The Best Dive Knives Plus Two Bonus Alternatives

Best dive knife
knife with scabbard. Equipment for scuba diving.

We examine the best dive knives of 2019 and what to look for when buying one.

Dive knives are one of the first pieces of equipment many divers buy. They are cheap, small, and easy to pack when traveling. They can also save your life in an emergency situation.

Whether you are new to diving and buying equipment for the first time, or a seasoned pro looking to replace your current knife, we’ve got you covered. In this article we will:

  • explain some things to think about if you are new to buying equipment;
  • suggest what to look for when buying a dive knife; and
  • recommend our personal 4 favourite dive knives plus a few knife-alternatives for you.

The Best Dive Knives

Spyderco Atlantic Salt Rust Free Serrated Edge...
  • Crafted from the highest quality materials
  • Built for performance and durability
  • Made in Japan
  • Features a blade ground from H-1 steel, an...
  • Hollow-ground serrated edge (SpyderEdge) blade
Atomic Aquatics Titanium Ti6 Scuba Diving Knife...
  • Atomic Aquatics Titanium Scuba Diving Knife
  • Corrosion-resistant full-tang Titanium blade
  • Serrated edge and large line-cutting notch
  • Quick-adjust sheath straps
  • House Of Scuba Is An Atomic Aquatics Authorized...
Aqua Lung Argonaut Titanium Diving Knife (Blunt...
  • 4mm thick, highly rust resistant, Titanium with...
  • Blade is 4 7/8" long and the handle is 4 7/8
  • The butt of the handle is double wrapped in 7 feet...
  • Sheath is made from 2mm thick Kydex with 1/8"...
  • Leg strap holes are 1" long and 1/4" wide
Cressi Skorpion, Blue
  • Skorpion is a modern knife of last generation...
  • The Skorpion is available in two different blades:...
  • One side of the stainless steel blade is...
  • It is separated from the blade by a small techno...
  • The knife comes with a sheath that features a...

Do you need a dive knife?

Dive knives are one piece of equipment many new divers don’t find themselves using often because of worries of travelling with it, the un-certainty of when to use it and avoiding diving in hazardous areas without a dive master who will have their own dive knife.

We understand that traveling with a large knife can be intimidating. But as you become a more experienced diver the more comfortable you will be with bringing your knife with you and the more you will inevitably be going on dives where having a good dive knife is necessary. Examples of this are wreck dives, kelp fields, and popular fishing areas. You may also find yourself doing a novelty dive where you might need it, such as missile silos or old quarries. Some things you will use a dive knife for are:

  • Cutting fishing line
  • Freeing yourself or marine life from debris
  • Cutting kelp if you get tangled
  • Anchoring yourself in the sea floor in heavy currents
  • Hammering things in emergency situations

Notice something missing from that list? We didn’t list self defence against marine life such as sharks or barracuda. That’s because you won’t use a dive knife for this.

We’ve been on hundreds of dives, swimming through schools of barracuda and in the middle of feeding sharks. Not once has one of them ever tried to attack. At most, they will swim by and follow you around out of curiosity. As long as you remain a spectator and don’t do anything to spook the animals, you’ll be fine.

The second reason you won’t be using a dive knife for self defence is because it is impractical. We humans are land dwelling animals. Even if you are an adept swimmer, you are never going to beat a fish. They are too fast and too precise in their movements. So, remember that a dive knife is not a weapon.

So overall do you need one or not? Yes! It is one of those tools that is better to have and not need, rather than need and not have. Even if you choose not to bring a knife, you need to have a cutter of some kind such as trauma shears. But, we’ll discuss more about those later.

What to look for when buying a dive knife

Let’s take a look at the different factors that make a great dive knife:

  • Size
  • Blade Type
  • Material
  • Extra Features
  • Tip Type

Size

Best dive knives

Knife for diving. Isolated on white.

Too many first time divers think that you need the biggest knife possible. This isn’t the case. Usually, something no longer than 10cm (4in) will be fine. There are exceptions to this, such as kelp diving, where having a larger knife with a serrated edge is better. But, these are the exceptions, not the norm.

If you take a look at many modern dive knives, you will notice that they are an evolution of combat knives. There was a time and place where this had purpose. Now it is quite often overkill.

Having a larger knife is more often a burden than a blessing. Larger knives are easier to snag on objects and often add unnecessary weight. Also, larger knives may prove harder to travel with. This is because some countries have laws governing how large knives can be. So, remember to keep it reasonable in terms of size.

Blade Type

There are two main types of materials used for dive knives, titanium and steel. As to which one is better is up for debate. Different people have different opinions. You are going to have to figure out which one you prefer. We’ll go over the pros and cons of both to give you a better idea:

Steel

Pros
  • Requires sharpening less often
  • Less brittle so better for prying and hammering
  • Cheaper than titanium
Cons
  • More prone to corrosion than titanium
  • Heavier than titanium
  • More prone to bending

Titanium

Pros
  • Less likely to chip
  • Does not corrode or rust
  • Lighter than steel
Cons
  • More expensive
  • More brittle and prone to breaking when prying or hammering
  • Needs to be sharpened more often

Material

What the blade is made from isn’t the only important factor. You also need to consider what the rest of the knife is made from. For example, if the blade is titanium but parts of the hilt are iron, the blade may not rust but the hilt will.

If you will be doing a lot of saltwater diving, you want a knife made from rust free materials. Or, at the very least, rust resistant steel such as stainless or H-1 steel.

The other materials on the knife should be rubber or an equivalent material and plastic. This goes for both the dive knife as well as the carrying case. It is important that all this is consistent or parts of the knife are going to rust and corrode prematurely.

You will still need to clean your knife thoroughly after each dive. But, this will help to increase the longevity of your knife so that it isn’t rusted after your first few dives.

Extra Features

You don’t just want a knife. You want a knife that is going to help you in the variety of situations you might find yourself in while diving. This means Cutting fishing lines, communicating, sawing kelp, etc.

A few of the extra features that you want on your knife are:

  • Serrated Edge
  • Line Cutter
  • Metal Butt Cap

The serrated edge is important for the times when you need to saw through things. One of the prime examples of this will be kelp diving. Kelp strands can sometimes be as thick as hemp rope. Simply cutting through the kelp isn’t going to work. You need to saw through it.

You will also want a line cutter. This is a small sharpened indent in the blade which will allow you to hook and cut through line. You will be able to easily cut through fishing line and straps which may get caught on things.

Since you have a limited amount of air, especially at depth, you need to deal with problems quickly. Sometimes it can be quicker to use a line cutter to slice through the problem or a serrated edge to saw through it.

Tip Type

There are two main choices for this. You can get either a blunt tip or a pointed tip. There are a few other types of tips such as a spartan tip but they are all variations of these two types.

The main thing to think about will be whether you will be doing any hammering with your knife. If this is the case then a blunt tip will be better for you. Hammering and prying will often cause sharpened tips to break off and can ruin your knife.

The 5 best dive knives of 2019

We’ve compiled a list of what we believe to be the 5 best dive knives of 2019. Each of these dive knives meets all or most of the factors which we discussed above. So, without further ado, here’s the list:

#1 Spyderco Atlantic Salt

Spyderco Atlantic Salt Rust Free Serrated Edge...
  • Crafted from the highest quality materials
  • Built for performance and durability
  • Made in Japan
  • Features a blade ground from H-1 steel, an...
  • Hollow-ground serrated edge (SpyderEdge) blade

Spyderco is one of the leading brands of manufacturers of knives of all types. They are known in the dive community for well crafted knives resistant to corrosion and rust. These aren’t the cheapest knives on the market, but they rank at the top in terms of quality.

What We like
  • The Spyderco Atlantic Salt is made from H-1 steel. This is a variety of steel which is extremely strong yet does not rust or corrode.
  • The Atlantic Salt has an easy release mechanism which can be activated with only one hand. This is important for situations where you are in a confined space or if one of your hands is tangled up.
  • The clip used for attaching this knife is made from titanium. A problem many knives have is that the knife is good but the clip or carrying case corrodes. This will not happen with the Atlantic Salt.
What we don't like
  • This is an expensive dive knife. As we have mentioned though, it is a top quality product. We have been using the Atlantic Salt for two years with no problem. But, if you have issues losing dive knives, which many divers do, this is not the knife for you. The best rule of thumb is don’t buy any knife which you would scramble to recover if you lost.
  • Some users have reported having issues with the knife opening on its own while in their BCD pocket. This is not an issue which we have had, so this may be a defect on their specific knife. But, it is an issue which enough people have reported that it should be brought to your attention.
  • The Atlantic Salt has a serrated edge making it great for sawing through thick materials. It does not have a line cutter or metal butt cap. This may not be the best knife for general use when diving.

Here is a great video showing the Atlantic Salt cutting through a 6.68cm (2.63in) heavy duty rope.

#2 Atomic Aquatics Ti6

Atomic Aquatics Titanium Ti6 Scuba Diving Knife...
  • Atomic Aquatics Titanium Scuba Diving Knife
  • Corrosion-resistant full-tang Titanium blade
  • Serrated edge and large line-cutting notch
  • Quick-adjust sheath straps
  • House Of Scuba Is An Atomic Aquatics Authorized...

This is a solid all around knife. It has everything you could want including a heavy duty line cutter and serrated edge. You can also choose between either a blunt tip or pointed tip. Expect this knife to last you for many years as long as you put the effort in to take care of it and clean it after each dive.

What We like
  • The blade is made from titanium. As we discussed above this makes it resistant to corrosion and rust. It is also harder making it more reliable long term than traditional stainless steel.
  • As mentioned, this comes with most of the extras which we have laid out as must haves. It has a serrated edge so that you can saw through heavier rope. There is a cutting line so that you can quickly cut fishing line and smaller straps. The only thing missing is a metal butt cap to use for communication by tapping.
  • The knife is lightweight with a sturdy locking mechanism. You can use this with confidence that it isn’t going to accidentally fall out of the sheath into deep waters.
What we don't like
  • This is another expensive dive knife. As we mentioned, you should not buy this if you have been known to lose knives. Many dive accidents have occurred from people dropping expensive dive knives. They then ignore safe diving practices in an attempt to recover them. Don’t be that person.
  • Many people who have used this knife have noted that it is not as sharp as steel alternatives. This is one downside of titanium. Also, a few users have noted the knife seemed to be sharpened hastily. They mentioned that there were grooves which later had to be sharpened out.
  • The straps on the sheath are shorter. This means users with large legs will be limited where they can strap it. Some users said they would have strapped it to their thigh but had to settle for their lower leg due to the straps.

Here is a video review of this knife which goes fairly in depth.

#3 Aqua Lung Argonaut Titanium

Aqua Lung Argonaut Titanium Diving Knife (Blunt...
  • 4mm thick, highly rust resistant, Titanium with...
  • Blade is 4 7/8" long and the handle is 4 7/8
  • The butt of the handle is double wrapped in 7 feet...
  • Sheath is made from 2mm thick Kydex with 1/8"...
  • Leg strap holes are 1" long and 1/4" wide

This knife is solid. The blade is full tang. This means the blade extends fully from end to end. In the case of the Argonaut, the blade and handle are the same. Paracord has been wrapped around the handle to create the grip. It has a serrated edge on one side and a non-serrated edge on the other.

What We like
  • The Argonaut has a full tang blade. This means it is stronger and will last longer compared to a partial tang blade which is more prone to breaking.
  • The Argonaut is titanium and is resistant to corrosion or rust. Assuming you wash it after every use and take care to keep the blade sharpened, this knife will last for many years.
  • The knife has both a serrated edge as well as a straightedge and a blunt tip. You can use this knife to saw, cut, hammer, and pry. A great tool for divers who need a knife in a variety of situations.
What we don't like
  • This is the most expensive knife on our list. If you are on a tight budget or a first time diver buying new equipment, this probably isn’t the best knife for you. Remember that it is not uncommon to lose a dive knife. They get knocked out of their sheaths, fall out of your hand, etc. Do not use a knife which you can’t afford to lose.
  • One user of this knife complained that they lost it on the first dive when it fell out of their sheath. The primary complaint was issues getting a replacement knife while under warranty.
  • This knife does not have a line cutter. As we have stated, it has everything else you will need in a dive knife. But, for the price, not having a quick line cutter is a major drawback.

Here is a great video review which goes in depth into the features of the Argonaut.

#4 Cressi Skorpion

Cressi Skorpion, Blue
  • Skorpion is a modern knife of last generation...
  • The Skorpion is available in two different blades:...
  • One side of the stainless steel blade is...
  • It is separated from the blade by a small techno...
  • The knife comes with a sheath that features a...

This is a fantastic knife for beginners. You can also use this as a cheap secondary knife. It is a low cost dive knife which has all of the bells and whistles we’ve listed as important when selecting a knife. The Skorpion has both a serrated edge as well as a straight edge and has options for both a blunt tip as well as a pointed tip.

What We like
  • This is the cheapest dive knife on our list. If you are an experienced diver looking for a backup dive knife or a new diver looking for a first knife, this is a great option.
  • The Skorpion has both a straight edge as well as a serrated edge for cutting. It also comes with a metal butt cap at the end to be used for tapping your tank to communicate with other divers. Finally, it has a line cutter for cutting through small fishing line in an emergency.
  • You can access this knife easily during a dive with only one hand. The locking mechanism can be disengaged with the press of a thumb allowing you to quickly remove it.
What we don't like
  • The hilt of this knife is not made from anti-corrosive material. For many people, the hilt has been rusting despite the blade and other components being fine. You need to make sure to thoroughly clean this knife after every dive to prevent corrosion.
  • A few users have complained that the knife holder is not the best design. It has been noted that it has squared edges which can be uncomfortable and dig into your leg. Also, a few users have complained that the rubber straps pull leg hair when worn without a wetsuit.
  • Some users of the Skorpion have complained that it is quite bulky. This may not be the best knife for wreck diving or kelp diving where you need equipment that doesn’t stick out too far.

Here is a video review so that you can get a better idea of the knife and its features.

Bonus: 2 Alternatives to dive knives

As we mentioned above, you will not always be able to be able to carry dive knives with you. There are some popular destinations around the world where it is illegal to carry a dive knife. This doesn’t mean you won’t need a cutting tool in the event of an emergency situation.

We have two dive knife alternatives here that can be carried anywhere in the world. You can carry these in place of a dive knife in areas where they are illegal. Also, you can use them as a backup in case you lose your knife on a dive. Remember, it is always good to have a backup for emergency situations. You never know when you will lose your knife or get entangled in such a way that you can’t get to your primary knife.

Bonus #1 EEZYCUT Trilobite

EEZYCUT Trilobite Webbing and Line Knife - Belt...
  • EEZYCUT Trilobites 2 sided easy to use design
  • 4" X 2" Sheath
  • 2 Additional replacement blades in own carrying...
  • wrist pouch, which fits most dive computers with a...

We use this as a backup on our dives. It has proven effective for cutting through everything from tangled straps to fishing line. It is legal to carry all around the world in the place of a dive knife and works just as well for most situations.

What We like
  • This is legal everywhere. It is not considered a knife so it will be okay where dive knives are prohibited. This will also be fine in countries where there are laws against knives in general.
  • This is an incredibly cheap alternative to dive knives. If you are looking to get a backup dive knife without shelling out a hundred dollars or more, this is a great option.
  • The Trilobite is small and lightweight. It isn’t going to add much weight to your suitcase nor to your dive setup. It also isn’t going to take up too much room on your BCD.
What we don't like
  • This isn’t a good option for major cutting. There are guards on either side of the blade which limit the size of what can be cut through. You can easily slice through fishing line or small to medium sized cords and straps. But, larger rope and strands of kelp will be impossible to cut with this tool.
  • Many divers have noted that the blades rust quite easily. This is not quite as big of a problem as with a dive knife as these are easy to replace razor blades. But, it can still be an issue.
  • Some users have complained that the sheath is quite small. They have noted that when the tool is in the sheath it can be hard to strap the sheath to your BCD. Conversely, when the sheath is strapped to your BCD, it can be hard to fit the tool in properly.

Here is a video review from the company showing the product cutting various types of line.

Bonus #2 Innovative Scuba Sea Snips

Innovative Scuba Sea Snips / Emergency Scissors...
  • These sea snips easily cut through line, net,...
  • Works well in emergency situations where a knife...
  • Connectors on the sheaths allow for mounting on...
  • 400 series stainless steel material

You will see many experienced divers recommending these on scuba forums. These are trauma shears made from corrosion resistant material. Like the Trilobite, these are a great alternative to dive knives. Especially in countries where knives are illegal.

What We like
  • These shears can cut through everything from fishing line all the way to kelp and small steel cables. They are used by paramedics to cut through material such as seatbelts, leather, and metal. It should meet the needs of most divers.
  • These are cheap when compared to dive knives that can run well over a hundred dollars. This makes it a great option as both a primary cutting tool as well as a secondary tool for people on a budget.
  • These can easily be mounted to a BCD or carried in a BCD pocket. You should have no problems putting this in a place that you can easily get to it.
What we don't like
  • Some users have expressed that these shears are quite large which can make them awkward to dive with. If you usually prefer smaller dive knives you way want to find a smaller pair of dive shears.
  • Some users have complained of rust after only a few dives. These are cheap so they are easy to replace vs an expensive dive knife that rusts. But, it is important that you thoroughly wash your equipment after each dive.
  • These are only good for cutting. In situations where you need to pry or hammer, you will still want to have a sturdy dive knife. If you know you will be in such situations we recommend using these as a backup to your dive knife.

Which do we recommend?

We actually have two recommendations here. First, as a primary dive knife, we prefer using the Atomic Aquatics Ti6. It’s served us well on our dives and has all of the features we need in a dive knife. As a backup, we like carrying a pair of the Innovative Scuba Sea Snips.

With the two of these, you have everything you need to cover a variety of situations. If you find the Ti6 to be a bit too expensive, the Cressi Skorpion is an excellent alternative.

In Conclusion

There are a plethora of dive knives on the market. The above represent what we believe to be the best dive knives in 2019. But, they are by no means the only options. As long as you stick to the guidelines we’ve laid out, you’ll find a quality dive knife that will last you for many years.

Do you have experience with any of these knives you’d like to share? Let us know in the comments section. We love hearing from fellow divers so sound off and let us know what you think.

Last update on 2019-08-19 at 19:16 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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