One of the great topics in the survivalist / prepping community is about survival knives. Everyone has an opinion about what kind of knife would be ideal for surviving in a post-SHTF / post-TEOTWAWKI world.
Some of the discussions on knives revolve around real world situations, while a lot of the discussions revolves around unrealistic situations, such as bugging out to the wilderness.
After putting much thought into the SHTF survival knife topic, what if I told you just about everyone was right and just about everyone was wrong? There is no perfect knife for a post collapse society. That is why we should stockpile a variety of knives.
Rambo hollow handle survival knife – No article on survival knives is complete without discussing the grandfather of all survival knives. Let’s go ahead and get that out of the way.
The word “survival knife” brings to mind the 1982 movie Rambo when John Rambo used his knife to survive in the wilderness. Shortly after the movie Rambo was released a survival knife craze kicked in. Survival knives were made in all shapes, forms and fashions. Some were good quality but there was a lot of junk on the market. The hollow handled Rambo survival knife was probably the most popular.
I bought a couple of those hollow handle knives in the mid-1980s. The blade was cheap 440 stainless that would not hold an edge, the compass was cheap, the hollow handle was barely large enough to hold a couple of matches. This is a novelty item rather a knife that will serve us for the long term.
For the sake of discussion let’s look at three different types of knives – pocket knives, utility knives and handout knives.
Pocket Survival Knife
A good quality pocket knife will be “one” of your best friends in a post-SHTF world. Whether it is picking peas, squash, zucchini, butchering a chicken, skinning a deer, quartering a hog,,,, the pocket knife is the perfect all around cutting tool.
The pocket knife should be a non-serrated edge, good quality steel and made by reputable brand name.
Why non-serrated? When butchering an animal the serrations pull the flesh rather than cutting it. This results in the serrations building up clumps of flesh in them.
Good quality steel so it holds an edge and is easy to sharpen.
Reputable brand name so you know what you are getting. There is a lot of temptation to buy a $10 pocket knife from the corner store and proclaim it is just as good as a Case. Sometimes you get what you pay for. Buy a $10 corner store pocket knife and you have a disposable knife. Buy a $100 Case or Victorinox (Swiss Army) pocket knife and you have something that will last a lifetime.
I am not going to mention any pocket knife brand names besides Case and Victorinox. Do your own research and find a good quality pocket knife that you like.
What is your pocket knife currently used for?
My pocket knife is used for all kinds of stuff around the farm.
One of the mistakes preppers / survivalist make is they stockpile lots of stuff, such as knives, but do not take the time to use items from their stockpile. If you do not use it how do you know its quality? How do you know if the knife is going to hold an edge? How do you know the knife is not going to break? When you need something is not the time to test it.
Utility Survival Knife
For the sake of discussion lets call a utility knife anything with a fixed blade shorter than around 12 inches. Once you reach 12+ inches I put that in the same category as machetes.
Why a fixed blade knife? Stronger than folding knives, easier to clean than folders, worn on the belt they are easy to access, can be worn on a harness or body armor, longer blade than folders,,,, etc.
Personally, I prefer to skin a deer with a short fixed blade knife over a folder. I know people who use their Case folding knife to skin and quarter deer. It seems unsanitary to get blood into the hinges of my folding knife, then carrying the knife in my pocket. If I cut myself shortly after skinning an animal what pathogens will I be exposed to? For hygiene reasons I like to keep my butchering knife separate from my everyday carry.
Depending on the blade length this is your hacking, chopping, skinning, hog hunting, a knife you can make a spear out of, cut limbs and build a shelter with, cut up wood for a campfire, all around duty knife.,,, etc.
Some of my selected utility / survival knives:
- Gerber Profile
- Gerber Big Rock
- SOG Pentagon
- Mantis TA-2 Seymour
- Schrade schf9
- Cold Steel GI Tanto
- Cold Steel Recon Scout
Of that list the Gerber Big Rock (Supplied by Rocky National), the Cold Steel Recon Scout and the Mantis TA-2 Seymour have to be my favorites.
Cold Steel Recon Scout
I bought the Recon Scout in the mid-late 1990s. In the past 20 years years I have brought it all over southeast Texas – everywhere from the marshes to the piney woods. It has done everything from cut limbs to skin deer. The long blade was slightly unwieldy for skinning whitetail deer, but it got the job done.
Specs: The Recon Scout sports 7 1/2″ blade and has an overall length of 12 1/2″. The old style sheath came with a belt loop and a leg tie. The new style sheath comes ready to attach to webbing and body armor. Older Recon Scouts were made out of Carbon V steel. The Cold Steel website ways the scout is currently made from >O-1 High Carbon<.
Gerber Big Rock
The Gerber Big Rock was supplied at no cost to myself from Rocky National. In my opinion this is an excellent camping, backpacking and skinning knife. I am not saying that because the knife was supplied to me. That is my honest opinion.
Specs: My Gerber Big Rock has an overall length of 9 1/2 inches and a blade length of 4 1/2 inches. The blade material is listed as 440A stainless steel. While not made of the best quality steel 440A is rust resistant.
Mantis TA-2 Seymour
My feelings are mixed about the TA-2 Seymour. The sheath comes with slots for attaching to webbing or body armor, there is also an 1 1/2 inch belt clip. The belt clip seems rather weak and I am not sure if the clip will hold the knife in place as any belt over 1/8 inch thick does not fit the clip.
What the TA-2 Seymour has going for it is the curved blade which makes it good for slicing meat. While butchering a whitetail deer I was impressed how well the blade sliced through the flesh and meat.
Specs: Overall length 7 3/4 inches, blade length listed as 3 inches while my knife is more around 2 3/4 inches, blade material 420HC.
While not the best quality steel I like the overall feel of the Mantis TA-2 Seymour. As I do not trust the clip or how well the sheath retains the knife, so I keep it inside a backpack. The TA-2 Seymour is reserved as a skinning knife only.
Tanto Survival Knives
My personal opinion, Tanto style knives should not be stockpiled for a SHTF situation. The tips are made for stabbing, and that is about it. The straight blade is not good for skinning or butchering.
I have a Cold Steel GI Tanto in my collection. It looks cool and was bought at a good price 5 or 6 years ago, but it would not be one of my “go to” knives during a SHTF situation. Chances are the GI Tanto will be sitting in a drawer while I use other knives for everyday chores around the farm.
In review of my utility knives – After listing my utility knife collection it seems I need some skinning knives of better quality steel besides 420 and 440. Something with a 3 – 4 inch blade and made from good carbon steel.
There are a lot of good quality knives on the market. It is just a matter of doing some shopping, reading the specs and reading the reviews.
Earlier in the article we talked about corner store $10 knives. This might sound odd, but I feel survivalist should stockpile a few cheap knives. That is right, get some of those cheap $10 and $15 knives and put them in storage.
Why would you stockpile cheap knives?
To handout to the less prepped people who show up asking for help. These are the zombies who refused to stockpile their own survival gear, or the less fortunate who had to leave their preps behind.
Why would you give someone a knife?
So they can help butcher pigs or chickens, help harvest crops, help do chores around the farm that might require a knife.
Why give someone a $40 or $50 knife to harvest squash when you can give them a $10 knife that will do the same thing? If someone loses a $10 made in China corner store knife, no big deal. Teaching a child how to use a knife and knife safety, do you risk them losing a high priced knife or an expendable $10 knife?
Did we miss anything?
We talked about folding knives, fixed blade knives and cheap knives to give you to your friends and family.
We talked about what knives might be used for in a post-SHTF world.