A survival knife should be simple yet deadly. A good knife should be able to perform multiple functions. This means the knife you choose should have what you need without compromising on any feature.
How to choose a survival knife
Before getting a knife, you should choose one based on:
- Survival knives can be used for practically anything, including opening an envelope. Therefore, before choosing one, determine what you intend to use it for. Do you want one for multiple use or single use? If you want an everyday carry, you will need one that is portable and light.
- Laws. A knife is considered a weapon, and you should understand federal and state laws on where you can carry and use your knife. Each state has laws that govern this. If you plan on traveling with your knife, TSA details how and where you should carry it.
- If you buying a survival knife for the first time, it is important to go for one that you can easily use.
Features to Look out for
Survival knives come with a fixed blade or a folding one. Though folding knives can be convenient to carry around, easy to conceal, and may come with other tools, a fixed blade is preferred by many survivalists because it is sturdy, strong, and ideal for heavy use. If you don’t know which fixed blade to get, this in-depth review will give you an idea of what to look for.
Other areas to look at include:
- Blade material. The main materials used in survival knives are carbon steel and stainless steel. Each has its pros and cons. Carbon steel knives have a sharper edge and are easy to sharpen. Stainless steel knives are resistant to corrosion but are heavier. Both materials make amazing knives, and you can go with either according to your preference.
- Blade thickness. A light blade may be easy to carry but is impractical for heavy activities. The recommended thickness for a survival knife is between 3/16 and 1/4 inches.
- Blade length. Survival knives can range from anywhere between 3 to 12 inches. Shorter blades are cheaper and easy to move around with but have no use in the outdoors. Though longer blades are heavier and more expensive, they are more versatile and better for outdoor activities. However, a length between 6 and 12 inches can work. Ensure the knife is not too long for you to wield.
- Blade design. A survival knife will come in different designs. Some come with serrated or straight edges, while others come with different points or tips. A drop point allows for different uses, while a spear point and tanto point are best for tactical use. Moreover, some come with lanyard holes that you can use to fasten a rope.
The tang of a blade is the unsharpened part of the knife that extends from the tip to the handle. Some knives have:
- A full tang that extends to the entire handle.
- A partial tang that extends to only a section of the handle. Such knives are not recommended for survival as they are weaker.
- A rat-tail tang with a narrow strip of metal in the middle of the handle.
When looking at different knives, you will notice some have a serrated tang. Though such knives look cool, they may not be practical and may end up being more hazardous.
A knife with a full tang is more durable and reliable. It gives it more strength and makes it steady to use.
Different survival knives come with a variety of handles. However, a knife’s handle affects its use. When checking the handle, look at:
- You will find knives made of stainless steel, aluminum, G-10, carbon fiber, bone, wood, or leather. A stainless steel and aluminum handle may be harder to hold and slip easily, especially when the hand sweats.
- A good handle should cater to different grips (hammer, forehand, backhand, or fist).
Therefore, do not just go for what looks good. A great survival knife should be durable, have a strong grip, and feel comfortable in your hands. Even if you plan to use it with gloves, test the handle with your bare hands first before purchasing it. Your hand should be able to enclose the knife without the fingernails touching the palm.
The pommel of a knife refers to the bottom of the knife handle. A round or flat pommel can be used in place of a hammer. Some pommels come with a hole you can tie a rope to, making them ideal for use in or near water.
A sheath can affect a knife. Look for a sheath that can secure the knife safely when not in use. A leather sheath looks better but can corrode a knife when wet and wears out more quickly. A Kydex sheath is better because it is light and unaffected by the elements.
Whether you are looking for a camping knife or an EDC, choose one you can wield. You may go for the best of the best, but if you do not know how to use it, it will be a useless tool to have. Start with a simple one if you are new to this and practice. Go for a sharp, strong blade with a comfortable handle. Ensure you understand knife safety, including how to carry and keep it.