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classic survival knife thoughts. (extremely pic and word heavy)

Discussion in 'Outdoor Gear, Survival Equipment & More' started by RescueRiley, Feb 28, 2011.

  1. RescueRiley


    Mar 22, 2006
    over the past year or so I;ve been musing alot about the classic survival knife concept... or bringing one knife only as a tool.. I experimented with this pretty extensively by using primarily a bk-7 and my edc sak for most of my outings, including camping in all conditions (rain, snow etc.)

    Going into this I knew this excercise would be all about compromise
    a larger tough knife capable of light chopping, and heavy splitting..will never carve like a bushcraft knife, Nor do they chop like a hatchet.. But I figured I could accept the compromise, shearly based on the convenince of only carrying 1 tool, It is extremely convenient. typically the knife was lashed horizontally under my butpack with my poncho roll over it.. Leaving it easily accesible but out of sight.
    a knife in the 7 inch blade range is truly a do all knife. It; chopped trees, split wood, carved trap triggers, cleaned game, and prepped food, all adequately though never as good a a dedicated tool. In that sense i;ve been happy.
    The down sides of course are equally obvious.. while they perform tasks, they do none as well as dedicated tools.. herego for the price of a bk7 and a sak
    you could get a Mora a sak, and a friskar hatchet and have your bases equally covered, getting better specificity from each tool.
    in additon over the past year admittedly I have realized that while chopping and splitting are certainly necessary and vital tasks (particularly int the first 24 hours of setting up a primitive camp. the most blade related actions have been the quick cuts..qucly cutting a piece of cord, trimming the stem of a harvested plant, or shaving tinder to light a fire, al of which can be done with a large knife, but are much handier with a small sharp blade.
    in addition, a small fixed bad and hatchet seem to raise allot less eyebrows from strangers, than a larger survival type blade.
    All this being said, I still don;t know what side of the fence I;m on. since despite all this there have only been a few times where I really felt longed for a hatchet, (both in winter)

    so what about you?? where do you fall? what are your thoughts, and stories?
  2. Rick Marchand

    Rick Marchand Donkey on the Edge Moderator Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Jan 6, 2005
    Excellent post brother! IMO, it all boils down to personal preference..

    Can you accomplish most tasks with a small 3-4" blade?... YES.
    Can you accomplish most tasks with a medium 5-7" blade?... YES
    Can you accomplish most tasks with a large 6-10" blade?... YES
    Can you accomplish most tasks with a long machete/parang blade?... YES
    Can you accomplish most tasks with an axe/hatchet/hawk?... YES

    So what's the problem?... Use whatever suits your particular style and needs. I switch all the time. I go through phases of what I feel works best for me (right now, it's a big honkin 8.5" blade) but that could change on my next outing. There is no need to "pigeon hole" yourself into a one knife/combo scenario. I think you're better off using a variety of edged tools.... that goes for most of your other gear, too.

  3. Cpl Punishment

    Cpl Punishment

    Jan 28, 2006
    I've always fallen on the two-tool basic loadout: one for big chores, one for small chores.

    The big one can be an axe (to include hatchets and tomahawks), a machete (of whatever type), or a kukri. THis will handle the wood gathering, shelter building, the early steps in big game dressing and butchering, and if it came down to it, a weapon.

    The small blade does everything else.

    You can also bring special purpose blades, like a fillet knife or butcher knife, spoon or carving knives, etc, but they are not part of the basic loadout.

    From what I've read, all cultures adopted the two-tool basic toolset, never a one-tool.
  4. RescueRiley


    Mar 22, 2006
    Thanks sorry for being so wordy.... I havent been able to get out for weeks, and I'm just plain edgy....
    Rick, That is a handsome looking blade there...
  5. Shotgun


    Feb 3, 2006
    I've settled on the two tool set at the moment. An edc blade and a hatchet/hawk. Don't seem to need or want anything other then that however the tools within those two categories can change from outing to outing.
  6. Rick Marchand

    Rick Marchand Donkey on the Edge Moderator Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Jan 6, 2005
    Thanks, bud.... here is my "featherstick" blade...

  7. sicily02


    Nov 23, 2005
    I like the pics you posted, John. I really like the 7" or so
    blade length for most tasks.
    spring, summer and fall, That blade lengths works great.
    In winter though I really like to have axe for cutting and
    spliting up seasoned wood thicker than
    3" it really is just that much faster.
    As with what has been said, the 2 knife combo is really
    the best all round combo.

    John, I think if you just really want to carry only ONE knife
    then stick with that 7" knife you got.

    Like many others on this forum I really like the 2 knife or 2 tool
    combo. Ie axe and my Kephart 4.5" blade for winter use and
    then in the spring, summer and fall, I really like my Kephart and
    my longer Knife like my Warthorn 10" blade.

    I really like using my saw too.

    I think that BK7 and your SAK are a great combo. Add in a hand saw and you really have the greatest combo for spring summer and fall woods time.
    Winter instead of the hand saw replace it with a axe and you are set for the winter woodsbummin.

  8. TheGame


    Sep 24, 2008
    What he said. I prefer larger blades myself, but there are times when I think a smaller knife will do me better. Especially if I am not planning on doing anything major, or if it is the summer here I usually take a small(er) knife then I would in the winter.
  9. sodak

    sodak Gold Member Gold Member

    Mar 26, 2004
    Great thread! I do think it really boils down to personal preference.

    I prefer the medium to large knife paired with a SAK. I don't think I'll ever understand the preference for Moras, though. I did a bit of testing several years ago, and except for batonning, my SAK's can do everything a Mora can do, and do it better, at least in my hands. And the saw on my SAK's pretty much makes the batonning unnecessary anyway. I don't need to chop through anything bigger than my wrist.

    As always, YMMV, carry what works best for you.
  10. Shotgun


    Feb 3, 2006
    In the summer I'm fine with just an Izula sized knife and that's all.:eek:Maybe I should have my knife nut card revoked. Only one knife seems rediculous.:D
  11. TheGame


    Sep 24, 2008
    When I said smaller I didn't mean that small :eek::eek:

    Only one knife is quite ridiculous though. Especially for people on a knife forum. :D
  12. scrumpy jack

    scrumpy jack

    Aug 9, 2009
    These are my normal winter toys, I "enjoy" the one knife concept, thats why i sometimes carry just that.

  13. harpoon41


    Dec 24, 2006
    Good post and pics. When I read "classic" knives I was thinking, Ruana Workman, Randall 15 or the Western Bowie or Fighter. Hard to believe the BK-7 is 10 yrs. old but I know you meant classic in concept just showing my age in regards to the knives.
  14. messer454

    messer454 Gold Member Gold Member

    Oct 2, 2006
    Two different times now, once with a friend, I have sat down and chopped with everything 7 inch and longer that I or we had. This has consisted of a 6 inch diameter log, a 4x 4, and recently 2 inch stuff. I really want to have the big knife work because I really like the way they look and feel. However I must say that for me a sharp Wetterlings, Gerber Hatchet, or a thin profile H&B Hawk chops big and small stuff much better, has a hammer in case I need it for tent stakes in frozen ground, and looks a lot more tool to most people. I can even do fuzz sticks with that Wetterlings that are better than some from the as received sharpness of some of the knives I have. My Gerber hatchet weighs almost the same as my 7" SOD and the H&B Camp hawk weighs the same as the Busse Bushwacker. I am slowly convincing myself that the hawks I have always had might be best for me.
  15. PDE


    Nov 7, 2010
    Yep, I am going through the big blade phase as well, at the moment
    it is my 11in. Gossman Nessmuk, I love this knife so far!

  16. kgd


    Feb 28, 2007
    Great post RR. Even though Rick agrees with you, he's probably wrong.... :D
    Actually I've gained a lot of respect for the mid-sized blade, so much so that I have mostly ruled out chopper blades except for those in the machete (e.g. ESEE Lite Machete) and small machete class (e.g. Koyote Leuku). While I think I did everything in my power to give it a chance and try to love long chopper knives (had an RD-9, still have a scrapyard SOD which despite its length is too big for a mid-size knife) I really could not see my use of them in field applications. Here Rick disagrees with me, but that okay that he is wrong here too :D

    Like your post implies, I feel very comfortable with a mid-size/small knife combo. Actually truth be told is that I really like a SAK, bushy blade and folding or take down saw with a mid-sized sort of tucked in pack as back-up or called upon for splitting. I can say rather confidently that the last couple of times I took out my axe (21" S&N and big 35" GB) anticipating much chopping usage, I instead reverted to saw and still feel more comfortable splitting by batoning with a midsize blade than I do splitting with an axe.

    One of my buds who comes out with me a lot likes and prefers his axe and he is versatile with it. However, I prefer my midsize blade and trailblazer take down saw and I think the two of those can process faster than what my bud can do with his mid-size wetterlings alone. Now an axe/saw combo is more efficient still, but how much efficiency do you really need to process a nights worth of firewood? Does it change my life if it takes 15 minutes or 22 minutes? Some people seem to care about this, but I don't. What I do know is that my snow and neely will set me back about 38 oz and is awkward to carry/strap to my pack. My mid-size blade (ESEE6)and folding saw (trailblazer) is 23 oz and my ESEE6 with trailblazer 18" take down is 32 oz. Both these combo's are lighter and far easier to position in my pack than an axe and in the end that is why I prefer them.

    I also love the SAK but I rarely use it for its knife function. I really prefer a bushy blade. The grab from pocket and open it up is just a slower process compared to withdrawing your sheath knife. I also like, or rather enjoy, cutting with a decent fixed blade for the ergo's it provides. It is a pleasure to use a well crafted knife with great ergos. Using a SAK is a 'it gets the job done' but hardly a pleasure or joy to use on its own. I would venture to say that your SAK/mid-size combo is a two tool combo. I often take a SAK/4-5" bushy combo with me and feel that addresses many of my needs except for raw processing of winter firewood. Still, I kind of don't see the point of foregoing your favorite mora because you brought along your SAK/mid-size. I mean, truly what is the big sacrifice in bringing along that mora with your 2-tool combo? Certainly not weight.

    Then again, I watched Rick do everything he needed to do with an 8" chopper. Too bad he is wrong in everything he does....But he gets by on just the one blade quite fine. I only wish he wouldn't insist on extending that minimal philosophy to his skivvies...
  17. sicily02


    Nov 23, 2005
    Ken that was well said. Other than you kidding with Rick:D

  18. Marcelo Cantu

    Marcelo Cantu Gold Member Gold Member

    Jan 18, 2003
    John, this post is G-R-R-EAT!

    G, you are a true scholar of woodsmanship. Always giving yourself assignments n'junk.

    The way I see it; in a survival situation, you have to be proficient with whatever you have. When camping or if you plan on having an extended stay in the wilderness, a small sharp FB or a sturdy SAK (OHT or Farmer), a cruiser size axe, and a good folding or bucksaw are what I consider ideal.

    By trying different systems out however, you get good at using, controlling and improvising; essentially learning that system's strengths and limitations, and turning your response to said limitations into new strengths.

    I say keep doing what you're doing (and invite me), and keep posting about it.

    WILLIAM.M Gold Member Gold Member

    Apr 14, 2006
    Great Post John!!!

    I will ALWAYS believe that it's the man who determines what results he gets with the equipment he brings in the field.

    A trained man will do more with a Mora than a fool will do with an 10" Busse.

    You have A LOT more skill than the average man that owns a knife and what you can do with your BK-7 and SAK most other people (not on these forums) simply can not do.

    I sold my BK-7 because it could not chop Mesquite well enough(for me)

    I do however have several Knives in the 7-8" range and I think paired with a SAK or a Mora I would do every well.

    Again--great post

  20. kgd


    Feb 28, 2007
    That pretty much says it all Dr. Bill. We each come to conclusions about what works for us. Sometimes that is a tortuous path. If you base your findings on experience and an open mind, you really can't go wrong. Unless you're Rick....Then you are probably wrong.....

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