Boot Knife Essentials: Choosing the Best Boot Knife for You

A boot knife is a small, fixed-blade knife designed to be carried in a sheath attached to a boot or ankle. It is a versatile tool that can be used for self-defense, hunting, camping, and everyday carry. In this article, we will discuss the best boot knives of 2023 and provide tips on how to choose the right one for your needs.

What is a Boot Knife?

A boot knife is a small, fixed-blade knife that is designed to be worn in or on a boot. It is also known as a gambler’s dagger. Boot knives typically have double-edged blades that range from 3 to 5 inches in length. 

They are often worn on a belt or under a pant leg, but they can also be worn around the neck or strapped to the ankle. Boot knives are generally lightweight and compact, making them easy to carry and conceal. The boot knife has a long history, dating back to at least the 16th century. 

It was originally used as a self-defense weapon by gamblers and other people who frequented dangerous places. Boot knives were also used by soldiers and other military personnel as utility knives and close-quarters combat weapons. 

In modern times, boot knives are still used by some people for self-defense, but they are also popular with hunters, campers, and other outdoors enthusiasts. Boot knives can be used for a variety of tasks, such as cutting skinning game, preparing food, and opening packages.

The Best Boot Knives of 2023

Best Overall

For those who want a high-quality boot knife that is versatile and reliable, the Smith & Wesson SWHRT3 Boot Knife and Smith & Wesson Boot Knife Fixed Blade are great options.

Smith & Wesson SWHRT3 Boot Knife


  • Compact and versatile design: The Smith & Wesson SWHRT3 Boot Knife features a slim and compact size, making it easy to carry and conceal.
  • Double-edged dagger blade: With a double-edged dagger blade, this knife offers precision and effectiveness in various cutting tasks.
  • Multiple carry options: The knife comes with an FRN sheath, pocket clip, and bead ball chain, providing versatile carry options to suit your needs.

Smith & Wesson Boot Knife Fixed Blade


  • Compact and Lightweight: The Smith & Wesson Boot Knife Fixed Blade is designed for easy carrying, with a weight of just 1.55 ounces.
  • Durable Stainless Steel Blade: The 3-inch spear point blade is made of stainless steel, ensuring lasting sharpness and reliability.
  • Convenient for EDC: With a compact 6.25-inch overall length and a reliable polymer sheath, this knife is an excellent choice for everyday carry.

Best Value

If you’re looking for a budget-friendly option that still offers great quality, the Schrade Compact Boot Knife is a good choice.


  • Compact Design: The Schrade Compact Boot Knife features a 3.5″ dagger-style blade, making it easy to carry and conceal.
  • High-Quality Material: Crafted from 7Cr17MoV steel, this knife offers durability and reliable cutting performance.
  • Comfortable Grip: The rubber handle with a thickness of 0.57″ ensures a secure and comfortable hold, even in challenging conditions.

Best for Self-Defense

For those who want a boot knife for self-defense purposes, the Gerber Ghostrike Fixed Blade Knife and CRKT Sting Fixed Blade Boot Knife are both efficient and reliable options.

Gerber Ghostrike Fixed Blade Knife


  • Compact Design: The Gerber Ghostrike Fixed Blade Knife features a compact 6.875″ length, making it easy to carry and handle.
  • Sharp and Durable: Crafted from 420HC steel, the 3.25″ drop point blade offers exceptional cutting performance and longevity.
  • Secure Grip: With a rubber handle and ergonomic design, this knife provides a comfortable and secure grip for various tasks.

CRKT Sting Fixed Blade Boot Knife


  • Exceptional Durability: The CRKT Sting features a tough 1050 steel blade with a black powder coat finish, ensuring long-lasting corrosion resistance.
  • Versatile Utility: Its spear point blade offers two razor-sharp cutting edges, making it ideal for a wide range of tasks.
  • Easy Carrying Options: With a contoured integral handle and a large lanyard hole, the Sting offers heft, balance, and versatile carrying options, including neck or boot carry.

Best for Hunting and Camping

If you’re planning on using your boot knife for hunting or camping, the KA-BAR Becker BK2 and Buck 0616BKS OPS BOOT Knife are both great options.

KA-BAR Becker BK2


  • Versatile Outdoor Performance: The KA-BAR Becker BK2 offers a wide range of functions, making it ideal for tasks like splitting kindling, game skinning, and camp cooking prep.
  • Durable 1095 Cro-Van Steel: With a robust 1095 Cro-Van steel blade, this knife ensures exceptional hardness (56-58 RC) and longevity.
  • Ergonomic and Lightweight Design: The knife’s black zytel handle and manageable weight of 15.90 ounces make it easy to carry and use during outdoor adventures.

Buck 0616BKS OPS BOOT Knife


  • Lightweight Design: Weighing just 2.5 ounces, the Buck 0616BKS OPS BOOT Knife is easy to carry, ensuring accessibility in any situation.
  • High-Performance Blade: The 3″ tanto style blade made of 154CM steel and hollow grind delivers effective cutting and durability in the field.
  • Premium Accessories: It comes with a reinforced leather sheath and leg attachment straps, enhancing its functionality and convenience for outdoor enthusiasts.

Best for Everyday Carry

If you want a boot knife that is easy to carry around and conceal, the Kershaw Secret Agent Boot Knife and CRKT Folts Minimalist Bowie are both compact and lightweight options.

Kershaw Secret Agent Boot Knife


  • Discreet Tactical Tool: The Kershaw Secret Agent Boot Knife is a discreet and slim knife designed for tactical and personal protection, making it an ideal tool for various situations.
  • Secure and Confident Grip: The knife features a textured rubber overmold on its GFN handle, ensuring a confident and non-slip grip, enhancing safety during use.
  • High-Quality Blade: With an 8Cr13MoV dagger-style blade and a non-reflective black-oxide finish, this boot knife provides a sharp and durable cutting edge for a variety of tasks.

CRKT Folts Minimalist Bowie


  • Exceptional Comfort: The CRKT Folts Minimalist Bowie is designed for an ergonomic grip, maximizing comfort during use.
  • Affordable Quality: This knife offers remarkable value for the price, providing a high-quality tool without breaking the bank.
  • Lightweight and Compact: With its light-in-hand design and compact dimensions, it’s a versatile and easily portable tool for various tasks.

Best for Aesthetics

If you’re looking for a boot knife that is not only functional but also visually appealing, a Damascus boot knife is a great choice. They are typically small and compact, making them ideal for everyday carry, and they come in a variety of beautiful designs. Etsy is a great place with amazing knife-makers you can find a Damascus boot knife. Here are some of my favorites.

Seller: MonarchyDesignsUS


  • Unique and Personalized: This hand-forged knife features a blade with engraved Viking runes, making it a distinctive and personalized gift for any occasion.
  • Superior Craftsmanship: Crafted from 352-layer carbon steel and oil-tempered to 58-60 HRC, this knife offers exceptional durability and sharpness, ensuring it can handle various tasks.
  • High-Quality Leather Sheath: The 100% cow leather sheath is not only durable but also adds an elegant touch to the knife, making it a stylish and functional accessory.

Seller: ZenithDamascusKnives


  • Handmade Damascus Boot Knife: Meticulously crafted for exceptional quality.
  • Premium Materials: Made from genuine Bull Horn, Brass, and a unique Damascus steel blend of 1095 High Carbon and 15N20.
  • Elegant Bull Handle and Leather Case: Features a stunning Bull Handle and comes complete with a leather case equipped with a convenient clip.



  • Exceptional Durability: Crafted from 512 layers of stainless steel and high carbon steel, with a hardness of 55-60 HRC, this knife is designed for long-lasting strength.
  • Superior Craftsmanship: Hand-forged with intricate file work, the knife’s full tang blade showcases fine artistry and precision.
  • Perfect Grip and Balance: Lab-tested for optimal performance, the knife’s balance and shape ensure a secure and comfortable grip in various conditions.

Are Boot Knives Illegal?

Boot knives, as a type of knife, are not typically illegal to own. However, the legality of carrying a boot knife depends on the specific laws and regulations in your jurisdiction. In many jurisdictions, there are restrictions on the length of the blade that can be carried in public. 

For example, in some states, it is illegal to carry a fixed-blade knife with a blade longer than 4 inches. Some jurisdictions also have restrictions on the type of blade that can be carried in public. For example, in some states, it is illegal to carry a double-edged blade, such as a dagger. In many jurisdictions, it is illegal to conceal a knife in public. 

This means that the knife must be visible at all times. In some jurisdictions, it is illegal to carry a knife with the intent to use it as a weapon. This means that if you are caught carrying a knife and the police believe that you intend to use it to harm someone, you could be charged with a crime. It’s important to check local laws regarding the carry and concealment of knives, as regulations may vary depending on your location.

What is the Purpose of a Boot Knife?

The primary purpose of a boot knife is to provide a convenient and easily accessible weapon for self-defense or other purposes. Boot knives are typically worn on the ankle or in the boot, making them always within reach and easy to draw quickly if needed. 

Boot knives are also useful for hunting, camping, and everyday carry purposes, as they are generally lightweight and compact. However, it is important to note that boot knives carry with them a multitude of legal issues, as each defining factor is likely to cause legal trouble in certain jurisdictions.

What Should I Look for in a Boot Knife?

When choosing a boot knife, there are several factors to consider, including:

  • Concealability: Boot knives are designed to be concealed, so it is important to choose a knife that will fit comfortably and securely in or on your boot or ankle. The size and shape of the knife, as well as the type of sheath, will all affect its concealability.
  • Blade design: Boot knives typically have double-edged blades that are 3 to 5 inches in length. However, there are also some boot knives with single-edged blades or shorter blades. The blade design should be chosen based on your individual needs and preferences.
  • Blade steel: Boot knives are often made from high-carbon stainless steel, such as AUS-8, 440C, or 154CM. These steels are strong and durable, and they can hold an edge well. However, they can also be more difficult to sharpen than other types of steel.
  • Tang construction: The tang is the part of the blade that extends into the handle. A full-tang knife is one in which the tang runs the full length of the handle. Full-tang knives are stronger and more durable than knives with partial tangs or rat-tail tangs.
  • Handle design: The handle of a boot knife should be comfortable to grip and provide a secure hold, even when wet or slippery. Some boot knives have handles made from synthetic materials, such as Kraton or G10, while others have handles made from wood or other natural materials.

How to Wear a Boot Knife Properly

Wearing a boot knife properly is essential for both safety and accessibility. Here are some tips on how to wear a boot knife:

  • Always use a sheath. A sheath protects your skin and the knife’s blade, and it keeps the knife securely in place. Look for a sheath that is made from durable materials and has a secure retention system.
  • Choose the right size knife. The boot knife should be small enough to fit comfortably inside or outside your boot without interfering with your foot’s movement. It should also be large enough to be effective for self-defense or other tasks.

Select the appropriate carry method. There are several ways to carry a boot knife, including:

  • Inside the boot: This method is popular because it can be very concealable. However, it is important to choose a sheath that is designed for inside-the-boot carry and that will not dig into your leg. You should also make sure that the knife is easy to draw from inside the boot.
  • Outside the boot: This method is less concealable, but it can be more comfortable and accessible. Look for a sheath that will securely attach the knife to the outside of your boot and that will not interfere with your movement.
  • On your calf: This method can provide a good balance of concealment and accessibility. However, it is important to choose a sheath that is specifically designed for calf carry.
  • Around your waist: This method is the least concealable, but it is also the most accessible. Look for a sheath that has a belt loop or that can be attached to a belt.

Safety considerations:

  • Inside the boot: Be careful not to overtighten your boot laces, as this can restrict blood flow and cause discomfort. Also, be aware of the potential for the knife to come into contact with your skin, especially if you are sweating or wearing thin socks.
  • Outside the boot: Be careful not to snag the sheath on objects or people. Also, be aware of the potential for the knife to come into contact with your skin, especially if you are sitting down or bending over.
  • On your calf: Be careful not to overtighten the sheath, as this can restrict circulation and cause discomfort. Also, be aware of the potential for the sheath to rub against your leg, especially if you are walking or running.
  • Around the waist: Be careful not to snag the sheath on objects or people. Also, be aware of the potential for the knife to come into contact with your skin, especially if you are sitting down or bending over.

How to Properly Maintain and Clean a Boot Knife

Maintaining a boot knife properly involves several steps, including cleaning, sharpening, lubricating, and storing the knife correctly.


  • Wipe down the knife after each use to remove any debris or residue.
  • Use a toothpick to remove grime from the knife’s nooks and crannies, particularly around the pivot and handle.
  • For a thorough cleaning, wash the knife with warm water and mild dish soap.
  • Make sure to dry it completely before storing it to prevent rust.
  • If your knife has a leather sheath, clean it regularly with a soft cloth.

Safety considerations when cleaning:

  • Be careful not to cut yourself when cleaning the knife.
  • Use a non-slip surface to clean the knife.
  • Avoid using harsh chemicals or abrasive cleaners, as these can damage the knife.


  • Regularly check the sharpness of your knife. A dull knife can be dangerous and less effective.
  • Sharpen your knife every few weeks to preserve its effectiveness.
  • You can use a sharpener such as a honing rod, whetstone, or electric sharpener.

Safety considerations when sharpening:

  • Be careful not to cut yourself when sharpening the knife.
  • Use a non-slip surface to sharpen the knife.
  • Wear safety glasses to protect your eyes from flying debris.


  • Lubricating your knife helps keep it sharp and prevents rust.
  • Apply an oil-based lubricant to the various moving parts, joints, and pivots of the knife.
  • Lubricating oils such as mineral oil, food-grade oil, or gun oil are good options.
  • Remember only to use a small amount of oil and avoid using it on the handle, especially if it’s made of rubber or wood.

Safety considerations when lubricating:

  • Avoid using too much lubricant, as this can attract dirt and grime.
  • Be careful not to get lubricant on your clothes or skin.
  • Keep lubricant out of reach of children and pets.


  • Store your knife in a dry, humidity-free environment when not in use.
  • If your knife has a leather sheath, don’t let it stay wet for long periods and avoid exposing it to excessive heat.
  • You can wrap your knife with paper, place it inside a plastic bag with desiccant, and then put it in a cool, dry place.


A boot knife is a useful tool for a variety of purposes, but choosing the right one can be overwhelming. By considering factors such as blade length, blade material, handle material, and sheath design, you can find the best boot knife for your needs. Remember to always check your local laws before purchasing and carrying a boot knife.

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