One Knife Survival Knife

Discussion in 'Big Chris Custom Knives' started by Big Chris, Dec 21, 2016.

  1. Big Chris

    Big Chris SAHD/Knifemaker Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Apr 1, 2010
    I have started watching Alone beginning with the first season.
    It has really had me thinking about what I would want in a knife as my only cutting tool other than a axe.

    I have always said that I feel I could get by with just a Wolverine as my only knife.


    While I do feel the knife is very versatile and would not be a hindrance, I think I may want something a bit different.
    My thoughts now are that I would want a little more length as well as some more belly.

    This next knife would also be very useful in a survival situation.
    The drawback with this one is the handle shape.
    I feel that it really limits the comfort in certain grips.


    My ideas now would be for a knife with a 6" to 6.5" blade that is 1.5" to 1.7" wide.
    I have made several different versions of Camp Knives but I think I would want my Survival Knife to be a mixture of a couple.

    I like the blade shape of this this pattern and it is also very handy for multiple uses.
    This one just has a little too pointy tip which could break off right when you don't want it to.


    This one I feel is the most viable candidate for a starting point.
    Shorten the blade, give the edge a little more curve, and give the handle a little more downward angle.
    I think that would make a winning combination.


    I would like to hear and see some of your ideas for what you would like to see in a Survival Knife.

    I do have plans to start on my version sometime after the first of the year.
    Who knows, with you guys input there could be more than one version made.

    Let have a good discussion.
    Beastchopper likes this.
  2. Fancier


    Jul 1, 2012
    I am very happy with the handle on my Woodcraft, so a scaled up version of that knife with a slightly higher point would be great.
    There are also a lot of classic good design qualities to work with in a somewhat refined version of a traditional butcher knife with a really comfortable handle.
    The last knife (with the tan handle) seems to be going in that direction, although it has more of a drop point.
  3. DavidCAndersen


    Nov 11, 2013
    I actually have a lot of opinions about this! lol

    I feel there are two divergent paths regarding "survival knife" design, exemplified for me by the thoughts of two different designers, they being Ethan Becker and Doug Ritter.


    On the Becker side, you have the bigger, overbuilt knives, and on the Ritter side are the smaller, easier to carry "always on you" style of knives.


    Ethan's full size knives are beasts, and can definitely take a beating, but you certainly feel the weight of them when schlepping them around. Doug's Benchmade RSK Mk3 is designed more around his ethos of a smaller, lightweight, and easy to carry blade. After all, you never know when you will find yourself in a "survival" scenario, and your big knife does no good if you decided it was too much to carry on your belt that day.

    Of course, I like knives that fall somewhere in the middle. I appreciate the lightweight/ease of carry argument, and I don't need my survival knife to necessarily be able to chop (although it could), but I still want something a little "more" than the 1/8" thick Ritter knife.

    Chris, I think the Hiker of yours that I tested is a perfect example of how this can be done. Very lightweight, but comfortable, and 5 1/2" of 3/16" 3V steel is tough to beat.


    I also think there are a couple "features" that every "survival" knife should have, mainly something of an index finger guard for protection and a lanyard hole for security. Should also be full tang and capable of withstanding the abuses or batoning through hardwood.

    Lack of a finger guard on a survival knife is a deal breaker for me. If I am fighting frostbite in my fingers, the knife is going to be hard enough to manage already... the last thing you need are your digits sliding forward onto the edge because you are having trouble with fine motor control.

    Protruding tang? I'd usually rather not. While they can certainly be useful for thumping on stuff, I prefer the comfort of a flush tang.

    My blade shape preference for a survival knife would be a versatile drop point... enough belly to skin but still a fine enough point for more detail oriented bushcraft tasks, as well as potential "wildlife self defense"... a fine line to walk.

    On steel selection, I like a good supersteel as much as the next but there is also an argument to be made for a steel that wont hold an edge as long, but will be easier to sharpen. Depends on whether you are planning for the benchmark time of 72 hours or for a longer term scenario. For longer term, I would definitely want the ease of sharpening. Short term, it would probably be moot.

    So in summation, I definitely err on the "smaller" side of things when I think of a survival knife, but if I knew I was going into an "Alone" type of scenario, I could definitely see myself going slightly larger, so long as the knife is still manageable at the smaller stuff like making trap triggers and bush expedient wood tools.
  4. LukeTheSpook


    Jan 2, 2015
    Very cool thread. I look forward to hearing people's opinions. I'll read more before thinking about what I'd take. The axe will handle a lot of the heavy work, but I think if I was on one of the alone shows I'd have to think about something to use for food prep. Which is to say, filleting fish and skinning small rodents. Neither of which, do I have much experience.

    Off the top of my head, LT Wright makes a limited addition version of their Genesis for An Alone contestant and it is basically a scandi grind kephart style knife. (I tried to make sure I didn't mention any spoilers).

    Alan on the first season did well with a condor kukri as well. Lots of options.
    Beastchopper likes this.
  5. Big Chris

    Big Chris SAHD/Knifemaker Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Apr 1, 2010
    Fancier, a butcher styled knife was my first though as well.
    Very versatile blade style, but am thinking about something with more curve to the edge.
    I have not found straight lines and edges to be beneficial with outdoor work.
    Personally, I get better curls and find that blade style does work more efficiently.

    My thinking is also that 6" gives enough edge for cleaning fish and light chopping, but is not too long for working with smaller game as well.
    It is also a good size for self defense if needed.
    That is also part of my reasoning for a slightly pointier design.
    A slender tip will pierce skin easier. This will make small game and fish work easier.

    As for the steel selection I think it would be really nice to have a super steel, but I would likely opt for something simpler.
    I believe my choice would be between O1 or 52100 at a 59-60 Rc.
    For the thickness I would like to have it around .160" to .170".
    Thick enough to be very durable, but will also keep the weight down enough that I would carry it all the time.
    The knife is not doing anyone any good if it is left in camp or in the car.
  6. Fancier


    Jul 1, 2012
    That first post really got to me Big Chris! :)
    I could also agree with a somewhat ruggeder version of the Hiker.
    I expected to see more of those Hikers, since it is a fairly conventional design for a utility outdoors knife.
    I am surprised that a simple alloy would be chosen over 3V, it seems like the obvious choice for a field knife.
    Merry Christmas!
  7. ma tumba

    ma tumba

    Apr 5, 2014
    I like that pointy knife very much, except for the pointy tip. A breed of the wolverine sheep foot blade and the handle of that pointy one - that would be the winner, to my taste
  8. Fancier


    Jul 1, 2012
    If you look at the four knives in the first Big Chris post they range widely in point elevation (and the corresponding amount of belly).
    That really seems to show the limitation in the One Knife concept, since obviously you are choosing one blade profile for a fixed blade knife.
    I am personally very fond of the highly contoured handle shape with the flared and dropped pommel shown in the second picture.
    So, if I really had to carry one of my current knives in a survival situation I'd go with the SAR / Camp as shown in the second picture.
    It wouldn't be ideal for detail wood carving but it is on the large and solid side and secure in the hand.
    If I knew I was going to have to do significant chopping I go for something more like a small machete, which again would probably look a lot like a large butcher knife.
    It is all going to be a compromise and in the end come down to personal style and technique.
    Folks that have used them seem to like the barong for a general purpose field knife, and it gives both a lot of belly and a point.
    If you truly have only one knife and you break the point, I think you'll just accept the slightly shorter length and sharpen it to have a thicker point.
    It wouldn't necessarily be pretty, but if you start with a 7" knife and lose a quarter of a inch you still have quite a bit of blade to work with.
    I haven't broken a tip in quite a while but when I have the resultant edge was fairly sharp still.
  9. hauntedchild


    Mar 6, 2015
    At this point and time I'm in different places . I've read and tried all popular thoughts , my latest trend know is the Kukri blade . I'm sorting out what or whatnot I think would better serve my needs in the event of a survival scenario . My first was a AOEF which was purchased solely based on price because I didn't know if I would appreciate the Kukri style of blades . It was less than was impressive to say the least . Thick edge that just bounced of most targets and terrible handle IMHO .
    My second is a Panawal Angkhola Farmer , great out the box other than removing the burr it was ready for hard work and confidence inspiring and proved it's worth quickly with my limited experience with the Kukri . But I am working with the AOEF again , I've had the edge thinned a great deal and reshaped the handle dramatically to my preference and am finding that I must have prefer the less dramatic curve of this blade along with slightly thinner 3/8 thick spine . Which is in my opinion more than I'll ever need for large knife task in a woodland scenario . Now in an urban environment I still put my money on my BK2 . And this I can say with extensive experience I have pryed open doors , stabbed through them and used the pommel to slowly but surely break through masonry walls . Was it easy ? Nope but it did it with no damage that would make the tool unserviceable . But if it was easy I wouldn't be a survival scenario would it .
    Last edited: Dec 26, 2016
  10. Fancier


    Jul 1, 2012
    This discussion is becoming pretty broad. :)
    We started at a Wolverine and are now talking about a style of knife that I personally classify as a metal hafted hand axe with an oddly shaped blade.
    I guess that proves that there is something for everybody!
  11. hauntedchild


    Mar 6, 2015
    He asked what would others would like to see in a survival knife in the last paragraph . Which prompted me to speak on my personal option which in turn is blade shape that I believe to be useful .
  12. Fancier


    Jul 1, 2012
    No offense intended, I meant to point out that there really is a broad selection of cutting implements being discussed.
    As a person of northern european lineage I think that an axe should have a wooden handle.
    I've never really understood the Asian tendency to make axe-like knives, but that is probably just due to my background.
    If it works for you by all means carry it! :thumbup:
  13. hauntedchild


    Mar 6, 2015
    No offense taken sir . Ive ran the gambit of knives and survival tools by choice . But if im planning a trip and can stand the weight and conditions dictate an axe im taking a dang axe lol . Heck growing up in the glades we took the hatchet and the old cane knife out the stump next to the chicken coop and whichever one and a half bladed single scale pocket knife and any pot we could sneak out the back door with and the rest in a pillow case and would spend a couple days at a time in the swamp , heck and we were kids . Oh I forgot the old single shot .22 with a pocket of ammo . Ahhh the good ole days but thats another story .
  14. Steve in SoCal

    Steve in SoCal

    Mar 16, 2011
    Don't have a lot of sage survivalist advice to add here. But I do have a few BC knives so I figured I could contribute some thoughts.

    I have a very thin BC woodcrafter style knife in 10v that is pretty handy and comfy but is not pointy enough and likely too small and thin for some uses. Would likely be super handy if scaled up to OAL of 10-11" and had a pointier tip.


    On the slightly bigger side I have a BC SAR5 in 3v which I haven't really used yet but will this week while at the beach. This knife feels like it is pointy enough, thick enough and big enough to be pretty useful but maybe not quite big enough to do everything. OAL is 10" I believe. The sculpted handle may or may not be comfy after long use. Here it is compared to some other well known knives. Proportions look odd in the pic but not in real life. Please note that in production form the other two knives are really not very useful for knifelike tasks such as cutting and are super thick and heavy.


    I also have a BC machete in 3v that is awesome for hacking wood but is too big for finer use and is not pointy. OAL maybe 18"+. Handle is super comfy and feels light for its size.


    I think that i would be in really good shape if I had both my SAR and Machete in the wild.

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2016
  15. Danke42


    Feb 10, 2015
    I'm liking that a lot. Maybe just some refinement to the tip to beef it up.
  16. Shooter.762


    Dec 8, 2016
    Love this thread!
    I love watching alone, I'd love to try it but unfortunately with my Type 1 Diabetes I would never be able to do that for more than 3 days before my pump ran out of insulin lol!
    I have gotten into the school of thought that a 5.5 to just under 7" blade is about as good as it gets for all around survival.
    I tend to like a thicker clip point with a good belly.
    I also like the ESEE 6 and my Fallkniven S1.
    My current one knife collection I take into the woods are these.
    ESEE 6
    Benchmade Arvensis
    Fallkniven S1
    Buck 119
    Buck 120.
    I have a Kabar Kukri a Junglas and some axes and tomahawks I take for choppers.
    I've gotten into the mindset that I can have one of the above knives and a decent camp axe and do all the camp work I need to do.
    I am building a Cold Steel Viking Hand Axe at the moment and I am saving for a Hultfors Bruk Kisa.
    I do like your ideas on the knife design, the 2nd one with the grey black handles is my favorite.
    It's about perfect for me, great belly.
    That being said, if we nix my axe mindset and I am only allowed one knife, I will choose the bottom one.
    It's a great one blade option, I have to bail on my clip point love if I don't have an axe and am forced to baton and chop for dry wood..
    Fantastic topic!
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2016
  17. The Zieg

    The Zieg

    Jan 31, 2002
    This is the one for me. Reminiscent of a Spanish belduque and suitable for so many tasks. Not worried about the point as even the historical examples do not show them having broken off, even after being abused, going against European armor, processing game, and so on. I'll take it any day of the week!

    Last edited: Dec 27, 2016
  18. JayGoliath


    Mar 27, 2010
    I have got a humble stash of Bigboys myself but there are only two I trust enough:
    My KRM Bamboo knife and Big Chris Bolo.
    To me that is a survival knife that uplifts your moral during crunch times.
    They never let me down.
    That being said I will still pick a parang for survival just because I think it's best for where I go.
  19. Big Chris

    Big Chris SAHD/Knifemaker Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Apr 1, 2010
    Thanks for your participation.
    Great comments and commentary.
    This is exactly what I was hoping for.
  20. Big Chris

    Big Chris SAHD/Knifemaker Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Apr 1, 2010
    I sat down today and sketched out what I have had in my mind for this "One Knife".
    Now remember that I plan to have an axe as my main heavy duty chopping tool.


    This knife is 11" OAL with a 6" Blade.
    I plan to start on a couple very soon.
    They will be made from some 3/16" O1 that I have on hand.

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