Table of Contents
Budget knives have certainly come a long way over the past decade in terms of quality and durability. Stronger synthetic materials and steels, both of which can be produced inexpensively, allow manufacturers to build more reliable and reasonably priced knives than ever before. Brands like Spyderco, Kershaw, and Mora are proving that, as a buyer, you do not have to spend a fortune to get a versatile, dependable knife.
Schrade knives can be thought of in a similar category. They have some interesting designs and produce durable fixed blades and folders that can handle a wide range of tasks. In this article, we will be looking at some of their best offerings in both of these styles.
At a Glance: Our Choices for The 8 Best Schrade Knives
Click on one of the links to go directly to our overview, opinion, and features of each knife.
About Schrade Knives
Schrade is one of five knife brands produced and distributed under the umbrella BTI (Better Tools for Industry) LLC, which is, in turn, a division of Smith and Wesson Holding Corp. Along with Schrade, BTI also handles the brands Uncle Henry, Old Timer, Imperial, and Smith and Wesson (Gun Accessory division).
Schrade is involved in making a variety of tools and implements beyond just knives. Precisely what the brand’s identity is can be hard to determine, as they seem to produce almost anything that falls within the capability of their manufacturing facilities. The following are all made under the Schrade brand: axes, batons, knives (fixed blade, folding, assisted opening), handcuffs and handcuff accessories, hatchets, machetes, pry tools, saws, sharpeners, sheathes, shovels, spears, tactical pens, tough tools, along with accessories.
It probably goes without saying, but Schrade is not a brand like Buck, or Case that has a rich history and is shrouded in the aura of being family owned and operated business. Nor does it have the appeal of boutique knife manufacturers that cultivate strong connections with their customer base. That is just not what these knives or this company are all about.
Perusing BTI’s website, you will find very little in terms of marketing appeal, useful information, or brand building. No attempt is made to engage the consummate knife enthusiast, and rather than having a warranty, they only offer a returns policy—which, by the way, only permits returns of unused knives that are in undamaged packaging within 14 days of purchase.
In other words, Schrade is not a “feel good” knife brand. They do not even bother naming their knives, but instead only assign generic model numbers that indicate various design elements of the product.
What they do well, however, is making very rugged and dependable knives that are available at extremely reasonable price points. Both the folders and the fixed blade knives reviewed in this article are generally well designed and are useful across many different applications. Whether you are in the market for an “indestructible” survival knife, or a solid EDC, Schrade has an offering for you. They are not pretty, and they are not going to be passed down to future generations, but they will get the job done. In this way, Schrade’s success does make the point that maybe you do not need so much fluff if you can deliver a product that is useful, dependable, and affordable.
Our Schrade Fixed Blade Picks
|Steel:||1095 HC Steel|
(+) Very durable blade and tip
(+) Overall tank of a knife designed for heavy-duty use
(+) Versatile enough to handle finer cuts as well
(-) Handle can be uncomfortable
(-) Blade re-curve can make it difficult to field sharpen
The SCHF9 is a sizeable full tang survival knife. It features a blade made of 1095 high carbon steel that will serve you well in terms of edge retention and ease of sharpening (although it does have a tendency to corrode easily). The SCHF9 weighs 16oz (453.6g) and has an overall length of 12.1” (30.7cm).
The dimensions of the blade are 6.4” (16.2cm) in length and a spine thickness of .25” (6.35mm). The spine maintains its width all the way to the tip, which, combined with the 1095 steel, makes for a very strong blade. It has a Drop Point shape with a slight re-curve to it.
The handle on the SCHF9 is composed of thermoplastic elastomer (usually just referred to as TPE) and is contoured with three finger grooves. The length is 5.7” (14.5cm). The knife also comes with a tactical nylon sheath that has a removable front storage pouch, which is capable of holding something on the order of a sharpening stone. It is MOLLE compatible and uses a Velcro belt loop.
The heavy-duty SCHF9 will stand up to your toughest jobs in terms of wood processing (chopping and batoning) and other rugged bushcraft jobs. The 90º spine is also very good for sparking a ferro rod. However, some of you with smaller hands might find this handle a little on the uncomfortable side. The finger grooves make the knife lose some of its intuitive feel depending on hand size as well. On a final note, the blade may need a little help out of the box to achieve razor sharpness.
(+) Good balance on this knife
(+) Good value at its price point
(+) Durable and versatile with the multi-tool included
(-) Blade steel is decent, but not great
(-) The multi-tool might not hold up long-term
The SCHF27 is also a full tang survival knife and has a multi-tool included with it. It is not quite as big as the SCHF9, with overall dimensions of 11.5” (29.2cm) length, and a weight of 9.92oz (281.2g).
The full tang blade is bulky and heavy-duty, with a length of 6.6” (16.7cm). The profile is Drop Point and it has a hollow grind. The blade also a deep finger choil that can be comfortably used for detail work, and very aggressive jimping (?) along the spine. There is also a section of the spine that is 90° for scraping and sparking your ferro rod. The blade steel is the high carbon stainless 8Cr13MoV, which comes titanium coated.
The handle on the SCHF27 is 4.9” (12.4cm) long and, like the SCHF9, is made of TPE. It features a finger guard and a thumb ramp for easier push cuts and puncturing. Integrated into the handle is a multi-tool that can be accessed by pulling a pin in the bottom of the handle. The tool has a small screwdriver, a gut hook, bottle opener, and 1/4” hex wrench among other features.
The sheath is glass-filled nylon. It holds the knife securely and has a belt loop that will work with most standard belts, although you might want to check for sure if you are planning on wearing a tactical belt.
The SCHF27 does an excellent job with starting fires with a ferro rod, and handles duties like chopping and batoning with no problems. It is also reasonably comfortable for making more detailed cuts, although the finger grooves might be an issue for some.
The SCHF30 is another full tang fixed blade, although this model features a Clip Point shape. Somewhat smaller than the 27 and the 9, the SCHF30 has a 4.9” (12.54cm) blade. Its overall length is 9.70” (26.64cm), and it weighs 7oz (198.4g).
The blade is again the Chinese-made 8Cr13MoV HC stainless steel and is titanium coated. This is a respectable, if not stellar, grade of steel and does come razor-sharp from the factory. The spine also does very well for both scraping and striking a ferro rod.
The TPE handle on the SCHF30 is 4.8” (12.19cm). It features a jimped thumb ramp, finger guard, and lanyard hole at the bottom.
Included with this knife is a thermoplastic sheath. It is a multi-carry, with nine grommet holes and four slots for various lashing configurations. The sheath does very well for securing the knife and is highly functional for the jobs that its basic design is meant to accomplish.
The SCHF30 is not going to be your heavy-duty bushcraft knife. The steel is a little on the softer side, and the Clip Point design means to will not be as durable at the tip as some other profiles. This is a capable tactical knife, however, and will work well for self-defense and many (but not all) survival situations.
The SCHF52M is the next step up in terms of price point for Schrade, but there are some materials upgrades (such as 1095 HC steel and a Micarta handle) that can make this knife worth it. It is also very beefy and hefty for those who prefer their knives on the robust side.
The blade length on the 52M is 7.04” (17.88cm). It is a Drop Point profile with a hollow grind. Overall, the knife is 12.99” (32.99cm) and weighs in at 17.92oz (508g). The spine is .22” (5.6mm) and maintains this thickness nearly the entire length of the blade.
The handle on this knife is 5.95” (15.11cm) and, as was mentioned earlier, it is made of Micarta. It has a very good ergonomics and the feel is surprisingly intuitive for a knife of this size.
The 52M is going to stand up to about any type of abuse that you are willing to dish out. It is made for those heavy-duty tasks like prying and batoning that might push other knives to their limit. Some other tasks, however, the knife did not perform as well. The spine is not as sharp as some other bushcraft/survival knives and did not do as well with scraping. It is also not the greatest chopping knife you will find, as it tends to have trouble really biting into wood. Another question for some might be is it too big, since it is both long and heavy.
Our Schrade Pocket Knife Picks
The SCHA3BS is an assisted opening liner-lock folding knife. It also comes with a safety mechanism on the side to prevent accidental deployment. The opening mechanism is the M.A.G.I.C. (Multipurpose Assisted Generational Innovative Cutlery) system and employs a flipper located on the back of the handle.
The blade on the 3BS is 4034 stainless steel, which is made by Thyssen-Krupp and is comparable to 420 HC. It is a partially serrated Tanto blade with an ambidextrous thumb plate, should you opt not to use the flipper. The blade length is 2.9” (7.3cm), and the knife has an overall length of 7.3” (18.5cm). It weighs 4.96oz (140.6g).
The handle on this knife is black aluminum and also has a black rubber insert. In terms of shape and styling, it is a modern looking and very aggressive design. You might find yourself reminded of the Batman Begins tumbler with its blocky, multi-faced appearance. It also has a safety lock and a pocket clip for tip up carry.
The opening mechanism and the safety are both of quality construction and the locking mechanism works very well when the blade is deployed. The Tanto style blade also makes this a durable tactical knife.
The SCH217L is also a liner-lock folding knife. Like the SCHA3BS, it features a flipper mechanism that acts as a finger guard when the knife is open.
The blade is 9Cr18MoV, which is a Chinese equivalent to 440B Steel. The blade length is 3.63” (9.2cm) and it features dual thumb studs for one-handed deployment. It has a Drop Point profile with a semi-hollow grind and a slight re-curve to the blade. There is also a jimped thumb ramp. The overall length is 8.41” (21.3cm) and the knife weighs 4.96oz (140.6g).
The handle on this model is textured and grooved aluminum. It features a lanyard hole and a deep carry clip. The closed length is 4.78” (21.1cm).
The textured grip on this knife is actually quite ergonomic and grips well also. In addition, Schrade has done a nice job with the lock-up mechanism, as the blade is held very secure when opened. You will notice also that this knife comes very sharp out of the box and works very well across a variety of cutting tasks.
Like the SCHA3BS, the SCHA7B is also a M.A.G.I.C. assisted opening knife with a liner lock. Schrade has upgraded the steel on this model, however, to AUS-8 high carbon stainless.
The blade on the SCHA7B is a Clip Point that has a flat grind and features ambidextrous thumb studs. The blade length is 3.3” (8.4cm) and the overall length is 7.6” (19.3cm). The knife weighs in at 4.96oz (140.6g).
This handle is aluminum and again has aggressive styling similar to what is seen with the SCHA3BS. It features a safety lock, lanyard hole, and a pocket clip for tip down carry. The handle is referred to as a “sculpted” coarse powder coated handle. Few people seem to be indifferent about it, with opinions generally falling into either the “love” or “hate” category. The closed length is 4.3” (10.9cm).
One thing that might irk you about this knife is that the flipper stays up when the blade is deployed, which does limit where you can place your thumb when making certain types of cuts. Other than that—and your preference on the handle—this is a quality EDC. It is going to stand up well to the day-in and day-out grind for those of you who use your knives constantly. The AUS-8 steel is also easy to sharpen and very resistant to corrosion.
(+) Liner lock has jimping making it easier to manipulate
(+) Good balance and intuitive feel
(+) Versatile blade that is very sharp out of the box
(-) The blade is big and bulkier
(-) The finger grooves are uncomfortable
The SCH109 is another liner-lock folder from Schrade. It is going to be your EDC that can also serve as an adequate self-defense knife in a pinch.
The blade is 9Cr18MoV high carbon stainless steel. It is a Drop Point profile with a hollow grind, 3.5” (8.89cm) in length. It also features dual thumb studs and jimping along the spine.
The handle on this knife is G-10. It is designed with finger grooves, a lanyard hole, pocket clip, and jimping along the back of the handle. The knife also features an index choil/flipper mechanism. The closed length is 4.7” (11.94cm), and it is slightly heavier than the other Schrade folders we have reviewed in this article, weighing 5.92oz (167.8g).
This knife handles a variety of tasks well. The 9Cr18MoV steel is a plus at this price point and the overall blade design is well executed. If you are considering the self-defense capabilities, the jimping on the back of the handle can give greater control in reverse grip and the jimping along the spine can be useful when piercing. Like the other Schrade offerings, however, the finger grooves can be an issue. It will depend on your individual hand size and shape, but those with larger hands might do well to try before you buy.
Schrade truly makes some quality knives for the price points that they hit. Although this means a few compromises in terms of materials, the knives overall are durable and function well. If you’re working within a budget and need an EDC, or a heavy-duty workhorse to really bang around with, then Schrade provides some great options.
Schrade, however, seems to want to make their mark in terms of innovation with their handle designs. Whether it is the sculpted aluminum, or handles with finger grooves, these efforts can be polarizing. Buyers should be aware of the possibility that they will find the knives uncomfortable if purchasing without first gripping them.
Image by Mike Petrucci