Crystalline, ultra long silver nanowires (Ag NWs), few-layered rGO (reduced graphene oxide) and their rGO–Ag NW nanocomposite have been synthesized using a polyol reflux technique under optimized experimental conditions. The field emission performance of the rGO–Ag NW nanocomposite, rGO and Ag NW emitters was investigated. The turn on field required to draw an emission current density of ∼1 μA cm−2 was found to be ∼5.00, 3.92 and 2.40 V μm−1 for the Ag NW, rGO and rGO–Ag NW nanocomposite emitters, respectively. The combined contribution of the sharp edges of the thin graphene sheets and high aspect ratio of the Ag nanowires, and their synergetic effect in the rGO–Ag NW nanocomposite, are responsible for the enhanced field emission behavior. First-principles density functional calculations show that the enhanced field emission may also be due to the overlapping of the electronic structures of the Ag NWs and rGO nanosheets.