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In my experience, in the wilderness that surrounds me, I can do everything I need to with two bladed tools: a 14" hatchet (Fiskars, which I can easily sharpen to shaving sharp very quickly). Chop wood, baton, dig a hole, even some rough carving. Second is a small knife ~3", either fixed or folder. I prefer a folder as for practical purposes it makes no difference and carries easier. I use a Sebenza. Good for cutting stuff, string, food, you name it.
I own several very expensive larger fixed blade knives that I take camping, but I never leave behind my hatchet. Indispensible.
 

Pisticus Veritas
Very Prepared!!
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Well, following the line that the tool I have is the tool I'll be using, my survival knife at this moment is a Spyderco Native with a GIN-1 blade. One of my favorites to carry, with the only drawback being the rivet that I never have got around to replacing.

While I know that I would be using a folder for most of the basic chores of survival, I personally do not think of a folder as a survival knife. I do not think of my old Leatherman PST2, which has survival in the name, or my many other multitools and Wenger swiss army knives that I have as survival knives. To me, a survival knife is a fixed blade - around 5-7 inches - with a strong point, a thick blade, a full tang, a comfortable handle, made with a minimum of fancy touches in either knife or sheath. It is a simple, strong tool.
There's a Spyderco shop about 10 minutes from my home. You could probably send your knife directly to them and they cold fix it for you. Interestingly, I have a very large knife collection but don't own a Spyderco. I'm not too fond of most of their designs but I have seen a few that look downright sweet. I will own one before too long.
 

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I've thought about having it worked on, but the self-sufficient (and cheap) side of me says to try it myself. Didn't know where to really send it anyway.

To be honest, I'm not a huge fan of Spydercos, but the Native fit my hand good and carries in my preferred pocket position. Got a plain edge as I have little use for the aggressive serrations they come with. It's been a very good knife, with the only damage occurring through negligence.

BTW, the tang stamp says "GOLDEN, COLORADO U.S.A. EARTH"
 

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The only time that I needed an outdoors-style camping knife (that sticks out in my mind- there have been other times and other knives) was in a pinch back in 1971 or thereabouts and the knife in question was a KaBar USMC. That knife did about everything but latrine duty...
That said, it's like others here pointed out- the survival knife is the one that covers your bacon when the deal goes down...
 

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7"-10" Blade
Full Tang
Not a concave grind
Heavy/Strong enough for light chopping duty, digging etc
Point suitable for spearing etc
Handle which allows thumb over the hilt for fine work and strapping points for lanyard/pole mounting
Jack of all trades, can be used for everything, probably not the best at anything.
 

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This is an old, but always valuable question.

Knives (big and small), machetes, multitools, axes, etc., are tools, those who use knives require the skill to maximize that sharpened piece of steel.

Two important factors in choosing is your activity and environment (region/season). Most experienced outdoorsmen rarely venture out with a single knife or tool. In fact, most here probably EDC a knife and/or multitool every day. Experience will often drive preferences, and no two bladed tool users with the exact same experiences with have the exact same opinion. When politician talk about 鈥渄iversity鈥, I always consider the gun and knife communities as the most extreme of diversity when it comes to choices and opinions!

You will have the axe proponents, the large knife proponents, the belt-knife (small fixed blade) proponents, your bushcraft crowd, your hunting crowd, your ultra-lightweight backpacker and your doomsday survivor, your combat-experienced user, your fishing crowd, those that advocate more for a saw than a chopper, and those who use a multitool more than a pocket knife and those that mentioned pocket knife can go from old trapper, to a SAK, to a large tactical folder.

At the extreme end of survival knife use, the best picture is something like Naked and Afraid, reality TV and naked people aside, one of the primary tool choices is usually a large bladed tool. Shelter building, ground insulation, firewood prep, tool/defense construction, skinning game/fish/fowl, foraging/digging, dispatching game, and defense, are all pretty consistent with 鈥渟urvival tasks鈥.

However, most normal people often plan a little better with seasonally appropriate clothes, a least a minimal shelter, water container/filtration, and fire making devices/tinder. So, do you really need a large chopper? Most in very dense swamp or jungle foliage environments will often agree to the benefit of a machete. Those who are in the more norther reaches or frequent boreal forests with colder seasons will often mention the value of an axe. Many of your survival instructors of the 90鈥檚 always favored large (9+inch) fixed blades. What really matters after your environment/seasonal conditions is what activity you鈥檙e doing. You won鈥檛 see to many distance hikers with a large axe and bow saw. Most on-foot hunters out west wouldn鈥檛 want to carry much extra weight than a small belt knife.

I try not to laugh, but many will say 鈥渦se the right tool for the job鈥. Unfortunately, survival isn鈥檛 a planned exercise (well, it should be exercised) and most here would ultimately have that pocket knife and possibly a multitool at best. Additionally, many have so many tool choices they need a porter, horse, canoe, or four-wheeler to transport them all (not a bad idea, it just needs to be part of your plan). Many who do head to the outdoors on foot and do prudent planning will at least have a small fixed blade/belt-knife and possibly as small folding saw (very under-rated as a paired tool with a belt knife).

We get a lot of debates about the tool type but rarely define the environment, the activity, additional equipment, and tasks expected. In my environment, I could do 90% of what I need if bare bones (not bare naked), just the clothes on my back (and realistically water container/filter, firesteel/Bic, and some cordage) and a good 4-5鈥 belt knife, small saw (Silky 170), pocket folder and a multitool (not essential, but part of my First-Line kit). Yes, in the later spring and summer, a machete would be very handy if bushwhacking, and in the fall and winter (through early spring), a bushcraft-sized axe or kukri would be favored additions (along with a larger saw)鈥ust to make that sure that last 10% is done with the most efficient tools I鈥檓 willing to carry.

ROCK6
 

Retired Army
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Something like this is what I'd probably be using 75% of the time in a survival situation.

Natural material Writing implement Material property Wood Tints and shades



HOWEVER, whenever people say "a survival knife" they are normally throwing out a "one knife" scenario, and there are a lot of heavy chopping tasks like getting fire wood, and making shelter that the above little beauty just couldn't do...

Therefore, for me, a "survival knife" is always gonna be a big full tang chopper. It's gonna be awkward using it around camp preparing food, but there ain't gonna BE no camp without it.

This big chunk of 1070 will suffice. It was made to be pretty, but it works like the dickens.

In reality, I'd want both.

Hunting knife Wood Utility knife Air gun Knife
 

Wile E Coyote, Genius.
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The Matt Graham knife from Condor would be my first preference. I see they have a micarta handle version now. Likely preferable to the slippery wood handle one I have.
I wrapped a ranger band around the handle for improved grip.

Spin it like a drill to make a fireboard.
Large enough to be a chopper.
light enough to carry.
Strong enough not to break.
Easy to grip the back of the blade for finer tasks.
Pointed enough for defensive use.
Fast and quiet sheath. Holds the knife under your belt. Keeps it from snagging on bushes. Keeps it secure, quiet, and not flapping around if you are running.

361787
 

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A survival knife to me is the biggest knife I can comfortably carry, which has an edge still fine enough to slice meat. That is around a 10.5鈥 blade and 25 ounces, with a 0.020鈥 thick edge. Honestly the best shape profile I have seen is the Busse Battlesaw, because of its weight forward bias and handle shape, but the edge geometry was too thick, and the steel failed badly when thinned. INFI simply lacked the lateral rigidity, or the thin convexing by RazoEdgeKnives to 15 dps made the wood pinch too close to the edge, but either way it warped at the edge like there鈥檚 no tomorrow. .At least it made me give up on convex edges forever...

After size the most important factor is a hollow grind profile to soften impact and reduce hand fatigue. Another factor in reducing hand fatigue is to have a stick tang to isolate the hand from impact vibrations. A fat rubber handle would be a plus, so no thin handle like the CS Trailmaster. An Ontario SP-53 would be ideal just for the handle, but lacks a hollow grind. The only knife over 10鈥 and 20 ounces, that I know of, to combine stick tang and hollow grind is the Randall Smithsonian, so I guess that would be the ideal, but it is a bit heavy at 28 ounces, due to the 3/8鈥 thick blade...

I like large all steel lightly checkered hollow handles for their fatness and smoothness, and Colin Cox combines this with hollow grinds, so those are my favourites.

I used to like 440 but I lean towards easier to sharpen 420 now, and since custom makers usually refuse to work with 420, the next best thing for ease of sharpening is some sort of Carbon steel. 420 is my first choice given my experience with United Rambos: Ease of sharpening and stainless: What could be better? However these have some kind of pot metal handle, so they are crap, unless you put on a new handle (I attached a very strong aluminium flashlight handle). Their weight of 16 ounces is a bit too light for serious chopping, and the Full Flat Grind geometry has a tendency to 鈥渟tick鈥 as it wedges into wood, a characteristic of FFGs, and this is another reason why hollow grinds are superior.
 

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I guess my EDC knives could turn out to be survival knives on a bad day. Two folding blades, 3" & 4.5". Different designs, but suit my everyday purposes.

My BOB is my truck however. That has 2 different machetes, 2 different saws, a hatchet and at least 5 other edged blades for various purposes. So apparently I don't have an ideal favorite for all purpose. As mentioned above, it's situational, seasonal and the best tool may be limited to what you have on hand.
 

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its called marketing.

ALL good made knives are 'survival" knives.

Just stick to what you know.
And if you have it with you when you need it, so much the better, if not then what ever you have with you becomes your survival knife...

I carry a pocket knife with me every where I go. It sees more use than any other knife I own, is it a survival knife? I guess that depends. I still carry it with me even when I'm carrying a belt knife.

I'm still surprised by how many people I've met that don't know how to properly sharpen a knife or need/use a sharpening gadget of some kind. Knowing how to sharpen a knife by hand with a stone is a survival skill. Any knife is a poor knife if it isn't sharp, unless all you plan to do with it is butter bread...LOL
 

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To me, a "survival knife" is a knife intended to be your only cutting tool in a survival situation (redundancy aside). It has to handle rough treatment like chopping and batoning with breaking, chipping, or bending.
 

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After size the most important factor is a hollow grind profile to soften impact and reduce hand fatigue. Another factor in reducing hand fatigue is to have a stick tang to isolate the hand from impact vibrations.
I love hollow grinds for thinner skinning knives, but not a general purpose blade. I still find a convex ground edge about the most optimum, general purpose edge. As to stick tangs, I'm torn. I typically wouldn't consider too many rat-tail or stick tangs as a serious survival knife, but there are a lot of Scandinavian blades used over the years without any issues. Even the Swedish Ranger School issues their students the Mora 2000 as their "survival" knife.

A survival knife to me is the biggest knife I can comfortably carry, which has an edge still fine enough to slice meat. That is around a 10.5鈥 blade and 25 ounces, with a 0.020鈥 thick edge.
I've love and have used a lot of big blades over the years, but rarely have one with me unless I'm specifically going out to train or practice some minimalist skills.




You really need some sort of baldric-carry system; no 10+inche blade is going to be comfortable on the belt unless you just doing static camping.

I'm in the camp that the knife(s)/tool you have on you is likely going to be your "survival" knife/tool. Whatever your survival knife is, it needs to be on your body, not in your pack:




ROCK6
 

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My "go-to" survival knife = 6 inch flat grind drop point blade, 1095 steel, well heat treated, full tang, NO saw back or serrations, solid sheath, linen micarta scales.... in other words, an Esee 6

now, if i want to go in style, i'll use my Gerber Coffin Handled Utility Bowie that Goblin X found for me!
 

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You really need some sort of baldric-carry system; no 10+inche blade is going to be comfortable on the belt unless you just doing static camping.

I'm in the camp that the knife(s)/tool you have on you is likely going to be your "survival" knife/tool. Whatever your survival knife is, it needs to be on your body, not in your pack:

ROCK6
But why a baldric rig for a 22 ounce Busse Battlesaw chopper, and not for a 40 ounce 1911 auto empty? Knives are always much lighter than any handgun... The 10" Lile Rambo "Mission" weights the same as an empty SW J frame 5 shot .38 that's often seen as an ankle holster back up...

That being said, I am revising my opinion of Hollow Grinds after much testing...: This is for reasons that are... Complicated...: I've found that using a Hollow Grind while chopping probably leads to a faster continuous micro-burr, even with correct use without any side loads: I think the thinner edge of a Hollow Grind hits "softer" into wood, but this also means the edge is less stable on entry, and this leads to a faster "burr" formation, caused by a less steady course of the edge inside the wood at the moment of impact. Full Flat Grinds are more resistant to this "burr" because the constant "widening" of the blade stabilizes it more as it penetrates: It runs straighter into the wood... I don't like Convex Grinds for multiple reasons, but they would, in theory, have the same advantage as Full Flat Grinds (along with less sticking, but at the unacceptable cost -for me- of being duller generally: I won't go into that).

This has to be tempered by FFGs, in my other observations, being less tolerant at the edge of accidentally applying side loads, because the "shoulders" of the edge are less "prominent" on FFGs, for the same edge angle, than on Hollow Grinds. Prominent "shoulders" take the lateral load off the apex more, reducing gross apex warping... For similar reasons, comparably thin convex edges also suffer more from side loads: Here my INFI Busse Battlesaw at around 15 dps final, very mild use:

377765


So microscopic apex burr from normal "competent" chopping: Flat Grinds better.
Accidental side loads while carelessly twisting knife: Less major edge apex warping for Hollow Grinds, due to the more acute/prominent edge shoulders taking the load away from the apex.

Combining a Full Flat Grind and 420J improves "normal" (no accidental side-twist) edge holding when chopping, because 420J loses its micro-apex faster, so there is no "burr" to bend and make a "lever" for a higher and higher bend on the rest of the edge, acting like a microlever to keep warping the edge more and more for each hit. Plus, the Full Flat Grind also runs into the wood straighter! This explains why FFG profiles in Taiwanese 420J seemed to hold up so well, being reluctant to make that continuous misaligned bent "lip" that gets taller and taller with each hit.

However, if I mishandled the 420J FFG knife, and put side loads on it, then the apex would fare worse than a similar Hollow Grind. This due both to the softer 420J steel and the lesser edge shoulders of a FFG. It is complicated, but I hope it makes sense.
 

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To me, a "survival knife" is a knife intended to be your only cutting tool in a survival situation (redundancy aside). It has to handle rough treatment like chopping and batoning with breaking, chipping, or bending.
To me, if you have 鈥渙nly鈥 1 cutting tool, you didn鈥檛 prep very well.

But why a baldric rig for a 22 ounce Busse Battlesaw chopper, and not for a 40 ounce 1911 auto empty?
Because the 1911 isn鈥檛 8-12 inches long, and rides higher on the hip without the handle digging into your ribs while the tip jabs you in the leg when you step up on a rock or a log.

Weight isn鈥檛 the only thing to worry about. That鈥檚 why he specifically said, 鈥渘o 10鈥 knife鈥.....
 

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To me, if you have 鈥渙nly鈥 1 cutting tool, you didn鈥檛 prep very well.



Because the 1911 isn鈥檛 8-12 inches long, and rides higher on the hip without the handle digging into your ribs while the tip jabs you in the leg when you step up on a rock or a log.

Weight isn鈥檛 the only thing to worry about. That鈥檚 why he specifically said, 鈥渘o 10鈥 knife鈥.....
I agree, but I'll counter with: If you exclusively plan on always having more than one cutting tool with you, you didn't prep very well.

I did say "redundancy aside", I wasn't implying that you should only have one cutting tool. Just that I consider a "survival knife" should be a knife capable of performing all expected tasks without failure. Absolutely take a backup knife/cutting tool.
 

Retired Army
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When I hear the term "survival knife" I think of TV shows, and movies. That's where you tend to see them most often.

Pretty much whatever you have on you when you need to "survive" is gonna end up being your "survival" knife. I always have more than one blade on me at a time so I should be good to go. I carry a folder for most cutting chores, and a small to med fixed blade for heavier tasks, and in case I need a back up weapon. Ideally, if I were having to survive with a knife I'd want a large fixed blade with a full tang so it could do more heavy tasks like making shelter, and cutting firewood. It's a lot easier to do camp chores with a large knife, than it is to cut wood with a small knife.

I got this beast just because it looks cool, but it would make a great survival blade. It is a seriously big chunk of 8670, and would last a good long while, even under the worst conditions.

Hunting knife Utility knife Wood Knife Everyday carry
 

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I agree, but I'll counter with: If you exclusively plan on always having more than one cutting tool with you, you didn't prep very well.
That鈥檚 a nonsensical statement.
If I exclusively plan on always having more than one tool, and then PREP for that, and follow through...that鈥檚 good prep.
My backpacking gear has three knives JUST in the gear, not counting what I put on the outside.
My fishing vest has two knives on it. My Kayak has another. My truck has four knives, a hatchet and two saws, plus two multi tools, plus regular tools. My desk at work has two knives and a multi tool in it. My day pack has a knife and a multi tool.

Calling it 鈥渆xclusive planning鈥 to always have more than one of something makes no sense.

I did say "redundancy aside", I wasn't implying that you should only have one cutting tool. Just that I consider a "survival knife" should be a knife capable of performing all expected tasks without failure. Absolutely take a backup knife/cutting tool.
Redundancy denotes more of the same thing, so if you say redundancy aside, but then say you only plan on one tool....then you DID imply exactly that.

But all of that aside...LoL...鈥漰lanning鈥 on a tool to never fail is a poor example of prepping.
Which even you admit, as you then say we need backups.....which is exactly what I said.

So it appears we agree? Plan on having spares and other methods and tools available, not just one cutting tool?
 
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