Knives for Survival in the Wilderness

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With so many different knives to choose from it can be a daunting task to choose just one. But it has often been said that a knife is the one tool that can mean the difference between surviving or not; and when worse comes to worse, the best knife you can have is the one that you have on you! So why not choose a good all-around one.

We thought it would be helpful to provide you with a few general guidelines to base your decision on when selecting a single knife (if it HAS to come down to that).

Fixed/Full Tang Blade: The knife’s blade is a single piece of steel that goes to the very end of the handle and will offer more strength and versatility. Partial tang knives, such as folding knives, while handy to carry in the pocket, are weaker and don’t endure as well.

Length of Blade: In regards to a survival knife, it is usually recommended to keep the blade length between 4 to 6 inches long for versatility.

Blade Thickness: Generally a good survival knife is quite a bit thicker than an average knife, enabling it to stand up to lots of usage, wear and tear. A good thickness range to aim for would be between 5/32” to ¼”.

Handle: The handle needs to be comfortable, non-slip and tough. Forget about how attractive it may or may not be. You’ll want something that fits nicely in your hand, easy-grip or non-slip material, a slight bulge at the end to prevent it from slipping out of your hand, a good finger guard between the handle and the blade for protection and even a lanyard hole at the end would be nice. Steer away from the handles that are hollowed out to store emergency items, as this depletes the integrity of the handle, making it easier to break. Stick with a solid handle.

Sharpens and Hones Easily: When choosing a knife, keep in mind the type of steel it is made of, as well as the edge profile (ie. hollow, compound, flat). You’ll want a steel that is tough, and keeps a good edge on the blade, but not so hard that it is brittle and difficult to sharpen out in the wilderness. While hollow-ground blades are very sharp, they can also be difficult to sharpen; and a compound grind blade can hold a edge and be a lot easier to sharpen.


A Few Popular Survival Knives:

Made by a well-known fixed blade manufacturer, SOG, the “SEAL Team Knife” is designed for harsh use.  The evaluation program for this knife includes tip and blade breaking limit and sharpness, edge retention, handle breakage, immersion tests into salt water for a two-week period, flammable resistance to gas and acetylene, rope and line cutting tests, chopping, hammering, prying and penetration tests.  The Seal Team Knife is just over 12” long with a fixed clip point shaped blade measuring 7” in length and 0.24” in thickness, with a partially serrated edge. The handle has a lanyard hole, with nylon lanyard included and costs around $160.

Another option for survival knife would be the “Tom Brown Tracker”.   This knife is designed to cut through multiple types of materials including branches, aircraft, metal car door without dulling.  The 4.25” long blade is ¼’ thick, made of 1095 High Carbon Allow RC-58 and has multiple cutting edges for versatility with the overall knife length being 11 7/8”.   The handle is made of black linen micarta with a lanyard hole on the end.  This knife costs around $299.00

And finally, another favorite is the KA-BAR USMC Utility Knife and is very popular among outdoorsmen, military, and survivalists.  It has been a tried and true knife with soldiers for day-to-day use since WWII.  It has a 7” fixed clip blade made of 1095 Cro-Van steel that is 0.165” thick, with a flat-ground edge that makes for easy sharpening.  The knife is 11 7/8” long end-to-end and has a stacked leather handle with a nice finger guard and butt-end on it.  This knife is generally available for around $108.

There are lots of great knives out there, but if you’re looking for a basic multi-purpose survival knife, then any of these would be great choices in our opinion.


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