What is The Best Overall Survival Knife?
Only a brave and well prepped survivalist would dare enter into this discussion, and since I am not one to refuse a challenge, let me give this one, a go.
Let’s start by describing what is a survival knife?
The best overall survival knife should be the most rugged piece of cutting steel that will see you through thick and thin when the SHTF!
This is the knife that you carry on you, at all times, when in a wilderness environment, and it is mostly used when things get serious.
The knife is one of the most useful tools ever invented by human beings. We have been using knives for thousands of years, for daily chores and for defense. We use knives everyday for preparing food and various cutting tasks. A strong, sharp blade is arguably the most important survival tool to have in a wilderness emergency.
Knives were one of the first tools invented by early man. They began as simple cutting tools, but technology has revolutionized the modern knife blade. The first knives were probably sharpened pieces of flint or obsidian. From these materials, they evolved into bronze, iron, and finally into today’s, sophisticated steels that modern blade-makers use.
Knives come in more shapes and sizes than you can imagine, but the Best Overall Survival Knife must be able to cut and clean game, perform daily tasks around camp, and be part of your powerful self-defense system.
A survival knife is also a bushcraft knife, and must be a practical and capable tool that can benefit your search for food, shelter, fire-building, and all the other necessities that you require in a wilderness situation.
Alone in the wilderness, … this is your most important tool.
This is not the knife that I use for cutting cheese, or picking my teeth, … just an expression. I would have made a toothpick with my everyday general purpose knife.
I’m a big believer in having a backup for all of my essentials and knives are no exception.
What are the qualities of the perfect survival Knife?
These seven features, are in my opinion, what must be included in the perfect knife. Knife makers, throughout the ages, have been trying to make the perfect knife, and never underestimate the creativity, the intelligence, and the resourcefulness, of a dedicated, and persistent human being.
A knife is a thing of beauty to a survivalist. A survivalist is a committed, and intelligent human being that has spends many hours planning and preparing to give himself the best odds possible, in the worst of all situations. They are all dedicated professionals.
A Solid Synthetic Handle
When your eyes first perceive this heavenly-shaped piece of metal and handle material, you have been captured by one of Nature’s ultimate shiny objects. Every grown-up, and every boy and girl, that I know, want to get this piece of shiny metal in their hand, to feel the power and energy it possesses. It’s like the ultimate magic wand, except that it’s more than magic, … this is a real power stick.
To hold this beautiful and impressive object, you must grab it by its handle. As soon as the handle makes contact with your hand, a connection is made to this object of beauty and function.
Immediately, your hand gives a yes or a no to your brain. This is why my perfect knife begins at the handle.
No, … the handle is not more important than the material used in its blade construction, the blade length or thickness, or the fixed, full tang blade. These qualities all blend together, to form the perfect whole, but the best way to hold this tool is by its handle. Now, let’s get to that blade.
You bet your sweet pommel on that one. I will bet my survival on a one-piece, 1/4-inch thick piece of the best grade blade material over a folding blade, every day of the week, including Sundays.
There are many excellent folding blades on the market, BUT, every folding knife has a hinge system of sorts, and that is its weak point. This is the weakest link in the chain, no contest here!
A Blade Length of 6 inches
After this comfortable feeling of the handle in your hand, the attention now turns to the blade. How long is the blade. Too short and too long are just that. A survival knife has to have good blade length and this, for me, is about 6 inches. Remember now, I’m describing the best overall survival knife, and a six-inch blade can perform many small and large tasks. Too short, say 4 inches, does not perform well for larger, more robust work, and too long, let’s say 8 inches, does not perform small tasks well. So 6 inches, it is!
A Blade Thickness of 1/8 to 1/4 inch
The feel of this knife in my hand makes me twist and turn it to get a better command of its powerful energy. A 1/4 inch thick full tang extending the full length of the handle and the first third of the blade, finally tapering towards the point, would be reaching close to ideal for me.
This blade thickness, however, can, and will vary with the design, but this is the thickness range that I prefer, and consider robust enough to qualify as my best overall survival knife.
The Point of the Knife
The point of a knife is the part that pierces the target. Like all other parts of the knife’s design it must be considered here as well. The sharper the point the weaker it is and the easier it will break when subjected to resistance. This is a very important feature for a survival knife. A broken knife point needs no further discussion. You are now left with half a knife.
Clip Point, Drop Point, Sheepsfoot, Tanto, Spear point, Trailing Point, and the Gut Hook, are some of the more common knife points.
My preferred is the drop point. When treated properly, it is the most functional point for most of your needs.
The tanto point is the strongest point, but it does not slice well.
Made of High Carbon Steel
Knife blades are made from a variety of steel materials in an effort to improve sharpness and resistance to staining and rust. Each material brings its best qualities to the final product.
Carbon Steel, which is an alloy of iron and carbon, can be made very sharp, holds its edge well, is easy to sharpen, but is vulnerable to rust and stains.
Stainless Steel is an alloy of iron, a minimum 10.5% chromium by mass , possible nickel, and molybdenum, and a maximum 1.2% of carbon by mass. It does not take as sharp an edge as carbon steel, but it is very resistant to corrosion.
High carbon stainless steel is stainless steel with greater amounts of carbon. This is intended to combine the better attributes of carbon steel and stainless steel. High carbon stainless steel blades do not discolor and stain and they maintain a sharper edge.
The tang is the part of the blade that extends into the handle. Knives are made with either a partial tang or a full tang.
In a full tang, the blade is one piece of metal extending into the handle, the full length of the tang can often be visible on the top, bottom, and end of the handle.
This is the strongest and best scenario.
A full tang is a must!
Conclusions and Considerations
These qualities or features of my Best Overall Survival Knife are all widely known and generally accepted in the knife world. When we think of knives, we think of blades. I chose to begin with the handle for this very personal reason.
Over the years, I have owned and used, many different blades in a wide range of designs. Nothing is more frustrating for me, than to hold a beautiful, well designed, and well constructed blade that is attached or connected to a poorly designed and constructed handle. If the handle does not fit well in your hand, this is not good. It prevents proper control of this very useful tool.
I have gotten into many animated discussions over the years about what makes the best overall survival knife. I’m sure that you have as well. I would love to hear your comments, your questions, and your suggestions about your Best Overall Survival Knife.
Be very careful when collecting knives, even though a knife collection is never a bad thing to have. They should be very sharp, they are always expensive, AND someone is making a beautiful one, right now, as you are reading this post!
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