Best survival knives featured image
A selection of the best survival knives laid out on a shemgah

Choosing a quality survival knife isn’t just a simple matter of preference. It can literally mean the difference between being found alive or not. 

But how do you choose a quality survival knife with so many on the market? 

We have collected a round up what we feel are some of the best survival knives on the market today. 

Keep in mind that these are my personal choices and am in no way suggesting that these knives are the only quality knives out there. These are just what works best for me. 

With all that said, here are the best survival knives in my opinion. 

Read: How to choose a survival knife

Best Survival Knives  

Mora Companion Best Budget Survival Knife

Mora Companion
  • Blade Shape: Drop point
  • Blade Material: 1095 Carbon Steel
  • Blade Length: 4.1 inches
  • Blade Thickness: 0.12 inches
  • Blade Grind: Scandi
  • Overall Length: 8.75 inches
  • Weight: 3.9 ounces
  • Handle material: TPE-rubber
  • Tang:  Tapered
  • Edge Type: Plain

If there is one knife every survivalist knows it’s the Mora Companion. Don’t let appearances deceive you. This knife is packed with features at a super low price point.

The Mora Companion typically sells for about 20 dollars. With that 20 dollars you get a razor sharp 1095 carbon steel knife. If you are a beginner and just starting out, the Mora Companion is a good choice.

The Mora Companion was actually the first knife I bought when I got into survival and it was my first fixed blade knife ever.

This knife comes with 1095 carbon steel as mentioned previously and a full Scandi grind. The Scandi grind on the blade makes this knife pretty easy to sharpen and is another great reason this is such a great beginners knife.

However, there are some things that I don’t like about this knife. The first being that this knife is super thin. While this is great for doing fine carving and bushcraft. It’s not great for batoning or really processing firewood.

Yes you can batong with it if the pieces are small enough. But good luck getting through a knotty piece of driftwood.

Secondly the tang on this knife is a tapered three-quarter tang. Ideally you want a full tang in a survival knife.

However, with that said the Mora Companion hits most of the features I’m looking for in a survival knife. And at such a low price point. You can easily pick up two knives and have a spare waiting in the wings. 

Pros

  • Very Affordable
  • Scandi grind
  • 1095 High Carbon Steel 

Cons

  • Blade is pretty thin 
  • Not full tang 

Ka-Bar US Marine Corp Fighting Knife Best Combat Survival knife 

Ka-Bar U.S. Marine Corp Fighting Knife
  • Blade Shape: Clip point
  • Blade Material: 1095 Cro-Van
  • Blade Length: 7 inches
  • Blade Thickness: 0.165 inches
  • Blade Grind: Flat
  • Overall Length: 11 – ⅞ inches
  • Weight: 0.7 lbs
  • Handle material: Leather
  • Tang: Full
  • Edge Type: Plain

Officially introduced in 1942 as a replacement for the Mark I Trench knife the Ka-Bar U.S. Marine Corp Fighting knife is instantly recognizable as a survival knife.

The Ka-Bar is a classic survival knife. It features a full tang with a blade length of 7 inches and a leather wrapped handle for an overall impressive 11 ⅞ inches. 

This knife has been deployed in every major War since world war 2. A lot of the history of this knife is shrouded in folklore. Supposedly during World War 2 wooden shipping crates were shipped with KA-Bars instead of crow bars because this knife was that durable.

While I have my doubts these stories are true. The durability of this knife is nothing to scoff at. The blade thickness is fairly impressive at 0.165 inches and the 1095 Cro-Van offers great wear resistance, hardness and toughness. Making it great for hard use. 

If there is one knife on this list that has been thoroughly tested for survival it’s this one.

Having gone through over 70 years of testing and conditioning in some of the harshest environments on the planet. It’s easy to see why even the Marines trust their lives with this knife.

Pros

  • Has been tried and tested for well over 70 years 
  • Excellent durability and toughness 
  • Top notch construction and quality 

Cons

  • Might be too long for some

Esee 6P  Best All Around Survival Knife 

Esee 6P
  • Blade Shape: Drop point
  • Blade Material: 1095 Carbon Steel
  • Blade Length: 6.5 inches
  • Blade Thickness: 0.18 inch
  • Blade Grind: Full Flat
  • Overall Length: 11.75 inches
  • Weight: 12 ounces
  • Handle material: Canvas Micarta Handle
  • Tang:  Full
  • Edge Type: Plain

Down below I discuss a few criteria I use for selecting a survival knife. Rarely do the stars align and a knife hits all points. The Esee 6 is one of those survival knives that hits all of the points on my list.

This knife features a full tang with a 6.5 inch 1095 carbon steel blade and a 90 degree spine. The 90 degree spine while not a strict requirement as you’ve seen with the Mora Companion and Ka-Bar USMC Fighting Knife is a nice feature.

A 90 degree spine allows you to scrape a ferrocerium rod with the spine while retaining the edge of your knife. A big plus in a survival situation. 

The Esee 6 is just a robust all purpose survival knife. With a length of almost 12 inches and a blade thickness of 0.18 inches this knife makes a decent batoning knife as well as a decent chopper.

The Micarta scales are a nice touch as well on this knife. They’re comfortable to hold with no noticeable hot spots and offer a decent grip. Even when your hands are wet. 

However, with all that said the main selling point with this knife is Esee’s no questions asked warranty. If the blade snaps Esee will repair or replace the knife for free without question.

There isn’t another warranty on the market like this and it really is a huge selling point. 

The one negative thing I will say about this knife is that if you are using it to pry. It feels a little flimsy. 

For instance I was using mine to harvest some fatwood and the blade got wedged pretty good.

Prying the blade out I felt like I might snap it. It didn’t but it does give me a little cause for concern. Other than that. This knife is hard to beat. 

For more information check out our complete review of the Esee 6.

Pros

  • Comes with Esee’s lifetime no questions asked warranty
  • Hits all the critical points for a survival knife 
  • Comes with a high quality Kydex sheath 

Cons

  • Blade can feel a little flimsy 
  • Can be a little long for some people 

Condor Hudson Bay Best Survival Knife For Chopping 

Condor Hudson Bay
  • Blade Shape: Clip Point
  • Blade Material: 1075 High Carbon Steel
  • Blade Length: 8.75inches
  • Blade Thickness: 0.19 inches
  • Blade Grind: Flat
  • Overall Length: 13 inches
  • Weight: 1.28 lbs
  • Handle material: Wood
  • Tang: Full
  • Edge Type: Plain

I feel like if there was ever a knife made for chopping it’s the Condor Hudson Bay. This knife not only has the reach with a 8.75 inch blade but the heft as well. 

The knife weighs an impressive 1.28 pounds and has an overall length of 13 inches. Making it great for chopping. 

The Condor Hudson Bay is a pretty impressive survival knife. It handles most camp and survival tasks pretty well. Taking saplings is a breeze for shelter construction and you can even get pretty decent feathering for feather sticks.

This is fairly impressive since the blade has a thickness of 0.19 inches. The hardwood handle on this knife gives it that classic woodsman feel and is fairly comfortable to hold. Though I have pretty large hands. 

The Condor Hudson bay may not completely replace a dedicated tool like an Ax. But it comes pretty close and it’s a knife I would be glad to have on me in a survival situation. 

Pros

  • Comes with Esee’s lifetime no questions asked warranty
  • Hits all the critical points for a survival knife 
  • Comes with a high quality Kydex sheath 

Cons

  • A bit on the heavy side 
  • May be too long for some people

Fallkniven A1 Best Survival Knife For Batoning

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”Fallkniven
  • Blade Shape: Modified Drop Point
  • Blade Material: Laminated VG10 Stainless Steel
  • Blade Length: 6.3 inches
  • Blade Thickness: 0.24 inches
  • Blade Grind: Convex
  • Overall Length: 11 inches
  • Weight: 12 oz
  • Handle material: Kraton
  • Tang: Almost Full 
  • Edge Type: Plain

If you’re looking for a survival knife that will take a beating and keep coming back for more look no further than the Fallkniven A1. Born in Sweden this knife is a serious survival knife.

Made from VG10 stainless steel. A super steel if you will this knife is nothing short of spectacular. One thing Fallkniven has done is contract out the the steel manufacturing to Japan.  A country that is a master of producing the VG10 steel. 

Beyond that this knife has enough reach to be both an excellent chopper and great for batoning without being cumbersome.

If there’s one thing for sure it’s that the Swedes really know how to make knives. Both Mora and Fallkniven are based in Sweden and both are known for making excellent knives.

The A1 is just the latest in a long line of quality knives and is recognized as the official knife of the Swedish Air Force. 

This knife feels like a serious piece of steel attached to a handle. The knife itself is full tang and protrudes through the handle to really let you know it is indeed a full tang knife.

One thing that really sticks out to me with the A1 is the handle. Made from Kraton the handle just feels right in your hand. A secure grip even when wet or covered in blood and guts.  Something you want in a survival knife to avoid slippage and accidental injury. 

Overall you get a lot out of this knife. And for the price point you should. With the Fallkniven you basically get a knife, hatchet, and an axe practically all in one high quality package. 

Pros

  • Excellent for batoning and chopping 
  • Extremely durable 
  • Handle is of excellent quality

Cons

  • Fairly expensive for a beginner

Ka-Bar Becker BK2Best Survival Knife For The Money 

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Ka-Bar Becker BK 2
  • Blade Shape: Drop Point
  • Blade Material: 1095 Cro-Van
  • Blade Length: 5.25 inches
  • Blade Thickness: 0.25 inches 
  • Blade Grind: Flat
  • Overall Length: 10.75 inches
  • Weight: 1 lb
  • Handle material: Ultramid
  • Tang: Full
  • Edge Type: Plain

If there is one survival knife on the market that has been put through hell time and time again it’s the Ka-Bar Becker BK2. Probably on the most popular survival knives on the market it’s easy to see why. 

This knife is a work horse with a no nonsense working man design. The blade features a full quarter inch thick spine with 5.25 inches of cutting edge. 

Ka-Bar included 1095 Cro-Van steel in this knife. A supposed improvement over 1095 by adding Chromium and Vanadium allowing for better edge retention and toughness.

As a dweller of the woods I have never found myself needing to pry open a car door with my knife or use the knife as a ladder rung. But if you go on Youtube you’ll find plenty of videos proving that you absolutely can.

However, since I spend a fair amount of time in the woods I want a knife that is more akin to those types of tasks. Batoning, scraping a fire steel or chopping wood.

With the 20 degree factory flat grind this knife batons through wood like it’s butter. The quarter inch thick spine creates a superb wedge effect. 

The scales on the BK2 are nothing to write home about but they are comfortable. If you look around at other Beker knives you’ll see a pattern. The scales are practically the same as the BK2. It seems they have found a formula that works. 

One downside I have found with this knife is the spine is not a true 90 degree spine. I’ve tried striking a ferro rod with it. Couldn’t get a single spark off the factory spine. A file will easily fix this but is an additional step you’ll need to do.

However, as far as a survival knife goes it is the best bang for your buck. The Ka-Bar Becker BK2 is a true survival knife. 

Pros

  • Made from 1095 cro-van for increased edge retention and toughness 
  • Handles are comfortable 
  • Quarter inch thick spine 

Cons

  • Blade is a bit short for dealing with larger pieces of wood
  • Due to the blade’s thickness you won’t get the same precision as you would with a thinner blade. 
  • Not a true 90 degree spine

Mora Garberg  Best Survival Knife For Bushcraft 

Mora Garberg
  • Blade Shape: Clip Point
  • Blade Material: Carbon Steel
  • Blade Length: 4.25 inches
  • Blade Thickness: 0.12 inches
  • Blade Grind:  Scandi
  • Overall Length: 9 inches
  • Weight: 9.6 ounces
  • Handle material: Polyamide
  • Tang: Full
  • Edge Type: Plain

A big problem with all Mora knives is that none of them are full tang. Until now. The Mora Garberg is the first full tang Mora on the market and let me tell you it was well worth the wait.

Mora is known for making exceptional bushcraft knives. The Companion and Bushcraft Black are two of the most popular models available. Mora took their expertise and made a truly great survival knife. 

The Mora garberg comes in two flavors of steel. Stainless or Carbon. Obviously for a survival knife carbon is the way to go as it give you the option of sparking flint or quartz. 

Mora included a Scandi grind like most of their knives. However the grind is not a true Scandi grind. There is a small micro bevel that keeps it from being a true Scandi grind. But with a little work you can get it there.

One of the great things I love about the Garberg personally is the sharp 90 degree spine it comes with straight from the factory. This means being able to scrape a ferrocerium rod easily and no additional work is required when you remove the knife from the box. 

Mora is truly known for their handles. The Garberg features a Polyamide handle with a neutral grip. Making it pretty comfortable for anyone. Regardless of hand size. I have used this knife quite a bit and haven’t noticed any hot spots. 

Overall the Mora Garberg is an excellent survival knife and one I would trust my life with. 

For more information check out our complete review of the Mora Garberg

Pros

  • Full tang 
  • Neutral handle grip makes working with the knife for hours comfortable 
  • Sharp 90 degree spine makes throwing sparks a breeze 

Cons

  • Price point is a little high for what this knife is 
  • Handle is made from plastic as opposed to the softer rubber handles of other Mora’s

Gerber Strongarm Best Emergency Survival Knife 

Gerber Strongarm
  • Blade Shape: Drop Point
  • Blade Material: 420HC
  • Blade Length: 4.875 inches
  • Blade Thickness: 0.19 inches
  • Blade Grind: Flat
  • Overall Length: 9.75 inches
  • Weight: 7.2 ounces
  • Handle material: Rubberized Diamond Texture Grip
  • Tang: Full
  • Edge Type: Plain

Talk about a workhorse. The Gerber Strongarm is by far one of the best survival knives on the market today. If for no other reason than it just works.

Slicing, cutting, chopping it will do it all. Admittedly the chopping could be better but it’ll get the job done. 

Gerber has caught a lot of flak in the past for shoddy work and made over seas knives. Well the Strongarm is proof that they can still make a quality knife right here in the US.

The Strongarm features 420HC steel. A pretty high quality steel. One used predominantly by Buck in their knives. I am not sure if it will throw sparks with flint. If that is a concern you may wish to choose a knife that has a higher carbon content. 

However the spine of the Strongarm is excellent for scraping a ferrocerium rod. It’s also considerably thick and makes batoning a breeze. Creating a wedge effect that splits wood with ease. 

One feature I particularly like for an emergency knife is the pommel at the end. It’s hard and sharp. Designed for breaking glass in an emergency. The Strongarm is a nice choice to keep in your front seat. 

I also tend to keep my Strongarm attached to my pack with the MOLLE attachment. The sheath offers a number of carry configurations including belt carry, drop leg carry, and horizontal appendix carry.

Overall the Strongarm is a tough versatile knife. 

For more information check out our complete review of the Gerber Strongarm

Pros

  • Pommel from breaking glass 
  • Decent rubberized handle 
  • Sharp 90 degree spine

Cons

  • Made from 420HC Stainless Steel

Buck 119 Best Hunting Survival Knife

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Buck 119
  • Blade Shape:  Clip Point
  • Blade Material: 420HC
  • Blade Length: 6 inches
  • Blade Thickness: 0.17 inches
  • Blade Grind: Hollow
  • Overall Length: 10.50 inches
  • Weight: 7.5 ounces
  • Handle material: DymaLux
  • Tang: Full
  • Edge Type: Plain

The Buck 119 is a knife that tends to remind me of my father. The knife he carried forever. A great hunting knife and survival knife. 

Much like the Strongarm this knife is made from 420HC stainless steel so sparking flint or quartz probably won’t be an option.

However, unlike the Strongarm with it’s thick 90 degree spine the Buck 119 is lacking this particular feature. But that doesn’t mean the Buck 119 is out of the running.

The knife is still made from a high quality steel and features a full tang. It also has a steep Clip point blade that makes slicing and skinning easy.

It’s more of a multipurpose knife than anything. Another upside to the Buck 119 is it comes with Buck’s forever warranty. 

While not as great as Esee’s warranty it’s still great  and Buck will honor the warranty for the life of the knife. Making this a knife you can conceivably pass down from generation to generation. 

The 119 does come with a decent leather sheath and is easy to carry. However, I’m not a big fan of the handle material. The handle is comfortable enough to use without hotspots but I just don’t like the feel of the material. 

Overall the Buck 119 is a decent survival knife but it does lack a few features that would make it truly great. 

Pros

  • Full tang 
  • Decent slicer 
  • Comes with decent leather sheath

Cons

  • 420HC stainless steel
  • No 90 degree spine 

Condor Bushlore Best General Purpose Survival Knife 

Condor Bushlore
  • Blade Shape: Spear Point
  • Blade Material: 1075 High Carbon Steel
  • Blade Length: 4.25 inches
  • Blade Thickness: 0.12 inches
  • Blade Grind: Flat
  • Overall Length: 9.25 inches
  • Weight: 0.77 lbs
  • Handle material: Hardwood
  • Tang:  Full
  • Edge Type: Plain

The Condor Bushlore I feel is a true woodsman knife. The blade and wooden scales really give it that rustic aesthetic of  times long gone by. That’s pretty much the whole reason I bought the knife in the first place. 

However, the aesthetic appeal isn’t the only thing the Bushlore has going for it. It features a 4 and quarter inch blade of 1075 high carbon steel and a full tang. There is also a decent 90 degree spine on the blade as well. 

As for my criteria when selecting a survival knife the Bushlore hits all the points for me. I want a knife that isn’t excessively large like the Condor Hudson bay but is still capable of handling most survival tasks. 

With the Condor you can carve trigger sets, cut down saplings for shelter building, create feather sticks, and strike a ferro rod with the spine. It’s just a good knife.

Another benefit of this knife is the price point at which it sets. You get a whole lot of bang for your buck. Condor really outdid themselves with this knife.

Between the appeal and features this is a knife you’ll be happy with for years to come. 

Check out our complete review of the Condor Bushlore for more information on this amazing little knife. 

Pros

  • Hits all the points for a decent survival knife 
  • Features a nice leather sheath 
  • Has the rustic woodman appeal 

Cons

  • 1075 high carbon steel means more sharpening 
  • Not a great chopper 

How To Pick The Best Survival Knife 

When it comes to choosing a survival knife there are a number of rules I personally try to follow and I have outlined them below. You will see from the knives on this list that sometimes my criteria can be flexible if there are other features that outweigh the criteria I personally set. 

Survival Knife Rules:

Fixed Not Folding

My first rule for a quality survival knife is that the knife must be a fixed blade knife. There are plenty of great folders for EDC and that could do the job in a pinch. But a fixed blade knife is more durable overall and safer. 

Full Tang

With the exception of the Mora Companion a full tang is a must. A full tang knife further adds to the durability of the knife. 

With partial tangs you can run into issues with the blade coming lose from the handle. With a full tang you don’t have to worry about this. 

A loose knife is a potentially dangerous knife. Not something you want in a survival situation.  

High Carbon Steel 

Knives made from high carbon steel tend to hold a better edge and are easier to sharpen. Beyond that starting a fire by striking flint or quartz opens you up to another way to make fire. 

This is one of those rules I tend to flex on. Striking flint just isn’t that important to me. 

As you can see from the list there are a number of knives on the list that use stainless steel and they are just as great as the high carbon steel survival knives on this list. 

Blade Length 4 – 7 inches 

This is a rule I tend to be fairly strict with. At least on the lower end. A knife with a blade length of less than 4 inches just isn’t good for much. At least when it comes to survival.

Chopping and batoning are two tasks you may find yourself needing to do in a survival situation and if you have a small knife you just don’t get the proper leverage.

I tend to not be a fan of super huge knives with a few notable exceptions; most of the knives on this list fall well within this rule. 

90 degree spine 

One thing for sure in a survival situation you will most likely need to start a fire at some point. Especially if your survival scenario takes place in the woods.  

For this reason a flat 90 degree spine is a must. While I am a big fan of lighters to start a fire. Having another option such as a ferrocerium rod is a great idea.

Ferrocerium rods work by scraping the rod to produce sparks. In the survival community it is generally recommended  not to scrape your ferro rod with the edge of your knife but to use the spine of your knife. 

This helps to retain the edge of your knife. Retaining the edge is critical as a dull knife is a dangerous knife. 

Blade thickness 0.12 – 0.25 inches 

Ideally a survival knife will have a blade thickness within this range. A thinner blade allow you to create feather sticks, carve trigger sets for traps, and do other intricate carving. A thicker blade will allow you to baton, chop, or pry  without worrying about the blade flexing.

What you want to find is a cross section in this range. I have found that most of the great survival knives fall within this range. Most falling below a quarter of an inch. 

The Esee 6, Fallkniven A1, and Gerber Strongarm are all great examples of survival knives that have struck this balance. 

Blade shape 

Another thing you need to consider when picking a survival knife is the shape of the blade. There are a lot of different blade shapes, and each shape is designed to perform different tasks. 

For simplicity’s sake, we will focus on 2 of the most common blade types, drop point and clip point blades. 

Both blade shapes offer their own advantages and disadvantages. 

Clip Point 

Clip point blades are extremely popular. The spine of the knife runs straight from the handle and stops roughly halfway up the blade. Then, it turns and continues up to the point of the knife. This turn is called the clip. This is how the clip point gets its name. 

The clip point blade style is very popular and used on many pocket and survival knives on the market today including a few on this list. 

Some of the advantages of the clip point blade include: 

  • Sharp and controllable point 
  • Plenty of cutting edge for slicing 
  • Good for piercing 

The main disadvantage of the clip point blade is the tip. Because of the clip in the blade it makes the point weak, so if you are doing any batoning or prying, the tip of the knife can easily be broken. 

Drop Point 

Drop point blades are probably the most popular blade shape among survivalists today. The drop point blade shape is designed to be multipurpose, making it the more ideal choice when selecting a survival knife. 

Unlike the clip point blade shape, the drop point shape has a spine that runs in a slow curve from the handle of the knife all the way to the tip. This structure is what makes it multipurpose and a personal favorite when it comes to hunting knives. Mainly due to the controllable point that allows a hunter to avoid nicking or damaging internal organs when process game. 

Some advantages to the drop point blade shape are: 

  • Balanced design that allows for more comfortable drips 
  • Sharp controllable point 
  • Designed to be multipurpose 

A few disadvantages include: 

  • Point is less ideal for piercing compared to the clip point blade 
  • Tip is not as sharp 

Best Brands For Survival Knives 

Morakniv of Sweden

The first one of my list of manufacturers that make the best survival knives would be mora. While they don’t really make full tang knives with the notable exception of the Mora Garberg they make great knives over all.

Their handles are comfortable and the steel they use is of high quality. Mora also tends to sell their knives at a friendly price point. Allowing pretty much anyone looking to pick up a survival knife the ability to do so.

While Fallkniven makes superb knives they’re really not beginner friendly and something you may want to upgrade to in the future after you have some experience under your belt. 

Esee 

Esee knows survival knives. Everything from the Izula to the Junglas is great. In fact there’s really not a bad knife in their catalog.

However I chose to include Esee in this list for a secondary reason. 

Their warranty.

Esee obviously understands that their knives may not be used the way they should be. This is why they have a lifetime no questions asked warranty.

Esee knives tend to be pretty pricey for a beginner but I prefer to think of it as purchasing a second knife in the event you ever need to cash that warranty in. 

Ka-Bar  

Ka-Bar has been making knives for the better part of sixty years. Including the knife currently in use by the U.S. Marine Corp.

Ka-Bar understands knives are tools and when you look at their Becker line of knives you can see that they really take a no nonsense approach to their knife design and construction. 

While Ka-Bar is typically known for their bowie knives they do make a number of decent sized survival knives and their catalog has a knife for pretty much anyone. 

Suggested Reading 

Wrapping Up

Choosing a survival knife is no easy task. There are a number of considerations you need to make before you trust your life with a piece of steel.

Some of these considerations include blade length, blade thickness, and the construction of the knife.

Manufacturers such as Esee, Ka-bar, and Morakniv understand this and have created a number of great survival knives. Many of which made the list as some of the best survival knives on the market.

If you found this article useful be sure to share it on social media and consider using one of our affiliate links to purchase your next survival knife. It doesn’t cost a penny extra and helps us to continue producing helpful content for new and experienced outdoorsman alike. 

Thank you for reading. 

All of my life has been focused on the outdoors. From the days of fishing with my father when I was young, to learning more advanced outdoor skills through the Boy Scouts of America; you could say the outdoors is pretty much my life blood. I enjoy a wide range of activities including camping, survival, fishing, hunting, and bushcraft. I have spent most of my life learning these skills and now I want to pass on my knowledge and hopefully learn even more in return.

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