Favorite Survival knife?

Jun 15, 1999
So, assuming that you are say out in the woods, or possibly stranded somewhere - what would be your choice survival knife? Ideal size? What knife is the knife that can do anything you need it to do and is the knife you want if your life is possibly depending on it? Hope to hear some good responses...
The ideal knife would probably be a Battle Mistress or an 18" Ang Khola. but if I had to choose it would be the Ang Khola.
If I could choose anything? BattleMistress. If I had to choose from what I have on hand. My EDMF 12" TrenchBowie. To my way of thinking a bigger knife can do anything a smaller knife can do (although it`ll be somewhat more clumsy),but a small knife can`t do everything a larger one will. Marcus
The 18 inch ang khola is a good choice, however the ww11 would be my first choice. Himalayan Imports of course.

What? Another knife? Don't you have enough of those things already?
How many does one person need?
And just what are you going to do with this one that you can't do with the others?
What is the purpose of all these knives anyhow??

Boy, pretty open ended question! Am I out camping and got lost, in which case I just gotta survive a couple days or bushwhack out? Or have I crash-landed in the jungle?

Okay, lemme define my most-likely scenario first, something I suggest everyone do before explaining their knife choice. My most-likely scenario is lost in the CA forests. Biggest danger is hypothermia as the temperature plummets at night. I will almost certainly be found or be able to bushwhack out in a couple days max. I may need to make a shelter, clear out a campsite, cut up limbs for a fire.

For this job, I'm always looking at the same compromise. Best performer at the lightest weight. In theory, Livesay's RTAK should be exactly what I want -- strong enough to handle all my requirements, thinner than most knives in this class for extra-high performance, lighter than something like the (probably more robust) Battle Mistress.

Anybody tried to clean an 8" trout with an 18" Battle Mistress, or a 9 1/2" Trailmaster for that matter?
Joe is correct, I forgot to explain my choice. Since all of my camping and hiking are in the mountains and deserts of California, and I always have my Battle Mistress, it is my first choice. I always have a smaller knife or three along as well to serve smaller tasks. But a true emergency survival situation requires a strong blade to build a shelter, traps, fire starting and even a weapon. Of course, I enjoy using the Mistress and would find it a mental comfort to have along as well. By the way Joe, what parts of CA do you stomp around in?

Anybody tried to clean an 8" trout with an 18" Battle Mistress, or a 9 1/2" Trailmaster for that matter?

Busse makes an 18" BM now? Damm, I wish I had to know that before I ordered my puny 10" one. By the way, who keeps trout only 8" long? I use worms for bait that are not much smaller than that.

As Marcus noted above, you can do all manner of small work with a larger knife. No it will not be as neat, if I have to fillet a cod with my 22" AK and another with my custom hunter by Phil Wilson you will easily be able to tell which knife made which cuts. However I will be able to eat both.

Joe :

Livesay's RTAK should be exactly what I want

I have been looking at that as well. It would be nice to see that compared to a slightly thicker knife like the Busse BM.

I'd either opt for Livesay's RTAK (if I thought I'd need to do a huge amount of very heavy/abusive knife work... otherwise I'd go with either my Dozier Yukon Pro Skinner or the Simonich Talonite Cetan I have on order.

I've managed quite well to construct shelters (lean to's, etc.) using a normal sized hunting/camping/walking around knife... so I'm not sure a really large blade is necessary. I don't mean to start any flame wars or insult anyone's sensitivities... but I have a sneaking suspicion that most of use tend to use too much knife (and too much gun). IMHO

Well, I'm still infatuated with my old BKT Brute, but I've actually used a 4-5" fixed blade for minimalist backcountry situations much more. Tried the SOG NW Ranger and it worked fine. Used my old BJ HALO II over and over again with no problems. Cold Steel, CRKT, etc. all worked fine for making fires, shelters, grubbing edibles, and digging tools. I go around or wriggle through brush instead of chopping through. I've never thought about building a log cabin with my knife. Bears are better avoided than fought. The fish get "poached" to remove the skin or they're stick roasted with it on. Big knives are great tools when you don't have time to make any yourself.

Take care,


I know that many people may dissagree with me about this but in my opinion a knife with blade size of around 7 inches, and flat ground blade is the best choice. My fav is my Next Generation Ka-Bar. It is awesome can cut about anything and can easy field dress any game. Build light shealters, like lean toos, tippies, etc. I have the USMC Ka-Bar as well and cut down trees up to 4 inches wide with ease. So dont get into a mess with a huge blade, you dont need a machete to survive, any tool if used properly will help ya lots. Geoff
Gunner - I'm a big Ka-bar Next Gen fan myself, love that knife.

Say, who makes the Battle Mistress? Never seen one, and after hearing about it, you guys got me interested. Anyone got a pic or a link to a site? Thanks in advance
I really believe you choice of survival knife depends on what environment you're in.

Desert, chapparral, light woods: my Reeve Mountaineer II

Jungle. heavily wooded area: a BM

Kalifornia: a Mad Dog Panther!!!

I agree with MNH and Gunner: In many survival-type situations, a knife the size of a BM may not be the best choice. The BM is a huge hunk of knife...a 4"-6" blade may be all you really need for most tasks.

Check out what Doug Ritter says about this on www.equipped.com. Lots of great insight on this topic.
What a question! If it was something I currently owned, it would probably be my Tanto #2 with a D-2 blade ground by MadPoet. It's a tough choice, really. COming in a close second would be my Himalayan Imports Dhankuta village khukuri.

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On Two Wheels
My 21 inch AK. It has the karda for smaller work as well as a sharpener.

Interestingly enough Ron Hood as commented between the Battle Mistress and his 4 1/2 inch bladed Talonite Kanji he would take the Kanji if he could have only one. However, he is much more skilled than many in backwoods survival.

thanks and take care
AJ -- frankly, I think we are tending to overshoot the mark some. Tromping around the woods I go to, there's always plenty of wood on the ground, from good fire log size to shelter size or whatever. I *could* easily get away with a smaller knife -- in fact, I always do! But if we're talking ideally here, I might have to do some de-limbing, I might have to do some brush clearing to bed down for the night, etc. All these things favor a bigger knife.

I'd be just as well served with an Ontario machete though.