Comments about survival knives

I have been collecting knives since I was 8 years old (25 years ago and counting). It is not easy to define the best knife when you have so many good options out there. I would say the best knife is the one you can afford and of course the one you really like and taking into account important features like materials, design, size, etc.

Currently my EDC folder knife is a Chris Reeve Small Sebenza, great folder for a city and even for hunting (as a 2nd knife or course). I have heard that you could skin a deer with it. I have had sog folders and they are excellent tools as well. I agree with previous comments about the efficacy of a folder as a survival knife. I don't think they are suitable for that type of tasks.

As a survival knife I carry a Swamp rat RMD and as a back up I do carry a multi tool (SOG paratool black oxide, it is good, but I am pretty sure there are better options). Other knives I have but I don't use for survival situations are (they are part of my collection):

1. Bushwacker mistress - Busse
2. SNG folder - Strider
3. Professional Soldier -Chris Reeve

Other excellent knives I would recommend are:

1. Swamp Rat HRLM
2. Ontario Rat 3
3. SOG - Seal Pup
4. Fallkniven F1
5. Ka bar - Great knife but it is more a combat type knife.
6. Cold Steel SRK
7. Camillus Pilot survival knife
8. Becker Knives-Pretty much all of them are great knives.
9. Spanish knives are very good - just for fun check this out:

This is just a short list of all the good options the market has to offer and just keep in mind as I read in a previous post "a 5 dollars knife can be the difference in a survival situation".

The last recommendation before you get a knife is.. take your time and do some research before you get it, check the forums and the secondary market you could get a lot of good products there.

Prepare for your wilderness adventure.

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My favorite knives

by Albert "Wood Rat" Willman
(Molalla Oregon USA)

All Three knives

All Three knives

I own many knives and a few of them are good enough to trust with my life.

1) My everyday carry knife is the Tom Brown Tracker 2. It is a rather expensive ($280.00 ish) knife but I've found it very much worth it.
Blade Length: 3 1/2"
O/A Length: 9 1/2"
Draw Knife: 2"
Blade Height: 2"
Blade Thickness: 3/16"
Blade Steel: 1095 High Carbon Alloy RC-58
Blade Color: Black Traction Coating
Handle Material: Black Linen Micarta®
Sheath: Kydex With Two Rotating Steel Spring Clips
Mfg. Handcrafted in the USA

2) If I'm in need of a larger knife I use an Ontario RAT 7. This isn't too badly priced at all (around $100.00) and is a high quality knife.
1095 Carbon Steel Blade
Zinc Phosphate Finish
12" overall length
6.5" cutting edge length
Blade .1875" thick
Thumb grooves in spine
Green Canvas Micarta Handle
Cordura® Sheath with gear pocket and Kydex® blade liner.

3) If I'm in need of a machete style knife, which is hardly ever, I will carry my RTAK by Ontario.
1095 Carbon Steel Blade
Zinc Phosphate Finish
10" Blade
17 1/8" Overall
Blade-.1875" Thick
Black Linen Micarta Handle
Ambidextrous sheath with gear pocket and lashing holes.

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Get a knife with a bright colored handle

by Dan Russell
(Northern Maine)

Just a note about knives in the wilderness. As a hunter and professional forester with over 35 years experience in the woods, my favorite pet peeve is this:

For a survival knife I would like to see the handle a bright color, not black, or camo as is often advertised in hunting catalogs. I have come very close to losing my knife more than once while field dressing game and laying it on the ground. There is nothing "sexy" or manly about a lost knife in a survival situation. There are many quality knives made, but a lost knife is "no knife at all".

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Knives to keep you alive

by Tim "Nomad" Piper

I had a WESTERN bowie knife years ago, and it failed where the blade meets the handle. They did replace it but stated that it was a show knife and very brittle. I have used the replacement blade for many years without a second failure. Ontario Knife makes a SURVIVAL BOWIE which is identical except it has a CRATON handle and is powder coated. I believe it is made of better steel also.

I did retire the WESTERN 8 years ago and bought an Ontario SP-5 knife. I have been very pleased with it and it can handle the abuse. Both knives have been driven into wood with another piece of wood to split it. They both have dents in the back side of the blade and can hold an edge equally well.

The SP-5 is a lot lighter than the larger bowie and still performs just as good. I would definitely choose the SP-5 again given the choice. I now have a GERBER sliding bone saw and a wood saw. These require a lot less energy and do a better job of cutting poles, firewood and deer pelvic bones. That is why I am looking for a smaller "BIG KNIFE". One with a 6/7 inch blade instead of 10"+. Possibly a RAT-7.

I know it seems like a lot of gadgets but these saws are light and a pleasure to use. They save a lot of calories also and remove the possibility for chopping accidents to your hands and legs.

I also carry a CROOKED CREEK neck knife for camp work and butchering deer/game. It has cut up 17 deer and is still going strong. I paid $9.00 for it at a flea mkt.

I recently purchased a COLD STEEL bird and trout knife to take care of my butchering chores. I paid $20.00 for it at the same flea-mkt booth.

The last two do not have handle scales, so they are clean up easily and can be boiled or hung over a fire to sterilize them. This would be a great asset if you needed to do surgery or anything requiring a sterile blade.

I do not carry a folder. I feel that if it was used for food items it would be difficult to keep bacteria free. Just as important is a way to sharpen your knives. I carry a pencil sized sharpening steel that unscrews and fits into its own handle. I also carry a small ceramic stone and a Arkansas wet stone.


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Carbon steel knife to start a fire

by HarGopal Boyd
(Port Townsend, WA)

I don't have a favorite brand of knife there are many good ones out there. I do however prefer carbon steel (or high carbon) over stainless. There is an added value to having a carbon steel knife in a survival situation over the stainless. You can strike flint if you find some and get a spark but you won't get a spark with the stainless very often if at all and they won't of the intense incendiary spark like the burning fragment of carbon steel.

This is why you will often notice that the old survivalist and woodsmen always carry a carbon steel knife. Plus that easy of sharpening this steel means that you can use almost any stone that you find to sharpen it.

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Field expedient knife


It's all well and good to talk about the "BEST" survival knife, but you would be better served spending that time learning how to improvise a knife in the field.

I don't care what kind of knife it is. It can be lost or broken. And if You don't know the first thing about flintknapping, you may find yourself up a creek without a paddle in sight. Don't get me wrong, a good knife is the most valuable tool you can possess in the wilderness. But it may not be there when You need It.

That being said, my favorite survival knife is the classic SOG Bowie.

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Knife selection

by Aaron

My outlook on knife selection is try and suit the knife to the job as closely as possible, I know, not always easy! But you can narrow your odds of having the "right" knife by having two or more knives.

1: Larger, heavy duty, shelter material cutter etc (older, lighter carbon V Cold-steel Kukri was my own pick). I know there are people already shouting at the screen weight, weight, weight! Overloading can turn into a problem very quickly, that's why I went for the thinner blade model rather than the one they do with a blade as thick as the trailmaster bowie.

2: Smaller bladed sheath knife for just about every thing else(I have a Helle Odel laminated blade for this, careful with these, SUPERNATURALLY sharp) Anything by Mora, Brusletto, Fallkniven, or other scandi type knives are good for this. Just a few words of caution on these, the handles can be quite small on these, fitting "in" your hand with little protruding from your hand making it difficult to alter your grip safely. This can be made worse because most of these knives dont have much of a guard to prevent your hand coming to the edge. Once you're used to them you'll wonder about any other choice, but can be tricky. The Helle Odel has a bigger handle than most and weighs next to nothing. I personally pick two knives because they cover a broader range of tasks better than any one knife can.

Another consideration is, if you pick out the best knife in the world that will cover every job as well as my two (good luck with that, let me know and I'll buy it) and it's being used for a heavy chore and unknown to everyone there is a tiny flaw in the blade hidden from everything except xrays and that blade cracks off an inch above the guard.


Dont say it could never happen, I've personally seen a tool steel bladed knife, shaped by hand with a file and sandpaper, professionally heat treated, and broken as I described through normal use. The odds are it was simply a flaw from the steel mill, one in ten million chance. Think about it though, You are where you really need your knife and you're looking down at a grey cracked edge of steel where your knife blade used to be. I'd rather be able to take another blade off my belt and carry on working.

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Top five survival knives

by Jack Blade
(Northern Rockies, USA)

Tried and true

Tried and true

Here is a list of my top five survival knives. I own and have used all these knives to baton wood, make a shelter/blind as well as gutting both fish and deer with them! I have even used them to cut up veggies and meat to make stew out in the wild among other things!

Top five:

- Gerber Big Rock
- Knives of Alaska Bushmaster Trail and Camp Knife in D2
- Knives of Alaska Defense/Survival Knife in D2
- Ontario Rat 7
- Chris Reeve Mk VI

Any of these knives would serve you well as a survival knife! There are other makes and models from other knife makers which I am sure would also do the job, but I have not actually used them so I can't speak to how they would perform. But these I have used and they performed admirably!

I have used some other knives which did not perform well or broke in the field! Stay away from cheap Chinese no brand knockoffs as they are of dubious quality and break easily when they are put to the task in the field!

Also you want either a full tang or integral knife not anything with a rat tail type tang or welded/soldered to the handle as these usually do not last long either! Also stay away from thin bladed, small knives unless you are also toting a hatchet as these type knives will not cut wood or withstand batoning!

Prepare to be a wilderness survivor.

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Alaska Alpha Wolf

by Azamie
(Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia)

Some of my favorite knives that I use:

2. Knives of Alaska - Alpha WOLF S30V
3. Ontario RAT 7 D2
4. MORA - All arround
5. Buck 110

Fishing or small game hunting and staying in a primary Jungle I will bring my machete "parang" together with my Apha wolf (S30V) Knives of Alaska and my Ontario RAT 7 (D2).

The Alpha wolf I will use it for dressing. The lightweight and the sharpness make it so easy to do the dressing. Hold the edge very very well.

The RAT 7 mainly I use it for tougher activities such as building the shelter or carving woods.

The SOG SEAL PUP for me is a beautiful knife. I really like it but seldom use it due to the serrated blade. Usually I just put it at my waist when going for weekend fishing. Maybe just for my safety. Any always bring the Mora with me for do the cutting job.

Lastly, eventhough my favorite knife is my Alpha Wolf and my SOG, but I always use sometimes abuse my Mora due to the cheaper price.

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What is the perfect survival knife

by John

My review is not for the well-seasoned wilderness veteran. Since Mr. Falk was kind enough to put up this site I believe it was to help those not able to be out in nature enough to gain/learn the skills to survive. Learn as much as you can from this website knowledge is power.

The more gear you have the easier it is, but also heavier/ harder to hump into the wild. Small knives are light easy to care and likely will be with you, great for dressing rabbits, fish, small game. Horrible for wood gathering, since fire is the second essential do you really want a small lightweight blade to beat/baton on (always a chance of breaking it)?

What about digging a Dakota fire pit or a fire bed (you can chip, dull the blade or even break it)? Another survival expert Doug Ritter says never use your knife to dig with, sharpen a stick and dig. ??Great idea?? doesn’t matter if you chip the stick on a rock (just sharpen another one)but what about all the roots, a stick is not very useful for that.

Weight is a major concern but the pros vs cons seem to indicate one should strive to have the perfect survival knife system, which should include a small but good sharpening device. Two good quality steel knives 1 small, lightweight, fine detail and 1 heavy duty workhorse also (off the subject) but more than one way to start a fire should be considered acceptable extra weight for survival.

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The mind is the sharpest blade

by S. Jones

I have read countless blogs,articles,web sites,etc..., all claiming one knife to be better than the others. Whether to carry a hatchet or machete, how many knives to carry. And how big a knife blade to have,4",6",8",10".

In all truth and I'm speaking from experience that I won't get into, so as not to boast. But those who have spent enough time in the great outdoors will understand me. The only thing that really matters is the design of a knife, that will make it good enough for wilderness use.

Is the steel, good old fashioned carbon steel like the old hickory butcher knives is good enough. Easy to sharpen, holds an edge and is strong. And a full tang construction for strength.

The size is really a matter of what you can handle and be productive with. In my experience one starts small and gets bigger with practice. Learning technique, what works the best in bushcraft, eventually understanding how to use a bigger blade for smaller tasks, and having the benefit of the large blade for chopping, batoning, skinning game, and defense. But this comes only through experience.

Ultimately the knife itself is just a prop, and the master woodsman can walk into the wilds with nothing. And once there fashion his own blades, whether from flint, chert, bone, antler, or scrap steel scavenged. This is the accumulation of knowledge, and real selfconfidence. Nowing no matter what you can survive.

The mind is the real knife, and how you sharpen it with knowledge will determine how well it cuts. The more you know the less you have to carry.

And the only benefit of carrying a knife into the woods is the added advantage of saving time not having to make one. And finding other ways to accomplish knife oriented tasks.

In the end it will always come down to what is between your ears, and how you apply what you know to your situation. Sometimes the strongest, sharpest blade isn't enough, survival lies in the will. The will to act,to think things through,to control your own mind,and take the right action to keep yourself alive.

Prepare to be a wilderness survivor.

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