What’s the Best Survival Knife Money Can Buy?
The first thing you should understand is that no matter what anyone tells you, there is no such thing as the “best survival knife.” About all that can be said is that somewhere out there, there’s a ‘best survival knife’ for YOU. At the end of the day, a lot of it is going to come down to personal preferences, what you’re comfortable with, and what your specific needs (and strengths, as a survivalist) are.
Having said that, there’s a lot of pretenders we can eliminate right off the bat. What I mean by that is, there are a lot of knives out there that play at being “survival knives” but in reality, just aren’t, so even if we can’t identify the one ‘best survival knife’ in the world, we can certainly thin the herd and get rid of the ones that, for a variety of reasons, fall well short of the title.
Let’s start then, by looking at what doesn’t make a good survival knife, and remember, in this case, we’re talking about a hypothetical scenario in which you had to pick just one single blade to take into the wilderness with you. In reality, that’s never going to happen, so bear in mind that this is somewhat conjectural, and I’m definitely not saying that some of the features mentioned here won’t be useful in certain situations, but if you can only take the one knife, these are things you’re not going to want:
1) No Folding Blades. If you’re down to taking a single knife, you’re going to want a fixed blade, full tang knife, because it’s all you’re going to have, and you don’t need it breaking on you at exactly the wrong moment. Folders are nice to have as backups, absolutely, and there are several that have all sorts of cool features, but again, we’re looking at taking only one blade out into the wilds. Folding blades just won’t cut it.
2) No “Multi-Tool” Blades. Most of these tend to be folders anyway, so that excludes a big swath. Here, think in terms of knives like the Swiss Army knife. Neat concept, but not terribly practical. What you wind up with is a collection of substandard tools. It’s a sub-par knife, a sub-par saw, a sub-par screwdriver, and really, if you’re out in the wilds, how often are you gonna need to unscrew something? What you need is a knife capable of hacking a shelter together. Good luck with that if all you’ve got is your little Swiss Army toy. On the other hand, if you need to open a bottle of soda, this is a good choice.
And there are some features that you’re definitely going to want:
1) Longer is Better. No set rule here, but the longer the blade, the better off you’ll be. The main point is, when you’re in a survival situation, you don’t know what’s going to come up. You don’t know what’s over the next hill, or around the next bend. Longer blade. You’ll rest easier.
2) Can Pull Double Duty as a Saw, and Maybe even a Hammer. You need a knife that will do more than just cut, butcher, and serve as a weapon. It’s got to be able to help you build a shelter too. The butt end should be able to stand up to serious punishment if you need a makeshift hammer.
3) Multi-Purpose Sheath. The sheath should be more than just a place to keep the knife when it’s not in your hand. Ideally, there will be a place for a sharpening stone, a spark rod, and a few other odds and ends.
Given all of the above, my personal choice for best survival knife, if I could only take a single blade into the wilds with me, would be the Army and Air Force issue survival knife. It meets all the requirements I outlined above, and the cross guard has two holes in it specifically so I can lash it to a pole and turn it into a spear. It’s rugged, almost ten inches long (half of that, blade), and does everything I need it to do.