Made in America: Four of the Best U.S.-Based Military Survival Knife Brands

Made in America: Four of the Best U.S.-Based Military Survival Knife Brands

Posted by Clayton on Oct 17th 2017

One of the most important additions to any emergency preparedness loadout is a quality military survival knife. It can be used to acquire, modify or create many of the essentials needed to survive an emergency. Quality is key, because the best warranty in the world isn’t going to help when your blade breaks in the middle of a disaster.

With that in mind, there are a few key U.S. manufacturers that preparedness-minded people look to when choosing an edged companion. These manufacturers have proven their worth by supplying their products to top-tier military units, and the U.S. consumer can take advantage of this pedigree by purchasing the same blade as the SAS or Navy SEALs.


Since their inception, Microtech has developed a reputation for its tactical automatic knives, with the most popular designs being the out the front (OTF) and double action (D/A) automatics. Viewed as a precision product manufactured with quality components in a market rife with cheap imports, Microtech knives revitalized the U.S. auto-knife market and established itself as a serious contender. All Microtech knives are U.S. made with a full lifetime warranty.

Popular Microtech Knives

  • Microtech Ultratech: The Microtech Ultratech knife is one of the original Microtech designs. An auto knife design with a 3.4-inch blade, the double action Ultratech deploys in and out automatically via the sliding firing button on the knife's right side. All Ultratech models share a few basic features: a chamfered aluminum handle, proprietary “tri-angle” hardware and a deep carry clip attached to the knife on the butt of the handle via a carbide-tipped glass breaker. Beyond those common features, the Ultratech line is available in a dizzying array of options. Smaller versions of the Ultratech are available in the UTX85 and UTX-70, which are 85 percent and 70 percent of the original size, respectively.
  • Microtech JagdKommando: The JagdKommando (pronounced yah-come-ondo) takes its name from the Austrian Armed Special Forces. A fixed-blade Tri-Dagger design, it has twisting edges on all three sides culminating in a vicious point.

The hollow handle is machined with a grenade waffle pattern and can carry small emergency supplies. The JagdKommando is equipped with a custom tubular sheath made from aircraft-grade 6061 T6 aluminum with a matching grenade pattern finish. The sheath screws onto the JagdKommando knife for a secure fit and is rubber sealed for a watertight seal.

  • Microtech H.A.L.O.: The Microtech Halo Series has continuously evolved with five design changes since its introduction. A cornerstone of the Microtech lineup, the Halo is known for lightning-fast blade deployment. The sculpted shape and slender profile of the aluminum handle aids concealability. With a 4.5-inch blade and overall length of 10.82 inches, the Halo 6 is substantial enough to handle any emergency.
  • Microtech Combat Troodon: The Microtech Combat Troodon is an auto knife. Despite its beefy size, the 6061-aluminum handle is contoured for comfort and equipped with a tungsten glass breaker. Its reputation as a great tactical knife makes the Combat Troodon the go-to choice of police agencies, military units and first responders. An integrated glass breaker and bombproof construction make the Troodon ideal for hard use and everyday carry.


Emerson Knives prides itself on U.S.-manufactured products and the high-quality materials used across its product lines. All Emerson models are designed with tactical applications as the basis for their design, making them a go-to source for military units worldwide.

As a respected instructor in edged weapon close combat, Ernest Emerson has worked with elite units worldwide, such as U.S. Navy SEALS and international diplomatic protection details. He has applied this knowledge to his product line, which includes fixed blades and karambits, but the main focus of Emerson is its folding knives.

Ernest Emerson attributes much of his success to his Navy SEAL clients because having such a demanding customer forced him to evolve his designs into a reliable product that would withstand hard use and abuse.

Ernest is known for eschewing the latest fads in knife design, and most Emerson folders use the standard Titanium Walker liner lock, frequently paired with Emerson’s patented wave-shaped opening mechanism. This rapid opening system is an extension of the blade’s spine that is used to open the knife one-handed as it is being drawn from the pocket. He has licensed this design to other knife manufacturers, and it is a regular feature on Emerson knives.

Emerson’s conservative approach leads to a positive consistency in that successful elements become a recurring feature. While other manufacturers’ knives are often designed by young graphic artists with no operational experience with blade weapons, Emerson stands out as the choice of those heading into harm’s way.

Emerson doesn’t chase fads with materials either. Reliable G-10 is the choice for scales, and Emerson has stood by Crucible’s 154CM stainless steel for its blades.

Popular Emerson Knives

  • CQC-8: The Emerson CQC-8 tactical folding knife has been considered one of the best combat designs since the 1980s. Equipped with a simple, effective upswept blade paired with the patented Emerson Wave Feature, it is one of Emerson’s top three most popular knives, along with the Combat Karambit and the CQC-7.Typical for Emerson, the blade has been V ground but left with a chisel ground edge that Ernest claims is done for ease of sharpening. The 154CM steel sharpens easily and holds a good edge. It also uses his preferred titanium liner lock and G10 scales. Like most gear intended for military use, it is all held together with Phillips and flat-head hardware. Weighing in at 5 ounces with a 3.9-inch blade, the CQC-8 makes for an ideal traveling companion when everything goes sideways.
  • Emerson Government Mule: The Emerson Government Mule is a fixed blade knife designed to be the workhorse piece of any kit. Manufactured from thick, bulletproof 154CM Steel almost .200 inches thick, the Mule can’t be mistaken for a fancy collector blade. It is simple and rugged with a no-nonsense bullnose, spear-point blade and handles hewn from black dimpled G-10 secured to the shank with three industrial-strength slotted screws. The center of balance is just behind the midpoint — a good quality for a fighting knife, as the neutral balance allows for easy manipulation. The blade and tang construction are solid enough for serious prying tasks, like ripping open ammo crates or stuck doors after a 7.5 ground shaker. Weighing in at a hefty 7.5 ounces with a 4.8-inch blade, the Government Mule is a candidate for the ultimate practical survival knife. It comes equipped with a Kydex sheath riding in a nylon carrier with a sharpener pocket and drain holes, ready to strap to your bag or belt. You should consider the Mule to be one of your bug-out essentials should the need ever arise.


ProTech Knives is another respected knife manufacturer located in Artesia, California. Since 1999, ProTech has been making custom knives and prides itself on quality American craftsmanship. Automatic knife models like the Godfather, Runt and Tactical Response series are manufactured in small runs so the company can ensure each knife is properly fitted and meets rigorous quality standards. The ProTech product line includes production automatic knife models, custom automatic knives, fixed blades and manual folders.

Popular ProTech Knives

  • Tactical Response Auto Knives: The Tactical Response 2 Auto Knife, is an automatic knife or so-called switchblade. The push button deployment will activate the opening mechanism. To close the knife, you hold down the button and then push on the back or unsharpened edge of the blade to reset it in the handle.When the blade on a knife is made of good steel, it’s going to be able to handle most tasks. The 154 CM Crucible stainless blade on the Tactical Response 2 holds an excellent edge while resisting corrosion. 154 CM is a relatively hard steel with good durability — tough enough to complete most tasks without worry. Easy to sharpen, its matte finish minimizes reflections for discreet use. Designed to be an all-purpose knife, the TR-2 has a spear point blade so it can pierce, stab and also slice things. A spear point blade can really do it all.

    A great blade needs a great handle, so Protech chose to use aluminum. This knife fits perfectly in your hand and gives you exceptional grip. The Tactical Response 2 6061 T6 handle is generously textured for a confidence-inspiring grip.


Greg Medford, founder of Medford Knives, is a native Arizonan and U.S. Marine combat veteran. His deployment in Desert Storm and Desert Shield exposed him to the abuses frontline soldiers inflict upon their equipment and allowed him to design blades that will withstand this kind of treatment.

Relatively new to knife making, Medford has been a lifelong admirer of edged weapons, restoring and training with period Japanese swords since the mid-1980s. He is also 30-plus-year professional Martial Artist and hand-to-hand instructor, as well as a close-quarters master-level instructor with a strong background in bare-handed CQB weapon defense and disarms. Medford attributes his ability to design blades for actual carry and use to this experience.

Medford’s knives are built to last generations, making extensive use of thick steel. Every knife Medford Knives makes, regardless of size or design, uses thick, beefy slabs of blade steel.

Like Ernest Emerson, Medford sticks to the tried and true and avoids trendiness in blade steel. Medford uses D2, CPM S35VN and CPM 3V blade steels, each with a specific strength. D2 is a great universal utility steel while S35VN works best for maritime applications and CPM 3V is extremely strong. Medford is on record claiming — correctly — that most people couldn’t tell the difference in blade steel if it weren’t marked on the blade.

Popular Medford Knives

  • Medford Praetorian: The Medford Praetorian tactical folder is the company’s flagship knife, and it’s easy to see why. A hefty 3.75-inch modified tanto blade that is over a .25-inch-thick is paired with a bombproof 5.25-inch handle. The frame rails are milled from titanium using a frame-lock mechanism and sturdy pocket clip. Clients who don’t need a knife as large as the Praetorian may find the slightly thinner Viper Flipper or Flipper F.U.K. models fit their needs. Both have the advantage of a flipper opener on the backside of the handle.Medford’s fixed blade lineup is stocked with models of functional beauty. The 8.75-inch Emperor, from which the Praetorian received its styling cues, shares much of the same blade and handle specs.
  • Medford USMC EOD: Medford’s USMC EOD-1 design is in its first production run for the U.S. Marines. This newly designed tool was developed in collaboration with USMC EOD Technicians out of 29 Palms. With a blunted probing end, side hammer pommel and carabiner hole for wire pulling, this design sets a new standard for multi-use functionality. These features would make for an ideal survival tool outside of EOD circles.


Once you’ve decided to prepare for the unthinkable, evaluate your situation to decide which type of knife best fits your emergency needs. Choosing from one of these brands is a no-brainer since elite military units with unlimited buying power are regular customers. Use their hard-earned lessons to guide your choices, and you’ll be ready for anything.