You never know the value of a boot knife until you need one. It’s like a scene out of a Western, where the hero pulls out a knife from his boots to defeat the villain or to cut a rope that is inhibiting their movements.
Although we hope you never have to deal with a goon in the middle of nowhere, having a boot knife with you can often be useful even if you are not Dalton in the movie Road House.
A boot knife is actually a pocket-sized knife that’s kept in a boot instead of a pocket. A boot is actually a better place to conceal a knife than a pocket, from where it can easily fall off. Boot knives are commonly used by those in law enforcement or the military or in any situation when stealth is necessary.
If you’re ever in a situation where you need to carry a weapon stealthily, a boot knife is often the best bet. They are small, convenient, and also fit for a variety of everyday purposes.
HOW TO CHOOSE A BOOT KNIFE
There is a wide range of EDC knives available today. They vary in size, shape, design, and purpose. EDC knives are also varied in their pricing. While there are expensive options available, very often even a budget knife can turn out to be of incredible quality.
However, when choosing a boot knife, there are certain things to consider, which you wouldn’t have to think of in case of any other type of EDC knife.
For instance, you wouldn’t want to pull out a 10-inch knife from your boot. First of all, it wouldn’t fit, and even if it did, it would make walking a task. Therefore, the following factors must be considered when buying a boot knife.
Concealability: The concealability of a boot knife varies from one person to another. Typical boot knives have a blade size between 3 and 4 inches. That is the size perfect for concealing as well as injuring a person when need be. A knife with a blade length between 3 and 4 inches is considered the ideal boot knife.
It is not only easy to conceal inside a boot but also inside a pocket or any other secret compartment. However, some people prefer practicality over concealability and choose a larger knife with a blade length between 5 and 6 inches.
Although these knives are harder to conceal inside a boot and also difficult to fish out quickly when needed, they have more reach and weight.
Blade design: Most boot knives either have a double edge spear point blade or a clip point single edge blade.
Both of these blades are good for slashing and piercing. This blade design dates back to the time when violence was very common and firearms not too advanced. People relied on boot knives for protection.
That is why the design of the boot knife is primarily for stabbing and piercing. The double-edged blade is mainly for stabbing, while the clip point blade is mainly for slashing. Clip point blades are sharper and can hold an edge very well, compared to the double-edged blade that usually has flat saber grind. The blade design should be chosen according to the purpose of the knife.
Blade steel: It must be remembered that boot knives were mainly designed as fighting knives. Therefore, boot knives need to be made of a steel that’s hard as well as tough. Hard steels have excellent sharpening and edge holding properties, while tough steels are durable and can withstand any kind of activity.
However, it is difficult to find both properties in a single type of steel. Stainless steel has good edge holding property, but it isn’t very tough.
On the other hand, tool steels like high carbon steel do not have great edge retention but are highly durable and tough. There are certain types of steel that have a balance of both hardness and toughness, and they are usually what boot knives are made of.
High carbon tools steels like A2 and O1 and stainless steels like 8Cr13MoV, 154 CM, 440C, AUS-8, and ATS-34 are most popularly used for manufacturing boot knives.
Construction: If you are buying a boot knife for fighting purposes, you should pay careful attention to its construction. A full tang knife or a hidden tang knife is the best choice for a boot knife because the construction needs to be very sturdy.
In an EDC knife, the point where the handle ends and the blade begins is usually the weakest. The construction of the tang is also of great importance in a boot knife. A full tang and a hidden tang are the strongest types of construction and therefore, the best choice for boot knives.
Handle material: The blade of the boot knife should be tough and strong, while the handle should be ergonomic and slip resistant. Some of the popular materials for boot knife handles are Krayton, G10, linen Micarta, canvas Micarta, Hypalon and Zytel.
You might want to also check our best neck knives article.
TOP 10 BOOT KNIVES
Carrying a knife inside a boot may not be very common these days, but boot knives still remain one of the most sought-after EDC knives. Boot knives are traditionally American, and not surprisingly, the most famous manufacturers are also American.
You’d be surprised at the variety of boot knives available out there, and making the right choice could become confusing. To make your task easier here are the top 10 boot knives that you could consider.
#1 SOG INSTINCT MINI
(+) Easy to hold and deploy
(+) Sharp blade and comfortable ergonomic handle
(-) Too small
(-) Cannot be used as a combat knife
The best knife isn’t just easy to reach or pull out when needed but also useful in every day as well as everyday situations. The SOG Instinct Mini is the perfect boot knife in all respects. It’s small enough to conceal but also versatile enough for slashing, cutting, or piercing.
As we have already seen here, boot knives are best if full tang. And the SOG Instinct Mini is one of the best you can get for under $30. SOG is one of the leading knife and tactical tools manufacturers of the US, founded in 1986 and most famous for reinventing the iconic MACV-SOG tactical knife.
If you are looking for an American made boot knife that delivers exceptional performance look no further than the Instinct Mini.
This fixed blade, full tang knife with sheath is available in two sizes and is constructed from stainless steel. The clip point blade has a satin finish and is made of 5Cr15MoV stainless steel with a G10 handle.
The overall length of the knife is 4.8 inches while the blade measures 1.9 inches. The handle comes with grooves, finger coil, and jimping for a comfortable grip. The Instinct Mini can be used as a pocket knife, a neck knife or a boot knife. It comes with a limited lifetime warranty.
Conclusion on the SOG Instinct Mini: Although the Instinct Mini is a little too small to use as a tactical or combat knife, it can inflict serious injury if need be. Sharp, durable, good-looking, the Instinct Mini is one of the most affordable boot knives, great for both beginners and pros.
#2 BUCK KNIVES 0616BKS OPS BOOT TACTICAL KNIFE WITH VERSATILE SHEATH
(+) Razor sharp blade
(+) Versatile sheath
(+) Strong and comfortable handle
(-) Too small for big hands
(-) Uncomfortable for prolonged use
Another iconic American knife manufacturer is Buck Knives. Founded in 1902, Buck Knives is famous for producing various kinds of tactical and everyday carry knives over the years. Knife enthusiasts who prefer only American-made products have a high appreciation for Buck Knives.
The Ops Boot Knife has been designed for easy accessibility in any kind of situation. The hallmark of a boot knife is that it should be easy to conceal but also strong enough to be used as a proper tactical knife in any situation.
If it isn’t small enough, it cannot be put inside a boot. However, it should not be too small, because that would make the knife useless for any purpose. The Buck Ops boot knife is 61/2 inches in total length while the blade is around 3 inches long.
Made of 154CM stainless steel, the tanto blade has excellent edge retention, corrosion resistance, and is sharp enough for cutting and slashing. The fixed blade full tang construction is sturdy yet lightweight, while the G10 handle is comfortable and has scales for a secure grip.
The polypropylene and leather sheath allows the knife to be carried around the neck, inside a boot, or on a belt, both horizontally and vertically. All Buck Knives comes with a lifetime warranty.
Conclusion on the Buck Knives 0616BKS Ops Boot Tactical Knife: For under $100, this is one of the best made American boot knives. Although it does become uncomfortable after prolonged use, it is ideally meant to be used as a backup or secondary knife.
Check out our recommended bowie knives article.
#3 KERSHAW SECRET AGENT
(+) Slim and stylish profile
(+) Ergonomic handle with secure grip
(+) Easy to sharpen
(-) Poor edge retention
(-) Single edge
(-) Made in China
The first thing about the Kershaw Secret Agent that will get your attention is the model number: 4 007. An iconic American knife manufacturer, Kershaw goes all out to make this knife the thing for secret agents: easy to conceal, quick to deploy, and stylish as hell. Conveniently lightweight at only 3 ounces, this all-black knife looks almost like a tuxedo-clad Bond (too bad Spectre was weak like all those old Bond movies which were ridiculous but this is another topic).
It’s perfect for tactical use, self-defense, outdoor jobs and recreational purposes like scuba diving, fishing, hunting, and camping.
It costs less than $30, but it’s made in China, like most Kershaw knives. If you’re looking for an American made knife, you’re probably going to be disappointed.
The blade is made of 8Cr13MoV stainless steel, heat treated for hardness and durability, while the handle is made of reinforced synthetic polymer with textured rubber for a secure grip. The blade has a black oxide coating that steel into magnetite, boosting corrosion resistance.
The knife also comes with a sheath with a belt clip. For maximum concealability, the knife has a no-shine matte finish. This is a single-edge knife so don’t be surprised if the blade is dull on one side.
Conclusion on the Kershaw Secret Agent: Although this isn’t made in the US, the Secret Agent does a great job in most aspects. However, the blade cannot hold an edge for too long so you may need to frequently sharpen it. You may also have to grind the other side of the blade to a sharp edge.
#4 CRKT SHRILL FIXED BLADE KNIFE
(+) Made in Oregon
(+) Tough and durable construction
(+) Dual edge stainless steel blade
(-) Poor sheath quality
(-) Poor edge retention
This is another American-made boot knife that you can always count on. Although sold as a boot knife, the Shrill Fixed Blade Knife by Columbia River Knife and Tool can be used as a pocket knife, neck knife, or as a versatile EDC knife for recreational purposes.
The knife has been designed by Matthew Lerch of Wisconsin, who is adept at combining art with mechanics when designing knives.
He has been in business for over 31 years, and with the Shrill, he presents a knife that’s great for duty, for the outdoors, and everything in between. It’s also affordable, retailing online for under $50.
The Shrill is capable of performing under any condition. It has a fixed 4.8-inch dual edge 8Cr13Mov Titanium nitride finish blade. All the decent at holding an edge the blade is easy to sharpen and is tough enough for all kinds of uses. Because the knife is intended for plunging, it doesn’t need to have excellent edge retention.
The polished resin infused fiber handle is comfortable and secure and does not make your hands sore after prolonged use. The knife also comes with a leather sheath with a belt clip for easy storage.
Conclusion on the CRKT Shrill Fixed Blade Knife: This is an American-made boot knife that’s conveniently designed, lightweight and durable. Because of its affordable price, it doesn’t hurt your pocket and can be put to a variety of uses. If you use it regularly, you may need to sharpen frequently.
Learn more about the best stockman knives by clicking here.
#5 SCHRADE SCHF44LS NEEDLE BOOT KNIFE FIXED BLADE
(+) Good construction and appearance
(+) Serrated spear point high carbon stainless steel blade
(+) Wrapped handle for comfort
(-) Too big
(-) Tang too small
If you are looking for a knife specifically to conceal inside your boot, it should be small. That is always the first criterion of a boot knife.
Yet that is exactly where the Schrade Needle disappoints. The overall length of the knife is above 12 inches while the blade itself is 7.5 inches. This is a fixed blade knife, so there is no way you can make the knife smaller by folding it.
If you have really big boots, you still may be able to fit a foot-long knife there. But it will be very inconvenient to walk around. The knife is made in China, something that will definitely put off people who swear by American-made knives.
However, because this is such a long dagger, it can be used for various everyday purposes even if it cannot fit inside your boot. The black 7Cr17MoV high carbon stainless steel double edge blade has a serrated spear point and blood grooves, while the black textured TPE wrapped handle comes with a lanyard hole.
The Needle also comes with a sheath with a boot or belt clip. People usually consider this knife because of the attractive price point of $25 which a lot more people can afford because of those stunning tax cuts but let’s move on.
Conclusion on the Schrade Needle: If you have no problem with a Chinese-made knife, then the Schrade Needle is one of the cheapest boot knives you can find – even though it’s too long for a boot.
#6 SMITH & WESSON SWHRT9B
(+) Solid build quality
(+) Well-made blade with an even grind
(+) Great edge retention
(-) Lanyard hole too small
(-) Too big for use as a utility or combat knife
The SWHRT9B boot knife is made for the Hostage Rescue Team. This is the Special Operations tactical and counterterrorism SWAT Team of the FBI, which rescue people held captive illegally.
A knife is useful in hostage rescue operations, especially when it comes to cutting ropes and chords and breaking the glass. Smith & Wesson is one such knife manufacturer that has produced various kinds of tactical knives for US Special Forces and law enforcement.
The military and law enforcement depend on manufacturers like Smith & Wesson for their supply of tactical tools. The most striking feature of the SWHRT9B is the pricing: it costs only $17 online. Even though this is such affordably priced knife, it boasts of exceptional quality, durability, and hardiness.
The blade is made of 440C steel and is 4.74 inches long. The overall length of the knife is 8.84 inches. The size is just right for fitting inside a boot while being big enough for reach and efficiency. The handle has grooves, handguard, and a lanyard hole.
Conclusion on the Smith & Wesson SWHRT9B: The knife is great for the purposes it is intended for, but it may be too big or too small sometimes. Although it can be used as an everyday carry knife, it is better to put inside a bag than to carry inside a boot.
We recommend checking our top keychain knives article.
#7 SCHRADE OLD TIMER 162OT BOOT KNIFE
(+) Good build quality
(+) Ideal length for boot carry
(-) The sheath is poor quality
(-) Doesn’t come razor sharp
Not only was Schrade an iconic knife manufacturer, but their Old Timer line has been producing quality tactical and everyday carry knives for generations. Old Timer has knives for every purpose, from recreational use to fishing to waddling to hunting. The 162OT is a boot knife.
The biggest downside of any Schrade knife today is the Chinese make. The original Schrade went out of business years ago, and the one that now owns the brand produces cheap knives hoping to capitalize on the Schrade reputation.
All Schrade knives today are made in China, but you may find a few old ones in the secondary market that are made in the US.
The knife has a blade length of 3.8 inches and a handle length of 4.0 inches. The blade is made of 7Cr17 high carbon stainless steel, with a spear point. The Old Timer Sawcut handle comes with nickel silver bolsters.
The full tang design and the full flat grind is easy to sharpen, holds an edge well, but the large guards make the knife hard to carry inside a boot.
Conclusion on the Schrade Old Timer: Even though this may be often difficult to carry inside a boot, the knife has surprisingly good quality despite being made in China. It is inexpensive comfortable to use and holds an edge pretty well.
#8 CRKT STING FIXED BLADE KNIFE
(+) Great quality and finish
(+) Ideal size
(+) Lightweight and convenient
Founded in 1994 the Columbia River Knife and Tool is a premier knife and tactical tools manufacturing company in the US. CRKT is known for its innovative designs and expert craftsmanship. The Sting is designed by AG Russell, the first Knife member of the Knife Digest Cutlery Hall of Fame.
He also started the first mail order knife business. However, he most enjoys making custom knives, and the Sting is one such example. The dual edge 1050 hot forged carbon steel blade has a black corrosion resistant coating.
The contoured handle offers a secure grip and is comfortable for prolonged use. The blade length is 3.19 inches, the ideal length for a boot knife blade. The Sting also comes with a glass-reinforced nylon sheath and limited lifetime warranty.
Conclusion on the CRKT Sting: This is a simple but powerful knife, under $50. The size is ideal for boot carry, and the lightweight design makes it convenient everyday carry.
#9 GERBER GHOSTSTRIKE FIXED BLADE KNIFE
(+) Extremely slim and lightweight
(+) Great sheath design
(+) US-made with a lifetime warranty
(-) 420HC steel doesn’t have great edge retention
Gerber is one of the best-known knife and tactical tools and gear manufacturers in the US, most famous for their Bear Grylls series. Their Ghoststrike Fixed Blade Knife is meant to carry inside a boot or low-cut shoe.
The 420HC steel full tang design has a black ceramic coating for corrosion resistance, while the textured rubber handle offers superior grip. The knife also comes with a modular sheath, ideal for both concealed and open carry.
Conclusion of the Gerber Ghoststrike: An efficient knife from the house of Gerber, this is one of those boot knives that can be put to various uses.
#10 ROTHCO RAIDER II BOOT KNIFE
(+) Perfect for beginners
(+) Lightweight and convenient
(-) Cheap steel
(-) Poor edge retention
(-) Low-quality sheath
Rothco is a manufacturer of tactical tools and gear. The Raider II boot knife is made of cheap stainless steel that isn’t going to hold an edge for too long. However, the knife is priced under $15, so you shouldn’t expect much.
The metallic handle can be slippery, but the knife point is great for stabbing or piercing. It’s corrosion-resistant, and even though the edge retention isn’t great, it’s easy to sharpen and grind. The knife comes with a leather sheath.
Conclusion on the Rothco Raider II Boot Knife: Rothco produces affordable knives, best for beginners. If you’re a boot knife pro, you could be a little disappointed with the Raider II but not nearly as much as audiences were disappointed with Iron Man II and The Force Awakens!
YOUR DECISION TO MAKE
Whether you’re a beginner or a pro, there are various brands and types of boot knives available online and in stores. This handy little list should be able to make your choice easier.