survival knife

Survival knives are knives intended for survival purposes in a wilderness environment, often in an emergency situation when the user has lost most of his/her main equipment.

A survival knife is the essential tool that can be used in the event you get lost in the wilderness or involved in some other extreme outdoor environment. In the event that you are lost in the wilderness a good survival knife can be a life saver to help you build shelter, start a fire, hunt, prepare for food, dig, clear paths, and so much more.

Parts of a Survival Knife

The picture above just about covers it. There may also be a pommel, or butt cap at the bottom of the handle, and a guard at the bottom of the blade. There might also be a lanyard hole near the end of the handle.

With a survival knife, you could do many things. Below is a short list:

Cutting/Slicing

Digging

Splitting

Self-Defense

First Aid Tool

Food Prep

Shelter Building

Fire Making

Hunting Weapon

Prying Tool

Signaling

Hammering

Make-Shift Screwdriver

There are so many survival knives with different styles, sizes, brands, colors and in some cases, history behind all the knives you could choose. You would be confusing how to get one that can meet your needs or preferences.

Knowing what some knives are designed for and the tools they might come with can be a time saver. So we will give you a few guidelines you can use when looking for a good survival knife.

Included in the list are 8 columns:

·Knife name and pictures

·Knife brand

·Knife’s    Price, the price change frequently, you can click to see the real-time prices.

·Knife’s Rating on Amazon – This can be very helpful in deciding if you are satisfied with your purchase.

·Overall Length – Combined blade and handle length in inches.

·Blade Length – inches

·Weight – knife weight in ounces

·Blade Material – the metal used in the blade

Know the environment you will face

When going in to the wild, you should know up front what you could come across. A knife that can meet these needs will make your experience more easily, and in some situations, save your life. (For example, a machete in a jungle environment is better suited to cut through the dense jungle foliage. But an axe is considered a very useful tool in the California or Canadian woods. Finding a knife that can meet both needs half way could come in handy)

Knife Size

Does size matter? Yes, but when it comes to your survival knife, bigger is not always better. If your blade is too big, you sacrifice the ability to effectively use it for detailed tasks such as dressing small game or carving precision snare sets.

When choosing a knife to take with you, you should keep in mind how easy it will be for you to carry. Some knives can be kept with a clip on bar. But some others will require to obtain a sheath to attach it to your belt, vest or pack. Remember, having the knife easy to access for you is ideal.

Having used many survival knives, I’ve found the ideal size to be around 9-11 inches in length.

Fixed Blade Knife

A fixed blade knife is more durable and reliable than a folding knife. While I love a good folder for Every Day Carry (EDC), a fixed blade has the upper hand when it comes to meeting the demands a survival situation might present.

Full Tang Knife

Not only should your survival knife be a fixed blade, but it should also be FULL TANG. “Full tang” indicates that the blade and handle are constructed from one continuous piece of metal. Scales or grips are typically attached to the handle portion for a more comfortable grip. A full tang knife is much more robust than partial tang styles such as the half tang, push tang, or rat-tail tang. As you can see in the photo below, the profile of a full tang blade is much more substantial than its rat-tail friend.

Over time, partial tang knife blades can loosen and develop “play” in the handle–especially under demanding tasks such as batoning, prying, and chopping. If a partial tang blade comes loose from the handle it can be very difficult (and dangerous) to use effectively. In contrast, a full tang knife blade is still very functional even if the scales come off. It can be wrapped with cordage for added comfort and grip.

Sharp Pointed Tip Knife

This may seem obvious, but I’ve seen many “survival knives” with angled, rounded, hooked, or straight cut flat tips. Despite any contrary argument, there are many compelling reasons why your survival knife should have a sharp pointed tip. The first is self-defense–against man or beast. Anything other than a sharp spear point tip compromises your ability to effectively thrust or stab your knife as a weapon–especially through thick fur/hide or layered clothing.

Similarly, a spear point knife can be used as a hunting weapon–either by itself or lashed to a pole to create a longer reach spear.

Knife Price

Don’t break your wallet. Many knife manufacturers have a large variety and styles of knives that usually vary on price as well. Always beware of cheap priced knives as the quality of these can be so poor that they will fail you when you least expect it.

But just because a knife is simple, it doesn’t mean it is of poor quality. Beware of overly priced knives that claim great quality and craftsmanship. Just because they claim to be used by survival experts, military groups or simply because of their brand name, you shouldn’t spend hundreds of dollars on a knife that would meet the same requirements as a $50 knife with the same durability and reliability. (Ka-Bar knives are known for their strength and history, at a much affordable prices)

Knife’s Material

Research what the survival knife is made of. Different knives are made of different materials.

Steel quality determines the strength of the blade, its toughness (ability to take impact), how easy it is to sharpen, and how long it will hold that edge.

Most knives are made from two broad classifications of steel: Carbon Steel and Stainless Steel. As a general rule stainless steel is more rust resistant than carbon steel but can be more brittle (less tough) and more difficult to sharpen compared to the average carbon steel. Carbon steel on the other hand can be made extremely sharp, is tougher when being used for splitting or chopping, is easier to sharpen, but if not maintained it will easily rust.

Think of comfort

Just because a knife looks like Rambo’s knife doesn’t mean is the best to carry on your back for weeks to come. A knives handle can make a huge difference.

Clip knives are often used for small, quick activities, because the clip makes it uncomfortable to handle over time and can create blisters in your hands. (just imagine building shelter in the rain while using a clip pocket knife).

Larger knives can come with rubber grips, which makes it more suitable for wet environments than leader grip knives. A knife has to feel good in your hand, even if it is for a minute or for hours. (weight can make a difference as well. Heavier knives can cut through wood better, but lighter knives might make it easier to carry on load trips). Gerber knives are known for their comfort.

People’s Reviews about the Knife

On Amazon.com, there are so many reviews about different knives. You can read other people’s reviews about the knife you will choose. In the table above, we spent a long time to choose the best survival knives with good reviews. And all the knives have high rating above 4.5.

Experience is the best way to learn

Expect your knife to fail or not to meet your expectation on your first try. Be prepared to go through a couple of knives until you know what style, size and material is the best suited for you. Many experienced campers and hunter carry at least two knives, a large or main knife, and a smaller tanto or clip knife as a backup.

If you have some friends who have different knives, try them out and see if you tend to prefer a smaller or larger version. Take those attributes that I’ve told you to look for and put them to the test.

A survival knife is not a magic wand nor does it have inherent magical saving powers. The true value is in the skill of the one who wields it. Skill only comes from practice and repetition. You don’t buy a survival knife to decorate your man cave–it is a tool that’s meant to be used. Since the beginning of mankind, the cutting blade helped to shape how our ancestors hunted, fought, built, and survived. From cavemen with sharp rocks to a soldier in modern warfare, there will never be a relationship quite like that between a man and his blade. Choose yours wisely.