What to Look for In the Perfect Survival Knife

By James Hardy

how to pick the best survival knife“You call that a knife? – Now this is a KNIFE!” Who can ever forget that immortal scene from one of the manliest (yet highly Aussie-prejudiced) movie of all time, Crocodile Dundee. But carrying a knife that is practically the same length as a child’s arm is not really practical for the typical outdoorsman, so how do you choose the perfect survival knife?

The Size

Bigger is not always better when it comes to survival knives. If your knife is too large then you will not be able to use it for precision work like dressing small field game or crafting snares and whatnot. But if your knife is too small then you can’t use it to chop firewood and hack off tree branches. So if you’re looking for a perfectly sized knife, one that has an overall length of 9-11 inches will be fine.

Fixed Blade or Not

Folding or retracting blades may look cool, but they are also weaker than a fixed blade knife. Any joint in the overall length of the knife will make it considerably weaker. The joints will become weaker over time as it will undoubtedly experience a lot of stress and punishment, like when you use the knife to split big branches into firewood.

A Full Tang

When you say that a knife has a full tang it means that the blade AND the handle is made from a single solid piece of metal.  This makes the knife heavier and more robust than having just a half tang, or rat tail. You can tell if a knife has a full tang if there is metal running down the entire length of the knife’s handle.

A Sharp Point

Obviously, you need a survival knife that has a sharp, pointed edge because you will definitely use it a lot when you are in the great outdoors. You will need a sharp point for notching out wood, drilling, and for processing nuts and berries that you may forage in the forest; a sharp point can also help when taking out splinters.

A Flat, Angled Spine

When choosing a knife, its best that you choose one that has a flat spine. A flat edged spine means that you can use it to scrape ferro-rods for making a fire, you can also baton the edge to make it easier to split large pieces of wood. Having a flat edge also makes the knife easier to wield because you can rest your thumb on the back of the blade for added leverage; something you just cannot do with a double bladed knife.

A Solid Pommel

The pommel is the “butt” or end of the knife’s handle. Your knife needs to have a substantially solid pommel for light pounding and hammering jobs, like driving stakes into the ground or pounding the pommel with a heavy stick to break through thick river ice. A flat pommel that is not really a deal breaker but it is something that you may want to consider when choosing a survival knife.

Remember these details for when you are shopping around for the perfect survival knife. If you find a knife that has all or most of the features mentioned above then it will definitely be a good companion for when you find yourself in an emergency survival situation.