The great thing about neck knives is that they are always on hand. Whether you end up in a survival situation or, God forbid, a self-defense situation you know you have the tool for the job at hand.
As far as knives go, neck knives are pretty underrated and overlooked. They’re not as flashy as switchblades and don’t have all the bells and whistles of a penknife but they are dependable.
With a fixed blade and a lanyard, neck knives are designed to work around your neck and under your shirt. They are usually fairly compact so that they don’t show through your shirt. The ideal neck knife will be worn but not seen.
Like all things, but especially knives, you get what you pay for. Cheap knives are often not worth the peanuts you pay for them. If a knife breaks while in use it can end up doing you serious damage. This is the opposite of what you want in a survival or life-threatening situation!
To help you find the best neck knife for all situations, we’ve created a buyer’s guide. Here you’ll find everything you need to know about neck knives. We’ve also picked out 5 of the best neck knives on the market for you to peruse.
Before we get stuck into neck knives, you should know that not all states allow neck knives. They are fixed blades and therefore subject to limitation and bans in some states. You can use this tool to figure out what the rules are in your state.
OUR TOP PICK
Another CRKT knife, this is a beautiful looking knife which performs well in most situations. Its bowie design makes it a good choice for a survival knife or a self-defense knife.
The resin-infused fiber handle provides a lot of grip and looks stunning. The handle features finger grooves to give you a better grip on the slim knife. It is comfortable in the hand no matter what size hands you have.
The blade is made from 5Cr15MoV giving it a decent balance between hardness, durability, and sharpness. It’s a little on the soft side so it will need sharpening regularly if used for tasks like wood cutting.
Customers report that the blade is sharp out of the box and is perfect for cutting, slicing, or stabbing. Many use it as their go-to utility knife at work or when camping.
The supplied sheath is sturdy and yet slim. You can slip it under your shirt without it being noticed and it’ll stay in place all day.
Overall, this is a knife that makes style and function work wonderfully well. It is a great everyday carry and will serve you well in most situations.
- Beautiful and ergonomic design.
- Middle of the road for edge retention and hardness.
- Sharp out of the box.
- Secure, slim sheath.
- Bead blasted finish.
- Versatile blade.
- Will need sharpening more often than other blades.
This is a tiny knife with a blade measuring only 1.9 inches. It might be small but it still packs one hell of a punch.
The handle consists of two textured G10 panels attached to the full tang blade. It’s very slim, maybe an inch wide. This can make it difficult to hold on to, although the finger grooves along the bottom edge do make it more secure in the hand.
The great thing about this little knife is its single-piece construction. There are no joints so no weak points that may give out.
It also helps make this blade feel balanced. With such a small blade, the full tang gives it a safer and more comfortable feel in the hand.
The blade is made from 5Cr15MoV which makes it a middle of the road knife in terms of hardness and edge retention. It does sharpen to a very fine edge which makes it a useful little blade around the house and outdoors.
The supplied sheath is hard wearing and secure. It looks pretty cool with its serrated edge and skull motif. It is supplied with a metal ball chain which isn’t the most secure thing in the world.
One good tug and the clasp will come loose. The sheath can also be worn on a belt or a boot thanks to the clip.
- Small and lightweight in design.
- Textured handle with finger grooves.
- One-piece construction.
- Decent hardness and edge retention.
- Brilliantly sharp edge.
- Secure sheath.
- Metal chain is not sturdy.
- Won’t manage heavy-duty use.
This knife has a Wharncliffe design making it a superb slicing knife. The tip is needle-sharp and the edge is thin and sharp. It is a beautiful looking knife which performs well around the home or in the woods.
The handle is made from G10 and has a nice size and shape to it. You can get a solid grip on this knife without worrying about it slipping or twisting. It feels good in the hand which is not always the case with neck knives.
The blade is made from 5Cr15MoV stainless steel. It’s a Chinese steel that is often used in kitchen knives and the like. Considering the Wharncliffe shape, this steel choice makes a lot of sense.
5Cr15MoV is corrosion resistant and is superbly easy to sharpen. Of course, being easy to sharpen means it is not as hard as other knives. It’s not a buttery knife though. It can take some mid-level damage before it shows signs of wear.
In terms of edge retention, again it sits in the middle. You won’t need to sharpen it after every use. Semi-regular sharpening should keep the blade in perfect slicing condition.
The blade has a bead blast coating which removes the shine and reflective properties of the blade. Generally, this is only important in combat situations where you don’t want a reflection to give away your position.
Some people prefer the look of a bead blast finish. It does help to mask fingerprints, scratches, and cracks. If you’re someone who hates the look of a scratched blade then you might appreciate the bead blast finish.
- Sharp tip and edge.
- Comfortable handle.
- Sold with sheath and lanyard.
- Middling edge retention and hardness.
- Bead blast finish.
- Won’t cope with heavy-duty use.
- Edge will need sharpening semi-regularly.
Weighing only 3 ounces in the sheath, this is a lightweight knife that you won’t even notice around your neck.
The handle has a two-finger hole design which aims to compensate for the lack of material in your hand. By sliming you first and pinkie fingers into the holes you can get a secure grip on the knife.
Of course, the issue with set finger holes is that if your hand doesn’t meet the measurements you are going to find it uncomfortable. There are a lot of customer reviews that mention the fact that women or people with smaller hands struggle to use the holes.
This is a tactical knife and when used in that capacity it is deadly. Whether you go for the clip point or the karambit point, this knife will do serious damage. As a survival knife, it’s not the best option but for self-defense, it’s perfect.
The blade is made from AUS-8a stainless steel which has a relatively low carbon content. This means it resists corrosion very well. The issue with low carbon steels is that they don’t keep their edge.
It does sharpen well and you can achieve a very sharp edge. However, you will find yourself sharpening it more than other knives.
That being said, it is a hard steel that won’t chip or crack under pressure.
- Supplied with a sheath and metal necklace.
- Sharp edge and hard construction.
- Takes an edge well.
- Small profile.
- Finger holes are not comfortable for all users.
- Doesn’t hold an edge well.
- Sheath is fiddly to use.
This is a one-piece construction knife meaning the blade and handle are formed from one piece of steel with no joins. This serves to eliminate any weak spots that could disconnect or snap.
However, the lack of handle material can be uncomfortable for some people. This is particularly evident in combat situations where the thin profile and lack of grip can cause the handle to twist in your hand.
To combat this, the KA-BAR Becker Necker is supplied with a length of paracord that can be used to wrap the handle and create a lanyard. You can also fit your own handle to it after purchasing.
In terms of the blade, it’s about 3 inches long and made from 1095 Co-Van Steel. This steel makes for a very hard blade with great edge retention. You can get the edge very sharp and the blade sharpens well despite its hardness.
The issue with Co-Van steel is that it is prone to corrosion. The blade rusts quite easily in wet or damp conditions. This means if you are planning on using it for hunting or fishing you’ll see it degrade quite quickly.
Customers do like the knife. Many use it as an everyday carry because of it’s small profile. They report that it is sharp out of the box and holds it’s edge after some tough use and abuse.
- Supplied with cord and sheath.
- Hard blade with a sharp edge.
- Holds an edge well.
- Sharpens nicely.
- Handle construction is awkward and uncomfortable.
- Will corrode in wet environments.
Best Neck Knives Buying Guide
When buying a neck knife you’ll need to think about the design, construction, and quality of the knife.
Some of the considerations are universal to all knife buying. Others, like the type of lanyard, are specific to neck knives.
The whole point of a neck knife is that it is concealed beneath your shirt. Therefore, size is very important. A massive dagger swinging around your neck is going to be dangerous as well as looking stupid.
In general, neck knives are around 3 or 4 inches in the blade. The handles are also fairly small and compact making the knife lightweight and concealable overall.
Size is not always an indication of power, however. These knives are serious bits of kit that need to be handled responsibly.
The design of your knife will depend on how you intend to use it. Survival knives are different in shape and blade to tactical knives.
Survival knives are designed to be strong and sturdy. They tend to have thicker spines and edges designed for frequent use. The handles are also designed for comfort over long periods of time.
Tactical knives, in comparison, are focused on being light and sharp. The points are honed to pinprick sharpness, and the edge, or edges, are razor-thin. There is less of a focus on strength and more on piercing power.
The handles of tactical knives are designed to give the best possible grip so that the knife isn’t dropped or taken from you.
When you start looking at neck knives you need to think about what purpose you want your knife to serve. That way you can look out for some of the design features mentioned above.
Stainless steel is generally used for the blades of neck knives. The most common stainless steel used is 440. This is a high carbon alloy that provides strength and sharpness.
Handles are made from lots of different materials including rubber, plastic, Micarta, and metal. You want to choose a material that you find comfortable to hold and has some decent grip.
Ultimately, when it comes to considering the materials, you should go for quality over flashy looks. Pick a knife with high-quality steel and a sturdy grippy handle and you’ll do just fine.
Probably the defining feature of a neck knife, the lanyard is the chain, string, or rope that goes around your neck.
The lanyard has one job: secure the knife to your person.
A neck knife that can be taken from you with a quick, sharp yank is not very useful. As such, the lanyard needs to be strong and shock-resistant.
Common materials used for lanyards are paracord or metal ball chains. Metal chains are the most flimsy of the two. The clasp used to secure the chain can be opened with a good tug.
Paracord is usually tied in a knot and is therefore unlikely to be pulled off you. Of course, this does mean that if you need to use the knife you need to pull it over your head.
Most neck knives are sold with a sheath. This serves the dual purpose of keeping you safe and giving you easy access to your knife.
Generally, the sheath is attached to the lanyard and the knife slips into the sheath. This means you don’t need to fumble around trying to get the lanyard over your head to use the knife.
When looking at sheaths, the main thing to focus on is how secure it is. You don’t want your knife falling out of the sheath as you go about your day to day. That would be awkward and annoying.
Molded sheaths are usually good enough but you can also look for sheaths with fastening mechanisms like push buttons or clasps.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are neck knives legal?
This depends on your state. Some states have length restrictions on fixed blades which would include neck knives.
Other states prohibit carrying concealed knives which again affects neck knives. I suppose you could wear it over your shirt to get around this issue but that sort of defeats the purpose of a neck knife.
It’s best to check your state legislation to find out if neck knives are considered legal in your state. Don’t forget, if you’re traveling to a different state you’ll need to check their laws too.
Are neck knives practical?
In certain situations, yes.
Look, we get it. There is a discussion to be had about whether there’s any point having a knife around your neck when you could just have a bigger and better knife on your hip.
Certainly, neck knives are limited thanks to their small size but they are still handy.
First and foremost, they are easy to access. You don’t know what kind of situation you might find yourself in where you need your neck knife. What we do know is that you don’t want to be fumbling around with pockets. Your neck knife will always be within an arm’s reach.
Then there’s the fact that neck knives can be carried no matter what clothes you are wearing. The most common place to wear a knife is on the waistband of your pants, right? Well, what if you don’t have pants on? Or what if your pants don’t have belt loops?
Neck knives can be worn when you’re swimming or climbing or wearing yoga pants. This means you’re always equipped.
Another reason to carry a neck knife is that often, outdoor gear like rucksacks or harnesses make wearing a hip holster difficult. In these situations, a neck kive is a useful alternative.
What brand should I choose?
There isn’t one brand that beats the rest but there are some really good names in knife making that will always serve you well.
SOG is a big name in the industry and has been producing knives for 30 years. Their weapons are made in the US and are high-quality, high-performance items.
CRKT or Columbia River Knife & Tool as they are sometimes known, have been trading since 1994. Their knives are known for being great value for money. They aren’t always the most expensive but they do perform well.
KA-BAR is a knife company that began as a cutlery company way back in the 19th century. During WWII the company began manufacturing bayonets and tactical knives for the marines and the army. They’ve been at it since!
KA-BAR knives are designed to last a lifetime. They are incredibly durable and hard-wearing.