Finding the best survival knife can be a tough task—mostly because the buying decision isn’t objective. The best survival knife for you may not be the best for someone else. There are however certain things you should definitely know and consider when choosing a survival knife.
The Difference Between Hunting & Survival
Your very first step is to make sure you know the difference between a survival knife and a hunting knife. Even though there may be varying opinions about what elements make up the perfect survival knife, there is no argument over whether a hunting knife and a survival knife can be used interchangeably. Hunting knives are for cleaning, skinning, boning and field dressing. Contrastingly, survival knifes are used for a variety of other tasks like building fire and shelters, chopping, prying and spearing your dinner. Hunting knives should be reserved for hunting activities so you don’t damage them with the more common tasks you’d use your survival knife for.
The handle on a survival knife can vary. You might find some made of polymer and others made of hard rubber. Either is actually fine, but there’s one thing to look out for. If the handle is hollow, you should stay away from it. You want your survival knife to be full-tang and it isn’t full-tang if the handle is hollow. This is one of the first things you should pay attention to. Another consideration for your handle is the design. Some handles are designed with a hole in the corner of the handle. While this isn’t a must have, a handle with a hole in it can prove to be quite beneficial. You can string a lanyard through the hole and wrap the lanyard around your wrist when your using the knife to avoid the knife slipping out of your hand.
The tang is the part of the blade that extends into the knife’s handle. You want the tang to go all the way to the bottom of the handle. This is why your handle shouldn’t be hollow because if it is, that means your tang doesn’t extend to the tip of the handle. When you don’t have a full tang you risk the handle breaking off of the blade while the knife is in use which could be extremely dangerous.
The Length & Thickness of the Blade
When it comes to survival knives, size really does matter. Take some time to look past convenience just a tad so you can ensure you have the optimal experience with your survival knife. So while smaller may be easier to carry, it may not serve you well when you really need it. A good survival knife will be between six and twelve inches long with a width of about 3/16 to ¼ of an inch. Going with a length and thickness that falls within these ranges means you are choosing a solid blade that will be both sturdy and reliable.
We cannot forsake the material of the metal, but the debate over the best type of metal is also one of preference. The most common metal options are stainless steel and carbon. Each of these have their pros and cons. You’re OK to go with either, but you want to make sure you are clear on what the differences are so you make a choice that makes the most sense for you. Carbon runs a higher risk of rusting, but it will maintain its edge much longer than stainless steel. While the longevity of of the edge on a stainless steel knife doesn’t hold up to carbon, stainless steel happens to be much more durable.
Another thing you might consider that is the design of the blade. Either a serrated blade or a straight blade will work just fine depending on what you’ll be using the knife for most. For instance, it would be easier to chop wood with a straight blade. When choosing the design, your best bet is to determine what tasks are most important to you and then choose your blade design based on that.
There is really no one perfect survival knife. Rather than searching for the perfect knife, it might be more helpful to find a quality knife that fits your needs and your preferences. There are so many elements to consider to ensure you are getting exactly what you need. Start with this list and you’re well on your way to selecting a survival knife that’s perfect for you.