Survival Knives are intended for survival situations. Survival knives are carried by Military Troops, Hunters, Backpackers and Campers. Multitudes of participants in other outdoor activities carry and use survival knives. What should you consider when selecting a survival knife?
Survival knives have many designs and sizes. There are long and heavy survival knives with a design similar to a machete. Some are still built based on the design of the Bowie knife, with a long strong blade. Still other survival knives are of a folding design for compact carrying. We will cover some of the designs and features commonly found on survival knives.
Most survival knives have a multi-purpose blade. The blade can usually perform multiple tasks like chopping,cutting, spearing and prying. The handle often has a lanyard hole so the survival knife can be tied to a pole to make a spear.
One of the most common features is a section of saw like teeth on one side of the blade. These teeth are often marketed as being a saw that can be used to cut wood. Due to the design of the teeth and the limited length of most survival knives their usefulness as a saw is limited. These teeth on the survival knives were designed so crews could more easily cut through the relatively thin metal skin on a downed aircraft. These teeth can be used to scrap wood or bark to make tinder to help start a fire. Some survival knives do have actual saw type teeth on the blade. You are still limited in what you can cut by the length of the survival knife blade.
Some survival knives have a hollow handle feature. The movie “Rambo” popularized this style of survival knives. Survival Knives like these are sometimes called “Rambo” knives. One of the selling points to these survival knives is that gear can be stored in the handle. A drawback to many hollow handle survival knives is the handle is attached to and not actually part of the blade. This creates a weaker point that may fail when you need your survival knife the most. There are some hollow handle survival knives that are fashioned out of a single piece of steel. The handle on these survival knives is part of the blade so you do not have the weak point. There is another consideration with hollow handle survival knives. If you lose your survival knife you also lose all the gear stored in the handle.
The blade on survival knives. As a rule of thumb you should avoid survival knives with a double cutting edged blade. This weakens the tip and also increases the risk of getting cut while performing tasks with survival knives. Some of these tasks may include cutting, slicing, prying, chopping or digging. Fixed blade survival knives should have a full length tang. This means the blade on survival knives should be a single piece of steel that runs all the way through the handle. The blade should be good quality steel that is strong and will also keep a sharp edge.
The blade length on survival knives is often the subject of debate. Most people should avoid the huge “Rambo” style survival knives. They are heavy and can be awkward to use for many of the tasks survival knives may be expected to perform unless you are familiar with how to use the knife. Many people feel more confident with long heavy bladed survival knives. Others feel survival knives with a long blade are too awkward for some of the tasks they expect survival knives to do.
My opinion, based on experiences I have had as a police officer, while hunting and while camping, is this. The best survival knives are the survival knives you trust with your life AND that you are comfortable using. I use this analogy A .22 pistol is much more effective in the hands of someone that knows how to use it, than a 30-06 rifle is in the hands of someone that doesn’t know how to load the bullets or is afraid of it.
Survival Knives do not have to look fancy. A good solid useful design is what you should be looking for when evaluating a survival knife. Any knife can be used as a survival knife if that is the only knife you have.
The selection of survival knives is a personal choice. Evaluate what type of terrain you will be in (Desert, Jungle, Woods, Rocks), what your most likely needs will be (digging for water, building a fire, making a shelter, cutting bandages, gathering food), your own physical strength (Don’t buy a 5lb. Knife if you can’t use it) and keep in mind the points discussed above. When you make your selection remember – Cheap is not a bargain when you need to survive. You do not get any ribbons for finishing second in a survival situation!
Buy quality survival knives and equipment, know how to use your equipment, take care of your equipment and they will take care of you. Stay safe and get outdoors as much as possible.