What is a neck knife?
A neck knife is a small to mid sized knife that you can wear on a chain or string around your neck that provides you with a blade that’s always on you and can be used for survival purposes but it can also be a form of protection without it being obvious to those around you. Your neck knife would just be a necklace to most people that see it, but would still give you something to provide a sense of security when you are out and about. However because most neck knives are small, if you truly want a self defense knife you’re best off with a bigger blade like a tanto knife.
Neck knives are probably most well known because of their use by Native Americans but they have come back into fashion as can be seen by their use by Cody Lundin from Dual Survival.
The history of neck knives actually goes back more than 1,000 years and even the Vikings used them.
The granddaddy of bushcraft, who literally wrote the book on bushcraft – Mors Kochanski wears a neck knife. Here he is making some feather sticks with his neck knife:
You’ve got several choices to make when buying a neck knife such as type of necklace, type of blade (fixed or foldable), type of sheath and whether you wear it on the inside or outside of your shirt. I’ll go over all the pros and cons of neck knives and neck knife options below.
Neck knife pros
- If you wear it outside of your shirt it’s one of the most accessible of all carry systems
- If you wear it on the inside of your shirt it allows you to carry a fixed blade basically in stealth mode and it can be quite comfortable. Just bear in mind that if someone hugs you, they’ll know you’re carrying something under your shirt.
- It frees your pocket for something else
- Most are small, light weight and comfortable. If you’re after a small blade check out the best karambit
- Generally the neck knife is small so you can carry it anywhere without taking much space, not just the neck.
- Can be easily switched to belt or pocket carry.
- You might not have pockets or a belt on if you wear say athletic shorts or are walking through a stream and don’t won’t to get your pants wet so a neck knife might be your best option
- Good for canoeing, kayaking, etc.
- Because they’re so small, they’re easy to sharpen with a pocket knife sharpener. The neck knife and pocket knife sharpener combination is a really light and reliable combination for hikers, hunters, backpackers etc. Check out my guide to the best pocket knife sharpener.
Neck knife cons
- Having something dangling around your neck can be annoying
- Bead chain can pull chest and neck hairs
- If you hug someone, they’ll know you’re concealing something under your shirt
- Not all that sheeple friendly
- If you wear it outside of your shirt it’s very obvious you’re carrying a knife and that can freak some people out
- If you wear it on the inside of your shirt it’s hard to extract quickly
- Most are pretty small so if you need a bigger knife, a neck knife isn’t for you
- They can be a choking hazard if you don’t have a break-away type of chain or cord
- If you have a breakaway chain, it might do exactly that at the worst possible time if you’re hunting, hiking or fishing.
- You’ll need two hands to resheath
- A lot of people don’t want razor sharp steel near their throat or heart
- If you fall heavily onto your chest area you would want to make sure you have a quality sheath
- Even if you carry it under a baggy shirt for stealth purposes, if you lean forward it will press against your shirt making it obvious you’re carrying something. Mercop’s tactical harness is a fix for this.
- If you carry it under your shirt and someone sees you wearing a necklace, they might ask to see your necklace.
Best neck knife for 2018
|Neck knife||Blade size||Price||Steel||Rating|
|4008X Dune by Kershaw||3.8 Inch||$$||3Cr13, black-oxide finish||4.1|
|SCH406N Neck Knife by Schrade||3.9 inches||$||8Cr13MoV High Carbon Stainless Steel||4.0|
|MU-1119 Tactical Neck Knife||3.75 Inch||$||8cr13mov steel||4.0|
|MT-20-30 by MTech USA||2||$||440 stainless steel||4.1|
Below are the 5 best neck knives. Each has great reviews, so before you make your choice, check out what we have to say about them. There are a lot of neck knives on the market right now, and a lot of great options, so do your research.
#1. 4008X Dune by Kershaw
As you may know, Kershaw is a big name for top brands in the blade industry. This particular model is a great neck knife that comes with a sheath that is molded and a strong lanyard to make it easy to carry on your neck. The knife has a full tang and is made from steel with a black finish made from oxide. The blade is almost 4 inches long while the whole knife is almost 8 inches total.
You are going to be getting quality when you get a Kershaw blade, and that is certainly the case with this knife. This blade has plenty of positive reviews and most of them are about how awesome it is that it is sharp right out of the box. It definitely lives up to the quality standards that have been set up by Kershaw. There is just one little issue, if you have big hands, this blade has a bit of a small handle, so keep that in mind. But as a quality neck knife, this is a great brand that has an amazing reputation for quality products and the Dune is perfect for most.
#2. SCH406N Neck Knife by Schrade
Another big name in the blade business is Schrade. This particular model is one that definitely needs to be considered. It has a short blade of just under 3 inches, which allows the whole knife to be compact which helps with convenience. The handle is under 3 inches as well, so this knife isn’t going to take up a lot of space when it is hanging from your neck. The blade is a big part of the knife, and it is only made from stainless steel. This particular knife gives you a quality blade for an inexpensive price. Many of the Schrade items will have plenty of great reviews, and this knife isn’t any different. Many people love how sharp it is, as well as the strong and sturdy design. It also has a sheath that goes with the knife nicely, which is kind of important when you are wearing a knife. If you are looking for a knife that is smaller than a Kershaw, then check this model out.
#3. MU-1119 Tactical Neck Knife by Master Cutlery USA
If you have been looking for a lengthy but affordable neck knife, this this blade will check both of those boxes for you. For a small investment, you can get this knife. You will be getting an almost 7 inch knife (including the handle) that is made from black stainless steel. It comes with a super hard, plastic sheath that comes with the blade. This sheath will hold the knife around your neck and it is attached to strong lanyard.
There are a lot of positive reviews, especially for an item that is kind of cheap. Although it doesn’t have some of the high end features like other knives, it serves the market quite well. It is quite affordable which comes sharp and is actually quite sturdy for regular use. There are plenty of people who are surprised just how sturdy it is for the price, even though it may be a bit bigger for regular use as a neck knife. If you are wanting a great knife, with a low price tag, then look at this model.
#4. MT-20-30 by MTech USA
If you are looking for an average neck knife, then check out this one from MTech. It is just under 5 inches with 2 inches being for the blade. The blade is stainless steel but it has a nice stonewashed finish. It comes with a sheath made from Kydex, which comes with a ball chain to hang it on.
The sturdiness of this knife is great, and that is why they decided to go with a full tang construction which keeps it strong for regular use. There are plenty of great reviews about this blade, most talking about the value and how useful it is for basic things like fishing and hunting. If you are looking for an inexpensive knife, then MTech is one that you should go for.
Neck knife verdict
Overall, neck knives aren’t an item that will work for all people, but they are great to have when a situation calls for one. The knives listed above are the ones on the market right now that will give you a run for your money and is a great investment that you would not even expect it to be.