When you are browsing the store shelves at your local Army surplus store or searching online for the right knife to put into your bug out bag, it can be a little overwhelming. You know you need a knife. It is a staple in any survival scenario.
They come in all shapes and sizes and if you are a novice in the survival world, it can be confusing trying to figure out which one will work best for you and your needs.
The answer is not an easy one. It has a lot to do with personal preference and trying to predict what kind of situation you are most likely to find yourself in. You cannot predict the future. Being prepared for anything is always your best bet.
There are different knives for different occasions and needs. It is wise to have a couple of knives that cover all of your bases. Storing a knife in your bug out bag, the glovebox of your car and in your locker or desk at work is wise. It ensures you are always prepared to bug out at a moment’s notice.
We will go over the main components of a knife and what you will want to look for.
Don’t get caught up in well-written sales copy. Know the difference between metals and understand the terms used when describing knives.
The handle of your knife is a crucial element to the tool. You want a knife that has a solid handle. Your knife will double as a hammer at times and you want it to withstand the pressure. Solid wood or steel is ideal. A rubber type handle will give you a better grip.
Many knife handles are made with wood, but given a shiny veneer that makes them very slippery. You can sand off that veneer to make it easier to grip. A finger guard is a helpful safety feature that will protect your hand from sliding up the handle and hitting the blade.
TangTang is the piece that includes the blade.
A full tang knife is always going to be superior to a knife that isn’t. Full tang means the blade goes deep into the handle. This makes it much harder to break during use. It also makes it possible for you to grip the non-sharp end of the knife should your handle crumble or break.
Stainless Steel or Carbon Steel
This is what causes the most controversy in the knife world. Typically, you will find knives that are either forged from carbon steel or made with stainless steel. They each have their benefits. When you are picking a knife, you want something that is light enough for you to carry and wield easily, but you also want it durable enough to handle heavy use. It needs to cut through small branches and animal hide and bone.
Stainless steel blades won’t rust like a carbon steel blade. However, because of the chromium added to the stainless steel, it makes it a little weaker. A stainless steel blade will snap more easily than a carbon steel blade. Carbon steel blades will need to be cleaned after each use, but that may not be enough to prevent rust if the blade has been exposed to blood.
Carbon steel is durable, but even a blade made with carbon steel will bend a bit when it hits a rock or strong bone. However, bending can be fixed. A stainless steel blade that encounters the same hard mass will chip. A chipped blade cannot be repaired with a little sharpening. A carbon steel blade will stay sharper for longer versus a stainless steel blade that will dull quickly and need regular sharpening.
Fixed Blade vs Folded Blade
The next choice is deciding if you want a fixed blade or a blade you can fold down. A pocket knife tends to be a folded blade. They are easier to carry and do not require a sheath to protect you or your knife. However, the folding mechanism can wear down or break fairly easily. You would be left with a knife that has no handle. You would also have a tough time cleaning the folding section of your knife. If it were exposed to blood or acidic plant juice, the knife blade along with the folding mechanism will rust or erode.
Fixed blades are always going to be stronger and more durable. A fixed blade is better for any kind of heavy work that requires more strength than cutting through rope or carving into a tree trunk. A folded blade is great for carrying in your pocket for quick use if you need to cut something that is fairly light and doesn’t require a lot of force to be used. Fixed blades are going to be much bigger as well. You can get a 5 to 7 inch blade versus a folded blade which will only be a couple inches long. Anything more than that and it would be difficult and heavy to carry.
If you are storing a knife on your person or at work, it will likely need to be a folded blade. A large fixed blade knife in a sheath on your belt is generally frowned upon. You can conceal a folded blade in a pocket and avoid the raised eyebrows and looks of concern at the fact you are carrying what is considered a weapon, even though your main purpose is to carry the knife as a survival tool.
Now that you know the main components of a knife, you can make an educated decision about the knife you choose. It is best to go to a store that sells knives so you can feel them in your hand. You want a knife that is comfortable for you to use and isn’t too heavy. Spend some time reading reviews and ask others for their opinions.