How to Choose a great Survival knife

A knife is an invaluable asset in a survival situation and just as important is the ability to choose a good one. The serious adventurer will always carry one and he will know how to choose a knife that will give him the best advantage in a survival situation. Knives are dangerous however and can be used as weapons. They should be surrendered to the pilot or airline staff when traveling by air as part of standard anti-hijacking procedures, and never displayed in tense or awkward circumstances.


Choosing a knife

A multi-bladed folding knife is a useful tool, but, if you carry only one knife, you need something stronger, a general-purpose blade that will do all likely tasks efficiently and comfortably, from cutting tree to skinning animals and preparing vegetables. Some have a compass built into the handle or have the handle hollowed out so that you can carry a survival kit inside it. However, these features will be offset by the possibility of hollow handles breaking and a compass may soon lose its accuracy after the knife has been used on a hardwood tree. If you lose this kind of knife you also lose your survival kit – much better to keep the kit in a separate pouch on your belt or on the sheath.





YOU ARE ONLY AS SHARP AS YOUR KNIFE. Your knife is such an important piece of survival equipment, that you must keep it sharp to be ready for use. Don’t misuse your knife. Never throw it into trees or into the ground. Keep it clean and, if you don’t intend to use it for a while, keep it oiled and in its sheath. When walking through close country, get in the habit of checking your knife. This should become an automatic reflex, especially after negotiating difficult terrain. A check of all pockets and possessions should be second nature.


19.5cm (7.5in) Brass folding lockback knife

Folding knives

A folding knife can be valuable, provided it has a good locked position. Always carry one. A blade in a wooden handle is usually more comfortable: it will not slip in a sweaty hand and if the handle is made from a single piece of wood, is less likely to cause blisters than other types.




43cm (17in) Wooded handled Parang knife


A Parang

This is the Malayan name for a type of knife with a large curved blade like a machete. It is too large to be carried in normal daily life but ideal when going into the wild. A parang 30 cm (12 in) in overall blade length and weighing no more than 750 g (1.5 lb) is best, the blade 5 cm (2 in) at its widest and end-bolted into a wooden handle. The curved blade enables maximum effort to be applied when cutting timber and the blade arrives before the knuckles, so giving them protection. Even large trees can be cut down with a parang, which is especially useful for building shelter and rafts.
There is a danger that the cutting edge may come through the side. To draw the parang NEVER hold the sheath on the same side as the cutting edge. This is dangerous. Get into the habit of gripping the side AWAY FROM THE CUTTING EDGE. 
(even if the sheath has rivets on the cutting edge to provide extra safety, as shown above).


28cm (11in) U.S. Gerber Military knife

U.S. Gerber knife

I personally prefer to use a GERBER US military knife. (as shown on the left). From personal experience, it is my knife of choice and I have found that it performs equally as well when cutting down trees to make shelter and building rafts. It also maintains its cutting edge for many years. It is truely a superb knife that is virtually indestructible withstanding blows to petrified wood and even salt water and its rubber foam handle virtually eliminates vibration when hitting a hard object, it is very comfortable and ensures a great grip even when held by a wet sweaty hand. The knife below has been well used in the last thirty odd years of adventuring and still retains a very sharp edge.





23cm (9in) U.S. Gerber Combat knife

U.S.Gerber Combat knife

The knife pictured on the right is also a Gerber knife made in USA. In my opinion, it is not as versatile as other general all-purpose heavy duty knives and it’s limited for use in survival situations, except for skinning animals and putting holes in bamboo. Its handle is not as comfortable, being made of hard plastic. I carried it mainly for personal protection from unscrupulous individuals. In all the years I have owned it I am happy that I have not used it as often as I had anticipated. But I was glad I had it those few times I did need it.





Sharpening a knife

Any sandstone will sharpen tools – a grey clayey sandstone being the best. Quarts, though more rarely found, is good and granite can also be used. Rub two pieces together to make them smooth. A double-faced stone with a rough and a smooth surface is ideal and should be carried in the sheath pocket of your knife if it has one. Use the rough surface first to remove burrs, then the smooth surface to get a fine edge. The object is to get an edge that will last and not chip.

Always push sharp edge of the blade away from you!

To sharpen the blade, hold the handle in the right hand. Use a clockwise circular motion applying a steady pressure on the blade with the fingertips of the left hand as you push away. Keep the angle constant. Keep the stone wet. Rock particles on the blade will show the angle you are obtaining. DON’T drag the blade towards you under pressure. This will produce burrs. Reduce the pressure for a finer edge. Work counter clockwise on the other side.







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