What Is a Survival Knife?

Photo credit: Gideon Haden ChomphosyHere at Uncle Sam’s Safari Outfitters in Fayetteville, Arkansas, we have one of the best knife selections in Northwest Arkansas. We carry affordable pocket knives, high end everyday carry knives, and full tang, workhorse survival knives. While most people are familiar with the average pocket knife, not everyone is quite as familiar with survival knives. This becomes apparent when customers in our store casually perusing our knife counter stop in their tracks and ask to see the “Rambo knives”. While the term “survival knife “has become popular fairly recently, survival knives are nothing new. Here are a few answers to common questions about survival knives.

What is a survival knife?

At its most basic, a survival knife is a well-rounded, multipurpose knife that can be used in a variety of situations. A survival knife should be able to help you meet your basic needs in a survival situation. That being said, 99% of the population rarely – if ever – finds themselves in a survival situation. Fortunately, you don’t have to be in a survival situation to put a survival knife to use.

Survival knives are what people used to call “camp knives”, or simply “knives”. There’s no specific feature that qualifies a knife as a survival knife. Some survival knives are made of high carbon steel such as 1095 carbon steel, and others are made out of stainless steel. Survival knives may be full tang, or they might come with hollow handles that house extra odds and ends (fish hook, bandage, compass, fire starter, etc.). Some come with micarta scales, while others have stacked leather handles.

Survival knives come in all shapes and sizes. For examples, we carry both the ESEE Izula 2 and ESEE 5 in our store. The Izula – II has a blade length of 2.63″ while the ESEE 5 has a blade length of 5.25″. Both of these knives are classified as “survival knives”. Some prefer big burly blades that can be used for heavy duty chopping. Others prefer a smaller blade for more precise cutting.

How do I choose a survival knife?

The best survival knife should have a full tang, a non-slip and impact-resistant handle, and a strong blade material that can hold an edge for a long time. Typically, the higher the carbon content in the blade, the better it holds an edge. That being said, however, a higher carbon content also means that the blade will rust or corrode more quickly. Some survival knives use a powder coating on the blade to prevent this from happening. You still have to maintain the blades edge, of course, which cannot be coated.

When it comes to size, choosing a survival knife depends on what you’re planning to do with it.

What is a survival knife used for?

Again, the idea behind a survival knife is that it’s the only tool you need in a survival situation. If you’re dropped off in the middle of the wilderness with nothing but a knife – again, not going to happen – that knife should suit all of your needs. This means that your knife should assist you in getting food, shelter, and a fire. The perfect survival knife should be able to help you make a shelter, cook, clean a fish, baton fire wood, make a feather stick, etc. This is where size comes into play. bigger knives are less useful for more precise and delicate cutting, while small knives are limited when it comes to heavy use such as chopping and batoning. There are several survival knives that find a good balance of both worlds, such as the TOPS Fieldcraft knife.

Stop by and visit us in Northwest Arkansas to see our entire selection of survival knives! We carry brands like TOPS, ESEE, Ontario, and more!

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