Table of Contents
- 1 Characteristics of Survival Knives
- 2 Your First Selection: Straight or Foldable
- 3 How Are You Going To Be Using the Survival Knife?
- 4 Fixed vs. Folded
- 5 What to Look For and Tips for Choosing The Best Survival Knife
- 6 Brief Summary of the Full Tang Knife
- 7 The Bear Grylls Survival Knife
- 8 5 Best Survival Knives of 2015
- 9 Final Words
Characteristics of Survival Knives
via Ian D. Keating
In order to get an understanding of the survival knife, it is essential to know the basics of these blades. They’re entirely different from something you would use in the kitchen to chop up carrots and meats. Survival knives are just that! They’re built for your survival. Although this doesn’t necessarily mean that the knife is about protecting yourself, it can provide you with a sense of safety. So, what exactly is the purpose of the knife?
When out in the wilderness, you’re going to need a knife for practical purposes! You need to be able to cut kindling and slice your way through that thick brush. Toting around a machete isn’t ideal, so it is best to rely on a survival knife, which is something that can be carried around easily. The knife can serve you with a variety of different purposes, including preparing food, digging, and even hunting. If there is a will and a way, your knife will ultimately prove to be extremely helpful!
Overall, there are some similarities between some of these knives. Remember that each one is unique, so these specific characteristics might not ring true for each of your options. Still, most of these knives fall within the 4 to 8-inch range. It is possible to choose a survival knife that is straight, but serrated options are also available. Serrated blades do offer a number of helpful benefits but be cautious, because they’re a little more difficult to sharpen.
Your First Selection: Straight or Foldable
Now, it is time to begin exploring your options. Remember that there are many different characteristics to take into account, but your very first should ultimately be choosing between straight or foldable. Although both can be very beneficial, it is highly likely that you’ll have specific preferences that will be better served with one or the other. With this in mind, you should first take the time to understand your needs, before looking at the benefits of each of these.
How Are You Going To Be Using the Survival Knife?
As mentioned above, your particular needs and desires should come first! How exactly are you going to be using this knife? Are you interested in carrying the knife around with you, at all times? Would you prefer to have a knife that is entirely concealable? Do you work in a dangerous field that requires you to protect yourself with the knife? Below, you will find the questions that should be answered, before moving forward.
Your Usage – How are you going to be using the knife? Will you be protecting yourself, hunting or cutting branches for kindling? Knowing exactly how you’re going to be using the knife will make it much easier to select the right knife for your particular needs.
Do You Need to Conceal the Knife? – Is concealing the knife important to you? If you want to be able to carry the knife around in public, you will need to select a knife that can be concealed. If this isn’t a desire, this characteristic will not be so dire.
What Kind of Situations Will You Face? – What types of dangers will you face with your knife? Will you be facing potentially dangerous situations that will require quick reflexes? Or, are you looking for a knife to serve you, during a campout? Try to think of the potential dangers that you will face, during the activities that you intend to enjoy.
How Much Can You Spend? – How much are you willing to spend on a survival knife? Although affordability is important, your safety and survival is also vital. Therefore, you will need to find a middle point that will fit both characteristics the best.
Once you’ve answered these questions, it is time to return to the debate regarding the fixed blade versus the folding blade.
Fixed vs. Folded
Now that you know exactly what you need and want, it is time to look at the differentials between these two types of blades. If you speak to any survivalist, it is highly likely that each of them will give you a different answer regarding which is the best. So, which is really the best survival knife? Neither and both! Instead, one will fit your needs better than the other. This is why it is so important to know how you will be using the knife first.
Still, each knife has a specific list of pros and cons. In order to choose the right blade for your needs, you will need to examine the benefits and cons of each. Once you have done this, you will find that one choice suits your needs the best. Below, you will find the pros for each specific blade type.
Pros of Folding Blades
- The folding blade is entirely concealable. Fold it up, stick it in your pocket and nobody will know that you’re carrying.
- This type of knife can be carried around with you, during any type of situation. This goes hand in hand with the concealable feature.
- The folding blade is excellent for performing everyday tasks, such as cutting open cans, making kindling and cutting twine.
Cons of Folding Blades
- The folding blade doesn’t offer much in the way of speed.
- The folding system and springs can present problems with repeated use.
- Not suitable for more demanding tasks.
Pros of Fixed Blade
- These blades offer quicker access and protection.
- The fixed blade will never break under the pressure.
- These products are best for chopping woods.
- They’re entirely easy to keep clean.
Cons of Fixed Blades
- These blades are not concealable and cannot be carried everywhere.
- They’re usually a little more expensive.
With your needs and the pros and cons listed above, you should have a better understanding of which type of knife is best for your individualized situation. Remember that it is entirely acceptable to purchase more than one knife to ensure that you have a tool for every circumstance.
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What to Look For and Tips for Choosing The Best Survival Knife
Now that you’ve solved the problem above, it is time to get to know a little more about these knives. Each knife is unique and is made differently. Below, you will find all of the characteristics that you should take into consideration when making your purchase.
The tang is the part of the blade that extends down into the handle. The blade and tang are one steel piece. A tang that extends all the way to the base of the handle is the best choice for a survival knife because it gives the whole knife overall strength. For instance, on a cheaper knife you will find that the blade does not extend down into the handle because it is only attached to the top of the handle. This means that the knife blade has a much better chance of breaking off, when it is plunged into a hard surface.
You will find that there are lots of different variations of handles equipped on knives. Some knives have hard, rubber handles, while others use polymer and any of these will be a good choice. It is probably best to decide, which type to avoid and that will most likely be one that is equipped with a hollow handle.
Some survival knives have hollow handles, which allow you to store items inside them, while this may sound intriguing at first, you will need to keep the tang in mind. If the handle of the knife is hollow, it is not going to have a full tang. Once again this means the blade of the knife could snap off easily and you also want to avoid a handle that has a compass installed in it. Of course, this is appealing, but it can interfere with the way you grip the knife. It is even possible that this could cause harm to you during use of the knife.
Survival knives usually come in two different choices of blades. This would be the stainless steel and the carbon blade. While both of these blades can be good choices there are some differences between them.
Stainless Steel – Stainless steel as everyone knows can stand up to the harshest environments and punishments. This means stainless steel does not rust easily and will take a beating out in the wild. However, one downfall is that these blades lose their edge much faster than that of a carbon knife blade.
Carbon – Carbon blades will hold an edge much longer than stainless steel, but they are more prone to rust. This means that they do not stand up as well in harsh environments.
Ceramic – Over the years, ceramic knives have become much more popular in the kitchen, but are they suitable for survivalists? Although they work exceptionally well in the home, it is essential to remember that the kitchen is a safe, controlled environment and ceramic is very fragile. If the ceramic knife is dropped, it could very well shatter and you will be without a weapon! Therefore, ceramic isn’t suitable in this type of situation.
When looking for a survival knife, you will find that you have two main choices, when it comes to the design of the blade. This is the straight and the serrated blade knife. Once again both of these can be good choices, but each has their own benefits.
Straight blade knife is better for chopping wood and a lot easier to sharpen. You can even use a smooth stone to sharpen this knife, if you find yourself without a sharpener. Serrated blade knives always require a specialized sharpener.
The serrated blade has a few benefits, although it is a little more difficult to sharpen. For instance, the blade is much better for cutting through specific items, including wet rope. It also works exceptionally well for scrapping bark from branches. Cutting through seatbelts and other items is best completed with a serrated blade. Otherwise, you will find that the straight blade is much better well rounded.
Overall, the traditional blade will last you longer, since it is easier to sharpen and will also serve more purposes. The serrated blade is excellent for a small group of tasks, but not many. Therefore, it is best to stick with the non-serrated blade, but there is no reason you cannot own one of each!
Survival knives have a blade length of anywhere from 6 to 12 inches. One thing to keep in mind is that you probably do not want to choose a knife that is over 9 inches long, because these are really too big and they can become a hindrance to carry around.
You will find that survival knives come in many different thicknesses. You want to choose one that is anywhere from 3/16 to 4/16 of an inch. A knife made of this thickness will be able to stand up to punishment and accomplish tasks like chopping wood and prying and remember you never want to choose a blade that is flexible.
Knife Holder or Sheath
The sheath of the knife may not seem like an important factor, but it really is. The sheath can affect how you carry the knife and how fast you are able to draw it. Some sheaths can attach to your belt, leg, or to your backpack. The main thing is that you are going to be comfortable, where the knife is located and you can get to it easily. For instance, you probably want to avoid to attaching your knife to your backpack, whereas it will be out of your way on long hikes, but you will not be able to get too it quickly, if needed.
Tools to Sharpen Your Survival Knife
Your survival knife is going to be your biggest lifeline, when you are out in the wilderness and that is why you need to maintenance it appropriately. You will need to select the best sharpening system, before you actually start the sharpening process. You will definitely have a large selection of sharpening stones and diamond rods to select from, but make sure that you do a bit of research, before you actually make your final purchase.
The diamond sharpening stone is very popular, because the diamond material is very durable and will not flatten, after a lot of use. This will ensure you that your blade will not become damaged, due to an uneven stone. The diamond material that has holes in it will be your best choice, since the holes will be capable of capturing the swarf. This stone will also offer you a quick cut, which is very important, when you are hunting.
You can also use the diamond sharpening stone, in conjunction with the India stone. This way you will be able to produce a very fine edge on your knife, in a matter of minutes. Once you have selected your sharpening tools, you will be ready to move on to the sharpening process.
One thing to keep in mind is that most survival knives have a 25-30 degree angle. While most individuals choose the 20 degree bevel angle, as the starting point, because it is suitable for almost all knives. Of course, you can fine-tune your bevel, by using a lower angle. This will provide a sharper bevel, but it will be at a high risk for chipping. The higher angle is more preferred, because it will offer you a very durable edge that will not hinder the knife’s effectiveness.
An aligner should also be used, when sharpening your survival knife, because it will take the guesswork out of the sharpening process.
Brief Summary of the Full Tang Knife
Via Stefan Yasin
If you are looking for a knife that is capable of slicing through wild animal meat, you will definitely need a full tang blade. The blade is designed to run straight through the handle and remains as one piece. This is one of the safest knives on today’s market, because the handle will not come detached from the blade. If this mishap occurred, it could potentially cause body harm or maybe death.
The full tang knife will allow you to stab or hack with a lot of pressure, without risk of detachment. To double ensure yourself that this will not occur with your knife, you should consider having your knife pinned. This is a very simple process that you can complete yourself or you can take it to a knife shop. One single hole is drilled through the metal blade and handle, a pin is placed into the hole, and then hammered in place.
You will notice the size of the full tang knife immediately, because it is very robust. Of course they will vary in length from 9.5-15.75”, which is fairly large, when compared to other types of knives. The blade length can range anywhere from 4-7”, but you will need to find one that will suit your needs and preferences.
The 12.25” full tang knife will have a 7” blade, while the 15.75” will have a handle around 6”. A serrated blade can be as thick as ¼-1 ½”, so it is fully capable of preforming any type of outdoor task.
When searching for the perfect full tang knife, you should take the time to get a feel of how well the knife is balanced, how easy it is to maneuver, and how it feels in your hands. You will be relying on your knife for survival, so it crucial that it fits in your hand like a glove.
The handle is also very important, because it will offer you full control over the knife and easy maneuvering. A handle that is constructed out of Grivory material will provide the best balance and will stand up to the test of time.
The Bear Grylls Survival Knife
Almost everyone has seen Bear Grylls on television. There is no doubt that the guy is a professional survivalist. So, how do Bear Grylls survival knives stand up to others? There are actually many likeable features to enjoy from one of these knives. First and foremost, the blades tend to be very fine and sharp. They’re built for longevity and will provide you with a sufficient period of usage. All of the Gerber Bear Grylls knives are reliable and affordable.
Each of these knives tends to include a few accessories, which make the overall purchase much more beneficial. For starters, you will usually receive a diamond sharpener and even a fire starter with the purchase. Best of all is the fact that the sharpener is integrated into the sheath. At the same time, the handles of these knives tend to be very good! No matter how you’re using the knife, you shouldn’t have to worry about it slipping around in your hand.
Overall, these knives are very well rounded and definitely offer plenty of practical usages out there in the wild.
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5 Best Survival Knives of 2015
Below, you will be able to find some survival knife reviews . Be sure to read all of the information carefully and judge each based on your own needs and desires. By doing so, you will be able to select the right one for you and your own needs.
Schrade SCHF6 Extreme
If you’re looking for a highly effective and durable fixed blade camping knife, you’ll want to check out the Schrade SCHF9. With a quick glance, you’ll be able to see that the blade is stylishly designed and the 5.6-inch handle is designed to prevent it from slipping from your grasp. The Kraton handle is very durable and won’t break apart if the knife is dropped. When used with the included nylon sheath, the knife will remain on your body and won’t look out of place or awkward.
The overall knife only weighs approximately 16 ounces! This can ensure that you’ll be able to pick it up and move it around, without trouble. Still, you’ll know that you’re handling a sturdy knife and that will provide you with peace of mind. The blade is 6.4-inches and is crafted from 1095 high carbon steel. It is also ¼ inch thick! Despite the low cost, this knife is excellent for various purposes and will serve you admirably.
Gerber 31-000751 Ultimate
Many survivalists are looking for a proven knife that will provide them with confidence in their investment. With the Gerber 31-000751, this is entirely possible since it is backed up by Bear Grylls. Whether you’re looking for an all-purpose knife or a hunting knife, these Bear Grylls knives will serve your needs perfectly. Overall, there is definitely a lot to like about this specific knife. First and foremost, the rubber grip handle will ensure that you’ll be able to maintain control over the knife, at all times.
The handle is also equipped with a surface butt cap. This ensures that you can use the knife as a hammer if need be. With the purchase, you will receive a few little handy accessories. The package includes a handy sheath, fire starter and even a diamond sharpener! It doesn’t stop there though! An emergency whistle is also included. If you find yourself in trouble, you can use the whistle to signal for help!
The blade is a tad bit smaller at 4.75 inches and is half serrated. This can provide you with both types of blades in a single unit, in order to conquer all challenges you face. The knife weighs a little over 11 ounces, which is just about perfect. Overall, the Gerber is an excellent option for most consumers.
If you are searching for a high-quality fixed survival knife, you should definitely consider the Fallkniven A1. The knife is constructed with a stainless steel blade, which can stand up to the elements, without rusting. The blade is around ¼” thick and capable of stabbing and slicing thick meat, along with chopping and splitting wood.
The knife is 11” in total length while the blade is 6 1/3”, so the Fallkniven is very robust, but it will still be very balanced in your hands. The full tang design will ensure the hunter that the blade will not detach from the handle, even under the most extreme circumstances.
Overall this is one of the best survival knives on today’s market and you should definitely keep it on your list of prospects.
There are many excellent survival knives on the market and the Morakniv is definitely one of them. It offers many excellent features and will serve you for a tremendously long period of time. The ergonomic handle is large and features a very good grip that will not slip from your hand, during use. A plastic sheath is also provided. The sheath easily attaches to you with the belt clip and allows you easy access to your knife, at all times.
The blade, which is 1/8 inch thick is very sturdy and is crafted from carbon steel. The length of the blade is just over 4 inches, which should be sufficient for most purposes. This is one of the lightest knives at 4.8 ounces. The hunting knife is available in two different colors, including green and orange. Regardless of your style, one of the options will fit it perfectly! A 1-year warranty from the manufacturer will provide you with more confidence in your purchase!
Overall, you will definitely be able to achieve quite a bit, by equipping yourself with the Morakniv Companion. It is affordable, easy to use and well worth checking out further.
If you are looking for a very affordable survival knife, you should definitely consider the Ka-Bar Becker BK2. The blade is constructed on of cro-van steel, which strengthens the blade and prevents it from bending or breaking.
The Grivory material cannot be beaten because it is very durable and will stand up to the test of time. This knife has 3 pins that will safely hold the handle and blade together for safety uses. The knife’s overall length is 10.5” and the blade is 5.5”.
This knife is suitable for all of your camping needs and you can use it for chopping vegetables to splitting wood, without worrying about the blade dulling or rusting. You will receive a limited lifetime warranty with the Companion, which makes the price tag that much friendlier.
You will also receive a free kadex, nylon sheath, which will keep your knife safe from damage and you safe from injuries. The BK2’s overall weight is around 1.5 pounds, so it will not weigh you down and will fit your hand like a glove.
At the end of the day, there is a massive array of different knives that could very well be the best survival knife. In order to formulate an opinion and find the best knife for your particular needs, you will want to create a checklist of your needs and desires. After this, you should begin reading survival knife reviews. By doing this, you will be able to scour through the market’s best knives and narrow them down to the very best survival knife for your specific desires.