Monday, March 12, 2012

Choosing the Best Knife for Survival - The Survival Combo

The best knife for survival will always be the one you have with you at any given moment. The first thing you should always remember is that a knife is a tool. What will make a difference are the basic reasons you’ve chosen that particular knife and how you expect it to perform when needed. Will it increase your chances of survival when it’s needed? This should be the ultimate goal when choosing the best knife for survival.

Depending upon the job you want it to perform, you will want the knife you choose to be the best tool for the job. Now if you plan to feed a big wood stove, get yourself a good axe. It’s the right tool for the job. If all you need is to split a few small pieces of kindling for a small fire, a good knife should be able to accomplish this basic task without too much trouble. You might even find a machete quite useful in a rural environment. It would also be rather obvious to everyone if you were seen carrying a large machete around the neighborhood. It would probably be easier to walk around the shrubs in the neighborhood than to try chopping your way through them. When used to chop vines and brush out on the farm, a machete probably wouldn’t get anything more than a passing glance if anyone did happen to see you with it.

There are some basic and fundamental qualities that should be considered when choosing the best knife for survival. Some are more a matter of personal preference and others are a basic requirement. Any choice you make should take into consideration your skill level in maintaining and using a knife.

The best survival knife will need to be sharp. While some people can hone a knife’s edge to razor sharpness with ease, there are some that couldn’t buy a sharp edge if their life depended on it and they had a pocket full of money. Most knives that are currently made from stainless steel hold an edge a lot better than their predecessors and a simple pocket sharpener may be all you need to restore the cutting edge of your knife to a more usable state. Your knife may not be “razor” sharp but it will probably be sufficient to finish the task.

The best survival knife will also need to be a simple style. There are numerous styles of knives on the market but a simple straight knife is the most common type and is well suited to many types of work. The basic straight knife pattern with its single edge and straight back is popular because it works and works well for most tasks. It should also have a style of handle with a comfortable grip that allows you good control when working with your blade. The last thing you will need in a survival situation is to lose control of your blade and risk a possible injury.

The best survival knife will need to be durable enough to handle the demands you may place on it. If you plan on pounding on the blade with a rock or a hammer, you will need a full tang version with a thick blade. Even then your knife may not hold up very well. Forget about using a folding knife, most folders won’t take this type of abuse and will fail quickly on you. They are simply not designed to be pounded on by anything, including a hammer or a rock. If you plan on using it to dig a lot, you may want to pack a small folding shovel instead. Although many a hole has been dug with a knife, this is not a purpose for which they are normally designed.

The best survival knife will need to be easy to carry and should also be comfortable to handle. Forget about the “Rambo” sized knives that are a foot long or longer. This is overkill in most survival situations and amount to little more than extra weight and an item that may also be illegal for you to carry. If you can’t carry it with you, it’s probably not going to help you survive anything. A good folder with a blade in the 3 to 4 inch range and an overall length of 6 to 8 inches will handle most tasks with a minimum of effort quite easily. A full tang, fixed blade knife in an overall length of 6 to 8 inches (including the handle or grip) should be sufficient for somewhat heavier use. 

The best survival knife will probably need a good companion. Knifes are great tools but it is extremely difficult to find a good knife that will fulfill the needs of every situation that you may encounter. There are two basic types of environments you may find yourself in where having a good blade handy may make a difference. This is an urban setting or a rural or wilderness setting.

In an urban setting, there is one tool that may also serve your needs for survival as well as a good knife. That item is a good multi-tool. While many multi-tools have a blade as part of their configuration, the blades are usually more difficult to control when using and won’t take very much abuse, if any. If you need to cut wire, need to loosen or tighten a screw, you can save some wear and tear on your knife blade. This is where the combination of a decent folder along with a good multi-tool may be the best choice for your survival in an urban setting. 

This is my choice for carry in an urban environment.

 Folder + Multi-Tool = Survival in an Urban Setting.

In a rural or a wilderness environment, you will probably need a companion for your blade also. A small axe or a machete may be needed also. The demands for a different type of cutting tool in a wilderness environment will sometimes be greater than those in an urban situation. You may simply need a cutting tool designed for heavier use and a somewhat different purpose. 

This is my choice for carry in a rural or wilderness setting.

Fixed Blade + Small Axe = Survival in a Wilderness Environment

A good folder along with a decent multi-tool will work to cover most of your survival and daily needs in an urban setting. This combination is easy to carry and won’t attract a lot of attention. In a wilderness setting, a good fixed blade along with a small axe (or a machete) will also serve your needs.

The ultimate choice is yours but you should keep in mind that a knife is a tool and should be treated with care and respect. It might just possibly save your life in a survival situation. Is there one knife that can fulfill every need for everyone in a survival situation? Probably not but there are some combinations that do work well for a variety of situations.

Got survival combo?

Staying above the water line!



Anonymous said...

I've been out for spring break vacation this past week (well, least that describes the kids, I'm along for the ride lol) so just got a chance to read this. Great post.

Like you, a multi-tool is always with me, I count the Swiss Army knife as a multi-tool. I'd add the short shovel in the machete category, not as scary to sheeple as a machete and in some ways, more versatile. Can act as hatchet, machete and shovel in many cases.

riverwalker said...

To: anonymous 7:04

The environment you are in plays a large part in what you may need. In an urban environment, a really good multi-tool may be even more useful than a knife in some cases.

On the other hand, in a rural or wilderness setting an axe and a knife may prove to be of more value.

I do keep a machete and a compact shovel in my a backup.

Great reminder about the shovel! Now all I need to do is see about putting a good edge on my compact shovel.

One more thing for my "to do" list.

Thanks anon.


Constantine La said...

That axe looks awesome. It looks a lot lighter then other survival axes I've seen. I personally think kabar is the best survival knife.

Tara said...

See this is what I'm talking about - I hear so many people talk about "survival knives" when I'd argue they should be talking about survival hatchets or axes - that's going to get you through so much more, i'd argue, than a knife will - though obviously the best case scenario will be having both.

Keenyn said...

Does anyone know the name of the first knife at the top? The one with the rope going through the handle

Romilda Gareth said...


Sarah Parton said...

I wouldn’t have it any other way-the best survival blade is one that increases chances of survival. I like what you have stated about ergonomics, versatility, and resourcefulness. I also found some great products, especially for people who are new to knives here:

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