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The importance of a small survival knife

Discussion in 'General Knife Discussion' started by G.Moll, Mar 21, 2012.

  1. G.Moll


    Mar 20, 2012
    Knives come in many sizes, and we all have our personal preferences when it comes to knife length. A large knife can do many things that a small knife can't. A knife with a 11 inch blade can baton much wider logs than a four inch knife. Duh. But how often do you have an RTAC 2 or some other huge knife on you? Being able to survive with a knife that has a 3,4,5 inch blade is really important in my opinion. If im going on a day hike, a five inch blade would be more than enough. I realize that a day hike wouldn't be too remote, but anything could happen. If all you are comfortable using are blades the length of your arm, then a small knife will almost feel useless. What are your thoughts on the importance of knowing how to use a smaller survival knife to its full potential?
  2. RWT


    Mar 15, 2011
    Very debated topic. I can do everything I need with a 4-5" blade. However, the time it takes to accomplish some task with a blade this size is considerably longer than if I had a 7-10" model. I generally am not in that much of a hurry, especially if it hits the fan. I still carry a 12" machete or 7" large knife on my pack as I will use it and a 4" on my belt. The point is I can and do use the larger blade due to convenience, but I can easily be seperated from my pack so I always have the 4" on me to CYA. I like the large ones, just not to carry "on me", more use if I carry it "with me".
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2012
  3. hlee


    Dec 5, 2005
    It is cliche but, your survival knife is the knife you have on you when you need it. As emergencies are not scheduled, you are much more likely to have your edc (if you have an edc) than anything else. I love my big knives- like my dogfather- but, if anything really goes wrong I will most likely have to get by with something the size of my mini-grip.
  4. razorsdescent


    Jan 16, 2005
    If im in the woods then i have at least 3 knives on me, my car has a bail-out bag ready to go in it.

    I carry a water bottle and at least 1 knife with me wherever i go. I really cant imagine me getting in a position where im under-knifed
  5. RWT


    Mar 15, 2011
    I think hlee and I are on the same page. My drifter is always in my pocket anytime I am out of the house. I have done everything, but baton with it. The blade has even worked to cut enough branches for a makeshift shelter and held up. So if the 4" I only wear hiking and hunting falls off I always have the drifter. Funny I am so used to it beign there I did not even think about it.
  6. Slider817


    Mar 26, 2010
    The term "Survival Blade" is very general, and I reall don't know where to begin.

    For day Hikes usually carry a small Fixed blade and a folding Saw. A prefer Silky Brand saws. That pair often weighs much less than a large fixed blade, and if I actually need to do some serious woods work, that pair would be allot easier that just a big fixed blade. Obviously, a large fixed blade and a saw would be better. But I am only goIng to carry so much.

    I have other blades for different situations.
    Last edited: Mar 22, 2012
  7. jackknife

    jackknife Gold Member Gold Member

    Oct 2, 2004
    I much prefer a smaller knife for overall use, and I guess that if I ever do end up in a pinch, I'll get by with what I have on me. If I do go canoe camping I'll have a 12 inch machete in the pack, and on day hikes a folding saw that is 3 oz is n my day pack. I don't have much use for the big heavy duty so called survival knives.

    Several years ago now, our oldest son was in San Jose Costa Rica for 6 month on business, and he arranged for me and the better half to come for a visit. John, being the good son he is, and knowing how Karen and I are wildlife watchers, also arranged for the two of us to have a rain forest trip. It was a guided hiking/camping trip, and I watched the guides do everything with 12 inch machete's. Camp chores, cooking, whatever. They used an assortment of Tramontina and other machetes in combination with a sak that they all carried on the belt in little black nylon pouches along with a Bic lighter. It changed my mind as for what kind of tools were really needed in the boonies. Contrary to a lot of opinions, they do have hardwood in the jungle, not just light vines. They split and chopped up firewood for the campfire, and even carved up the roast pig that they made on the last night camp. For small cutting job, the sak was used. I ended up selling my Randall 14 and just use the saw or 12 inch Ontario. More performance for less weight.

    For most of my use, I find that whatever pocket knife I have on my combined with a folding saw works just fine. Both still weigh 6 onces or less. I find that I can split and quarter wood with a saw way easier than with a large knife. If I'm out of luck enough that I am in a survival situation, easy means less calories used.

  8. Magnaminous_G


    Jul 13, 2011
    Excellent point. Funny, but when I think of a small survival knife, I am actually thinking of my neck knife with a 2" blade. My standard carry is 4". That's all you need in a woods knife if you've also got a decent axe or folding saw. Since my Bahco Laplander goes with me in the woods, I'm all set.
  9. TwinStick


    Jan 21, 2011
    I have found that a good choil on a large-ish knife makes them much more useful. But who ever carries just one ?
  10. Redeye


    Jan 12, 2010
    My thoughts exactly.

    A Fallkniven F1 combined with a GB Small Forest Axe is far more useful than any big knife in the wilderness areas I visit. Like yourself, for light weight and portability I often swap out the axe for a Bahco Laplander.

    This combo might not have the posing value of a massive knife, but I don't go to the wilderness to pose.
  11. twl


    Sep 2, 2007
    In many cases, the local/state laws will determine the limits of blade length for knife carry. If you are going to be carrying this knife at all times, like a survival knife, then it will need to probably be less than 4" blade length. And for most easy and invisible carry in a pocket, it will probably be even shorter, maybe less than 3" like an Izula.

    I personally love the machete idea, but you won't be carrying one 24/7. But, you could carry your small survival blade 24/7, and supplement it with your machete or your saw when you go to the woods.
  12. Pilot1

    Pilot1 Gold Member Gold Member

    Sep 24, 2005
    I gravitate towards something 4 - 5 inches as well, like the Fallkniven F1, Bravo-1 or even a Gunny or RC-3 (ESEE-3) most of the time. These knives are all easily carried.
  13. GingivitisKahn


    Jun 8, 2010
    One of the cool things about the Becker contests is that they challenge the Beckerheads to do some task with just one Becker knife. I used my 9" BK9 for my most recent challenge for some fairly fine work even though I had my much smaller 3" BK11 in my pocket at the time. Conversely, I've used my BK11 for tasks for which my BK9 would have been much better suited.

    I guess I'm saying that to sort of agree with you - it's a good idea to be adept with whatever knife you carry. It seems a mistake, though to discount the larger knives on the notion that you may be less likely to carry them. A more well-rounded approach may be to take with you the knife you suspect will best meet the needs of the trip. When I hunt, I have my BK11 in my pocket - for dealing with game, and my BK9 on my hip for building blinds, clearing shooting lanes, etc. When camping, my 5" BK2 gets most of the chores.

    Any one of the three can take down a decent sized sapling (via chopping, beaver biting, batoning, whatever) and any one of the three can do fine work. Learning how is a matter of discipline and practice.


    Beckerhead #42
  14. foxx


    Sep 5, 2010
    I carry a 4" fixed, every day. When I go camping, I usually take a machete or a 12" chopper, plus the 4". I admit that I have not gone out with the intent of making fire and shelter with just the 4". I have gone camping with just a multi-tool, but I knew it was nice weather, and fire wasn't important.
    I've never been in a survival situation, yet I have studied up on the subject. Maybe I need more practice, or first hand experience at doing everything with the 4" fixed blade?
    I've broken up plenty of wood, by hand using leverage, or just drug a log into the fire as it burns. It's the shelter building that I need to try, in the event I get stuck in the woods without any gear. I guess I always plan on taking the right tools for the trip, and have never ran into any real problems. Maybe luck as always been on my side as well.
  15. short


    Mar 14, 2012
    I heard that quote as well and I still believe it to be very true. However I learned that a small knife can create tools to do a large knifes job. (batoning with a wooden wedge)
    Yes, I think it's important to know how to use small tools first before moving on to bigger tools.
  16. Stainz


    Jun 24, 2007
    I've broken my use down to the following:

    Day-hike: 3"-4" fb - like a Buck Gen5/113, A.B. 'Wild Dog', or ,an RC-4 horizontal belt carry or 'in the pocket'. Always have a folder, too - a Vic SAK, like a Farmer, is a great choice.

    Overnite: 5" HD fb - like a BK2 or RC-5 and a HD folder and a Vic SAK.

    Camping: Larger HD fb - Buck Hoodlum - and a smaller fb 3"-4" (food prep) - and a folder - and a camp axe/hatchet - maybe a folding saw

    BOB: 5" min HD - smaller folder

    These are my minimum choices, involving what I now own.



    Mar 31, 2006
    I belive the best method is to do it the way the Boy Scouts teach. befor you earn your Tote-n-Chip card, learn how to build your fire and build your shelters with out any knife or tools. after that it dosen't matter the size of your knife.
    these days i'am in the 4"to5" group fixed or folder some times both, and small hand axe or saw.
  18. Shotgun


    Feb 3, 2006
    Plus one. I think it's important to know how to use a small knife but I also think it's important to learn how to survive with nothing but propper clothing. A knife/chopper/saw should be carried for the fact that it makes survival easier. The idea that you're going to die without one is a myth. With exceptions of course. I wouldn't be caught dead in the canadian north in winter without an axe or in the Brazilian jungle witout a machete etc.

    For winter and bad weather I usually carry an Izula 2 and a chopper or saw. Mainly because I'm lazy and it makes fire prep faster. In the summer I really can't say I need a knife at all. If I wasn't a knife freak I probably wouldn't even bother carrying one in the summer. But I am so I do. :D
    Last edited: Mar 22, 2012
  19. FortyTwoBlades

    FortyTwoBlades Baryonyx walkeri Dealer / Materials Provider

    Mar 8, 2008
    I keep a machete in my car and a Mora #333 machete strapped to my pack. And that's only if I haven't already planned on bringing a bigger machete. The Mora only weighs 7 oz. (12 with the leather sheath) so it doesn't add much weight or bulk to my gear.
  20. brandonc


    Mar 16, 2008
    My small survival knife is a slipjoint.

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