In survival situations, when you are alone and vulnerable, your survival knife is your partner who accompanies you wherever you go and whatever you do. It is the most important survival tool you must have to accomplish whatever survival task there is. You need a good survival knife to cut and slice wood and cordage, to baton wood to clear out a path in the wilderness, to hunt game and to make traps, to ward off threats, and so many more.
A survival knife is best considered your lifeline in survival situations. You have the power to do so many things when you have one on your hands. Aside from the basic functions mentioned above, here are some of its survival-related functions:
- Digging the ground,
- Food preparation (preparing food in survival cases is more efficient and much cleaner when using a good survival knife than without it),
- Shelter building (to survive the wilderness, you need to learn how to create makeshift shelters with whatever material around you, and you cannot do that without a survival knife by your side),
- Fire making,
- As a prying tool,
- For signaling,
- For hammering (the pommel of a good survival knife is strong enough to hammer things down),
- As a makeshift screwdriver (this does not really require some skill set to use it in such way).
What You Should Avoid
Everything starts with a good understanding on the things you must avoid when looking for a good survival knife. A double-edged blade, however fancy or effective it may seem, is not really an ideal survival knife since it has lesser functions.
The principle behind it is for thrusting, instead of the most important survival functions, like chopping and cutting. A double-edged blade is also known to have a weaker tip as compared to its single-edged counterpart. This makes it more prone to breaking. And since reliability is a vital trait of the survival knife, you should tick off the double-edged blade feature from your list. Besides, you will be minus the baton feature with it.
It’s also smart top stay away from fancy Rambo-style knives. These intimidating monsters are not really designated as survival knives, but rather as offensive weapons to ward of predators, just like how they are portrayed in the movies. Consider them as just for show due to their aggressive looks, as they are too heavy to carry around and are too impractical to use in the more important survival chores.
What Your Survival Knife Must Have
After identifying the basics of what to avoid, you can now focus on crucial features that makes a survival knife simply the most effective and efficient there is.
The Fixed Blade Feature
Note that great survival knives are defined by their durability and reliability. Since the outdoor world is a harsh and tough one, your main survival tool must be suited for all the abuse coming its way. Folding knives are never good enough for these. They may be excellent backup knives, but the strength of the fixed blade structure especially with a full tang construction where the blade extends through all the way to the handle makes it the best survival knife. This is largely because of its smart construction. The full tang feature guarantees the strength and durability of survival knives.
The Issue of the Plain versus the Serrated Edge
Effective survival knives must always feature a plain edge. Serrated edges are known to be more useful in urban environments, especially when cutting through synthetic materials (ropes, or seatbelts). You could still perform this though using the plain edge feature; you can also do a whole lot of functions with it. Plus, plain-edged blades are easy to sharpen anywhere, which is a very important edge against the serrated type.
The Shape of the Blade
It would be best to avoid blades with relatively narrow or thin points, as these are known to break easily. Just imagine all the activities and abuse you will have to subject your knife to in survival conditions and you’ll get the idea. What you really need is a sturdy point that can both take abuse and perform the finer chores in survival situations.
A drop-pointed blade style is highly considered the best choice for anyone’s idea of the all-around survival blade. You are also better off with a decent-curved edge on the belly part. This is important when skinning and slicing.
Size always matters everywhere. And in the case of survival knives, yours must be robust enough to handle abuse and yet small enough to use for comfort in other “smaller” survival tasks. A blade thickness at an 8th of an inch should be enough for various heavy duty functions, while still ideal for other smaller tasks. A 4- to 5- inch blade length is also ideal for survival mode. Anything less would make batoning wood a very difficult task.
A comfortable handle is something that gives you a feeling that your survival knife is just like an extension of your hand. And to achieve comfortable handling, see to it that the handle is made using a durable material. Stay away from hollow or plastic-made handles since these are never dependable. Your knife is also best suited for survival with a flat and blunt edge at the handle’s end for hammering with force.
At the End of the Day
When it comes to choosing a survival knife, going for less gives you considerably more; it’s best to forget all the fancy things you see on TV or in the movies. You are better off hanging your fancy movie prop knife on the wall and appreciating the simple concepts of skillfully-designed survival knives. It is all about power and performance.
Note that function, not style, is what helps you get through the day all the time. Performance should always be your priority. Consider it as a faithful partner with the ability to be with you all the way. And to do just that, look for proven features – these are what make a great survival knife.
I am a gym owner, personal trainer, reality based self-defense instructor (Certified Level 2 Krav Maga), and passionate bushwacker, survivalist and prepper. When I’m not working on one of my many projects (which include trying to decipher current world events), I enjoy working on my homestead that sits on 60 lovely wooded acres out in the country in rural Canada, honing my bushcraft and blacksmithing skills, and sitting in my hottub with a glass of good bourbon…