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Top 5 Best Survival Knife Sharpener Reviews for 2020


Best Survival Knife Sharpeners in the market

I assume you carry a knife every day.  My next question would be, just one?  Seriously, a knife is, in my opinion, one of the three top things you should have in your everyday carry.   Knife, whether it is a folding model or fixed blade, is, in a survival situation, a must-have tool. There are scores of good survival knife sharpening systems on the market.

What we are interested in are knife sharpeners that fit our needs in a survival situation.  With that caveat in mind, we need to set some parameters that a survival knife sharper must meet to fit into the category.

Written by Dennis H., former military and prepardness retail store owner and gear expert

What to Look for in The BEST Survival Knife Sharpener: Buying Guide

It’s important to understand the difference between a knife sharpener and a survival knife sharpener.  When things are good and the world is operating normally, we can assume every option is on the table.  Your Workshop or Chefs Choice electric knife sharpener may be a great choice to have around the house.

But what about when the things in your world are not at their best.  The power grid is down, and you are stuck miles from the nearest town without cell phone service or any number of other scenarios where you are dependent on the tools you have in your EDC or get home bag.  You need a good dependable, lightweight knife sharpener.

Here is what I look for in a survival knife sharpener.

  • No electricity needed – A survival situation is probably going to mean there is no power available. This situation, by definition, means you won’t have electricity to operate your Work Sharp electric knife sharpener is not an option.
  • Lightweight – If you are putting a knife sharpener in your EDC kit, it must be lightweight and small. A knife sharpener for you get home bag, bug out bag, or three-day kit can be a bit larger, but you certainly don’t what to lug around a 4 lb. set of full-size sharpening stones.
  • Efficient – You may not have 30 minutes or an hour to sit down and put an edge on your knife. Your sharpener needs to be designed to hone an edge back to serviceable condition with a few strokes.
  • Dependable – Anything you carry as part of your EDC should share some qualities of dependability. It should be rugged enough to stand up to some abuse.  It should be simple enough to work quickly and easily, and it shouldn’t have a bunch of small parts that can be easily lost.
  • Safe to use – I like a survival knife sharpener that is safe to use but is also easy to deploy. Being able to quickly sharpen a knife in an awkward situation or less than ideal situations with worrying about slicing myself in the process is a huge consideration.

Best Survival Knife Sharpeners: Our Top 5 Picks

Best EDC Survival Knife Sharpener: Alpha TEK Pocket Knife Sharpener Review

Alpha TEK Pocket Knife Sharpener review

I picked up one of these little gems at Shot Show several years ago. The Alpha TEK sharpener has become a mainstay in my EDC and my other emergency bags.  I even keep one in my range bag.  One or another of my knives gets a touchup almost daily with my Alpha TEK sharpener.

These Alpha TEK sharpeners come in three colors, black, orange, and green.  I prefer the day-glow orange because it makes it easy to find them in a bag.  Each sharpener is a small disc shape with two flattened edges coated with a non-skid rubber.  The flat edges each contain a slot lined with ceramic inserts, one for coarse sharpening and one for fine sharpening.

A simple as it is, the Alpha TEK sharpener has some interesting features.

  • Quick and safe to use
  • Non-skid base
  • Carbide and ceramic inserts for consistent and rapid sharpening
  • Comes with a bead chain to attach the sharpener to bags, straps, etc.

Pros

  • Small enough to carry in your pocket for everyday use
  • Very low cost for a good sharpener
  • Doesn’t scar or scratch up the surface of the knife
  • Even a novice can put a nice edge on a knife

Cons

  • You need a flat surface to use this effectively

See Price on Amazon

Best Survival Knife Sharpener for Serrated Blades: Victorinox VN43323 Pen Sharpener Review

Victorinox VN43323 Pen Sharpener review

I am not a big fan of serrated edges on working or survival knives.  But some people absolutely believe in them.  If you prefer to carry a folding knife or a fixed blade with a full or partially serrated edge, you know how difficult it can be to maintain an edge on the serrations.

The Victorinox Pen Sharpener is a handy gadget to have if you routinely carry a blade with serrated edges.  This style of sharpener can be used on straight blades just as well, so it is a versatile tool to have in your kit when you need to sharpen anything from an ax to your smallest swiss army knife.

Not much bigger than some larger fountain pens I have used, the Victorinox pen sharpener does look like a pen when it is closed.  Pull the cap away, and you reveal a small v-shaped projection under the cap.  This is a ceramic edge sharpener.  Pull this part from the tube and you have an oval rod sharpening stone.

The oval stone can be used to sharpen most serrations or dress a flat edge.  The small v-shaped ceramic sharpener can restore a cutting edge with a few pulls down the edge of the blade. Simple, straight forward, and efficient.  Just about everything we look for in a survival knife sharpener.

  • Medium grit oval stone sharpener
  • Ceramic fine v-shaped sharpener
  • Black housing that looks like a pen when closed.
  • Oval shaped stone allows the sharpener to be used on serrated blades
  • The ceramic sharpener is small enough to be used on serrations as well.

Pros

  • Easy to carry. It goes in my pocket every day.
  • Compact design but is useable on any size blade
  • Will put a razor edge on almost any knife
  • Simple and easy to use

Cons

  • The plastic pocket clip is weak. If you try to put it over thick material, it may snap

See Price on Amazon

Best Multi-tool Survival Knife Sharpener: Smith’s 50979 PP1 Tactical Knife Sharpener Review

Smith’s 50979 PP1 Tactical Knife Sharpener review

Multi-tools became all the rage a few years ago in the prepper and survival communities.  The problem with multi-tools is that they almost always involve a compromise.  It is just hard to design and build a tool to do a variety of different jobs.  However, Smith’s 50979 Tactical Knife Sharpener is one of those rare finds, a multi-tool that works well at everything.

The features built into this easy to carry tool make it a good choice for anyone’s kit.  Rugged and well-engineered, the Smith’s multi-tool sharpener is a go-anywhere piece of gear.  With Smith’s sharpener in your bag or pocket, you can keep your cutting edges in fine condition.

The features should convince you that this is an excellent choice for a survival knife sharpener.

  • Ceramic V-Shaped fine sharpening slot
  • Carbide coarse sharpening slot
  • G10 handle material
  • Lanyard slot for attachment points
  • Foldaway diamond-coated sharpening rod for serrated edges
  • Preset sharpening angles for easy and effective use

Pros

  • It works! Easy to use and handy to carry
  • Everything you need in one package
  • Tough and durable. Won’t fall apart after three days

Cons

  • It’s a little pricey for a small knife sharpener

See Price on Amazon

Best Survival Knife Sharpening System: Lansky Deluxe 5-Stone Sharpening System Review

Lansky Deluxe 5-Stone Sharpening System review

The Lansky system is not an EDC sharpener by any means.  It was never meant to be carried around and used for quick touch-ups of blades in the field. However, if you are picking items for a bug out bag, a three-day survival bag, or long-term survival preparation, you really should have one of these Lansky systems in your list.

I sold Lansky systems in my store years ago.  I kept one on attached to the counter near the cash register.  A quick 2 minutes of instructions, and I could have customers sharpening their pocketknives to a razor edge.  I found that customers were coming into the store just to sharpen their knives on my demonstration unit.   It was a great selling tool.

It is also a great piece of kit.  The whole system packs down into a carrying case about 10 inches by 10 inches by 1.5 inches thick, and the whole thing weighs only 7 ounces.  At that size, it easily fits into a nook or pocket on a bag or backpack.

I can almost guarantee that if you get a Lansky sharpening system, it won’t sit in your bag or backpack for long.  Once you use it, it will be on your workbench, where it will get regular use. Don’t be surprised if your friends start coming by more often to touch up their knives on your Lansky System.

  • 5-Stone sharpening system
  • Extra-coarse, coarse, medium, fine and extra-fine stones
  • Controlled sharpening angle means perfect blade edges
  • 17, 20. 25. And 30-degree angle options
  • Color-coded stones for instant recognition
  • Improved safety holders
  • Honing oil included
  • Includes knife clamp and carrying case.

Pros

  • Makes putting an edge on a blade almost automatic
  • Eliminates the guesswork about blade angle
  • Packs down to a small, lightweight size that can be easily taken anywhere
  • Easy to use and simple to set up

Cons

  • There is a bit of a learning curve to using the Lansky system
  • Keeping the guide rode in the same place can be tricky

See Price on Amazon

Best Budget Survival Knife Sharpener: JEOutdoors Multifunction Pocket Knife & Tool Sharpener Review

JEOutdoors Multifunction Pocket Knife & Tool Sharpener review

For all you minimalists or the budget-conscious, the JEOutdoors multifunction pocketknife and tool sharpener is just for you.  Simple is the keyword here.  Simple really doesn’t describe the design.  Elegant would be a better way to describe the design.

A single bar of aircraft-grade aluminum anodized black with slots for v-shaped ceramic stones and carbide stones, a hole for your finger to make the sharpener easier to hold, and a lanyard is the entire thing.   Yet, in its simplicity, it does what it is intended to do.  It sharpens blades.

Simplicity is a beautiful thing, especially when things may be getting a little dicey and you need tools that will perform no matter what the conditions.  Sometimes bells and whistles get in the way of what you really need.   The JEOutdoors Multifunction pocketknife and tool sharpener is proof of that concept.

  • Simple, lightweight, and efficient
  • Ceramic and carbide sharpening stones
  • Lanyard
  • Black anodized aluminum construction

Pros

  • Easy to carry as a pocket EDC sharpener
  • Great price
  • Easy to use
  • Works great on rehabbing badly damaged edges

Cons

  • You must follow the directions on how to pass the knife through the stones

See Price on Amazon


FAQs about Survival Knife Sharpeners

Which is Better – Ceramic or Diamond?

It depends on what you want out of your sharpening system.   Here are some things to understand about each type of sharpening system.

  • Ceramic is slightly less abrasive and is gentler on the steel.
  • Ceramic may not work as well as diamond on harder steels.
  • Diamond systems may eventually develop spots where the diamond coating has thinned and doesn’t sharpen as effectively.
  • Ceramic wear evenly

With these items in mind, our recommendation is that there is a place and a use for both.  Diamond stones are great for beveling or resetting an edge, especially on harder steels.

Ceramic stones can create a finer edge.  For doing touchups on your blade, a ceramic stone is the better choice.

Why is a sharpening system better?

Sharpening systems are not necessarily better.  A trained bladesmith can use a good set of stones and a belt grinder to produce an edge you can never replicate with a sharpening system.  The difference is the years of training and practice it takes to have that kind of skill.

A sharpening system puts consistent edges in reach of anyone.  Good systems come with guides that maintain the same edge bevel angle through the sharpening process.  Edge angle is one of the big factors in blade sharpening.  For most amateur blade aficionados, a good sharpening system is the way to go.


Putting It All To Work

Like any tool, a knife is only as good as the maintenance it receives.  That means cleaned, oiled, and properly sharpened.   Cleaning and oiling are easy enough.  Properly sharpening a good knife is a skill that needs to be learned and practiced.

I hope that this article helps you gain a bit more understanding about what to look for in the best survival knife sharpener that you want to buy.  Keeping your blades sharp and ready for use is part of the preparation mentality.  Having the tools to keep your knives ready for use is as much a part of the preparation as anything else.

If you found this article helpful or if you have your own thoughts about sharpeners, please leave a comment below.  I love to hear your stories and experiences.  I have learned as much from listening to others as I have any other way.

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