Essential Knives For Survival
Survival knives exist because in a life and death situation an ordinary knife just won’t do. There are so many designs from just as many brands that just shows people placing a great importance on this specialty tool to do every thing from cutting and chopping to dealing with critical life threatening situations. Survival knives are not only used by us folks but even military and para-military organizations provide these to their service men.
A purposeful survival knife will be your most critical tool if you stuck in a planned or unplanned survival situation either on a trip, hunting, camping, hiking or during other outdoor activities. You can use one of these for setting traps, cutting and clearing bushes/branches and other shrubs to building a shelter and preparing food. Some knives even come with specially edges to create sparks for starting fire.
What features to look for when looking for a perfect survival knife?
Knives come in various shapes and sizes. Survival knives typically measure anywhere from 4 to 9 inches in length. It really depends on what you personal preferences are although some tasks do require certain type of knives with specific features.
So what are the features you can look into to select the right type of knife
Knives have different weights and lengths and depending on how you will carry one may dictate which to select. If you are going to open carry a knife it is better to have a longer fixed blade full tang knife. Concealed carry limits the type and size of knife that you can carry. Most of the time folding blade knives work well for concealed carry.
If you do choose to carry a fixed blade knife make sure you get a full-tang knife as these are sturdier and longer lasting than any other type. A good full-tang knife can double up as a (limited) hammer.
When it comes to blades there are many factors to consider such as thickness, length, straight edge, serrated edge, flat-ground spine for starting up fire and the most important the build material.
Let’s start with the thickness of the blade itself. Carry a thin blade knife will allow easy gutting, cleaning, skinning of big or small game or fish. But you may want to carry other tools such as small axe or machete for heavy duty use scenarios. I would say that carrying a medium sized blade (somewhere between 3/16 – 3/8 “) is better if you will only have a single knife to carry.
Blade material is the most critical factor to me. Most of the modern knives are build from some sort of stainless steel material. These stay mostly rust-free as long as proper care is taken care of. What you do have to consider though is the type of steel the blade is build from as this may affect the durability and uses. For example type 420J2 is a low carbon general purpose steel with high ease of resharpening. 420HC stell on the other hand is a high carbon mixed with Chromium. This provides good abrasion resistance and edge-holding. CPM-T440V also called super steel seem to outlast all other stainless steels on the market today. It has excellent edge retention and thus you don’t have to sharpen it as frequently. You should definitely take a look at the use case and the environment you will be using your knife in and select the material based on that.
Fixed vs Folding Blade
The two main types of knives are ones with either fixed or folding blade. Some have preference as to which they want to carry but at times the use may dictate what one should buy. Let’s take the case of conceal carry. This limits the options of the knife buyer because since conceal carry usually require a shorter length knife a folding blade is the way to go. Open carry of knife allows one to carry a fixed blade knife which are usually more feature full and stronger. Especially in rougher environments a fixed blade knife is the only way to go.
To have a better view of this matter, you will have to compare the tasks at hand with the pros and cons of each of the two types. We will sum it up accordingly:
|Fixed Blade||Folding Blade|
|Concealement||Hard to hide a longer blade non-foldable knife.||Easy to carry inside pockets.|
|Carrying Ease (general use)||Hanging outside clothing is a no-no in public places.||Easy|
|Speed of Use||Since your access is immediate as you do not need to switch open the blade.||Slower to use than fixed blade.|
|Ease of cleaning||High||Medium to low.|
|Other features||Hard core uses such as cutting branches or using flint stone.
Cutting through bone.
Hollow handle knives may provide small storage space.
|Maybe difficult to use to cut through bone. Not good for using as a temporary hammer.|
Just like the material of the blade the material of the handle is a significantly important consideration. You can get knives in various materials such as bone, hardened rubber, polymers, metals (aluminum, steel) and woods.
Many people use the bone and wood handle knives for their good looks. But that is not only what those are good for. People swear by the durability and usability of wood handles. Wood with matte finish will provide a very secure grip.
Metals on the other hand as handle material can be a double edged sword. Although extremely usable and long lasting could be slippery. Some people with use an all metal knife and will cover the handle bar wrapping it with a strong paracord, adding additional functionality to the knife.
The main factors for selecting the handle material should be the environment you will be using the knife.
Tang of the knife is part of the blade, which is embedded within the grip handle. On folding blade knives there is no tang. On fixed blade knives the tang could be either full (which is preferred) or 3/4 , 1/2, 1/4 or almost none. The shorter the tang length the less reliable the knife will be. For a survival knife make sure that you have at least a half tang with preference for knives with full tang length.
Let’s start with fixed Blade Knives
|Blade Length||Total Length||Blade Material||Price|
|6.3″||VG-10 Stainless Steel||232.98|
|4.8″||10 3/5″||420HC Stainless||70.45|
|4 3/8″||9 1/4″||1095 Cro-Van steel||70.52|
|6″||11 1/4″||AUS-8 steel blade||95.62|
|3.9″||8 3/4″||O-1 Stainless||207.29|
Now here are five folding blade knives
|Blade Length||Total Length||Blade Material||Price|
|Kizlyar KK0159 Bloke Z D2 Russian Made Titanium Tactical Knife, Black||4″||?||D2 Steel||77.98|
|3 1/4″||4 3/5″ (closed) / 7 4/5″ (open)||S30V Steel||184.00|
|3 1/2″||4 1/2″ (closed) / 8″ (open)||420 J2 Steel||35.95|
|3 1/2″||4 3/4″ (closed) / 8 1/4″(open)||AUS8 Steel||51.16|
|3 2/5″||4 3/5″ (closed) / 8″ (open)||CPM S110V Steel||115.09|