Whenever you are out in the woods and wild and you face an emergency situation, what would be your first choice? A small pocket knife or a best fixed blade knife? Any person in his/her right mind would choose the latter option as no other knife can beat the efficiency and usefulness of a survival knife in an outdoor scenario.
Having the best fixed blade survival knives is of utmost importance in a situation where you need to execute some tough chores that require the need for a strong and durable knife. The best fixed blade survival knives provide strength and durability and help us perform many outdoor chores easily and efficiently.
In this article, we will have a close look at many aspects of a survival knife but let us start with a story first - my story.
Once I was out on a trip with my friends and we were hiking. It was almost dark and we were just heading back to our camps and guess what, we lost the trail and got lost. The mobile network was off limits at this height and there were no people around us, at least we did not see anyone, so help was out of the question.
We tried finding our way back with the help of compasses and maps we had, but it was so dark that it was no help as well. We knew that we had to stay here for the night as there was nothing we could at night and we would have to wait for daylight.
We were a total of six and now all of us were hungry and thirsty and in so much need of rest. We only had carried a few bottles of water and just a little food from our camp for our hiking excursion and it was all finished by now. So, yes we need food, water and shelter to spend the night. We were in the middle of the woods and it was all dark.
What is a Survival Knife?
By reading the story of the adventure I had on my hiking trip, you must have gotten the idea that what survival knife is actually and why is it useful.
But to elaborate further, I must tell you that survival knives are very effective knives and the best fixed blade survival knives are those which are durable, strong and come with extra accessories that could be useful in a survival situation i.e. fire starters, paracords etc.
Survival knives can be used to start a fire, prepare food, build a shelter and do a variety of other tasks as well. A good survival knife is easy to handle, is light in weight, and is very strong and durable as well. The blade is almost unbreakable and the edge it kept usually between 25° – 30° sharp.
Most of the times, these fixed blade knives come with protective sheaths which are used to protect these knives and also makes it easier for you to carry them around safely.
You must always carry two types of knives with you whenever you are going out on a trip or an excursion. One should be a good pocket knife which is very easy to carry, is small and compact and proves to be useful in performing small tasks and the other one should be of course a strong and durable survival knife.
A pocket knife is not as efficient as a survival knife but it can perform some tasks which a survival knife cannot do because of its big size i.e. slicing small things, removing the dirt from under the nails and some other tasks that require a small blade rather than a big one.
The Features of a Survival Knife
Survival knife has some distinguishable characteristics that make it the best choice to be used in a survival situation. The following are the features of a good survival knife.
1- Strength and Size
The typical length of a good survival knife is about ten to fifteen centimeters which are approximately four to six inches long. And when it comes to the thickness of the blade, then the standard is four to six point five millimeters which are 0.16-0.26 inches approximately.
The blade of this knife does not have to be too long as longer knives are inconvenient to carry and can be dangerous as well. Such knives are risky to carry, therefore, one must always carry knives having a length of about ten to fifteen centimeters.
If you want to chop off woods or do something of this sort, then it is better to carry an ax, Kukri or a Machete. Survival knives do not have flexibility in their blades, rather these blades are rigid, firm and very strong.
2- The shapes of Blades
Survival knives feature different kinds of blades. Here are some of the blade types that survival knives usually have:
Blade with Drop Point
Have you ever heard of a Buck knife? This knife has usually come with a drop point blade. A drop point blade is the one that has a large and wide belly which ends up on a thick drop point.
The full belly assists in performing lots of tasks i.e. cutting, slicing, chopping etc and is one of the most common blade that the best fixed blade survival knives have.
Blade with Tanto Point
Tanto is the word that has Japanese swords. The people of Japan known as the Samurais used to carry swords having tanto blades. Tanto actually means a “short blade”.
Later on, knives having Tanto blades were manufactured and they were quite famous in the west. This design makes a knife to be more sturdy and strong and makes it very effective for executing tasks i.e. chopping, slicing, piercing etc. The tanto blade is very versatile and makes a knife more durable and efficient.
Blade with Modified Tanto Blade
This blade is quite similar to the Tanto blade but comes with a slight modification in the original design. The tip of this new blade is slightly angled which is present between the upper edge and lower edge of the blade just around the tip.
Blade with a Clip point
A Clip point blade is a very famous type of blade and it got its fame from the legendary Bowie knife. The Bowie knife was used by Jim Bowie who fought with it in the Sandbar duel on the Mississippi River.
Bowie knife is a big knife and it features a clip point blade. The clip point is actually shaped like a crescent. This shape makes the blade a little thinner and ends it up on a sharp point.
A clip point is not the best option for a survival knife because its tip is not as thick as other types of blade points i.e. a drop point. These blades are more curved around the tip than others which make them a bad option for survival knives.
Serrations on blades prove to be quite useful. They mostly help in performing slightly tough chores which become difficult to execute with an unserrated blade i.e. cutting a rope or chopping off pieces of thin wood.
Some blades are fully serrated while the others are partially serrated. Serrations may reduce the overall length of the cutting edge but they are worth it especially in survival knives.
3- The Types of Blades
Earlier, we talked about the designs and shapes of blades of a survival knife. Now, let us talk about the types of blades. There are three types of blades that a survival knife has. Let us have a look at them.
Full Tang Blade
A full tang blade is the one that goes till the entire length of the handle. Full tang blades are strong, durable and very reliable. The best fixed blade survival knives feature full tang blades most of the times.
Half Tang Blade
A half tang blade is the one that goes till the half-length of the handle. They are strong but of course less strong than full tang blades.
However, they have one advantage and that is that the knives having half tang blades are light in weight than those with full tang blades. This allows you to use the knife efficiently and carry it around easily.
Rat Tail Blades
Rat-tail blades are the least effective when it comes to survival knives. These blades are those which have only a part of them designed like a thin stick going till the end of the handle.
Therefore, because of this characteristic, they are not as strong as full tang blades or half tang blades, however, they prove to be useful in performing tasks which do not require brute force and the use of strong knife i.e. the regular household chores.
The tang of a blade is an important thing to consider while buying a knife. It is the part of blades that goes inside the handle. Most of the survival knives fail when it comes to the tangs of their blades.Why? Because most people use different types of materials for tang and for blades even when tang is actually a part of the blade. Using a low-quality construction material for a tang can affect the durability and strength of a knife.Moreover, half tang blades are also not very because they have very less part of their steel inside the handle or should we say that these blades only go until half of the handle.Rat tail tangs are the least effective and should be avoided in survival knives. As, they are not strong and when you start performing some tough chores from them, they will break and the blade will come out instantly.
4- Blade Construction
Generally, the blades of the best fixed blade survival knives are made up of two types of steels. One is known as stainless steel and the other one is known as carbon steel.
Stainless Steel Blades
You must have seen people mostly buying knives having stainless steel blades. These blades do not rust easily, however, on the downside, they are softer than carbon steel blades and lose their edge soon.
Carbon Steel Blades
Carbon steel blades are those which rust easily but their biggest advantage is that they have sharp edges and these edges stay sharp for a long period of time.
Survival knives are very useful knives and there are so many of them available in stores nowadays. Initially or as someone who is buying them for the first time, you may find it difficult to select one knife from the best fixed blade survival knives, but if you have a good understanding of your needs and preference, then you will able to select a good one.