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5 Common Misconceptions About Survival Knives

All you need is one knife

Many beginning survivalists begin their quest by looking for one knife that fits all their survival needs. There are plenty of versatile blades out there but the true survivalist has a variety of different knives to handle a variety of different situations. A common recommendation is the three knife system. One large knife, like a machete or bowie, to cut a path or take down trees. A regular size survival knife to take on smaller cutting and fire starting tasks, and a small knife for cleaning game and cooking.

The average survival knife is about 8-14 inches in total length. There is no doubt that one survival knife alone can increase your survivability. However, do not assume that a single medium sized survival blade will be able to tackle every cutting task you may face in the wilderness.

Blade design is a matter of style not utility

Survival knives come in many different blade styles. The type of blade you buy is important because certain styles are better at executing certain tasks. Spear and needle point blades are designed for self-defense situations as opposed to clip and drop point blades which are designed for cutting, chopping, and battoning. The beginning survivalist is likely to purchase a blade because of how it looks, this can be a fatal mistake. Make sure to be aware of the proper uses for each blade style before venturing into the wild.

Stainless steel is weaker than carbon steel

A popular myth in the knife world is that stainless steel knives are inferior to carbon steel knives.  The truth is that stainless steel knives and carbon steel knives have different advantages and disadvantages.

The chromium element in stainless steel helps protect the knife from moister in the environment which leads to rust. But, stainless steel loses its edge quicker and is harder to sharpen because chromium is a tougher material than carbon. Carbon knives, however hold their edge longer and are very easy to sharpen. The downside is that they are made with iron which is more susceptible to rust than chromium is. The distinction between the two should not matter much in short term survival situations. If sharpness is the issue, go carbon. But if brute strength is what you want then it’s stainless steel all the way. It’s a myth to say that one type of steel is inherently better than the other, like most things it is simply a matter of preference.

Fixed blades and Folders are the same

A fixed blade is when the steel extends into the handle of the knife. The part of the steel that is inside the handle is called the tang. The tang can come in a variety of different styles but its main purpose is to provide more durability. A strong tang prevents the exposed steel from breaking off during cutting. The problem with folding knives is that they do not have a tang and are therefore easily separated from the handle. This makes a folding knife much weaker than a fixed blade. It may be useful to have a small folding knife in a survival situation, but do not assume that it can accomplish the tasks a full sized fixed blade can.

A good pair of scissors works fine

Some survivalists claim that they can do all the tasks a survival knife can with a strong pair of scissors. This is absolutely false. Scissors may have some uses in a survival situation but they in no way can achieve what a full sized blade can. Scissors cannot cut through brush, chop down trees, or efficiently skin game. Do not replace your survival knife with a pair of scissors, no matter how good they are.