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Which Survival Knife should I choose?

Written by Preppers Shop UK Guest Blogger: Tom Linden

Which Survival Knife

When one thinks of survival knives, images of Rambo come to mind, as the name Survival Knife was actually coined after his film First Blood

Let’s look at those knives and see the pros and cons. I will be focusing on single edge fixed blade knives because of the safety and function factors that should be addressed in a survival situation.


Most of these Survival Knives are large, Bowie style blades with hollow handles and saws on the spines. 

Movies like Rambo made them popular and mass production and a cheap price kept them popular. But trust me; there is a reason for the low price.

First let’s look at the handle construction. Hollow handles, for the most part, are all fad and a huge “no no” in the survival world.

Don’t get me wrong, there are 1 or 2 custom makers that take the time and use the right materials to make these knives work well like the LMF II Survival Knife by Gerber.

This is not so in cheap mass production knives. Most are held together with a single nut or rolled pin and they call it good.

Trust me, they will fail. Just take one on a camping trip and try to build a shelter with one like I did. 10 chops and that was all she stood..

So for the most part, unless you have to have a hollow handle, let’s stick to a full tang (unsure about tang? click here to read our blog about it) with a comfortable, secure handle. You won’t be sorry

Next let’s look at the blade. Once again double edge is a big danger in a survival situation. You can’t afford the risk in the woods.

A large blade can, and will, do everything a small blade can do plus more. 


Survival requires a lot of chopping, and large weight foreword blades with a thick spine cut your work in half. That’s why machetes are a huge part of outdoor life in many tribes around the world.

The saw back spine on early aviator knives were made for aircraft escape, and found their way onto all outdoor knives mainly for looks than for function.

It has been my experience that they don’t work that well on wood, and it’s easy to pack a nice saw in a small survival kit. So if you decide to stay with a small blade, you will have a saw to make up for it.

Blade steel is best left up to the person and situation. Air crew may want to stick with the 499 Air Force Survival Knife – Ontario Knife Company Stainless versions that require less maintenance.

But on the other hand, they are harder to sharpen in the field. I like a blade with a high Carbon content. It takes more care and maintenance, but the trade-off for a scalpel sharp edge that’s easy to keep is worth it.

In both cases it is best to learn to sharpen your blades and keep a sharpener with it at all times.

Do some homework and decide for yourself what would be best for you.

As with any tool, your average £5.00 Wally World blade won’t last long under stress.

Remember your life is on the line. That being said, let’s look at the specs of a good survival knife:

A quality survival knife has to feature high quality construction with a reasonable. Put that into a full tang knife with a comfortable secure handle, along with a good sized thick blade for chopping, with the right steel for you and round it out with a usable sharpener and you’ve got yourself a nice survival companion.

Now let’s put it in a package. Leather sheaths have been around for a long time, and they work well. In many cases it is better to find a sheath the fits securely that is made of a strong webbing and lined with a thick plastic or better yet Kydex insert.

This will help protect you and your knife for years to come. They usually hold up well in all conditions. Try to make sure it has a drain hole so no water or dirt stays on the blade.

As a final thought, when you decide on a survival knife, be sure and use it. I have seen too many sit in kits or on shelves and when the time comes for the survivor to use it, they don’t know how.

Get in touch with your blade until it becomes an extension of your arm. 

Safety is the key in all things survival. With a little preparation and practice, you will come to trust your blade and yourself in any situation.

To view the range of knives available at Preppers Shop UK, click here

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