The Karambit Knife

Let me tell you a bit about the Karambit, one of my favorite knives!

You won’t be mistaking this knife for something else. The Karambit is a very unique and useful blade. It’s one of my personal favorite fixed blade knives, especially for everyday carry due to its pocket size. The karambit is a solid knife intended for lots of tasks. The blades on these usually come in cold steel or aluminum, with lots of different handle material. In this post, we will discuss what a karambit knife is, give you a little history lesson, and discuss the many uses the karambit has in a survival situation.

What is a Karambit Knife?

A karambit knife is a traditional, exotic blade which originated in Southeast Asia (including Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, and more), but most particularly in Indonesia, where the agrarian culture of the Minangkabau people of West Sumatra live. Its slim blade is double-edged and has a curved design which can lacerate and puncture its target.


These knives typically have fixed blades with a full tang. These are not usually folding knives. Another feature of the karambit is the finger ring, which allows the user to flip between a normal and reverse grip quickly and without losing grip of the knife. This knife is one of the few knives that has been developed with and without these finger rings. In addition, the karambit knife has the ability to control the prey with its small hook-like shape, a technique called the ‘hook-and-destroy’—perfectly suitable for close combat.

History of the Karambit

Dating back in the 11th century, the karambit style knife was created to be used by farmers to be used in their agricultural works. The blade length made it great for skinning and harvesting animals. During the Dutch colonization, some of the opposing Indonesian warriors used the karambit knife for self-defense only, protecting themselves from the Dutch colonists. When European colonization became successful in Southeast Asia, it was also the time the karambit knife was made known to neighboring countries, including Malaysia, Philippines, Cambodia, Thailand, Laos and Myanmar.


There was also an incident wherein a karambit knife turned up on American shores. This is quite baffling- since the Europeans and the other Southeast Asian countries were the only ones involved in the colonization of the area the karambit was invented. But there were some speculations (or conspiracies) that the knife was brought to the United States by some martial arts practitioners from Asia who emigrated to the US.


The man who is partially responsible for getting the karambit style knife into the American mainstream is a former CIA employee by the name Steve Tarani. He helped the karambit become a commercially feasible self-defense weapon. Since the beginning of the karambit’s popularity in the United States, many designs of karambit knives out of a variety of different materials have been made by different knife manufacturers.


There are tactical and hunting styles offered, and the sizes range from a small neck knife to large belt knives. There are offerings from popular brands like Spyderco, Ontario knife Company, Schrade, Smith & Wesson, along with fine brands from Italy, and even companies that offer dedicated lines of karambit knives. You can see how one feels in your fingers at a local shop before you guy, of you can try something at an affordable price point. You’ll have a collection before you know it, but remember that this knife is in service of prepping. Not sure where to start? Don’t worry, our site has you covered. Below is one of our all-time favorite karambit knives. Check it out!

Parts of the Karambit

If you are looking for a karambit knife, make sure to carefully check out these three significant parts to determine whether you are looking at a decent karambit or not. Sometimes a karambit will have a locking mechanism for folding, which can be very useful.

Curved Blade – The design of its blade is unlike any other survival knives you may own. It features a tiger’s claw-like shape, which provides versatility and combative advantages. Its blade can be double or single-edged, and fixed or folding blade, depending on the manufacturer and type. Think of your needs when choosing between a fixed or folding knife.

Handle – The traditional karambit knives have a handle that is usually made of hardwood or water buffalo horn, While the commercialized ones can be made of metals or ergonomic materials which provides comfort to the hand. Look for quality materials and comfort.


Safety Ring – The early versions of the karambit knife may or may not have possessed a safety ring or also known as the ‘retention ring.’ But as years have passed, the design evolved and the safety ring has been incorporated in its design out of necessity.  The safety ring’s sole purpose is to ensure that the wielder has a tight grip, preventing the knife from being easily taken or be turned against the wielder. This is the reason that sets the karambit knife apart from the other knives as the wielder can rely on its design for increased weapon retention other than the handle’s grip alone.

Uses For a Karambit Knife

Like other knives that you’ll be putting in your bug out bag or INCH bag, there are a number of different uses for your karambit. 


Self-Defense Weapon

The karambit is an effective self-defense weapon. It can be easily concealed with no need for sheath, making it quick to deploy during an attack. You will always be ready for any unexpected occurrences. Furthermore, it features good grip due to its safety ring which makes it difficult for the attacker to make you drop the karambit or take it from you. Although, it may require a considerable amount of time to be fully effective in using this in hand-to-hand combat.


Hunting Animals

The Karambit knife is another excellent weapon that can be used not only for self-defense, but also for hunting animals or food. With the karambit knife, the hook shape lets you easily skin an animal and harvest its meat according to your preference. Its blade is sharp enough to be able to get through tough meat, no matter how thick it is.


Cutting Tool

You can use a karambit knife to cut rope, wire, bandages, tape, leather straps, heavy fabrics and much more. Karambits can slice through leather- there’s not much that will stand in its way so long as the blade is taken care of properly. 

What I Think of The Karambit

The Karambit knife is another kind of knife that goes pretty high on my list of the best survival knives. It’s versatile and small. It also has a unique shape that lends itself to animal harvesting as well as a retention ring to help grip. But unlike most other knives, a karambit knife needs to be practiced before putting it into actual use, otherwise you may hurt yourself due to lack of prior experience. So although this knife has many uses, you need to get some practice before using it in the real world. It’s still one of my favorite knives since it’s so adaptable.

We Have Partnered With My Patriot Supply!

We are lucky enough to have partnered with My Patriot Supply to bring you the best and latest survival supplies. We are excited to have a partner that is leading the way in its industry.  Check out the  link below and take a look at what My Patriot Supply has to offer Preppers and Survivalists.

Picture of Kevin Fitzpatrick

Kevin Fitzpatrick

I'm Kevin, the founder of Prepper Base. Ever since I discovered Prepping, embracing the Prepper Mentality became my full-time job. I started Prepper Base as an information resource for anyone and everyone interested in Prepping, Survivalism, and Off-Grid Living. I have combed the web and realized that there's a lot of garbage out there related to Prepping. So I want to help you save time with no-BS information that can truly help when SHTF. I've combed through a lot of books and websites and dove head-first into the things that interested me. I hope you can find some useful prepping information here. I am always looking for new things in the Prepping world. Please drop me a line through any of my social media accounts if you have a current event, an idea, or new Prepping-oriented product that you think I should write about. Thanks for visiting!

Leave a Comment