How one can Select the Good Survival Knife

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Survival knife in leather holster on denim with red flannel.

With our archives now 3,500+ articles deep, we’ve determined to republish a traditional piece every Friday to assist our newer readers uncover among the greatest, evergreen gems from the previous. This text was initially printed in November 2011.

This can be a visitor submit from wilderness survival professional and teacher Creek Stewart

I don’t keep in mind my first kiss and even who it was with. I can barely recollect getting my license to drive. I vaguely keep in mind my highschool commencement and my total time spent at school is a blur. Nonetheless, I keep in mind precisely the place I used to be, what I used to be carrying, and the way I felt once I received my first survival knife over 20 years in the past. Simply interested by it brings again a few of my fondest childhood reminiscences. It was the RAMBO knife with the hole deal with that housed slightly fishing equipment together with a number of different miscellaneous gadgets. My love affair with knives started at a younger age, and I’ve been hooked ever since. Films appear to at all times have the best survival knives, however does the survival knife actually have a spot within the “actual world”?

That was a rhetorical query. Sure, it most definitely does.

Regardless of our developments in drugs, know-how, journey, and communications, hundreds of thousands of individuals throughout the globe face catastrophe and its cruel penalties every year. As well as, hundreds of people are thrust into surprising and unpredictable life or loss of life conditions the place survival is dependent upon expertise, data, and the assets available. My level? It’s sensible to maintain vital survival assets shut by — simply in case. Considered one of your most vital survival instruments is a top quality knife.

The reducing blade has carved itself an indispensable place in survival historical past. For hundreds of years, man has relied on a reducing software of some sort to assist meet primary survival wants: meals, water, fireplace, and shelter. Now, in our trendy society, we casually discuss with this blade because the “survival knife.” It has definitely earned that identify. Nonetheless, not all survival knives are created equal.

I’ve the privilege of strapping a survival knife to my hip on virtually a day by day foundation right here at Willow Haven. I utterly perceive, although, that this isn’t sensible for many. At a minimal, a survival knife ought to be saved accessible. You is likely to be shocked how usually you’ll use it — even when not in a survival state of affairs. I by no means journey with out my survival knife. I pack it in my checked baggage on the aircraft. I preserve it on my resort nightstand. It’s at all times within the console of my truck when road-tripping, and I by no means set off for an journey with out it. Whether or not fishing, backpacking, searching, boating, snowboarding, climbing, or tenting, my knife is a trusted companion. I’m hardly ever greater than a stone’s throw away from it at any given second.

Survival knife in leather holster on floor of car.

A knife holster in a suite case with a book.

A “survival knife” is simply because it sounds — a knife that may assist you survive. It’s a software with actually a whole bunch of survival-related capabilities. Under is a brief checklist:

  • Slicing/slicing
  • Digging
  • Splitting
  • Self-defense
  • First assist software
  • Meals prep
  • Shelter constructing
  • Fireplace making
  • Searching weapon
  • Prying software
  • Signaling
  • Hammering
  • Makeshift screwdriver

In the case of your survival knife, much less is often extra — regardless of what you might even see on TV. Cling the cool film prop knife on a wall and embrace the simplicity of a skillfully designed survival knife. Operate trumps styling — at all times. Your first precedence is efficiency and that may rely on a wide range of time-tested key options.

6 Vital Survival Knife Options

Survival Knife Characteristic #1: Dimension

Does dimension matter? Sure, however on the subject of your survival knife, greater just isn’t at all times higher. In case your blade is just too huge, you sacrifice the flexibility to successfully use it for detailed duties equivalent to dressing small sport or carving precision snare units.

Large survival knife cutting small sticks branches.

On the flip-side, a small blade doesn’t carry out effectively with extra rugged duties equivalent to batoning and chopping. Batoning is if you strike the again of your knife blade with a heavy object to drive the knife by way of thick or cussed wooden. This enables the blade for use for splitting wooden and reducing by way of massive limbs and timber.

Large survival knife splitting a small log.

Having used many survival knives, I’ve discovered the perfect dimension to be round Sep 11 inches in size. For instance, my Blackbird SK-5 survival knife pictured under is 10” in OVERALL size with a 5” blade.

Measuring large survival knife with measurement tape.

Survival Knife Characteristic #2: Mounted Blade

A set blade knife is extra sturdy and dependable than a folding knife. Whereas I really like an excellent folder for Each Day Carry (EDC), a hard and fast blade has the higher hand on the subject of assembly the calls for a survival state of affairs may current.

Survival knives fixed blade and folding blade.

A joint of any sort is a weak spot. Reduce the chance of damaging or shedding your key survival useful resource by selecting a knife that’s higher suited to pounding, chopping, thrusting, prying, and rigorous reducing.

Survival Knife Characteristic #3: Full Tang

Not solely ought to your survival knife be a hard and fast blade, however it must also be FULL TANG. “Full tang” signifies that the blade and deal with are constructed from one steady piece of steel. Scales or grips are usually hooked up to the deal with portion for a extra comfy grip. A full tang knife is rather more strong than partial tang types such because the half tang, push tang, or rat-tail tang. As you possibly can see within the picture under, the profile of a full tang blade is rather more substantial than its rat-tail good friend.

Survival knife full tang and rat tail tang.

Over time, partial tang knife blades can loosen and develop “play” within the deal with — particularly beneath demanding duties equivalent to batoning, prying, and chopping. If a partial tang blade comes free from the deal with, it may be very troublesome (and harmful) to make use of successfully. In distinction, a full tang knife blade continues to be very purposeful even when the scales come off. It may be wrapped with cordage for added consolation and grip.

Full tang survival knife with Paracord wrapped around handle.

There’s completely no benefit in selecting a partial tang blade over a full tang design in your survival knife. It’s troublesome to interrupt a strong piece of steady steel. A simple approach to spot a full tang knife is to search for the steel tang sandwiched between the knife’s scales. Under are a number of examples. 

Different kinds of pocket knives.

Observe: Not all full tang knife blades have an uncovered tang as proven in these examples.

Survival Knife Characteristic #4: Sharp Pointed Tip

This may increasingly appear apparent, however I’ve seen many “survival knives” with angled, rounded, hooked, or straight reduce flat suggestions. Regardless of any opposite argument, there are a lot of compelling the reason why your survival knife ought to have a pointy pointed tip. The primary is self-defense — towards man or beast. Something apart from a pointy spear level tip compromises your means to successfully thrust or stab your knife as a weapon — particularly by way of thick fur/conceal or layered clothes.

Equally, a spear level knife can be utilized as a searching weapon — both by itself or lashed to a pole to create an extended attain spear. I preserve the allen wrench (which got here with my knife) in my knife sheath pocket always. This enables me to take away the scales and lash the complete tang blade virtually seamlessly onto a workers as a spear-point.

Opened survival knife handle.

A man holding Survival weapon made with pocket knife.

A man pointing hunting weapon toward a tree.

On a extra sensible be aware, I discover myself utilizing the sharp knife level for every kind of duties whereas educating survival courses and coaching within the discipline. Under is a brief checklist of duties through which a pointy pointed knife tip excels over different types:

  • Detailed prying and choosing
  • Cleansing/dressing small sport equivalent to fish
  • Drilling/notching
  • Clothes/gear repairs
  • Splinters!
  • Processing some wild edibles equivalent to pine nuts, acorns, walnuts, and hickory nuts
  • Accessing dwell bait in laborious to get areas

A man using a single-Edged Blade with Flat Ground Spine.

Survival Knife Characteristic #5: Single-Edged Blade with Flat Floor Backbone

Your survival knife shouldn’t have a double-edged dagger model blade. A double-edged blade is simply not needed for the overwhelming majority of (if not all) survival makes use of. Really, it may be a drawback.

Not solely do I like to recommend a single-edged blade, however I want for the again facet (backbone) of my survival knife to have a flat 90 diploma grind. A flat floor backbone is good for putting a fire-starting ferro-rod. Rounded or beveled spines make this virtually not possible.

A man using pocket knife for fire-starting ferro-rod.

I commonly use my survival knife to baton by way of massive items of wooden. Whether or not splitting firewood or setting up makeshift shelters, a sharpened again edge would make this operate practically not possible.

A man using pocket knife for splitting wood.

I additionally regularly use the again fringe of my knife as a thumb relaxation for added leverage and management throughout tedious carving initiatives equivalent to making feather sticks or notching triggers for traps and snare units. Tasks like this might be troublesome and harmful with a double-edged blade.

Man using pocket knife to remove bark of stick.

Survival Knife Characteristic #6: Stable Pommel

A knife with leather holster placed on the ground.

The “pommel” is the underside of the knife’s deal with — additionally known as the butt. I commonly use the pommel on my survival knife for gentle responsibility pounding and hammering. It’s good for driving in shelter stakes. I’ve additionally used my knife level to chip out crude ice fishing holes by pounding the pommel with a heavy stick with drive the blade into the ice. Some knives are designed with a rounded or hooked pommel that isn’t superb for hammering. I consider in getting probably the most makes use of attainable out of your knife. A well-designed and substantial pommel solely provides to your checklist of capabilities.

A man digging the ground with stick.

Backside Line

Use the above 6 standards as a benchmark for selecting a possible survival knife. Solely you possibly can determine the options on which you might be and will not be prepared to compromise. Past this, just about the whole lot else comes down to non-public style.

There are various survival knives in the marketplace that embrace these 6 survival options, but look nothing like one another. There are numerous styling choices that come down to non-public choice and have little bearing on survival performance. A few of these options embrace:

  • Blade metal (carbon or stainless – various choices with various outcomes)
  • Deal with materials (rubber, micarta, bone, antler, and so forth…)
  • Shade or end
  • Lanyard holes
  • Ornamental milling
  • Jimping
  • Serrated or non-serrated blade
  • Sheath design and elegance
  • Knife designer/producer/model
  • Blade model
  • With or with out finger guards
  • Blood groove


A survival knife just isn’t a magic wand nor does it have inherent magical saving powers. The true worth is within the ability of the one who wields it. Ability solely comes from follow and repetition. You don’t purchase a survival knife to embellish your man cave — it’s a software that’s meant for use. Because the starting of mankind, the reducing blade helped to form how our ancestors hunted, fought, constructed, and survived. From cavemen with sharp rocks to a soldier in trendy warfare, there’ll by no means be a relationship fairly like that between a person and his blade. Select yours properly.

Bear in mind, it’s not IF however WHEN,



Creek Stewart is a Wilderness Survival Teacher, creator, and tv host. To study extra about Creek, or to take courses, go to

The submit How one can Select the Good Survival Knife appeared first on The Artwork of Manliness.
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