There are hundreds of different survival knives on the market: spear points, trailing swage, double edged, drop point, tanto blade, deep belly, hollow grind. Whatever knife you decide to choose, there are a number of quality characteristics you should look for.
We asked wilderness survival experts for the top 7 things they look for in a survival knife. We advised them that they should assume that they only had a single knife that needed to be used for all purposes. The following is what they came back with.
- A full tang where the blade runs along the entire handle. While the tang may be smaller than the blade, the key is that both are made from a single piece of steel that runs from tip to tip. This is essential for strength and durability.
- A fixed blade made from either stainless steel or carbon steel between 4-6 inches in length and around 3-4/16 of an inch thick. There was some disagreement about the length, but most agreed that the less experienced user should stick to a smaller blade.
- A flat, thick spine (the back of the blade) is a sought after feature. Some knife designs combine this with a chisel section on the blade (normally near the handle) for hammering through wire for example.
- A serrated section to help saw through harder materials (including metal and thick brush). This is normally located on the underside of the blade near the handle ( although some designs have a top serrations along the blade spine.) But bear in mind that sharpening a knife blade with serrations is far harder than a smooth blade.
- A strong, good quality protective sheath that allows for a variety of mounting positions on either side of the body. The strap should go around the handle to reduce the risk of the knife slipping out, particularly if worn upside down.
- A perfect fit around a contoured handle. If the knife hilt has large quillons (or crossguards), the hand should fit comfortably between them when clenched. The knife will be used in all conditions, even when wet so a contoured non-slip handle is important together with crossguard sections to stop the hand from slipping forward.
- Balance is key, but it is not always easy to define. It’s more a matter of feel. Avoid obviously handle heavy designs as well as those with an over-sized blade either, but bear in mind that some knifes are better biased towards the blade.
In order to round things out, here are three things to avoid. As you read the bullets, you’ll notice that the key aim is to maximize strength and durability – features that are vital in a lifesaving situation.
- Most survivalists do not recommend double edged knives as these tend to be weaker and more dangerous to use.
- While knives with hollow handles may seem to offer a practical option for holding survival items, they are far less durable as the tang will be short. Also if you lose your knife you also lose whatever you were storing in the handle.
- For a true survival knife that may need to be used in a lifesaving situation, most experts suggest avoiding folding or multipurpose designs. The pivot section means you will be sacrificing strength and reliability.
What is the best survival pocket knife?
Most survival experts would recommend that you treat a folding pocket knife as a back up to your primary survival knife and not as your only knife. The key drawback is strength. A pocket knife will simply not be as strong as a fixed blade survival knife. But we realize that many people don’t travel with a fixed blade knife strapped to their body so here are some tips for selecting the best folding survival knife:
- Ensure the knife has a good quality locking mechanism. This is crucial and will make the knife far safer to use. Some locking mechanisms will not only improve safety but also help improve the strength of the knife – always a good thing
- If you can, choose a design that you are able to open with one hand.
- As it’s a pocket knife the blade cant be much larger than 4 inches, but try to ensure that it is at least 3 inches.
- A ring or lanyard hole is important. you what to be able to tie the knife onto a belt loop when you are not using it – even when it is in your pocket.
- How about the best Swiss army knife for survival? The same points hold true. Make sure you choose a model with a locking knife blade.
Check out the talk about blades at this Australian whipper snipper reviews site.