Best Survival Knife Sharpener for Your Blades

by Tommy Grant

A good survival knife is only as good as the sharpener and the user behind it. A survival knife sharpener has the important job of keeping your favorite tool in service when emergencies and disasters take the edge off. A dull knife can quickly be brought back to life and back to work with the right sharpener in your corner. There are several options to consider when it comes to knife sharpeners: stone type, size, ease of use, etc.

This is where we come in. We’ve researched the best survival knife sharpeners, tested each of them, and now the results are in: the overall best, an EDC option, and an upgrade option. If you need a sharpener that will keep your blades ready to go, one of our picks will be a sharp choice.


Contents (Jump to a Section)


The Best Knife Sharpener

DMT DuoSharp

Versatile, Easy to Use, and Lightweight

It may open like a balisong, but there is nothing showy about this double-sided diamond sharper that just gets it done.

*Price at time of publishing; check for price changes or sales.

Diamond Machining Technology has put together this handy sharpener that checks all the boxes. With the coarse blue side and fine red side, the diamond mesh will let you easily sharpen your survival knives on the bench or on the go. With virtually indestructible diamond stones, you won’t need to worry about maintenance or swapping the stones out, making them perfect for long-term survival situations.

  • 600-grit fine / 325-grit coarse (both diamond)
  • 9.5″ x 5″ x 3.5″
  • 2.4 ounces
  • Hinged Case
  • Made in the USA

With solid performance and a price that doesn’t break the bank, it’s easy to see how DMT DuoSharp is the best choice out of all of the competition.


EDC Knife Sharpener

Fallkniven DC3

Small, Lightweight, and Effective

This tiny diamond sharpener fits in your pocket to quickly and effectively sharpen knives on the go.

*Price at time of publishing; check for price changes or sales.

Fallkniven knows their knives, but they also know a thing or two about sharpeners as well. This little sharpener gives you the best of both worlds, with a diamond sharpener and a ceramic stone in one, small enough to lose in your pocket.

Here are the specs:

  • 800-grit diamond / 14,000-grit ceramic
  • 3″ x 1″ x 0.25″
  • 1.3 ounces
  • Leather Pouch
  • Made in Sweden

Pick up a Fallkniven DC3 to add a versatile sharpener to your EDC or BOB.


Upgrade Knife Sharpener

Spyderco Sharpmaker

Professional, High-Quality, and Versatile

This sharpener is well known for its consistent quality and ability to put a good edge on any knife.

*Price at time of publishing; check for price changes or sales.

Spyderco originally started out with sharpeners, but you probably recognize them today from their signature folding knives. Their top-of-the-line portable sharpener makes sharpening a breeze. It is easy enough to put a great edge on any knife but versatile enough with the rods to handle difficult edges as well.

Here is how it measures up:

  • High alumina ceramic rods (2 sets)
  • 8″ x 4″ x 1.5″
  • 16 ounces
  • Compact Case
  • Made in Japan

If you are looking for the best of the best, pick up the Spyderco Sharpmaker to keep your survival knives sharp.


Everything We Recommend

Fallkniven DC3

This tiny diamond sharpener fits in your pocket to quickly and effectively sharpen knives on the go.

Where to Buy

$19* at Amazon

*at time of reviewing


The Sharpeners We Compared

Our research narrowed the field down to the several sharpener brands that we tested: Spyderco, DMT, Fallkniven, Smith’s, Sharpal, AccuSharp, Kershaw, and more.

You can see our full list of review criteria below in the What to Look For section, with an explanation for each.

We focused on manual sharpeners that have a profile that allows them to fit in an EDC loadout or mobile survival kit. This rules out many non-mobile bench sharpeners, electric sharpeners, etc. We quickly ruled out many pull-through sharpeners as research and field testing both showed that they are not great at setting a good blade on a knife.

We’re always looking for new and better equipment, so if you have a survival sharpener that you swear by let us know in the comments. We review most of our tested gear annually, so we can always get it in the next roundup round and see if it makes the cut and we can see if it will beat out our top picks.


What to Look For

The best survival knife sharpeners have several important features to look for:

  1. Value
  2. Stone Type
  3. Ease of Use
  4. Size & Weight
  5. Versatility

When you get the right blend of these, you can find a reliable sharpener that will help you keep everything in your kit sharp. Below, we break down what each of these features means for the survival sharpeners that set themselves apart.

Value: Cost vs. Benefit

The amount of money you spend on something like a sharpener shouldn’t blow out your entire budget. Don’t go overspending or overdo it. Budget according to your risk and your needs rather than just spending lavishly.

On the flip side, you don’t want to go too cheap or just plain get the wrong thing. Pull-through sharpeners may be dirt-cheap and fit nicely on a keychain, but they can easily chew the blade off of a nice knife.

You never want to spend too much money on one resource, especially something like a sharpening tool. It’s better to diversify your preparedness gear to make sure you are covered for a wide range of scenarios. There is a sweet spot where you get high value with not too high of a price, which is where our top pick sits.

Stone Type

Diamond mesh, ceramics, stones, and strops are all common for sharpeners. Diamond sharpeners can be particularly effective when you need something small and portable anyway. They last much longer than traditional sharpening stones and stay flat long after their first use.

Ceramics and stones can give you some versatility and some people swear by them. For most preppers and survivalists, we suggest diamond mesh as it makes sharpening easy. Perhaps more importantly, it makes the sharpener last a long time.

Ease of Use

If a sharpener requires a physics degree to figure out, it’s not going to get much easier to use in a survival situation. Sharpening is straightforward, but some sharpeners include guides and jigs to make it even easier.

These are great on the bench but can be cumbersome depending on the design if you are on the move. A survival knife sharpener has to be able to keep up with a survival knife.

Size & Weight

The knife sharpeners we compared weighed between a single ounce all the way up to a pound. Almost all of them collapsed down to a small size, easily able to fit into a bug out bag or other mobile kit.

When it comes to preparedness on the go, ounces matter. That’s why our EDC pick is one of our favorite choices even for mobile kits. Its small size does make it a little tougher to use, but it also can fit in any loadout.

Versatility

Holders, jigs, cases, multiple grains, and the ability to sharpen serrations and other complicated blades all add versatility to a sharpening solution. In a survival situation, you don’t know what you’re going to be dealing with so versatility is always a plus.


How to Use a Knife Sharpener?

When it comes to sharpening, you want to be gentle and avoid applying pressure. It is always easier to remove more blade than to put metal back on!

You will also want to make sure that you maintain your angle when you are sharpening unless you are very experienced and putting a different edge on it.

For sharpening stones, basic sharpening is straightforward:

  1. Place the stone on a non-slip surface, such as a damp towel.
  2. Hold the knife at a 20-degree angle against the stone and use a back-and-forth motion to sharpen one side of the blade.
  3. Flip the knife over and repeat on the other side.
  4. Progress to finer grits of the stone to continue sharpening until the desired sharpness is achieved.
  5. Test the cut on paper and clean the blade.

Steven demonstrates how to use our upgrade pick concisely in this video:


Who Needs a Knife Sharpener?

Knife sharpeners may not be a necessity in a survival kit, but they can drastically increase the life of one of your most important tools.

We suggest adding sharpeners to this kits:

You should consider adding a pocket sharpener to:

Everyone has knives, though. So there are always plenty of tools and knives around the house to practice your sharpening skills on. Everyone- regardless of preparedness level- can use a quality knife sharpener.

How We Review Products: We research thoroughly before selecting the best products to review. We consult experts in the field for a better understanding of what makes the gear great. Hours on end are spent field testing gear in stressful conditions. We assign performance criteria and impartially rate each tested item. You can support us through our independently chosen links, which can earn us a commission at no extra cost to you. After our review process, some of the items reviewed end up in our giveaways.

Sources and References

All of our experience and the testing we do to determine the best survival knife sharpener is useless without listing our research sources and references. We leaned on these for the book knowledge that we paired with our hands-on testing and practical military and prepping experience:

Marsot, J., et al. (2007). Assessment of knife sharpness by means of a cutting force measuring system. Applied Ergonomics. Volume 37. Issue 1. Pages 83-89. (Source)

Mulder, J., et al. (2017). The measurement of knife sharpness and the impact of sharpening technique on edge durability. University of Waikato, Hamilton. Pages 1-6. (Source)

McGorry, R., et al. (2005). A technique for field measurement of knife sharpness. Applied Ergonomics. Volume 36. Issue 5. Pages 635-640. (Source)


The Final Word

Prepping resources and survival skills marry together when it comes to knife sharpening. Have the tools you need when you need them and the skill set to get it done.

Here are a few related articles our readers have also found helpful:

We presented quite a lot of information, but as always: if you have any questions let us know and we would be happy to help. Our research and testing found the DMT DuoSharp to be the best option given its value, stone type, ease of use, profile, and versatility.

If you pick up one of our suggested sharpeners- make sure you are familiar with it and know how to use it. Get it out and sharpen every dull knife you have. You don’t want to encounter a survival situation fumbling with the new gear you don’t have any experience with.

Keep exploring, stay prepared, and be safe.


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