Boot knives can be just as essential to any man’s everyday carry ensemble as a pocket knife.
With its compact size and ability to be strapped to your ankle, a boot knife won’t add bulk or weight while still giving you the utility of having a knife readily available at all times, whether it’s for protection or utility.
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Any simple search of a boot knife at an online retailer like Amazon or Knife Depot can yield endless results and, to be quite honest, is a pain in the neck to try and filter out which one will be good for your exact needs.
Therefore, we did the hard work for you and rounded up the best boot knives on the market.
Here’s a comparison of the boot knives we reviewed:
Comparing The Best Boot Knives
|NAME||BLADE LENGTH||KNIFE WEIGHT||BLADE COMPOSITION||TANG||MULTI-USE?||SHEATH INCLUDED?||SERRATED EDGE?|
|Gerber Ghoststrike Fixed Blade Boot Knife||3.3″||3.6oz||Steel||Skeletal||N||Y||N|
|Kershaw Secret Agent Fixed Blade Boot Knife||4.4″||3.5oz||Steel & Black Oxide Coating||Full Tang||N||Y||N|
|Master USA Fixed Blade Neck Knife||2.5″||4.0oz||Stainless Steel||Full Tang||N||Y||Y|
|Rothco Raider II Boot Knife||2.7″||4.8oz||Steel||Not Disclosed||N||Y||N|
|Schrade Needle Boot Knife||7.6″||5.9oz||Stainless Steel||Not Disclosed||N||Y||Y|
|Schrade Old Timer Boot Knife||3.8″||4.0oz||Stainless Steel||Full Tang||N||Y||N|
|Schrade One-Piece Drop Forged Boot Knife||4.5″||5.0oz||Carbon Steel||Full Tang||N||Y||N|
|Schrade Small Boot Knife||3.6″||1.9oz||Stainless Steel||Full Tang||N||Y||N|
|Smith & Wesson Boot Knife||4.6″||4.0oz||Stainless Steel||Full Tang||N||Y||N|
|Tactical Warrior Tanto Full Tang Boot Knife||3.2″||3.0oz||Steel||Full Tang||Y||Y||N|
Best Boot Knives For Self Defense & Utility
This lethal-looking knife is one of the most expensive on this list, and for a good reason.
With a high-quality steel frame and a 420 carbon steel blade coated with black ceramic, this knife will not only serve you well for whatever you want to use it for, but it will also last you a long, long time.
This model comes with the sheath and ankle wrap, so you don’t have to tuck it inside your boot to keep it attached to you.
The blade is rather small at 3.3 inches, allowing it to adhere easily to many local laws across the country.
People love how this knife feels in their hand; for such a small, compact tool, the skeletal handle is something to be admired.
It just feels good, both in the sheath and out of it, and there are plenty of uses you can use this knife for. Great for emergency survival situations or as a defensive weapon.
Slim, sleek, and oh so portable, this is the knife to carry with you everywhere you go.
The blade itself is a whopping 4.4 inches, bringing the total length of the blade to a solid 8.7 inches long. Not the smallest on the market, but small enough to be portable for recreational use and personal protection.
It’s a full tang blade and very well made the whole way through. Though it’s thin, it’s incredibly sharp, and the sheathe does a great job of holding this particular knife in place, so you don’t accidentally cut yourself.
Customers like how this knife feels in their hands, with the handle being fatter in the middle for optimal grip.
It’s lightweight, the finish is nice, and it doesn’t feel like it would break upon the first use—a very well-made blade for emergencies.
This knife by Master USA is a thing of beauty.
With a cord-wrapped handle and a handsome half-serrated blade, this knife is just what you need to be out in the woods. It’s a small knife at only 6.75 inches but is perfectly concealable in hand or the boot, great for stringing on a lanyard or your belt, and is quickly withdrawn or stowed away thanks to the tight little sheathe this knife comes with.
Men love this knife as an EDC; because the blade is under 2.5 inches long, it’s legal in most states.
It’s great for cutting cords, slicing kindling, and cutting away clothes, especially in emergencies.
The best thing about this nice is its portability and its price; for such a well-made knife, you aren’t paying a premium for the quality.
The Rothco Raider boot knife is a great knife to have around, not only because of its size but also its shape and exceptional durability.
Like the Schrade boot knife, this particular piece uses a spearheaded design. However, this knife lacks the groove down the center designed for blood.
Despite this, it’s a perfect knife to carry around on you, whether you are going backpacking or just out on the street.
It fits comfortably in hand, large enough to be held comfortably but small enough to be concealed in the palm.
This little guy is a crowd favorite, thanks to the great craftsmanship and the well-known name.
Men have relied on this little knife for years, using it for every conceivable application. From the great outdoors to self-defense, never be without one of these finely crafted yet very inexpensive knives.
This Schrade knife is absolutely stunning to look at and even nicer to hold.
This is a 12-inch blade with lots of neat features that make it an exceptional hunting and survival knife for out in the bush. Like the SCHF19, this blade features a blood groove that strengthens the blade and makes it less likely to crack under pressure.
This blade also features serrated edges on both sides, which, while also being a pretty cool stylistic choice, also makes cutting a whole lot easier.
Customers say that this knife resembles one by Gerber, though a bit cheaper.
It’s lightweight, easy to carry, and while it’s rather long compared to some of the other knives on this list, it’s still a perfectly viable knife to carry out on camping trips or hiking.
Like the other Schrade knives on this list, the Old Timer 162OT is the perfect knife to carry with you every day.
It also features a spear-head blade that has a sharp bit on one side, which makes carving and skinning easier when caught out in the wild. While it isn’t necessarily a skinning knife, it will do the job just fine in a pinch.
It has an overall length of 7.8 inches, with the blade taking up 3.8 of that total. This makes it nicely compact and easily stored in the boot or the backpack without too much hassle.
The sheathe for this blade is made of handsome leather, which will also help preserve the sharpness of your blade over time.
This knife is made of high carbon steel, a heavy-duty yet lightweight material that keeps knives sharper for longer.
Despite the price being under $30, this is a high-quality piece.
Another Schrade creation, similar to the SCHF19, but a little longer and a little slimmer built.
This knife also has the structurally sound blood groove and a round, tactical grip handle that feels good in the hand. The spear point blade and the round handle with a thumb rest make this knife a top choice for people looking for a boot knife.
It’s lightweight, though, with a blade of 4.5 inches; it’s definitely got some heft to it.
Well balanced, easy to use, and very nice to store, this knife by Schrade is great for hunting, fishing, or even defense.
The sheathe is also very nice and keeps the blade under wraps while you keep it on your belt.
Overall, it’s a good quality knife at a great price. If you’ve never owned a single-piece forged knife before, this is a good place to start looking.
A small knife on your person can be used for many things, such as recreation or self-defense.
Carrying it around can give you a sense of security, even if you don’t intend to use it. It features a strong, high carbon, double-edged blade fitted with a blood groove. It also has a sleek spear point design which is optimal for being out in the field.
The blade itself is a cool 3.6 inches, small and lightweight for easy carrying.
The handle is another 3.4 inches, but while the overall knife is small, it certainly packs a punch.
The small size makes it easy to stick in your boot, unnoticed and undetected. Such a knife is ideal for self-protection or even being out in the woods. It’s perfect for a day bag or an outdoor bag, for whatever may come up.
No knife list is complete without at least mentioning one Smith & Wesson knife.
This military-grade blade is everything you need for your EDC, with a straight, sharp blade that comes to a neat point and a tactical grip that is grooved to prevent slipping. The handle is also rubberized, making it exceptionally sturdy in your hand.
The blade is 4.57 inches long, which is considerably longer than other models on this list (such as Master USA and the Schrade blades), and the entire knife from tip to butt is 9 inches long. So, it’s a pretty hefty knife, perfect for outdoor work or self-defense.
The high carbon stainless steel is easy to care for and exceptionally sharp for long periods of time, making maintenance a breeze. Customers say that this is probably one of the better knives they’ve owned in terms of usability, though there is the issue of length being fickle in some states.
What is a survivalist without their trusty knife?
You can apply a knife to a great many applications for emergencies, from cutting tinder to carving an animal. This survival knife features a full tang and an integrated whistle for tight spots, and the sheathe holds this beauty nice and secure, so there’s no fear of it accidentally slipping out.
This knife is incredibly sharp right out of the box, saving some time sharpening before the first use.
What you may consider doing is sharpening it ever so slightly before taking it out, to give it a bit of an edge before you need it.
It’s an incredibly inexpensive knife at under $10, but some customers express concern about some aspects of this knife.
That being, the length of the handle. Some men claim that tucking it into the front of the boot may dig into the shin, which isn’t ideal.
Boot Knife Laws
Before you purchase any boot knife, you must be familiar with your local city and state laws.
A simple search in Google of the following should yield you plenty of results:
- Boot knife laws for [INSERT STATE]
- Knife length laws for [INSERT STATE]
- [INSERT CITY] knife laws
While we don’t want to waste your time talking about every single state’s laws across the country, we outlined a few larger states (California, New York, and Texas) and their laws regarding boot knives:
Boot Knife Laws For The State Of Texas
From our research, we found that boot knives are considered legal in Texas, with an exception.
Any boot knife you decide to purchase must be dull on one side, like the Gerber Ghoststrike Fixed Blade Boot Knife.
Knives like the Schrade Needle Boot Knife are illegal in Texas, here’s why:
It’s Not Legally Considered A Boot Knife
Even though the Schrade is sold as a boot knife, according to Texas law, this knife is actually considered to be a dagger as the blade has been sharpened on both sides of the knife.
According to Texas laws, all boot knives must have a length that is shorter than 5.5”.
Boot Knife Laws For The State of New York
New York is a peculiar state regarding boot knife laws. The most important law that you should be aware of is the gravity knife and blade length laws when selecting a boot knife.
What Is A Gravity Knife?
A gravity knife relies on gravity to open the blade. Therefore, if you can press a button and use the flick of your wrist to set the blade – it’s a gravity knife. Here is a great video that further demonstrates a gravity knife:
None of the boot knives featured in this article are considered gravity knives.
Blade Length Laws In New York & New York City
Within the state of New York, there is no limitation on blade length when purchasing a knife.
However, within New York City, it is illegal to own a knife that is greater than 4.0”.
Source: New York Laws On Knives
Boot Knife Laws For The State Of California
Lastly, California has perhaps some of the most restrictive laws regarding knife ownership, and they focus on blade length, type, and concealment.
Blade Length Laws In California
Within California, if you have a folding knife, there is no limit regarding the length of the blade. However, for fixed blade knives, Los Angeles County prohibits knives greater than 3.0”.
Secondly, all fixed blade knives must be stored in plain sight. Therefore, if you plan to wear a boot knife in California, it should be worn on the outside of your clothing and/or boot to be considered legal.
Source: California Laws On Knives
Federal Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Rules
Knives are prohibited on both domestic and international flights. If you must travel with your boot knife, it will need to be checked and securely sheathed.
Disclaimer: We are not lawyers, and therefore the above laws are subject to interpretation. For legal reasons, please read applicable laws before purchasing a boot knife.
Single Edge vs. Double Edge Boot Knives
When deciding between a single or double edge boot knife (assuming these are legal in your state), it really comes down to personal preference.
With a single edge boot knife, should you ever want to perform a slicing motion, the utility of a dull side on the blade will allow you to exert pressure on the blade in a downward motion with your thumb or other hand.
However, with a double edge boot knife, you have a much more lethal self-defense weapon at your disposal at all times.
Should You Get A Boot Knife With A Serrated Edge?
You may notice during your research that some boot knives, such as the Schrade Needle Boot Knife, actually have a serrated edge along the side.
So, is this really important when selecting a boot knife?
In short, not necessarily.
Whether it’s a piece of steak, fabric, or rope, the serrated edge will allow the knife to get a grip on the object while moving in a slicing motion.
For many men out there, this feature on the knife likely won’t be necessary.
However, it’s worth considering, depending on the end-use application you are looking to achieve with your boot knife.
What’s Your Preferred Blade Length & Weight For A Boot Knife?
When most men choose a boot knife to best suit their needs, the size and length of the blade itself are key.
Too heavy of a boot knife may cause fatigue on your feet or feel too heavy in your pocket, causing your pants to sag.
If the boot knife is a secondary self-defense tool for you and shouldn’t see much use, then a smaller and lighter blade such as the Rothco Raider II Boot Knife or Tactical Warrior Tanto Full Tang Boot Knife will make a fine choice.
As we eluded too in the legality of boot knives, a smaller knife will likely adhere to many of the local laws across the country, ultimately allowing you to carry it with greater peace of mind.
Best Hidden (Small) Boot Knife
Not only are these the best boot knives that can be hidden on the market, but they are incredibly well built as well.
And the consensus among men who wear these boot knives tend to agree.
The Gerber Ghoststrike not only has a small form factor that can be easily hidden from plain sight, but it also includes an ankle strap when you make your purchase (many boot knives don’t include the strap – only the sheath).
Therefore, you know that the ankle strap will be compatible with the knife, ensuring a much more comfortable and discrete storage option than any other boot knife featured on this list.
How To Carry A Boot Knife
Depending on the type of boot knife you purchase, some may include a strap that is to be worn around your boot, while others may only include a sheath.
If you are looking to strap your boot knife to your ankle, the consensus among most men is that the inside left ankle tends to be the most comfortable.
To further ensure comfort while your boot knife is fastened, you should wear a pair of boots that extend up your ankle (i.e., Wolverines) as they will help keep the boot knife secure while mitigating any rubbing that could cause discomfort.
For those who decide to purchase a boot knife sans strap, typically, the best location to store your knife for easy access will be your back pocket or along your waist (center back area).
Here is a great video we found on fastening a boot knife that you should check out:
What Is A Tang, And Why You Should Care
I must be honest; when I first heard the term tang in my early years to describe a part of a knife, I was thoroughly confused.
Tang, from my recollection, was the stuff Astronauts drank while orbiting Earth (source)!
But alas – it’s a very key component on how quality knives are manufactured:
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You will find that many of the manufactures will proudly state that their knife is full tang, but what does this mean?
Full tang refers to the construction of the knife. A full tang knife will have a blade that extends into the handle of the knife.
The handle is then affixed to a single piece of metal with two pins.
When researching boot knives, it’s fairly easy to take a look at the knife handle to determine whether or not it has a full tang by simply looking for the metal extending through the handle grip.
Here’s why you should care about full tang:
With a full tang knife, there is very little chance of it breaking mid-use.
With half tang knives (where the blade doesn’t fully extend through the handle), should you ever hit the blade against a hard object, it might completely snap away from the handle.
So, whether you are using your boot knife for self-defense or utility, you don’t want a knife-breaking mid-use.
Shawn Burns is the founder and senior editor of Tools of Men. He started this site with the goal of teaching men proper grooming habits and sensible style. Shawn’s expertise includes in-depth product reviews and how-to articles. Shawn was recently featured in the Wall Street Journal for his expertise.