your knife blade.

Do so by cleaning your knife with mild soapy water, drying thoroughly, and applying a few drops of the knife oil on each side of your knife.

Last update on 2021-04-16 / Affiliate Links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Lanyards

Many survival knife sharpeners come with a lanyard hole.

You can take advantage of that and fix the lanyard to either help you safely hang your sharpener on a branch while you are getting ready to use it, carry it around securely tied on your backpack, or wear it around your wrist to give you a secure grip on your knife sharpener.

Lanyards can be improvised. But you can also acquire leather or nylon lanyards at your local store.

Storage case

To complete your survival knife sharpening kit, a storage case for organizing your knife care and maintenance accessories would be a good idea.

One measuring around 11x7x4 inches like the Aenllosi Hard Carrying Case for Work Sharp Knife & Tool Sharpener would fit all your accessories and perfectly go into your backpack.

Last update on 2021-04-16 / Affiliate Links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

With your complete knife care and maintenance kit, you are all set for any eventual survival situations that need a well-sharpened knife. 

3 FAQs on Survival Knife Sharpeners

Which is the best survival knife sharpener in the market?

The best survival knife sharpener is determined by its ability to give you what you are looking for.

If you want a knife sharpener that can regularly sharpen and hone your fixed-blade knife but at the same time sharpen your fishing rod, you’ll need a manual knife sharpener with coarse and fine slots and an additional diamond rod for your fishing rod.

How often should I sharpen my survival knife?

How often you sharpen your knife will depend on its frequency of use and the extent of your knife’s dullness.

Using the coarse slot of your knife sharpener frequently will wear your knife quickly. So, you should only use it when your knife needs sharpening.

If your knife still cuts fine but needs some refining, it’s enough to do a quick blade honing.

What is the right angle for sharpening knives?

The best way to determine the sharpening angle is by thinking about how sharp you want your knife blade to be.

Some knife sharpeners will come with a sharpening angle guide, which solves your problem.

But if you don’t have the manufacturer’s guide, think of 23° as an ideal angle for outdoor survival knives.

Survival Knife Sharpeners Conclusions

When you're in a survival situation, your skills and your gear can be the difference between life and death.

However, just like your skills need constant practice, so do you survival tools need constant maintenance.

Survival knives are one of the essentials in terms of survival gear, so keeping them nice and sharp should be a priority.

Hopefully, our guide helped you find the best survival knife sharpener to always keep your knife in perfect condition.

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Hi, I'm Russ!

I've been prepping for a long time, but 2020 convinced me that I need to take it to the next level.

This website started as a way to keep me going forward on the path to being better prepared.

Now, I’m turning it into a complete blueprint for anyone else looking to do the same!
Russell M. Morgan
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