In a survival situation, camping, skinning and butchering the game are time consuming processes that are essential to getting the meat and trophies back home or to base camp in good condition.
Field preparation of game can only be achieved with the use of one of the hunter's most important tools - the hunting survival knife. To choose a folding blade survival knife over a fixed blade survival knife is a matter of choice, though each carries limitations - the most obvious being the "size" for a fixed blade knife and the ability to "break" for a folding blade knife.
The type and quality of the survival knife chosen has a direct bearing on the quality of the job that results. Here is a selection of hunting knives and survival knives currently available.
I have been reading various articles about military survival knives, where emphasis is placed on the worth of knives designed and made overseas. These knives are created for a worldwide market and not specifically designed for a particular environment and some descriptors are misleading. Knowing what a survival knifes usage might be is the first step in choosing the right knife for you. There is a formula for the most practical survival knife design!
As an example, a recent article reviewed the Aitor range of survival knives. The blade steel was quoted as Cr Mo Va stainless, whereas the Spanish literature states the blade steel is X42CR13, which translates to a steel with 0.42 per cent carbon and 13 per cent chromium.
This specification is identical with the specification for 420 stainless steel, a steel that has zero molybdenum and zero vanadium. At 0.42 per cent carbon, the highest Rockwell hardness that can be achieved is 58. It may be correct to call it a sensible level, but it is also the highest level achievable. Readers familiar with 420 stainless steel will know that it is in the mid range of quality and cannot ever match the performance of 440C or D2 steels.
Another point of interest is that in one of the world's harshest climates, the Australian military survival training officers have concluded that a saw-back feature is not required and will eventually lead to blade fracture.
I suggest that to finish the knife in a 'camouflage' is an unnecessary feature. As a result, I considered it would be worthwhile to detail features that the American hunters should look for in such a knife when making a purchase.
There is general consensus that American hunters should go into the wild with a kit of three knives: a folding pocket-knife, a dedicated skinner and a heavy-duty belt knife. The first two of the kit would be carried in the backpack and the third in a custom-built leather sheath on the belt.
To meet the needs when so kitted, we will focus upon and develop a specification to achieve what we may ask of the heavy-duty knife. I list, in priority order, the main areas of activity that a hunter may face, recognizing that all the items in the kit will share the workload. For example, the specification of the heavy-duty knife will ignore the need to skin animals, although little will be lost if we include a gut-hook in this knife's blade.
It will, however, need to assist in the following priorities:
Most importantly, the ultimate survival knife must never fail from any cause. This means that:
Talking with American military personnel, Vietnam veterans experienced in combat survival knives and fellow hunters gave me a more detailed list of each potential need for a multi-purpose survival knife, grouped under the selected priorities.
To develop a suitable knife specification, consider first that the knife must never fail. It is essential that the materials used and the method of construction ensure this. It could be a catastrophic problem for the hunter if their belt-knife fractures under a bending load. This can be prevented by ensuring that the blade has been hardened and tempered within the range of 54-58 Rockwell. Keeping the Rockwell low also helps avoid edge chipping.
Additionally, it is my preference that the hunter chooses a full tang for his wilderness survival knife that is many times stronger than the alternatives. In a 4 to 4.5mm blade, at the fracture point of a full tang, the cross-section is about 25x4mm thickness, whereas with a through tang, the cross-section of this part is 8x4mm - that is, the full tang is stronger by a factor of 3 and, in this writer's view, is technically far superior to a partial or through tang.
There is much scope to accept variations in blade design. There is acceptance that a length ranging from 100 to 150mm (4 to 6") is suitable. Also, as it will not be required for skinning an animal, it can be a long straight spear-point or with a short sweeping curve - and this is a personal choice:
With the advent of the fixed blade short survival knife, the balance of the needs listed could be handled effectively by almost all designs of the belt knife. The aforementioned allows this writer to conclude that a survival knife for a three-knife kit devotee should have the following specifications:
It has been stated that the Ka-Bar is arguably America's best bushcraft knife and doubles as the best urban survival knife. It would fall well short of fulfilling the aforementioned specifications, but it is immensely popular and is available. There is therefore a challenge here for all American knife makers and importers. So do I look for the world's best survival knife?, the strongest survival knife? - the answer is simply "NO", those are not necessarily going to be the correct criteria for your individual requirements. You always look for the best all-round knife that is suited to it's intended use/purpose coupled with your experience and ability.
Pop one open. The Bartender Defender XL is a follow-up to TOPS Knives' very popular Bartender Defender. Customers appreciated that the original was extra small and lightweight, but they wanted a slightly longer blade to work with.
This new model is still less than 5.5 inches overall length when sheathed but has a blade over two inches long. Another update is that the bottle opener is accessible without having to remove the knife from the sheath.
TOPS went with a smooth and attractive tumble-finished 1095 blade with clear Cerakote finish,to protect from rust. Suggested retail price is $80.00.
What comes to mind when you pick this up? "Affordable, high-quality machete."
Whether you are clearing green brush or woody stems, this cutter will make short work of whatever you need to get it out of your way. The blade is full tang and much thicker than most in the same class, but it is still incredibly light to make it easy to use for longer time.
It is 19.0 inches long overall but weighs just 25.3 ounces. This machete has an easily adjustable paracord lanyard for whatever grip you want to utilize. Add in a textured Gator Grip handle and sturdy sheath with D-loops, and you have yourself a trail-blazing machine.
What else comes to mind? Security and dependability.
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