10 Best Karambit Knives For Inflicting Devastating Wounds

By Jason K. | Updated: 02/24/2024

Today I have something really exciting to share…

A Complete Guide On Finding, Fighting & Sharpening A Karambit Knife

Because THE Karambit blade THE best in a fight…

It’s unique, it’s powerful, and deadly.

But, like most things in life:

“Not all brands are created equal.”

And many are 100% worth your money, while others are complete trash.

So today, I’m going to show you the difference (plus so much more)

TOPICS IN THIS GUIDE…    ↓(click to jump)
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Best Karambit Knives On The Market Today

Once you’re ready to jump into the knife market, you have plenty of models to choose from:

Karambit Folding Knife

Spyderco Karahawk Specialty Knife

Many “tactical” knives are way more extensive than necessary.

But not so with the Spyderco Karahawk. This knife is both compact and efficient.

When deployed, the folded 4.5” knife can fit into a pocket and quick-draw to a full 6.5”.

While that sounds like only a 2” blade, the curved profile adds another 0.35” of sharpened edge to the knife, this extra blade length helps provide more leverage during close combat.

The blade is smooth and straightforward, with no serrations or other features. This clean edge helps sharpen it to a razor’s edge.

The G10 epoxy/fiberglass scales provide an excellent grip. Plus, it’s impervious to chemicals and extreme temperatures.

The back of the blade features a positive hook (like the Emerson “Wave Opening” mechanism). As well as a large thumb slot to manually open the blade.

  • Compact design is easy to conceal
  • A reversible pocket clip allows for ambidextrous carry
  • The shorter blade may not suit all fighting styles
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↓ Thoughts On The Spyderco KaraHawk

FOX 479 G10 Black Emerson Wave Folding Karambit

Fox Knives has taken some design cues from Emerson. How? They’ve incorporated the “Wave Opening” feature. This feature makes for a swift draw opening from the pocket.

The adjustable pocket clip keeps the knife ready for a quick draw.

Better yet, try mounting it on either side of the handle. This setup makes it possible to use the Fox Karambit ambidextrously.

It features high-quality NC690Co stainless steel. This choice of steel has a very high hardness rating and holds an edge well.

Plus, the blade is dipped in a black Teflon coating to help inhibit corrosion. This coating cuts down even more on maintenance needs.

But keep in mind that any stainless steel blade is harder to sharpen than a carbon steel blade. And a karambit-style blade shape also adds complications.

If you do need to sharpen this blade, it will take some practice with proper sharpening tools.

  • Corrosion-resistant stainless steel
  • Wave Opening feature
  • Harder to sharpen due to stainless blade and karambit shape
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↓ Fox Knives Folding Karambit Overview

CRKT Provoke Kinematic EDC Karambit Folding Knife

Most folding blades have a single pivot point. These pivot points open like a hinge from one end. But the CRKT Provoke proves there ARE other ways to make a folding knife.

The Provoke uses a unique 4-bar linkage that extends, rather than folds, the blade.

This extending motion allows you to grasp the handle with a death grip - even while pushing down on the activation point and deploying the blade.

The Provoke also sports a deep-carry pocket clip.

This clip is an unusual feature on these blade shapes due to the position of the finger hole.

So you can carry the knife even deeper down in your pocket. This knife feature allows the knife to completely disappear into the frame of the knife when not in use. And this makes for a more comfortable handle.

  • Deep carry pocket clip
  • Fast deployment with secure grip throughout
  • The pocket clip is not adjustable for left-handed carry
  • The complex folding mechanism requires more maintenance
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↓ CRKT Provoke Review

Smith & Wesson ExtremeOps Karambit Folding Knife

While most of us know Smith & Wesson from their firearms, they have also produced a line of knives.

The ExtremeOps CK33 is a great starter to discover if a karambit folding knife suits your needs.

It has a generous 3” blade of 7Cr17MoV stainless steel, making it simple to maintain.

The curvature isn’t too extreme so it will feel comfortable for those familiar with western blade styles.

It also features a pocket clip and an ambidextrous thumb knob to help open the blade quickly. But the pocket clip position on the knife is upside down (finger hole at the bottom of the pocket).

This unique design is not as intuitive.

  • Affordable
  • Easy to use and maintain
  • Some play in the folding mechanism
  • Somewhat heavy for the size
  • The pocket clip holds the knife in the “wrong” (tip down) position
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↓ Smith & Wesson ExtremeOps Budget Beater Blade

The Tactical Karambit Knife

The Raptor Claw Folding Karambit consists of a 2.5" stainless steel blade and a 5.25" black handle.

It also includes a lightning-fast, spring-assisted opening mechanism for a quick draw. This is important in a self-defense-bladed weapon.

It also has a robust pocket clip design that allows you to place it discretely deep down in your pocket. This specialty pocket knife lets you easily keep it with you every day and everywhere.

And at the time this article was published, you could get this quality knife for FREE - just pay a reasonable shipping/handling fee.

  • Affordable (FREE +s/h)
  • The finger ring can get snagged when pulled out of pocket
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As appealing as folding knives seem, they come with a critical path of failure.

For this reason, many people prefer a full-tang fixed blade knife for hand-to-hand combat.

This robust, one-piece build removes this weakness.

CRKT Du Hoc Fixed Blade Knife with Sheath

Columbia River Knife Works makes some top-rated and well-built knives. I especially like their Du Hoc karambit blade.

The high-carbon SK5 steel has a great balance of toughness and edge holding ability. It has a full-tang design of nearly 10” from point to tail.

Attached to this massive chunk of steel is a highly-textured G10 handle. This handle is perfect for optimal grip performance in all conditions.

The handle scales attach with a pair of hollow rivets. This attachment setup allows a space to thread paracord through the rivets. This, in turn, allows the knife to be an attachment to a spear shaft for extra reach.

The Du Hoc also comes with a secure glass-reinforced nylon sheath.

  • Simple design with minimal complications
  • High-end materials ensure durability
  • The large size makes it very noticeable
  • The sharpened back edge point may not be legal in all locations
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↓ Blade Show: New Mide Year CRKT Knives

Schrade 9Cr18MoV Grey Ti Coated Karambit

The SCH111 from Schrade is about as simple as a knife can get - it’s one piece of steel with no frills.

This design makes the knife extremely lightweight and durable, but not the most comfortable.

Like many skeleton handle blades, the SCH111 has an open center. This setup allows for a reduction in weight. But it also makes it possible to weave in a paracord handle for grip and secondary utility.

The skeleton handle also makes it straightforward to attach the SCH111 as a spear point.

The high-quality stainless steel makes for a durable and maintenance-free knife. This steel choice is a plus if you plan to store the blade in a survival cache for emergencies.

  • Lightweight, simple build
  • Low maintenance needs
  • Handle (or lack of) makes the knife uncomfortable in the hand
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↓ Karambit Neck Knife – Tactical, Practical, And Affordable

Schrade 8Cr13MoV Grey Ti Coated Full Tang Fixed Blade

The SCH112 is another excellent knife from Schrade. And the SCH112 is a very different knife than the SCH111.

Where the previous knife was a compact skeleton design, the SCH112 has a large, 5.2-inch blade. And it has a grippy, rubberized elastomer handle.

It’s one piece of 8CR13MoV stainless steel, from the highly curved point to the large finger ring at the base.

One thing to watch out for is the sheath. The extreme curvature of the blade can expose your fingers during unsheathing.

This exposure is even more dangerous because the blade is sharp on both sides. But this also makes it more deadly - and thus, illegal to carry in many locations.

  • Well-made and durable
  • Sharp out-of-the-box
  • Extreme curve to blade makes it dangerous for novice users
  • Sheath makes it difficult to remove safely
  • It May NOT be legal where you live
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↓ Schrade Double-Edged Review

Cold Steel Steel Tiger Karambit

Cold Steel makes a wide variety of affordable bladed tools, from knives to axes and even swords.

The Steel Tiger karambit is an excellent entry blade. It comes with an ergonomic handle and a less aggressive curve than the Shrade SCH112.

With a 4.75” blade and a large Kray-Ex rubberized handle, it’s easy to use and far safer for new users.

If you’re learning how to use a karambit, get the matching blunt-pointed trainer as well!

  • Affordable and well made
  • Sharp out-of-the-box
  • Only sharpened on one side, which is far easier to carry legally
  • The sheath isn’t MOLLE compatible
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↓ CS ‘Steel Tiger’ Review

Ape Survival's Black Fighting Knife

Here's a solid full-tang black recurve knife from Ape Survival.

This knife is not too big or small, with an overall length of 7.4 inches.

It includes a handle with molded finger grips and a finger ring. The finger ring has a pointed end for more effective hammering moves.

This is NOT a high-end blade, but it is very good for the price...

As we often say, you get what you pay for with survival gear, but what happens when the offer is FREE?

We'll then it's a pretty low risk - high reward "purchase."

Because when this article was published, you could get this Knife for FREE - pay a reasonable shipping/handling fee.

Click here now, to see if this deal is still available.

  • Full tang construction
  • Grip Includes finger molding for superior grip
  • Sheath included
  • FREE (+ s/h)
  • The sheath is not MOLLE compatible
  • It could use some sharpening before use
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A Brief Karambit History Lesson

It’s a fact of human nature that conflicts arise.

And every culture develops particular weapons to defend itself.

Most modern weapons (i.e., firearms) tend to have a similar design.

But if you look back at the traditional bladed weapons of a culture, it’ll tell you a lot more about what makes them unique.

For example:

In the jungles of Southeast Asia, humans are not at the top of the food chain.

Both leopards and tigers hold dominance in pockets of pristine habitat.

These big cats hold a place of reverence in dense jungles and the minds of native people.

So it’s no wonder that one of the area’s most storied fighting knives takes the shape of a tiger claw!

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What’s A Karambit Anyway?

It’s a compact fighting knife with a distinct forward sweeping blade that ends at a point.

The blade shape likely developed in Western Sumatra.

It may have stemmed from modifications to a small handheld farm tool.

Why? Because a similar tool was used to cut and rake roots, thresh, and plant rice.

It’s similar in design to a small sickle but with a more open hook to the blade.

Once invented, it spread throughout Southeast Asia over the coming centuries.

It became a common and popular weapon for the peasant class in the region.

Karambit Knife Uses

Despite its humble beginnings, it has developed into a fearsome fighting tool.

One with a reputation for being brutally effective.

This type of knife is the main blade of choice in many warrior cultures of the region.

It’s also commonly used in Filipino & Indonesian martial arts.

It’s still considered one of the deadliest melee weapons of all time.

The unique design has made it a favorite for hand-to-hand combat instructors.

Many believe it has a more intuitive striking ability than alternative fighting knives.

It might be your best choice if you’re looking to win a real knife fight.

The forward sweep of the blade is reminiscent of a tiger’s claw.

It hooks and digs into an enemy rather than slicing along the skin.

The sharp point focuses all its striking energy on one spot.

This design helps it penetrate deep through clothing, armor, and tissue.

And once it penetrates the surface, the blade will naturally dig even deeper when a victim tries to pull away.

Stop and think about THAT!

This automatic “deepening of the blade” results in devastating injuries, especially if the attack focuses on the body’s weakest points.

Here’s a video slicing through meats to show how much damage these knives can inflict!

↓ A Close Look Inside Karambit Flesh Damage!

Beyond the distinct forward-curved blade, these blades often include a large finger loop in the handle.

Adding the finger loop allows for a solid grasp of the knife with either hand.

And many blade masters have taken advantage of this by learning to fight with one in each hand.

Also, many work in both upward and downward grip positions.

Most feature “enclosed” finger loops (as opposed to open ones).

This closed-loop design helps to keep the blade secure in these different grips.

This loop can wrap around either the index or little finger, depending on the vertical orientation of the hold.

This “locked-in” grip allows for powerful cutting strikes from any direction.

It also allows for a protected “hammer” strike, using the metal loop as a striking point.

Many include a small point as a part of the loop; this makes a downward hammer blow deadly.

With a blade so focused on fighting, it’s less versatile than other knives for daily tasks.

For example:

Ordinary camp chores (i.e., food and firewood prep) are more complicated.

Why? Because it’s tricky to use the sharpened curved edge for such delicate peeling and slicing tasks.

And it’s not made for chopping or batoning wood either.

However, it works brilliantly for cutting rope, vines, and other tough-to-slice items.

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How To Fight With One

Knife fighting takes serious training.

Even if you have previously trained with other slicing blades.

Why? Because the fighting styles are so unique.

So if you want to master this fighting style, it’s best to seek a professional.

Look for someone who specializes in fighting with these blades.

Perhaps a martial art instructor familiar with Filipino methods.

But you can start with some basic training instructions online.

And even purchasing some training blades (rubber blades with blunted tips).

First, you must learn the various grips…

Here’s a brief overview of one to get you started:

Reverse And Forward Grips

The Reverse and Forward grips are the most common.

But others allow for more reach or to disorient your opponent.

Paul Ingrahm has produced some of the best instructional videos recently.

He’s an expert instructor at the Kali Center or Luke Holloway at Raw Combat International:

↓ Karambit Basic Flips & Grips

Once you understand the different grips, tackle each one slowly.

Make sure you’re comfortable with each style of attack and defense before moving on.

Many of these knife drills need a partner to master.

A partner allows you to perform repetitions until they become second nature.

After you have mastered basic moves, there are plenty of advanced strikes to tackle.

Many of these advanced moves prove deadly in combat.

Most of these involve short, high-energy strikes.

Attacks look more like boxing than a traditional knife fight.

This setup is due to the frequent use of the reverse grip, which allows you to “punch” the hooked blade forward.

Here are a couple of combo moves to get a sense of what’s possible:

↓ 3 Devastating KARAMBIT Techniques

Best Karambit Knife Features To Look For

As with any other critical gear, it pays to invest in quality.

A Quality Blade Material

The steel chosen for a knife blade is the most critical part of the entire knife.

You can’t have to good knife if its steel is poor quality.

But there are plenty of different “high-quality” steels on the market.

So you’ll have to choose between two main steel types:

1. High-carbon

It’s easy to sharpen to a fine edge but requires maintenance and corrosion prevention.

2. Stainless steel

It needs very little maintenance and holds an edge well, but it’s hard to sharpen and can be brittle.

So your steel preference depends mainly on your skills and diligence in maintaining your blade.

There is no right answer; make sure it’s a high-quality metal.

A Quality Handle

The handle should be comfortable with either forward or reverse grips.

And the finger ring should comfortably fit over your index and little fingers.

Some people like a handle with molded finger position slots to help with the proper grip and finger placements.

It shouldn’t be too snug, which may prevent you from changing grips.

Quality Construction

Ensure the blade and handle are securely connected.

And any extra design features (pocket clip, folding mechanism, etc.) are well-constructed.

Full tang is always more robust than partial tangs or a folding knife with hinges.

But, on the other hand, a folding knife is more convenient to carry.

Blade Length & Angle

This blade shape is always forward sweeping.

But there are variations in blade length and angle:

  • Longer blades are more deadly in combat but more challenging to carry and conceal.
  • Shorter blades have less reach but can fit comfortably in a pocket.

You should also consider whether you intend to carry the blade concealed.

And whether you want a folding knife to carry in a pocket or a fixed blade that needs a sheath.

A Cautionary Note

Over the years, I’ve encountered several blades that claim to be karambit.

But their swept-back design is *NOT* and does not function (or fight) the same way.

These may be fine blades. But they are fundamentally different.

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How To Sharpen This Unique Blade Shape 

Due to the inward curving blade, you can’t effectively sharpen it with a flat stone or pocket knife sharpener.

Instead, it requires a curved surface, such as a diamond honing cone or a gouge sharpener.

This video shows how to sharpen a forward sweeping blade using a rounded whetstone and strops.

↓ Sharpening Method For Recurve Knives

When you decide to sharpen your blade, work slowly at first.

Ensure you have the proper technique down and you’re not causing damage to the edge in the process.

Once you’ve successfully sharpened the blade a few times, it will become muscle memory.

You’ll quickly settle into an efficient sharpening technique.

And there’s nothing more satisfying than putting (and keeping) a razor-sharp edge on ALL your bladed tools.

Final Thoughts

One thing that separates humans from nearly all large land predators is the lack of claws.

But with a karambit knife, you can rectify that oversight.

You can give yourself a devastating claw-inspired hand-to-hand combat weapon.

It’s a weapon that’s incredibly versatile and deadly (if you know how to use it).

Sure, it will never match the camp utility of a survival knife or bowie knife.

It’s an invaluable tool to have in your self-defense weapon arsenal.

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