Monday, December 17, 2012

What is "survival knife"? :)

------------ Descrimer ----------
the published opinion here is my personal opinion and have no intention of dismissing other view / opinions / some types of knives or preferences.
Knife is a tool and has strong side of hobby / preferences. every one got one opinion and I think that is great, so should follow what you think or is yours...
In short, do not get upset or angry with my opinion. I do welcome your point of view, opinion and argument, as long as it is constructive and beneficial to me and all of my readers.

Thank you!!


>>>>>>>  Note: after the few comments, I have added some images.

OK, the first things are said, let's start with the  actual topic.
On few posts back, I have posted exactly the same topic, but was totally in Japanese. Then one of the reader has requested of it in ENG. Well how can I refuse the request of royal reader? So here you go, My take on "What is SURVIVAL knife".

When you think of a Survival knife, what kind of knife does it come to you first? For the common understanding of the name Survival knife in Japan is all kinds of military issue or one that does look like. What this mean is a "Rambo knife"(*link to Google image). and I think is is not too far if I say most of the population around the world does share the similar understanding.

but the interesting things is that once you get in to the world of Bushcraft and Survival, as the skill progresses, people tend to pick different types of knife for the same task. Why is that??

One thing is clear that the movie has/had effect on this, or even have  created the survival knife market. Then the makers has been planting the needs and effectiveness of it again and again in to the brains of knife enthusiasts. and that situation has caused farther theoretical fantasy myth of mighty knife that does it all.

as the wilderness skill progresses one thing you start to realize is that there are no such knife as "one does it all", so what direction to move on? look for the "One that can assist you" in every possible way

So lets strip out the part I do not need from the Survival knife...

Saw back...
does any one disagree on this? I think the saw back is nothing but a problem. it can cut wood, but not any faster or less energy consuming than chopping through the wood. When need to batton, it shreds the batton or when need to give support on back of the knife with hand, it shreds the hand...

it makes knife cool looking, but not needed for the same reason as on saw back. Also, I am talking about survival knife, not a combat or tactical knife. so no need of such effective stabbing penetration capability. or even it is for combat or tactical needs... does any solder get in to knife fight?

The size...
This actually could be up to user preference because of the nature you are go in to. But in general, I think the length of the Rambo type knives are too long, or too short.
For general needs, about 10 to 15cm is just good size and can do every cutting job the Rambo knife can do. For specific region like rain forest or tundra and so on, you should have some more suited tool with you any way.

Full tang....
Oh yes... I am going to poke the "Full tang" discussion. Personally, I think the full tang is over rated or if not, over spec. Unless the knife is made poorly, the narrow or rat tail tang should do plenty strong job of what expected of tang. Of cause, I do under stand that it is good to have some safety margin and if you wanna use knife for climbing or spitting trees or something, then perhaps should have full tang knife. But however, IMO, full tang is not a must have feature on survival knife.

Serrated blade...
I do not have much experience on this one so not going in much. But for some case, I do understand that the serrated blade does have advantage like cutting off the seat belt in one slash. But other than that, I think it is just annoying to have because it does not cut/shave wood well.

based on above statement, lets see what the survival knife would look like.
Blade length: 10 to 15cm
Profile: Drop, spire or starlight point. No saw back, no swedge and no serration.
Blade Thickness: I say it is up to you, but I like around 4mm to 5mm.
Tang: Conseald, rat tail, stick or fulltang. 

So, what would fall in to these criteria??

A Puukko and Bushcraft knife

puukko like this would do well as my idea of survival knife.

and for specific region/season (for my case, arboreal / winter) would be an axe 
any in picture except one with the longest and shortest helve.

or large chopper like

(image copyright: The Weekend Woodsman)


or  Japanese nata(*link to Google image).

for the reference, I will list up what famous survival and bushcraft instructors are using.

Mors Kochanski Survival and wilderness skill instructor.
Many TV appearances and videos.
bushcraft knife style. puukko, mora and DIY knives.(Video on Youtube> What is a Survival Knife?
Axe 800-1000g length 60-70cm. Falling saw.

Ray Mears Bushcraft and survival instructor
Many TV appearances and videos.
Ray mears woodlore bushcraft knife (The white antler handle)
Gransfors Bruks Scandinavian axe, Folding saw

Bear Grylls adventurar, writer, SAS
Many TV appearances (Man v.s Wild)
Uses several types of knives, but often from Gerber knife. also uses serrated blade often.

Les Stroud Survivalist, survival instructor, documentary producer, musician.
Many TV appearances (Survivier Man, Beyond Survival and more)
Some unknown clip point camp knife. lately own signature survival knife and Temagami. (FYI. Temagami was designed by Les Stroud and as a ultimate Survival knife...)

Cody Lundin Survivalist, survival instructor (specialized in desert survival.)
Many TV appearances (Dual Survival season 1 and 2 and will be on 3)
Mora classic (possibly No.1) . Time to time a Puukko (possibly from Kellam)

Dave Canterbury US sniper, survival instructor
Many TV appearances (Dual Survival season 1 and 2) and on YouTube channel.
DIY mod from a butcher knife、Proto type of Pathfinder 1 knife or one which looks like so.

Mykel Hawke USspecial force, survival specialist
Many TV appearances (Man, Woman, Wild)
Hawke's Hellion Survivor.

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