So today I found my self searching around the web for a good, sturdy survival knife that won't break the bank (gotta pay the college bills of course), unfortunately I wasn't entirely sure what made a good survival knife and most of the ones I saw were well out of my price range. But being smart and having the internet I did some research in order to make my decision.
Here are some features to look for when trying to purchase a survival knife:
- Full Tang is a must - Full Tang refers to the area of the knife that would be the grip, it is full because the metal used to make the blade extends all the way to the bottom of the handle (hilt). Knives with hollow hilts, although great for storing items, will fail and break under real use in the wild. (Only exception to this is knives where the blade and handle are all made from the same piece of metal).
- High Price Isn't always High Quality - There are plenty of overpriced knives out there that would be of little use to you in the wild, there are also plenty of affordable and durable blades out there for a survivalist.
- Have a good sheath - Leather sheaths retain water and wear down faster than other sheaths so avoid these. A nylon sheath or kydex sheath are both better choices, whichever your budget allows. Also it should always have a belt loop and give your knife a lanyard.
- Bigger is sometimes better - Having a larger survival knife does sometimes mean more weight and they are more visible but there are certain jobs in the wild that a smaller knife (4 in or smaller) just can't handle like a large one. When it comes down to the most basics of survival it, its better to have a larger knife with you, preferably one 5 1/2 in or greater.
- Serrated vs Plain - This argument....the best answer for it is both, and no I don't mean a single knife with one, but to have a different knife of each type. As of this moment I carry 2; one a serrated folding knife, the other a plain edge fixed blade. This isn't a perfect coverage of the knife world but it gives me more options. But to give a more detailed answer, I would make my survival knife plain edge mainly because most of the jobs you will have to do in the wilderness require the plain edge.
- Fixed or Folding - For this knife and its function, I would stick with fixed blade knives, mostly because you may need to chop or hammer with your knife and a folder much like a non-full tang won't cut it.
Good Knife Choices:
Ka-Bar Survival knife
This is the staple knife in survival and fighting knives. Tough, powerful and durable, this is a tested a true weapon for many occasions. This model is about $50 but there are a few that are lower than $40. here are two links to two models.
KA-BAR Full Size US Marine Corp Fighting Knife
KABAR Short Black Plain Edge Knife
Frost Mora Military Knife
This is a great ultra light, durable knife, and at an excellent price. At just over $20 including S&H from amazon this knife is a great choice for someone on a tight budget...like a college student. This knife does have a slight drawback, that being its a small knife at 3 7/8", not to say this is a bad knife but keep that size in mind.
Frost Mora Knife
Gerber Bear Grylls Knife
This one you may have heard of already, its an all around solid knife with a lot of nice features although the price is a bit much. Developed by Man vs Wild host Bear Grylls, it is another really good choice for a survival knife. There are plenty of videos on it on amazon, it cost about $50 so a little pricey. Another good and over looked option from Gerber is the Prodigy model although this model is a little harder to find.
Gerber 31-000751 Bear Grylls Survival Series Ultimate Knife
SOG SEAL Pup Knifes
SOG is a well known knife company and they do have great quality knives, but many of which are priced a bit to high (if you have $120 to blow be my guest) but they have a few that are reasonably priced of course these models all are partially serrated so take it as you will but if you want that these are a good choice. This model is about $50, too.
SOG Specialty Knives & Tools M37-N SEAL Pup
Smith & Wesson CKSUR1 Bullseye Knife
After looking at many options this was my choice for a knife, its durable and strong, good size and comes full tang w/ plain edge. It was obviously inspired by the Ka-Bar type knives and that works well because it can function as a survival or fighting blade when confronted by the not so friendly when the SHTF. Best of all this knife only cost $21.59. Thats a great deal on a solid knife. It also comes with a really nice sheath so its an awesome deal.
Smith & Wesson CKSUR1 Bullseye Knife
Some other choices.....