survival knives

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3 Traits That Separate True Survival Knives From Worthless Ones

Image source: Koster Knives

By Kevin Danielsen – Off The Grid News

Let’s go over a bit of “basic survival knife 101” and talk about what makes for a good piece of sturdy, handy, sharpened steel to make your time in the sticks just a little bit easier.

However, there is one thing I did want to mention before we begin: I’m personally not much of a believer in the modern “survival” knife concept.

Yes, it is true.

Let’s just say that I don’t believe I’ve ever seen or held a real survival knife — at least, as it’s described in many popular gear magazines — and that’s because I’m fairly certain that they don’t exist. In my own backwoods experience and years of study, there are many types of knives that make for excellent companions. To depend on only one just doesn’t make much sense.

What Makes a Good Knife?

Continue reading at Off The Grid News: 3 Traits That Separate True Survival Knives From Worthless Ones

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Top Survival Knives

By  – SurvivoPedia

One of the most popular questions in conversation games is the classical “Name three things you would bring with you on a deserted island”.

And while many say books, their favorite movies, their partner, their dog or pictures of their loved ones, we say one of your three choices should definitely be a survival knife.

Books and pictures are alright, but a survival knife can really make the difference between life and death in a tight spot while outdoors.

But how do you choose? The possibilities seem endless, so we’ve put together for you a list of the best 20 survival knives, taking into consideration criteria such as their reliability, multi purposing or how much they cost.

Here they are.

Continue reading at SurvivoPedia: Top 20 Survival Knives

 

Knife stuck into a tree in forestBy Tess Pennington – Ready Nutrition

“There is no destiny, there is only the edge of a good blade and the skill of the man wielding it.”

A survival knife isn’t just a knife. It’s one of the most important tools to have on you. Whether you are in back country or packing up your bug out bag – you need a dependable knife. A good knife can cut down branches to make a survival shelter, make traps or skin animals. It can also be used for cooking and defense, if need be. That said, not all knives are the same and understanding this before investing in a knife will help you make the most of your investment.

Before you go out and purchase a survival knife, understand that there are characteristics you must look for before purchasing. As well, keep in mind what uses and environments you plan to use your knife in. Many believe that simplicity is the key – a good blade with a dependable handle is all you need. Inevitably, it all comes down to your preferences, but keep the following points in mind.

The Blade

Most “survival” knives have fixed blade. That is, they have no moving parts. This makes them more durable and less likely to break. Many will argue that folding knives are great because they are compact, but they are more likely to succumb to pressure by breaking. My personal opinion is to take two knives. One folding “buck knife” and a larger fixed blade knife to ensure you can perform duties pertaining to outdoor survival.

Although it is a matter of preference, the ideal blade length for a survival knife is between 4-8 inches. This gives the carrier flexibility for smaller tasks and is large enough to perform jobs that require a little more oomph when you need it.

As well, a straight or serrated blade is another aspect of selecting a good survival knife. Serrated blades perform well and are very useful in cutting rope and vines. That said, it’s very difficult to sharpen – and you want your survival knife to be very sharp. A straight edge doesn’t have the limitations imposed by serrations, but again, it depends on your comfort level with the knife and what you plan to do with it.

You Get What You Pay For

If you want a blade made from quality materials that you can trust, you need to look at this purchase as an investment. You are paying for quality materials that you can depend on.

A few of my favorite serrated blades are:

SOG FX10N-CP Fixation Dagger

KA-BAR Fighting/Utility Serrated Edge Knife

Columbia River Knife

SOG Tactical Knife

Some of my favorite straight blades are:

KA-BAR Fighting Knife

Schrade SCHF9 Extreme Survival Knife

SOG Tech Bowie Knife

ESEE Fixed Blade

The Steel

The steel used in making knives is also a fundamental characteristic to a good blade. Many of the better made knives use a combination of alloy (i.e. a mix) of carbon and iron, and other elements such as chromium, molybdenum, nickel and vanadium to improve the strength and durability of the knife. Here is a chart of the different types of steels for you to turn to.

Essentially, a good blade is the balancing and correct ratio of elements that create strength or hardness with toughness. Most knives are listed as 1095 steel which is a plain carbon steel with 95 points (0.95%) carbon; 1060 has 60 points (0.6%) carbon; while 1050 has 50 points (0.5%) carbon. The thing to keep in mind is the higher the carbon content of a blade, the tougher/harder the blade is and will have a longer lasting edge.  Some of the important properties of blade steel are:

Hardness : A measure of the steel’s ability to resist permanent deformation (measured on a Rockwell Scale)
Hardenability : The ability of a steel to be hardened (through the heat-treating process)
Strength : The steel’s ability to resist applied forces
Ductility : The steel’s ability to flex or bend without fracturing
Toughness : The steel’s ability to absorb energy prior to fracturing
Initial Sharpness : The sharpness of the blade “out of the box”
Edge Retention : The ability of the steel blade to hold an edge without frequent re-sharpening
Corrosion Resistance: The ability of the steel to resist deterioration as a result of reaction with its environment
Wear Resistance: The ability to resist wear and abrasion during use
Manufacturability : The ease with which steel can be machined, blanked, ground, and heat-treated (made into a blade)

Source

Additionally, you also want to consider is how well the knife will withstand normal wear and tear, if it is resistant to corrosion, the blade retention or how well the blade retains its sharpness.

The Handle

The handle of a good blade is just as important as the steel itself. Ensure that the handle of the knife has the following characteristics:

  • Slight bulge at the tip for balance, and to prevent the knife from sliding out of your hand during use.
  • Solid handle (hollow handles are more likely to break or be damaged)
  • Non-slip grip for safety

There are four common types of handle materials that each have their own set of pros and cons.

Metal – Metal handles made from stainless steel, titanium and other high-end metals, provide balanced durability and resistance to corrosion. As well, this type of handle is not particularly lightweight and a major drawback is the difficulty in the grip. An alternative is a handle made from aluminum. This metal is lightweight and durable making it a viable choice.

Wood – Wood handles are beautiful and very popular amongst collectors. The best woods for this type of handle are hardwoods. Be careful of the types of wood on these handles. Soft or fine woods (like black walnut) can be susceptible to wet conditions.

Synthetic Materials – Composite materials like carbon fiber, G10, and ZYTEL® are synthetic materials that make good knife handles. Many of these synthetic materials unbreakable and resists impact and abrasions. This article details the many synthetic materials that can be used for knife handles.

Natural Materials – Bone, antler, horn and tusks can make fine knife handles and have been used for centuries. This is a sturdy material for knife handles, and aside from the aesthetics, the drawback is once again is with the grip. As well, I have heard that due to the porous state of natural materials, this can make these natural materials susceptible to deformation and cracking. If you have a knife handle like this, make sure you know that temperature, light and moisture can impact the longevity of a bone handle.

Strictly from a survival knife perspective, composite and metal knife handles are stronger and the most resistant to corrosion. Therefore, these type of handles make them ideal for survival situations. In a survival situation, many of these materials can be found in the wild. As well, leather makes an excellent material for a knife handle. If you are in a situation where your knife handle breaks, and you have to repair it yourself, a makeshift leather or wood handle is the easiest material to find in the wild.

Skill

As well, and perhaps this could be considered a fourth characteristic to consider is the skill of the handler. Always keep in mind that knives are sharp tools that can do just as much damage to tissue than to wood or other materials. If you are in a bushcraft environment, you will be away from doctors, so maintain a level of safety when using a knife. As well, learn about the proper knife grasps to maintain the most control of the blade. Moreover, to ensure a long-lasting knife, it occasionally needs to have a little TLC and be sharpened regularly and periodically oiled.

To conclude, the tools you carry into a survival situation could make you or break you. You have to trust in the construction of the blade, the materials used, and spend time using it to know what it capable of. A prepper’s knife can see him or her through some dark times and keep them alive. And, basing your survival knife purchase on these characteristics will assist you in investing in the right tool for your survival.

 This information has been made available by Ready Nutrition: Three Important Considerations of a Good Survival Knife

The Prepper's BlueprintTess Pennington is the author of The Prepper’s Blueprint, a comprehensive guide that uses real-life scenarios to help you prepare for any disaster. Because a crisis rarely stops with a triggering event the aftermath can spiral, having the capacity to cripple our normal ways of life. The well-rounded, multi-layered approach outlined in the Blueprint helps you make sense of a wide array of preparedness concepts through easily digestible action items and supply lists.

Tess is also the author of the highly rated Prepper’s Cookbook, which helps you to create a plan for stocking, organizing and maintaining a proper emergency food supply and includes over 300 recipes for nutritious, delicious, life-saving meals.

Visit her web site at ReadyNutrition.com for an extensive compilation of free information on preparedness, homesteading, and healthy living.

 

 

SurvivalFishing

By Pat Henry – The Prepper Journal

Imagine a gathering of 10,000 preppers at a convention somewhere in the heart of Las Vegas and at that convention every single prepper had brought their own fully stocked bug out bag. The same bug out bags that each person had diligently packed using checklists gleaned from various prepping blogs, YouTube videos and their own personal experience. I would bet that a high percentage of them, maybe 90% or greater would have one very simple piece of gear in there somewhere along with the fire-steel, water filters, emergency blankets and survival knives. They would all have a survival fishing kit.

The survival tin, which is usually the container for the survival fishing kit is I think one of the most discussed pieces of gear in prepper circles. A quick search on YouTube finds well over 100,000 videos of preppers showing the contents of their tins, opening up the survival tins they receive from internet shopping and discussing the range of life saving implements they have been able to squirrel away in the confines of these small boxes.

I think the survival tin is so popular for a couple of reasons. They are really simple to make, just grab an assortment of items that you think can help you out if you are ever faced with some life or death survival scenarios. All you need, generally speaking are items that many of us already have lying around our homes somewhere. I put the contents of a sample survival kit below.

  • SurvivalKit
  • Rubber Band
  • Small flashlight
  • Waterproof matches
  • Leatherman Micra
  • Ziploc bag
  • Wire saw
  • Basic sewing kit
  • Tissues
  • Survival fishing kit
  • Safety pins
  • Mirror – for signaling
  • Pencils
  • Compass
  • Can opener
  • Emergency whistle
  • Small candle
  • Snare wire
  • Flint and tinder
  • Water purification tablets
  • Spare knife

Most of us can see the utility in having these items in our possession. The survival tin is designed to hold this potentially life-saving gear in a relatively compact form that is easy enough to slip in your pocket everyday as you head out the door. This is a mandatory part of many prepper’s EDC gear and I agree that if you had this in your pocket and were dumped in the middle of nowhere, next to a river at 0 Dark 30, you would be much better off than someone who had nothing. At least you could use the flashlight to see your way to using your flint and tinder to make a fire. Then you could take the survival fishing kit to catch a nice big trout for your sustenance. But for the rest of us who aren’t subjected to the life of a hypothetical Bear Grylls episode and aren’t dropped anywhere, does a survival fishing kit make much sense at all or is it wasting space in our bug out bags, backpacks and pants pockets? Is it giving you a false hope for food that might never materialize?

SimpleFishingKit

Does it make sense to have a survival fishing kit in your Bug out Bag?

I am not a big fish eater to be perfectly honest, but I grew up fishing with my friends in the neighborhood where we lived. In our area we had two fairly decent sized lakes within a short walk through the woods. In these lakes, we caught plenty of brim, crappie, bass and even a catfish or two. I completely understand the rationale behind having a way to catch fish as food and if you get lucky, a decent sized fish or even several smaller fish could provide a nice meal which if you are starving, could save your life.

There are dozens of survival fishing kits already assembled.

But fishing isn’t just as simple as throwing a hook into the water. Along with that survival fishing kit, you need the right bait, a good bit of luck and a small amount of skill and patience. Come to think of it, a lot of hunting activities share those traits. I think that many preppers assume that if they only have that handy little survival fishing kit in their bags they will be bringing a feast back to the campsite with ease. This is yet another one of the myths that I think preppers believe about bugging out to the woods.

I think that having the ability to even try your hand at fishing during a survival situation is going to come down to several factors but the top two that come to mind are your location and your availability to fish. Are you bugging out where there are any lakes, ponds or rivers with fish in them? Are you on the move? Can you stop and risk the exposure of fishing? Can you afford to alert others with a fire and the smell of fresh fish cooking? How large is your group?

You might argue that the supplies you need for a good fishing kit are so small and insignificant when it comes to weight that they are good to have anyway. I can buy that, but I think that some people are hanging their hopes on their perceived ability to put food on the blanket and simply having some hooks, weights and fishing line in your survival tin doesn’t guarantee you will catch anything or even find a place to fish in the first place.

What goes into a good survival fishing kit?

The contents of a survival fishing kit are pretty basic and true to the survival tin idea, they don’t need to take up much space. Could you fashion your own hooks with a soda can tab or natural materials and leave the fishing kit at home? Sure but for the size and weight I would rather have the real thing. Fishing line is hard to replicate in nature and it really doesn’t cost much at all to put these supplies together.

A good survival fishing kit should have at a minimum:

  • 50 ft. of sturdy mono-filament fishing line. 20lb test or higher will reduce the chance of it breaking. You can use a stick to wrap your line around similar to how a kite string works.
  • Assorted hooks for the fish in your area
  • Bobbers or you can use any material that will float like a piece of Styrofoam or wood.
  • Sinkers
  • Fishing lures or fake worms, whatever works best for your area. If you don’t know just ask the guy behind the counter at the place you are buying the fish hooks.


If you have fishing supplies at home, this should be easy to pull together or if you would rather buy a pre-built kit they have plenty of survival fishing kits online and most are less than the price of a meal out. Knowledge of basic knots that won’t come undone easily will help you here also. It would really suck to finally catch a nice fish only to have the hook come off the line as you are nearing shore and your dinner swim away into the deep.

So what is my answer to the question I posed at the beginning? I think because they are so compact and could give you the ability to catch fish if the right situation presented itself, a survival fishing kit makes a good addition to your bag. I would only expect to be able to use this in certain situations/locations though and not as a reliable source of food for survival. It’s the same with snares and traps, they can catch game for you but you have to be incredibly lucky to have an animal wander through the woods to your trap in the first place so don’t bet the farm on these two methods unless you are already living remotely well before the collapse. These make good supplies to have in my opinion, but not realistic food gathering options unless you are extremely lucky in a bug out scenario. Once the dust has settled and you are all living like nomads, then a good fishing kit would be a great idea.

What do you think?

This information has been made available by The Prepper Journal: Survival Fishing Kit: Worth the Time or Useless Gear?

Survival-Knives

By

A Survival Knife is a Key Tool For Any Prepper

It’s common knowledge that any outdoorsman or preparedness-minded person should have a quality knife for survival, but what kind should you buy? After all, there are dozens of brands and styles, and many are designed for specific uses. There are throwing knives, tactical knives, boot knives and neck knives and they all come in different levels of quality and craftsmanship. Heck, you can even make your own with a good kit and some knife making supplies! The aim of this guide is to help you narrow down the field and decide precisely which kind of knife you need for your situation.

The Parts of “Typical” Survival Knives: Folding and Fixed Blade

Before we get into individual types or brands, let’s get a solid grounding in the parts that make up a typical knife. To do that, we’re going to break down all knives into two huge categories: fixed blade knives and folding ones. Owing to the highly customizable nature of knife making it will be impossible to cover every part that could be on a potential knife, but within these two categories we’ll be able to cover the broad majority.

Fixed Blades

A knife with a fixed blade cannot fold (thus the name) and is usually held in a sheath to protect the metal from wear and the user from cutting himself accidentally. A fixed blade knife generally is more rugged since the entire construction can be designed to withstand force without needing to worry about moving parts. As such, larger survival knives or those meant for specific field/camping uses tend to be designed for a fixed blade. On the negative side, they can be less convenient to carry around and take up more space in a pack. For knives of the same relative size and made out of the same material, most fixed blades will also tend to be slightly heavier.

With that basic description in mind, let’s take a peek at what the “average” fixed blade knife will have:

Fixed-Blade-Survival-Knife-Parts-Guide

From Front to Back:

  • The Point or Tip. This is the very end of the blade where the metal tapers to a very sharp point. In some cases, a maker or owner may use the word “point” to refer to the very end of the blade and “tip” to refer to the part of the blade where the spine starts to narrow towards the tip. Either way, sticking it in something will tend to hurt!
  • The Belly. Part of the sharp edge of the blade, the belly is the point where the blade angles towards the point and creates a larger surface area for cutting. Some blades have very small bellies, while others are designed to make use of oversized bellies with sweeping cuts.
  • The Grind. The portion of the knife where the metal has been ground down until it forms an edge at the bottom. There are several varieties of grinds that give your knife a lot of character and also help to determine what it is best used for, so we’ll discuss it in greater detail below.
  • The Edge. This is the sharp part of the blade, extending from the point of your knife all the way back to the heel. Some edges are smooth as in this picture, while others have toothlike serrations designed to bite into objects.
  • The Spine. The unsharpened back of the blade. Not all knives use spines, and opt for having a double edge instead, but if the back of the knife is dull it has a spine.
  • The Guard and Quillon. These help keep your hand from sliding up over the handle and onto the sharp blade. Some knives only have a small guard that offers minor protection and is mainly to help balance the blade, while others extend the metal of the guard into quillons that act like bumpers to assist in stopping the hands.
  • The Handle. The part that you use to grab onto the knife safely. This can have a great deal of variety in design depending on the tang for your blade, the task it is made for, and the aesthetics the maker was going for. Occasionally you will see knives with lanyard holes drilled into the handle, which can offer additional methods of carrying it.
  • The Butt. The very end of the blade, usually rounded in some fashion. Some knives simply end, while others can include elaborate butt caps or other features depending on the needs of the survival knife in question.

Folding Blades

Folding knives are able to collapse into themselves and as noted above tend to take up less space and be lighter for it. Although the moving parts are more delicate than their fixed blade kin, a folding knife can still be durable enough for survival situations if need be. Just reign in your expectations a bit if you plan on using it like a hardcore wilderness knife.

Folding knives have similar features to their fixed blade cousins, so we’ll only be noting features that are different here:

Folding-Knife-Parts-Guide-Final

From Front to Back:

  • Pins. These help hold the knife together and give the handle some structure when the blade is out and in use. Quality pins can make a folding knife more durable, since loose ones can weaken an otherwise functional blade.
  • Lock/Release. This can vary by knife, ranging from a push button on the top of the handle to a button on the side. Not much to say about these, except that you will want to adjust your habits if you’re used to carrying a knife with one style of lock and switch to a new. You wouldn’t want to keep gripping the button and loosening the blade!

Tactical, Throwing, Neck Knife, Boot Knife, What’s the Difference?

Let us be very clear here: each type of knife is not interchangeable, and using the a certain type for the wrong purpose could potentially break the blade and cause injury. As such, use caution and consider which one to buy carefully!

Throwing Knives

throwing-knives

Unlike most knives which are made for practical tasks like cutting rope, throwing knives are made to sail gracefully through the air until they slam into their intended target. There are ones that are already balanced and others that are not, and generally you will want pre-balanced knives as they are more predictable in a survival situation. A throwing knife is almost purely made as a weapon either for self-defense or hunting, though some designs give them a few qualities that could make them nifty backup wilderness knives.

If these are all you plan to bring with you, you’re probably going to be in for a rough time. Too much bending or force exerted on throwing knives in regular use could harm their aerodynamic qualities and they generally don’t have handles that are as useful as a “real” wilderness or tactical knife. They are also generally unsuitable as a pocket knife since the amount of force they take on impact makes it prohibitively expensive to create a folding throwing knife.

If you do plan on using throwing knives in your survival kit, be sure that you train with them often to keep up the skill. You need to learn the proper throwing strength based on distance to the target, as well as hone your muscles to hold, aim, and release the knife properly. In all honesty it is by far easier to use a spear, gun, or even a thrown stone for the untrained user, but if you’re willing to put in the time you may find a useful and unique skill.

Neck and Boot Knives

These are rather limited in use, but a neck or boot knife can be nifty as a last resort.

These are specialty blades and are largely designed for self defense only. In order to fit comfortably and maximize concealment they tend to be rather small, fixed blades. A few have blades that could be used in a limited survival capacity, but most have blades so short that they are largely limited to quick stabbing movements rather than any kind of cutting or sawing motion.

These would be nearly impossible to use as your only knife, but as a complement to other utility blades you would likely find a neck or boot knife to be useful as a last resort.

Tactical Knives

There are plenty of worthless "tactical knives" dressed in black, but a careful search can give you some fine knives for self-defensive work.

It seems that these are what everybody wants, since after all why not be tactical when you’re defending yourself? Unfortunately, quite a few of the knives advertised as tactical survival knives are really just average quality pocket knives dressed up in black with a fierce sounding name.

Of course, many people tend to take “tactical” to mean “useful for self-defense”.  In that case, there are knives that can be considered tactical even if they don’t use the name. Here are a few features of truly tactical knives:

  • Durability. Generally speaking you do not want a flimsy knife when you’re fighting for your life. In the worst case any weapon is better than none, but if you have the choice you would want a strong, durable knife. As such, only the most reinforced of folding knives could qualify as tactical knives, since the sheer force of impacting on bone could damage the locking mechanism. Thankfully, some smaller fixed blades have been designed to fit in a pocket or hang on a belt if need be.
  • Legality. Not every survival situation involves a lawless environment, so unfortunately carrying around the biggest, nastiest knife possible isn’t always reasonable. As such, a good tactical knife will fit restrictions on blade length and such in the state/local area you plan on carrying it.
  • Simplicity. Linked somewhat to the durability requirement above, you want a knife without a bunch of features and such that serve no defensive purpose. For example, a knife with a small flashlight on it might be useful for doing some light cutting work in the dark, but in a fight it’s more likely to snag on something or break off.
  • Comfort/Ergonomics. If you don’t like holding the knife when you’re examining it and deciding whether to buy, you aren’t likely to like it much better when you’re holding it in a death grip and stabbing or slashing for dear life. Make sure that your tactical knife is tactical for you.

Hunting Knives

The many styles of hunting knife. Note the gut hooks on the top of some of the knives.

These wilderness knives are made for a variety of tasks, but primarily for dealing with hunted game. They tend to have a single smooth edge, with a large enough belly to skin animals but still enough of a straight edge to cut meat into pieces. Some knives also include a “gut hook”, which some hunters find very useful when hunting while others dislike the way they can tend to disrupt easy handling of the tip. Most tend to be fixed blade knives, designed to take a beating for many years in a rugged outdoor environment.

Although primarily useful for cleaning/gutting, many makers have made hunting knives that function more like an all-purpose “camp knife” since most hunters like to be able to use one knife for making homemade snares and traps, shortening strings, and other general camp tasks. This makes them quite durable and flexible in their potential uses, making hunting knives very common in many preparedness kits.

Of interesting note, most American hunting knives are based on designs similar to that of the infamous Bowie knives, and indeed the Bowie Knife was notable for being a decent hunting knife as well as a fighting knife. However, many, many jurisdictions have outright banned the carrying of Bowie knives with extremely ambiguous language that makes using a hunting knife of any kind for self-defense an extremely dubious proposition. Texas, for example, simply bans “Bowie Knives” without any clarification to help an honest citizen to determine what makes a certain hunting knife legal or not.

Common Knife Brands: Gerber, Spyderco, Ka-Bar, Kershaw and Benchmade

When discussing brands, it’s important to note that almost all brands make knives for a variety of purposes and budgets, making the question “what brand is best?” impossible to answer. Much like with cars, you can have fantastic, well-designed product lines as well as low cost, low quality ones under the same overall umbrella because they are made for different customers and different needs. That said, some companies do have well-deserved reputations for quality in certain areas, so we’re going to take a look at the most common brands.

Gerber

gerber-survival-folding-knife

At one time, Gerber was a household name and known for both their impressive quality standards as well as the innovation that went into their knife designs. After the late 1980′s, when Gerber was acquired by Fiskars, they expanded the brand to include several lines of budget pocket knives which diluted the overall impression of high quality somewhat. Further hampering the former dominance of Gerber was the introduction of several other high quality brands such as Spyderco who offer fine knives at comparable prices, making it more difficult for knife enthusiasts to justify paying for the Gerber name.

That said, Gerber still produces many fine lines of knives for a variety of purposes. In the low-end market (AKA the stuff you’re likely to find at Wal-Mart on the cheap) their offerings are often made in places like Taiwan or China and have a certain roughness as a result, but they are not bad or non-functional knives by any stretch. Those knives are simply made for the average homeowner rather than a dedicated prepper who wants his life to depend on a knife, and are made more cheaply according to those expectations.

Their greatest strength is probably the middle-of-the-pack offerings, where their lines start coming from quality manufacturing in the US and they compete well with other brands in that area. As you move up to the upper tier Gerber can still make some very impressive offerings, but it can come down to your own needs regarding quality, steel alloy etc vs. the cost of other comparable brands.

Kershaw

Kershaw knives compete well at all levels, and provide very good value for the money even in their bargain lines.

Kershaw is one of the primary competitors with Gerber which is hardly surprising considering that the founder of the company Pete Kershaw was originally an employee of Gerber! They have a very robust reputation for customer service which, while rather useless in a true disaster situation, gives you a little more assurance when purchasing. In the lower-end price bracket they have a few quality USA made offerings, which has led some to claim that for the low-end a Kershaw is one of the best bang for your buck brands possible.

They are primarily known for their AO (assisted opening) models which circumvent laws against switchblades by requiring the user to open the blade manually a little bit before a lever or flipper can open it the rest of the way. For a pocket knife or a folding tactical knife this could make them excellent choices. They also sell a few fixed blade knives, though some argue about the virtues of ergonomics on some Kershaw knives vs. Spyderco and Benchmade which could affect your decision there.

Overall, Kershaw is one of the “Big Three” along with Spyderco and Benchmade to many, and as such you can certainly find quality products in most areas of their lines. Like any manufacturer you will get the quality of knife that you pay for, but even amongst their cheaper offerings you will tend to find at least one high value line.

Ka-Bar

KA-BAR makes fine military knives that can also be used in survival games.

Ka-Bar has an almost legendary reputation with some owing to its presence with the Marines during WWII, and honestly there may be something to the legend. If one word describes the Ka-Bar brand, it would be durability, owing to the sheer amount of punishment most of their knives are designed to take. Although some of their cheaper folding blades are lacking in ruggedness, many of the fixed blades have been used as makeshift pry bars with minimal injury to the knife! The larger blades (including their much loved USMC line) have been used as makeshift camp tools of many sorts, including hatchets when the need arose.

Of particular note, the Becker line of Ka-Bar knives are well-known as high quality and some have found them very useful for more “rough and tumble” wilderness living use. Although other knives might have better edges/sharpening, better ergonomics on the handle etc. few will beat the Becker line for sheer durability even among the other Ka-Bar knives.

Spyderco

Spyderco knives are well known for their high quality and ergonomic design.

These are the upper echelon of knives for many, and are known for being very high quality blades. Spyderco has worked for years perfecting the ergonomic design and simplicity of their models, giving a clean, functional feel to many of them. These practices have endeared the company to those who rely on their knives in survival situations or emergencies such as members of the military, law enforcement, and even some emergency medical teams.

The primary barrier to many with Spyderco is naturally the price, but they do have a number of budget offerings that do not skimp on overall quality. They even make several bushcrafting knives designed specifically for survival! Overall, Spyderco competes very well particularly in the high-end spectrum of knifemaking and is comparable (or even superior to some) to Benchmade and Kershaw knives.

Benchmade

Benchmade knives are often considered to be the top tier in quality, easily matching Spyderco or Kershaw while also being simple and durable.

These knives are definitely comparable to any Spyderco or Kershaw, and the company puts a great deal of time into making their blades simple and rugged. Although it is nigh impossible to find a truly budget knife from this company (though you can find plenty of low-quality counterfeits pretending to be budget Benchmades!) you get what you pay for in terms of the quality of the knife and the service you receive.

Choosing between Benchmades and Spydercos at the highest level of quality often comes down to individual feel regarding ergonomic design and whether you prefer the unique Axis lock of Benchmade over the locking mechanisms of the Spyderco knives. Kershaw often competes well as you drop a bit in price, but again it often comes down to personal preference. One thing that can be said for Benchmade over the other two is their simplistic and rugged design, which many feel gives them a better value over the more esoteric designs of the other brands. They’re high priced workhorses, to be sure, but quality workhorses as a result!

 

Finding the proper survival knife isn’t easy and requires a lot of research as well as some trial and error, but in the end the sheer utility of having even several survival knives available could mean the difference between life and death during an emergency. Even now while things are stable, there are dozens of uses for a quality knife. Take the time and spare the money to acquire a quality knife that suits your needs!

Your thoughts?

Do you have a favorite brand or type of knife that you use? Any other tips for selecting a good survival knife? Let us know in the comments below!

This article first appeared at Prepared For That: Survival Knives: Finding the Best Throwing, Tactical, or Hunting Knife For You

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There are many different tools out there that people recommend including in your survival kit because they’re multi-purpose, but one of the primary rules of survival is to use common sense. Of course you could build a house with popsicle sticks but really, is that the best tool to use? And is that a realistic way to use popsicle sticks?

Today, we’re going to bust a few myths about “multi-purpose” tools that aren’t all that they’re cracked up to be in the hopes that you’ll view your prepping realistically.

1. Newspaper as a Weapon?

We’ve read how to make a bludgeoning weapon out of newspaper but we put it to the test and it’s just not worth the effort when there are many easier, more effective tools to use as a weapon. We do believe that newspaper is a great multi-purpose stockpile item, but a rock would be a better weapon that a homemade newspaper hammer.

2. GPS Technology

Small-GPSThough GPS systems are great tools in a short-term, localized emergency, they may not get you far in a broader suvival situation for a variety of reasons. First, they depend upon towers or satellites and there’s no guarantee that those will be working. Also, they depend upon batteries, which are difficult to store en masse.

You’d be much better off learning how to use a compass and a map. Draw out maps of your area, noting water spots, hiding areas, meeting spots, and other important places. Use distances based upon your method of travel and make sure that everyone in your family has a copy of the maps and a compass in their bug-out bags.

3. Large Supplies of Hot Weapons and Ammo

Unless you’re an avid shooter and are completely comfortable using your large variety of weapons, storing a large variety of handguns and long guns may be a waste of valuable space and money.

We do believe that you should have a ready, adequate (determined by what you’re prepping for) supply of weapons but we recommend that the average person choose one or two handguns and two or three long guns and practice with those until you’re completely proficient.

If possible (and it is!) choose weapons that use the same ammo so that you don’t have to stockpile numerous types. We also highly recommend that most people have other weapons on hand that don’t depend upon bullets, because no matter how much ammo you stockpile for your guns, it’s still going to be a finite supply. On that note, it’s also a good idea to learn how to reload your shells. Pepper spray is also extremely handy for those who may not be comfortable with a gun.

4. Matches

Small-MatchesMatches, even waterproof matches, are an inefficient choice for fire-starting. Have a few as backup but don’t depend upon them for your primary source of fire.

They can get wet, you often have to use more than one because they go out, and they take up a ton of space compared to a magnesium stick or even a lighter.

We recommend having both. Even better, add a 5-in-1 survival whistle to your supplies; it will have the whiste, a fire starter, a compass, and a durable (non-glass) signal mirror too.

5. “Survival” Knives

Please don’t get us wrong here – a good knife is one of your primary, must-have survival tools. However, Rambo got it all wrong when he chose the thick-bladed, hollow-handled monstrosity that he used in the movies. First, the strength of a knife comes from the “tang” – how far it extends into the handle. Obviously, if the handle is hollow, the tang is short, making the blade weaker.

Also, if you have your sewing kit, fish hooks, matches, and compass in the handle of you knife, what happens when you drop it or lose it? That’s right – you also lose all your other goodies.

Go for a knife with a smooth (non-serrated) blade that’s got a full tang, a 6-10-inch blade that’s 3/14-1/4 inch thick. Stainless or carbon steels are probably your best choices.

Use Your Head!

When you’re putting together your stockpile or your bug-out bags, use your head. Multi-use items should certainly be included; that’s just common sense. However, packing enough aluminum foil to make your cups with is just ridiculous. Can you do it? Well sure, but it’s incredibly impractical. Cups are already created, so why not just have a foldable cup?

If you’re going to survive, you’re going to need to have a healthy dose of intelligence and common sense. That includes using your ingenuity and making impromptu tools out of uncommon objects. Still, there’s no need to reinvent the wheel if you actually have a wheel!

Do you have any stories to relate about silly uses of objects in the name of survival preparedness? If so, share them with us in the comments section below.

Learn more about surviving in the wilderness with our true and tested tips on Conquering the Comming Collapse.

This article first appeared at Survivopedia: 5 Survival Tools That Kill You if Used Wrong

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Preppers are ever and always debating which tool or tools are best for various situations, and the arguments surrounding survival knives and axes are no exception. Although each tool has their finer points and uses that the other doesn’t match making them an excellent matched pair of tools, when the time comes you may need to select one or the other for your pack or stockpile. In that case, which one should be included? We’re going to look at the strengths and weaknesses of each tool, both knife and axe, to determine which will be most useful for you.

What is a “Survival” knife or axe?

Although there are plenty of fine knives and axes available on the market, only a small subset of them are truly suitable to be called “survival” axes or knives. Generally speaking, a true survival tool has these qualities:

A small hatchet like this is much easier to carry than a big splitting maul.

  • Able to be carried long distances. A big splitting maul may technically qualify as an axe, but it is hardly a survival tool since it is much too heavy! This criteria is generally applied only to axes, since even heavy knives are plenty light for a person to carry. The best kinds of axes tend to resemble hatchets, being small enough for easy packing and light weight yet still substantial enough to take serious punishment.
  • Durable. This is where many knives tend to fail. Although there are definitely uses for cheap pocket knives and the like in emergency situations, a true survival knife needs to be made of sterner stuff. Although axes will generally do better when subjected to a durability test, there is still a need to cull the cheap big box store brands made with low-quality steel. Both knives and axes need to be able to handle chopping wood, sharpening stakes, potential self-defense against people and animals, and the occasional accidental strike against rocks or soil over a long period of time.You need knife and axe blades made of metal which is worth sharpening after hard use.
  • Able to be repaired/sharpened. The axe or knife needs steel of sufficient quality to be sharpened properly over the course of time. Ideally, a good survive knife blade or axehead will have a removable grips/handle in case they become damaged over time.
  • Versatile in function. Some knives are designed primarily for combat or other uses and have special features that allow them to do this job better. Likewise, there are many axes designed primarily for carpentry work or only for splitting big thick logs. A survival tool needs to be a jack of all trades, not specifically good at any one thing but decent at a wide variety of common tasks. Lopping off limbs for a lean-to, skinning small game, splitting small logs, cutting through ice, and cutting notches for traps and snares are but a few of the many jobs your survival axe or knife will need to perform.

The strengths and weaknesses of survival knives

A serrated edge can be useful in certain situations, giving knifes a unique advantage over axes.

On the other hand, a survival knife’s performance can suffer when it comes to the larger jobs. If you should need to split small logs or lop limbs off of trees, you may find that although the knife can do the job it’s not nearly as easy as it would be with an axe. A particular area of weakness is in cutting limbs of the proper size for a shelter. Unless you have softer wood to craft into poles, you may find it difficult to get clean cuts through the limbs that are ideal for lean-to poles. Knives are also more difficult to keep properly sharpened in some cases, although with practice this issue is significantly diminished.

The pros and cons of a survival axe

Using an axe, you'll have a much easier time cutting through logs and limbs.

However, axes do have some weaknesses to put against their strengths. For one thing, almost any axe is going to be larger and heavier than a survival knife and will reduce the overall amount of supplies you can carry. Furthermore, they’re also more awkward to use when trying to make delicate or tiny cuts such as those needed for cleaning an animal or preparing snares. They also lack additional features like serrated edges or a convenient folding action that covers the blade, meaning that they’re more limited in many ways. Furthermore, they’re also more dangerous to use as a single slipup can result in a deep and deadly wound to an arm or leg.

So, which to use?

The truth is, both have their uses depending on your situation. If you need to carry a lot of other heavy gear, a knife would probably suit you better than a weighty axe. If you are going into damp places where you’ll have to cut dry limbs off of trees instead of harvesting dry wood on the ground, an axe will make your work go faster. If you’ll be cutting ropes for snares and skinning the game you catch, a knife will make the work simpler than a big axeblade. It comes down to what you personally need: the smaller, lighter finesse of a survival knife or the thicker, heavier, blunt work of the survival axe. Choose wisely! – Prepared For That

Your thoughts?

Which suits you better? Would you carry both if you had the choice? Let us know in the comments!