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Old 04-24-2012, 08:45 AM
SirThrivalist SirThrivalist is offline
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Question What do you really NEED in a survival knife?



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Educate me please...

What are the minimum standards you look for in a Bushcraft Knife that you could bet your life on if it came down to it?

I think I have the basics down:
Full tang design
1075+ Grade High Carbon Steel or Stainless with hardened edge
3/16"+ thickness
5"+ blade length

I'm not talking about a knife that excels at detail work, but can't be used to
process firewood or one that's great at batoning, but hard to use at fine work.
I don't think that one knife does it all well, but again, what do you "need" as opposed
to what you "want" when you pick out a knife to feed you and keep you warm & dry?

This is a money no object question (meaning, I don't care about how high the prices is or how low the price is).
I'm finding knives in the $30. range that perform at almost 90% of what examples costing 3 times as much cost.

BUT!!! In the long run, after years, will that $30. knife still be around?

I'm a tool & gadget nut. I know there are some points where diminishing returns factor in.
I used to balk at the idea of a $100.+ hammer until I used one. Then on the other hand,
I can't see spending more than X amount of dollars on other tools because no matter what they do,
they can't improve on a specific design and the lesser option works just as great as the costlier option.
Again, this really isn't about money as much as it's about what one needs in a particular implement.

I know I'm going to own at least ONE great knife (translation: "great" as in me finding myself having
to justify it's cost to people who don't know about knives like I don't know about knives now! ).
More likely than not, it'll be the piece I will use most.

Thanks for any insight.

Old 04-24-2012, 09:13 AM
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I do not subscribe to the "one knife" philosophy. I say get a good multi-tool, a 4-6 inch standard edge fixed blade (thousands of them out there), and a hatchet. If you spend too much money on a single knife, you might not use it. I'd rather have four $50 buck knives than one Busse.
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Old 04-24-2012, 09:16 AM
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I'm pretty much in Jeffrey's camp. Most of the answers you'll get are going to depend on how people define terms - in this case 'survival'...

A 'survival knife' should allow you to clean a trout, clean a rabbit that you caught in a snare, clean a pheasant or grouse, or - if you're lucky - gut a deer. It should hold an edge and be relatively easy to sharpen.

I'm never going to fight anyone with a knife, because I have a .45 and I'm too old and slow to be knife fighting anyway. So I don't need a large heavy bowie-type knife.

I don't intend to 'process firewood' with a knife, because in neither sort of survival situation do I see that as necessary. If we're talking about "lost in the woods" survival, I can drag deadfall into a pile after I get a real small fire going. And if we're talking about a "post-event" survival situation, wood smoke is a very distinctive smell, and it is persistent - travels on the wind for long distances. People will smell it and try to hunt down whoever lit the fire. If I were building any sort of fire it would be a tiny fire in a pit, so as to try to avoid it being seen, and later to hide the fact that I'd built a fire at all.

To process firewood I'd want a chainsaw and a splitting maul.

Its true that you can use a large knife to construct a shelter if you're lost in the woods. But its also true that you can stuff a gore-tex bivy sack into a small daypack and not need to build a shelter out of saplings and underbrush.

Moreover, if you're trying to not be found, removing all traces of your engineering efforts is going to be a major PITA if you're basically patrolling through hostile environments. There are other options.

I was in the infantry for nearly 7 years, and carried either a KaBar or a Gerber out in the field. While that isn't exactly a 'survival' situation like we commonly discuss on this forum, in all that time the only thing I ever used it for was to open cases of c-rats and, later, MREs. For all the little daily cutting tasks I used a folding pocketknife. I shot a deer long ago and tried to clean it with a KaBar. I ended up using my Swiss Army Knife - a KaBar makes a lousy selection to gut a deer with!

Bottom line is that IMHO a good survival knife is a medium sized lightweight knife with about a 4-5" blade of good steel. And it shouldn't be so expensive that if you lose it you'll regret spending that much on it! You don't need to carry any extra weight, and there are many decent knives that fit that description that you needn't break the bank to own.

Just one opinion. YMMV.

Best with your search!
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Old 04-24-2012, 09:21 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeffrey View Post
I do not subscribe to the "one knife" philosophy. I say get a good multi-tool, a 4-6 inch standard edge fixed blade (thousands of them out there), and a hatchet. If you spend too much money on a single knife, you might not use it. I'd rather have four $50 buck knives than one Busse.
Me neither.

I'm noticing that most of those who know anything about knives here have a 5"+
knife and a smaller blade for intricate work which'll be the route I follow as well.

Have my other tools figured out already (hatchet, folding saw, multi-tool, etc...).
Just working on the main knife/small knife combo now which happens to be the
area I'm "least" knowledgeable on.




Quote:
Originally Posted by Grotius View Post
...

Bottom line is that IMHO a good survival knife is a medium sized lightweight knife with about a 4-5" blade of good steel. And it shouldn't be so expensive that if you lose it you'll regret spending that much on it! You don't need to carry any extra weight, and there are many decent knives that fit that description that you needn't break the bank to own.

Just one opinion. YMMV.

Best with your search!
And a great opinion it is as it's given me other things to consider.
Thank you very much. Appreciate it.

Old 04-24-2012, 09:29 AM
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A good warranty is also a plus. That way you can put it to through IRL tests and if the results are failure get the manufacturer to replace it and sell the blade. ESEE has a near no fault warranty but you will likely be satisfied by the performance and want to keep it.
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Old 04-24-2012, 09:42 AM
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Leatherman will replace a broken blade for free. Done it many times.
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Old 04-24-2012, 09:57 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by escapefromNY View Post
A good warranty is also a plus. That way you can put it to through IRL tests and if the results are failure get the manufacturer to replace it and sell the blade. ESEE has a near no fault warranty but you will likely be satisfied by the performance and want to keep it.
Absolutely...that's why the ESEE will be my personal no-compromise piece.


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Leatherman will replace a broken blade for free. Done it many times.
The Surge is in my sights.
Old 04-24-2012, 10:04 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeffrey View Post
Leatherman will replace a broken blade for free. Done it many times.
If they break that often either your not using them right and you should stop doing whatever it is you're doing or they're crap and you should stop buying them tbh
Old 04-24-2012, 10:27 AM
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It's good to know that if you break your blade using it like a crowbar it will be replaced if you ever get rescued. I'm with Grotius, right blade for the right task. If I were stuck out in the wilderness I'd treat my knife like it was the most valuable thing in the world. But that's just me.
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Old 04-24-2012, 11:43 AM
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There are lots of folks who feel like a "survival knife" is defined by blade length/thickness.
I don't happen to agree with that,but it's all good .

For me it's about how well it works in conjunction with whatever other gear I carry.
I'm talking about a 4-5" knife,a folding saw & a hatchet/axe.
Other people feel differently.
There's a skill level that you need to have to effectively use any gear whether it's a large knife,a small knife,an axe or whatever.
I find it difficult to tell anyone what they should use because I don't know what their skill level is.
I'm sure there are some people who indeed can do it all with a larger knife,but I'm not one of them nor do I care to be.
I've gotten accustomed to using smaller blades & I'm happy with the way they work for me.

Having said all that & to answer the original question....get an ESSE 4 & don't look back.
I think it has everything you need .
Cliff
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Old 04-24-2012, 12:09 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cliff Nieporte View Post
There are lots of folks who feel like a "survival knife" is defined by blade length/thickness.
I don't happen to agree with that,but it's all good .

For me it's about how well it works in conjunction with whatever other gear I carry.
I'm talking about a 4-5" knife,a folding saw & a hatchet/axe.
Other people feel differently.
There's a skill level that you need to have to effectively use any gear whether it's a large knife,a small knife,an axe or whatever.
I find it difficult to tell anyone what they should use because I don't know what their skill level is.
I'm sure there are some people who indeed can do it all with a larger knife,but I'm not one of them nor do I care to be.
I've gotten accustomed to using smaller blades & I'm happy with the way they work for me.

Having said all that & to answer the original question....get an ESSE 4 & don't look back.
I think it has everything you need .
Cliff
Actually, I'm thinking ESEE-6 + an ESEE-3 or a 3" Mora.

As for everything else, I've pretty much mastered
hatchets, saws and brush removal gear like machetes.
Old 04-24-2012, 02:24 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Smudge View Post
If they break that often either your not using them right and you should stop doing whatever it is you're doing or they're crap and you should stop buying them tbh
Quote:
Originally Posted by SR69 View Post
Actually, I'm thinking ESEE-6 + an ESEE-3 or a 3" Mora.

As for everything else, I've pretty much mastered
hatchets, saws and brush removal gear like machetes.
I'm happy with the ESEE-6 and Morakniv Classic combo in my pack. I have the 3 but I feel the 6 is would be more versatile and valuable in a survival situation.

I like the extended molle sheath for the ESEE-6, it has a nifty pouch to keep a Altoids tin with other small essentials.

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Old 04-24-2012, 03:28 PM
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Quote:
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http://i1.kwejk.pl/site_media/obrazk...gif?1309212184

Old 04-24-2012, 03:49 PM
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I dont even have one Wife.. why would I have one Knife
Old 04-24-2012, 04:01 PM
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I dont even have one Wife.. why would I have one Knife
+1 on polygamy when it comes to blades.

@SR69
Old 04-24-2012, 04:34 PM
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I agree with the posters that say not to depend one's life on a single knife. My survival kit contains at least six sharpened edges with at least three of those on dedicated knife platforms. I like to have a primary survival blade, a dedicated bushcraft knife (i.e. Scandi grind), and some sort of folder in my pocket, usually a robust Swiss Army knife. I also carry a Leatherman with a blade, sharpened scissors, axe, and arrow heads, all of which I have used as edges in the past.

I will focus on my primary survival blade. For a survival blade, I require a blade:
1. Made of stainless steel, preferably quality laminated,
2. At least three inches long but shorter than six inches,
3. With a convex edge, and
4. Full tang, with a
5. Rubberized or otherwise "grippy" handle material.

In addition, I like, but do not require, a pommel or exposed portion of the tang that can be used for hammering and non-lethal defense. Thickness can be important, but I usually leave that decision to the manufacturer. I feel that knives should be as thick as they need to be, whatever that measurement may end up being. I have found that most knives that meet my requirements run between $60-$150 with several exceptions. My chosen knife cost $120 when I purchased it approximately two to three years ago.

I chose the Fallkniven S1 as my primary survival blade. There are other knives out there that meet my requirements and some that I have owned, but the S1 felt the best in my hand and required the least amount of maintenance.

Experiment. Find out what works for you and go from there. I went through nine brands of knives before I settled on the Fallkniven. Ka-Bar, Sog, Bark River, Fallkniven, and Esee all have great offerings. Each of these brands is also easy to trade so you shouldn't lose much value on testing out different blades.
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Old 04-24-2012, 05:16 PM
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@SR69
Hee Hee!
Old 04-24-2012, 05:20 PM
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Cheap, awesome and a I love it.
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Old 04-24-2012, 08:20 PM
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A Mora 711, ESSE 3 or Izula II for only one.

As others roll , combos feel better.
Candiru
LM squirt
Kershaw onion
Mora 711
CS bushman Bowie
Folding saw
SOG multi tool
G.I. Shovel
Hatchet
Machete
Woodsmans pal

Lots of ways to mix and match those items to conditions.
Old 04-24-2012, 10:55 PM
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Hopefully I can add something of value to this; A survival knife is a knife you will use to give you a greater percentage of actually Surviving an Extreme or Hostile environment situation when other necessities are not available. I'm also not a one knife person as different lengths give advantages and disadvantages. Firstly take in your terrain; what types of foliage exist?, A Large chopper in a desert is not necessary so you may opt for a 5"-6";
In the pacific Northwest There are areas that are So cluttered with undergrowth and large sized foliage so a larger blade may be necessary Its Damp in Rainforests so maybe you wanna opt for a stainless or a metal with less carbon content if you cannot take care of it right away. Thickness? well i try to opt for a thicker blade to keep up my confidence when it comes to maybe doing something that may require some prying; i've always managed not to do those things. you should be able to do small chores with it or carry a smaller folder with a good sturdy lock ( Buck 110), or if you choose a frame lock make sure that you specify a 100% lock-up. Make sure you always ( and I mean Always ) keep your knives as sharp as you can; I prefer Full Tang knives , Flat grind Blades, No Tanto points, a good solid Guard to keep your fingers off edges ( yes self inflicted injuries do happen, even to the expierienced), and practice with it as much as possible. Good luck
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