What is a Rescue Knife?

What is a Rescue Knife? - Uppercut Tactical

What is a Rescue Knife?

Simply defined, a rescue knife is a pocket knife with features optimized for dealing with rescue and emergency situations. This often includes a glass breaker, a seatbelt cutter. In this short article, we will explain what a rescue knife actually is, what it can be used for, and whether it’s the right knife for you to carry. 

What are rescue knives used for?

You probably know rescue knives as a knife with a glass breaker and seatbelt cutter. And this is almost always true. But more generally, a rescue knife is a tactical knife made for the purpose of effectively completing rescue oriented tasks - breaking glass; quickly cutting through clothing, seatbelts, or straps; slicing through tough materials; and more.

In short, rescue knives help first responders to an emergency situation get to the person in need and get to the part of them that needs treatment. And they help individuals get out of emergency situations as quickly as possible.

Rescue knives also typically have assisted open blades so they can easily be operated with one hand.

Because they are often used by firefighters, police, EMTs and first responders, a rescue knife is often referred to as:

  • Firefighter Knife
  • EMT Knife / EMS Knife
  • Medic Knife
  • First Responder Knife
  • Emergency Knife
  • Escape Knife

You’ll also hear them referred to as a "Car Knife" because one of the top uses for individuals is to escape their car in case of a wreck or submersion. (The seatbelt cutter and window breaker knife helps them get out of the car quickly.)

Rescue Knife Features

As already mentioned, rescue knives include tools beyond their blades, which are intended to help in emergency situations. While none of these are strictly required for a knife to be called a “rescue knife”, we’ll cover some of the most common features here.

Rescue Knife Features

Glass Breaker

A glass breaker is a tool designed to break through glass highly efficiently. Using one, you’re able to break glass much more easily than you could with any random piece of metal. 

This capability is obviously helpful in many emergency situations. You might need to break the window in your car to escape in a wreck. Or you might need to break open a window to help someone who is trapped. 

A glass breaker is one of the most common features on rescue knives, and for good reason.

Strap Cutter

Along with the glass breaker, a strap cutter is the other most common tool featured on a rescue knife. 

These are most useful in vehicle emergencies, where they can be used to cut seatbelts off quickly. That’s why they’re also called “seatbelt cutters”. 

Serrated Blade

Many rescue knives have serrated or partially-serrated blades. The benefit of the serration in a rescue situation is that it helps cut through thicker materials, such as rope. 

Our preference in a rescue knife would be to have a partially serrated blade - that gives you the most versatility, as you can use the plain edge or the serrated edge depending on what the situation calls for. But you’ll find plenty of rescue knives with either blade style. 

Who Should Carry a Rescue Knife?

Now that you have all this information, you might be wondering, is a rescue knife right for me? 

Rescue knives are must-haves for certain professions. But they make a lot of sense for everyday citizens, too. 

Rescue Knives for First Responders


There are some professions where having a rescue knife is certain to come in handy. Here are a few examples.

  • Firefighters
  • Police / LEOs
  • Paramedics / First Responders / EMTs

While the people on this list also carry more specialized tools for their work, it always helps to have a quick multi-function tool to support your rescue efforts. If you’re one of these people, you don’t need to be sold on the value of a rescue knife - you already know how impactful it can be.


But rescue knives can be hugely beneficial for private citizens as well. 

The most helpful way to think about it is as a “car knife”. While rescue knives can certainly be used in other situations, they are most often used in vehicle related emergencies. And in fact they are usually designed with this situation in mind. That’s why glass breakers and seatbelt cutters are basically standard on these knives.

So for some added safety in transit, a rescue knife can be the perfect tool for everyday citizens. Especially if you already plan to carry a pocket knife anyway - why not get a knife with some extra features that could end up saving your life?


Whether you’re a firefighter, EMT, LEO or just a well-prepared individual, a rescue knife is a serious contender when you’re shopping for a daily carry pocket knife.

If this article convinced you that a rescue knife is for you, check out the Rescue Knife Collection on our site. We have a variety of price points to offer both quality and affordable methods for you to protect yourself in case of emergency.

1 comment

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