On Choosing a Survival Knife

Choosing a strong and reliable survival knife is very important. You don’t just go out shopping and purchasing something that your eyes fancy right away. You need to learn what makes a survival knife effective and learn about all its features and other uses so it will never fail you every time you are in survival mode.

Defining the Survival Knife

The survival knife is the most important tool you could get your hands on during a wilderness adventure, even more important than a pocket knife or machete. While you can readily improvise a knife using stone or bone materials, it’s nothing compared to the strength, usefulness and versatility of the forged steel blade. The survival knife has that power to force things. The problem is that not every knife is designed to perform well in typical survival situations. Before getting one, you need to identify valuable survival knife features first before scooping up the first knife that you fancy. Understand the properties that make a great survival knife so you’ll end up with something that is best suited for your survival needs and demands.

What to Avoid When Choosing a Survival Knife

  • Narrow tang – this may be fine for kitchen work, but you can expect that a knife with a narrow tang construction wouldn’t survive the rigors of any survival activity like chopping wood or pounding its blade down to split small logs.
  • Folding knives – this also includes multi-tools. A folding knife is not ideal in survival mode simply because it is not strong enough to perform outdoor cutting and slicing activities.
  • Huge knives – you’ve got Hollywood to blame for this. Sporting huge monstrosities like Rambo knives is not practical in the sense that a large knife will be unable to do some intricate work during survival situations. You need your survival knife to help you in setting up camp, trapping and hunting, and not in slaying large beasts in just one mighty thrust.
  • Hollow-handed Knives – while there are exceptions, this is a real liability in outdoor situations. Not only do you need to have a good grip on your knife while doing certain outdoor functions, a hollow-handed knife also means having a narrow tang, which easily breaks when doing heavy work.

What You Want In a Survival Knife Instead

  • Full tang – this is what defines the real strength of the survival knife. The handle (which is also the tang itself and is a direct part of the blade) is wrapped with some material for comfort.
  • Fixed blade – there may be new folding knives designs in the market these days created for survival situations, but the fixed blade remains to be the ideal knife that oozes with strength and reliability. You can perform various functions with efficiency.

These are just the basic points to look for when shopping for a good survival knife. To refine your search, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with the following:

The Steel Type

Note that not all steel are made equal, especially when it comes to survival knives requirements and general rigors of outdoor work. Steel quality influences the blade’s overall strength and toughness (particularly in handling impact) and ease in whetting.

Most knives are classified into carbon and stainless steel, with the latter considered highly rust-resistant. It is more brittle compared to carbon steel though, and can be difficult to sharpen. If you fancy a very sharp knife, go for carbon steel. It’s also tough as hell when used for chopping and splitting. You have to maintain it regularly though, or else it will succumb easily to rust. Such differences quickly disappear though if you opt for pricier and high quality knives.

Blade Geometry

The blade shape determines the blade’s personality. A chef’s knife, for example, is designed to make it better suited for dicing garlic and slicing tomatoes. But it won’t do you any good outdoors. The same can be said with the tanto-style (double-edged point) knife which is designed as a fighting weapon. This knife is perfect for stabbing and thrusting, but is mostly helpless during survival situations.

What you want instead is a clip/drop point blade style as these are perfectly suited in survival conditions. The clip-point blade tip is formed by creating a slightly concave curve top. A slightly-curved tip is strong. A clip point with exaggerated curves, on the other hand, is susceptible to breakage.

Consider the drop point blade type as the best all-around knife. This is formed whenever the knife’s back (or dull) portion slopes slightly downward starting at the middle point, before further meeting up slightly with the blade edge just above the center. This particular blade geometry is vital when performing specific tasks in the field.

The Edge of the Blade

The blade’s sharp side must start from the base, all the way to its edge. Under most circumstances, you are better off without the serrated edges. These may have their specific uses, but sharpening and maintaining them in the field is very impractical. And you can expect only a little functionality from them when outdoors. In short, blades with serrated edges are not really built for survival.

The Spine

In general, a flat back (or spine, without a sharpened or saw edge) opposite to the blade is ideal since this becomes a good platform to hit and pound things with.

The Bottom Line

While there are lot of considerations to make (yes, choosing a good survival knife can be a bit technical) here, especially when it comes to strength, reliability, and a little fancy design idea, everything still boils down to our individual preferences. What is most important is getting your hands on a survival knife that best suits your preferences. It must be something that gives you comfort and convenience whenever using it to perform various activities outdoors. But even so, any survival knife would be generally useless if it does not sport the following attributes mentioned above.

You could also check out various online forums that talk about survival knives all day long. There you can find experts talking about their personal take on what makes the best survival knife. Learn from them and choose the best knife for your outdoor adventures.

Source by Micheal Z Jones

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