A good survival knife is a very important part of any prepper’s kit. A knife has so many uses in survival and bushcraft; having the best survival knife you can afford as part of your kit is vital.
Ideally a prepper’s kit should include more than one knife. Different knives can be used for different purposes, or can be a back up should one be damaged. A dedicated survival knife is also a very useful item to keep in your bug out bag. Budget can be the limiting factor though, so in this article we look at general purpose survival knives instead of multiple knives for very specific purposes.
Strength Makes The Best Survival Knife
The most important characteristic of the best survival knife for preppers is the strength of the blade and knife overall. The survival knife’s strength is determined by how much the metal of the blade goes in to the handle (tang) and the blade thickness.
A knife with a full tang blade is the strongest. A full tang blade extends as a continuous piece of metal through the handle. The handle is two pieces of wood, bone, rubber or plastic attached to either side at the back part of the blade. A partial tang blade has metal extending in to the handle, but not the whole area of the handle.
The strength of the survival knife’s blade is greater for a thicker blade than a thinner blade. A thicker blade will also flex less than a thinner blade.
Survival Knife Size
Survival and bushcraft knives come in a variety of different sizes, with different sizes being good for different uses. Large survival knives are good for splitting wood or hacking through brambles. Large knives however are annoying to use for preparing food, small repair work and impossible to use for skinning. Small knives are great for detail tasks, but too small for some tasks and not much use for self defence.
Ideally, include several survival knives in your kit, with different sizes and blade shapes. The different knives will cover many different tasks. If your budget only extends to one survival knife, select a medium size to cover a variety of tasks.
Blade Type For The Best Survival Knife
Knives can have a plain edge blade or a serrated edge blade, which has fine teeth protruding from the blade. Serrated edge blades often only have part of the blade serrated and the remainder plain edge. The serrated edge blade is great for sawing wood or rope, but is also much harder to sharpen. The serrated blade, or part blade can not be used for smooth cuts. A plain edge blade is useful for most cutting tasks, but not so great at sawing through wood or rope. The plain edge blade is much easier to sharpen with a sharpening stone.
There are a variety of blade shapes, designed for specific tasks. The best survival knife has a plain blade, straight near the handle and, curving towards a point at the tip. This blade shape is great for bushcraft, with for multiple cutting uses. It is also useful for hunting and fishing with the pointed tip.
The two most common materials for the blades of survival and bushcraft knives are carbon steel and stainless steel. Both produce strong knives, with carbon steel being slightly easier to sharpen and usually retaining a better edge than stainless steel. Carbon steel will however rust very quickly if not cleaned and oiled after every use, whereas stainless steel does not. Survival knives with carbon steel blades are often more expensive than those with stainless steel.
Survival and bushcraft knives have a huge range of prices. Generally, you get what you pay for; very cheap knives will not be very strong and will be lower quality materials. There are however, some very good survival knives available on a lower budget, such as the Camillus Western Black River Fixed Blade Knife. Mid-range knives are usually the best for survival and bushcraft, as they are higher quality without breaking the bank. The most expensive knives are often bought by collectors or those who want a unique, hand-made piece of art!
Some Survival Knife Suggestions
The Camillus Western Black River Fixed Blade Knife is the best survival knife on a lower budget. This knife has a 9.5cm full tang stainless steel blade, and for just over £20 is a great budget knife.
The Gerber Gator Premium Fixed Blade Knife is more expensive at over £100, but is an excellent survival knife. This knife has a 10.2cm full tang stainless steel blade, and a very comfortably shaped handle. It is a superb general purpose bushcraft and survival knife.
My choice for the best survival knife on a higher budget has to be the Fallkniven A1 Survival. An expensive knife, selling for over £200, but an extremely useful and high quality survival knife with a 16cm full tang stainless steel blade.