They are tiny and simple yet functional and reliable!
These small knives are incredibly versatile for whatever you need a knife for — food preparation, opening packages, self-defense, and general purpose cutting stuff.
Yes, a small fixed blade knife can do all that, if and only if the knives are of good quality and manufactured by reputable knife makers.
Aesthetics aside, which are meaningless when selecting a good fixed blade, you should choose a mini model that’s designed to perform despite its size, and maybe even make its smallness an advantage.
If you are scouring the market for the first time, you will certainly come across a multitude of designs from different brands, each claiming how good their models are.
Don’t be overwhelmed! My top seven selections have taken into account all the essential features that the best small fixed blade knife should have.
Here is the complete roundup!
Table of Contents
- The Best Small Fixed Blade Knives Are:
- 1. Smith & Wesson SW991 Small Fixed Blade Knife — Best Small Tactical Fixed Blade
- 2. ESEE Izula Small Fixed Blade Knife — Most Versatile Small Knife
- 3. CRKT Minimalist Small Fixed Blade Knife — Best Mini Tanto Blade
- 4. ESEE Candiru Small Fixed Blade Knife
- 5. SOG Instinct Mini Small Fixed Blade Knife
- 6. Gerber Tri-Tip Small Fixed Blade Knife — Best Mini Cleaver Blade
- 7. Boker Magnum Lil Friend Small Fixed Blade Knife
- Buying Guide: Things to Consider When Buying Small Fixed Blade Knives
- Final Thoughts
The Best Small Fixed Blade Knives Are:
|1. Smith & Wesson SW991 Small Fixed Blade Knife||Check Current Price|
|2. ESEE Izula Small Fixed Blade Knife||Check Current Price|
|3. CRKT Minimalist Small Fixed Blade Knife||Check Current Price|
|4. ESEE Candiru Small Fixed Blade Knife||Check Current Price|
|5. SOG Instinct Mini Small Fixed Blade Knife||Check Current Price|
|6. Gerber Tri-Tip Small Fixed Blade Knife||Check Current Price|
|7. Boker Magnum Lil Friend Small Fixed Blade Knife||Check Current Price|
1. Smith & Wesson SW991 Small Fixed Blade Knife — Best Small Tactical Fixed Blade
Designed for extreme survival and self-defense, the Smith & Wesson SW991 features a compact 2.5-inch high carbon stainless steel blade that delivers the best cutting performance possible.
- Overall length of 5.5 inches
- Blade length of 2.5 inches
- 8Cr13MoV blade steel
- Skeleton handle
This uniquely designed tool features a 2.5-inch blade that is crafted from strong 8Cr13MoV high carbon stainless steel that holds an edge longer than ordinary blade steel.
It has a drop point blade shape that converges to form a tough point, which is great for piercing, poking, stabbing, cutting, or slicing tasks.
The knife comes with a lightweight, weather resistant skeletonized handle that is integrated with two finger cutouts for gripping. Another good feature is the jimping on the spine, which adds stability and control when tackling hard-hitting cutting tasks.
But the thing is, the 3-inch handle may be a little bit short for some users and it could be better with only one large finger hole on the handle.
- High carbon stainless steel blade holds the edge longer
- Drop point on the blade is great for piercing
- Jimping on the spine improve your hold on the knife
- Lanyard hole and bottle opener add versatility
- Versatile sheath design provides multiple carry options
- Handle length may be a little bit short for some people
- Wish the handle had only one large finger hole
The Smith & Wesson SW991 premium blade material and skeletonized handle design make it the perfect choice for outdoor use and combat.
Overall Rating – 4.9
2. ESEE Izula Small Fixed Blade Knife — Most Versatile Small Knife
If you are looking for a heavy-duty neck knife with a highly versatile design for superior control, look no further than the ESEE Izula.
- Overall length of 6.25 inches
- Blade length of 2.63 inches
- 1095 carbon steel blade and handle
- Molded sheath with a clip plate
The ESEE Izula has a drop point blade with a flat grind, which is a great combination for hard-hitting cutting tasks like piercing, stabbing, and carving.
The blade is made from 1095 carbon steel (has excellent edge holding ability) and it has been powder coated to keep it from rusting and to blend into desert surroundings.
The skeletonized handle has a larger finger cutout for gripping when using the knife, and a carabiner hole accessory for clipping it into your gear rack.
Another good thing about this model is that you can buy it necked with only the sheath, or you can buy the complete kit that includes the knife, sheath, paracord, and Micarta handle.
My only major disappointment about it is the lack of multiple finger grooves at the bottom of the skeletonized handle.
- Piercing is super easy with the drop point blade
- Carbon steel blade has excellent edge retention
- Easy-grip skeletonized handle
- Versatile kit can be bought separately for added versatility
- Available in six different color options for preference
- Lacks multiple finger grooves on the handle
- Could be more versatile with a bottle opener accessory
As a compact neck knife, the ESEE Izula isn’t only a versatile companion for EDC, but also a convenient backup for outdoor use.
Overall Rating – 4.8
3. CRKT Minimalist Small Fixed Blade Knife — Best Mini Tanto Blade
The CRKT Minimalist crafted by Alan Folts packs impressive EDC features than you can imagine. The tanto blade on this neck knife is the real deal.
- Overall length of 5.13 inches
- Blade length of 2.12 inches
- Blade thickness of 0.11 inches
- 5Cr15MoV blade steel
- Polished resin infused fiber handle
The CRKT Minimalist has a tanto tip, which is great because it has an extremely strong point that is great for puncturing and piercing.
The 5Cr15MoV stainless steel blade has high chromium composition for superior corrosion resistance. The polished resin infused fiber handle has a natural three finger grip, and the attached lanyard provides you with a full hand grip.
I really love the jimping feature on the back of the spine, which gives your index finger or thumb something to bite into when working the knife.
- Tanto tip is great for puncturing and piercing
- High chromium content improves corrosion resistance
- Has a natural three finger grip
- Included lanyard allows for a full palm grip
- Glass reinforced nylon sheath is very versatile
- May come with a dull blade out of the box
- Sheath can easily collect debris and it’s hard to clean
If you are looking for an ambidextrous small fixed blade knife that fits right in almost any hand, then the CRKT Minimalist is your go-to model.
Overall Rating – 4.7
Chosen by professionals, the ESEE Candiru sports a heavy-duty 1095 high carbon steel drop point blade that is guaranteed to carry the day in most survival and tactical situations.
- Overall length of 5.13 inches
- Blade length of 2 inches
- 1095 high carbon steel blade
- Skeletonized handle design
- Molded polymer sheath
The ESEE Candiru is built full tang tough and forged from solid 1095 high carbon steel for ease of sharpening and superior edge retention.
This model features a 2-inch drop point style fine edge blade that is razor sharp and ready for the job out of the box.
The skeleton handle makes for an easy to conceal ultra-thin profile, which is great because you can easily hang it on your neck without drawing any attention.
Another good feature is the availability of a Micarta handle, which you can buy separately to improve grip performance and versatility.
Just make sure you test how it feels in your hand, as some users find that the handle length isn’t generous enough, which can make it challenging to wield the knife properly.
- Blade is made from an edge retaining steel
- Drop point style does pierce with precision
- Ultra-thin handle profile allow for easy concealment
- Jimping on the spine prevents slipping
- Length of the blade may not be long enough for some users
- Micarta handle is sold separately, increasing the overall cost
The premium 1095 high carbon steel blade of ESEE Candiru offers you good edge retention, relative ease of sharpening, and decent corrosion resistance.
Overall Rating – 4.6
If you are looking for a compact, easily wearable fixed blade knife with a tactical and survival steel blade, look no further than the SOG Instinct Mini.
- Overall length of 4.8 inches
- Blade length of 1.9 inches
- 5Cr15MoV blade steel
- Stainless steel + G-10 handle
- Clip point style blade
Crafted from heavy-duty 5Cr15MoV stainless steel, the blade of the SOG Instinct can withstand a beating and still retain its edge and durability.
The 1.9-inch blade features SOG clip point style, which is easily controllable when piercing and puncturing wood and other materials in the wild. It comes with well-built G-10 handle scales that provide good grip performance for consistent hand placement during extended use.
Another amazing feature is the full tang design, which has ergonomic finger grips and generous jimping for non-slip handing when cutting hard materials.
What I don’t like; however, is the low-end 5Cr15MoV steel, which isn’t the most incredible choice for long-term corrosion resistance.
- Can take a beating in tough outdoor conditions
- Clip point style blade doesn’t drag when cutting
- Ergonomic finger grips are comfortable
- Generous jimping adds gripping power
- Could be more capable of resisting corrosion with a higher quality blade steel
- Some users may find the handle too short
Don’t underestimate the SOG Instinct Mini because of its size because it is capable of delivering the toughest cuts with its clip point blade and ergonomic handle design.
Overall Rating – 4.5
6. Gerber Tri-Tip Small Fixed Blade Knife — Best Mini Cleaver Blade
Have you ever owned a meat cleaver? The Gerber Tri-Tip looks and feels exactly like a meat cleaver, but in a compact design. You can use it in the kitchen and on the go.
- Overall length of 5.75 inches
- Blade length of 2.875 inches
- 7Cr17MoV blade steel
- Cleaver blade style
- Black aluminum handle
This knife has a heavy-duty cleaver blade with two edges, including a beveled leading edge for scraping and a full fine edge for cutting.
It is fitted with a textured aluminum handle for added grip and less slip when cutting in humid conditions in the kitchen or outdoors.
I really appreciate the fact that the knife is available in black stonewash finish and green satin finish for preference.
Another impressive feature is the multi-mount sheath, which you can easily configure for a horizontal scout carry or tip down.
But the thing is, the knife may come out of the box with one blunt edge. Also, the handle may be too small for some users.
- Beveled leading edge is great for scraping
- Full fine edge is exceptional for cutting
- Handle offers non-slip, textured grip
- Multi-mount sheath is super easy to configure
- May come with one blunt edge
- Handle length may be too short for some people
From meal prep to DIY, the Gerber Tri-Tip Small Fixed Blade Knife will help you tackle any challenge that comes your way.
Overall Rating – 4.5
If you are looking for a micro knife that is built to perform irrespective of its size, then look no further than the Boker Magnum Lil Friend.
- Overall length of 3-3/8 inches
- Blade length of 1-3/8 inches
- Drop point blade
- G-10 handle scales
- 440 stainless steel blade
This little guy is fitted with a 440 stainless steel blade, which has a high amount of chromium for improved hardenability, corrosion resistance, and wear resistance.
The 1-3/8-inch blade has a drop point shape, which is great because the curved edge offers the same benefits as a normal blade, making it a reliable carving knife.
Another good feature that comes with the Boker Magnum Lil Friend is the G-10 handle, which has great texture and non-slip traction in wet or dry conditions.
But the thing is, this model isn’t as thin as a skeletonized neck knife; so, it will not be completely concealed when you carry it around your neck because of the thick handle scales.
- Blade has superior corrosion and wear resistance
- Drop point blade shape is great for carving
- G-10 handle scales have good texture and traction
- Ergonomic finger choil adds grip power
- Not easy to conceal when carried around the neck
- Blade length may be too short for demanding jobs
The Boker Magnum Lil Friend is the real deal when it comes to minimalist tools. It doesn’t take any space in your pocket and it is extremely sharp and ergonomic.
Overall Rating – 4.3
Buying Guide: Things to Consider When Buying Small Fixed Blade Knives
What goes into choosing the best small fixed blade knife? Not less than three important things by my count, which are:
Size Of The Knife
You’re looking for a small fixed blade, right? So! What defines a small knife?
First, the overall length of the knife. In my experience, any fixed blade design with an overall length of 3 to 6 inches is a small knife. Anything above 6 inches is a medium or large size design.
Second, the blade length, which should range from 1 to 3 inches. Anything beyond 3 inches doesn’t really qualify as a small knife.
Type Of Blade Steel
Guys, just because it has a small design doesn’t mean that the quality of the blade has to be less. You need a blade steel that is designed for the intended job. One type of blade material will not excel at every conceivable cutting chore.
The things that should linger in your head when choosing the best quality blade materials are:
- Initial sharpness (out of the box)
- Edge retention
- Ease of sharpening
- Strength and toughness
- Rust, corrosion, and wear resistance
As much as you would love to find a knife with a blade that meets all the aforementioned requirements, the reality is that you can’t. Some blade steels have good strength and edge retention, but poor corrosion resistance.
There’s always a compromise, but some blade steels that have proven to be quite effective on small knives are:
- 1095 carbon steel
- 440 stainless steel blade
Tang of the Knife
A knife tang refers to the shank of the blade that runs all the way into the handle. There are various types of tangs, including: full, stick, narrowing, and partial.
I always favor full tang when choosing a fixed blade because it has superior strength needed for hard-hitting of different kinds, including pounding and puncturing.
Ergonomic Handle Design
This is where things get a little bit interesting when buying the best small fixed blade knife. There are some models that don’t feature handle scales, but have a skeletonized handle.
A skeletonized handle simply doesn’t have handle scales. It is usually fitted with ergonomic cutouts, finger grooves, finger choil, and jimping for a strong and secure grip.
The number of finger holes or cutouts differ from one brand to another. One brand would prefer one large cutout, while another brand would include three cutouts.
There are quite a few methods for carrying a small fixed blade knife. The most unique one is the neck carry. The sheath is usually fitted with a chain that you can wear around your neck.
Most small models; however, come with multi-mount sheaths that you can clip on your belt or carry around your neck. A small knife can also be carried in the pocket, just make sure it is properly secured in the sheath.
The end of our roundup is here and we have a winner, the Smith & Wesson SW991 Small Fixed Blade Knife. This model is one of a kind in every regard.
Its skeletonized design beats the competition because it is less bulky and easy to wheel. It can get into tight places to get the job done easily.
The 8Cr13MoV high carbon stainless steel blade comes with an impressive initial sharpness and its edge holding ability is near perfect.
The nylon fiber neck sheath is one of a kind, considering how easy and quick it is to access and deploy the knife, especially in self-defense situations.