Survive! Knives GSO-5.1 - comparison to SYKCO 511, SRKW RatManDu, Cattaraugus 225Q

Discussion in 'Knife Reviews & Testing' started by chiral.grolim, Aug 26, 2013.

  1. chiral.grolim

    chiral.grolim Universal Kydex Sheath Extension

    Dec 2, 2008
    Over the next weeks, I will continue to use the GSO-5.1 in comparison to the other knives included above. I will try to record video of the knife in action, including the bow-drill pivot. So please stay tuned, and also let me know what you'd like to see. Any other picture requests?

    By the way, the gloves in the above pics are Ironclad "Ranchworx", and I do NOT recommend them. The palm & fingers are thin deer-hide so while tactility is high, durability is very low, esp. if they get wet. I deliberately avoided showing the insides of the fingers, which are missing on every finger except the pinky and thumb, all from only this past Spring and Summer, working only a few days a week on the property. :thumbdn: If you work on a ranch, farm, homestead, etc. there are better gloves for the $$, even from this same company.

    Thank you all for reading. Again, please let me know what you think! :)
  2. rpn

    rpn Gold Member Gold Member

    Mar 17, 2008
    hmmm...nice work. :thumbup:

    I have a Survive 7/7 sitting in the cart now as I ponder...b-day gift for spouse or new knife for me?!

    Dang you Chiral!! ;):D
  3. PatrickKnight


    Jan 24, 2012
    PERFECT!!! I am trying to decide between snagging a 5.1 and ordering an RMD from the Swamp. Given the limited use with the 5.1 for a medium hand user which would you go for?
  4. worldwood


    Sep 30, 2012
    Thank you this was very informative. The RMD is my favorite fixed blade in the size, but I have yet to try a Survive! GSO blade. Great comparisons!
  5. chiral.grolim

    chiral.grolim Universal Kydex Sheath Extension

    Dec 2, 2008
    I have not had sufficient opportunity to beat on the GSO-5.1, but my initial experiences with it have been very good, better than with the 4.1 mostly based on handle dimensions. The geometry is quite good and there is a wide bare spot on my leg declaring the type of edge Guy puts on his blades :cool: My RMD did not come like that...
    I am also partial to drop-point blades, though the RMD's clip-point is a close cousin and far superior at piercing and drilling.
    The GSO-5.1's little bit extra blade length, width, and weight, combined with it's perfect balance (better than the RMD) and thinner geometry make it the superior chopper (as much as any of these knives can chop, which isn't much but you can feel the difference), and superior slicer as well. Give me a chance to throw it some, and I'll weigh in on that too ;)
    But from my limited use so far, the RMD is still more comfortable in hand. And while it doesn't come with a sheath, and mine at least didn't come with acceptable geometry for my use of it, the RMD retails ~$100 cheaper and occasionally pops up on the exchange here for less than that. As I mentioned in the review, one could modify the RMD geometry so it competes more closely with the GSO-5.1 slicing. I'm not sure when/if I'll be ready to modify the GSO-5.1 handle.

    If you have the funds, I'd suggest buying both (I know, standard BF response ;) ) and then, if it comes to a need for cash, sell the one you don't hold as dear. Both will retain their value fairly well (well, at least until the Swamp discontinues the RMD whereupon it receives an unfair advantage). Alternatively, you could order a custom knife from a respected maker on this forum :cool: It might take longer to get, and it probably won't be the last knife you get, but it just might be the most satisfying...

    Anyway, in summation, please give me more time. My wife will probably make me sell one or the other to help pay for the goats or cow next year ;) Hopefully I can make a decision before then.
  6. Varg Lobos

    Varg Lobos

    May 20, 2007
    Great job! Very helpful to those of us on the fence. Great pics too.

    Thinking about the 5.0.....
  7. jdm61

    jdm61 itinerant metal pounder

    Aug 12, 2005
    Two questions. (and you know whyI am asking. :D)
    1.. How much handle butt drop is enough?
    2. Do you really see a need for the thicker edge out toward the point on the GSO 5.1? After all, we are talking about 3/16 thick CPM 3V.
  8. Thomas Linton

    Thomas Linton

    Jun 16, 2003
    I will follow this review with interest. Thank you.
  9. chiral.grolim

    chiral.grolim Universal Kydex Sheath Extension

    Dec 2, 2008
    I look forward to the end result of this :thumbup:

    1) I love how that is worded ;) A "dropped heel" should approximate the shape of the palm across the hypothenar or "heel" of the hand - the musculature south of the "pinkie" finger. The butt of the knife should brace comfortably between this and the curled 'pinkie' and 'ring' fingers in a variety of holds so that leverage can be easily applied, but the pressure should be distributed up the palm to avoid creating a hot-spot or straining the musculature. This is accomplished by curving the spine of the handle along the curve of this musculature. How much? *shrug* Take a thick roll of clay and shape it to fit our hand. The handle should also swell along the belly to brace against the insides of the other fingers. IMHO, Ken Onion has designed some amazingly ergonomic handles, so those might be a good reference point...

    2) The thick point is purportedly for enhanced tip-strength in prying. If you've seen Guy's videos demonstrating he GSO-4.1 tip-strength, you'll get an idea of what he is aiming for. ALL of these knives have fairly robust tips. Here is the GSO-5.1 tip up close:


    That much steel can certainly handle a LOT of prying, but the wide profile of the blade reduces its piercing and drilling performance. The clip-point RMD & 511 are similarly thick and will pry well but drill and pierce much better because their profile is narrow. Is so much steel necessary at the tip? I guess that depends on how much lateral force you expect to apply there. If it's only to pry off bottle-caps, it can be quite thin, and then you can improve tip-slicing performance. But, as you said, it's 3/16" CPM-3V. It isn't a paring knife :) Reverse the question: how little structural support can you leave at the tip and still achieve the performance you desire? A very thin tip will slice and will pierce well if the profile is fairly narrow, but how much tip-slicing and piercing depth do you want? How much tip-strength are you willing to trade? All of these knives are pretty thick at the tip. Noss' destruction videos showed the tip strength of various knives of similar design via stabbing and prying both wood and sheet metal. These knives are marketed toward military and "survival" use which evidently may involve just that sort of prying. If that is your target market, I guess that you'd rather not be busy with broken-tipped knives returned for warranty ;)
  10. PatrickKnight


    Jan 24, 2012
    Thank you for the in depth response. I always like the honestly in your posts, I had always planned on having the RMD with a more acute edge (have either Josh and the Swamp do it when ordering or send it off to Richard J for one of his nasty polished edges).
  11. untamed


    Jan 7, 2003
    One of the most comprehensive comparative reviews! Thanks for taking the time (and the graphics) to do it!
  12. c0ldfire1o25


    Apr 24, 2012
    awesome review! thanks
  13. SurvivorDan


    Apr 17, 2013
    Great review! I am currently waiting for my GSO 5.1 (ordered post pre-order). I always enjoy reviews of knives that I currently have and/or am waiting to receive.

    I noticed that you have the bow drill divot on the 5.1. Does that interfere with the purchase/grip of the knife at all? It would seem like the "sharp" edge of that divot might feel a bit awkward or produce a hot-spot over extended use. I was tempted to get it on my 5.1, but opted not to. I did, however, get the ferro notch option.

    Thanks in advance!
  14. chiral.grolim

    chiral.grolim Universal Kydex Sheath Extension

    Dec 2, 2008
    I haven't had any issues with the divot. I am right-handed and while my bare ring finger (or my 'pinkie' when choked up) feels the void, it doesn't grip very tight anyway, and i do not even notice the void when gloved. Were I left-handed, I can imagine that the rough edges might gouge the skin during hard use, but taking a file or sandpaper to smooth the edges would eliminate the issue. The RMD, by comparison, has three divots for the tubing that holds the scales on, and also grooves along the entire handle, and none of these cause any problem, bare-handed or gloved.

    Indeed, the parts of the GSO-5.1 handle that most negatively affect the hand in hard use are the lateral flare at the pommel, which I may round off somewhat, and the straightness of the spine both at the heel and guard area where pressure is focused against the hand rather than being distributed along the length of the spine as is the case with the RMD. Hopefully i can demonstrate this in a video this weekend for upload next week. All-in-all however, the handle is quite comfortable and I like how thick the palm-area is compared to the RMD, with the taper towards the guard :thumbup:

    I wasn't really sure about the placement of the ferro-notch, didn't want it to interfere with grip-positions, but I may add one later. I usually have an alternative scraper anyway. Care to share pics when your blade arrives?
  15. chiral.grolim

    chiral.grolim Universal Kydex Sheath Extension

    Dec 2, 2008
    I quickly modified a couple of pictures to help explain the handle points a little better: the blue lines indicate contact between the handle and hand during a normal grip, also being points of exaggerated pressure during forceful cuts. The Red-line indicates a point of reduced or absent contact between handle & hand.


    A straight spine focuses pressure on the muscles groups south of the 'pinkie' and between the thumb and forefinger, and forces the hand flatter against the spine. The RMD's curved spine allows this pressure to be more evenly distributed across the hand without forcing the hand to flatten-out as force is increased.


    Now, the fact that the GSO-5.1 handle is laterally thicker in the palm is certainly beneficial, a trait that the RMD handle would benefit from (or rather the user would benefit), but the hand is also contoured vertically, and in this case the vertical contours are key.

    Here is the shape of the GSO-10 handle - note how the vertical contours fit the hand:

    Pàdruig likes this.
  16. SurvivorDan


    Apr 17, 2013
    I sure will post some pics when it arrives.

    It seems tome that I heard or read, someplace, that Guy left minimal curve on the spine at the scales, to allow for more uniform comfort throughout a range of different grips. Obviously, as you state below, the curve on the GSO 10 at that point seems to insure more comfort with the standard forward grip during heavy chopping. Because I have long narrow fingers, I'm always changing something on grips and scales. I think my Becker BK2, with micarta scales, fills my hand the best out of any knife that I own. My BRKT Bravo 1 also fills my hand well, although not as "complete" as far as girth, as the BK2. To each his/her own I suppose. I always have a roll of hockey grip tape in my pack someplace..

    Thanks for your input and suggestions! Great review..
  17. LG&M


    Dec 19, 2005
    Thank you for a outstanding look at some fine knives. I have had the GSO,511, and RMD all in my sights at one time or another.
  18. wannabuckbiotch

    wannabuckbiotch Banned BANNED

    Sep 4, 2013
    i dont know if anyone noticed but my GSO 5's bevel and secondary is thinner than my 4.1
  19. chiral.grolim

    chiral.grolim Universal Kydex Sheath Extension

    Dec 2, 2008
    Yes, it is thinner. I mentioned it at the beginning of the review. Guy also stated that he did this in his recent video, 1:17


    An update to this thread, some videos of the GSO-5.1 in use are being uploaded today, should be online tonight, I'll embed them here. Stay tuned ;)
  20. chiral.grolim

    chiral.grolim Universal Kydex Sheath Extension

    Dec 2, 2008
    Loking forward to your pictures :thumbup:

    One of these days I'll have to get a becker in hand and compare the handle geometry to that of some of these other knives. Minimal curve on the spine creates LESS comfort "throughout a range of different grips", which I hoped to illustrate in the images included in the review. In every grip I have tried, the curved spine of the RMD fits the hand better. The human hand forms a "pocket" in the palm (that the lateral swell acts to fill), but it also curves around the thenar muscles. Of the knives pictured above, only the RMD and GSO-10 have curved spines to accommodate this curvature in the hand. As a result, these two knives distribute force along the better more evenly than a straight spine, as illustrated above. In reverse grip, the curve along the belly (more common in various knives) approximates this as well. The straight spine focuses pressure onto specific areas of the hand, forcing the hand to change shape to accommodate handle rather than the other way around. As a result, the straight spine is always less comfortable for any human hand.

    Please note, I am only criticizing the spine of the handle. Other important factors include the "heel-drop" which allows increased leverage from the lower portion of the hand to take pressure off the higher portion, and also the lateral swell the allows the fingers to grip tightly without straining. However, with thicker handles it is important to consider how this impacts control of blade direction, requiring a wider handle to compensate. A rounder handle, like the Bravo 1 and Catt225Q, is easily twisted against the user's grip, and is thus harder to control and is even dangerous in adverse conditions, particularly if the handle is slick. Superior control is achieved by maintaining a greater width (height) than thickness, which the RMD and GSO-5.1 do well, which the GSO-10 excels at.

    These features are not "to each his/her own", the human hand is configured and functions with great consistency in nearly every human being - the size and proportions of various parts aren't identical, but the parts are in the same places. While your hand may be larger and require a larger (both thickness and width) handle in order to be comfortable, the points about shape remain the same, because the shape of the hand is so consistent form human to human. If not, you may have a hand that is worth medical research!

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